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!

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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!

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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 www.ChristmasAtGaylordPalms.com.

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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Disney Sports Solutions At ESPN Wide World Of Sports

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Playing in a tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort is a dream come true for many athletes, and getting there is often a labor of love for Team Parents! Disney Sports Solutions helps make the process so much easier! From fundraising support to photography to custom event merchandise, they have help for you and your team.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Gene Kousoulas, Head Coach of Tappan Zee Softball Team, has brought several teams to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex over the years, and always looks forward to returning.

“The team is always excited to be traveling away from New York, and the fields at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex are always great” say Kousoulas.

Mr. Kousoulas also encourages teams to communicate as much as they can with their Disney Travel Coordinators, because they are there to help and are always ready with solutions.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Marybeth our host for the Team Mom Disney Sports Solutions Breakfast.

At a Team Mom Breakfast held in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill, Marybeth, a specialized Cast Member, helped several Team Moms whose teams were playing at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex get to know some of the facilities and services offered at the Complex better. Also, they held some pretty great giveaways that were special bonuses for the teams.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Fun Team Mom Breakfast Goodies

The first thing that Marybeth introduced us to was the Welcome Center. The Welcome Center is really the heart and soul of the ESPN Wide World of Sports. It is centrally located in the Complex, and is available to help in any way that they can. At the Welcome Center you’ll find Cast Members who are solutions oriented with extensive training in Sports Travel, Guest Relations, and Event Planning. If you have questions about what to do before and after your competition,  this is your one stop for purchasing Disney Theme Park Tickets, making Disney Dining Reservations, finding Recreation Options, Golf Reservations, Planning Celebration Events, and Transportation Tips just to name a few.

If you are out on the fields and need information, help is never too far from even the outermost field! Welcome Center Cast Members are always at the fields and for larger events there are mobile stations set-up around the complex.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
The Welcome Center is an amazing tool for teams visiting the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!

There are several dining options at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, but for busy teams on the go there are several ways to make sure that your team is fueled with healthy food that doesn’t take away from their time at the Complex. The first option available is box breakfasts and lunches. These meals are made fresh daily ($6.99 per breakfast and $7.99 per lunch), can be ordered online prior to arrival, are customizable for team members with allergies, and most importantly can be delivered directly to the field where you are playing.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Box lunches being distributed at ESPN Wide World of Sports fields.

We got to have a breakfast box during the Team Mom Breakfast, and it was a good amount of food that was great fuel for the day. However, you can also have pizzas delivered to your field, there are several quick service options, and there is always the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Our Box Breakfast was a great way to start the morning.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill is a quick-service restaurant located near the entrance of the Complex. The Grill is perfect for large groups, and is a high energy environment with six HD displays playing sports and sports news, a full-service bar, and even a replica of the ESPN SportsCenter Desk for fun photo opportunities for your team! My favorite feature is the bank of Coca-Cola Freestyle Machines…but I am a sucker for Cherry Coke!!!

ESPN Wide World of Sports Gameday Photos provides teams with photo solutions that are extremely unique and high quality!

 ESPN Wide World of Sports
Josh Shortened is one of the Gameday Photographers at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

The Gameday Photos photographers are highly trained to catch just the right moment in your athlete’s game, and are available for individual or team pictures. The best part of the Gameday Photography is that once you purchase the CD of images, which are guaranteed to have at least 150 photos, the rights to those pictures are yours and you can print out and share them as much as you can with friends and family!

If you want to take part in this really personal photography experience, you will want to make arrangements in advance. It is also important to know that the sessions are pre-paid and scheduled by the game, however there are multiple game discounts available. Individual Gameday Photos start at $99 for a single game and Team Gameday Photos start at $169 for a single game.

Events at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex are recorded and broadcasted in several different ways to really make athletes feel like they have really made it to the big leagues!

The dedicated video department at Wide World of Sports is truly a Disney-Sized ESPN with a control room, editing bays, and bustling camera operators. It is truly an amazing thing to see!

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Inside the Broadcast Center at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Parents, coaches, and athletes are able to watch game highlights on a channel 25 in their Walt Disney World Resort hotel room, often games are broadcasted live on ESPN3.com, and highlights are shown on various ESPN platforms such as ESPN.com, ESPN2, and SportsCenter.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Information, live event coverage, and more are featured on screens all over ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Sharing your video highlights with friends and family at home is also easy, because ESPN Wide World of Sports makes some event games available on their YouTube channel and their Facebook Page.

The Custom Tee Center by Champion® is a way to customize your experience at the ESPN Wide World of Sports! After purchasing an event or customizable t-shirt, visit the Custom Tee Center by Champion® to really make the shirt your own. With more than 50 designs available to commemorate your accomplishments, the Center located inside the entrance to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill is a must-do in the Complex!

ESPN Wide World of Sports

A visit to the Playstation® Pavilionis a great way to keep the game going! These seventeen PS3™ systems on 40-inch HDTVs are fully stocked with new game titles. The cost to play is $5 per 30 minutes, and is a fun way to wind down from an exciting event.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

Business Center coming soon, and will provide access to computers, printers, charging stations, etc, for those busy parents and coaches who want to communicate about their team’s competition through email, websites, social media, and keep up with their careers while on the road.

The Disney Parks Mom’s Panel is a great way to get pre-arrival planning advice from two ESPN Wide World of Sports Specialists. These Mom’s Panel members provide team moms and coaches with tips, advice and direction to make their youth sports travel easier.

ESPN Wide World of Sports
The Hess Fields were busy with the Disney Memorial Day Soccer Shootout

I got to speak with Angie Gregg from Hummelstown, PA, whose daughters love Disney and have competed in several soccer tournaments, and even won the Disney’s President Day Festival in February 2012, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports!

Angie’s family loves how they can add extra days on to their team stay to make these tournaments into vacation opportunities for the whole family. She also encourages Team Moms to play a year ahead for their fundraising events to ensure that as many team members as possible can make the journey for this amazing sports opportunity.

The ESPN Wide World of Sports team understands how important Fundraising is to teams, and offers a wide variety of Fundraising Assistance Programs.

The Dream Team Donation Program – Teams are given the opportunity to raffle off a Disney vacation as well as keep 75% of proceeds from raffle ticket sales. Teams also have the opportunity to sell ESPN The Magazine subscriptions and keep 75% of all profits. And a rebate program with Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Alamo Rent A Car which allows a team to earn fundraising dollars by gaining 5% of every rental car purchase through the team’s fundraiser site

ESPN Wide World of Sports
Baseball in Champion Stadium are always exciting.

Equipment Drop-off is a really great service that ESPN Wide World of Sports offers! Coaches can drop off their team’s equipment at the front of ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and it will be delivered to the team’s field of play.

Little Champions program offers fun games and activities available on-site for younger siblings, freeing parents and coaches up so they can stay focus on the competition.

With so many great Disney Sports Solutions, beautiful grounds, and helpful Cast Members at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex it is easy to see why it is a premier sporting destination that you will definitely want to check out!

ESPN Wide World of Sports

 

 

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My Favorite Walt Disney World Spring Break Tips

My Favorite Tips For Making The Most

Of Your Spring Break At Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World
My Family at Walt Disney World

With the mad rush of Spring Break at Walt Disney World upon us, I thought I would share some of my family’s tips for dealing with the large crowds at Walt Disney World at this time of year.

When it is super busy at the parks our goal is to try to make the experience as fun and stress-free as possible, while still getting to take in as many attractions and shows as possible in on a busy day.

So here are MY 7 Must Do’s to make a busy time of year fun for the whole family!

1. Have a plan of attack!

I know this one sounds like a no-brainer, but take inventory of everyone’s favorite rides and must see shows and prioritize them. When we visit, I often find that my ability to come up with a ‘Plan B’ on the fly is what really makes or breaks a great day at the Parks since you never know what your day is going to bring.

Make sure you visit our friends over at Touring Plans, because they REALLY know how to plan a day if you are looking to make the most of every minute of your day!

2. Make your day filled with games.

In ev’ry job that must be done 
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game

Mary Poppins had the absolute right idea! Your job is to make the most of your day in Walt Disney World, so spit spot!

Why not see how many character shirts you see in a day with extra points going to the more rare characters? Or see if you can find Cast Members from all 50 states. Maybe you can even try your hand at becoming at Hidden Mickey Hunter!

3. Look for things you might have overlooked before that others might, too.

I know this one sounds a little weird, but stick with me!

I often get stuck in the rut of following a pattern of attractions and shows when I visit the parks; however I am now constantly on the lookout for the little things I didn’t see before.

My absolute favorite one of these activities is to go the Animation Academy thanks to Betsy! I will warn you that this will take up a good chunk of time, since classes are held every 30 minutes and you can sometimes have to wait as classes tend to fill up. While you are waiting there is a ton to do and fun trivia to keep you all company.

I promise that you will not regret dedicating some time to trying your hand at the Animation Academy.

4.  Pay a visit to the 2013 Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.

The 2013 Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot is an outstanding way to spend the day, but you can really make the most of your visit by taking your time to smell the roses!

While I’ve already shared a lot of my ideas for My Perfect Day at the Flower and Garden Festival, there are even more ways that you can avoid a lot of the crowds during the Festival!

Spend time in the garden exhibits and in the Flower and Garden Festival Center, take the Tea Tour offered in the United Kingdom Pavilion, stroll through the Kinsey Collection in the American Adventure Pavilion to escape the heat, and finally make sure that you find your favorite character topiary and pose for a great picture with them.

5. Take a visit to Fort Wilderness with the family.

If any tip could possibly get me into hot water with the ‘locals’, this might be it…

Fort Wilderness is the absolute best kept secret at Walt Disney World, and once you figure this out you will be hooked!

The recreation offerings at Fort Wilderness are amazing, and ideal for this time of year to take advantage of the great weather! Some of the more unique activities you will find at the resort are archery, horse and pony riding adventures, jogging trails through meadows and cypress groves, and wagon rides for the whole family to enjoy.

But you have to wait all day to get to my absolute favorite thing to do at Fort Wilderness, which is attending Chip ’N Dale’s Campfire Sing-a-long followed by a movie under the stars. During the Campfire Sing-a-long you get to sing and dance with two of the best (not that I am biased or anything) characters…Chip ‘N Dale! And then you get to watch a great Disney movie under the stars, while you roast marshmallows (which are available for purchase at the campfire area) over the campfires that are always roaring thanks to great Fort Wilderness Cast Members.

6. Take a Tour!

It is absolutely astounding how many tours at Walt Disney World are offered!

Whether you are a history nut who wants to take the Keys to the Kingdom tour or walk on the wild side with a Wild African Trek, you are sure to find a tour that fits your interests at Walt Disney World!

A tour that I have taken many times and thoroughly enjoy is the Behind the Seeds tour in the Land Pavilion at Epcot. This tour is my favorite since it is extremely affordable (Adults $18.00/Children $14.00 with Annual Pass discounts available), appropriate for all ages (they even have special strollers and wheelchairs for use on the tour), and gives you the thrill of being backstage while being ‘in’ an attraction. The tour is also offered several times a day, so it is very schedule friendly!

I am really looking forward to making more time in my schedule for tours at Walt Disney World this year!

7. Be prepared!

I know I sound like I am out of the Festival of the Lion King with my final tip, but it is possibly the most important one I could give you!

The last thing you want on a busy day is to NEED something, and have to wait in long lines to buy something that you left in your room or didn’t think to bring. This is the one tip that I still struggle with and have to remind myself of on a constant basis.

When we visit the park as a family we always try to bring a ‘family bag’ that is full of essentials that we find ourselves needing every visit.

And here is a list of what our ‘family bag’ contains:

  • Umbrellas – It’s Florida, and it’s going to rain when you least expect it!
  • Snacks – We make sure to bring small snacks that won’t melt in the hot sun to help keep spirits high during longer than expected waits for kids and adults.
  • Trading Pins – It is always useful to keep a few of these babies handy!
  • Autograph Book and Sharpie – Zoe ebbs and flows on wanting autographs, but it is a better safe than sorry thing for us now.
  • Ziploc Bags – We carry them in several sizes to make sure that our electronics are safe from the rain (please see umbrellas).
  • Lip Balm & Sunscreen – Pretty self-explanatory for these two items.
  • Baby Wipes – You can get small packages with fun Disney prints, and baby wipes are good for anything…Baby wipes for Moms are like duct tape for MacGyver!

I hope that you’ve enjoyed my tips, and that if you are visiting Walt Disney World for Spring Break that you have an absolutely amazing time!!!

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RunDisney Princess Tips and Reminders

RunDisney

Walt Disney World RunDisney Princess Weekend is almost here so I’ve compiled a list of tips and reminders to assist you as you prepare.

The Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse Royal Family 5K takes place Saturday, February 23 at 6:30 AM and the Princess Half Marathon will be held Sunday, February 24 beginning at 5:35 AM.  With just a few days before the race it’s very important to take care of your body by getting as much rest as possible, eating nutritious meals, and hydrating with water and/or sports drinks.  If you’re visiting the theme parks before race day, it’s best to take it a leisurely pace, take in the shows and sit down attractions and try to limit the time walking or standing in the sun or heat.  Take breaks at the resort to enjoy the pool or take a nap.

Disney’s Fit for a Princess Expo will be held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.  The Expo hours are Friday, February 22 9:00 AM- 7:00 PM and Saturday, February 23 9:00 AM- 6:00 PM.  If you are staying at a WDW resort other than Coronado Springs, you will need to utilize bus transportation, labeled with a RunDisney sign.  If you are staying off property, park at Downtown Disney Westside to catch the RunDisney bus transportation to Coronado Springs.  Parking and guest drop-off during Expo hours is not allowed at Coronado Springs.  Be sure to complete and print your race waiver prior to arriving at the Expo and bring your photo identification.  At the expo you will pick up your race packet which includes your bib with timing chip, race shirt, and goody bag.  This is also the time to pick up any commemorative items you purchased during registration.  Be sure to hold onto the large, clear plastic Run Disney bag you are given as this is what you will use for bag check during the race.  Expo is a great time to check out the vendors, see new products, visit with fellow runners, and get into the spirit of the race weekend.

Here’s a quick check list of things to do the day/night before the race:

  • Fill out the back of your race bib with emergency contact and personal information and attach it to your running shirt with provided safety pins
  • Lay out your entire running outfit including every item you are planning to wear and carry during the race
  • Prepare your clear plastic Run Disney bag for bag check by affixing your number sticker
  • Plan your pre-race/early morning breakfast or snack such as a bagel with peanut butter, cereal bar, or fruit
  • Decide where to meet friends and family following the race
  • Set your alarm and/or order a wake-up call
  • Go to bed early and dream about the bling

On the day of the race, give yourself plenty of time for driving and parking or riding WDW transportation.  Race transportation including monorail and buses from WDW resort hotels will begin at 3:00 AM and you must board no later than 4:00 AM and in your assigned corral by 5:00 AM.  If you are checking a bag, it must be at the bag check area no later than 4:30 AM.  There will be food and beverages available for purchase in the Wonder and Imagine lots of Epcot the morning of the race.  Give yourself plenty of time to get to your corral and prepare yourself for race.

You’ve trained, prepared, and waited and it’s finally here.  Enjoy it!  Disney races are full of fun, friends, and surprises…..and there’s a beautiful medal and an amazing sense of accomplishment awaiting you at the finish line.

Happy running!

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The SeaWorld Just For Kids Festival Is A Great Time For the Whole Family

The SeaWorld Just For Kids Festival Is A Great Time For the Whole Family

Featuring performances by kids’ favorite entertainers, party zone area and more

SeaWorld Just For Kids -banner 

During the SeaWorld Just For Kids Festival, the paths of SeaWorld Orlando are full of fun kid-friendly music, live performances, games, dancing, and more during this four week festival, which is included in the price of admission.

Zoe’s (and our) favorite part of Just For Kids was the concert, and this year the SeaWorld Just For Kids concert lineup is amazing!

We were able to see the Imagination Movers during the first week, but there are still two Saturdays left to experience some great performances.

SeaWorld Just For Kids - Imagination Movers Concert
Zoe had a blast rocking out at the Imagination Mover’s concert!

Saturday, January 26        Choo-Choo Soul with Genevieve

Starring Genevieve Goings, Choo-Choo Soul allows parents to enjoy the same music their kids do. Featuring soulful and current renditions of the ABC’s, 1-2-3’s, and learning how to be polite, Choo-Choo Soul is a diverse and incredibly hip duo, teaching children through music on an animated train.

 

Saturday, February 4        Kratt Brothers Live featuring the stars of Wild Kratts

The Kratt Brothers are Chris and Martin Kratt and they are the creators and producers of the widely popular children’s animated series Wild Kratts that airs on PBS. They are the recipients of the 2012 Parents’ Choice Recommended Award.

You will definitely want to make sure that you catch a concert while at the SeaWorld Just For Kids Festival, but you may want to keep a few things in mind when planning your day.

The admission to the concerts is included with park admission, with show times at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at SeaWorld’s Nautilus Theater.

However, to attend guests will need to pick up concert tickets across from Nautilus Theater in order to attend the shows, and tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 9 a.m. each event day. Since shows can and do fill up I absolutely suggest going to the ticket distribution area as soon as you get to SeaWorld, to make sure that you are able to attend the show that best works for your (and especially your little one’s) schedule. Also note that if you are a Platinum Pass Holder, you will not have reserved seating for the concerts.

SeaWorld Just For Kids - IM Playing Bass
Zoe really got to groove when Mover Dave let her play with the band!

Once you have your tickets, you are also going to want to arrive 30-45 minutes before show time to line up outside of the Nautilus Theater to ensure that you have a good seat for the concert.

Once you are inside you will also want to make sure that you know that there is a bathroom located at the back of the Nautilus Theater which is an amazingly convenient thing with little ones, that dancing in the aisles is allowed (and encouraged), and that you will want to make sure that you are prepared for fun!

Before the concert begins there are two acts by the Dragon Legend Acrobats from China that you won’t want to miss! While the acts are pretty amazing, they are also a great way to get your little one accustomed the concert atmosphere.

SeaWorld Just For Kids - Dragon Legend Acrobats Hoopers
The Dragon Legend Acrobats Hula Hoopers were amazing!!!
SeaWorld Just For Kids - Dragon Legend Acrobats Jugglers
The Dragon Legend Acrobats Jugglers from China were amazing!

BUT…if you are like me, you will want to find some way around all of the waiting before the concerts and for that you have two options…

SeaWorld Just For Kids Great Eats & Concert Seats:

It’s easy to reserve your seats to the show by pre-purchasing one of the below dining options.

Elmo’s VIP Character Breakfast – 9 a.m. at Sharks Underwater Grill

Children (2-9) $39.00 / Adults (10+) $49.00

At Elmo’s VIP Character Breakfast, families will enjoy a full-service breakfast experience at Sharks Underwater Grill with Elmo and one of his special Sesame Street friends.  Following breakfast, little ones, (and parents, too), will visit with everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends for photos. In addition to that, each family will receive one complimentary 6×8 photo. Those attending the 9 a.m. VIP breakfast will receive VIP seating for the 11 a.m. SeaWorld Just For Kids concert.

Another great bonus is that by attending Elmo’s VIP Character Breakfast you will receive complimentary Valet Parking at SeaWorld Orlando.

Shamu & Friends Character Breakfast Buffet at Terrace Garden – 2 seatings, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Children (2-9) $29.00 / Adults (10+) $39.00

At the Shamu & Friends Character Breakfast Buffet, not only will you get to meet your favorite SeaWorld characters, you will also receive guaranteed admission to specific Just For Kids concerts.

You’ll enjoy and all you care to eat buffet at Terrace Garden Buffet restaurant, and also receive a complimentary 6×8 family photo from the Breakfast. For the concerts, 9:00 am breakfast guests will receive admission to the 2:00 pm concert and 11:00 am breakfast guests will receive admission to the 4:00 pm concert.

With both Character Breakfasts,guests must make sure to arrive at the theater 15 minutes prior to show time to guarantee seating.

Reservations and park admission are required to purchase either breakfast, and can be made online for the VIP Elmo Breakfast and the Shamu & Friends Breakfast.

If you are Passholders, you can visit the Passholder Site to receive 10% off of these Great Eats & Concert Seats Packages.

We are HUGE fans of the Character Breakfasts offered at SeaWorld, and I cannot recommend them highly enough! The food is delicious, and it offers you the opportunity to spend more time playing in the park rather than running to grab tickets and waiting to get into the Theater.

SeaWorld Just For Kids - sail

SeaWorld Just For Kids Festival Highlights:

There is a lot more to the SeaWorld Just For Kids Festival than just fun concerts! The whole park is filled with great kid-centric activities, meet and greet opportunities, and shows!

This year there are three new great experiences that have been added to the SeaWorld Just For Kids Festival.

New! Franklin, from the beloved children’s show Franklin and Friends™

SeaWorld Just For Kids -Zoe and Franklin
Zoe and her pal Franklin

Hey, it’s Franklin!

You can meet SeaWorld’s newest friend Franklin located near Pelican Preserve, across from Flamingo Point. Franklin is available at the Woodland for meet and greet opportunities, autographs, and photos (there is a SeaWorld Photographer at the meet and greet)  throughout the day at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, and 4:30 pm.

Exclusive Franklin-branded merchandise will also be available near the meet and greet area.

Zoe really loved the opportunity to meet one of her favorite characters in a really cute setting! I will warn you that it can get really warm in that area and there isn’t much shade in this area, so you’ll want to make sure the sun is at your back for pictures and it isn’t too warm out while you wait. Also, if you want to minimize your wait make sure to visit Franklin during show and concert times!

SeaWorld Just For Kids - Franklin Merch
There are two Franklin storybooks and a plush that are available for him to sign at the Meet and Greet.

New! Elmo Rocks! (Located at Seafire Inn)

SeaWorld Just For Kids - Elmo Rocks logo

 

In Elmo Rocks, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Zoe, Abby Cadabby, Bert and Ernie are getting for their very own rock concert located at the Seafire Inn!

The show is full of fun music, dancing, and lots of audience participation. Zoe really enjoyed herself and danced all over the place! You will want to check the time’s guide for show times, but shows are typically at 11:00 am, 2:00 pm, 3:30 pm, and 5:30 pm.

Again, you are going to want to show up 15-30 minutes early to the Seafire Inn to make sure you grab a seat for the show! You will have a rockin’ good time!

New! Enhanced Ocean Adventures Kids Program

SeaWorld Just For Kids - Ocean Adventure
Zoe hard at work to complete her Ocean Adventure!

The Ocean Adventure Program was the highlight of Zoe’s day, outside of the concerts, because she got the chance to experience some of her favorite areas of SeaWorld Orlando in an even better way.

Using the event map children will look for the Sea Star icons inside the park, where they’ll partake in exciting educational activities about animals that make their home at SeaWorld. At each location kids will collect a stamp and a limited edition Just For Kids Explorer’s card.  Once they visit all four locations, Wild Arctic, Stingray Lagoon, Manta Aquarium, and near the Shark Encounter, they’ll receive a coupon to redeem at select gift shops for a special prize.  Limit one prize per participating child.

Zoe had an absolutely amazing time talking to the knowledgeable and friendly SeaWorld staff, and she wanted to do it again when she was done!

If you are worried about your schedule for the day and how the Ocean Adventures Kids Program will fit in, don’t be! Each station takes less than 5 minutes, and the SeaWorld staff knows how to get in some great information and fun while keeping the line moving.

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SeaWorld Just For Kids Specials

The best way to experience all of the fun, music, treats and more at Just for Kids is with a Fun Card, where Florida residents pay for a day and play all year through Dec. 31, 2013.  Fun Card members can enjoy all four weeks of Just for Kids fun and all of the amazing special events throughout the year, plus the unforgettable animal encounters, world-class thrill rides and family fun found only at SeaWorld. Fun Cards are available at SeaWorldOrlando.com, at the front gate, or by calling 1-888-800-5447.

During the SeaWorld Just For Kids Festival, there are several tours that when you buy one adult tour your will get a child’s tour free! You can choose from the Behind-the-Scenes Tour, Sea Lions Up-Close Tour, Dolphins Up-Close Tour, and Family Fun Tour.

SeaWorld Just For Kids - Shamu Party Zone
Zoe got to do a mean Chicken Dance at Shamu’s Party Zone!

We absolutely loved our Saturday at the SeaWorld Just For Kids Festival! We had a great day together watching a great concert, riding great attractions, and seeing Shamu…What more could you ask for?

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Don’t Let it Rain on Your 3 O’Clock Parade!

While I may sound a little crazy…I LOVE going to the parks in the rain! We’re always a bit sillier and open to going and doing different things that we would normally do in the parks.

Now while saying that, I always try to go in prepared so I can mitigate any crabbiness from others who don’t enjoy the rain as much as I do. So here are my top 7 must do rain do’s! (Sorry, I can’t resist a good Stacey reference…event though I try…):

1. Go With It!

How many of us have nervously and often checked the weather SEVERAL times to see what the chance of rain during our vacation would be? I am absolutely guilty of seeing the chance of rain increasing and getting the feeling of impending doom in the pit of my stomach! I have found the best thing to do is to let everyone know that there is a good chance that it is going rain during the visit, and then to listen to their concerns so you can be prepared for how to make them a non-issue when they arise. AND if it doesn’t rain, your rain dance will be praised as effective and not crazy! J

2. Game Plan

I like to take a look at the park maps for a few things to consider in the rain. I take into consideration the proximity of attractions, the number of attractions that are our favorites, the amount of covered spaces,  our ADRs /Counter Service plan for the day, and size of the park. With all that being said, I usually opt for Hollywood Studios since there are tons of shows and options for indoor activities that you might easily skip (like the Animation Academy – http://t.co/haEsDHu ) that take up a good amount of time.

3. Rain jackets and Umbrellas

While ponchos are great, I opt for something that provides us with a little more protection! Last year we invested in folding rain jackets, and they have come in handy both in and out of the parks. After our trip in what we thought was a monsoon last May, I invested in a super compact umbrella that easily fit into our bag and opened up quickly. If you do opt for ponchos, make sure that your child is tall enough to wear the poncho without  it dragging through the puddles. I have seen too many kids step on their poncho and fall in the rain.

4. Shoes

Now this one may sound weird, but just go with me on this one! You want to make sure that you bring a shoe that dries easily and has a lot of grip for traction in the rain. Sounds like common since, right? But this is more for the little princesses out there. My darling little lady, Zoe, LOVES wearing her princess shoes in the park, but we learned the hard way that they are not very safe to wear in the rain. Our compromise is a pair of sparkly tennis shoes. I have bought the majority of ours from Target, since they are rather inexpensive and easy to replace.

5. Protection

I always over plan for an abundance of craziness during our vacation, and I always pack a variety of plastic zip top bags. When I see that it may rain, I always try to put my phone and camera in a baggie. While I am the main sherpa of the trip, I give my husband one as well for his wallet and phone since he is usually the fast pass and ticket holder.  He thought that I was crazy, until he had to lay the contents of his wallet out to dry and could not use his Midway Mania fast passes!

6. Kiddies

All kids are different, but I try to be especially prepared to dealing with and waiting in the rain with Zoe. I always have a jacket for her, an extra little something for her to play with in case we have to wait a little longer, and additional “special” snacks. Also be realistic about how they react to the rain. If they don’t like getting wet or there are things they MUST have to cope with the rain, be prepared! For awhile she wouldn’t go out in a sprinkle without her favorite umbrella, so that sucker went with us everywhere!

7. HAVE FUN WITH IT!

Have fun! Our rule is that the only place that we can jump in a puddle is at Walt Disney World. Also duing our monsoon trip, we got “cast” for a hurrincane scene shooting later in the day by a “director” in Hollywood Studios.

Don’t let a little rain ruin your parade or vacation!!! Be prepared and have fun!!!

TSMM Ricky Bobby moment... If you ain't first, you're last!

What is your favorite tip or trick for dealing with the rain at Walt Disney World?

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