Archives for September 2012

Mermaid Birthday Party

Mermaid Birthday Party

This weekend, the Art of Animation resort at Walt Disney World opened the new Little Mermaid wing. I’m sure it will be a very fun place to stay at Disney World, especially if you have little ones who are fans of the movie. In our house, Ariel is very popular. That is why my youngest daughter asked for a mermaid party for her 4th birthday. Unfortunately, her birthday is in March which is our coldest and snowiest month here. So how do you have a mermaid party in the middle of winter? With lots of creativity! Hope these ideas will spark some creativity for your own “little mermaid”.

First, I started with the fabulous birthday artwork from They have birthday printables you can purchase, and I purchased the mermaid birthday package that came with invitations and other great graphics I could use for the party. Here is what the invites look like:

Mermaid invitation from LivingLocurto

Guests were greeted at the door with this sign pointing them into our house.

This was our welcome sign for the front door.

This was a hanging happy birthday sign. I made a shell template for each letter and hung them from string.

Our table centerpiece was mason jars filled with water-colored marbles. The birthday girl’s name was spelled out on circles and each one placed in a jar. Mermaids surrounded her name. The jars sat on purple tulle with shells scattered on the table.

Each goody bucket had a guest’s name on it and a mermaid tag. Inside each bucket was this bag of goodies.

Goodies included bubbles with a mermaid sticker on them, sunglasses, sea life themed silly bands, a mermaid wood coloring craft, and Hershey’s nugget candies. Graphics for bubbles and candy wrappers included in mermaid birthday party printable from Each guest also got a flower lei.

Underwater decorations

Underwater decorations including waves on the walls, made from plastic tablecloths. Balloons were strung on fishing wire to look like bubbles.

We hung fish and jellyfish from the ceiling. This jellyfish was made from a paper plate and some ribbon and fabric. He is hung up by some fishing wire. The kids thought running past the jellyfish was lots of fun!

One of our games was a beanbag toss. I copied some of the mermaid artwork and painted our own underwater scene for fun. Each mermaid took several turns and each got a shell bracelet as a prize.

Mermaid crowns

Other activities we did were decorating their own mermaid princess crown. I had crowns ready with each guest’s name and we used sea life theme foam stickers for decoration. The girls also colored mermaid coloring sheets while we waited for everyone to arrive. We also did a shell hunting game and had an Ariel pinata filled with lots of candy!

Last, we had some yummy birthday cake! I made the cake and decorated it to look like the mermaid artwork. I also put gummy fish around the side of the cake, and made gummy starfish.

One last special thing we purchased for the big day was a mermaid tutu for our daughter. I bought it on Etsy, and it was beautiful! She looked like quite the mermaid princess for her party!

Disney Countdown

Disney Vacation Countdowns

In our house, our kids love counting down the days until we head to our next Disney vacation. We made these Mickey ears plaques that sit on our counter. One is for Disney World and the other is for Disneyland. They have a chalkboard finish so you can write whatever you would like and also keep track of your days.

Disneyland Countdown

Another way we countdown the days is with a simple paper chain, and each day one of the kids get to rip a loop off the chain. This is probably the easiest way to countdown. We always take a picture of the kids ripping the last chain on the day we leave.

Disney countdown paper chain

If you would like to be creative or want more inspiration to make your own Disney countdown, I’ve found some great ideas of other ways to countdown.

Disneyland Countdown and Free Printable from The Crafting Chicks

Disney Countdown Wreath from

Disney Countdown Chain

Mickey Countdown Chain by

Disney Package Countdown

Disney Package Countdown by TheyAreCrafty

Disney Countdown Board

Disney Countdown Board by Club CK

Disney Countdown Calendar

Disney Countdown Calendar by My Little Gems

Disney Countdown Frame

Disney Countdown Frame by Pixie Trips Travel

If your not feeling crafty or you just don’t have the time to make your own Disney Vacation countdown, I found these fabulous handmade countdowns on Etsy.

Countdown blocks

Countdown wood blocks from WoodnExpressions

Disney Countdown Frame

Disney Countdown Frame with tags from Stampin’ Crazy in Texas

Girlie Disney Countdown

Girlie Disney Countdown by Liquid Therapy

And if you are looking for a good countdown on your computer, Apple makes a Disney widget for your Dashboard. It is a free download and it very simple.

Apple Widget for Dashboard

Disney Countdown Widget for Mac computers by Apple

There are always lots of fun and creative ways to countdown to your next Disney vacation!

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Birthday Party Pin

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Birthday Party from

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Birthday Party

I recently pinned this adorable birthday party on Pinterest, and I can’t believe how many repins it gets everyday! It is getting close to 300 repins! That’s a lot of love for this cute birthday party idea inspired by the show “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”. I’m thinking we might throw a party like this for our little guy who will be turning two soon!

Check out the details of this party at the luluandjunebug blog. And Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse!

Disney Vacations for Families of 5 or More

by Peter Hastings

Part 2: Disney Attractions

In my last posting, I talked about some of the challenges facing families of 5 when doing Disney vacations. I talked about the different options available for accommodations, and how even large families can find great Disney on-property locations. Once you’ve figured out where to stay to fit your ‘large’ family needs, it’s time to look at the other challenges that lay ahead of you once you hit the parks. Let’s start with the wide variety of park attractions.


For families with 5 or more, doing Disney attractions varies not so much by the number of people in your family, but more by the make-up of the riders and non-riders for each attraction. For instance, a family of 6 that includes adults and teenagers probably won’t have any problems when it comes to the bigger thrill rides like Expedition Everest. But a family of 6 that includes a wider range of kids (and heights) can make things a bit more challenging. I’m going to touch on groupings of rides as they might impact a larger family, and hopefully you’ll be able to apply the variables to how it would impact your group.

So what exactly are the things to think about when it comes to the various attractions at the Disney parks? For starters, there are the number of riders in your group. Is everyone tall enough for the ride? Is anyone going to sit this one out for various reasons (height requirements, too scary, motion sickness, etc.) What are the seating arrangements in the vehicles? From this, we can group rides into 3 categories: Ideal, Challenging, and Difficult.

  • The Ideal Attractions: These are the rides and shows that cause little to no problems for larger families. They have plenty of seating in bigger rows, or allow for more options when it comes to breaking up your parties. Your biggest problem here is having the kids fight over who gets to sit next to Dad
    • Bench Rides: Rides like Pirates, It’s a Small World, Soarin’, Jungle Cruise and Kilimanjaro Safaris all have long benches allowing for everyone to sit together, or easily break up into smaller varying size groups. Other rides I’d categorize in this group: Casey Jr. Circus Train, Monorail, Railroad, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Star Tours, Tower of Terror, and Mission Space.
    • Theaters: Shows like The Festival of the Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, the Tiki Room, and Mickey’s Philharmagic are all in theaters with long rows. Again no issues here. Other theater attractions include: Disney Junior, Tough to be a Bug and Muppets 3-D.
    • Three WideThrill Rides: Rides like Test Track, Big Thunder and Radiator Springs Racers can seat three across, so it is easy to split up your group into 2’s or 3’s, assuming the kid to adult ratio stays no more than 2:1 you’ve got no problems here. Other rides similar include Indiana Jones Adventure, and Dinosaur.
Test Track at Epcot in Walt Disney World

Test Track at Epcot in Walt Disney World


    • Kid Friendly Rides – These include those rides that are geared toward the kiddos, even if Mom & Dad enjoy them too. These seating arrangements typically seat up to 6 people in a car and kids don’t mind and sometimes prefer not sitting next to their parents. These include: Winnie the Pooh, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, Flik’s Flyers, Mad Tea Party, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, and Journey into Imagination.


Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride at Magic Kingdom

Aladdin’s Magic Carpets at Magic Kingdom

    • The Buddy Rides: These rides typically only seat 2 riders, but aren’t scary and can be quite enjoyable for kids to buddy up with a sibling, rather than with Mom or Dad. We typically let our oldest two kids ride these ones together, which gives my wife and I the chance to split up to ride with our two youngest. These include Toy Story Midway Mania, Buzz Lightyear, Spaceship Earth, and Peter Pan.


Buddy Ride

Buddy Ride at Disneyland

    • The Haunted Mansion: I gave this one its own category because here at Preschoolears we have found a wide range of reactions from our Parent Panelists regarding their kids’ ‘fear’ of this ride. The doom-buggies are large enough to easily seat an adult and two kids which drops this one into the ‘perfect attraction’ category. Depending on your kiddo’s attitude toward this classic attraction, you can also classify this one in the Buddy Rides category if your kids think of this as a fun ride rather than a scary ride. We’ve been lucky to fall into the this category as our kids enjoy scaring the haunts back so our oldest enjoy riding together without Mom & Dad.
  • The Challenging Rides: Now let’s talk about those attractions that can be a little bit challenging but are able to be worked out for larger families. Give these ones some thought before your vacation and have a plan to avoid issues as you are trying to board the ride.
    • Dumbo – this one gets a bit tricky. The seats are big enough for an adult and two kids, but then which kiddo gets to control the elephant? Once a child is 7, they can ride alone which does help to alleviate the ‘sharing the controls’ factor for larger families.


Riding Dumbo with two kiddos at Disneyland

Riding Dumbo with two kiddos at Disneyland

    • Autopia – Much like Dumbo, the seats are big enough for three but then you run into the sharing of the steering wheel issue. The other problem that this ride presents are the height requirements for both being allowed to ride as well as being able to drive by yourself. If your kids are tall enough (and have a strong leg), maybe consider letting them drive by themselves to break things up. The other problem that you may run into is when you’ve got 1 kiddo too small to ride, leaving you with one adult and three kids (for a family of six like us). Here’s where fastpass and rider swap can come in handy. On our last trip, I rode first with my oldest, then rode again using rider swap with the middle two kids who had to take turns driving. Not ideal, but also not a reason to completely avoid this kid favorite.


Autopia at Disneyland

Autopia with two kids at Disneyland

    • Splash Mountain – this one varies between Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom. Let’s address the MK first. Here, the seating arrangement is in groups of 2. If the parent to kid ratio is even, then this one doesn’t become a problem for any kids that might be a little skittish. Otherwise, you’ll need to split up leaving some kiddos to ride by themselves or with a sibling. Hopefully not too big of an issue. At Disneyland, it is more of a single file approach meaning each kid gets their own seat. The bonus here is the last row is a double-seater. When I rode this one last time with my two oldest, I sat in the last row with one and had one directly in front of me that I was able to ‘comfort’ by holding her hand on the big drop.
    • Matterhorn – with the latest changes to the seating arrangements on the Matterhorn, this ride has become both easy and difficult for families. On the one hand, there is seating up to 6 per double car. However, now seating is single per rider which means that any kiddos tall enough to ride (note the new taller height requirements) yet still a little nervous have to tough this one out on their own without holding on to Mom or Dad.
    • Astro Orbitor – this is a tricky one. The rockets will sit up to three, but the problem again becomes who gets the controls. So a family of 5 or 6 has the challenge of figuring out how to break up the group. Just try to avoid having a parent ride this one more than once unless you’ve been training to be an astronaut.
  • The Difficult Rides: There are a few rides out there that just become difficult for large families that have small kids.
    • Big Coasters – here is where the kid to parent ratio becomes a problem. On our last trip my oldest daughter and son were brave enough to ride Expedition Everest with me. As we were in line I realized that they both wanted to ride with dad. What to do? My solution, I let them sit together, I sat behind them and leaned forward the whole ride so they could squeeze my arm. Not my recommendation, but not many great options on this one. The best solution that we have found is to utilize ride swap to pair up your kids. This means a bit of extra wait time, but offers the best experience for your kids since they would each have Mom or Dad to sit with on these high thrill rides. (Also applies to California Screamin’, Rock n Roller Coaster, Space Mountain)

As you can see, most of the rides and attractions at Disney Parks are quite accommodating to families of five or more, and most can be accommodated with some pre-planning. In our next entry will talk about a few other areas of a Disney park that are impacted a bit by the ‘large’ family syndrome.

Have you had any challenges with attractions as a family of 5 or more at Disney?

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