Feb 162014
 

My family are regulars at Roger Williams Zoo in Providence.  We have had a membership there since my oldest was two years old (that’s seven years for those of you who are keeping track). Sometimes, depending on the day, there are docents (volunteers) around the zoo that help to teach guests about the animals there.

On our last visit, which was about two weeks ago, we ran into a docent over by the elephant exhibit that was holding something that looked quite interesting.  Sure enough it was elephant poop.

The docent asked the gruesome twosome if they wanted to touch or hold it – don’t freak out, it was shellacked, so it was safe to touch. The boys weren’t sure about it at first:

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My little man ran away and wanted no part of it at all, but my nine year old was a little bit braver.  He was leery, but he touched it. Continue reading »

Dec 172013
 

Remember last month when I told you all about the Magical Express?  The Magical Express is complimentary round-trip airport transportation and luggage delivery for guests who are staying at Disney resorts.   The day before your flight, you’ll get an envelope on your door with the time your bus leaves the resort for the airport.  It’s usually two to three hours before the flight.

Let me start by saying that the Magical Express isn’t so magical on the return trip back to the airport.

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Dec 162013
 

One of the things that we like to do when we go to Disney World is pin trading.  What is pin trading?  Disney Pin Trading is a fun, interactive experience where guests can trade collectible Disney pins with Disney Cast Members and other guests (although I don’t think many people trade with other guests – at least not that I’ve seen).

All you have to do is locate a Cast Member wearing a lanyard with Disney pins and find a pin you’d like. Then present them with one of your Disney pins to trade.

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Dec 152013
 

Hidden Mickeys started out as inside jokes among the Walt Disney Imagineers. A Hidden Mickey is an image of Mickey Mouse concealed in the design of a Disney attraction (ride, resort, etc…). Originally, it took the shape of a head and ears silhouette, Disney.com, i.e. one large circle with two smaller circled on top in the appropriate place.

In designing, constructing or adding the final touches to an attraction, Imagineers subtly “hide” Mickey Mouse silhouettes in plain sight. Soon, it became a tradition, and as the word spread, Disney fans everywhere went on the search for Hidden Mickeys in Disney movies and theme parks.

I ordered a book off of Amazon a few years back that listed many of the Hidden Mickey’s scattered throughout the parks & resorts at Disney World (there is a separate book for Disneyland) and the boys and I always love searching for them every year.

Here is one that’s hidden inside the Spaceship Earth ride at Epcot.  There are at least three on that ride (that I know of), but this is the only one I was able to snap a good picture of.

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Do you search for Hidden Mickey’s when you go to Disney?

Dec 142013
 

On our last night at Disney, we decided to head back to the resort and let the boys play at the arcade for a little while.  We walked past it every day and they kept asking & asking to play, so we let them.  Chris got them each an arcade card with $10 loaded on to it and they played until their money was gone (which didn’t take long).  They each got to play about about a dozen or so games.

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Dec 122013
 

About a month before my family was scheduled to go to Disney World recently, I got an email from Disney with this as the subject line:

“You’re invited to participate in a special test during your upcoming trip!”

It was a Sunday and I was at the playground with Chris and the boys when I got it.  I was giddy when I saw the email that day because I knew exactly what it was in reference to thanks to a friend of mine who had gone to Disney a few weeks prior.

It was an offer to test out their new MagicBands.

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MagicBands are wristbands that are an all-in-one device and they effortlessly connect you to all the vacation choices you made.

Once I got that email, I signed up for our Magic Bands on MyDisneyExperience.com.  I was already registered on the site because that’s how I booked my dining reservations, but if you’re not registered – you will need to do so before you go any further.  I was able to customize all of our bands, which basically meant that we could pick our colors and have our names printed on the inside of the bands.  If I didn’t customize them, they would have just given us grey ones when we checked in.  Plus, while I was on the site, I linked our reservation and all our plans to the MagicBand, so it was all loaded on to the band for me. Continue reading »

Dec 102013
 

One of the things I truly love about staying at the Caribbean Beach resort in Disney World is that they show “Movies Under the Stars” every night (weather depending, of course).   Each night, they blow up a big inflatable movie screen and show a “G” or “PG” rated, family friendly Disney movie.  The movies are played at Old Port Royale, which is the hub of the resort and the movies are shown right next to the main pool, so you can literally hop out of the pool and catch the movie.

The cast members set up chairs in front of the screen, but there are also tables in case you want to grab a meal or snack while you watch – which is exactly what we did.

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Dec 082013
 

Every time we go to Disney, Chris tries hard to convince the gruesome twosome to go on Splash Mountain with him.  Usually, he can bribe them somehow and get them both to go on with him, but this year was different.  The oldest wanted nothing to do with it no matter what Chris offered him, so Chris and the little man went on by themselves.

Here’s a copy of the photo they snap as they fall down the big drop on the ride (they are in the front).

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You’re welcome.

Dec 072013
 

During our past three trips to Disney World, we have stayed at the Caribbean Beach resort.  It’s very family friendly and we really like the atmosphere there.  At Caribbean Beach, the rooms are divided into six brightly colored villages representing different areas of the Caribbean. Trinidad, Martinique, Barbados, Aruba and Jamaica. The villages are all centered around a lake and each village has its own small man-made beach.

There are signs posted that no swimming is allowed in the lake, but the kids are more than welcome to play in the sand.  The quick service meals at the food court there are actually served in little plastic buckets that come with shovels, so it ends up working out perfectly if the kids want to spend some time at the beach.

We usually don’t spend a lot of time at the beach area -just because there is never enough time. This year, we spent about an hour at the beach in our village of Jamaica and here are some of the pictures:

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Dec 062013
 

On our last night at Disney World, we made reservations at our favorite restaurant.  Teppan Edo.  It’s located in the Japan Pavillion in the World Showcase at Epcot.

Celebrate authentic Japanese cuisine during an exciting dining experience that’s part meal, part show. In the communal ritual of Teppan-yaki-style cooking, skillful chefs chop and stir-fry dishes on grills at your table.

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Select from steak, chicken, seafood and vegetable entrées, which are served with Udon noodles and steamed rice. You can also enjoy such favorites as teriyaki chicken, potato-vegetable croquettes, tempura and edamame. Continue reading »

Dec 022013
 

Do you ever kick yourself for not trying something sooner than you did.  Well, I am totally kicking myself for not signing my boys up for the Jedi Training Academy during any of our previous trips to Hollywood Studios at Disney.  Honest to god, I think it was the highlight of our trip this year.

Wondering what the Jedi Training Academy is?  Junior Jedi knights learn to use the Force in a 20-minute training academy “show” as they prepare to meet the Dark Side.

Here’s the description from the Disney website:

“Kids between the ages of 4 and 12, don a brown robe and pledge the Jedi Oath under the tutelage of a Jedi Master. The brilliant Star Wars fanfare stirs your spirit as you learn how to use The Force—and your wit—to wield your light saber. Behold how the Jedi Master hones your battle skills, for you never know when you will have to defend yourself against the Dark Side!”

The Jedi Training Academy offers 15 shows daily with 15 children participants per show.  As a result, if your child wants to participate in the show, signing them up for the Jedi Training Academy should be the first thing you do when you get to Hollywood Studios in the morning.  I am dead serious – the day we were there, the spots were full in less than an hour (or at least that is what the cast member told me).

Sign-ups take place at the ABC Sound Studio (where Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey used to be). You NEED to have your child with you to sign up!  When it was our turn to sign up, the cast member asked each of the boys a few questions such as their age and if they can follow directions.  After they answered, the cast member handed us a little piece of paper for each of the boys with their names and the return time for their show.  We had to be back at the ABC Sound Studio 30 minutes prior to the show to get their robes, etc, so if your kids are in the show – plan on an hour total.

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Here they are after they got their robes: Continue reading »

Nov 302013
 

On our last full day in Disney World, we decided that we would spend our last morning at the Magic Kingdom.  We figured that we’d stay until 1pm or 2 pm and then head over to Epcot because we had dinner reservations over there.

My little guy has always been more of a snacker than an eater, so when he asked if he could have a pretzel for lunch instead of an actual meal, I agreed. We stopped at a snack stand in Tomorrowland and he was thrilled when the pretzel came out and it was in the shape of Mickey.

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The rest of us had a “normal” lunch, but I wasn’t in the mood to argue with him about his choice that day, so he got his way.  Hey, we were on vacation, right?

Nov 292013
 

We had just as much fun during our second day at Hollywood Studios as we did during our first.  Maybe even more.

Do you remember the Mike & Sully shaped shrubbery display that I had some pictures of from our first day?  Well this is on the other side of that:

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Here are a few pictures that I snapped while we were in line for the Toy Story Midway Mania ride.  We absolutely love that ride and went on a bunch of times throughout the two days that we spent at that park. Continue reading »

Nov 272013
 

One of the things that my family really likes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!  It’s about a half hour long show that’s filled with fight scenes, explosions and all sorts of cool stuff!

Against the backdrop of temple ruins, Indiana Jones makes a grand entrance and the show swings into non-stop action. In pursuit of the golden idol, Indy and his companion Marion battle dangerous bad guys, leap from tall buildings and make other daring escapes as fake bullets fly and a moving vehicle bursts into flames. The edge-of-your-seat suspense comes to a climax in an explosive finale!

Here are some of the pictures I took during the show:

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Nov 262013
 

Last year when we went to Disney World, my nine year old and Chris decided to get their faces painted while we were at Hollywood Studios. My little guy opted out, but this year when we walked past the face painting stand – they both wanted to get their faces painted. So, we let them pick out a design and get all painted up.

Here are their “before” pictures:

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First up was the little guy. He’s never let anyone paint his face before and honestly, I thought he was going to back out, but he surprised me & went along with it – and ended up LOVING what he got. Continue reading »

Nov 252013
 

If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember that when we visited Disneyland back in April, my nine year old built his own droid in the gift shop of the Star Tours ride. When we were in Disney World in August of 2012, they didn’t have a station where people could build their own droids yet, but they did this time around – and you guessed it, the boys wanted to build their own droids.

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When we got there, the station was already set up and all the parts were separated so that the kids could find them easily.  There were ONLY two building stations, so we had to wait quite a while before it was our turn.  Once we got to the the table to build, the cast member explained what the boys needed, so they didn’t have to figure it out all on their own. Continue reading »

Nov 242013
 

One of our FAVORITE things about eating breakfast at Disney World are the Mickey shaped waffles. They have them right at all the resorts & at most restaurants that serve breakfast at Disney World. I have to say that I don’t think they necessarily taste extra special, but hey – they are Mickey shaped and that makes them awesome.

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Nov 232013
 

If you were around the other day, you may remember that I told you about the pools at the Caribbean Beach resort in Disney World.  The main pool is located at Old Port Royale, which is the hub of the resort and each “village’ has their own smaller pool.  We stayed in Jamaica during our most recent stay and here are a few of the pictures that I snapped one of the nights that the boys (and eventually Chris) were in the pool.

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Nov 222013
 

One of the discoveries that we made while we were at Hollywood Studios last year was the Lights, Motors, Action!® Extreme Stunt Show®.  The show featured several cars performing high-speed chases packed with precise, split-second spins and misses—just like in the movies!

Here we are before showtime.

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The show was broken up into sections. They would film a “scene” like they were making a movie and then beak to explain what we saw.  Here is a picture from the first scene: Continue reading »