Archives for April 2013

Disney Planning for Families Series: Part 2

preschoolearsL TravelPlanningSeries

Part 2: These Feet Were Made For Walking

Part two of our Disney Travel Planning for Families series is all about getting the family walking! When you are planning a Disney trip, keep in mind that your little ones will be walking and standing a lot during your days at the park. While Disneyland is considerable smaller in size, Disney World is very large and it takes a lot of walking to get around. Even if you will have strollers, its a good idea to plan for the kids to be walking quite a bit. Even our last trip to Disneyland, our older kids were given a chance to walk quite a bit and they did great.

First things first, we went through everyone’s sneakers last week. I have learned over the years that it is a good idea to spend a little more money on sneakers that will last. Kids are tough on shoes, so you want ones that will go the distance! I also dread shoe shopping with my crew of four. In our house, we enjoy buying our shoes from Zappos.com. We measure the kids feet ourselves and order from the comfort of our home. Zappos provides free shipping both ways, so that means if it doesn’t fit, you can ship it back for free. Yep, free. And their free shipping arrives in lightning speed. I am always excited to see the Zappos box on my porch!

Zappos

If in doubt, we order several styles and sizes of shoes for the kids to try and then return what doesn’t work. This time around we ordered our sneakers for Disney World as well as fun shoes for the summer. That’s a lot of shoes!

ShoeBoxes

The brands our family has found hold up very well and fit our kid’s feet great are New Balance, Nike and Asics. They have held up a whole school year which is awesome considering the abuse they receive on the playground. The brands we have had the worst experiences with are StrideRite, Skechers and Saucony. These brands just didn’t hold up for our kid’s feet, but they may do fine for your kid’s feet. Here are the shoes we ended up picking for our kiddos this time – I think bright colors are in style right now!

Girls Sneakers - New Balance

Girls Sneakers – New Balance

Boys Sneakers - New Balance

Boys Sneakers – New Balance

Girls Sneakers-Asics

Girls Sneakers-Asics

Toddler Boys Sneakers-New Balance

Toddler Boys Sneakers-New Balance

It is about a month until our trip, so the kids have time to work these shoes in a bit so they are ready for walking the parks!

Speaking of walking, now that we have our shoes, we have to get those little legs ready to walk a lot! We have started a walking program where we take family walks throughout the week and chart how many miles we can do each week until we leave. While our younger two will be strolling quite a bit, my 7 and 9 year old will get to walk much of the time. About 4-6 weeks out from your trip is a great time to start walking with them and having them work up to longer distances. It will help so much when you are at Disney.

Here is a chart we are using to keep track of the miles the kids complete. You could do a sticker for each 1/2 mile or mile completed in a week. We are also setting goals for each week so we will increase how far we walk.

ChartPic

So get those kiddos in “Disney Training” to get ready for your Disney trip! Remember, their little feet were meant for walking (and sometimes running)!

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed were my own and I received no compensation from Zappos or the shoe brands mentioned to write this post. We simply enjoy their service and shoes.

For more posts in this series, click on the link below:
Part 1: Countdown To-Do List
Part 3: Planning for Medical Issues & Emergencies
Part 4: Travel Backpacks for Kids
Part 5: Diaper Changing Prep 101

Monsters University

monsters-u-poster

Our house is buzzing with excitement about the upcoming new Pixar movie “Monsters University” which is a sequel, but really a prequel, to the movie “Monsters Inc.” Our family loves Sully and Mike Wazowski, so we can’t wait to see their new movie! It is coming to theaters this summer starting on June 21st. With all this excitement, I wanted to collect all the exciting Disney news and information for you about the upcoming film.

First, here is the newest movie trailer just released from Disney Pixar:

Disney also has an official Monsters University website with lots of goodies. They also have this really fun website that is a mock website for Monsters University, that your kids will enjoy looking at and having fun with. You can tell the folks at Pixar had lots of fun putting this one together!

The big announcement that Disney just made was that they will be celebrating the opening of this film with what they are calling “Monstrous Summer”. Three Disney parks will stay open for 24 hours on Memorial Weekend with special monster events. Magic Kingdom, Disneyland and California Adventure with stay open from 6 am on May 24th until 6 am on May 25th.

  • Magic Kingdom will have a Monsters University theme with Mike & Sully as Grand Marshalls of the parade as well as late night dance parties and characters in pajamas
  • Disneyland will have a late night “monstrous” party and a late night pajama party at Mickey’s Toontown
  • California Adventure will have Monsters University “dorms” in Hollywood Land as well as special surprises in the Pixar Play Parade

To make this big announcement, Spaceship Earth at Epcot was turned into the lovable Mike Wazowski today.
Picture 22

Disney just released some fun products for Monsters University today at the Disney Store. There are lots of fun things to choose from, but here are some of my favorites! Click on the pictures to take you to that item at the store.

preschoolears: MonstersU Shirtpreschoolears: MonstersU Tee

preschoolears: MonstersU Cheer Fear Teepreschoolears: MonstersU Tee

preschoolears: Monsters U Teepreschoolears: Mike W iPhone case

preschoolears: Sully Pillowpetpreschoolears: MonstersU Mug

Are you officially excited for “Monsters University” this summer? We can’t wait! And it should be a fun Memorial Weekend at the parks! We scare because we care!

Disney Travel Planning for Families Series

preschoolearsL TravelPlanningSeries

We are starting a new series today all about getting families ready for their Disney trip, or any family trip really! Our family is currently gearing up and getting organized for our upcoming Disney trip, and I thought this was the perfect time to share all our tips, tricks and advice on how to pull it all together in a calm, organized way. So this series is all about crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s! It’s all in the details! And with a family of six, it is crucial to have everything pulled together and organized so we can all relax and have fun once the trip has begun!

Countdown To-Do List

We are starting today with a Countdown To-Do list, and these items I put onto a calendar 6-weeks before out departure date. Each item gets it’s own spot on the calendar, even if multiple items are put on a specific day, it is important to have a “deadline” for getting something done. We keep this calendar on our fridge or command center and check things off as we finish them. And I have included items for a roadtrip or a plane trip, so it will depend on how you are traveling and what you are doing on your vacation.

6+ Weeks

  • Order luggage tags and bag tags for park bags, luggage and strollers
  • Start making autograph books (if doing DIY Disney)
  • Have kids (and adults) try on clothing you will be taking on trip and determine what items need to be purchased
  • Start shopping for clothing and swimsuits (if needed)
  • Start collecting items for kid’s travel backpacks (backpacks with entertainment for them)
  • Confirm pet sitters and/or house sitters
  • Finalize driving maps/routes and plan stops along the way
  • Confirm hotel reservations if driving and you’re staying overnight along the way

5+ Weeks

  • Finalize your park schedule by days – this is a good time to reconfirm the calendar on the Disney website with park hours and show/attraction schedules. Also a good time to check the TouringPlans website for changes on your days at the park.
  • Order PhotoPass CD
  • Finish autograph books
  • Try on shoes everyone will be wearing at the park and order new sneakers if needed
  • Order new swimsuits, if needed
  • Schedule airport shuttle/Magical Express (Disney World)
  • Add Disney Dining Plan (Disney World) to your reservation if staying on property
  • Make all online purchases needed for trip to insure delivery on time (i.e. clothing, shoes, toys…)
  • Check all travel gear such as strollers, car seats, stroller bags (for air travel), car seat covers (for air travel), stroller rain covers, baby carriers…

4+ Weeks

  • Check electronics for the trip and order/purchase needed batteries and headphones
  • Organize grocery list, if ordering groceries
  • Get postcard stamps at Post Office
  • Find and purchase final items for kid’s backpacks
  • Make sure you have rain jacket/poncho for each person in family if traveling during rainy season for either park

3+ Weeks

  • Confirm all reservations (hotels, dining, car rental…)
  • Order groceries for delivery
  • Print labels with addresses for postcards to make sending postcards easier at park
  • Finish clothes shopping for any needed or missing items
  • Get car maintenance like oil change, check tire air pressure, replace air filters

2+ Weeks

  • Check all upcoming due bills and get paid
  • Notify kid’s teachers about absence and discuss homework
  • Pull together all travel papers and documents for travel folder (papers include airline tickets and confirmations, reservation numbers, Magical Express papers, airport shuttle confirmations, TripTix or driving directions, trip schedule, hotel confirmations, PhotoPass+ lanyard if ordered…)
  • Organize instructions for pet sitter/house sitter
  • Set up stops on mail, newspapers, milk delivery and other home deliveries
  • Check toiletries and purchase items needed for trip
  • Check medications and prescriptions to refill
  • Plan airport parking, if needed
  • Talk with close neighbors about your trip so they know you will be gone

1+ Weeks

  • Pull together all Disney gift cards and Reward Cards
  • Work on kid’s backpacks and any surprise gifts
  • Get cash as well as pennies and quarters for Penny Press machines (if collecting pennies)
  • Get pet food and supplies

3+ Days

  • Notify school(s) of absences
  • Start packing!
  • Finish final laundry of items you will be taking
  • Prep and clean pet area and supplies
  • Clean out car and prep for roadtrip if driving

2+ Days

  • Adjust sprinkler timers for yard
  • Charge cameras and batteries for electronics
  • Do grocery shopping for snack and food items for airplane/car travel; don’t forget gum, candy and lollipops for airplane cabin pressure
  • Work on packing
  • Mow, edge and finish other yard work

1+ Days

  • Get final mail
  • Set timers on lights inside house
  • Empty fridge/freezer of perishable items
  • Check-in for flights and confirm flight times/numbers
  • Fill car with gas if driving to airport or taking road trip
  • Finish packing
  • Clean and straighten house (a clean house is wonderful to come home to)
  • Pack wallets and travel purses
  • Final charge of phones, music players, DVD players, and other electronics
  • Pack travel bag with airplane tickets and travel folder of papers

Departure Day

  • Take out all trash in house
  • Pick up pet waste
  • Program thermostats
  • Turn off lights
  • Grab final packing items
  • Set house alarm
  • Leave instructions for house/pet sitter
  • Pack food/snacks for travel
  • Take a final “Leaving for Disney” picture of your kids
  • Final potty trip for kiddos!

Now all the prep work is done and you are well-organized! It is time to enjoy the vacation you have been planning for a very long time, and all your hard work will pay off with a fabulous Disney vacation. I would love to hear if I missed an item that your family would add to the list, so write a comment if there is something we need to add to our Countdown.

If you would like more information on where to start planning a Disney trip, follow our series called “How to Plan A Disney Trip” or keep following this series on Disney Travel Planning for more fun posts about getting organized!

For more in this series, click on the link for other parts:
Part 2: These Feet Were Made for Walking
Part 3: Planning for Medical Issues & Emergencies
Part 4: Travel Backpacks for Kids
Part 5: Diaper Changing Prep 101

Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary

Today is Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 15-year anniversary! And it’s Earth Day, no coincidence. To celebrate this wonderful anniversary, I wanted to share some of my “vintage” photos of Animal Kingdom from years ago. I was very lucky to visit Animal Kingdom about a year after is opened, when my husband and I took our honeymoon at Walt Disney World in 1999. My pictures are truly vintage as they pre-date the wonderful photos of our digital age, and the grain is all real on these pictures!

Animal Kingdom entrance 1999

Animal Kingdom entrance 1999

Standing in front of Tree of Life

Standing in front of Tree of Life

Kilimanjaro Safari jeeps

Kilimanjaro Safari trucks

Elephants on safari

Elephants on safari

Lion on safari

Lion on safari

Festival of the Lion King

Festival of the Lion King

While things in 1999 were a little less lush and green as Animal Kingdom was still growing, some things haven’t changed so much!

I have also included a link to an original Animal Kingdom Guide Map from 1999 which is so much fun to see! Click on this classic GuideMap cover to see the map of Animal Kingdom almost 15 years ago.

GuideMapCover

If you aren’t sure what has changed since it first opened, I’ve listed it out for you.

Animal Kingdom Additions:

  • Expedition Everest in Asia
  • Primeval Whirl in DinoLand
  • Yak & Yeti Restaurant & quick-serve
  • Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade
  • Finding Nemo–The Musical
  • Triceratops Spin in DinoLand
  • Fossil Fun Games in DinoLand & the big dinosaur
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Conservation Station
  • Habitat Habit! at Conservation Station
  • Affection Station at Conservation Station
  • Character greets at Conservation Station
  • Kids Discovery Clubs

Things that left Animal Kingdom

  • Pocahontas & her Friends show
  • Tarzan Rocks show
  • Donald’s Breakfastosaurus
  • Dinosaur Jubilee

Things that have changed into something new at Animal Kingdom

  • Safari Village became Discovery Island
  • Tusker House is now a character dining breakfast hosted by Donald Duck
  • Tarzan Rocks was changed into Finding Nemo–The Musical
  • Countdown to Extinction became Dinosaur (by name only)

Over 15 years, you would expect some changes to a theme park, but I think Animal Kingdom has made some great additions and changes over this time. Expedition Everest is one of my family’s favorite rides out of all of Disney World! One thing that hasn’t changed at Animal Kingdom, is Disney’s commitment to caring for the environment and animals, and making a positive impact with animals worldwide.

If you were lucky enough to visit Animal Kingdom when it first opened, what is a favorite memory you have of this unique and amazing park? Please leave a comment and share it with us!

Happy Anniversary Animal Kingdom!

Little Mermaid Diamond Edition DVD

LittleMerDVD

Disney just announced today that it will be releasing The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition DVD this October! If your kids are big Ariel fans, this is exciting news!

This new DVD will come in three choices: 3-disc Blu-ray Combo pack, 2-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack with Digital Copy, and 2-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack.

LMDE_REV_STIL0501.jpg_cmyk

New features on this re-release will include:

  • All-new music video
  • Disney Intermission
  • Deleted character
  • The Real Little Mermaid: Live Action Reference Model
  • Part of Her World: Jodi Benson’s Voyage to New Fantasyland
  • Howard’s Lecture
  • Classic DVD Bonus Features

LMDE_REV_STIL0307.jpg_cmyk

Official release date is October 1st and pre-purchases are available now.

For more information, here are additional ways to follow along:
Little Mermaid Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/DisneyTheLittleMermaid
On Twitter: @DisneyPictures / #LittleMermaid

 

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