Showing posts with label toddler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label toddler. Show all posts

Family Guide to Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld Orlando

Bert and Ernie
SeaWorld Orlando has been a popular family destination in Central Florida for many years now, but the recent addition of Sesame Street Land gives young families even more to love.  This new land opened in Summer 2019 and adds so much fun for little ones when visiting SeaWorld.  Before our visit, I had a lot of questions and I want to share answers to some of those questions that may be on your mind too as you plan your visit!

What is in Sesame Street Land?


A lot!! In this relatively small corner of the park, you'll find 6 rides - all perfectly sized for pint sized visitors, a playground area, a splash pad, shopping, interactive displays, food trucks, character greetings, and a parade.  See. . .it's a lot!  At the time of our visit, my boys were 4 and 7 which was perfect for visiting.  Throughout most of the rest of SeaWorld, my youngest was too little for almost all of the rides, but here he could do everything.  His favorite was the Cookie Drop.  My oldest is still a little shy when it comes to roller coasters, but the Grover themed roller coaster here had him all smiles - he rode it 3 times in a row!  The interactive displays are all very well done too.  You can actually walk along Sesame Street ringing doorbells, knocking on Oscar's trashcan, racing bicycles, and building monsters.

Yippee TV - Streaming You Can Trust for Kids

If your kids are anything like mine, they love independence on their tablets - feeling like big kids even though they're several years away from their tween and teen years.  And if you're a parent like me, you feel stressed sometimes finding content you can trust for your kids to enjoy while giving them a taste of that independence.  Yippee may be the answer that everyone in your family has been looking for! As they say in their mission statement, Yippee strives "to build character in kids by transforming them with world class media that is safe, values based, and FUN."

As a partner with Yippee, my family and I received a free trial of this service to share our experiences with you!

We have only been checking out content for a little over a week now and it's been perfect for my 4 and 7 year old boys.  Yippee provides content that is both fun and builds a character foundation for the little ones.  Currently, you'll find familiar favorites like Veggie Tales (45 episodes!) and original content like The Yippee Show where hosts Cameron and Noel compete in challenges - just like what kids love to see on YouTube.  It feels good as a parent to know they are getting quality content that is safe and promotes our values while also seeing them enjoy what they are exploring.

I'm excited to see what lies ahead for this service too as they have plans to unveil even more original content in the near future and will become the only place to find exclusive new Veggie Tales episodes beginning in February 2020.  With so many options out there for families to choose from, it's easy to get overwhelmed.  If you're looking for values-based family-friendly content for the littlest members of your family, look no further than Yippee!

Interested in learning more?  Find Yippee online:

Website - www.yippee.tv
Facebook - www.facebook.com/yippeetv
Instagram - www.instagram.com/yippeetv

Want to Explore Yippee Yourself?


I'm excited to have partnered with Yippee to offer my readers the chance to win a prize pack from Yippee including 3 FREE months of streaming!  So how do you enter?  It's easy and can all be done from the comfort of Facebook!  Head to Running on Pixie Dust on Facebook and do the following:
  • Like this post on Facebook - Get one entry!
  • Comment on the post - Get one entry!
  • Tag your friends - Get one entry PER TAG!
  • Are you following me on Facebook? - That gets you one extra entry!
  • Share this post on Facebook - Get another bonus entry!


Each household is only eligible to win Yippee Prize Pack via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  Entry period will open at noon EST on Monday, 12/30 close Friday, 1/3 at noon EST and the winner will be notified by Facebook!

Easy peasy!  I can't wait to share my excitement about this service with the winner and hope all of you - winner or not - give Yippee a try with your kids!  

My Kid Threw Up on a Walt Disney World Bus

So, this one time, in Disney World, my kid threw up on the bus to Hollywood Studios. (You're supposed to see Alyson Hannigan there. . .did you??)


via GIPHY

Yeah, you read that right.  Here's a little context.  My first child (actually, my only at the time of this incident) was just 17 months old and wrapping up a whirlwind 10 day vacation where we sailed for a week on the Disney Fantasy and then spent three days in Walt Disney World.  It was supposed to be a magical time, and, for the most part, was that ideal first visit.  But on the last night of the trip, my son was particularly fussy overnight.  I thought the July heat and long vacation may have just been getting to him and knew we were heading home the next day so he'd be getting back to his normal routine in no time.  The next morning, we left our room at the Contemporary Resort and had breakfast inside the hotel at Chef Mickey's.  I expected this to be an incredible time for my little guy, but he seemed disconnected and refused to eat almost anything.  C'est la vie, right?  Well, we had a few hours to go explore Disney's Hollywood Studios before heading to the airport.  We took advantage of Disney's Airline Check-In service and sent our bags over to MCO from the hotel leaving just our carry on at the hotel and heading to the park with our stroller and diaper bag.  I had my son on my lap on the bus to the park, and about halfway through the journey, he began vomitting. Let me tell you - this is not a fun experience.

He's covered. I'm covered. My diaper bag is covered.  It smells.  Everyone is watching.

My husband is in the seat across the aisle and staring in a paralyzed horror.  After what seems like an eternity, but was probably more like 15 seconds, he sprang into action and alerted the bus driver who handled the whole experience like the calmest person on the planet.  Does this happen often on Disney transportation?  I don't know, but he certainly wasn't fazed. We cleaned up what we could with paper towels as the bus continued towards it's destination.

When we arrived at Hollywood Studios, we quickly exited and took the clothes off of my son and threw them in the nearest trashcan.  Fortunately, the diaper bag was zipped during this ordeal so the spare change of clothes I had in the bag were safe and I was able to throw him in a onesie.  What I didn't pack was extra socks and shoes - and those items were clearly destroyed.  You want to know how much a pair of baby socks costs inside a Disney park?  Well, I can't remember exactly but it was a lot more than at Wal-Mart.  And we just decided to bypass shoes the rest of the day. . .I mean he's only 1 1/2 right? Fortunately, he didn't get sick any more that day, but he did scream like a madman during the plane right on our descent into Baltimore.  What caused all of this?  Well, we found out the next day when we went to the doctor that he had a pretty bad double ear infection.

Why am I sharing this with you?


So you can learn like I did from my travel experiences.  As a relatively new mom on our first major vacation with a little one, I had some important takeaway moments from this that changed how I traveled with kids in the future.  First things first, always have a change of clothes with you.  I don't care if they are 5 months old or 6 years old - accidents happen and a spare change of clothes can go a long way in a crisis situation while also saving you money on buying expensive items in a theme park.  Next thing was always traveling with a few key medicines for the kids - Advil, Tylenol, and Benadryl - as well as a thermometer and band-aids. In this case, I could tell my son wasn't feeling well, but didn't have anything readily available to help him out.  Maybe a dose of Advil would have helped the fever he had (which I didn't really realize he had until much later) and made him more comfortable during the flight home.  Kids medicine isn't as readily available as it may seem too sometimes when you're on vacation so this can be really helpful!  Looking for help with a little one in the park?  Check out my Guide to Baby Care Centers located inside each Walt Disney World theme park where you can find medicine, quiet respite, changing areas, feeding areas, and much more!

The final reason I'm sharing this with you is so that you know you're not alone.  As parents, we can easily become overwhelmed and stressed and feel very alone when things go wrong - especially in public places.  So next time your child gets sick on a theme park bus, or screams on an airplane ride, or throws a tantrum in the grocery store - know that you are not alone.  We've been there too.  It's not always easy, but this journey of parenthood is the best adventure out there!

Know Before You Go: Camp Ocean on Carnival Cruise Line

The cruise industry has adapted and continues to make changes to meet the needs of families as more adults are choosing cruise vacations that include little ones.  Let's face it - a cruise is a great family vacation.  There is so much to do on the ship, lots of food, and incredible ports of call.  Cruising is even more family friendly thanks to the kids clubs that most cruise lines offer now.  Our two most recent cruises have been on Carnival Cruise Line - the Carnival Paradise out of Tampa and the Carnival Pride out of Baltimore.  On each of these trips we had kids under 6 and I'm here to answer some questions you may have about Camp Ocean on Carnival!

What ages are able to go to Camp Ocean?

Camp Ocean is open to young cruisers from 2 through 11.  This is great news for parents!  Most cruise lines don't accept children until age 3 in kids clubs and several require that children are potty trained.  The fact that Carnival accepts 2 year olds and there was no potty training requirement was a big part of our decision to sail with Carnival in 2017.  Camp Ocean is divided into different age groups to make sure that activities are age appropriate and little ones don't have to worry about being with 11 year olds all day long.

Is there a cost for Camp Ocean?

Camp Ocean is included with your cruise fare so no extra fees.  Well, maybe a few for some extra activities if you choose.  Camp Ocean closes in the evening at 10PM, but if mom and dad want to stay out and party later, you can enroll your child in Night Owls for a small fee and they will keep care of them until 1AM.  The counselors have a variety of activities and also offer quiet space for kids who are ready to sleep.

Sample Schedule from Carnival Paradise - 2017
Speaking of hours, what hours is Camp Ocean open for use?

This will definitely vary day-by-day.  During embarkation, Camp Ocean is open for an "open house." You can't drop kids off during this time, but it's a great opportunity to see the space with your children and meet the camp staff.  They are super friendly and can answer any specific questions you have.  On at-sea days, the camp is typically open in the AM for some time, closes mid-day and then re-opens in the evening.  Throughout the mid-day, there tends to be some family-friendly entertainment planned on ship including the Seuss At Sea activities, Build-A-Bear, and much more!  The kids staff tends to lead these events for younger cruisers so it makes sense why they are close during this time.  For more information on kid-friendly activities on board a Carnival Cruise, check out my older post about Seuss At Sea.  During port days, you can usually find Camp Carnival open the duration of the time in port.

Wait. . .I can leave my kids in Camp Ocean while off the ship?  Is that a good idea?

Yes, you can check your kids into camp then disembark and enjoy some more grown-up excursions.  Some excursions do have age requirements so if you are traveling with toddlers and preschoolers, this may be an option for you.  As far as if it's a good idea, that's up to you.  Personally, I have never opted to do this and don't see myself doing so in the future.  There's so much to consider here in my opinion that the risk (while admittedly slight) of something going wrong far outweighs the benefits.  I would be a nervous wreck that something terrible would happen and I wouldn't make it back to ship - then my kids are on board and I'm not.  I also really believe in family travel.  While we love Camp Ocean and enjoy using it for mom and dad to take a nap on the Serenity Deck or grab an upscale dinner one night, I don't want to have my kids spend our entire vacation away from us.  We have never had a problem finding excursions that our whole family will enjoy!

You mentioned dinner.  Will Camp Ocean feed my kids?

Yes and no.  You cannot send food with your kid into camp.  On at-sea days, camp will always be closed for lunch so you'll be feeding your own children.  If your child is in camp on a port day, lunch will be provided.  A great option offered nightly though, especially for parents looking to enjoy some of the more upscale dining options on board, is a Kids Only Dinner.  You can drop your child off at the Lido Deck buffet with camp staff and they will feed them dinner before taking them up to camp for the evening.  The only downside to the meal is that it is pre-selected and can't be changed for picky eaters.  We took advantage of this on two nights and it worked well.  One of the nights was a chance for us to do the Chef's Table which was incredible!
Inside Camp Ocean on Carnival Pride 2018

What about safety?  How do I know others won't have access to my kids?

Great minds think alike as this is always one of the top priorities I look at when talking childcare anywhere for my kids!  And you can rest assured that we felt Carnival took great care of keeping our kids safe.  When you register your child for Camp Ocean, you designate who can check your child or children in and out.  These authorized adults must present sail and sign cards which will be scanned and reviewed at check-in and check-out.  You can even give adults permission to access your children who are in other staterooms which is perfect if you're traveling with extended family or friends.  If you kids fall in the 9-11 age group, you can choose whether or not to give them the ability to check themselves in and out of camp.  I'm still a few years away from that decision yet, but I find myself leaning towards keeping control of their time in camp.

Last, but not least - will my kids have fun??

While I certainly can't guarantee this for every child, I will say that my boys have LOVED their time in Camp Ocean.  Both of them were a little nervous the first time at drop off, but after that couldn't wait to return each day for some play time with their new Camp Ocean friends.  They even enjoyed seeing their friends throughout the ship when they weren't in camp and playing in the pool together.  The activities are well organized and they bring home lots of goodies - crafts, prizes, etc.  The staff has always been amazing and we felt our boys were well cared for.

As with any program that is offered across a large company, there will be variations from ship-to-ship.  You can always find out more information at www.carnival.com and look for specific details about your ship.  If you have questions that relate to the Carnival Paradise or Carnival Pride, feel free to drop them in the comments below and I'll do my best to give you my experiences! Happy sailing!

Royally Excited about Dutch Wonderland!

I'm excited to share with you that I've been selected as a Royal Ambassador for Dutch Wonderland this summer!  What does that mean? Well, Dutch Wonderland will be hosting my family for a day of fun and entertainment so I can share all the excitement with you!  I also get to pass on extra savings to my readers and followers so that you too can enjoy all that Dutch Wonderland has to offer this summer.  Dutch Wonderland opens for weekends starting April 27th and will open 7 days a week starting Memorial Day.  Before the summer season kicks into full swing, let's take a quick look at the basics about this "Kingdom for Kids!"

Dutch Wonderland is located in Lancaster, PA - just about 90 minutes from our house in Maryland.  Generations of families have now been enjoying the rides and entertainment at this family amusement park since 1963. In fact, I remember visiting as a kid and now love that I'm getting to create new memories with my own children.  Like many other amusement parks these days, Dutch Wonderland has expanded beyond just rides and shows to bring guests a water play area - Duke's Lagoon which opened in 2003 and has continued to grow over the years.  This continued expansion without losing sight of the core of being a "A Kingdom for Kids" is part of the reason Dutch Wonderland has been voted "One of the Top Five Best Kids' Parks in the World" by Amusement Today in 2008 and 2009.

Caleb and I visited Dutch Wonderland as guests of the park in October for a day of Happy Hauntings and you can relive our experience here!  We loved the fact that all of the rides were perfectly sized for him to enjoy and the entertainment was fun throughout the park. With 35 rides on 43 acres, I'm sure the whole family will enjoy our time there this summer!

If you are planning to visit Dutch Wonderland, check out a great deal for my readers and followers by visiting http://www.dutchwonderland.com/blogreader and use code "summerblog19" for exclusive savings. I can't wait to share my experience at Dutch Wonderland with you and follow your adventures as well! In the meantime, enjoy this look at our Happy Hauntings video from our October visit to give you a taste of the fun that awaits this summer!



As a Royal Ambassador, my family and I will receive complimentary admission to Dutch Wonderland for a day during the 2019 Summer Season in exchange for my reviews and posts. Reviews and posts are always honest and my own!

Hersheypark with Kids - Make the Most of Your Day

Imagine a world where rides, characters, and everyone's favorite - chocolate! - come together in an amazing park. Lucky for us, this gem is just up the road in Hershey, PA.  Hersheypark is home to a wide array of rides for both kids and adults to enjoy as well as restaurants, Zoo America, Chocolate World, and much, much more.  With so much to see and do, you want to have a game plan that's just right for your family.  We all know that traveling with young kids can sometimes be challenging, but here are all the tips you need to make the most of your day at Hersheypark!

One of the things to keep in mind when preparing for your day at Hersheypark is the presence of The Boardwalk area.  Hersheypark is home to an amazing water area featuring kiddie pools, wave pools, a lazy river, water slides, and even a water roller coaster.  I recommend heading up in the morning wearing your bathing suits underneath of shorts and a t-shirt and packing a dry clothes gallon-sized baggie for each family member.  When you are done in the water area, you can put the shorts and shirts back on and your dry undergarments from the baggie then use the baggie to place your wet bathing suits in so the rest of you contents don't get soaked.  You'll want to be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen to in order to reapply throughout the day - there's not much shade around the park.

We are lucky enough to head up to Hershey several times throughout the year, but if you are only in town for the day, you'll want to plan accordingly to see as much as possible.  I recommend starting at The Boardwalk.  While the family is heading that way and getting situated, this park opening time is a great opportunity for a grown-up or two to catch a roller coaster before the lines get long.  The Boardwalk becomes incredibly popular in the heat of the afternoon and can boast long lines for the slides so hitting it earlier in the day, may be your best bet.  Grab a locker by Tidal Force - a water ride just outside of The Boardwalk.  You can drop off your dry clothes there and walk around in your bathing suit as you enter the water area.  Afterwards, there are locker rooms out by those lockers that are often less crowded than the ones inside of the The Boardwalk area.

Once you are in your dry clothes, head to the back of the park and check out Midway America.  Family friendly attractions here include a number of kiddie rides as well as a large Ferris Wheel that give awesome views of the park.  You can also find several coasters for adults to enjoy including, my favorite wooden coaster Lightning Racer.  From here, head back to Pioneer Frontier where there is another group of kiddie rides and you won't want to miss the Dry Gulch Railroad as a fun trip around the park the whole family will certainly enjoy.  Continue further towards the back of the park and grab lunch at The Overlook where you can pick from a variety of food choices all under one roof before heading up for a ride on the Kissing Tower and taking a spin around the Twin Turnpike.

Now is a great time to take a break from the park and visit ZooAmerica - free with your ticket to Hersheypark! This can be done in as little as 45 minutes or take as long as you want to see all types of animals.  There are some indoor buildings here and the zoo offers a little more shade than the park for the mid-afternoon heat of summer.  When you re-enter the park, head down to the Hollow where two kid-friendly rollercoasters can be found - The Comet and SooperDooperLooper.  Fun fact - SooperDooperLooper was the first roller coaster I ever went upside down on when I was a kid!  Don't let the name scare you - it's really only one loop and is a perfect starter coaster!  Lastly, you'll want to head to Founder's Way where kiddie rides abound!  This is a great place to end your day with so many rides for kids to choose from.  And since most people stop here on the way into the park, lines are often shorter in the evening.



We always like to end our day by having dinner and dessert at Chocolate World.  Chocolate World is free for anyone to visit and features a food court with actual meals as well as chocolate decadence that will make your dreams come true!  There is also a free ride that shows how Hershey's chocolate is made.  If you have some extra time, there are additional experiences at Chocolate Word that carry an extra fee - make your own chocolate bar, a 4D movie, and a chocolate tasting experience.  What a sweet end to the day!

Hershey, PA is home to so much family fun that you can easily spend several days enjoying all there is to offer - and we haven't even talked about Hershey Gardens, The Hershey Story Museum, and the downtown area.  What's your favorite way to spend a day in Hershey?

Collecting Character Autographs in Walt Disney World

Meeting characters is a highlight of any Walt Disney World vacation - for both the young and the young at heart!  Photos are a great way to capture those memories and many people enjoy collecting autographs from their favorite characters to also bring home a piece of the magic.  Below are a few different options for recording those signatures.

Disney Autograph Books - On site and online, Disney sells autograph books for visitors to use.  The books range from a simple book of blank pages for characters to sign to larger books that hold pictures from your trip alongside the autographs you collect.  On a plus side, these books are readily available and easy to carry being small on size.  Brody keeps his old autograph books in his closet and occasionally will go back to look at them.  Books start at just $7.95 so if you are in a pinch in the parks, it's not an overly expensive option.

Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters (or another character book) - This is my new favorite option!  We bought this book from Amazon for less than $10 prior to our trip.  It's a nice hardcover book that features some of Disney's most beloved animated characters.  Each page has a picture and a brief description of each character.  The idea is that when you meet each one, they sign their page.  This is a nice book to keep on a shelf and revisit time and time again when you return from your trip.  I also enjoy that we can bring it back on each vacation and try to collect more and more signatures.  On the downside, it is larger than the Disney Autograph books in the parks and not every character is in the book.  We were easily able though to work around both of these minor concerns.  With our little ones, we still carry a backpack in the park so carrying the book wasn't a problem and we just had characters without a page sign on the front or back cover.

Wall Displays / Pillowcases / Etc. - I have seen people post about bringing various household items for characters to sign too.  While I have never done this personally, it may be something that we do in the future.  One example may be a photo mat that would hold one of your family photos from the parks or maybe a wooden letter.  I've also seen people hand characters pillowcases or t-shirts to sign too.  Perhaps the most creative I've found were the people who brought a frying pan to have Rapunzel sign!  While these appear to be great, creative ways to display character signatures when you return, I have always worried about carrying some of these items as they can be a bit awkward in the park.

At the end of the day, what you carry in the park is all about what makes you and your family happy! There are so many creative ways to collect character signatures and a quick Pinterest search will show you endless possibilities.  What are some of your favorite ways to gather signatures while on vacation in Walt Disney World?

Providing the Comforts of Home

One of the hardest things about traveling with young ones is making the time away from home feel somewhat "normal."  When you're vacationing with a toddler this is especially true.  And naptime and bedtime rituals are critical to keeping everyone on the trip happy.  My previous post talked about a very un-magical stay where bedtime became a battle that the kids won and the parents lost.  Luckily, our Walt Disney World vacation just 8 months earlier was a totally different story.

Once again, we stayed at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, but this time we were traveling with my parents too and had adjoining rooms.  At the time, Brody was 4 and Caleb was 1.  Having adjoining rooms was a glorious thing as it gave us a chance to put Caleb down for naps and bed in one room and then play and watch movies in the other while still being connected.  The other part of the vacation that made naps and bedtime doable was the fact that we opted to rent a crib from Kingdom Strollers instead of just electing to use a typical pack-n-play.

For a weeklong vacation, we found the portable crib to be a much nicer way to travel.  Caleb was comfortable with lots of room to wiggle and roll.  It also came with freshly cleaned sheets and blankets so we didn't have to worry about anything.  I think this was even more important on our trip as Caleb was sick the first three days were on vacation, so he spent quiet a bit of time resting and that good night sleep was even more essential.  The crib was delivered to Bell Services and then we simply broke it down and returned the crib and bedding to Bell Services to be picked up when we checked out.  The whole experience was easy and enjoyable for everyone.  And at the end of the vacation, we had a completely satisfied toddler - not the easiest customer to always please!

4 Reasons to Fall in Love with Knoebels Amusement Park

Our family just returned from a weekend visit to Knoebels - our third so far.  My husband grew up visiting the Central PA amusement park, so it's no surprise that he has been excited to make memories there with our kids.  This was our first visit since having both boys and I have to say that it might be one of the best bargains for families with young kids around.

From our house, we can be to Knoebels in about 3 hours which makes it just on the line of being a day trip.  This time, my husband was on his way home from a fishing trip in Canada so I met him in Bloomsburg with the kids and we stayed in a hotel for the weekend.  Our boys are 5 and 2 - perfect for loving the kiddie rides and the family amusement park experience.  This trip really solidified 4 reasons that all young families will fall in love with Knoebels!

The Price - As I said, this might be the best bargain for families with young children around.  Unlike most amusement parks, entry into Knoebels is free - yes, you read that right - FREE!  Try finding that these days!  Entertainment, like musicians and magic shows are all open to the public and included in your free entry.  When it's time to ride the rides, you simply pay as you go for the rides you want.  The kiddie rides are all very reasonable with most ranging in price from $1.00 to $1.50.  You can buy tickets in books of $5.00, $10.00, or $20.00 and can even buy discounted tickets at places like local Weis Markets ahead of your visit.  The paper tickets also never expire so the extra tickets we had from 2 years ago were still able to be used on this visit saving us even more money!  During the week, the park offers a ride all day pass, but on weekends that is not an option.  Now if you have older kids and teenagers that are looking for thrill rides, be warned that the big roller coasters cost $3.00 each per rider which can quickly add up.

The Location - Nestled among the mountains and trees of Elysburg, PA, you don't even realize you're approaching an amusement park as you pull up to Knoebels.  The feel is more of a large carnival than an amusement park with lots of shade, a mix of gravel and paved walkways, and an overall "woodsy" feel.  For those families that enjoy camping (unlike me. . .), there is a campground adjacent to the amusement park which is a popular draw.

The Food - Knoebels is known to have some of the best amusement park food around.  We have never been disappointed in the quality of traditional park fare like pizza, hamburgers, and fries.  They also offer a wide variety of options that are not as traditional in amusement parks including spaghetti dinners, meatloaf dinners complete with potatoes and veggies, and a delicious International Food Court.  The prices are in line with what you would expect at an amusement park - not cheap, but not ridiculous either.

The Rides - The rides are perfect for kids of all ages.  Our 2 year old enjoyed playing on the sliding board and the ball pit the best while our 5 year old ran from ride to ride eager to enjoy everything from cars, boats, trains, and much more.  If you have older thrill seekers, there are several roller coasters including the Phoenix - one of best ranked wooden roller coasters in the country.  The park also features a pool and water play area at a very reasonable price.  So if you are planning to visit in the summertime, be sure to bring your bathing suits in case you want to cool off in the pool during your visit!


Overall, I highly recommend this experience for families - especially those with young kids.  While I still love my visits to (also nearby) Hersheypark, this is a much cheaper alternative that has a very different "old time-y" feel.  It's definitely worth the drive to check out on summer road trips!

My Top 5 Posts of 2016

In what has now become an annual tradition on the blog (I think I can call it that if I've done it two years in a row, right?), here is a countdown of my top 5 posts from the past year.  Thanks to everyone who stops by to check out my posts and I can't wait to share more memories and magic in 2017!

5. Why We Won't Be Going to MNSSHP - Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has been on my Disney bucket list for a long time now and we were finally taking a Fall trip that would put us there not only during some of the party dates, but actually on Halloween.  So why did we decide not to go? Find out here!

4. runDisney Inaugural Wine & Dine 10K - The inaugural runDisney Wine & Dine 10K was an amazing race.  Hosted by Chef Remy, the race featured a familiar course through Epcot and around the Boardwalk with some great characters and all the runDisney fun that you expect from their events.

3.  A Beginner's Guide to Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival - One of the most popular events in Walt Disney World can be overwhelming when you don't know what to expect.  We attended for the first time in 2015 and I used my experiences to write some tips that I learned which might benefit other first timers.

2.  Best Bets for Preschoolers in Epcot - Traveling with the little guys to Walt Disney World has meant seeing the parks through the eyes of my kids.  Epcot gets a bad reputation sometimes as not being a kid-friendly park.  This post highlights some of our favorite things to do around Future World and World Showcase!

1.  Things that May Terrify Your Kids in Walt Disney World - My husband will probably laugh out loud that this is my top post of the year.  His biggest complaint about Disney is that our kids are scared of some of the things there.  It's a true statement.  I don't think that ruins a family vacation - just review some of these experiences that might terrify your kids.  Moral of the story, there is so much to see and do in Disney; do what makes your family happy rather than trying to push through things that scare them.

Managing Tantrums on Your Disney Vacation

Tantrums can quickly turn Disney smiles
upside down.
The dreaded temper tantrum.  If you have young children, you are all too familiar with these regular occurrences.  Like preparing for the heat during a summer Walt Disney World Resort vacation, you probably aren't going to be able to avoid the dreaded temper tantrum - they will happen. . .probably multiple times. . .each day.  The best thing you can do is to try to anticipate when they will happen and have a plan to deal with them when they do.  Here is my "expert" take on what causes tantrums and how to navigate through them. 

Tantrum Trigger - "I'm hungry."
This would seem like an easy tantrum to deal with.  You're in a theme park with endless food options - and therein lies the problem.  Finding an agreeable food option for the entire family or towing the line that Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bars (no matter how tasty) do not constitute lunch, food can become a battle.  The other time food becomes an issue is when you're 20 minutes into a 45 minute ride line and this gem of a tantrum begins.  Advice - Carry small, healthy snacks in your bag.  Whether it's fruit, crackers, pretzels, or something similar, kids will be satisfied (for the moment) with something in their tummies that you know they like to hold them over until your dining reservation that is an hour away or while you finish waiting to ride Splash Mountain.  I pack an entire extra suitcase of food and/or order groceries online for delivery to our hotel so that I have a wide variety of snacks to offer to kids throughout the day.

Tantrum Trigger - "I'm hot."
Well kid, you're in Florida - get used to it.  Wouldn't it be nice if that answer works?  But alas, kids are not always rational creatures and when they're hot, they'll make you miserable complaining about it.  If you're traveling to Walt Disney World Resort in the summer months (or even late Spring and early Fall), this is likely to be a concern for your kids.  Advice - Take cool off breaks.  The good news is that you don't have to go back to your room in the middle of the day to do this - although you certainly could if you wanted.  Inside the parks, guests can take advantage of the Baby Care Centers as a quick place to take small kids inside the cool off.  We also bought a small stroller fan for less than $15 on Amazon prior to our trip to keep kids cool.  Keep them hydrated during the day and spend some time in indoor attractions.  There are even some fun splash areas inside the parks - just remember a change of clothes in case your kid gets soaked.    

Tantrum Trigger - "I want a toy."
Ever notice that just about every Walt Disney World attraction ends in a gift shop?  Well played, Disney.  Well played.  Guess what, my kids notice this too and are always looking for "something" to buy.  Advice - Have a plan and communicate it ahead of time.  There are several plans that can work in this situation.  The first is to give kids a Disney allowance.  Whether you use Disney Gift Cards, Disney Dollars, or cold hard cash, your child will have a finite amount of money to spend.  Another choice, not allow your kids to buy anything in the parks.  Instead, surprise them in the room with little Disney gifts that you've picked up on sale at home.  They still feel like they're getting something, and you save some money.  Lastly, you could explain limits to your child.  Maybe they get one or two toys on the whole trip to pick.  Whatever method you choose, I've always found it best to talk about it with my kids ahead of time so they know exactly what to expect.

Tantrum Trigger - "I'm bored."
Who knew the most magical place on Earth could be boring?  Toddlers and preschoolers - that's who. Granted, they have lots of fun when they are engaged in activities, but there is also a lot of "waiting" time.  The bus rides, dinners out, lines for rides or character meets, etc. can all be agonizing for children.  Advice - Carry small items to keep them entertained.  This can be games or shows downloaded on your phone, snacks, or those little play packs that have books, stickers, and crayons.  The good news with this tantrum is that fun is just around the riverbend, which usually helps them wait it out.

Tantrum Trigger - The complete meltdown.
This is when your little prince or princess completely loses their mind, with or without reason, in the middle of the park and resembles something akin to Stitch (You're badness level is unusually high for someone your size).  Instantly, you feel like the worst parent in the entire park and like all parents are staring at you and secretly judging you.  Since during this tantrum, most kids have lost the ability to rationally think or speak and can't communicate what is going on, it's exceptionally hard to solve.  The best advice I have - remove, redirect, and wait it out.  We were once in Epcot when a horrible summer storm blew in out of nowhere.  We ducked into a restaurant, grabbed a snack, and waited for it to pass.  Then went on to have a good rest of the day.  This is kind of what you need to do in this case.  Find a quiet(er) spot in the park to move to - off to a bench, behind a ride, wherever - to gain a bit of privacy for your little one.  Know that trying to talk to them probably isn't going to be very effective at first and yelling at them is just going to escalate the situation.  Once they start to settle themselves, redirect their attention back to next thing - a snack, a favorite ride, etc. Is this bribery?  Maybe.  Does it work?  Sometimes.  

One of the biggest things to remember when you have a tantruming child is that you're in Walt Disney World - everyone with a small child is going through the exact same thing.  So while you may feel stressed and terrible in the moment, be assured you are not alone.  Remember that you won't be able to avoid all of the tantrums, but you can be prepared when they occur.  This post pairs well with an older one that I wrote if you're looking for more lessons I've learned while traveling with my little ones - Things that May Terrify Your Kids in Walt Disney World. What are your favorite tips for traveling with little ones to minimize tantrums?

FAQ - Should you use Disney FastPass+ on parades, fireworks, and shows?

Walt Disney World Resort
Magic Kingdom's Happily Ever After Fireworks
I hear this question asked often among friends and in several of the Walt Disney World groups that I'm in on Facebook.  We have chosen on some trips to use Disney's FastPass+ for viewing parades, fireworks, and shows and skipped it other times, so I can speak about the pros and cons here pretty honestly.  And like most answers related to planning a Walt Disney World vacation, the answer about how to use your FastPass+ reservations truly depends on your family and vacation priorities.

For our family, using Disney's FastPass+ to catch great viewing spots for fireworks and parades has been a good choice - especially if we're spending more than one day in that particular park.  As a family with two young children, we find it difficult to get to a prime spot to watch nighttime entertainment up to an hour before it starts.  When we visited the parks with babies and toddlers, we were traveling with a double BOB stroller - basically a minivan for kids - so even having one adult go to hold a spot while the rest of the family continues to run around the park can be a challenge.  For this reason, knowing that we can grab a perfect spot to see fireworks and parades while arriving just 10-15 minutes before they start is a great luxury.  If you have young kids in Walt Disney World too, the cost/benefit may be easy for your family to figure out.  Many of the rides and attractions for babies and toddlers don't really *need* FastPass+ because the wait times are rarely longer than 15 minutes or so.

So what are the big questions to ask yourself when determining whether or not to book Disney's FastPass+ viewing areas for parades and fireworks?

  • How many days are your going to spend in that park?  If you're spending more than one day you may have some FastPass+ allotments that you don't need to do your favorite attractions.
  • How old are your kids?  If you're traveling with older children or adults, it might be easier to arrive early and hold a spot as opposed to keeping young kids entertained while waiting for the show to start.
  • Are there any other options to get preferred seating for the show?  For example, we always book a Fantasmic Dining Package in Hollywood Studios.  We figure that we have to eat anyways, why not book at one of these locations and get the perk of prime seating for Fantasmic so we can save our Tier 1 FastPass+ reservation for another popular attraction? Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom have also offered dining packages paired with nighttime parades and shows as well.  

Check out my review of the Happily Ever After Fireworks Dessert Party at Magic Kingdom here!


If you do choose to use your FastPass+ options for entertainment, you won't be disappointed in the location.  All of them offer a great spot that's not as crowded as some other areas may be without the stress or worry about saving your spot.  

5 Ways to the Beat the Heat in Walt Disney World

Crusing Main Street, U.S.A.
July 2013
Walt Disney World in the summertime often gets a bad reputation for being full of heat, humidity, and the frequent afternoon thunderstorms.  Well. . .this is kind of true.  While your Disney trip in the summer does feature some intense weather from time to time, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat and humidity to have fun with your family.  Here are some of my favorite tips:

1.  Order a case (or cases) of water from an online grocer and have them delivered to your hotel.  You can get a case of water for a few dollars instead of paying $2.50 a bottle or using one snack credit in the parks.  Disney lets you bring in soft side coolers, food, and drink.  This is a great way to make sure you have plenty of water to stay hydrated and cool while also not breaking the bank.  Remember that the online grocers have order minimums, but if you're traveling with kids for at least a few day trip, you can certainly fill up on snacks, fresh fruit, and other drinks to keep everyone happy.  I've used Garden Grocer in the past and have been really happy!

Enjoying the water slide at
Port Orleans Riverside
2.  Avoid the parks in the middle of the day by taking a break back at your hotel.  Whether you decide to take a nap in your air conditioned room or cool off in one of the amazing pools, the break will be sure to refresh you so you can stay up for the nighttime activities in the park without tiring out.  I recommend getting to the park at rope drop, head back to your resort after lunch and then return to the parks around dinner.

3.  Indoor rides and shows can be a great way to quickly cool off in the parks when you need a break and don't want to head all the way back to your room.  If you're in Epcot, check out Ellen's Energy Adventure - the total ride takes about 45 minutes where you are seated watching a video and riding through time.  Over in Hollywood Studios, The Great Movie Ride is one where you have a fun ride queue that is inside featuring scenes from some Turner Classic Movie favorites.  And in the Magic Kingdom, shows like Mickey's PhilarMagic and The Country Bears provide both music and a respite from the heat.

Taking a break with Mickey
Ice Cream at Hollywood Studios
4.  What would a trip to any amusement park be without ice cream?  And in Walt Disney World, you can find lots of cool, frozen treats.  If the classic ice cream sandwich or ice cream bar are your favorites, you can find Mickey shaped ice cream throughout the parks.  But perhaps the most famous cool treat in Walt Disney World is the Dole Whip.  If you haven't tried one, you're missing out!  This is a soft serve pineapple creation that can be served simply in a cup or as a float.  Dole Whips are more elusive in the parks than the typical ice cream.  My favorite spot to pick one up is in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom.

5.  Don't forget to pack up some ways to keep cool and stay safe in the sun from home.  Sunscreen is available throughout all of the Disney parks, but you're going to pay a premium for buying it on vacation compared to what you'll pay at home.  Also, remember to pack spray bottles or personal fans - or better yet the spray bottle with a fan on it!  Again, you can buy one with a picture of Mickey and friends in the parks, but you'll save significantly by buying a generic one at Wal-Mart or Target before heading out on your vacation.  If you have kids using strollers, I also recommend purchasing a stroller fan to help them stay cool.  We bought one on Amazon for less than $15 before our trip with a 5 month old and it was some of the best money I ever spent.  Remember that a cool baby is less likely to be a cranky baby!

And as a bonus tip - if you are traveling with infants or toddlers, don't forget to make use of the baby care centers in each park.  They are perfect for a little rest and relaxation in the middle of the park day and can be a mom and dad's best friend!

Just remember that with a good strategy and some advanced planning, you can make Disney in July not only bearable, but an all around magical vacation!  

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!

Things That May Terrify Your Kids in Walt Disney World


When people think of a Disney vacation, phrases like "the happiest place on Earth" and images of smiling children often come to mind.  But parents with small children be warned - parts of Walt Disney World may terrify your children.  I don't say this to discourage your vacation or send you into pure panic mode.  The purpose today is to simply tell it to you like it is so you can be prepared for an all too often reality when traveling with toddlers and preschoolers.  Let's face it. . .this age group thrives on routines and familiarity.  So, what would possibly freak them out about larger than life characters, tremendous crowds, loud noises, change in nap and bedtime schedules, and dark rides?

Probably the biggest terrifying incident we've dealt with has been focused around rides.  On our first two trips to Walt Disney World with Brody, he loved all rides and experiences.  Then he turned three. Rides that used to be fan favorites as a toddler are suddenly terrifying as a preschooler.  In case you weren't aware - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh can cause shrieks of terror that rival anything you've ever heard before.  So what was the common theme between the rides that scared him - each of them started in the dark.  It didn't seem to matter if the characters inside were fearsome pirates or cuddly storybook bears, the slow ride with a dark start was not something he was interested in.  Tip - Try showing your children these rides ahead of time on YouTube or on the Disney Parks Vacation Planning DVD.  By seeing the inside of the ride from the safety of their own home, your child may be brave enough to face some of these when they get to the park.

Another common experience that terrifies involves meeting their favorite characters.  It's not uncommon for small children to be frightened of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny at the mall so it shouldn't be any surprise that a 6 1/2 foot mouse would freak them out.  We were fortunate that our children have never been afraid of the characters in Disney. . .at least not yet.  Don't be surprised if one trip everything is fine and then on the next trip they won't get close to them.  Tip - Don't push your kids.  I know how frustrating it is to wait in a 45 minute line and then get to the front and find them unwilling to meet the character.  Just smile and say "OK.  How about a wave this time and maybe next time we'll get closer for a high five or a hug?"

Some of the shows have also scared our children.  Even fun, musical shows like Mickey's Philarmagic are not always as "kid-friendly" as they may seem.  The dark room and loud noises can push a child that's already on sensory overload over the proverbial edge.  Tip - If you have a pair of headphones, these can act as a great noise buffer for super sensitive little ears.

With everything in Walt Disney World, remember it's best to go at the pace of your young child.  Trust me, it's not worth fighting or trying to force a child to do something even though you've spent a small fortunate to create this magical experience.  The trip will be much more enjoyable for you and your child if you let them lead the way on deciding what their comfort level.  I've been on many Disney trips in my lifetime and the only thing that is consistent in all of them is that they are never the same.  So don't let a tough trip with a toddler or preschooler derail future plans and don't worry too much about your trip ahead of time.  Relax and enjoy - after all, you're in the most magical place on Earth!

The Many Lands of Magic Kingdom - Frontierland

Frontierland's famous attraction - Big Thunder
Mountain Railroad!
Today, we end our tour of the lands of Magic Kingdom with Frontierland.  Frontierland is where the wild, wild west meets Walt Disney World fun! While Frontierland is home to one of my favorite rides in the park, it is probably the place I have spent the least amount of time on my recent trips.  This is a relatively small area of the park tucked back behind Liberty Square, but boasts two of the three mountains to conquer in Magic Kingdom - Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Those two mountains are probably what draw most people to Frontierland.  But there are a few attractions that you might miss out on that are especially friendly for preschool kids - my travel specialty!

The first attraction that is a preschool favorite is the classic Country Bear Jamboree.  This audio-animatronic country music show features singing bears and lots of laughs.  It's also one of the last attractions that Walt Disney actually helped design.  The roughly 15 minute show is inside an air conditioned theatre which provides a nice break in the middle of a long day at the parks.  Another favorite among small children is Tom Sawyer's Island.  Accessible from a raft in Frontierland, this island has adventures on several trails throughout the island.  With plenty to climb on and space to run around while boasting a great deal of shade, this is the perfect place for little ones to burn off some energy when the crowds and lines become a bit much in other parts of the park.

Be on the lookout for characters located
throughout Frontierland!
Frontierland is also home to one of the stops along the Walt Disney World Railroad which takes guests around Magic Kingdom.  If you know anything about Walt Disney, you probably are aware of his love of trains.  The old steam engines that circle the park are both a practical way to travel and a fun experience for the whole family.  As one of the many tours that are offered in Walt Disney World, your family can even get a behind the scenes look at the steam engines and the work that goes into preparing them for a day of passengers.  If you're looking to ride the rails while in Magic Kingdom, you can find stops in not only Frontierland, but also in Fantasyland and at the entrance of the park on Main Street, U.S.A.

Even though Frontierland is not one of the places where we spend a lot of time when we're in Magic Kingdom, it's not a place to be missed along our journey.  And I'm sure that as our children continue to grow, the thrills of Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad will make it even more exciting!

The Many Lands of Magic Kingdom - Fantasyland

Fantasyland is everything you think about when you think about Walt Disney World.  Rides, restaurants, characters, and unforgettable experiences combine to make this one of the favorite spots in not only Magic Kingdom, but throughout the entire Walt Disney World Resort.

Dining - In Fantasyland, you'll find many places to grab a meal or a snack as you pass through the park.  Two of the newer places to check out are Be Our Guest Restaurant and Gaston's Tavern.  Be Our Guest is a unique dining experience.  For breakfast and lunch, reservations are definitely required, but the meal is quick service.  You can pre-order your meal before arriving in the park for an even faster dining experience.  Dinner features table service fare and even a visit from the Beast himself.  For more information on this restaurant, check out my breakfast, lunch, and dinner reviews. If you can't grab a reservation for Be Our Guest, swing into Gaston's Tavern where you can grab a quick bite on the go.  You don't want to miss out on tasting some of LeFou's Brew either while there! The other extremely popular dining reservation here is Cinderella's Royal Table.  Regardless of whether or not you have kids, a meal inside Cinderella Castle with some of the most popular Disney princesses is a must do on everyone's Disney bucket list.

Rides - Some of the most popular rides throughout all of Walt Disney World can be found here in Fantasyland.  Classic attractions like Peter Pan's Flight, It's a Small World, and Dumbo combine with new favorites such as Seven Dwarf's Mine Train and Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid to provide literally hours of ride entertainment in this one small section of the park.  Most of the rides here are accessible to even the tiniest of travelers meaning that everyone can join in on the fun.  If you want to ride Peter Pan's Flight and Seven Dwarf's Mine Train, I would strongly recommend a FastPass as these often have waits exceeding 60 minutes.

Characters and Entertainment - If you want to meet characters, Fantasyland is the place to be.  There are several character greetings here that even make use of the FastPass+ system.  Inside of Princess Fairytale Hall there are two separate greetings - one for Cinderella and Rapunzel and the other for Anna and Elsa.  I've seen the Anna and Elsa wait time be as long as 200 minutes so this is definitely a great use of a FastPass reservation if you want to meet these two Frozen royals.  Ariel is also available for a meet and greet at her Grotto next to the Under the Sea ride.  You can also catch up with Goofy, Donald, Daisy, and Minnie at Pete's Silly Sideshow for autographs and pictures.  Throughout the day, you may also find the Fairy Godmother, Cinderella's Stepsisters, Alice, Gaston, Winnie the Pooh, and others available around this part of the park.  And if you're looking to escape the heat and enjoy some entertainment, step into Mickey's PhilharMagic or visit Enchanted Tales with Belle.  Both provide a great experience for kids and adults alike and, if you choose to visit Enchanted Tales, you even get to meet Belle at the end and get a photo with her!    

With so much to see and do in Fantasyland, we easily spend HOURS here on each Disney trip.  This is truly where magic comes to life for kids and adults!

The Many Lands of Magic Kingdom - Adventureland

Adventures await around every corner in Magic Kingdom's Adventureland.  We found this a great place to start the day as most of the crowds rush back to Fantasyland.  From Main Street U.S.A., turn left and cross the bridge into a world of excitement!
A 17 month old Brody enjoying his Magic Carpet ride!

Adventures in Agrabah - Adventureland is home to some pretty famous royals - Aladdin and Princess Jasmine! You can meet up with these two and explore their "whole new world" by flying high above Adventureland on your own magic carpet ride.  Just be careful - the camels that surround the Magic Carpets of Aladdin have been known to spit!  This ride is great for families with young children as it's a familiar design which is popular at a lot of carnivals and the wait isn't usually too long, even without a FastPass!

Adventures on the High Seas - Pirates are waiting around every corner in Adventureland. Take a cruise through treacherous waters on the classic Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but keep a look out for Captain Jack Sparrow!  This ride was just recently updated during a lengthy refurbishment in 2015.  And if you have little buccaneers in your travel party, they can get a makeover at the Pirates League to resemble the most fearsome pirates this side of the Caribbean.  If you plan to join the pirate crew at the Pirates League, be sure to make a reservation and note that there is an extra charge for this experience.
Showing off his Skipper's License from the Jungle Cruise!

Wildlife Jungle Adventures - There are two iconic experiences in Adventureland that you won't want to miss.  The first is the ever popular Jungle Cruise.  Join some of the most comedic skippers that you can imagine as they take you on one wild cruise spanning the globe!  And if you're lucky, your young adventurers may be selected to be a guest skipper on your cruise.  In addition, you can take a chance to cool off inside the Enchanted Tiki Room and take in a festive show with a few feathered friends.  The Tiki Room birds will spread laughter and delight to all!

Culinary Adventures - Don't miss one of the newest restaurants to hit Walt Disney World.  Jungle Skipper Canteen is a table service restaurant that serves tropical dishes with the humor and good times that you're used to experiencing on the Jungle Cruise.  And a trip to Adventureland wouldn't be complete without one of perhaps the most iconic Disney treats - a Dole whip!

Whether you're traveling to Walt Disney World for the first time or the hundredth time, you're sure to find adventure around every corner in Adventureland!

The Many Lands of Magic Kingdom - Tomorrowland

When you enter Magic Kingdom, breeze down Main Street U.S.A., and turn right at the hub, you'll enter a land that is out of this world.  Tomorrowland seeks to take you "to infinity and beyond" with rides and attractions themed around outer space and the future that is yet to be discovered.  Here are my top 5 experiences you don't want to miss when passing through Tomorrowland.

Welcome to Tomorrowland!
5. Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor Comedy Club - I think this attraction is an example of what makes a Walt Disney World vacation great.  You take a great Disney movie and add a bit of imagineering magic to create a magical experience the whole family will enjoy.  We all learned in Monsters, Inc. that laughter is more powerful than screams, so here at the Comedy Club you get to see some of your favorite monsters filling their laughter quotas.  The best part - you can be part of the show!  Guests can text jokes prior to the show beginning and monsters will frequently interact with visitors while throughout the show.  You can typically walk up to the theatre and not have to wait more than one show (15 minutes) to get in.

4. Carousel of Progress - Call me sentimental, but I had to put this on here.  This is a classic Walt Disney World attraction that is often overlooked.  In fact, it is so unpopular that back before they did away with paper FastPasses, this would commonly be an attraction that would pop out as a "bonus" ticket.  As you are seated in the theatre, you travel through time to see how life was lived and what we predict the future will bring.  I love these attractions where you get to see how people envisioned life in the 2000s back in the 1980s!  Bonus - you get to sit down and take a break from the Florida heat in this ride that is never crowded!

3. Incredibles Super Dance Party - The Incredibles are the only superheroes Disney can showcase this side of the Mississippi River so it's no surprise these guys (and gals!) and so popular among guests in Florida.  The dance party in Tomorrrowland gives you an informal way to meet up with Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, and Frozone as you whip and nae nae your way to a good time.  The party takes place each night and doesn't require any kind of line or ticket to join!

Even Baby Caleb is trying to get in on the fun!
2. Space Mountain - Here is another classic Magic Kingdom ride.  This indoor roller coaster, which takes place entirely in the dark, has been delighting guests since 1975 and a version of the ride is in every Disney park around the world.  The coaster itself is fairly simple, but it's the darkness and flashing lights that make it so thrilling.  This is definitely a ride to consider a FastPass+ reservation for as waits often build to an hour or better at peak times.

1. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin - I was torn between Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear for my top Tomorrowland pick, but ultimately I went with Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin because it's fun the whole family can enjoy - free of those pesky height requirements!  With little ones, we like to see what all four of us can do together.  The arcade game-like atmosphere of this game entertains everyone in the family from 1 to 100.  Once you depart Star Command, you'll join Buzz Lightyear as he tries to defeat Zurg in the ultimate battle.  Shoot your laser gun to collect points and see who can rack up the highest score in your family!

Tomorrowland is certainly a place where your imagination can soar to new heights!

Do you wanna bake a cake?

It's not often that I share recipes here, but today I found a new chocolate cake recipe that was easy and delicious that I just had to share.  After having nearly 3 ft of snow dropped on the Mid-Atlantic by Winter Storm Jonas, I found myself looking for things to entertain the kids while we waited for things to return to normal with work and school.  We had a snowball fight, built an Olaf, and watched more than our fair share of movies, Disney Jr., and Paw Patrol.  By day four, we were running low on ideas when I spotted a link on Facebook to a cake recipe.

Back before I had two under 4 that kept me hopping around the house, I spent a lot of time baking and even took cake decorating classes.  Even though I don't have as much time to bake anymore, I enjoy doing it when I find the time and sharing the fun with Brody! He loves to be "mommy's helper" in the kitchen, but I think he enjoys tasting his creations even better.

My new favorite chocolate cake recipe can be found by clicking here.  After all is said in done, there are several things I enjoy about this recipe.  The first is that it is egg free, milk free, and butter free.  Since everything are dry ingredients that can typically be found in my pantry, I don't have to worry about having what I need on hand.  I also liked that when mixing the ingredients, the recipe said to make two smaller inserts in the flour mixture followed by one larger.  Of course, I made mine look like a Mickey Mouse!  While the cake was baking, I made up a batch of the Wilton icing that I learned when I took my cake decorating classes.  You simply mix 1 cup of shortening with 1/2 tsp of vanilla flavoring and 1/2 tsp of butter flavoring.  Then add about 4 tbsp of water before gradually mixing in 4 cups of powdered sugar.  Once all of the sugar has been mixed in, add water as necessary to thin to a consistency that is ideal for spreading.  In this instance, I wanted chocolate icing so I mixed in a few tablespoons of cocoa powder after everything else was done.

So, the verdict?  Everyone agrees that it was delicious!  The cake is moist and the recipe makes a perfect size 8 x 8 cake.  Brody is already asking when we can bake again.  Maybe another epic nor'easter will blow through the Mid-Atlantic and give us more snow days at home together??