Archives for November 2014

Holiday TV Schedule

We have compiled all the holiday and Christmas TV specials and movies that start TONIGHT! We love watching all these fun classic movies as well as some new specials including Peter Pan Live! on NBC and a new Toy Story holiday short called “Toy Story That Time Forgot”. We have also compiled the new Disney Junior holiday episodes and some fun Disney Channel show episodes as well. If you click on the image below, it will take you to a printable image for you to reference for watching or recording.

Hope you enjoy all the fun holiday specials this season!

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A Family’s Trip on Disney Cruise Line

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One of our Parent Panel members, the N family, recently went on a Disney Cruise and I was able to interview them about their wonderful trip. If you are considering a Disney cruise, their tips and advice will help you plan your vacation! We asked LOTS of questions so keep reading!

PSEars: What cruise ship did you sail on and how long was the cruise?

We sailed on the Fantasy for a 7 night cruise. We went to the Western Caribbean – Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay.

I also want to add that we went in the middle of October. It is hurricane season, but the week we went was absolutely beautiful! I don’t think that we even really saw any clouds.

PSEars: What age are your children?

We went when my oldest was 11, my daughter was 9 and my youngest was 7. We also traveled with my 70 year old parents.  🙂  Everyone from 7 to 70 had a fabulous time!

PS Ears: What ports and destinations did you visit?

We left from Port Canaveral.  We went to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay.

PS Ears: For your family, what size room did you choose? Was it too small? Just right? How do you feel the space was for families?

We had such a wonderful room! It slept 5 with a fabulous deck. I was so impressed at the size compared to other rooms on other cruise ships. It never felt too cramped for our family of 5. The queen bed was raised up off of the floor enough for all of our 7 suitcases. There was a nice curtain that separated the 3 kid beds with the queen. The couch is one bed. Another bed comes out of the ceiling, while the last bed comes out of the wall. The room service is fabulous because they turn down the beds and then put them away in the morning.

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PS Ears: What would you recommend families do when they first embark?

My growing family would definitely say, “Eat!”  We went to Cabanas, a buffet, to make sure we had food in our bellies. After our bellies were full, we headed to the pool and the Aqua Duck. We were so excited about the cruise, that we boarded the ship as soon as we could. The food is open, but will close around 2:00. Then the kids would need to be content until dinner. You can’t get into your rooms until about 1:00 or 2:00, so make sure that you have what you need.  (You check all of your luggage before you are even on the ship, and they “magically” appear in your room.)

PS Ears: Did your kids use any of the Kids Clubs? If yes, which ones? What did they think of their experience?

Yes, my kids did use the kids club.  They could all use the Oceaneer Club.  My oldest son could also use the Vibe club.  They liked them.  There are so many activities for them to do.  Along with all of the things to do, there are also scheduled activities, crafts and games that are explained in the Navigator, which is the daily ship’s activities.

Mike

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PS Ears: What table-serve dining did you enjoy most?

As a family, we loved eating at Animator’s Palette.  The videos and decorations were very clever.

As a treat, my husband and I splurged and ate at Palo.  It is a flat rate added onto the cruise.  I think that it was around $25 per person.  I will be honest that I didn’t want to eat there.  I thought that it would be paying extra for some of the same food that the rest of the ship was eating.  I couldn’t have been more wrong!  It was so AMAZING!!!  The service was terrific!  –And the food, was out of this world!  I couldn’t decide between a couple of the appetizers, so our server just brought us everything that we wanted to try.  I don’t think that I have ever eaten so much, but it was seriously all so delicious!  I would highly suggest dropping off the sweet children at the kids’ club and enjoy an adult evening!

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Dining

PS Ears: What quick-serve dining did you enjoy most?

My kids loved having the independence to to go Flo’s Cafe.  It is right next to the pool, so they could just go grab a slice of pizza, a hamburger, an apple, with our needing an adult.  They also loved being able to get their own ice cream any time of the day.

PS Ears: What family activities on the ship did your family enjoy together?

The Aqua Duck closes earlier than the pool, but my kids loved to ride it at night.  After we would go to dinner, then a show, the kids would go to the room and get their swimsuits on to close down the Aqua Duck.  There was ever hardly anyone on the slide at night.  The huge screen at the pool is call Funnel Vision.  At night, it had on movies or popular sporting events.  My boys loved watching the Sunday, Monday and Thursday night football games!  I remember also watching Pirates of the Caribbean.

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One other random thing that we liked to do was a very quiet, little thing, but I will forever remember it.  Each day on the cruise we had a blast and played hard.  At night, sometimes we just needed to wind down.  We would order room service (because it is free, you just pay the tip).  We would get the “Admiral’s Plate” which was a plate with cheese, crackers and grapes.  We would also usually order a dessert or two.  We loved eating our munchies in our pajamas while talking about our day.  We would also be able to talk about the next day ahead of us.

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PS Ears: What shows did your family enjoy?

The shows that were offered were:  Disney’s Wishes, Buckets and Boards (comedy duo from Branson), Taylor Mason (comedy and ventriloquism), Disney’s Believe, A Magician who I can’t find his name, Disney’s Aladdin and Disney’s An Unforgettable Journey.

Everyone in my family LOVED Buckets and Boards from Branson.  They were hilarious!  We all went to the Disney productions, but my boys didn’t enjoy them as much as the magician and the comedians.

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PS Ears: Did your family add any excursions? If yes, which ones and what was your experience?

The only excursion that we did through Disney was at Grand Cayman.  We took an excursion to swim with the sting rays at Sting Ray City.  It was very organized.  We didn’t have to worry about a taxi or anything else.

I will say that we were going to do a Disney excursion in Cozumel.  We wanted to go to a beach, but to go through Disney was going to be around $300 for my family of 5.  Instead, I went online and did some digging.  I found many other beaches that we could get to on our own.

When we got off of the ship, we went where all of the taxis were.  It was an easy ride to the beach club.  We chose to go to a place called, Paradise Beach.  It has a great, large pool, and a large beach.  In the ocean, there were many large slides, trampolines, and other fun things to do.  My kids had a blast!

PS Ears: When you visited Castaway Cay, what activities did you experience? What was your overall experience on the island?

My husband and I love to do Disney races.  We found out that there was a 5K to start the day, and we couldn’t resist!  The kids went with Grandma and Grandpa while we ran.

After we finished, we rented a tube and a raft for the day.  It was a great way to get the kids in the water, and Grandma. 🙂  We actually brought our own snorkeling things, so we didn’t rent any of that.  We did snorkel, and it was fun to see all of the things that were put in the water.  We really just had a great time playing in the water and in the sand.  I wish we could have been there for two days.  It was so relaxing, clean, friendly, and the food was free!

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PS Ears: If you spent time at any of the pools, did you find them crowded? Were there better times to visit the pools? Which pool experiences did you kids like the best?

I mentioned earlier that we rode the Aqua Duck at night.  The pool is actually fairly small, so don’t expect to do a whole lot of swimming.  My 9 year old daughter did love watching the movie, Teen Beach Movie while swimming in the pool.  🙂  My two younger kids really liked playing in the Aqua Lab area. It is a splash zone with squirters everywhere.  They liked that almost more than the pool.  There was also a smaller yellow slide that my 7 year old loved.  He could do it independently, so he loved that.

PS Ears: If you have been on a non-Disney cruise, how did the Disney cruise compare with a non-Disney cruise?

I have been on two other cruises, and I really can’t even compare them to a Disney cruise because there is no comparison. Everything was amazing on our Disney cruise!

PS Ears: What things made your trip easier? (either things you brought or things that were on the cruise)

There is a daily paper called the Navigator.  The best thing is that there is an app for that!  🙂  There is no internet on the ship, but the Navigator app tells you EVERYTHING that is happening that day.  I had my phone for the camera, so the app was super helpful!

I also brought our own bottled water on board.  You can bring your own water on the ship as long as you carry it on.  You can’t check it in your suitcase.  The water came in handy for our on shore excursions.

Another silly tip is about the movie theater.  If you want a drink during a movie, you have to pay for it.  I would suggest getting your FREE drink by the pool and then taking it into the movie.  You aren’t breaking any rules, you are just thinking smarter.

For each room, you are also given 2 cell phones.  This was nice to have to keep in touch with kids on the other side of the ship.

PS Ears: What age of children would you recommend for this type of cruise?

Any age is going to have fun on this amazing cruise.  Personally, I would suggest taking your children when they might be able to do some things on their own.  I felt completely safe having my kids walk around the ship on their own.  My 7 year old was a little young, but he did great with his older siblings.

I always felt that they were very safe.  Each child wears a bracelet to make sure that they can’t do anything without a parent’s consent.  The kids didn’t like wearing them, but I felt comforted with them wearing them.

PS Ears: Are there any things you would do or plan different for your next cruise?

I honestly don’t think so.  The only thing that we toyed with was our dinner time.  We had the early seating, which was difficult to get 5 of us back on the ship, showered, and to dinner on time.  The other side of that is:  we didn’t miss any shows because we had already had dinner, and we were ready for the show.  If we had had the later seating, we would have missed the shows because we would still be getting ready for dinner.

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PS Ears: Any additional tips for families considering a Disney cruise or planning one now?

Here are some of my other suggestions:

My husband and I didn’t really want to spend money or time in the spa; however, there is a great alternative to the spa.  We bought a day pass to the spa.  This will get you access to super fun showers.  They are scented and lighted with different sized drops.  You also have access to 3 different saunas.  We could also use the hot tubs in the spa that were located by windows to see outside.  My favorite thing that was included was the use of the heated stone beds.  They were so relaxing!  The pass was about $15 a person for the day.  We did it the last day at sea.  We were actually able to escape to the spa 3 times during the day.

I love my wonderful children, but don’t forget to enjoy your spouse.  My husband and I were also able to get to the adult area for just a little bit, but it was very relaxing.  There is a lovely singer and guitarist.  The lounge chairs are so comfy!  It is so quiet!  You would never know that around the corner was crazy-loud with kids.  We couldn’t spend much time there, but the little time that we did was a breath of fresh air.

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Big Hero 6 Review

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Should your preschooler see Big Hero 6?

If that’s your question about Disney’s newest movie, Big Hero 6, then this review is for you. We took all four of our kids to see Big Hero 6 including our 3 year old. First let me say that every child is different as far as their exposure to movies and what they can handle. My 3 year old has three older siblings so he has been exposed to maybe more movies and shows than some 3 year olds. But he does get scared easily at movies that his siblings do not get scared at. With that said, he loved Big Hero 6.

All my kids, and myself included, loved Big Hero 6! It was a very cute and fun story with engaging and interesting characters that kids enjoy watching and want to emulate in a positive way.

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The story does handle the issue of death and how the main character, Hiro, has to deal with the loss of his older brother. This part of the story might go way over a preschooler’s head. Hiro has to find his way in life as somewhat of a child genius in the world of robotics, and wants to go to college with his older brother. His brother is caught in an accidental explosion fire, and Hiro takes over with his brother’s invention named Baymax. Baymax is designed to be a healthcare assistant robot. When Hiro’s invention of nano-robots are stolen by a masked villain, Hiro recruits his brother’s friends and Baymax to try to defeat him. Does all this sound confusing? It really isn’t in the story. The story is actually very touching and sweet, and I teared up in the end.

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As for my preschooler, he loved most of it. About three quarters of the way through, he started to lose interest which for a 3 year old is pretty good! He climbed into my lap as the bad guy was a big intimidating. But then near the end, he was back into the movie and was in love with Baymax. He understood some of the jokes and he talks about Baymax at home.

So if you are thinking of taking your preschooler to see Big Hero 6 during the upcoming Thanksgiving break, we would say “Go for it!”  We don’t think it is too scary for their age but as always, their attention span may be lost at times. My older kids absolutely loved it! So we would highly recommend it for school age kids!

If you will be visiting a Disney park soon, you can meet Hiro and Baymax! At Disney World, you can find them greeting guests inside The Magic of Animation at Hollywood Studios. At Disneyland, you can find them in Tomorrowland near the Starcade. My kiddos will be lining up for this one on our next trip!

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A Tribute to the Sorcerer’s Hat

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For those who haven’t heard Disney’s big news, they will be removing the Sorcerer’s Hat from Hollywood Studios sometime in the beginning of 2015. Dates have not been announced, nor has what will possibly replace it as the icon for Hollywood Studios. We actually have loved that hat, while we know others have not. But I wanted to pay photo tribute to an icon that has stood for many years. I hope we can get one more picture with it before it comes down!

In 1999, there was no Sorcerer’s Hat! You can see straight down to the Great Movie Ride. That is me in the horrible short overalls.

Hollywood Studios in 1999

Hollywood Studios in 1999

And then the hat was added…and Hollywood Boulevard changed!

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Our favorite pics with the Sorcerer’s Hat:

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The hat has served many guests well as a wonderful backdrop for pictures. We are speculating that Disney has big plans for Hollywood Studio, and we look forward to hearing about all the plans! For now, we will say goodbye to the big blue hat. We will miss it!

Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue

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Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue is flying into stores on DVD tomorrow! On November 4th, it will be available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo. This summer, this new Planes movie was a big hit in the theaters, as we watched the adventures of Dusty Crophopper as he joined the elite Fire and Rescue unit.

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The Blu-ray features high definition picture and sound, plus bonus features, including the all-new exclusive short “Vitaminamulch: Air Spectacular;” the mock-umentary promotional piece “Welcome to Piston Peak;” “CHoPs” TV Promo and “Air Attack: Firefighters From The Sky,” an exciting inside look at the making of the film featuring real-life smoke jumpers and firefighters. Additional bonus features include Spencer Lee’s “Still I Fly” music video, deleted scenes with filmmaker introductions, and two “PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE” shorts: “Dipper” and “Smokejumpers.” Exclusively available on Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) are the bonus shorts “Blade Ranger” and “Piston Peak.”

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Planes: Fire & Rescue will make a wonderful Christmas present, but I would understand if you can’t wait that long to watch it! Available now online or in stores on November 4th.

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