Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

Family Guide to Winter Wonderland at Dutch Wonderland

Our family had the pleasure of being invited by Dutch Wonderland to enjoy opening day of Winter Wonderland during the holiday season.  Even though Dutch Wonderland is not a new destination for our family (check out my coverage of past visits here!), this was our first time enjoying the park during the holidays.  Staying true to it's slogan as a "Kingdom for Kids," there is plenty for families to enjoy together.  We were delighted with so much during our visit and I can't wait to share some of my tips to make the most of your day at Winter Wonderland as well.

We arrived just a few minutes before park opening and were among the first to enter.  I wasn't sure what to expect crowd wise for the day - it was opening day of the season but there was also a chance of rain throughout the evening - so we tried to think of a plan that would maximize our time in the park.  Upon entering, we headed straight to Merlin's Restaurant where we had the chance to meet the big guy himself - SANTA!  In fact, we had the distinction of being the very first guests of the season to meet Santa.  It was a fabulous visit.  Not rushed at all and several photos taken throughout the time with him.  When it comes to purchasing photos, you have a few options to consider.  If you purchase a day long photo pass for the price of $25, your Santa photos are not included, but digital downloads can be added at just $5 each.  If you don't want to purchase all of your photos from around the park for the day, you can purchase your Santa photo for a $15 digital download price.  I thought this was a great bargain compared to the pricing in malls around us!  Before we leave the topic of visiting Santa, I will say that we were in Merlin's Restaurant later on in the evening too and, again, never saw a line of more than a 2-3 families waiting to meet him.  Maybe we just had a light crowd day, but I was impressed with how easy it was to say hi.  In fact, my boys went back a second time in the evening to talk to Santa and they bought him a hot chocolate because they said "he's been working hard all night!"
First ones of the season to meet Santa!

After stopping by to see Santa first, we headed towards to the back of the park.  This is one of the my common strategies when visiting theme parks - start from the back and work your way forward.  Honestly, there was never a crowd to speak of all night (I think the threat of rain was holding some people off), but we definitely were one of only a few that headed to Exploration Island and were able to walk right on several rides.  Those that we did have to wait for were never more than a 5 minute wait.    You obviously won't find water rides open, but besides those and the larger roller coasters, Merlin's Mayhem and Kingdom Coaster, most everything else was open to ride.  We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time and worked up an appetite by the time we hit almost every ride and made our way back to the front of the park.  Want a quick way to see what the whole park has to offer?  Don't miss the Wonderland Special train ride or the Sky Ride - they are especially beautiful with the lights!

The lights were beautiful!
This was the perfect time to stop back into Merlin's Restaurant for a treat.  When we were here earlier visiting Santa, the cookie decorating station caught my eye and we decided to give that a try along with having cups of hot chocolate to warm up on the chilly November night.  Cookie decorating is $3.99 per person.  You get a very large cookie and then can head to the "buffet" of icing and sprinkles to create your own masterpiece.  My boys had a lot of fun making their cookies and even more fun eating them!  Fun bonus - you even get a cute apron to wear during the experience!

Once we were done, we ventured back outside to find the rain had started up.  We took a quick stroll through the park again to get a final look at the Christmas lights in all of their nighttime glory.  The Christmas light show with dancing lights to music was a lot of fun, but my favorite lights were found on the trees.  There is one tree with gorgeous blue lights and lighted icicles on it as well.  Don't forget to venture back to Exploration Island and walk through the dinosaurs at night too!

We spent 3 hours in the park before the rain really started to dampen the evening, but we pretty much got to see and do everything except the two stage shows that are offered.  This is a great way to celebrate the holidays and have a fun-filled family evening.  Remember, Dutch Wonderland is truly a Kingdom for Kids so most of the rides and attractions here have your youngest family members in mind.  At 4 years old, Caleb couldn't have been happier all night long! Ready to check it out? Season pass holders for Dutch Wonderland have access to Winter Wonderland included.  If you need to purchase tickets for this event, check out my blog reader discount here (Promo Code: DWWBlog19) to save $3 off of the gate price - only $12.99 per person!!  Enjoy and happy holidays!



Website - www.dutchwonderland.com

Twitter - http://twitter.com/funatdw

Instagram - www.instagram.com/dutchwonderland

Facebook - www.facebook.com/dutchwonderlandpa

My family received complimentary admission to Dutch Wonderland's Winter Wonderland so we could share our fun adventures with you! As always, thoughts and opinions are my own!

Don't Miss Disney - Holiday Edition!

We all know that there are several things that are "don't miss" items on any Walt Disney World Resort vacation and the holiday season brings it's own list of must-see attractions, events, and entertainment.  In fact, I talked about what makes the holidays a bit more magical during my Disney Parks Moms Panel Application video when I applied for the 2019 panel.  Even though I didn't make the panel, I think my video sums up a bit of what makes the holiday season extra special when vacationing in Walt Disney World.  Take a look at my video here:



Excited to learn more?  Check out my top 5 things you won't want to miss to put a little extra jingle in your bells this holiday season!

2014 Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - This is a special ticketed event on select nights at Magic Kingdom Park.  Similar to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, you'll find all the magic of the season at this party!  From top notch decorations to put the jingle in any bells to free hot chocolate and cookies throughout the park, you'll feel holly jolly as soon as you enter the park.  Don't miss the parade during this event which features a very special guest at the end!  The holiday fireworks are also an amazing end to the evening.  You will need to purchase a separate ticket for this, but that ticket gets you entrance at 4PM even though the party doesn't begin until 7PM.

Epcot's Candlelight Processional - Included with your ticket to Epcot is the chance to take part in this spiritually mesmerizing event.  Join celebrity narrators, an orchestra, and a enormous choir to hear the Biblical tale of Christmas as never before.  There are several performances each evening of this show and it is incredibly popular.  If you want to guarantee your seat, you can book a dining package at one of Epcot's restaurants with a special reservation on My Disney Experience.  For those of you choosing to attend without that dining reservation, plan to arrive early and wait in line in order to secure your spot!

Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail - We all know Disney Springs is a premiere shopping, dining, and entertainment destination, but it gets even more spirited during the holidays.  With themed Christmas trees from Star Wars to Pixar to Disney classics, you'll quickly find yourself lost in a maze of color and merriment.  One extra perk of this particular holiday attraction?  It's located outside of theme park so if you're in the Orlando area for work, fun, or as a resident - you don't have to pay park admission to enjoy with your family!

Hotel Decor and Experiences - The holiday festivities and decor aren't just limited to the parks around the Walt Disney World Resort, but can also be found in hotels on property as well.  A great way to spend a low-key afternoon or evening is by taking some time to visit different resort properties and enjoy all they have to offer.  For example, the giant gingerbread house display at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is not to be missed.  Feeling a bit more rustic?  Make a visit to Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground where you can find special horse-drawn holiday sleigh rides around the property.
2017 Dinner at Minnie's Holiday Dine

Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine - Looking for a festive dining experience with some of your favorite characters?  Look no further than Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine in Disney's Hollywood Studios!  This dining option is available for lunch and dinner and provides guests with a wide buffet selection and memorable character interactions.  You can find something for everyone at this restaurant and can even grab a special dining package to get reserved seating for Fantasmic later on in the evening!

This is just a sampling of some of my favorite ways to celebrate the holidays at the Walt Disney World Resort!  You'll find holiday magic around every corner and the decorations, costumes, and special events around the resort will help you create memories that will last much longer than those gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate on Main Street, U.S.A!

Say "Boo-to-You" at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has been delighting guests of the Walt Disney World Resort for more than two decades.  Once you've visited this event, it's easy to see why guests return year after year for spooktacular fun.  Whether you are looking for unique treats, rare characters, fa-boo-lous entertainment, or more time on your favorite attractions, there is certainly something for everyone to enjoy.  So here is a list of my frightful dos and don'ts while visiting this special ticketed event.

Do Arrive Early - Magic Kingdom Park opens to guests holding a ticket to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at 4PM even though the party doesn't start until 7PM.  With the cost of the event soaring in recent years, make the most of your party ticket by entering early.  Use this extra time to ride some of your favorite rides (you can even grab FastPass+ reservations between 4PM and 6PM!) and grab some dinner.  You're paying a lot of money for the special entertainment and characters available during the party so you won't want to waste party time eating dinner.

Don't Miss the Special Treats - Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party features many great sweet treats.  Throughout Magic Kingdom Park, there are several trick-or-treat locations which generously distribute mounds of Halloween candy.  In addition, you can find desserts and unique eats at many of the dining locations around the park.  From cupcakes to ice cream and everything in between, you certainly won't go hungry during the party.  I tried the Zero Waffle Sundae at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments which was filling and fun featuring the image of Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas. 

Do Arrive Early for the Parade - Whether you choose to watch the early or late parade or you choose to watch it from Frontierland or Main Street, U.S.A., be sure to arrive approximately 10 minutes early so you don't miss the Headless Horseman's arrival.  Of course, if you want a prime viewing location, you'll probably want to snag your spot up to 30 minutes ahead of the parade, but this also isn't necessary unless you're picky.  I went to the 11:15PM parade and watched it from Liberty Square.  Arriving at 11:05 still gave me a front row location and I grabbed my spot right on time for the beginning of the parade.  Speaking of the parade, Mickey's Boo-to-You Parade is fantastic - probably my favorite on property.  You won't want to miss the Grim Grinning Ghosts and the Gravediggers as they captivate audiences along the route.  Of course, villains and some other favorite characters make appearances too!

Don't Head to the Party Without a Plan - There is so much to see and do you won't want to come and "wing it."  Know what your priorities are before you arrive and make a plan to achieve them.  I love meeting rare characters, but no character in my mind is worth a wait of more than an hour so I knew not to worry about Jack Skellington and Sally.  I also knew that I only wanted to do rides during the party that were "special" as I can ride the other rides on any visit to Magic Kingdom Park.  For example, Space Mountain had a Halloween makeover and Pirates of the Caribbean featured live pirates in the queue and in the ride!  I used Kenny the Pirate's Character Locator app to help me plan out the characters I wanted to meet and used his tips for timing to make the most of my evening in the park.  I also knew that I'd be able to stay until the end of the party since I was traveling without my little ones so I opted to watch the later parade and the midnight Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular which were less crowded.

Do Dress Up and Have Fun - Halloween is a time for everyone to be kids so don't miss out on the fun!  There were plenty of adults and kids alike dressed in full costume and others simply wearing festive attire.  I opted for a simple Lularoe outfit using my Maleficent leggings and my new Maleficent ears to be comfy as I ran around the park. If you are dressing in costume, be sure to visit the Walt Disney World Resort website for current guidelines.  Costume restrictions are looser during the party, but there are still items that are prohibited for adults.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was an amazing time and I hope to return again in future years.  I would still hold off a year or two to bring my kids as I want them to get the most from this special event and I know they wouldn't be able to hang late into the evening.  For families visiting the party, I would definitely recommend not visiting another park that day.  Enjoy your morning relaxing around your resort to rest up for the fun that awaits you and be in line to enter Magic Kingdom Park when your ticket becomes active at 4PM.  Here's wishing you and your family many boo-tiful memories at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.




Nighttime Spectaculars at Disney's Hollywood Studios

For years, each trip to Walt Disney World had included a visit to Fantasmic! at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  We broke tradition on this trip and opted to skip Fantasmic! to get up close and personal with the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show.  As much as I love all of the nighttime shows throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, I was blown away by this extravaganza and would say it is a "not-to-be-missed" show.  Lasers, projections, fireworks, and music combine to make you feel like you are actually in a galaxy far, far away.  The projections highlighted movie clips from the older Star Wars movies all the way up through the latest installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I'm terrible at fireworks pictures, but hopefully you get the idea!
Now that I told you that you have to check this out, I'm also going to tell you that the show is going away. . .whomp, whomp.  Hopefully, it's just for the holiday season though and in it's absence you get to enjoy Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!  This new holiday nighttime spectacular will be shown nightly from November 14 - December 31.  It will be similar in it's presentation to the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show, but instead of droids and Jedi will feature some familiar holiday friends.  I'm sure the show will be amazing based on this sneak peek posted by The DIS on YouTube:



Whether you get to enjoy the holiday fun of Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! or you are hoping for the return of Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular after the holiday season, these newest nighttime shows at Disney's Hollywood Studios are amazing fun for the whole family!

What makes Walt Disney World Resort #WonderFALLDisney?

A few weeks ago, I turned into the Disney Parks Live Stream from the Walt Disney World Resort to catch a glimpse of the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular Show that is part of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  During the broadcast, Disney Parks commentators shared some of the reasons that Fall is one of the best seasons to visit.  I've had the pleasure of taking part of some of these events before, and others I'm excited to experience for the first time when our next trip begins in just about a month!

Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival - This classic festival that has been a part of Epcot for over 2 decades showcases food and drinks from around the world as well as some of the best celebrity chefs one can imagine.  Last year, we had a wonderful time eating our way around Epcot.  One of my best tips for beginners to the festival - don't bother making lunch and dinner reservations.  You'll be so full from snacking at the delicious kiosks, you won't need to stop and sit down for a full meal!  And don't forget to check out the Chase Lounge if you have a Chase Visa credit card.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party - I have to confess that I am a little bummed were going to be missing this.  In case you missed my previous post, we opted out of attending this annual event due to the late night with young kids and ridiculous Halloween weekend pricing.  However, when I was watching the Live Stream from the party in September, I have to admit that the whole event looks fantastic.  I'm sure we'll end up going at some point when the kids are older.  Here's wishing all of you attending a spooktacular time!

runDisney - The first weekend in November means that runDisney has once again returned to the Walt Disney World Resort.  As the only fall race in Florida, this is a very popular ticket.  I ran Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K and the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon in 2015 and can't wait to see the changes for 2016.  With a new Wine and Dine 10K and Lumiere's 2-Course Challenge added to the menu, as well as the time change for the half-marathon to a morning start, there is sure to be lots of excitement and opinions surrounding this event.

Good Weather, Lower Crowds, and Great Deals - Long gone are the high temperatures and paralyzing humidity of the summer.  Instead, you'll find pleasant temperatures and smaller crowds with school back in session.  Fall can also feature several great travel deals.  This year, free dining once again made a return to the Walt Disney World Resort as did percentage off offers for room only reservations.  While the booking window has passed for most of these great offers, deals are still available for the popular holiday season and Disney Visa cardholders have their preview this week of special offers for the beginning of 2017.

We're counting down the days to our #WonderFALLDisney vacation.  What are your favorite events of this season?


Celebrate the 4th in Walt Disney World

4th of July is a busy travel time as families are in the middle of summer and many parents are enjoying a long weekend home from work.  If you're lucky enough to be in Walt Disney World for the holiday, there are several ways to celebrate the birth of America on vacation.

All-American Eats - Nothing says American food more than hot dogs, corn dogs, and ice cream.  Lucky for Disney guests, you'll be able to find all of the above together on Main Street, U.S.A. in Disney's Magic Kingdom.  Casey's Corner is a quick service eatery located at the end of Main Street closest to the castle and has hot dogs and corn dogs with baseball themed decor.  Right across the street, you'll find The Plaza.  While the restaurant is table service, there is also a counter service ice cream shop attached where you can pick up a cone or a sundae.  These treats are the perfect food and the perfect location for the Festival of Fantasy Parade that runs everyday in Magic Kingdom at 3PM.

All-American Attractions - Inside Magic Kingdom, guests can have an experience fit for a president at the Hall of Presidents.  This indoor show features each of the U.S. presidents talking about their time in office using audio-animatronic technology.  If your day in the parks takes you to Epcot, you can also brush up on your U.S. History by visiting the American Adventure.  Join Mark Twain and Ben Franklin as they take you on a journey through U.S. History using music and some familiar faces.  As a former U.S. History teacher I love any chance to highlight history lessons to my kids, but one added perk with both of these shows - they are in air-conditioned theaters!  

All-American Fireworks - On the 4th of July and the days surrounding the holiday, Wishes gets an overhaul and the nightly fireworks show in Magic Kingdom pays tribute to the United States with patriotic songs.  We also were lucky enough to see the Celebrate the Magic projection show with an American twist as red, white, and blue stars and stripes lit up the castle.  No need to miss out on your holiday fireworks while on vacation in Walt Disney World.

Happy 4th of July everyone!!




Why We Won't Be Going to MNSSHP

A few disclaimers before I begin tonight's post.  I love Disney - always have and probably always will.  I recognize that Disney is a business and, while they excel in providing magical vacation memories, they are ultimately trying to make a lot of money as a successful company.  I don't begrudge this at all - but even I have to admit that some things are getting a little crazy.

When my husband told me about the Walt Disney World trip that we could plan for the fall, I was even more excited than normal.  I had never been to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and couldn't wait to experience it - on Halloween night none-the-less!  I did my research about the event and knew that I was going to pay a premium for tickets on Halloween night.  In 2015, the tickets cost $87 for adults and $82 for kids 3-9.  While these are steep ticket prices, I felt that between the 4pm admission to Magic Kingdom, the parade, the fireworks, the candy, and the entertainment I could justify it.  Then, the prices for 2016 were released.  Seriously?!?  At $105 for adults and $100 for kids, I about fainted.  Do you know how much I could do in Disney for that money vs. one evening in the Magic Kingdom???

My favorite pirates!
So in an act that probably astonished my husband, I said "no" to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.  I could come up with an experience that would still be new and just as memorable for the kids for a lot less money - I was sure of it.  I went back to the drawing board and remembered something that I had been interested in taking the kids to before, but we never had the extra funds.  I got on the phone with Disney Recreation and booked the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage for Halloween night.  If you're not familiar with this, it begins in the Contemporary with snacks and sweets.  There is a special meet and greet with Captain Hook and Mr. Smee before you take off on your voyage.  You get a prime view of the nighttime fireworks show with the music piped into your boat.  The evening ends with a special goodnight send off back on land from Peter Pan.  I think my 4 year old will be more than thrilled to say "Yo Ho, Let's Go!" to this adventure.

And as for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, I'm missing out on treats, a special parade, unique characters, and HalloWishes to enjoy salty and sweet snacks, an up close view of the Electrical Water Pageant, meet rare Peter Pan characters, and watch HalloWishes - for a lot less money.  The cost of the Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage is $69 for adults and $41 for kids.  I'm excited to "sea" what this new-to-me experience has to offer and I'll save some of my gold doubloons in the process.  Ahoy mateys!

OCMD St. Patty's Day Boardwalk 5K Recap

This past weekend I ran the St. Patty's Day Boardwalk 5K in Ocean City, Maryland for the first time. Like you would expect from a St. Patrick's Day race, leprechauns and green costumes dotted the course as runners and walkers alike were out for a good time.  And I didn't do this race by myself - my mom signed up for this event as her very first 5K!  Prior to heading into town for the run, I grabbed a bagel from the shop down the street and, wouldn't you know, the bagel had the luck of the Irish with it.

Race day morning was perfect weather for a 5K by the beach - it was in the low 50s and overcast.  The 5K begins and ends at Shenanigan's on 4th Street and the Boardwalk.  There was a DJ outside of the restaurant getting the crowd energized before the start of the race and even a roaming leprechaun around for pictures and high fives.  Even the water they were handing out was in the St. Patrick's Day spirit and was dyed green.

One of my favorite things about running at the beach would be the flat terrain.  When compared to the hills that I run on at home, I feel like I'm just cruising along during these races.  After beginning at 4th Street, the race course started heading South to the pier and then around the tram stop at the inlet.  After making the turn, the course took runners north on the boardwalk to 16th Street where there was once again a 180 degree turnaround and then back south to end at 4th Street.  Running along the Ocean City boardwalk was beautiful with the sand and the water creating the perfect backdrop!  I've been training for my half-marathon using my run/walk intervals at home so I did that for the 5K - 90 seconds running, 60 seconds walking - and finished with a pace of 11:53 minutes per mile.  I felt good at the end of the race and hope that I can keep that kind of pace for my first half-marathon in less than 2 months.


At the end of the race, all finishers received a ribbon and each runner received a free drink.  If you head to the beach to run this race, be sure to stick around town afterwards for the St. Patrick's Day parade which takes place the same day as the run and begins at noon.  The parade runs from 61st Street to 45th Street along Coastal Highway.  While I didn't quite find a pot of gold that day, I did find a good time and festive event!  

Hello 2015!

Every new year should begin with some resolutions, right?  Well, here are the ones that I'm looking to keep in the coming year.  Besides the typical Disney reviews and tips, my readers (all 10 of you!) will be able to help me stay accountable on the progress I report with each of these.

  • Maintain balance between wife, mom, daughter, Kristi, and Assistant Principal.  Juggling multiple roles can be exhausting and I want to do my best to prioritize and make time for each of these important responsibilities in my life.
  • Run a half-marathon.  After the pregnancy, I've decided to set an ambitious training goal to force me to get off the couch and back into shape.  My plan is the Wine and Dine Half-Marathon in November.  Which leads me to Resolution #3. . .
  • Somewhere Disney.  If you know anything about me by now, you know that I need to feed my Disney addiction with a yearly trip.  Dan and I are celebrating our 5 year anniversary this year and are planning either a long weekend getaway to the Food and Wine Festival in November or a short DCL trip in October. 
  • Continue blogging and interacting with the social media community.  2014 was a first for me with beginning a blog and actually using Twitter.  I've had an amazing time connecting through these outlets and hope to build my skills and followers in the year to come.  If you don't currently follow me on Twitter, please do @dsnyrunrgrl.  I've also applied to host a #DisneySide @ Home Celebration and submitted my interest to be selected for the #DisneySMMoms On the Road Conference - fingers crossed!  And hopefully I'll make it past R2 in the Disney Parks Moms Panel Search this Fall.

2014 - The Year in Review

2014 was another whirlwind year for our family with much excitement and many blessings!  As we say goodbye to the past year, here are some of our highlights:

  • Started blogging and (somewhat) successfully maintained it - minus the summer hiatus.
  • Got back into running "for the first time in forever."
    What better than #runDisney to motivate me back into running for the first time in 8 years??
  • Celebrated Brody's 2nd Birthday.
  • I turned 30 and was lucky enough to celebrate on a Disney Cruise with Dan for a little "mommy / daddy time" at sea.
    With Captain Mickey on the Disney Dream!
  • Dan got a new job doing what he loves and does best.
  • We found out that we were expecting baby #2 - another boy. . .due to arrive February 2015!
    Waiting on Baby Caleb!
  • I got promoted to an Assistant Principal position in July.
  • The Orioles won the AL East for the first time since 1997 :)
    Enjoying a day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards!
  • I made it R2 of the Disney Parks Moms Panel application process, but alas, no R3 this year.
    Such a magical email to receive!  Hoping for more #DisneyMP fun next year :)
  • We put a contract on a new house and are planning to move in January.
  • Brody got to go on his 2nd vacation to Disney World - this time a 5 day trip in November.
    Brody was so excited to meet all of his favorites - and a perfect gentleman!

Disney Touches for the Holidays

Even though we are spending Christmas hundreds of miles away from Disney World, the influence of everyone's favorite mouse can still be felt as we celebrate.  Below are just a few pictures from our holiday!  Hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful time with family and friends this season!

Our elf, Tinsel, had fun playing in Brody's Disney toys in the days leading up to Christmas.

I love wrapping gifts in Disney paper.  Found this at Hallmark this year!
I must have been a very good girl!  Love me some Disney Dooney and Bourke!
All Brody asked for from Santa was Cars stuff - and Santa delivered big time!
My mom got me my first Disney Pandora charm to add to my Pandora bracelet.
Even Baby Caleb received Disney themed gifts from Santa this year while we wait for him to make his appearance!


WDW Magic @ the Holidays

As the countdown to Christmas draws ever closer to the big day, let's take a few minutes to look at some of the special Christmas events Walt Disney World has to offer that Dan, Brody, and I took advantage of on this trip.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights - This holiday attraction is included with your admission to Hollywood Studios.  Each evening, the Streets of America come alive with beautiful lights and music.  This is truly a beautiful and overwhelming experience.  We spent nearly an hour strolling up and down the small stretch of Hollywood Studios.  There are food and souvenir carts that line the streets if you are looking to purchase something and you can also find several PhotoPass photographers to capture that perfect pose.  This is definitely a sight to see and since it's included with your theme park admission, why pass it up?



A picture of the beautiful lights

But first, let me take a selfie :)

Family shot in front of the big tree!
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party - This party takes place several evenings each week at Magic Kingdom Park.  Long story short, the park closes down for the evening at 7PM and only remains open for party guests.  This is a hard ticketed event, meaning you have to pay extra to attend.  If you have a ticket to the party, you can enter Magic Kingdom at 4PM.  No FP+ are available from 7PM on as park attendance is limited and there really isn't a great need.  The party includes free cookies and hot chocolate, 2 parade times, and a Holiday Wishes fireworks show.  Also included are character meet and greets throughout the park and some dance parties.  I have mixed reviews to share with my experience at MVMCP.  What I liked:  smaller crowds (although the early parade time was packed on Main Street USA), cookies and hot chocolate, seeing snow on Main Street.  My problem was one that I should have seen coming.  With a 2YO, who normally goes to bed at 8, the party was way too much too late.  Despite taking a nice nap in the afternoon and allowing for plenty of rest at the resort, by 8:45 we were in total meltdown mode.  We saw the early parade, but had to leave the park before Wishes or really taking advantage of much of anything at the party.  When you consider the extra money that we paid for tickets, I don't feel like it was worth it for us.  So, my recommendation is that it looks like a blast for elementary aged children and up.  If you're traveling with little ones - think about their limits and respect them when making a decision.  I know (and am jealous) of friends who have kids that can adjust their schedules on the fly and when they are tired will just fall asleep in the stroller.  Not my kid.  If you're preschooler or toddler is routine driven with an early bedtime each night, it might be best to save this until your next trip.

Frozen was EVERYWHERE this Christmas in Disney!  One of many Frozen floats featuring Olaf

The parade ended with an appearance by the man himself - Santa!

Posing for a picture in front of the Frozen castle

Christmas in Disney is full of beautiful sights!  Beyond the parks, be sure to check out the lobbies of the various hotels.  We were just slightly ahead of most of the hotel decorations, but the pictures on Twitter look amazing and I can only imagine how wonderful those lobbies look in person!

A Very Disney Halloween!

I've always enjoyed Halloween.  The mix of pumpkins, apples, corn mazes, hayrides, leaves changing, and cooler weather is simply wonderful!  Halloween also means that we get a chance to celebrate the spooky while becoming our favorite characters.  I've fallen even more in love with fall this year.  This is the first Halloween that Brody has really caught the spirit and it's been fun to experience with him!  Of course, Disney is at the center of this celebration for our family too!!

Brody and Dan visited a pumpkin patch and picked out several to bring home.  Since Brody is too little to help carve a pumpkin yet, I bought him a Mickey pumpkin decorating kit with paint and foam pieces that he could put together.  He had such a great time designing his Mickey pumpkin!



And when it came to picking a Halloween costume, Brody had his choice for the first time.  I showed him pictures of lots choices and he picked to be Lightning McQueen's driver.  Brody loves all things cars - the faster the better - and was so excited to see his costume arrive.  We trick-or-treated at Codorus State Park during their Halloween in the Park event this weekend before the big night this coming week.  I think he made a great race car driver!



Seeing Brody's excitement about Halloween has me really looking forward to next year too.  We are planning a trip next Fall to WDW with my parents and should be there for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.  I've never been before but have a wonderful feeling that our family is going to love it!