Christmas In July At The Gaylord Palms Means Vanilla Ice And A Merry Madagascar

The Gaylord Palms hotel, located near Walt Disney World, is an amazing hotel that is transformed into a winter wonderland full of beautiful lights and decorations during Christmas and most importantly home to Ice! At Gaylord Palms!!!

At their Christmas in July event, the Gaylord Palms hotel treated guests to some great Christmas treats and entertainment in the Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park before the big announcement and amazing surprise!

The announcements began with people around and in the pool (only in Florida!), and we found out that Ice! will feature characters from Merry Madagascar this year. Ice! at Gaylord Palms featuring Dreamworks Merry Madagascar will run from November 10th – January 1st, and I can’t wait!!! Last year was our first year going to Ice! and we are excited to see what this year’s sculptures and slides will look like!

ICE! is Florida’s favorite frigid Christmas tradition, with over 20,000 square-feet of frosty 9-degree bliss played out in a winter wonderland of exciting hand-carved sculptures. And this year it’s really all that it’s cracked up to be, featuring 30-foot ice slides carved entirely from TWO-MILLION pounds of ice and an all-new, awe inspiring tribute to the unforgettable DreamWorks’ Animation TV classic Merry Madagascar. Relive the story of how Alex the Lion and his friends saved Christmas after Santa and his reindeer crash onto the island of Madagascar. ICE! is hand carved by 40 artisans from Harbin, China and will be arriving in early Fall. And while you’re thawing out from this coolest of attractions, you can bask in the dazzling lights of the magnificent Christmas décor throughout the resort and spirited Luminescence Christmas show. You may feel a chill in the air but you’ll feel warmth in your heart as you create wonderful holiday memories that last a lifetime

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_35scTMKoI

But when we thought it was all done, we were wrong!!! Cause out from the speakers came a familiar beat…then a familiar voice…and before I could even form the words Vanilla Ice took the stage for some Ice, Ice Baby goodness. It was such a treat, because I never thought I would be able to relive that memory with my daughter.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAwYOlNPYb8

After the announcement and performance, guests were invited inside to take pictures with the characters, and to enjoy the beautiful Gaylord Palms Hotel. If you have never been inside of the Gaylord Palms hotel, you are seriously missing out on a beautiful place to spend your vacation.

We are all really excited for Ice! at Gaylord Palms featuring Dreamworks Merry Madagascar, and can’t thank them enough for hosting an amazing event that we won’t soon forget!!!

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Cooling Off at Winter Summerland – Summer Course

One of my favorite activities outside the parks is playing miniature golf at Walt Disney World. There are four courses between the two miniature golf locations: Winter Summerland with the Winter and Summer courses and Fantasia Gardens with the Gardens and the Fairways courses. You can see some great pictures here that Shelley took of the Winter course from when we played last year. I have played all four of the courses at WDW, but the Summer course is definitely my favorite. It is a great place to escape the parks to slow down and enjoy a nice afternoon with family or friends. Now that the miniature golf courses are included in the Water Parks Fun & More option (before 4pm only), it makes it even easier to sneak away for a quick 18 or even 36 holes. Course hours are typically 10am to 11pm, weather permitting, so please call ahead if it looks questionable. Regular fees are $12. ages 10 and up and $10. for children 3 – 9. There are also great discounts for Annual Passholders and Cast Members at 50% off as well as half off second rounds if anyone wants to play another 18.

Disney does theming and attention to detail better than almost anyone else, and this is a huge part of what makes this miniature golf experience even more magical than your average putt putt place. The course is designed by Santa’s elves and themed around some of your favorite summer activities like fishing, going to the beach, surfing and building sand castles. Each hole has a sign introducing it with a clever tip with instructions on to how to best attack the hole to get the best score. Some of my favorite details are the names on the surfboards and inner tubes, as well as the bumper stickers on the “elfstream” trailers. I think it is great that the Imagineers took the time to put such great care in to creating these courses.

Each time I visit the Winter Summerland courses it makes me feel a little bit cooler, and happier (jollier?) with the great Christmas theme, even if I’m playing the warmer themed Summer course. I imagine the Christmas music playing in the background doesn’t hurt in setting the mood. This is one of my favorite things to do on a warm summer evening and I have a feeling I’ll be sneaking off for a round sometime in the very near future. Have you ever played these courses or Fantasia Gardens? Do you have a favorite? What are some of your favorite details? Let me know.

httpv://youtu.be/g4_TdshI26o

I’m including the gallery of pictures as well if you want to click to see some of the details a bit better. Enjoy!

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Celebrate The Summer Games At The Walt Disney World Swan And Dolphin Hotel

Celebrate the Summer Games at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

A broadcast of the opening ceremony as well as a visit from past medal-winning athletes mark this special occasion

Swan and Dolphin Hotels

 

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is celebrating the summer games with a special event in the Dolphin lobby featuring the broadcast of the opening ceremonies in London displayed on large screen televisions, complimentary food and beverage and an opportunity to meet with past summer games medalists.

The event will take place Friday, July 27 from 6 – 9pm and is open to hotel guests and the general public. On hand to interact, take photos and sign autographs with guests will be medalists: Wendy Bruce-Martin (’92 gymnast), Scott Johnson (‘84 and ’88 gymnast) and Fred Tyler (’72 swimmer). “Gold medal” cookies, British-themed edible treats and recreational activities for kids will all be part of the festivities at the Orlando hotel.

About the athletes:

Bruce-Martin was part of gymnastics team USA in 1992 and helped the team bring home the bronze medal from Barcelona, Spain.  Bruce-Martin now coaches gymnastics, with the goal of opening her own gym.  Bruce-Martin was recently inducted into the USAG Gymnastics hall of fame in 2010 and the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame in 2011.

Johnson is a two-time Olympian gymnast, winning the gold medal in 1984 and captaining the team in 1988. Since retiring from gymnastic competition in 1988, Johnson has continued to train up-and-coming gymnastic competitors in the Orlando, Fla. area.

Tyler earned a gold medal in the 4×200 meter freestyle relay and took fifth in the 200 meter free at the 1972 games in Munich, Germany. He currently teaches at Lake Mary High School in Lake Mary, Fla. and was previously the school’s head aquatic coach where he trained numerous state champions and All Americans in both swimming and water polo.

 

What:               Summer Games Celebration at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

 

When:              6:00pm – 9:00pm, July 27

Opening ceremonies broadcast begins at 7:30pm

 

Where:             Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel, Dolphin Lobby

1500 Epcot Resorts Blvd.

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. 32830

 

Who:    The event is free and open to hotel guests and the public (Please note, there is a fee for on-site parking)

 

For more information:   Visit www.swandolphin.com/summergames or call 407-934-4000      

 

In the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, the award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is the gateway to Central Florida’s greatest theme parks and attractions. The hotel is located between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and nearby Disney’sAnimal Kingdom Theme Park and Magic Kingdom Park. Guests can discover 17 world-class restaurants and lounges, sophisticated guest rooms with Westin Heavenly Beds and the luxurious Mandara Spa. The hotel features five pools, two health clubs, tennis, nearby golf, complimentary transportation throughout the Walt Disney World Resort and the Extra Magic Hours benefit, where each day, one of the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks is open extra time to enjoy select attractions.  (Valid Theme Park admission and Resort ID required). The hotel can be reached at 800-227-1500www.swandolphin.com or through Facebook at www.facebook.com/swananddolphin.

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Touring Walt Disney World with newbies

Dad, Debbie and me at MK

In the last few months I have had somewhat new experiences to me: touring the parks with guests who had never been to Walt Disney World before. It was also a bit unique in that last month was with my mom and my 86 year old grandma and the following week was with a friend from school, her husband and their eight and a half month old son. Previously I had met up with friends with young kids and others with parents and grandparents, but had never really spent the entire day with people this far on either end of the age spectrum. With these ages there are certainly considerations that must be taken into account when planning.

Back in December I had what I consider to be a major coup: I was finally able to get my dad to go to WDW after 30+ years of resistance. I think the fact that I told him he wouldn’t need to pay to get in the parks and that I could get a discount on the rooms helped. This was the man who had never set foot on Disney property until January of 2011 when he came to visit while I was around for marathon weekend running the 5K. On that brief visit, he did not want to purchase a ticket, so he asked the front desk clerk at the Wilderness Lodge, where we were staying, if he could go in for a few hours and try it out for free. I left the front desk dragging him away and shaking my head in disbelief. He did take a trip around both monorail loops and claimed he technically went to Epcot since he was in their air space (okay, sure dad), but we mostly visited resorts.

So we planned a trip for my dad and his wife, Debbie, to come down and make a side trip to Disney World since they were coming to Florida for my brother’s college graduation anyways. Debbie had been to WDW, but it had been well over twenty years since her last visit, so it was all pretty much new to her. Trying to plan a trip for someone has never been before presents the challenge of how much do you want to and can you get done in one and a half days of park time. You don’t want to overwhelm them with every single bit of minutia, but you do want to give them a good taste of the parks and the magic they hold.

With my dad, he wanted to have nothing to do with planning other than he expressed a mild interest in visiting Epcot. Since we were traveling in December, we were able to experience the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on our first evening. Both my dad and Debbie were visibly impressed with the presentation as we were fortunate enough to be there as the switch was flipped to turn the lights on for the evening. The only attractions we rode were Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, Toy Story Midway Mania and the Great Movie Ride. I think this gave them a nice overview of the park since we didn’t get there until around 5pm and the park was closing at eight that night. My dad appreciated the theming and neon luster of the Studios at night.

Dad's first ride on Dumbo!

The next day was our most challenging as they hoped to fit in the Magic Kingdom and Epcot both. We first stopped for breakfast at Captain Cook’s at the Polynesian and then made our way to MK shortly after park opening at nine. We hit mostly classics between Dumbo, It’s a Small World, the Haunted Mansion, the Carousel of Progress, Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise. A lot was accomplished in a short period of time before we made the jaunt to Epcot. The afternoon was spent mostly exploring World Showcase and a bit of Future World with Soarin’, Test Track, Living with the Land and Spaceship Earth. The fact that they are both morning people and were up a bit earlier than I was, factored in to us not experiencing any fireworks or nighttime parades while they were here.

Overall, a good time was had by each individual. My dad was continually amazed by the sheer size of the WDW property and the inner workings and mechanics of how things were operated and went so smoothly. There is a ton that we didn’t do, but for the short period of time I had to work with, I think we accomplished what we set out to do, which was to introduce my dad to Disney World and to have a good time. My mission was a success insomuch as he admitted he really enjoyed himself and wants to come back. Score!

Dad trying to hide his grin, but it isn't working

Fast forward a few months to March of this year and my trip with my mom and grandma. This was a bit different from the previous trip in that my grandma wanted to know what there was to do in each park, wanted to see maps and plan out for the most part what she wanted to see and do in each one. She had been to the Magic Kingdom many times over the past forty years, but it had been quite a while for her and she had only been to Epcot once or twice in the past twenty years or so. My mom is an annual passholder and typically makes it to the parks every three to four months. The impetus for this particular trip was the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.

My mom, grandma and me at Epcot

The first day of our trip the first order of business was Epcot. If we had any additional time we determined we would try to made it to the Studios as well, but there wasn’t much there of interest to my grandma, so Epcot was definitely the priority. Unlike the relatively slow time I had visited with my dad and Debbie in the beginning of December, the middle of March was smack dab in the middle of peak season and spring break. This was very evident when we arrived at Epcot and it literally took 30 minutes from the time we arrived at the line for security to the time we entered the park. The time was pretty much evenly split in waiting between the security and entrance lines.

While my grandma is generally in good health, she does have some mobility issues having had hip replacement surgery a little over a year ago. So, we thought it in everyone’s best interest for her to have a wheelchair for her park touring at least. When we arrived at Pop Century to pre-register for their room (I arrived the night before), we inquired at the front desk about a wheelchair to use while on property. They directed us to bell services who kindly provided us with one to use free of charge for the duration of our stay. We were even advised we were able to take it to the parks. This was great as it saved us $10.+ per day for wheelchair rentals. The only caveat to this is it can be kind of a pain hauling the chair around and having to lift it in and out of your car everywhere you go if you are driving yourself. I became quite a pro at it after two full days.

Now being the klutz that I am, I have experienced several of the parks in wheelchairs, with ECVs and on crutches, but have never accompanied anyone for days in the theme parks who was using any of them. Let me tell you, it is a totally different experience. You have to take into consideration not only energy to push someone up hills (okay inclines) and ramps, but also to be able to hold them back to keep them from careening down them and running over unsuspecting guests. Very quickly you learn the turning radius of wheelchairs and that you do need extra clearance from the guests in front of you as they do tend to stop abruptly to study that park map you may have memorized. I honestly think the wheelchair is more work for those traveling with the guest in the chair than for the mobility challenged guest themselves, but I didn’t really realize this until we were well into the day.

Later that night at DHS

I have to say that Norma, my grandma, was a trooper. We were in Epcot around 9:30am, didn’t leave to go to the Studios just see give her the old Hollywood feel and ambiance until around 7pm. After an hour of wheeling her around DHS, we went to get dinner at Downtown Disney at Wolfgang Puck Express. We didn’t get back to the room to eat dinner until after 11pm and they had been up since before 6am to drive up from Bradenton.

The next day we were back up and at it and heading to the Magic Kingdom before 8am, arriving there by way of sightseeing at the Polynesian shortly after 9. Again, there are things that I really didn’t think of ahead of time. Very simple things like the path I usually take from the parking lot to the lobby of the Polynesian has a large pole in the middle of it, making it inaccessible for wheelchairs (lesson learned). I also tend to favor taking the boat over the monorail, but it is much easier to travel the highway in the sky with a wheelchair and ramp as opposed to stepping several feet down (and subsequently back up) to get in and out of the boat, also having to fold and carry the wheelchair.

We had a great time once we got to the MK and stayed until late afternoon before making a last minute decision to make a side trip to the Animal Kingdom before returning to MK for Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes. The only two things we were trying to do were Kilimanjaro Safaris and then the Festival of the Lion King. Based on the lateness of the day, we knew there was a chance that we wouldn’t be able to do both as there was only one more Lion King show by the time we arrived and you never know with the animals. We went straight back to the safari and were in for a treat. We had the best safari experience ever! The animals were all out, even both the male and female lions. As soon as we disembarked the vehicle, my mom started off for the Lion King, leaving me to push my grandma, making a mad dash for Camp Minnie – Mickey from the outskirts of Harambe. I thought I was going to die, but you can actually push someone in a wheelchair from the safari exit to the entrance of the Lion King in seven minutes!

I got to do some things that I hadn’t before over the two days with my mom and grandma. I learned there are boats for

Norma getting loaded on to a Jungle Cruise boat

Gran Fiesta Tour and It’s a Small World where you can just drive the wheelchair on and you basically have a private boat for your party as long as you are willing to wait. There is some great seating for guests with wheelchairs in many of the shows like American Adventure, the Hall of Presidents, Impressions de France, Mickey’s Philharmagic, the Carousel of Progress, etc. Some attractions are more challenging with constant loading via conveyor belts and speedramps that can’t be stopped like the Peoplemover. All throughout though, I have to say the Cast Members were great. They were very understanding and patient and helped us in loading Norma in and out of ride vehicles as necessary.

After that trip, I needed a break and wasn’t planning on visiting the parks for a couple weeks at least. That was until I got a message from a friend from elementary school, Laura, whom I hadn’t seen in 20+ years. She was going to be in Celebration visiting her mom and was down for a few days with her husband and son. We decided we would get together last minute on a Thursday since I had the day off and I offered to get them into the parks. Laura had not been planning to visit any of the parks since her son Riley was so young, she said she couldn’t justify the expenditure of tickets for the day for her and her husband Matt of almost $200. I totally understood, but told her I would take care of that if they wanted to go.

We met at the Polynesian mid morning since Laura and Matt decided they wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom. Matt had never been to WDW before, other than to run the half marathon earlier this year. So he had never experienced any attractions in any of the parks, nor had their eight and a half month old son Riley. The length and schedule of the day was going to be dictated by the boys since we had no idea how long Riley was going to last and what Matt was going to want to do. Laura had been a CM years ago and I’m in the parks practically weekly, so we had no problem ceding control to them.

Matt’s first ride ever was Space Mountain, and it is probably good we got that out of the way first since everything else was tame in comparison. Laura waited with Riley while I took Matt on what is admittedly my least favorite of the mountains. I tried to help assuage Matt’s fear of the unknown by pointing out the numerous kids in line and even striking up a conversation with the eight year old girl in line in front of us. I think she convinced him to ride more so than I did as his anxiety level was increasing as we neared the ride vehicles and could hear screams.

Matt's first ride in a Disney park ever!!!

After Space, Matt decided the tamer Dumbo was something he could definitely handle. It was very cool seeing the park through his eyes for the first time. He appreciated the theming and attention to detail on rides like Winnie the Pooh. The only rides Laura and Riley got to experience with us, partly due to timing and choice, were Pirates of the Caribbean and the Jungle Cruise. He did really well on Pirates until the drop when he got a little wet. We had discussed the drop and they were comfortable with his security on it, but we failed to consider how he would react to getting wet. After just a momentary break in composure, he returned to his wonderful smiling self and was fine. He did great on the Jungle Cruise as well. Boat rides tend to be soothing for young children, so I think JC was a good choice to end the day with.

Riley was a champ throughout the day. Aside from the getting wet on Pirates thing, he did not let out a single cry in the almost eight hours we were in the park. He did well waiting with his mom and people watching and even got to ride a couple rides. Later in the day, thanks to Riley, I was introduced to the Baby Care Center at the Magic Kingdom. It is tucked away in the corner by First Aid between Casey’s and Crystal Palace. There are small private rooms for parents to take their children to for changing or just for a quiet place to get away from the noise and sometimes crowds of the parks. My friends found this to be a great refuge even though it was only needed as a place to change Riley’s diaper.

At the end of the day Riley was still smiling

 

These three different groups of newbies of different sorts taught me many things. One thing is I don’t tour the parks like I do when I’ve got others with me who haven’t been before. By this I mean, I tend to go through the parks at a relatively leisurely pace when by myself or with my friends who are annual passholders. Since we go often, we are rarely compelled to have to do anything. If we don’t get to do something, it will be there next week or the week after. With guests from out of town who have never been, you want them to be able to soak in as much of the magic as possible. I certainly don’t force people to go at breakneck speed, but if they want to keep going, I’m not going to be the one to quit either (see the stupidity of me staying up for the entire 24+ hours of Leap Day in the Magic Kingdom). You live and learn. Next time with each group, things will be different. Everyone will be a little older, a little wiser, and have some more experience under their belts. We can go back and hit favorites or focus on the things they missed last time. I don’t know anyone who has done it all. Things are constantly changing in the parks, and I wholeheartedly believe that the experiences are made just as much, if not more so, by those you are with as opposed to just the parks themselves.

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Easter Happenings At Walt Disney World

This week at Walt Disney World guests will find an array of events for the Easter Holiday. From special dining offerings at select restaurants, to activities at the resorts and in the theme parks, Disney has you covered, even down to religious services. With options available across property, Walt Disney World has taken strides to make guests feel at home in celebrating the holiday while on vacation.

As they do for Christmas, Walt Disney World is providing the Fantasia ballroom at Disney’s Contemporary Resort to hold Easter services this Sunday morning. Catholic Mass will be held at 8:00am and 10:15am, while Protestant services will be at 9:00am. If you are looking for other religious services, contact the concierge at your resort and they can assist you in finding the nearest location for your denomination or religious preference.

Restaurants are also joining in the celebration by offering special menus. Participating restaurants include: Captain’s Grille (brunch) at Disney’s Yacht Club, Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, The Wave (brunch) at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Cape May Cafe (dinner) at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, and Garden Grove (dinner) at the Walt Disney World Swan.

In the theme parks you will find a variety of entertainment options:

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom the Yak & Yeti DJ Dance Party will take place 4:00-8:00pm April 4 & 5 and 3:00-7:00pm April 6-14 in Asia. Africa will play host to Bourdicka April 4-14 at 3:10, 4:35, 5:30 and 6:30pm.

Epcot will have Easter Egg Hunts and Relays inside the UK pavilion of World Showcase for children ages 3-9 and 8-12 respectively. There will also be a smaller section for children under 3 to participate in their own hunt. The Easter Egg Hunts will be every 10 minutes from 11:00am – 3:30pm and the Relays will be every 40 minutes between 11:40am and 3:40pm. Also on hand will be Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny to greet guests from 11:30am – 4:00pm. Space is limited for sign ups for the hunts and relays with registration starting approximately half an hour before each hunt. Future World East will be having Easter Egg Hunts as well for children 3-9 in addition to some Easter themed games. The hunts will take place on the quarter hour starting at 10:00am and ending at 4:00pm.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a special dessert just for the Easter holiday from April 6-17. The pineapple coconut Easter cupcake will be sold at ABC Commissary, Backlot Express, Pizza Planet, Starring Rolls and Studio Catering Company. Additional outdoor beverage stands will also be added around Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, The Hollywood Brown Derby, Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano, and 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Sweet Spells will have several other holiday related treats, including some Kosher offerings.

The Magic Kingdom will have a meet and greet with Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny until Sunday in the garden to the left of City Hall in the Tour Guide Garden.

On Easter Sunday, all Disney Resorts will have special activities of their own including Easter Egg Hunts, special arts and crafts activities, pool games themed around Easter, dance parties, and you can even meet some of your favorite Disney characters in their Easter costumes. There are even in room celebrations that you can order from Disney Florist. See this recent post on the Disney Parks Blog regarding Easter baskets you can have delivered for your family.

No matter how you choose to celebrate with your family and friends, it seems like Disney has something for everyone. Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend and enjoy!

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TrenD Report – January 23, 2012

It’s time for another TrenD Report!!!

One thing that I have noticed since my last visit, is that there really has not been a lot of new Disney items added to the store, but the amount of Toki Doki and Betsy Johnson Betsyville has definitely increased! It is starting to feel more like a Juniors Department rather than a Disney Couture Boutique. I hope that this changes in the future, but among the regular stuff I was able to find a few Disney gems!!!

I love how shimmery the print on this Minnie tee looks in the sun!

 

The 80's feel of this sweatshirt is fantastic!

 

I love the design of this Tinkerbell Tea Pot! The wings add such a nice touch of whimsy!

 

I love the saucer of the matching Tinkerbell Tea Cup!

 

This Tinkerbell frame is adorable!!!

 

Piggy Bank!!! Shopping Fund inside!!!

 

I might be obsessed with this oversized LoungeFly canvas tote!!!!

 

You HAVE to get the matching wallet!!! The quality of these LoungFly purses and wallets is amazing!

 

The Disney Couture Jewelry line has had a bit of a refresh, and it now has a very Juicy Couture feel to it in terms of size and design.

 

More of the Disney Couture Jewelry Line...

 

An Alice in Wonderland Blingtastic mug!!!

 

The foil touches and rhinestones of these mugs are just right! Sassy Tinkerbell Mug!

 

The Mickey made of fabric ruffle is adorable in person!

 

Another LoungeFly purse!

 

The Muppets OPI collection has arrived at TrenD!!!

 

This Tiana t-shirt is super flirty!!!

 

Old School Minnie? Yes, please!

 

This purse is perfect for Valentine's Day!!!

 

There are finally some new buttons!!!

 

And before you leave, don’t forget to find this bad boy…

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Sneak Peek At The 2012 Disney Park Trading Pins

One of the coolest perks of attending a DVC Merry Mixer, Thank you Todd and Cheryl Perlmutter, is that you get a sneak peek at some of the pins and accessories that will be available in the upcoming months.

I am in LOVE with the Annual Passholder Key Pins!!!

I hope that you love this sneak peek at the 2012 Pins!!!

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Celebration Kicks Off The Holiday Season In Style!

Celebration kicks off it’s exciting 13th Annual Holiday Events on November 26th with a schedule full of family fun!!!

The festivities begin on November 26th with the tree lighting ceremony that will include performances, strolling carolers,  the first snowfall of the season, a visit from the main man, and some surprises.

Gina Marie Incandela will perform at 5:30 pm to kick off the event, followed by a special tree lighting ceremony and the first snowfall of the season at 6:00 pm. Snow will also fall at 7, 8, and 9 pm.

Now Snowing, Central Florida’s original and premier “Snowing” event, offers an all new ice rink and a schedule filled with surprises. Now Snowing happens nightly until December 31st.

I love how the snow machines are all named!!!

This nightly Winter Wonderland Spectacular features strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, photos with Santa, horse drawn carriage rides, the Celebration Express train, and nightly snowfall at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 PM.

The ice rink will be open daily from 4:00-10:00 PM through January 2nd, and there are Resident and guest passes available.

 

In addition to the everyday fun at Now Snowing Nightly, join us for the Orlando Sentinel Celebration of Voices on December 3rd and you can catch a special   Radio Disney Holiday concert and filled with surprise performances on December 10th.

Now Snowing Nightly parking and admission are free. Parking can get a little crazy, so you may want to plan on being here earlier than you think.

If you come down to take in the festivities, make sure to drop me a line and let me know what you think!!!

 

 

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Marvel Coming Soon to Epcot

When ‘Don’t Waste It’ presented by Waste Management left Innoventions East I was bummed! It was a game that the while family enjoyed!

But since the game’s departure, there has been a large amount of activity in it’s place.

‘Habit Heroes’ presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield & Blue Cross Blue Shield is slated to open in very early 2012.

This highly interactive experience centering around Health & Wellness will also mark Marvel’s formal entrance into the Walt Disney World Parks.

You can really tell from the art work posted on the surrounding walls that their influence into the design of the space will be amazing.

I know that it may just be an area in Innoventions, but I am excited to see what Marvel can add to the Walt Disney World park experiences.

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Happy Halloween From Around Orlando!

Happy Halloween!!!!

I thought I would share a few of my favorite pictures from around the parks and Celebration today!

I hope that you have more treats than tricks!!!

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Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

During select nights during September and October the Magic Kingdom closes early to allow guests to enjoy Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

And before we go any further, I have to say that Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is hands down my absolute FAVORITE event all year at Walt Disney World…so I might get a little excited about the party!

The Magic Kingdom has special lighting, effects, and decorations that transforms the Magic Kingdom into a Halloween Wonderland. Guests are also encouraged to dress up to add to the awesomeness of the party!

The Pet Cemetery at Haunted Mansion.

On top of the great atmosphere, there is soooo much to do!!!

Trick-or-Treating throughout the Magic Kingdom alongside my favorite attractions and specially themed trails happens throughout the party!

CANDY!!!!!
Zoe Trick-or-Treating near the Speedway.
Since Toontown is long gone (sigh), Br'er Rabbits Laughing Place Candy Patch has been created near Splash Mountain.
Things are really festive on the dock near the Liberty Belle!

The Boo To You Parade starts with a super special ride from the Headless Horseman and ends with an absolutely amazing parade starring tons of characters from around the parks and movies. The parade steps off in Frontierland, and there are two parades at 8:15 pm and 10:30 pm. I strongly suggest going to the second parade, because it is less crowded!

It was hard to take good pictures...but here are a few that came out...

 

Tick Tock...Tick Tock...

 

Haunted Mansion Dancers

 

The Funky...but evil band

 

PLUTO!!!!

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwZEr6T3T_Y

You also have the opportunity to find rare characters, your favorite characters in special Halloween Costumes, and themed entertainment mingling among the guests.

A Butler at the Haunted Mansion...

 

One of my favorite parts of MNSSHP!!!!

 

The Cadaver Dans

 

Zoe and Gaston!

And the night is topped off with the most amazing fireworks during Happy Hallowishes!!!

 

 

Also, don’t forget that there is party exclusive merchandise that is available during the Party! For more information about what this year’s items look like, take a peek at this post.

To look at what this year’s map looks like, click here.

There is absolutely something for everyone at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party!!!! If you love Halloween, this is absolutely the place you are going to want to be!!!

 

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Hunting for Hidden Mickeys at Walt Disney World

Hidden among the attractions, shows, resorts, and just about any other place you can think of are Hidden Mickeys.

Hidden Mickeys are created by Imagineers and are hidden among their creations like a signature. They can take many different shapes and forms, from the traditional 3 circle mickey or even a profile of the famous mouse, but one thing remains the same…that they are there to be found and enjoyed.

Steve and Vickie Barrett have lovingly created fascinating books and an amazing site about the pursuit of finding these hidden gems.

While they might not know it, they have created a family obsessed with Hunting for Mickeys wherever we go.

I thought that I would start sharing a few of my favorites from all around Walt Disney World.

My favorite Park is Epcot, so let’s go!!!

The Mickey is hidden in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot.

 

I love this one at Test Track...

 

This one in Morocco is pretty obvious, but I still love it!!!

 

This is Zoe's favorite Hidden Mickey!!!

 

Here is another one from Test Track...

 

What are some of your favorite Hidden Mickeys in Epcot?

 

 

 

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The Second Annual Food And Wine Classic At The Swan And Dolphin Returns With Expanded Offerings

This year the Food and Wine Classic at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel returns for the second year on October 7th and 8th  expanding their food, wine, festival offerings and Celebrity Chef Experiences.

Once again, the event will include an outdoor festival featuring culinary selections from the Orlando hotel’s award-winning restaurants and lounges, as well as a series of beverage seminars taught by the hotel’s certified experts.

This year there are going to be additional educational experiences that will be offered during the outdoor festival, an expanded variety of food and drink options and an opportunity to meet celebrity chef Todd English.

In the outdoor festival, you will be able to find more than 30 stations that will offer attendees plenty of opportunity to indulge in the best of both food and drink that the Swan and Dolphin Restaurants have to offer. The restaurants included in this year’s appetizing selections are Shula’s Steak House, Il Mulino New York Trattoria and Todd English’s bluezoo.

A closer look at the Food and Wine Classic Food Booth offerings can be found here.

Beverage stations will also provide educational experiences and feature offerings such as wine, sake, beer and cocktails created using liquid nitrogen. Wines from various regions from around the world will be offered including France, Italy, California and Australia.

To finish, guests can delight in a selection of desserts from the only two-time World Pastry Champion, Laurent Branlard, the hotel’s executive pastry chef.

If that isn’t enough, during the festival there will be live musical performances from The Groove Masters, Four Divo, The Current, and The Beu Sisters.

Those looking for a more in-depth experience can choose from a variety of hour-long beverage seminars taught by certified wine sommeliers and beer and cocktail specialists from the hotel’steam. Attendees will learn drink origins, pairing tips and enjoy an informative tasting experience.

Seminars will be offered both evenings and include Wine Blending; Modern Mixology; Riesling Rendezvous; Base to Bubbles; Beer, Please! and All Things Sake. A new seminar offering, Spanish Wines, will teach guests about Spanish wine regions and creative Spanish wine blends.

Throughout the evening, attendees will have additional opportunities to learn about beverage through a Cocktail 101 recurring class that will take place during the outdoor festival.

With 17 restaurants and lounges, a distinguished culinary and beverage team and unmatched customer service, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel continually receives national recognition for its food and beverage program. The hotel features more than 70 certified wine sommeliers and 1,400 wine selections, including organic and rare vintages.

Tickets to the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic are available as part of a hotel package or individually.

For more information or to book, please visit www.SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com or by calling 1-800-227-1500.

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The Carolwood Pacific: Fair Weather Route to host a ‘Conversation with a Magic Kingdom Steam Train Specialist’

Nestled inside the The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, is a true Hidden Gem…The Carolwood Pacific: Fair Weather Route.

Now I am sure that the person who showed me this spot is going to KILL me for sharing, but I can’t help it!!!

This quiet and peaceful room is filled with comfy chairs, game tables, and tons of Steam Train Memorabilia!

This was my favorite Oil Painting!!!
This model of the Lilly Belle was made in celebration of Walt Disney's 100th Birthday, and was absolutely amazing!!!

But by far the most amazing thing inside of this space is two actual freight cars from The Carolwood Pacific!!! (I absolutely apologize for the the quality of these pictures. My enthusiasm is greater than my skill for taking photos!)

What I found to be super cool, is that this lounge will be playing host to a ‘Conversation with a Magic Kingdom® Steam Train Specialist’ September 13th and 27th at 11:30 am.

Learn how Walt Disney’s lifetime love of steam trains led to their becoming an integral part of the Magic Kingdom® in this opportunity to talk one on one with a knowledgeable Steam Train Specialist from the Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour. Hear the history of how the Magic Kingdom® Steam Trains came to be the magnificent and massive steam locomotives they are today. We’ll See you in the Carolwood Pacific Room at The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. All Aboard!

It never ceases to amaze me what you are able to find when you slow down and go off the beaten path during your visit to Walt Disney World!!!

If you are visiting the Wilderness Lodge, I absolutely suggest taking a moment to walk down to the Villas to visit this room that pays homage to such an important part of Walt Disney World’s history.

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Who isn’t a fan of a Swinter Wonderland of Mini-Golf?

Playing mini-golf was always one of those activities that we always promised ourselves that we would do on on next trip, and I am so sorry we waited so long!!!

Of the two courses on property we chose Winter Summerland, located next to Blizzard Beach, for our mini-golf adventure.

The prices seem on par for mini-golf courses off property, and coupled with the Annual Passholders (and Cast Member) discount of 50% off it is an amazing value!!!!

Of the two courses available at Winter Summerland, we chose to play the Snow Course. It was not a super busy day, but for planning purposes the 18 holes took us about an hour to complete with 4 adults and 2 young kids, who didn’t play very many holes, in our party.

The holes are super themed! My favorite details were the bumper stickers on the elf sized trailers and the 18th hole!

First Stop, Blizzard Beach!Welcome to Winter Summerland!!!Welcome Path Signs
Registration AreaA sleigh...and a trailer...oh my!Garland...and snow...License PlatesWinter CourseHole No. 1
ElfstreamsHole No. 2Hole No. 3Before CoolerAfter CoolerHole No. 4
More Elfstream Fun!Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...Where there's smoke...Hole No. 5Dangerous path...

Winter Summerland, a set on Flickr.

Here is a look at two videos of the 18th hole…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9YnycyG07Q]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGNdSrF03u4]

It was an absolute blast, and I can’t thank Scarlett (@scarlettashley1) & her boys, Ben (@snowpup), and Betsy (@floridamingo) enough for the great morning!!! I especially want to thank Ben for knocking my ball into the hole twice!!! 🙂

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