Grab a Camera and #ShareYourLegacy

What is your legacy? I have to say that I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately. Not in a morbid way, but more as a self check up. Making sure that I’m on the path to making myself proud and being the person I want to be. It is an important question to ask yourself, but now someone else is asking. H2O+ and Walt Disney Records want you to #ShareYourLegacy.

H2O+ products

I’ve you’ve stayed at a Disney Resort Hotel, you are likely familiar with H2O+. You know, the people who make these amazing smelling beauty products that you fill your suitcase with before checking out? Nope. You’re not fooling anyone. Mousekeeping is totally onto you. And yes, the above photo is from my own personal stash.

The Legends Collection

Walt Disney Records has been releasing “The Legacy Collection” soundtracks of the classic movies we all know and love like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. The two are teaming up for a fabulous giveaway that’ll send you off to see the Broadway show, The Lion King in New York!
SWEEPSTAKES INFO: 
US Only – 18+. Participants do NOT have to post #ShareYourLegacy to enter the sweeps.

Enter now for a chance to add an exciting Broadway story to your legacy. Grand Prize Winner and a guest will be whisked away to New York City for a once in a lifetime Broadway experience. Find out more at: www.h2oplus.com/legacy

Prizes: 
Round-trip airfare for two to NY
Two night hotel stay
Two tickets to The Lion King and exclusive behind the scenes tour
H2O+ Skin & Bodycare Beauty Basket ($500 retail) full of bestsellers for healthy, glowing skin for your big night on the town.

Now that you know the contest details, I’ll let you see my #ShareYourLegacy video. I did my best not to cry, which is absurdly hard for me when talking about matters of the heart.  I have included what some may consider a strange inclusion for the legacy I want to leave behind: my failures.  I promise, I explain in the video, and it isn’t as weird as it sounds!

Now that I’ve shared what I hope to be my legacy, it’s your turn! So #ShareYourLegacy for a chance to win! www.h2oplus.com/legacy

Disclaimer: I am participating in this campaign as a member of Entertainment New Media Network. Although this is not a paid post, I was sent a small thank you gift for my participation. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Thoughts on the Target Controversy

Target StoresI am friends with the right people. I didn’t see a single word written on my Facebook feed against Target’s recent decision to remove gender-based signage in the toy and bedding aisles. It wasn’t until I looked at the trending news that I discovered that people are actually arguing against this move. While we are all definitely entitled to our own opinion, I just don’t even see how this is an issue.

I read a comment written on a local new station’s post about Target’s decision that really stuck a nerve. The comment basically read that we shouldn’t change the gender labeling because it was just the way it has always been and people shouldn’t be so “PC” about things. I think that this is possibly one of the most ignorant and ridiculous this I’ve ever read. If everyone said “this is just the way it has always been,” and implied that we should just ignore social issues, then children would still be working in factories, women would not have the right to vote, and slavery would still be alive and well in the USA. Just because things are a certain way doesn’t mean it is right.

This isn’t about being politically correct. It is about making little girls who like Spiderman and boys who like Barbies not feel like it makes them less of a “boy” or a “girl” for feeling that way. I know plenty of girls who prefer toys commonly found in the “boy toys” aisle. They shouldn’t have to look up and immediately be labeled as something that they may or may not identify with just because they happen to like something that many boys also like. My oldest daughter grew up loving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and now two of my daughters are head over heels in love with Star Wars. Unfortunately, if they want an action figure, they have to venture into an aisle that immediately tells them that they’re shopping for boy toys. I know I have been asked a few times by my daughter why the aisle is labeled as being for boys when there are things in there that clearly interest her, and she is a girl. Having to answer a question like that from your 5 year old is difficult, and I don’t think parents should have to do that.

The controversy with all of this just has me baffled. There are people trying to make this an issue that only affects the LGBTQ community, and that just isn’t the case. Nobody is talking about sexual preference here. For heaven’s sake we are talking about toys and pillowcases here, not gender neutral bathrooms. I can see where there could be controversy there, but really, over taking the words “boy” and “girl” off of signs? I just don’t see the problem.

People are saying that removing this gender label will make it harder for them to find what they’re shopping for. A valid concern, but nobody is saying that the store layout is changing or that the labels that read “Lego” or “Ever After High” are going away, just the gender label. It isn’t like they’re changing anything in the clothing or shoe sections where the fit and sizing of things would be different and probably hard to navigate if mixed up. We’re just talking about toys and bedding. The bedding aisles usually span 2-3 short aisles. Are you telling me that someone is going to get lost in those 2 aisles and accidentally pick up a My Little Pony comforter when they were looking for Buzz Lightyear? I don’t think so.

To sum up my feelings on the subject: bravo, Target. Thank you for removing the gender-based signage where it is not needed. Thank you for not labeling my children based on their animated character preferences. Thank you for taking action even when some people out there are quick to criticize. I’ll be in your store later today, buying whatever you have on sale and some Starbucks, because that is how I roll.

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Disney’s Art of Animation Resort: Everything a Disney Resort Should Be

Art of Animation Resort

Last September our family of six made the trek across the country to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida! It was all I’d dreamed of…and more! No joke. Seriously, I have dreamed of this trip for years. As a Disneyland lover, it may surprise you to know that I had often dreamed of what it would be like to cheat on Disneyland with the younger, bigger, (and arguably hotter) Walt Disney World. I can now say, that I did it, and it was TOTALLY worth it! 😉

Art of Animation, Little Mermaid

A huge part of this trip being so incredible was staying on property. It was ALL Disney from start to finish and that was just what I wanted: a total magical immersion. I wanted to eat, sleep and breathe Disney! When booking our resort, I originally went with the cheapest option for our family….which would have had all 6 of us smashed like potatoes on Thanksgiving in a room meant for 4. It would have been fine and it would have gotten us to Walt Disney World, but about a month after booking, we changed course, spent a little more money, and switched to the Art of Animation Resort.

 

Art of Animation ResortThis resort is a smokin’ deal for what you’re getting. It is a “value resort,” which is typically the least expensive resort option on property, which means you are getting a lot of Disney “bang for your buck!” The Art of Animation Resort in particular is brand spanking new and has so much to offer families….especially larger families like ours.

Art of Animation, Nemo

The thing I LOVE about this resort is the theming: Disney movies. When you think of Disney, you think of the parks, sure, but you also think of the movies. The great movies that you watch again and again with a bowl of popcorn in your living room all snuggled up with the little ones. These very same movies come to life at the Art of Animation Resort. You literally swim through Nemo’s ocean waters and walk through the jungle with Timon and Pumba. If you stay in the Cars suites, like we did, you cruise through Radiator Springs and high five Mater on the way to your room. This is what a trip to the Disney parks is all about for me: being able to really put yourself in the world of Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. I love all of the fancy dancy Deluxe resorts, don’t get me wrong, they are gorgeous and amazing, but for me, this resort just wraps you up in a big blanket of Disney magic. Our kids loved it, my usually grumpy (but not on this trip) hubby loved it, and needless to say, I loved it, too!

Art of Animation, Lion King

I still have more gushing to do over my love for the theming! The room itself was SO COOL! Really. No other words for it. The bathrooms (yes, there were two…AHHHmazing) were beautifully themed like car washes!

Art of Animation Bathroom

Art of Animation, Shower

The couch was made to look like a classic car’s bench seat. (This also folded out to a bed.) The kitchenette looks like one straight out of an auto shop….only much, MUCH cleaner.

Art of Animation Bedside lamps in the bedroom were orange cones and my youngest loved them!

Art of Animation, Cars SuiteMy favorite part was the dining table…

Art of Animation…that doubled as a bed! My youngest daughter claimed that one right away and she said goodnight to the picture of Mater sleeping above her every night.

Art of Animation Cars SuiteAgain, the Disney magic was just bursting out of every nook and cranny in this room.  Not to mention the fact that it was a suite, with a separate bedroom. Travelling with 4 kids, it was absolutely imperative that we have a separate area to close off so that we could get babies to go to sleep. Not only that, but so we could all unwind in our own space after a long day at the parks. The kitchenette allowed us to bring in some instant oatmeal and have a nice, relatively quiet family breakfast before heading out for a crazy day of Disney fun. And again….two bathrooms. Having six people in one hotel room basically requires that it have two bathrooms. I will never again stay in any hotel that does not have two bathrooms. Okay okay, never say never, but I can for sure tell you that I won’t like it if I do.

Art of Animation

Another thing I loved about it was the pool…no, not that pool, the other pool. The Big Blue Pool (AKA the Finding Nemo pool) looked amazing, and I’m sure that the underwater sound was incredible! However, having a mix of children who can’t swim and are new to swimming makes me much more comfortable in a less busy water environment. Having a smaller, less crowded pool right outside our section of the hotel was a godsend. It was Cars themed, there was themed music, and we even claimed a Cozy Cone cabana all for ourselves. Not one of us felt like we missed anything. Even though it was practically empty, my middle daughter, the social butterfly she is, managed to make lots of new friends. She also managed to convince people that there was a parentless child roaming around the pool asking everyone their name and favorite animal. (We seriously had to wave at a few concerned swimmers to assure them that our daughter was being watched by her parents!)

Art of Animation

Art of Animation

The main building was fabulous. Our favorite characters came to life on the walls! As you enter the building, you watch as they go from being sketches to fully colored animations the way we know and love them.

Art of Animation, Nemo Art of Animation, Lion King Art of Animation, sketch

Art of Animation

Better than the sketches on the walls are the ones on the awesome chandelier! If I was a better DIY’er, I would try to recreate this in my living room….well, I will probably still try, but I’m not hopeful that my attempt will be anywhere near as gorgeous as Disney’s!

Art of Animation chandelier

Art of Animation, chandelier

I haven’t mentioned the food court, Landscape of Flavors. It is beautiful and full of all kinds of food, made to order! There was a pasta station, waffles, omelettes, sandwiches (which we grabbed for the plane ride home,) salads, cheesecake on a stick (really a Mickey straw)….and gelato!?!? I don’t know why this surprised me, after all it is Disney and they do just about everything! But I really could not believe that they actually had gelato!

Art of Animation, foodAfter kids were in bed, it was my time to walk around the resort and do my thing. I’d fill up my refillable resort mug with hot chocolate, and just people watch. I love seeing all of the happy families returning from a day of magic in the parks. I get a chuckle out of the inevitable sleeping kiddos who always seem to find their way into dad’s arms.  (Tell me I’m not the only person who gets happy just seeing everyone else so happy?) I’d somehow, by the magic of Disney, end up in the Ink and Paint shop (the gift shop) and find some new treasure that I just had to add to my collection. (Pins and purses are my kryptonite!) And even if I didn’t buy anything, I got a kick out of the super fun Disney jokes that the cast members would tell people at check out!

Art of Animation, Cars

To sum it up, I desperately miss the Art of Animation Resort (and Walt Disney World in general) and would stay there again in a heartbeat! It was a great fit for our family of six and definitely worth every penny we spent on it. How about you? Is there a Disney resort that just screams “Disney” to you? A resort you’d love to stay at? Comment and let us know about it!

 

 

 

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A Birthday Trip to SeaWorld

SeaWorld San Diego

One of my daughter’s friends visits San Diego often and usually goes to SeaWorld. As a result, my daughter has been asking me for a couple of years now if we could “please please please go to SeaWorld.” For her birthday this year, we decided to make the trip down to San Diego for the day and take the kids on a surprise visit to SeaWorld. We haven’t been to Sea World since 2007, back when we were a family of 3. (Seriously, did a time ever actually exist when I only had one kid?) I was really excited to see what had changed in the 8 years since we’d been there.

Sea World San Diego

We woke the kids up at the crack of dawn so that we could get to SeaWorld right when it opened. So we parked in our awesome parking spot (I’m learning that you get great parking places when you arrive before most people are having their morning coffee) and walked 4 excited kiddos up to the entrance. The entrance is completely new and beautiful. You don’t feel like you’re entering a theme park but like you’re diving beneath the waves. I hadn’t been marveling at the new entrance long when I heard the words every mother longs to hear: “Mommy, I have to go potty.” So enter we did and we set off to the first bathrooms we could find. Let me tell you, if it wouldn’t have been really weird I would have taken pictures of it. As a mother of 4 young children, you take a lot of potty breaks, and you know a great bathroom when you see one. It was beautiful, it was spacious, and it was clean. SeaWorld, your rides are great, the animals are amazing, but it was your “facilities” that won this mama over. Enough gushing over flushing, moving on!
SeaWorld San Diego, flamingos

 

We wanted to see the first dolphin show since I remember that stadium filling up quickly and being really hot in the afternoon. The first show wasn’t for another hour or so, so we decided to look around at some of the animals.  The flamingos were right by the bathrooms (I really should have taken pictures of the tile work) so we stopped there first. I think the girls would have stood there all day, but we had lots more to see, so we rounded them up and ventured over to see the turtles at Turtle Reef. SeaWorld San Diego, Turtle Reef

SeaWorld San Diego, Turtles

So strange as I always think of turtles as being relatively small, but I swear that these ones were bigger than my 6 year old! We watched them for a while then headed over to the dolphin stadium to find seats for the Blue Horizons show. We almost sat in the “soak zone” but then thought better of it and moved up a couple of rows. I like water and I don’t mind getting wet, but my baby boy, sweet as he is, would have thrown a fit.

SeaWorld San Diego

Sea World San Diego

The show itself was beautiful and short. I really thought these shows used to be longer, but the length (about 20 minutes) is actually perfect for my kids with very short attention spans. There is also now a Cirque du Soleil like acrobatic show incorporated in with the dolphin’s performance. The kids loved the divers, especially my 6 year old. She actually said that she wants to be one of them when she grows up! 

SeaWorld San Diego

My daughter just said she wanted to do this! Yikes! #seaworld #sandiego #vacation #summer #familyfun

A video posted by Michaelyn Pouncey (@michaelyn_p) on

In honor of Shark Week, we had to visit Shark Encounter. Thankfully, while we were underwater in a little tube, we didn’t run into Jaws. We did however see some incredible sharks.  

Shark Encounter! #sharkweek #seaworld #summer #vacation #familyfun A video posted by Michaelyn Pouncey (@michaelyn_p) on

We tried to feed the sea lions, but the seagulls swooping in trying to get the fish from us was a little bit too much for the kids, so we handed off the fish to another child and washed our hands.

SeaWorld San Diego

However, not before my baby girl took a whiff of her stinky fish hands.

SeaWorld San Diego, Sea Lion Feeding
One thing I love about SeaWorld is that they have people out there answering questions and giving you facts about the animals you’re looking at. The lovely man talking about the bat rays was my favorite. He really encouraged the kids to think up questions to ask so he wasn’t just talking about things that didn’t interest them or that they didn’t understand. Family fun with a side of education…I love it!

SeaWorld San Diego, Bat Rays

SeaWorld San Diego, Bat Rays

After feeling the slimy rays, we moved on to the “dances with dolphins” portion of the day where my baby girl…well…dances with dolphins. SeaWorld San Diego, dolphins

After the dolphin fun, we strolled on over to the Sesame Street Bay of Play area where we went on a few rides. I have to say that SeaWorld was incredibly refreshing in that we didn’t   have to wait in a line longer than 5 minutes.

After hanging out with Elmo and friends, we left to have lunch with Shamu! We had purchased the Dine with Shamu meal, which is pricey, but it is a great way to see the killer whale up close and get a little bit more detailed information about it straight from a trainer.

SeaWorld San Diego

The food seemed the same as far as I can remember from when we went before. There was a carving station, fish, potatoes, veggies, pasta and some food for the kiddos that included mac n’ cheese and chicken nuggets. And the best part of the meal (not really but it is certainly a fun part,) the Shamu shaped shortbread cookie covered with chocolate. Just as good as I remember!

Dine with Shamu

 

During the meal, the trainer talked a bit about the killer whales and actually came around to the tables to answer questions…and of course, my very talkative daughter had plenty!

SeaWorld San Diego, Shamu Trainer

 

After lunch we headed down to see the whale in the underwater viewing area. My kids were amazed to see how big this whale actually is. It is one thing to read about it and another to see it! SeaWorld, Shamu

SeaWorld, Shamu

This was my son’s favorite part of the day. Clearly, he was excited.

He was so excited about the whale he was dancing around and almost missed him! #seaworld #sandiego #familyfun #summer

A video posted by Michaelyn Pouncey (@michaelyn_p) on


Since we saw the whale up close, we skipped the show and went over to see the penguins. I was a little disappointed here as you could barely see through the glass in the first window, but I think that was more of a temperature/condensation issue not an issue of cleanliness. We ended our day with Clyde and Seamore at the Sea Lions live show. Sadly, I’ve got no pictures from this for you. Why? Because I was actually in one of the bathrooms that I love so much changing a diaper. From what the kids said, the show was hilarious! This was always my favorite show because they integrate pop culture and comedy into the show. Pretty sad I missed it, but I think it was better for everyone involved that the baby’s diaper got changed immediately.

SeaWorld San Diego

 

We had a really fun day at SeaWorld. It is definitely somewhere I’d travel with the kids again. If you’re in SoCal or you head down there a lot, it might be worthwhile to look into a FunCard. For the cost of one day, you can get the FunCard pass to go again and again the whole year! If you’re just visiting SoCal for beach or Disneyland vacation, I think Sea World is a great place to add into your trip itinerary.

In hind sight, the one thing I’d change is that I’d put more sunscreen on my shoulders. I came home looking like a giant tomato. My dermatologist is going to be so mad.

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Packing a Diaper Bag for the Parks

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black loop! Today we are sharing our must haves when we are traveling with little ones.


Packing a Diaper Bag for the Disney Parks

Babies and little kids make the best guests at a Disney park. They giggle on the rides, they hug the characters, and best of all, when they stand in front of you, they don’t block your view of the parade. While they may or may not actually be the best guests, they are definitely some of the most special. These special guests often travel like tiny rock stars with roadies parents (cough cough me cough) packing everything but the kitchen sink. The question is, since the parks already supply an adorable Mickey kitchen sink, what should you bring for babies and small children while spending the day at a Disney park? Here is what you’ll find me packing in my family’s diaper bag at Disney.

What to pack in a diaper bag at Disney

A lot of these things can be found in my Diaper bag year round, but a few are special things we bring just for Disney. Here is the breakdown.

Diaper bag for Disney Parks

Let’s start with the basics: diapers, wipes and diaper cream. Super standard finds in any diaper bag. My tip here is to use new diapers instead of ones that have been sitting in your diaper bag for a while already. The new ones are flatly folded & take up less room. I like to bring about 10 diapers for newborns and about 7 for toddlers. Wipes are always great for cleaning off messy ice cream faces, so be sure you have plenty! If your diaper bag isn’t one of the many that includes a changing pad, remember that you can use the changing tables in the amazing Baby Care Centers located at each of the Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort theme parks (with the exception of the water parks.)

Packing a diaper bag for Disney

Feeding time! I pack 1 cup/ 2 bottles, formula (if used,) water bottle, snacks, placemat, & burp rag. When using bottles, I always travelled with two of the Playtex Nursers with disposable drop-in liners. While I could rinse out one bottle and reuse it quite easily, it never fails that one would get dropped on the floor and kicked by someone walking by. In the event that happens, it is nice to have a backup. With cups, I don’t really find I need two because if it gets dropped, I can always get a cup of water and a straw from one of the restaurants or stands. Snacks are important because while you and I love churros and dole whips, you never know what your tiny one is going to like that day! Plus, when you’re in an hour long line for Peter Pan and your kiddo is hungry, rather than leave the line you’ve already waited 40 minutes in, you can just give them one of their favorite snacks from your handy diaper bag.

Packing a Diaper Bag for Disney

Distractions! A book, a game, stickers, rattles, musical toys, etc. I usually pack at least two things that I can pull out at a moments notice. When you’re sitting on Main Street U.S.A., waiting for the parade to come through, this is a perfect time to just break out a good book and read with your little ones. This is also a great tip for older siblings as well.

How to pack a diaper bag for Disney

More goodies: medicine, toothbrush & toothpaste, sunglasses, sunscreen, Boogie Wipes,  chapstick, and pacifiers. I always like to have Tylenol in my diaper bag just in case the ugly teething monster shows up! Sunscreen is a must so that you can reapply on those sunny summer days. I just love Boogie Wipes and I hate traveling without them, even if nobody has a boogie nose. A toothbrush and toothpaste can be a good idea if you plan on staying  past your little one’s bedtime. That way, they can fall asleep in their stroller or carrier and you can just put them straight to bed when you get back to your hotel. Packing a Diaper Bag

These ones are probably best stored at the bottom of a stroller or maybe in a locker, but you’ll want to be sure to bring a blankie or any lovey that your child has. In the case of a nap time meltdown, a little bit of comfort goes a long way. Also an extra blanket or a nursing cover can help shut out the excitement of the parks when you’re trying to put your little one to sleep. You might want to bring a hat to help shield their little face from the sun. Depending on the hat’s design, this can be attached to the strap of your diaper bag with a small hook in the event that your kid is like mine and won’t wear it. And of course, don’t forget a sweater as it gets cool at night.

Packing a Diaper Bag for Disney

An extra set of clothes in a ziplock bag. With little ones, you never know what kind of crazy mess will await you. All you know is that there will always be a mess. Be prepared with an extra set of clothes (down to the underwear and socks) and ziplock bags. This way, your child’s dirty/wet clothes can find their way back home without getting the rest of the items in your bag dirty/wet as well. Ziplocs are a great item to bring to the parks and have multiple uses. I always travel with at least 2 in my bag o’ tricks.

Since this mom doesn’t want to have to carry a diaper bag AND a purse (can you say “pack mule,”) I usually shove my wallet and phone in the diaper bag as well. If you do this, just be sure to take it with you as you wait in line for rides and don’t leave it behind on your stroller.

And there you have it! A diaper bag full of all of the goodies needed for a day in the parks. How do you pack your diaper bag? Did I miss your must have item? Leave a comment and share with us your diaper bag wisdom! Thank you for joining me on my first trip on the Magical Blogorail! Your next stop is Capturing Magical Memories as she discusses the great debate of bringing versus renting a stroller.

For more information on what to bring when you are traveling with little ones,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Black | Must Haves for Traveling with Little Ones Loop:

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Lightspeed to Disneyland in 1987!

Welcome Mousefans! I’ve joined a crazy group of bloggers in celebrating Disneyland’s Diamond Anniversary by writing about each of the 60 years in Disneyland history! If you haven’t been keeping up with all of the fabulous posts, there are links to each one at the bottom of this post! I hope you enjoy our trip down memory lane.
The year was 1987. Disneyland was a place where you could see Michael Jackson “change the world” with his dance moves in Captain EO, ride not only one, but two Autopia attractions, and fly on the Skyway between the lands of Fantasy and Tomorrow. Not to mention that a one day adult admission to the park cost a whopping $21.50. 1987 brought a few new things to the park, but one in particular transported guests at lightspeed to a new world of entertainment!

In 1987, Disneyland did more than reach for the stars, they helped guests tour them in StarSpeeder 3000s with the help of a droid named Rex. That’s right! On January 9, 1987, Star Tours landed in Tomorrowland, replacing its predecessor: Adventure Thru Inner Space (1967–1985.) On this day, guests were not only taken to the stars, but the stars were brought to them as well! Star Tours opened with fanfare befitting the occasion with George Lucas himself in attendance. Oh, and remember that 24-hour event we get all excited about each year? What if I told you that to celebrate the opening of the new Star Tours attraction, Disneyland stayed open for a full 60 hours! I know I joked about Disneyland staying open for 60 hours to celebrate the 60th anniversary, but I had no idea that it had happened before. We’re learning together on this blog, folks. And check out Mickey’s totally awesome space suit!

Star Tours Grand Opening

Image credit: The Disney Parks Blog

On Star Tours, we joined a newbie pilot, Rex, on his first flight to the Endor moon. Somehow, each time we rode it, he was still on his first flight. And he always managed to take a wrong turn! We were taken on a crazy adventure through space and with the help of a rebel pilot, found our way back home….where we almost crashed into a fuel tanker. That was a close one! Relive the excitement of the original Star Tours attraction in this CoasterViews video.

While you probably didn’t know it, as you were standing in line for Star Tours, you were also witnessing a part of Disney’s past. Two of the singing, audio-animatronic birds from the America Sings (which would close in 1988) attraction were de-feathered and served up fresh as droids in the Star Tours queue. More of the animatronics from America Sings can still be seen today in another beloved attraction that opened in 1989: Splash Mountain.

This attraction continued to be a popular stop for guests until 2010 when it was closed. Not to worry! The StarSpeeders soon returned to service in Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. Not only does the adventure continue, but it is better than ever! With C-3PO at the wheel, Star Tours now serves a variety of new destinations with updated pre-boarding and in-flight movies that are sure to impress all passengers….even a rebel spy!

Another Disneyland first happened in May 1987, when the first Disney Dollars were issued at Disneyland! People could now not only buy Disney parks merchandise, but they could buy money: Disney money! The first series of Disney Dollars was released with an initial printing of 870,000 at both Disneyland and Disney World, however, both sets read, “May be used as legal tender only at Disneyland.” This line was changed to reflect that the Disney Dollars could be used in both the California and Florida parks in the next series released later that year. The cartoon cash came in denominations of $1 and $5. The $1 sported a waving Mickey Mouse on the front and Sleeping Beauty castle on the back. Goofy donned the front of the $5 and the Mark Twain Riverboat was on the reverse side.

And of course, the year 1987 brought us the opening of The Disney Gallery in its original location, above the Pirates of the Caribbean. In the 1960’s, Walt Disney decided that he needed a space large enough to entertain certain VIPs and dignitaries. However, when Walt died in 1966, his hopes for the space were left seemingly forgotten. Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter was the person who imagined the space as a place to hang their artwork and display it for guests to see. His idea took hold and The Disney Gallery was opened. The Gallery was ran almost like a museum with a gift shop and even had cast members ready to tell you all about the art gracing the gallery’s walls. On August 7, 2007, the Disney Gallery was closed to make way for what is now the Disneyland Dream Suite. The Disney Gallery got a second chance at life on Main Street U.S.A. It is now housed in what used to be the Bank of Main Street U.S.A.

Image credit: The Disney Parks Blog

Image credit: The Disney Parks Blog

As a football fan, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that 1987 was also the first year of the “What’s next?” campaign. ”I’m going to Disneyland/ Disney World” is the now iconic phrase that was first uttered by the winning Super Bowl XXI quarterback, Phil Simms of the New York Giants. This classic commercial has aired every year since, except in 2005.

Whew! So much Disneyland history packed into just one tiny year! And I’m not quite done! After rummaging through my mom’s old photo albums, I was able to pull out this compilation of memories from January, July and December, 1987. I was 2 and 3 years old  in 1987, so I can’t really tell you my about my memories from that specific year, but I can tell you that Disneyland has always been a big part of my life. Sharing that part of my life with you on this blog is always a pleasure. I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane and that it sparked some magical memories of your own.

Minnie Mouse at Disneyland 1987

 

Eeyore and Cast members at Disneyland in 1987

 

I like seeing the cast members in this one, and of course, Eeyore is adorable!

Autopia at Disneyland in 1987

Real men wear mouse ears…and let 2 year olds drive cars.

Dumbo at Disneyland in 1987

Flying high with my mom and Mickey on Dumbo!

Princess float at Disneyland Parade 1987

Mickey at Disneyland in 1987

M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E!!!!
Hook and Mr. Smee, Disneyland Parade 1987Mr. Smee rowing Captain Hook away from the tick tock croc!

Motor Boat Cruise, Disneyland 1987

The Motor Boat cruise! One of my favorite attractions from days gone by.

Snow White, Disneyland 1987

I just love looking back at the character costumes through the years. And see one of the dwarfs behind me!

Snowmen, Disneyland Parade 1987

 

Pinocchio, Disneyland Parade 1987

Mickey and Minnie, Ice Skating Float, Disneyland Parade 1987

 

Special thanks go out to Disney Gals and The Disney Parks Blog for the use of their photos in our post. If you haven’t already checked out all of the amazing posts from Disney years gone by, you can catch up by clicking on the links below! Thanks for joining us on this celebration of Disneyland’s Diamond Anniversary!

#60DaysTo60Years

#60DaysTo60YearsAtDisneyland


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The #PerfectPlaydate I Didn’t Have to Plan

Avery & Austin review

Playdate planning can be stressful as a mother. You have to get ahold of the parents, set a time that works into everyone’s soccer game/dance competition/yoga time schedule, and that isn’t even the hardest part. The hard part happens about an hour into the actual playdate when the kids come up to you and say those dreaded words: “we’re bored.” Cam Bowman and Nichole Beaudry, two moms and friends of mine, have created the #PerfectPlaydate to keep you from hearing those words.

Avery & Austin #PerfectPlaydate

Avery & Austin, a new box subscription service, has the tagline: “everything you need to host a creative play experience for two, delivered to your doorstep each month.” Your box will not only come with a fun craft (or two) for kids ages 4-12, but it has a healthy, nut free snack as well. Seriously, this box is like my gift from heaven. I am the most indecisive person on the planet, so having all of the decisions made for me and packed in a box ready for playing is amazing.

Not only is everything planned, but it is planned well. These moms know kids and when creating these boxes they kept them and what they like in mind. Our box had two kid crafts in it: a sponge painting stencil activity and tissue paper flowers! And there was even a set of instructions in the box as well so you aren’t left guessing at what everything is for.

The second we opened the box, the kids saw paint and immediately ran upstairs and changed into their pre-approved “paint clothes.” (Parenting done right, folks.) Once they were all sitting down and getting their craft on, the most incredible thing happened. They had fun. Together. Doing the same thing. At the same time. It was pretty dang close to a miracle.

Avery & Austin, Kids CraftAvery & Austin Review

My proud (and happy) little artists!

Avery & Austin kids craft

Since the stencils could easily be dried and re-used, I even had the chance to get in on the crafty fun!

Avery & Austin

So not only were the crafts met with excitement, but the snacks that were included (2 Degrees bars) were a hit as well! This is really surprising since in spite of my best efforts, I can never seem to find that one thing that each of them want to eat… ever. Until today. Thank you Avery & Austin, from the bottom of my heart. Seriously, having to make four different snacks for my four kids and their very different preferences was driving me batty.

Avery & Austin Box

So there you have it. The perfect playdate. The kids have had a great time crafting, they’ve had a healthy snack, and I didn’t hear “we’re bored.” Not once. Oh, and I left out the best part! I even got a gift out of this deal! This adorable little dish is not only my favorite color, but it is something I can use! I’m using it to put my jewelry in while I wash my hands and shower. I kinda wish I had this dish a couple of months ago because then I might not have lost my wedding band. (It sounds bad, but hey, I held onto mine 10 years longer than my husband held onto his!)

Avery & Austin mom gift

 

My living room also got a mini make over thanks to the crafts that were created. I’ve been trying to find something to put in these boxes for years now! Finally, I’ve got the perfect decor: paper flowers and shell paintings!

Avery & Austin

Since I know that all of moms out there are dying to know where you can get this box, here is the info. Visit Avery & Austin at www.AveryandAustin.com to find out how to order your own box full of fun and follow them on TwitterInstagramPinterest and Facebook for more fun #PerfectPlaydate ideas!

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary Avery & Austin box for my kids. I was not asked to review the box and I was not compensated for this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and 100% my own.

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A Disneylander’s Thoughts on MagicBands

 

MagicBandsIn September, the MousekaTools family went to the Walt Disney World Resort! On this trip of a lifetime, we had the chance to experience MagicBands! Overall, we loved them, but as with most things, we found a few slight drawbacks. Lets start with the positives!

We’ll go ahead and state the obvious: they make very fashionable accessories! Basically, MagicBands are bracelets. They come in a variety of colors so you can pick your favorite, but that ain’t all! You get to bling out your MagicBand! You don’t HAVE to, but who wouldn’t want to personalize it when there are so many fun options. You can buy cute attachments (MagicBandits) from the Disney Store. They have options that range from Star Wars to Hitchhiking Ghosts and everything in between!

We, however, opted to get Cover Bands from DVC Central. These are adorably designed vinyl decals that just stick onto your MagicBand. Having 4 kids, and at least 2 of those who were constantly chewing or drooling on their bands, I can say with 100% certainty that these are made to last! Not one of our Cover Bands fell or peeled off during our week-long stay. Also, Cover Bands helped make our MagicBands a great conversation starter! We received tons of compliments on our adorable bands from guests and cast members alike! Some of my favorite Cover Bands that they currently have in stock are dole whip and Dapper Dans themed!

DSC_0639

Maybe you’re more of a DIYer. You might want to get all kinds of crafty and bling out your MagicBand yourself! I’ve not only seen people with rhinestones and nail polish adorning their bands, but I’ve also seen some intricate works of art painted on by true artists! My crafty gene is a bit out of practice these days, so I didn’t trust myself to decorate my own MagicBand!

Aside from its looks, the MagicBands are very useful in that they give you access to your hotel room, your park tickets, your FastPass+ reservations (which you can make ahead of your trip,) your meal plan and your money! They’re a one stop shop for your Walt Disney World Resort vacation. Remember that I’m coming from Disneyland where I have to keep track of my paper ticket not only so that I can run around the park like a crazy person to collect my paper FastPasses, but, more importantly, so that I can get into the park still the following day. The idea that everything I need is all on my wrist is awesome! I literally left my purse at the hotel, gave my hubby my ID to hold in his wallet (in case a need for it should arise….like the longing for an adult beverage) and went about my day.

Another plus is that it gives you another thing to look forward to getting in the mail leading up to your trip! I was so excited when I saw that my MagicBands had shipped! I may or may not have checked my mailbox and my front porch every hour until they arrived….even though I know perfectly well what time my mail usually arrives and it isn’t until around 4pm.  I kinda felt like that lady on the old Mervyn’s commercials….please say you remember and I’m not super old. This lady?

You even get to go on MyDisneyExperience.com and pick out your MagicBand color and what name you want printed on the under-side of it! I went all “plain Jane” and just put our actual names on them, but you can put on nicknames, Disney names or whatever on them, too! (Not sure if that “whatever” spreads to certain parts of the anatomy or profanities, but I’m going to assume that nobody reading this wants their band to say “butt” like my 8 year old daughter probably would.)

There were some slight downsides to these new fangled doo-hickeys.

First, not all of our park tickets were added to the band. Our five year old was left almost in tears thinking that they weren’t going to let her into Hollywood Studios after her band wouldn’t scan. The fix for it required that we stroll over to guest services and hang out for about 10 minutes while they got her band all squared away. It wasn’t a big deal, and we were even given open ended FastPasses for any ride in that park to make up for the delay. While this doesn’t happen to everyone, it can happen, so on your first day visiting a park, you may want to get there a few minutes early, just in case.

All of those FastPass+ reservations that you stayed up all night 3 months ago to add to your band might not actually show up when scanned. We had one issue with this, but because our awesome Travel Agent told us to bring a print out of our FastPass+ reservations with us, we were prepared! We showed the cast member our print out and the situation was fixed immediately. I highly suggest carrying a print-out of your plans with you, just in case technology fails.

Since your FastPasses aren’t on paper, you might forget when they are! This is yet another reason you might want to print-out your FastPass+ reservations. I almost missed one of our ride windows thinking that our FastPass was an hour later than it actually was. Thank goodness I decided to check the paper! After four kids and four cases of “pregnancy brain,” my memory is not something that I can rely on anymore, so planners, calendars, post-it notes, and print-outs are a necessity.

Our last issue is not with the bands themselves, but with the FastPass+ planning. The benefit of using this system is that you get to pick out 3 rides/shows on any given day that you want to make sure you can experience without waiting for hours. This is definitely a great benefit because during busy times at Disneyland, the paper FastPass system all but requires you to get to the park early to ensure that you get that many fast passes. With FastPass+, you can make the reservations at home, and change them as needed from your phone during the day. The downside to this is that you can find yourself running from FastPass to FastPass, not really looking around to explore the entire park and all of the fun details and experiences that don’t have FastPasses. I am a big fan of spontaneity, but between our FastPass+ reservations and our dining reservations, we really had the entire trip planned out for us. Had we not planned it out, we would have had the spontaneity back, but would sacrifice being able to quickly get on our favorite rides. It was a trade off, and for this trip at least, I’m glad we did.

 

 

All in all, we loved the MagicBands. It was something new that we don’t have at Disneyland (yet) and they helped make our trip to Walt Disney World that much more different than our experiences at Disneyland. It is a fun item to save and help commemorate our trip. I haven’t yet decided what to do with ours, so in the meantime, my daughters wear them around the house and pretend to scan them on things like our fridge and the bathroom door. I hope that we’ll get the chance to visit Walt Disney World again someday soon…mostly so that my kids will stop acting like crazy people and actually have something to scan their MagicBands for!

 

 

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I’m “On-the-Road” Again….

Take a minute and sing the song with me: “on the road again.” That is actually all the words I know to that song. Moving on…I have some awesome news:

I AM GOING TO DISNEY SOCIAL MEDIA MOMS “ON-THE-ROAD” PORTLAND!

I woke up to a dear bloggy friend’s Facebook message that simply read “So…?!?!?!?!”

I knew exactly what she was talking about, and not through my powers of ESP (which I do have if you ever talk to my kids) but because we have been waiting for this email for weeks! This pixie dusted, magical email inviting us to partake in a day of learning, fun, and best of all: Disney!!!
Disney Social Media Moms Celebration
If you have followed along with any of the social media hype that surrounds the #DisneySMMC hashtag every year around late Spring, you probably recognize the “Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.” Now that is a doozy of an event that involves inviting bloggers to come and spend multiple days at the Walt Disney World Resort and they even once invited them to my “hometown” the Disneyland Resort. There are dinner parties, dancing Disney characters, inspirational speakers and an endless supply of magic! The “On-the-Road” event is when they take the show to a few locations across the country to share the fun, learning and Disney with even more bloggers and social influencers!
So the words, “magic,” “pixie dust,” and “Disney” have been thrown around, but maybe you’re wondering exactly what does all of this mean? What does an “On-the-Road” event look like? While every year is different, I can give you a glimpse of my experience from the 2013 event in San Francisco. I can’t speak highly enough of the event and am so thrilled to get the chance to be a part of this year’s #DisneySMMC On-the-Road. I’ll get to meet new friends, learn new things, get inspired, and find our more about the Disney Parks that I love so much!
Now onto more important matters, like what in the world and I going to wear!?!? And better yet, how am I going to get there? Stay tuned people, more to come for sure!
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Wordless Wednesday ~ May 2015 Calendar Shot

Hello, Mousefans! Since I missed last week (and since I don’t have any recent Disney parade photos to go with this week’s theme,) I wanted to share my May calendar shot! I am so in love with the sparkly new castle overlay at Disneyland and I’m so glad I had the chance to see it on our latest trip to the parks!  It is stunningly covered in diamond accents for the big #Disneyland60 celebration. Can you believe Disneyland has really been around for almost 60 years? Also, while visiting Disney’s California Adventure, we (miraculously) got a picture of everyone smiling….even Mickey! Disney truly is magical!

Disneyland Castle, Mickey Mouse

Thanks for hopping by today! Keep hopping around to see all of the other amazing Disney posts on today’s Wordless Wednesday blog hop!


Focused on the Magic
 

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