Friday, February 28, 2014

Walt Disney World Freebie Friday: AAA Character Story Time Experience

This is a "Freebie" I have never experienced, but would LOVE to one day!  If you are a member of AAA and you purchase a select AAA package to include the Disney Dining Plan, you can take advantage of a story time experience with a character from a classic Disney feature film at Epcot.  These story time experiences are available Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10:00, 10: 45, 11:30 and 12:15.  Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance or more.  There is limited seating, so make plans as soon as you can.  The story time takes place at Innoventions West across from breezeway from the exit of the Epcot Character Spot.

What did you write about this week?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Disney's Art of Animation Resort Review

Welcome Jennifer from Disney's Babies Blog! Jennifer and I have been online Disney friends for quite some time now. We both are members of The Magical Blogorail and have worked on other Disney related blogs together in the past. I feel a kindred spirit to Jennifer as we both are moms to boys, both play the clarinet (she's professional, I was a 6th grade band member) and both SEC Tiger fans! :) Jennifer recently stayed at Disney's Art of Animation Resort (AoA) and was willing to share her experience here on my blog. You can read more about her stay in the Cars suites and her thoughts on the resort here. Thanks Jennifer!!
Disney Babies Blog

Walt Disney World’s newest resort, Disney’s Art of Animation, has taken resorts to the next level.

It stands out, even among the best Disney resorts for 2 reasons:

  1. It is intricately themed to Disney movies (Lion King, Finding Nemo, Cars, and Little Mermaid.
  2. All but the Little Mermaid rooms are family suites – 2 rooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchenette, all with only 1 door to the hallway. The suites also have inside room access, as opposed to outside doors in the Little Mermaid Rooms.
image from Disney Babies Blog
Driving into the resort, walking into the Main Building, or simply walking the grounds is laced in pure Disney magic. The colorful signs, the brightly colored buildings, and the animation that is shown all over the resort make it an incredible resort to stay in, or simply to spend an afternoon walking around.

On a trip in November, my family and I stayed in a Cars Suite. We were directed from the cast member to “Follow the EAC, turn right onto Route 66, and head directly towards the Wheel Well Motel.” The trip through the East Australian Current didn’t take very long – the excited part of the Finding Nemo section of the AoA is the pool. But, once we hit Route 66, we stopped every several feet to ‘meet’ the cars that live in Radiator Springs! We met Flo, Ramone, Doc Hudson, Sheriff, Sarge, Fillmore, Mater, Lightning, and Sally.

image from Disney Babies Blog
The interior rooms are beautiful – the hallways fit in with the Route 66 feel with artwork, lamps, and even floor and wall colors. The rooms are not garish with the themes, but vibrant and incredibly fun! I have stayed at many of the pricier resorts (Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Old Key West), and this may have been my favorite!

When you walk in, you enter the ‘living’ area of the suite. There is a table that hides a murphy (fold down) bed and a sofa that folds out into a sleeper sofa. Veering off from the living area is the master bedroom, which has a (very comfortable) queen size bed, and separate bathroom. The kitchenette is very small and basic – a sink, a mini fridge, a small microwave, and is stocked with napkins, paper plates, and utensils.

image from Disney Babies Blog
One of the best perks of the resort is the view – no, you can’t see a theme park, but with the resort so detailed, looking out the windows never seemed to get old. Plus, from where we stayed, we had a great view of the lake and Pop Century.

image from Disney Babies Blog
AoA has several pools – the large, Finding Nemo pool, and smaller and quieter pools by the other sections. We visited both the large and loud Finding Nemo pool and then the smaller and quieter pool in Radiator Springs. For the louder and more outgoing child, the Finding Nemo pool was perfect. Zero entry, splash pad, TONS of room, and tons of people. But, for my smaller, quieter child, he loved the pool in Radiator Springs. It was small, but we were the only people in the pool (of course, it was November).

The main building and the restaurant, the Landscape of Flavors, have the basic standard plan of all value resorts – a check-in lobby, store, arcade, and multi-station cafeteria with an area for checking out, so everyone can choose their own food and pay together. Even the food is plussed up – fresh fruit, create your own salads – and flavors that you can’t find anywhere else.

Considered a value “plus”, this resort costs more than the other values. And, it’s often blacked out from discounts, due to its extreme popularity. But, with that said, just like Walt Disney World costs more than Six Flags, there is a reason that this costs more than All Star Sports. This resort is incredible! If you can’t stay there for a trip, definitely try to take an afternoon to visit! You won’t be disappointed!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Epcot Attractions: The Seas with Nemo and Friends

image from wdwnews.com

The Seas with Nemo and Friends is actually the name of the pavilion and the attraction inside!  In 2004, The Living Seas pavilion began remodeling into the pavilion we know today as "The Seas with Nemo and Friends."  This pavilion is home to Turtle Talk with Crush, the Nemo themed ride with the same name as the pavilion, and a big area that includes the Caribbean Coral Reef aquariums, Bruce's Shark World and the Coral Reef restaurant.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends (ride) attraction opened to guests in 2007.   On this 4 minute, slow moving, high tech ride, guests will board a clam mobile where they will help find Nemo after he has wandered off from his teacher, Mr. Ray.  Thanks to technology, you will see animated versions of Nemo and several of his friends from the movie swimming in the actual aquarium inside the pavilion that holds over 65 species of marine life. 


Tips:
  • When entering the pavilion, you will have a chance to ride the attraction or bypass it to go straight to the pavilion.  Check your wait times.  If Turtle Talk with Crush has a short wait, bypass the Nemo ride and visit Crush first.  Come back later to ride Nemo.
  • On this attraction, there are some scenes that may be frightening for younger children.  The sharks and anglerfish can be frightening!
  • The attraction will end inside the pavilion.  From here, you can visit the other exhibits in The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
  • There are amazing photo opportunities in this pavilion!  Have your camera ready outside and inside!
  • Guests must be able to transfer from their wheelchairs/ECVs.  Melissa from Disney on Wheels shares her experience.
  • Great information about The Seas with Nemo and Friends can be found at allears.net.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Epcot Attractions: Turtle Talk with Crush

image from wdwnews.com

On November 16, 2004, a new interactive experience opened in The Seas with Nemo and Friends.  This new show was called "Turtle Talk with Crush."  Our family did not experience it until 2011 though.  For some reason, we never took the time to visit.  In hindsight, I regret that!  This is such a cool experience for guests- especially the younger guests.

Turtle Talk with Crush is a 10 minute computer-animated show featuring "Crush" from Finding Nemo.  You know Crush, right?  He is the hundred and fifty year old surfer dude sea turtle!  In the show, the cartoon Crush actually talks and has conversations with the audience while looking at the person who asked the questions!  He shares his old turtle wisdom, answers questions and tells jokes.

Tips:
  • Turtle Talk with Crush is very popular!  You will most likely have a wait for this attraction.  Visit first thing in the morning or later in the evening to get shorter lines.
  • Have your young children sit up close so they have a better chance of interacting with Crush.
  • Be sure to tell your kids to stay put and wait for you at the end of the show as it can get crowded as everyone rushes to their kid. ~Tip from Disney Day by Day!  Thanks.
  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends is really big!  After Turtle Talk, make time to visit the other areas of this pavilion.
  • This is an indoor attraction, so it's a great escape from rain, or extreme hot or cold temperatures.
  • Wheelchairs and ECVs are welcome in Turtle Talk.  
  • Flash photography is not allowed in this attraction.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Walt Disney World Friday Freebies: Photos with Icons

One thing I love about the Value Resorts (besides the price!) is the photo opportunities!  You can visit any of the resorts on property for FREE if you are a guest staying on Walt Disney World property.  All of the Value Resorts (All Star Sports, All Star Movies, All Star Music, Pop Century and Art of Animation) have awesome photo opportunities with the larger than life icons.  Bring your family and your camera and enjoy an afternoon taking fun pictures with your favorite Disney characters or memorabilia!













Thursday, February 20, 2014

Disney's Pop Century Review

Disney's Pop Century Resort has become my favorite value resort at Walt Disney World.  I love the theming and the location near Hollywood Studios.  It doesn't seem as far away as the other Value Resorts (All Stars).  I also like that it has it's own bus system.  In the past all three of the All Star resorts shared a bus (however, I've heard that has changed in recent years).  We were always standing in line for a bus or standing on a crowded bus to get to and from the resort.  Not so with Pop Century.  
"Pop" opened in December of 2003.  What we know today as Pop Century was originally going to be the first phase known as the "Classic Years" covering the 1950's-1990's.  Phase two, the "Legendary Years," was going to be constructed across the bridge which would represent the 1900's-1940's.  Phase two was changed in 2011 from the "Legendary Years" to what we now know as Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
 
 
Pop Century has 2,280 rooms in five different buildings: 1950's, 1960's, 1970's, 1980's and 1990's.  Each room is 260 square feet and has either two double beds or one king size bed.  You will also find a small table with 2 chairs, dresser, and bed side table.  There is a vanity area with a sink and space for hanging clothes.  Off of the vanity area is a bathroom with a tub/ shower and toilet.  In each room you will find a flat screen TV, Wi-Fi, in room wall safe, iron/ ironing board, mini fridge and a telephone.  There are also rooms available for guests with disabilities.  Bed rails and portable cribs are available upon request.

The five buildings represent the last five decades in the 1900's.  The 1950's building features jukeboxes, dancers at a sock hop and a bowling pin shaped pool.  Oversized Lady and The Tramp are located in the courtyard.  The 1960's building is all about psychedelic tie dye!  You'll find oversized yo-yos, play-doh creations and Baloo and Mowgli from the Jungle Book.  The "Hippy Dippy Pool" which is flower shaped is in the center of this area.  The 1970's building features a huge Big Wheel, Mickey Mouse rotary phone, eight track tapes and fooseball players.  The 1980's building had 40 feet tall Rubik's cubes, a walkman with headphones and a computer shaped pool.  In the 1990's area, you'll find a cell phone and giant laptop computer. 
In Classic Hall, you can check in, visit the food court's 5 areas (Bakery & Cafe, Market, Grill, East Meets West, and Pizza & Pasta), shop in the gift shop, and play video games in the "Fast Forward" arcade.  Pizza delivery is also an option for late night snacks!  You can also see shadow box displays (above) in the lobby of classic games and toys from each decade represented in the buildings (1950's-1990's).  
If you remember any of these 5 decades, you'll love this resort!  Throughout the resort you can read trivia related to the different decades and laugh about your own memories surrounding the giant icons displayed!

What did you write about this week?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Atlanta Braves Spring Training at Walt Disney World

Our family loves Baseball!  One day, we hope to make it to Walt Disney World for  an Atlanta Braves Spring Training baseball game at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports.  This would combine two of our favorite things- Disney AND baseball!  This would make my middle son's trip complete! The only thing that would make it better would be for the Red Sox to train at Walt Disney World!
image from Disney Parks Blog
Spring Training starts next week, on February 26! The Braves will kick off their 17th season of training at WDW against the Tigers. If your family is planning a trip to Walt Disney World in the next few weeks, and you love baseball, I would suggest planning an afternoon (or occasional evening) to catch a baseball game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Below, you will find the details about the games and the venue from the ESPN Wide World of Sports web site.

Here is the Braves schedule for 2014:

  • Wednesday, February 26- Detroit Tigers 1:05pm
  • Friday, February 28- Houston Astros 6:05pm
  • Sunday, March 2- Detroit Tigers 1:05pm
  • Monday, March 3- New York Mets 1:05pm
  • Tuesday, March 4- Washington Nationals 1:05pm
  • Thursday, March 6- Washington Nationals 6:05pm
  • Saturday, March 8- Miami Marlins 1:05pm
  • Tuesday, March 11- Philadelphia Phillies 1:05pm
  • Wednesday, March 12- Washington Nationals 1:05pm
  • Friday, March 14- Tampa Bay Rays 1:05pm
  • Saturday, March 15- St. Louis Cardinals 1:05pm
  • Wednesday, March 19- New York Yankees 1:05pm
  • Friday, March 21- Detroit Tigers 1:05pm
  • Saturday, March 22- Boston Red Sox 1:05pm
  • Sunday, March 23- New York Mets 1:05pm
  • Monday, March 24- Houston Astros 6:05pm
  • Wednesday, March 26- Miami Marlins 1:05pm
Ticket Prices:
  • Lower Reserved $39-$52
  • Upper Reserved $27-$39
  • Bleacher Reserved $27-$39
  • 3rd Base Lawn General Admission $19-$24
  • Pennant Berm General Admission $12-$17
General Rules/ Items NOT Allowed:
no outside food or drinks
no coolers
no containers
no umbrellas
no lawn chairs
no banners
no flags
no weapons

NOTE: ALL bags will be inspected prior to entering the park.

Smoking Policy
Smoking not allowed in seats or concourse area. Smoking is only allowed in designated smoking areas.

Children
All ages are welcome. Ages 0-2 admitted free on ticket holder’s lap (no ticket required). A ticket is required for all children 3 and older.

Box Office Hours
Monday-Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Will Call
Located at Guest Services (left-hand side of the main entrance). Opens 2 hour prior to the game. Customer must present the actual credit card used for the purchase, a photo ID and Ticketmaster order number in order to receive tickets.

Directions
From I-4 East & West: Take exit 65 (Osceola Parkway West); take a left into ESPN Wide World of Sports® at Victory Way and follow signs.

Parking
General parking is complimentary. Valet parking will be available for $20.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hall of Presidents {President's Day} Snack Craft

Last month I was looking through my Family Fun magazine (February 2014 edition) and found a cute, fun snack craft I wanted to do with my 5 year old.  He has been learning about the presidents at his school this year and often talks about them and asks questions about them- especially when it comes to faces on our money!  So, when I saw this activity, I knew he'd love it!  I also knew this would be a great way to have fun talking about a "not so fun for kids attraction" at Walt Disney World; The Hall of Presidents! 



Once we gathered our supplies, we started reading the instructions in the magazine (below) and began working.  



Using the toothpicks to add icing to the cookies was hard for this 5 year old!  I had to do that part.  I also chose to cut off part of the top of Abe's cookie head so the "stovepipe hat" would sit flush against his head instead of balancing on the top.  He looked a lot better once we "cut off his head" according to C-man!



 Can you guess which cookies I made and which ones C-man made?! ;)

We had a great time making these cookies and talking about these two presidents.  I think I'll keep this idea in the back of my mind for this fall.  We'll revisit this activity before our next trip to help build excitement for the Hall of Presidents!  Maybe we can come up with additional presidents to create out of candy, icing, chocolate chips and marshmallows!