Archives for February 2014

Disney Parks Update & News

Here is the latest scoop and news from the Disney Parks!

24 Hours of Disney Fun

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Disney announces another 24-hour event at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom as part of their #DisneySide promotion this year. From 6:00 AM to 6:00 AM, May 23 to May 24, 2014, guests are invited to dress up for the occasion and join a gathering of Disney heroes and villains for 24 hours of fun and follies—along with a selection of beloved attractions, popular shows and classic entertainment only Disney can bring to life. So come as a prince, princess or pirate; a monster, a mermaid or even a Mad Hatter—whatever rocks your Disney Side! Also, enter to win a free trip by tweeting how you will “rock” your Disney Side and use the #DisneySideSweepsEntry.

Walt Disney World

Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Debut Announced: The new daytime spectacular, “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade”, will make its debut at Magic Kingdom Park on Sunday, March 9, at 3:00pm. From Frontierland to Main Street, the streets will come alive with music, dance, color and character in this celebration of Fantasyland. The cast of over 100 characters and performers includes such favorites as Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, Anna, Elsa and more; plus Maleficent in the form of a colossal clockwork dragon. This daytime parade will feature an original theme song and score by Composer Mark Hammond, who previously worked on “World of Color” at Disney California Adventure and the “Flights of Fantasy” parade at Hong Kong Disneyland.

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Disney Ticket Price Increased on Feb 23 2014: Walt Disney World raised ticket prices by $4. A 1­-day ticket to Magic Kingdom now costs $99 for adults and children 10 and up. A 1­-day ticket for Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios is now $94. While multi­day tickets also increased, remember that the more days you purchase, the less expensive the per day price becomes.

Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival presented by HGTV Begins: The 21st annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival opens March 5 and runs through May 18 – that’s 75 days to take it all in. Last year was the first year that food starred alongside the flowers, and this year 11 Outdoor Kitchens debut around World Showcase Lagoon, each with an artful produce and herb­raised garden bed that showcases something that you can taste in the dish they’re offering, say, corn at the Florida marketplace, or pineapples in Japan.

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Star Wars Weekend Changes Announced: Star Wars Weekends continues to be a popular annual event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, with special entertainment offerings and appearances by “Star Wars” characters and celebrities throughout the park. This year, Disney has introduced several new experiences during “Star Wars” Weekends, including a nightly event featuring “Star Wars” characters and a “Symphony in the Stars” fireworks spectacular. The widely popular Hyperspace Hoopla will not be returning this year. In order to allow more guests to join the fun, a 5th weekend is now being added to “Star Wars” Weekends 2014. The new event dates are every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 16–June 15, 2014. James Arnold Taylor will return as the event’s official celebrity host. Taylor, a Star Wars Weekends fan favorite, is the voice of hundreds of animated characters, including Obi­Wan Kenobi on “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”

Epcot International Food & Wine Festival to Be Extended in 2014: This week, Disney announced that the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will run a record 53 days, from September 19 – November 10. That’s a whole extra week to take in the marketplaces, cool concerts and some very special dinners.

Disney’s Polynesian Resort to See Changes During Construction: Upon arrival to Disney’s Polynesian Resort, guests will notice Disney is working on refurbishing areas of the Resort, including the Great Ceremonial Hall, Sunset Pointe, The Never Land Club, portions of the beach and Capt. Cook’s. Sunset Pointe and portions of the beach have already been closed for several months. The Never Land Club has been closed since Jan 28 and will reopen on April 28. Beginning March 28, Capt. Cook’s will be temporarily relocated. The newly refurbished location is expected to reopen this summer. In the interim, Guests will be able to visit Capt. Cook’s as a temporary quick­service dining location in the Great Ceremonial House. Capt. Cook’s will have modified operating hours and menu items in its temporary location (6:30am – 4am). Dole Whip will not be available at the temporary location. As for the Great Ceremonial House, rumored plans involve the removal of the water feature in the lobby to provide more expansive views.

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Celebrate Mardi Gras at Downtown Disney: House of Blues Orlando at Downtown Disney West Side will celebrate Mardi Gras March 1­4, 2014. Stop By and Join the Festivities including food and drink specials, free live music on The Front Porch, beads and masks, daily Happy Hour 11:30am – 5:00pm & 10:00pm – Close and free live music in the restaurant Saturday, March 1 at 10:30pm.

Celebrate Mardi Gras at Disney’s Port Orleans ­Riverside and French Quarter Resorts: The annual Mardi Gras Celebration takes place on March 4 at Disney’s Port Orleans resorts. Each year, Cast Members decorate carts and conduct a parade starting backstage and continuing through the guest areas. This year, the pargo parade kicks off at 1:30 p.m. and will proceed through Riverside to French Quarter and back to the Cast Service Building with Princess Tiana leading the parade! And, you may even get to see a Disney character out and about during the Cast event. Guests are invited to watch and cheer for the Mardi Gras parade as it passes through the resort. This year’s parade is themed to the holidays, and each Cast department has picked a special holiday to represent.

Valet Parking Test at Downtown Disney: Downtown Disney valet service opens early at 2:30 p.m. (closing at 2 a.m.) as part of a temporary test of Guest demand, Feb. 22–­March 23. Guests wishing to valet park their vehicles should enter through Downtown Disney Entrance 4. The cost is $15, collected at the time of vehicle pick­up. Gratuity is accepted. As a courtesy, a text message indication service is offered as an option for Guest vehicle pickup. Guests can also call or visit the valet parking booth outside of Cirque du Soleil.

Changes to Pathways at Magic Kingdom: Starting Sunday, Feb. 23, the waterways around Cinderella Castle will be temporarily drained so routine maintenance and other planned work requiring equipment in the moat area can be performed. Some areas around the Hub are currently blocked for pathway changes and maintenance including a large area near Casey’s corner.

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Boat Rentals Discontinued at Certain Resorts: Beginning March 2, Guests will no longer be able to rent watercraft from the marinas at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­ Riverside, Disney’s Old Key West Resort, or Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. The operating hours for bike rentals at Port Orleans Resort ­Riverside will now be 10 a.m.–5 p.m. The operating hours for bike rentals at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will now be noon­–5 p.m. All other recreation offerings, including the Islands of the Caribbean Pirate Cruise will continue to operate as normal.

Photo courtesy of PixieDustDaily.com

Photo courtesy of PixieDustDaily.com

Atlanta Braves Spring Training Returns to ESPN Wide World of Sports (Feb 26–­Mar 26): The Atlanta Braves are having their 17th straight spring training at Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The team opens its spring home game schedule on February 26 against the Detroit Tigers. Braves spring training games at Walt Disney World Resort are, of course, unlike any other spring games. There are fireworks during the singing of the National Anthem at various games, Disney character appearances, and kids are invited down onto the field to run the bases after each game. That’s why we call it America’s most magical pastime. Fans can get more information and purchase tickets at www.espnwwos.com/atlantabraves or at the ballpark box office. Annual Passholders can get access to the Passholder suite on “Passholder Suite Days” which are Sunday, March 2, 2014 vs. the Detroit Tigers and Saturday, March 8, 2014 vs. the Miami Marlins.

Reminder! 2014 Pro Soccer Classic from Feb. 19 to March 1: The MLS and Orlando City Soccer Club return to the Walt Disney World Resort for the 2014 Pro Soccer Classic from Feb. 19 to March 1. This action­packed event gives fans an up close and personal look at their favorite hometown club as they square off against their future MLS rivals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, home to Orlando City Soccer in 2014. Single and multiple session passes are on sale and parking is free!

Closures and Refurbishments*

Magic Kingdom

  • Splash Mountain Jan. 6–Mar. 21, 2014
  • Splashdown Photos Jan. 6–Mar. 21, 2014
  • Liberty Square Riverboat Jan. 21-30, 2014
  • Monorail ­ MK Express Jan. 21–Mar. 21, 2014
  • Pinocchio’s Village Haus Feb. 17–Mar. 30, 2014
  • The Plaza Restaurant Feb. 17–Mar. 15, 2014
  • Tip Board Merchandise Cart ­ Closing Permanently Feb. 26, 2014
  • Big Thunder Mountain April 7-9, 2014
  • Pirates of the Caribbean April 28–May 1, 2014

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Backlot Tour Jan. 5–Mar. 1, 2014

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

  • Festival of the Lion King Jan. 6, 2014–summer
  • Camp Minnie­Mickey Jan. 6, 2014 – permanent closure

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park

  • Closed for annual refurbishment Dec. 22, 2013–Mar. 17, 2014

Disney’s All Star Sports Resort

  • Sports ­ Resort Lobby Construction Feb. 17–March 8, 2014
  • Game Point Arcade ­closed due to Lobby/Corridor work – Feb. 17–March 8, 2014

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas

  • Lobby Decorative Shield Rehab ­Construction between 9:00am and 5:00pm, Mar. 10-14, 2014

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas ­ Kidani Village

  • Uwanja Camp ­ Kiddie Pool Wet Deck ­- Only wet deck is closed, pool will remain open Jan. 21–Feb. 28, 2014

Disney’s Boardwalk Villas

  • Villas Quiet Pool & Spa Feb. 10–Mar. 14, 2014

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

  • Bay Lake Tower Kiddie Pool Wet Deck ­ Only wet deck is closed, pool will remain open Feb. 10–28, 2014
  • Monorail: Magic Kingdom Resort Restricted Service – Monorail service will be temporarily suspended on weekdays between 11:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Buses and watercraft transportation will be available.Jan. 21–Mar. 21, 2014

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

  • Guest rooms and buildings throughout Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa will be refurbished starting in early January and scheduled to complete in August. Guest buildings will be taken out of inventory and will not be occupied by Guests while work is being performed.
  • Monorail: Magic Kingdom Resort Restricted Service ­– Monorail service will be temporarily suspended on weekdays between 11:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Buses and watercraft transportation will be available. Jan. 21–Mar. 21, 2014

Disney’s Old Key West

  • Gurging Suitcase Feb. 5-28, 2014

Disney’s Polynesian Resort

  • General Construction Dec. 2013–Mar. 2015
  • The Never Land Club Jan. 28–Apr. 27, 2014
  • Great Ceremonial House Lobby March–December 2014
  • Beach & Sunset Point Access to the east portion of the beach, near the Transportation and Ticket Center, and Sunset Point will be unavailable due to a scheduled refurbishment.
  • Some rooms in certain room categories in impacted buildings have been taken off the market during the renovation period.
  • Monorail: Magic Kingdom Resort ­Restricted Service ­– Monorail service will be temporarily suspended on weekdays between 11:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Buses and watercraft transportation will be available. Jan. 21–Mar. 21, 2014

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­ French Quarter

  • Doubloon Lagoon Pool transportation will be provided for Guests to swim at Ol’ Man Island Pool at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­ Riverside Jan. 13–Feb. 28, 2014

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­ Riverside

  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­Riverside will be undergoing roof construction on building 90 starting Jan. 13. The construction is estimated to continue through the end of February.

Downtown Disney® Area

  • Cap’n Jack’s Marina ­ Closed
  • Parking Lots H,I,J,K Closed
  • Fuego – closed
  • Wetzels Pretzels ­closed 10/20/13
  • Team Mickey Athletic Club Jan. 27–Jun. 13, 2014
  • Reopening as Marketplace CoOp Late Spring
  • Bridge between the West Side and Pleasure Island is temporarily closed through this fall as work on The Landing continues. Additional temporary closures include the “top of the hill” on Pleasure Island and the nearby restrooms
  • Beginning Feb. 22, the Downtown Disney Marketplace boat dock will temporarily close. During this time, the Sassagoula River Cruise docking location will relocate to the Pleasure Island boat dock. In addition, internal boat transportation (Water Taxi) service for Downtown Disney Guests will only be available between the Downtown Disney Pleasure Island and West Side docks. We expect to reopen the Downtown Disney Marketplace dock this fall.

* All closures and refurbishments are subject to change. Please check with Disney to confirm dates if these occur during your vacation.

Disneyland

runDisney Announces a New Avengers ­themed Half Marathon: runDisney is expanding its portfolio of race weekends, adding a new Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA, to debut Nov. 14­-16, 2014. The new three­-day race weekend will involve kids’ races, a 5K and a half marathon, plus several family­-friendly events such as a Health & Fitness Expo and a pre­race Pasta in the Park Party. Registration opens March 25 at www.runDisney.com.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Refurb Progress: Hold on to your hats and glasses! Big Thunder Mountain Railroad has been closed for a refurbishment since early January. Soon Cast Members and Imagineers will begin testing the attraction before it reopens to guests with an upgraded track, updates to the ride vehicles and restoration of the historic Rainbow Ridge Mining Town.

Alice in Wonderland and The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Disneyland Resort to Close Temporarily Beginning in March: Alice in Wonderland at Disneyland park will close at the end of the operating day on March 9 for an extended refurbishment. In addition to routine maintenance, minor changes will be made to the exterior of the attraction. Alice in Wonderland is scheduled to reopen summer 2014. At Disney California Adventure park, The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure will close at the end of the operating day on March 19 for maintenance, and is scheduled to reopen in late spring.

Triple Chocolate Gourmet Candy Apple Debuts in March: Each apple has been dipped in creamy caramel and enrobed in sweet milk chocolate. They’ve added a mixture of white and semi­sweet dark chocolate chips all around it and then topped it off with drizzles of white, milk and dark chocolate. Look for it at Candy Palace on Main Street, U.S.A., in Disneyland park; Trolley Treats on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure park; and Marceline’s Confectionery in the Downtown Disney District.

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‘Countdown to the Oscars’ Special Airs Feb. 27 Featuring Military Heroes at Disneyland Resort: Earlier this month, Disneyland Resort cast members cheered the arrival of dozens of military heroes — accompanied by film star Gary Sinise — to the Disneyland Resort as part of a week of surprises arranged by the actor’s foundation in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the film, “Forrest Gump.” The servicemen and women, who arrived from Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Fort Belvoir and Naval Medical Center San Diego, visited several Southern California landmarks. They were honored at the Disneyland Resort during a special flag retreat ceremony. Parts of their trip will be aired on ABC during a “Countdown to the Oscars” special Feb. 27. The special will offer viewers a backstage pass to this year’s 86th annual Academy Awards celebrating movie heroes and include interviews with this year’s nominees. Tune in to see what other surprises were in store for this group of heroic Americans!

Closures and Refurbishments*

Disneyland

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed January 7, 2013–March 31, 2014
  • Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage – closed January 6–September 26, 3024
  • it’s a small world – closed January 21–April 9, 2014
  • Splash Mountain – closed January 21–February 28, 2014
  • Tomorrowland Terrace – closed February 18–March 6, 2014
  • Disneyland Railroad – closed February 24–March 7, 2014
  • Mark Twain Riverboat – closed February 24-28, 2014
  • Alice in Wonderland – closed March 10–July 3, 2014
  • Indiana Jones Adventure – closed March 17–May 8, 2014

California Adventure

  • bluesky Cellar – closed November 25, 2013–June 30, 2014
  • Redwood Creek Challenge Trail – closed January 6–February 27, 2014
  • Hyperion Theater – closed January 21–February 20, 2014
  • Soarin’ over California – closed February 24-27, 2014
  • Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train – closed Mar 3-6, 2014
  • Mickey’s Fun Wheel – closed Mar 3-6, 2014
  • Ariel’s Underwater Adventure – closed March 20–May 9, 2014

Disney Deals 2014

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Everyone likes a deal, especially on a Disney vacation! We will post here throughout the year with updates on deals and discounts, so bookmark the page and follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with the latest news!

Disney World

Free Memory Maker to Cherish Your Disney World Moments Deal:  Imagine capturing your favorite pictures from your Disney World vacation!  You can do that with Disney’s Memory Maker. Book a package from August 15-September 30 for at least 3 nights with 2-Day tickets and get the new Memory Maker free. Prices start from just $899 plus tax for a family of 3 at a Disney Value Resort.

Save up to 30% on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels:  Savings apply for stays most nights March 14, 2014 – April 12, 2014 and April 20, 2014 – June 15, 2014. Upgrade to a room and ticket package with a minimum 4-day Magic Your Way Ticket and get one more ticket day FREE!  Visit Destinations in Florida for more details.

Florida Resident Rates:  Florida Residents can take advantage of great rates on rooms at select Disney Resorts hotels for stays through May 29, 2014.  Plan a winter getaway to Disney or a Spring Break trip to the Disney Water Parks.  Book today with this incredible deal, just for Florida Residents.

Military Discount:  Active duty and retired members of the US military can get specially discounted rooms at Disney Resort most nights through September 27th, 2014.

runDisney Deals: If you are signed up for a runDisney race at Disney World, you can receive a 20% discount on your stay at select Disney resort hotels. For the upcoming Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler in October, Destinations in Florida is offering an even greater discount on rooms at select resorts (All-Star Music, Port Orleans Riverside and Wilderness Lodge) from October 1-6, 2014 plus discounted park tickets!

Great Perks for your Walt Disney World Vacation at Destinations in Florida

Disneyland

Save Up to 25% on Rooms at a Disneyland Resort Hotel:  Save up to 25% on rooms at a Disneyland Hotel most Sunday through Thursday nights through April 10, 2014.  Book by March 6, 2014.

Disney Cruise Lines

Special Rates for Florida Residents and US Military:  Take advantage of special deals from $135 per person per night plus tax/port charges for Florida Residents and active/retired United States Military. Special cruises are available for select dates in February.

Last Minute Restricted Deals:  If you are flexible about the location of your stateroom and willing to book last minute you may be able to save BIG! Disney offers Restricted Guarantee rooms 15-60 days before departure dates, sometimes just a few days before departure. These are very restricted and with many rules, but if you are not picky you can save up 40%.

New!  Canadian Resident Deal:  If you are a Canadian Resident, you can enjoy 20% off select rates on the May 24, 2014 Alaska sailing departing from Vancouver, Canada.  Take advantage of this special deal, just for you!

Aulani, Hawaii

Get a Free Night and Free Breakfast:  For a limited time, when you purchase a minimum 4-night stay at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, you’ll get the 4th night free – including breakfast daily for two adults at the new Ulu Cafe.  This discount is good for most stays through April 7, 2014.

Get up to a $500 Room Credit to Spend During Your Visit:  Book a 1 or 2-Bedroom Villa from April 23-June 16, 2014 and receive up to a $500 resort credit for a 4-Night vacation.  Book a Deluxe Studio or regular room for 4 nights and receive a $400 resort credit.

Other Orlando Deals

Universal Orlando Resort Discounts

4th Night and 3rd Day Free:  Book a Universal Partner hotel for 3 nights with a 2 Day Base ticket and receive your 4th night and 3rd day at the parks for FREE!

Save up to $500 on your Universal Package:  Stay at one of the Universal Hotels including Cabana Bay Hotel, Royal Pacific Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel with tickets and save up to $500 on your package.  Now is the time to visit the movies at the Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal 1-Day or 2-Day Pass with Shuttle Transportation for 2014:  Take a day away from the Disney World Parks to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!  Book a 1-Day or 2-Day Pass to Universal Studios with shuttle transportation included in the ticket.  This special ticket is only available with select companies including Destinations in Florida.

“Take 2” Transfer:  If you do not want to rent a car during your Orlando vacation, take advantage of the new “Take 2” Transfer ticket for only $39 per person.  This transfer includes transportation from a Disney Resort hotel to Universal Orlando Resort for a Universal Studios vacation.  After your Universal vacation, the transportation takes you back to the Orlando International Airport.

Sea World Discounts

Expedition Antarctica at SeaWorld:  Experience the Freeze! Package includes free Quick Queue (front-of-the-line) at SeaWorld’s Antarctica:  Empire of the Penguin™, dining at the Expedition Café, a free photo and a third hotel night FREE!

Orlando Attraction Ticket Discounts

Kids Eat Free Card:  Save money on over 100 different restaurants in Orlando from the quick serve restaurants like McDonald’s to sit down restaurants like Nascar Cafe at Universal CityWalk.  Purchase the Kids Eat Free Card and receive a free child’s meal with any adult meal at select restaurants.  Click here for more details and to purchase this special card.

Kennedy Space Center Tickets:  Pre-order your tickets to Kennedy Space Center and save money with special prices.  Experience the Space Shuttle Atlantis, US Astronaut Hall of Fame, and more; just an hour from Orlando.  Click here to more details and to purchase tickets.

For a free quote and the best deals on Disney vacations, visit Destinations in Florida, and authorized Disney and Orlando vacation planner.

Easy Homemade Dole Whip

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One of the treats our family LOVES at the Disney parks is a Dole Whip. I will go out of my way to get one, no matter what! I just love it! Dole Whip is hard to find anywhere else in the world except Disney. If you have a hankering for some and you aren’t at a Disney Park, you can whip up some at home pretty easy, and although it isn’t exactly like the original, it is a close second!

DoleWhipIngredients

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen pineapple
1/2 cup milk of your choice
1/16 (pinch) tsp of salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice (optional)

Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. (The lemon juice does add a little lemon flavor, so skip if you prefer a pure pineapple taste) It helps to slowly add the pineapple so it doesn’t get clumped up.

Blender

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Once it is smooth, scoop or spoon into small cups and freeze for about 20-30 minutes. Then serve and enjoy!

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If you freeze overnight, it will be really hard when go to scoop it out. Let it sit out on the counter for awhile for it to soften, and either whip it back up by hand or back in the blender so it is the soft Dole Whip consistency.

With this easy, healthy recipe, you can experience your Disney Side at home anytime!
For more delicious Disney inspired recipes, visit DisneySide Celebrations.com as well as Spoonful.com!

Sofia & Jake Valentines

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Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and with four kids having Valentine’s parties at school, we are busy with lots and lots of Valentine’s at our house! Since we are big Disney fans, our kindergartner wanted to have her favorite Disney princess for her Valentines. We thought it would be fun for each of her “princess” friends in class to get to make their own Sofia necklace for Valentine’s Day, so here are our Sofia valentines. Each bag includes an elastic band for stringing, and purple gems, pearl beads, and purple and white beads.

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Now most boys in class don’t want to make a sparkly, princess necklace so we came up with a fun Jake valentine for all the pirate fans! Each boy gets a treasure of gold chocolate coins and Hershey’s chocolate nuggets. We found the cute pirate coins at World Market. Here is our Jake valentine.

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If you want to make these cute Valentine’s for your child’s class, click on the picture below and download the FREE printable! We love to give out free printables for everyone, so please enjoy and share!

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