Christmas Bricktacular Premium Upgrades at LEGOLAND Florida

Over at Legoland Florida there are some new experiences during the holidays and Christmas Bricktacular to help make your holiday season a memorable one.

Welcome to Legoland LEGOLAND Florida Christmas Bricktacular Premium Upgrades Lego Christmas Tree LEGOLAND Florida Christmas Bricktacular Premium Upgrades 2016

In addition to Christmas Bricktacular beginning on December 17, this weekend they began offering the LEGO® Santa’s Breakfast and LEGO® Santa’s Christmas Workshop. I recently had the opportunity to attend these events and they were so much fun, especially if you have Lego fans in your family (which I do).

Lego Santa’s Breakfast

Breakfast is held every Saturday and Sunday through December 18 and then daily December 24-December 31 from 9:00-10:00 AM. Lego Santa hosts you and your family at the historical Magnolia Mansion. When you arrive, you get a picture taken with him that you’ll get to take home and are shown to an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet.

Magnolia Mansion
Magnolia Mansion
Lego Santa
Lego Santa
Family Picture
Family Picture

Breakfast included bacon and sausage, eggs, french toast, waffles, biscuits and gravy, and a seasonal bread pudding. All of the food and drinks are set up in the mansion. There were Lego displays all around to check out as you filled your plate.

Mansion Trees Mansion Deco Lego Display Lego Display legoland-8 Holiday bread pudding

Legos are present your table (make sure to look inside the giant mini fig head). During our time, we were visited by Mrs. Claus, Lego Toy Soldier, and Lego Buddy the Elf. We had a very deep conversation with Mrs. Claus about our favorite cookies.

Table Decorations
Toy Soldier
Toy Soldier
Mrs. Claus
Mrs. Claus

Kids are given some paper to write a letter to Santa and each family receives a Lego ornament.

Letter Ornament Reindeer

There are also several games set up on the lawn.

Playtime Lawn

This event is a great way to start your day in Legoland. It costs $35 per person plus tax. Annual passholders can receive a discount.

Lego Santa’s Workshop

The workshop takes place in the afternoons from 1:00-2:30 on the same days as the breakfast. When you arrive to Magnolia Mansion, you’ll be given an elf hat Lego pin and be given the opportunity to take a fun picture with Lego Santa and Lego Toy Soldier.

Magnolia Elf Pin Family Pic

Next, cookies and milk are available inside. Out on the tables, each person had a bottle of water and a bag of Legos to use during the workshop. Then it was time for a master model builder to give us instruction on building the mystery figure in our bags.

Mystery Bag
Master Model Builder Luke
What could it be?

During the lesson we learned proper terminology for the different pieces. Our master model builder, Luke, and the other model citizens were great at answering questions. Afterwards, we were free to take pictures around the mansion and they gave us a cool lego case to carry home our figures. We also got the picture that we took earlier with Lego Santa and Toy Soldier.

Figure Family Selfie

My family and I really enjoyed our workshop time. Since the figure itself was on the easy side, even guests who have never built Lego models would be able to follow and successfully complete it. The workshop costs $35 per person plus tax.

Both of these premium upgrades are a lot of fun if you’re looking for something special to add to your day at Legoland Florida during the holidays or when you attend Christmas Bricktacular. The Model Citizens were all wonderful to hang out with at both events. Plus you get some pretty fun souvenirs to take home. Check out Legoland Florida’s website for more information on these special events.


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A Stroll Down Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail


Christmas Tree Trail Disney Springs 2016 -

A stroll down the Christmas Tree Trail at Disney Springs

This holiday season Disney has added a few new entertainment options to Disney Springs. One of them, the Christmas Tree Trail, debuted this past weekend. When the Disney Parks Blog first made the announcement, I was definitely looking forward to it. The description reminded me of the trees that used decorate the Camp Minnie Mickey area of Animal Kingdom before it was closed to make way for Avatar.

The new Christmas Tree Trail is located at the old Marketplace bus depot and you enter in between Once Upon a Toy and Earl of Sandwich. There’s a DJ set up in the area, along with the large Christmas tree that they light every evening at 6:00PM.

Tree Trail Trail Entrance Main Tree Trail at Night

We decided to walk the trail twice, before and after it got dark. During the day, it is much less crowded and easier to see some of the details on the trees. The snow machines run at night and of course the twinkle lights make it a bit more festive. My photos came out much better during the day too so that’s what you’ll mostly see here.

There are 15 trees and each one has a different Disney theme. The decorations went beyond just covering the tree in the characters. Some of them you even had to think about a little bit (like a spoonful of sugar on the Mary Poppins tree). It really reminded me of a hometown festival of trees.


Villains Villains Apple

Mickey & Minnie

Mickey & Minnie



Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast Cogsworth Mrs Potts

The Little Mermaid

Little Mermaid Mermaid Lantern


Cinderella Cinderella coach Cinderella midnight

The Princess and the Frog

Princess and the Frog Frog Prince

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins Spoonful of Sugar Chimney Sweep Umbrellas


Frozen Sven

The Jungle Book

Jungle Book Kaa



101 Dalmatians

Dalmatians Dalmatian Coat


Tangled at Night Pascal on lantern Tangled Paint Tangled


Muppets Kermit

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland Cheshire Tea

The trail a nice holiday addition that fits with the hometown feel of Disney Springs. I hope they keep the tree trail for future years and even improve upon it. The area has a lot of space to add even more Christmas lights and decorations. Maybe even add some more activities. Have you visited the tree trail? Which tree is your favorite?

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Wordless Wednesday – Christmas in Orlando

Wordless Wednesday – December 25, 2013

We want to wish everyone celebrating today a very Merry Christmas!

We hope that you all have a day full of family, fun, and love!

Merry Christmas from Orlando!!!

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Pick Six: Universal Orlando Naughty & Nice Holiday

I always enjoy the holiday events at Universal Orlando. The celebration takes place in both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure with a lot to see and do. This year I was able to take my nephew for his first time to take part in the festivities. Here are six highlights from that day and my previous visits over the past few of years.


1. Grinchmas – Islands of Adventure

Universal  Grinch

MeanOne  Finale

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas has always been one of my favorite Christmas stories so seeing it brought to life on stage is so fun! The music is great and the Grinch is always fantastic. There are even a few surprises thrown in! The show runs several times a day. There aren’t any bad seats, but in my experience I like sitting on the right side of the stage for a good view of one of those surprises I mentioned.

2. Suess Landing – Islands of Adventure

SeussLanding LittleTree WelcomeChristmas

Garland Lorax

To get to Grinchmas, you must pass through Seuss Landing. This is the most decorated parts of the park with trees and garland everywhere! I love all the whimsical touches. There are even signs with lyrics to “Welcome Christmas.”

3. Macy’s Holiday Parade – Universal Studios

ParadeBanner Minions Hippo

CandyCane Santa SantaLights

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been a must-watch for me every Thanksgiving morning for as long as I can remember. One year in college I was lucky enough to be able to visit New York and see it in person. I may not be able to visit New York each year, but I can get a little taste when some of the balloons and floats travel down for the parade here. It even features Santa Claus, who will light the Christmas tree set up in front of the Macy’s façade. How can you not smile while giant balloons float by? Some of them might even dance for you! One year I hope to be able to be one of the balloon handlers!

4. Giant Balloons – Universal Studios

Elf Grover Garfield

Cat George

Speaking of balloons, some of the larger ones from the New York parade are set up around the park. It’s fun going around and taking pictures with them. Garfield and The Cat in the Hat are my favorites!

5. Mannheim Steamroller Concerts – Universal Studios

FullStage Mannheim BlueStage

Mannheim Steamroller performs on Saturday and Sunday nights during the holidays. I’ve always enjoyed their Christmas music so it’s a treat to hear them live, especially “Carol of the Bells.” The concert does take a lot from the Grinchmas show, providing almost a recap with actors from the show. So it can get a little repetitive if you had watched that show earlier in the day. The music is still great though!

6. Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Island of Adventure

Snowman BerryWreath Wreath

I’m putting this one last because not much changes here from a normal day that’s not during the holiday season. But I had to include it because the snow covered roofs and snowman seem so much more festive and fitting when there are wreaths on the doors!  I’ve also heard the Frog Choir sing a few Christmas songs.


Have you been to Universal Orlando during their holiday celebration? What are you favorite things to see and do? It’s definitely become a tradition to go each year to take part in the festivities!

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Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Some of my favorite Christmas trees in all of Walt Disney World are the Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees that can be found in Animal Kingdom’s Camp Minnie-Mickey, and with Christmas less than a week away and the closing of this area coming up quickly I wanted to make sure I shared these Character Christmas Trees with you!

Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Scattered around the Camp Minnie-Mickey, these Character Christmas Trees are designed to include iconic details and ‘personal’ touches from characters that meet (or have met) in the Camp Minnie-Mickey area of Animal Kingdom.

What I especially love about these trees is that they aren’t as polished and perfect as most Christmas trees you will find around Walt Disney World! They really make you feel like the characters chose these decorations personally and on purpose to represent them and their story.

The  Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees ‘homemade’ feel and attention to detail make them feel authentic and genuine instead of staged and perfect. I always feel like I find new details, a new favorite ornament, and even a new favorite tree every year.

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

I love how Pluto’s tree is full of ornaments made of dog bones, his collar, some of his favorite toys, and even his dog house!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Goofy’s tree is sure to warm your heart with memories from some of his iconic shorts and special ornaments from Max, This tree is adorable!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Mickey’s tree is full of some of his favorite things about Christmas! You will even find his Santa Ears!
 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Minnie’s tree is topped with her polka dot bow and full of red and white details and her iconic white daisies. I’m absolutely biased when I say that this is my favorite tree!!!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

The Lion King inspired Christmas Tree is full of masks from the story and details that make The Lion King show at Animal Kingdom so fabulous!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Meeko’s Christmas Tree is full of his favorite treats and a portrait of him. It’s a cute tree!!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Timon and Pumbaa’s tree is a definite mix of their personalities! You’ll find portraits of them on ornaments throughout the tree and some of their favorite grubs and insects crawling on the tree’s bows and branches.

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

The Brother Bear tree is full of bears, paw prints, and their favorite foods and details. It’s a great tree!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Lilo’s tree is full of records, her dolls, and a Hawaiian flower garlands. This tree is definitely the most colorful!!!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Chip and Dale’s tree is full of acorns and details from the shorts that have made them so lovable! These mischievous chipmunks really outdid themselves!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

You’ll find all sorts of great details from the 100 Acre Wood on this Tiggerrific Christmas Tree!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Baloo and King Louie share a tree that is sure to make any Jungle Book fan smile!

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

The Country Bear’s tree is full of moonshine, portraits of performers from Country Bear Hall, and music notes.

 Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

Pocahontas has decorated her tree with her favorite flower, mocsasins, and more of her favorite things!  Animal Kingdom Character Christmas Trees

There’s no doubt as to who this Character Christmas Tree belongs to!!!

Animal Kingdom’s Camp Minnie-Mickey will be closing in January to make way for construction to continue for Avatarland, and I can only hope that is not the last time that we see these Character Christmas Trees!

For some of my other favorite things about Animal Kingdom, make sure you check out the video we made earlier this year for the park’s 15th Anniversary!


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On the Go Gift Guide: Jake And The Neverland Pirates Game

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Disney Eye Found It LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie Doc McStuffins All Better Game

And closing out the selection of Disney games for our On the Go Gift Guide is Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt from Wonder Forge!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt is a really interactive and fun game that takes your normal ‘matching’ game to the next level!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Yo ho, let’s go! Captain Hook has buried pirate booty all over Shipwreck Beach. Flip over the gold doubloons and use Jake’s spyglass to decode the secret clues. When you get a match, get up and go! Snag the correct treasure with the foam sword and hurry back to score!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt At A Glance

  • 2 or more players ages 3+
  • Matching
  • Memory
  • Physical Dexterity

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Product Contents
  • 5 Treasures
  • 5 Treasure Bases
  • 12 Doubloons
  • 1 Treasure Map Storage Bag
  • 1 Foam Sword
  • 1 Spyglass Decoder
  • 1 Sand Timer
  • 1 Game Rules Manual

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

A really cool feature of Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt is that the game board is actually the bag where you store all of the pieces for the game!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Zoe really loved using the Spyglass decoder to help her make pairs! It was such a fun twist on matching that kept her involved in the game.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

We found that the timer included with the game provides more than enough time to pick up the treasures of Shipwreck Beach!

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

As a family, we really enjoyed playing Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt and Zoe can’t wait to play with her friends over their holiday break!

Disclosure: Through a partnership with Wonder Forge Games, I have received a promotional item in exchange for this post. All opinions and thoughts are my own!

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On the Go Gift Guide: Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Disney Eye Found It LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Next up for the On the Go Gift Guide is Doc McStuffins All Better Game from Wonder Forge Games!

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Doc McStuffins All Better Game is a really adorable game starring all of your favorite characters from the extremely popular Doc McStuffins show on Disney Junior.

Make the boo boos go away like Doc McStuffins! Each slap bracelet bandage is a different mystery ouchie. Take turns trying to figure out which doctor tool will make things all better! It’s a fun game of pretending and playful problem-solving!

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Doc McStuffins All Better Game at a Glance

  • 2 or more players ages 3 and up

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

  • Matching
  • Memory skills
  • Turn-taking and playing together

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

Product Contents
  • 1 Storage Bag
  • 6 Slap Bracelet Bandages
  • 6 Foam Tools
  • 8 Scoring Tiles
  • 1 Spinner
  • 1 Game Rules Manual

Zoe is a HUGE Doc McStuffins fan, so we had a ton of fun playing this game!!! She really loved the slap bracelets and feeling like she was really helping her friends!

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

What I really love about this game is that all of the game pieces fit neatly into Doc McStuffins’ bag making for clean up that even the youngest players will find easy!

Doc McStuffins All Better Game

We really had fun playing the Doc McStuffins All Better Game, and if you are a fan of the show you will, too!!!

Disclosure: Through a partnership with Wonder Forge Games, I have received a promotional item in exchange for this post. All opinions and thoughts are my own!

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On the Go Gift Guide: LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie

Disney Eye Found It LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie

When the Disney It’s a Small World collaboration ended with its final collection this Fall, I was beyond sad because I adored the line! However LeSportsac hasonce again teamed up with Disney again to take a look back at Minnie Mouse through the decades with the Celebrate Minnie print.

 Celebrate Minnie

Minnie has been reinventing her look for close to 90 years, and now you can witness her transformation (and ever so glamorous wardrobe) through the years in one fun print! In the 1920′s Minnie was classically chic in black and white, while the 30′s introduced a more colorful look when she first started sporting her iconic polka-dot outfits. The 40′s brought her signature bow, and she stayed on trend throughout the fashion revolutions of the 50′s, 60′s, and 70′s – including a flower-power mini-dress with platform shoes! In the 80′s she was working out in her sneakers and sweatshirt, during the 90′s she rocked a ruffled skirt and denim jacket, and the new millennium brought her back to her polka-dot roots. Today Minnie is an inspiration and muse for fashionistas around the world!

 Celebrate Minnie

Minnie Mouse is my favorite character, so I can’t wait to get my hands on one of these bags!!!

The LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie print is offered in 18 Classic styles (listed below), and is currently available online.

6506 Lily                              6511 Rectangular Cosmetic        7184 Medium Weekender

7185 Large Weekender         7315 Travel Cosmetic                7418 Mini Basic Backpack

7470 Small EveryGirl Tote    7507 Deluxe Everyday Bag        7519 Deluxe Shoulder Satchel

7520 Classic Hobo                 7532 Ryan Baby Bag                  7562 Small Cleo Crossbody Hobo

7627 Kasey                            7812 Basic Backpack                  7891 EveryGirl Tote

8070 Ziptop Rollup               8148 Melanie                              8170 Medium Dome Cosmetic

 Celebrate Minnie

I love carrying my Disney LeSportsac purses in and out of the park, because they are lightweight, easy to clean, and are absolutely adorable!

If you’re looking for a great gift for the Disney purse collector on your list, take a look at the LeSportsac Celebrate Minnie print!

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Disneyland Resort First Impressions


Instead of another comprehensive trip report from me on my recent Disneyland visit, I thought I’d do something different and interview my mom, Pam, on her first visit.


What was your overall first impression of Disneyland Resort?

It is a more detailed version of Walt Disney World. It is more compact. I liked it and think their Downtown Disney has a more homey feel. Disneyland has better places to eat than the Magic Kingdom.

What was your favorite show?

World of Color was reminiscent of a show called Dancing Waters from back in the 1950s that I enjoyed as a child. Aladdin in Disney California Adventure was great. My favorite characters were the Genie and the carpet. How a character without any lines can portray so much emotion in playing a carpet was amazing. I also really liked Mickey and the Magical Map in Disneyland. I loved the swing dancers on Saturday night at Disneyland too!

World of Color
World of Color

What was your favorite ride in each park?

In Disneyland, I liked Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. I thought it was a nice themed ride with attention to detail. It was a long, relaxing ride. At California Adventure I liked Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Golden Zephyr and the non-swinging cars on Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

Which did you like better, Haunted Mansion Holiday or It’s A Small World Holiday?

Haunted Mansion Holiday
Haunted Mansion Holiday

That’s a tough one. I liked them both. The Haunted Mansion Holiday was really nice with the theming, but this brought such a change to the ride from the regular Haunted Mansion. The queues are also both so different from Walt Disney World. I enjoy the exteriors both, but really like the southern mansion style of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. I think the theming at Haunted Mansion more immersive and complete than It’s A Small World.

What were some of your favorite food items or meals?

At California Adventure, definitely Carthay Circle. The Cozy Cone breakfast cone was good and a little different for a breakfast item. Churros were excellent. Those were always our go to snack. Bengal BBQ in Disneyland and Jolly Holiday Bakery were both places we visited twice. Flavored cokes from Coke Corner were great and brought back memories of working at a soda fountain in high school.

What were your favorite holiday decorations at Disneyland Resort?

World of Color Winter Dreams, It’s A Small World Holiday and the lights in Cars Land

What did you think about the Grand Californian?

It reminded me a lot of one of our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World, the Wilderness Lodge. It was bigger than I expected. We had a great meal at Napa Rose. It was a great location and nice that we could walk directly into the park from our resort.

What do you takeaway from the trip?

I was delightfully surprised. I thought it was just going to be a smaller version of Walt Disney World and thought I was going to be disappointed. The Cast Members really went out of their way to say Happy Birthday and your name. The theming was wonderful. I liked the more friendly village feeling to Downtown Disney. Also enjoyed Trader Sam’s theming and the holiday drinks at Disneyland Hotel.

Cars Land decorations
Cars Land decorations
Grand Californian lobby
Grand Californian lobby
Trader Sams
Trader Sams
Mickey, Minnie, Mom & me
Mickey, Minnie, Mom & me
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Taking the Plunge at Gaylord Palms Ice!

Take the PLUNGE at Gaylord Palms ICE!

Gaylord Palms ICE
Be inducted into the Orlando Polar Bear Club at Polar Bear Plunge 2013 presented by Orlando Solar Bears

Sometimes there are events that happen, and you say maybe next year…well that is what is happening for me soon! I will be wearing by bathing suit to ‘Take the Plunge’ down an ICE! slide at the Gaylord Palms Resort on Sunday, December 8th for a great cause!

The Orlando Polar Bear Plunge 2013 is presented by Orlando Solar Bears takes place one day only, and $5 from every adult ticket sold for this special event will benefit Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Members of famed Polar Bear Clubs around the world gather to jump into freezing-cold, winter-chilled water wearing just a swimsuit. Here in sunny Florida, residents can participate in this event – with a twist. Jaunt through the 9-degree ICE! featuring Frosty the Snowman™ attraction in a bikini or board shorts and plummet down four, two-story ice slides!

The adrenaline rush officially begins at 8 a.m., but the party jumps off at 7 a.m. to welcome guests as official members of the Orlando Polar Bear Club. Take a picture and meet and greet with Shades, Orlando Solar Bears’ official mascot. Prepare those joints by dancing and participating in DJ games, be part of a group photo, and earn a commemorative certificate.

Orlando Polar Bears unite once a year for this early morning charity event, this year benefiting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Take advantage of this offer to make history and someone’s day.

The special Orlando Polar Bear Plunge ticket is $18.99 + tax, and includes the “after-glow” warm-up reception with hot cocoa and pastries along with the commemorative certificate. Also, participants will have a chance to go through ICE! again later that morning, fully clothed, to better enjoy the artistry at a slower (and warmer) pace. Purchase tickets online in advance at

While it sounds crazy, and I can already hear my Mom asking me that very question, where else will I be able to do something like this???

I hope that some of you will read this, and decide to join me!!!

Things to know before you ‘Plunge’ at Gaylord Palms ICE!

What to wear
To get the full Orlando Polar Bear Club experience, inductees are encouraged to walk through the ICE! attraction in their swimsuits, but summer clothing such as shorts and a T-shirt can be worn instead. Swimsuits must be in good taste, and close-toed shoes are required for entry. Along with wearing swimsuits, guests are strongly encouraged to wear hats, gloves, warm socks and other cold-weather accessories.

This is not a contest, so participants should expect to spend only a few minutes inside ICE! After all, only real polar bears are expected to hang out in 9 degrees!

Freeze the moment
Don’t leave home without a camera! Guests will want to freeze this moment for sure! It is also possible that media will be present to cover the event, so smile for the cameras! You could even end up on Facebook!

ICE! featuring Frosty the Snowman is open daily now through Jan. 5, 2014, including holidays. To purchase tickets and to see a full schedule of activities and events, go to

For more information and to purchase tickets to an Orlando Solar Bears professional ECHL ice hockey game, visit

Gaylord Palms Resort is located five minutes from the gates of Walt Disney World at 6000 W. Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, FL 34746.

Be sure to “Like” Gaylord Palms on Facebook and Twitter to get the most up-to-date information and special deals and promotions!

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Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Chocolate Holiday Display

 It’s beginning to Choc-o-late like Christmas at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin!

Two time World Pastry Champion Chef constructs entire Holiday Scene out of nearly 2,000 pounds of chocolate

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

Chef completes a 7-foot tall, 400-pound chocolate nutcracker sculpture to add to his annual Christmas display at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel


It’s that time of year when holiday decorations are going up, and for the only two-time world pastry champion that means one thing – chocolate!  In order to give guests of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin a special treat for the holidays, Laurent Branlard – the hotel’s, executive pastry chef – just completed a 7-foot tall, 400-pound chocolate nutcracker that is part of an entire Christmas scene constructed out of nearly 2,000 lbs. of chocolate. 

The nutcracker took approximately 80 hours to complete and is vibrantly colored with reds, blues, and golds. Still, it is 100 percent edible.  

The nutcracker joins a Christmas scene, which will be displayed in the lobby of the hotel through December, that includes a life-sized Santa Claus, fireplace with stockings, Christmas tree, and toy train. 

 Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

Branlard is renowned for intricate chocolate and sugar sculptures and this piece marks one his largest and most difficult ones to date. 

Just in case any chocolate lovers are thinking of taking on the challenge of consuming this enormous sweet, they should consider that the entire scene is more than 4 million calories! (Please note that the sculpture is not available for tasting.)

Walt Disney World Swan and
Swan and Dolphin Hotels

What: Chocolate Christmas Scene Sculpture by world champion pastry chef Laurent Branlard


Where:Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel (Swan wing lobby)

1200 Epcot Resorts Blvd.

Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830


When: Throughout December

For more details about all the holiday excitement at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel or to make room reservations, please visit or call 1-800-227-1500.

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Now Snowing Nightly In Celebration

Celebration Now Snowing  Nightly

Snowfall and Events EVERY Night at Now Snowing Nightly Now through December 31st
(including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve)

Now Snowing, is by far our favorite event hosted by Celebration all year!

Now Snowing Nightly

Now Snowing, Central Florida’s original and premier “Snowing” event, offers a new snowfall program, an  ice rink and a schedule filled with surprises. Now Snowing is a month long Winter Wonderland Spectacular featuring strolling Charles Dickens Carolers, community performers, 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.

There is nothing like catching a bite to eat (We love Sweet Escape for a sandwich, Celebration Town Tavern for the best Chowder, or The Columbia for a 1905 Salad and Sangria), playing in the snow or ‘snoap’ as we call it, and doing a little shopping as a family!

Now Snowing Nightly
I picked this little guy up at Confetti!!! I love him!!!

During the hourly ‘snow’ a short story plays about how it first started snowing in Celebration which is followed by really fun and upbeat Christmas music!

Now Snowing Nightly

If you are planning on attending Now Snowing in Celebration, here are a few tips!

  • Make sure that your little ones wear closed toed shoes with lots of tread on them, because the ‘snow’ can be slippery and it helps keep the little ones safe while they run around!

Now Snowing Nightly

  • You will want to make sure that you plan ahead for parking, because it can take awhile to find a parking spot…especially on the weekend or on nights with special events. And when it says ‘Resident Parking Only’, take heed because they will tow your car!
  • If you think that your little one may be a snow magnet, you may want to keep a towel and even a change of clothes in your car. They lay a layer of ‘snow’ on the street before it starts ‘snowing’ so it will get everywhere!

Now Snowing Nightly

  • A lot of the shops will have specials, so make sure you peek in! (You know how much I love the Celebration Sanrio Surprises…I have a problem!)
  • Don’t forget there’s a Starbucks in Celebration! It can get really busy at times, but there’s nothing like their hot chocolate when it’s ‘snowing’!!!

Now Snowing Nightly

  • Wear socks or bring them if you are thinking about skating!!! The skating rink is great, because there are refs to keep things safe and walkers to help new skaters.
  • Don’t be surprised if you spend more time than you intended to at Now Snowing Nightly! You WILL get sucked in to the fun!!!


In addition to the everyday fun at Now Snowing Nightly, join us for the Orlando Sentinel Celebration of Voices on December 7th , a special Radio Disney Holiday concert with performances by Megan Nicole and Before You Exit! on December 14th and the Countdown to Christmas with National Recording Artists Ryan Cabrera and Lucy Iris on December 21st, and presented by Jarrett Automotive Group. For a complete list of Community Performances click here!

Now Snowing Nightly in Celebration Overview

Nightly Snowfall 6, 7, 8 and 9 PM November 30th through December 31st.

Celebration Now Snowing Nightly

Endless Ice-Ice Skating Rink
$10.00 for a 1/2 hour minimum skate (skate rental included)
4:00-10:00 p.m. daily

Now Snowing Nightly

Horse and Carriage Rides
Wagon Rides- $5.00 per person
Horse and Carriage Rides- $25 for the first 2 passengers, $10 each additional

Special Holiday Home Tour Rides (30/40 minutes in length to see the lights throughout Celebration)- $25 per person
Call for Appointment for Horse & Carriage Holiday Home Tour: 321-624-6380

 Celebration Now Snowing

Train Rides
$5.00 at the Gate or
$4.00 in advance if purchased at Confetti, Market Street Gallery, Sweet Escape,  or Sanrio Surprises. (Before 4 p.m. Nightly)

Celebration Now Snowing

Story Time at Sanrio

FREE-(schedule available in the Celebration Sanrio Store)
A Special Guest Reads Christmas Stories
(Space is Limited-for reservations visit Sanrio in Celebration 

 Now Snowing Nightly

Brought to you by Lexin Capital, and sponsored in part by the Celebration Town Tavern, Experience Kissimmee, and Melia Suites Hotel at Celebration. Now Snowing Nightly parking and admission are free.


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IKEA Soft Toy Campaign Benefiting UNICEF And Save The Children

 IKEA Orlando IKEA Soft Toy Campaign

Earlier this year IKEA announced the return of its annual ‘Soft Toys for Education’ campaign, which will run from November 10, 2013 to January 4, 2014. During this period, the IKEA Foundation will donate one euro (approximately $1.34)* to UNICEF and Save the Children to give children in developing countries access to a quality education. Launched in 2003, the campaign has impacted 10 million children in 46 countries and donations have totalled $74 million for 90 projects.

IKEA Orlando IKEA Soft Toy Campaign

Since 2003, the ‘Soft Toys for Education’ Program has Impacted Ten Million Children and Raised $74 Million!

The donations from the IKEA Soft Toys for Education Campaign will help train teachers in child-friendly teaching methods, improve child protection systems, supply educational materials like pencils, books, bags, rebuild schools and provide better water and toilet facilities; and increase school attendance rates. More than 10 million children will be educated in eliminating discrimination and stigma.

IKEA Orlando IKEA Soft Toy Campaign

Education is the most powerful and effective way to help children escape poverty. The change it can bring to a young life is immense. Education has a direct impact on well-being, from better health to increased opportunities. It gives children knowledge, skills and confidence they need to shape a better future for themselves. When a child begins and stays in school, he or she not only changes the course of their own life, but that of future generations. And that’s when small changes pave the way for bigger ones.

IKEA Orlando IKEA Soft Toy Campaign

Inspiration to read opens the door to education, which is why, every year, IKEA creates a children’s book based on IKEA soft toy characters as part of the annual Soft Toys for Education Campaign. In this year’s book, “The Princess and the Happiness,” young readers visit the fairy-tale forest and learn that happiness can be just around the corner.
Supporting Education—Together

IKEA Orlando IKEA Soft Toy Campaign

This year’s newcomers to the soft toys family are fairy tale heroes:
LUFSIG, the soft toy wolf
NOJSIG and GULLGOSSE, a princess and a king
KRULLIG, an elf
SÅNGTRAST, a fairy with a magic spell

Thanks to the unwavering commitment shown by IKEA co-workers and customers, the IKEA Foundation has donated more than $51 million to UNICEF’s education programs for children in Africa and Asia,” said Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “IKEA’s support has enabled UNICEF to get millions of children into the classroom, provide teacher training to improve the quality of education, and help ensure children complete school.” 

“We are looking forward to our continued holiday tradition of teaming with IKEA Soft Toys for Education. The enthusiasm of IKEA staff and customers brings desperately needed education and teacher training to children in underserved parts of the world and will impact future generations,” said Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children. “We are honored to be part of this partnership along with UNICEF, and look forward to creating lasting change for children.”

“We are incredibly proud to be part of the IKEA Soft Toy for Education campaign. The funding means we can continue our work on changing the lives of children with disabilities and children of minority groups, the most marginalized children, in Eastern Europe and South East Asia. We’re providing access to quality education for millions of children, impacting on generations to come.” Elisabeth Dahlin, Secretary General Save the Children Sweden and Chairperson Global Lead Agency for the IKEA Foundation Collaboration.

“IKEA’s soft toys bring smiles to the faces of thousands of children. But many children across the globe have few reasons to smile. They don’t have access to basic things most of us take for granted – like clean water, food or education. IKEA’s annual Soft Toys for Education campaign makes a real difference – helping thousands of new children every year get an opportunity to receive a quality education.” Per Heggenes, CEO IKEA Foundation.

IKEA Orlando IKEA Soft Toy Campaign
If you can’t tell, this guy is my favorite!!!!

Good things are Happening All Over. A small contribution can make a big difference. Here are some examples of how the IKEA Foundation donations have impacted children’s lives.Ethiopia: Education is a primary driver for Ethiopia’s development. In 2012, UNICEF’s Schools for Africa initiative helped 238,000 children – including 25,000 refugees — stay in school despite living in challenging conditions.

For an extra fun touch on your next visit to IKEA Orlando, you can play the #FindKingIKEA at @IKEAOrlando for a chance to win a $25 IKEA Gift Card!

IKEA Orlando IKEA Soft Toy Campaign

We always make sure to buy a few of these Soft Toys during the Campaign, and watch out for a huge Holiday Giveaway where you can win some of your own!

IKEA Orlando IKEA Soft Toy Campaign

Disclaimer: I bought these toys with my own money, because I wanted to make sure that I helped support a wonderful cause while spreading some Holiday Cheer!!!

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Tips For A Visit To ICE! At The Gaylord Palms

Tips for making the most of

Ice! Featuring Frosty the Snowman

at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

Gaylord Palms Ice!

During the holiday season, the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center is transformed into a Christmas Wonderland filled with perfect poinsettias, more than 2 million twinkling lights, lavish and gorgeous holiday displays, a breathtaking 54-foot-tall majestic Christmas tree, DreamWorks Animation characters Meet & Greet opportunities, spectacular live entertainment, and most of all ICE!


ICE! featuresmore than 2 million pounds of hand-carved, vibrant ice sculptures bringing to life several scenes from Frosty the Snowman in a 9-degree retelling of this Christmas classic!You’ll want to make sure that you bundle up (you will also be provided with oversize parkas) to keep warm enough to take a few trips on the two-story ice slides!

Gaylord Palms Ice!

Preparing for a visit to Ice! at the Gaylord Palms Resort takes a lot of planning, and here are some of my favorite tips and tricks we have learned over the years!

  • Dress in Layers: I can’t stress this one enough! Make sure that you are prepared for the 9 degrees you will find inside of Ice! by protecting your fingers, nose, and toes! You will be given a nice a long parka to wear inside, make sure that you get one that is extra roomy I will explain in a moment, but it is definitely not sufficient to keep you warm for long periods of time. I over-do my layering, and I have never regretted it!
  • No Pockets: The parkas that you will be wearing do not have pockets, so I usually carry a small cross-body purse that is loose to wear under my parka to allow for easy access to my phone, Chapstick, and other things that I might need while I am inside.

Gaylord Palms Ice!

  • Phones: Your phones and cameras will get super cold, and even shutdown if you take them out a lot to take pictures. I like to stash my phone on the inside of my gloves to keep it warm and easily accessible. Also, if you are planning to wear gloves make sure that they are gloves that let you work your phone’s touch screen without taking them off. Gloves like this are a lifesaver!!!
  • Cameras: Going from regular room temperature to cold so quickly can make camera lenses fog up quickly. There is a short movie that you watch before entering Ice! that is a colder temperature than the room before, so use this as an opportunity to get your camera used to the cold. Like my phone, I try to have a warmer spot for my camera when it’s not in use.
  • Look around: Looking around may seem like a silly tip, but if you take an extra moment to take in the details you will find extra design features and maybe even a slightly hidden ice tunnel! Don’t rush! Take as long as you need in each room!

Gaylord Palms Ice!

  • Slides: If you are 2 or 62, take a moment to slide on the ice slides at least once! The slides are a ton of fun, and you are missing out if you don’t take a turn! Your roomy coat comes in handy here, because to ensure the best slide possible make sure that your jacket is completely underneath you and then lean back as you slide. One of the lovely slide monitors told me about leaning back this year, and it makes for a fast run down the slide!
  • Little Ones: You will quickly notice that all of the parkas provided by the Gaylord Palms are blue and it can be hard to distinguish since everyone has their hood up. One way that I make sure that I can quickly spot my daughter is by wrapping her in a brightly colored scarf and hat. Also, make sure that you are wearing something that they can easily recognize in the crowds that can form around the slides!

Gaylord Palms Ice!

  • Taking Pictures: You may notice when you first start taking photos that they seem dark. Don’t be tempted to use your flash, because it creates bright spots in pictures and can make the colors all wonky. My best advice, as I am not a master photographer, is to get close to what you are taking a picture of and to use a photo editing app or program afterwards.
  • HAVE FUN! Ice! is a lot of fun, so make sure that you enjoy it for as long as you can stand the 9 degrees!

Gaylord Palms Ice!

Make sure that you check out the 2013 bonus area, the Frostbite Factory featuring Artisans in Action. This live ice-carving zone allows you to get up close to watch a masterful ice carver from Harbin, China, home of the International Ice and Snow Festival, as he creates amazing sculptures before your eyes! He is part of a team of 40 talented artisans who travel from Harbin to work meticulously for more than a month to slice and shave 6,000 blocks of colored and clear ice, each weighing approximately 400 pounds, to carve this incredible experience. This area features great information about how the sculptures are created, too!


ICE! is open daily from Nov. 23, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2014, including holidays. Ticket prices start at $16.99. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to

The Gaylord Palms Resort is located five minutes from the gates of Walt Disney World at 6000 W. Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, FL 34746.

Disclaimer: Through a partnership with the Gaylord Palms, I received admission to Ice! and accommodations at the Resort. All opinions are my own.

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