Circle by Disney Review

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You may have seen ads about Circle by Disney and wondered what this is and what it is all about. After our family looked into it, we decided to give it a try and see if it could help in our house. You may not be at the point in your house where you have multiple electronic devices that everyone is using at different times, but our house has iPhones, iPhone Touches, a kid’s computer, laptops and iPads that our kids are on throughout the day. Sometimes these are used for school assignments but sometimes it is just for fun. It can be next to impossible to manage all of these devices all the time. That is where Circle comes in and helps parents monitor all of these devices.

Summer is coming…I know parents don’t want their kids spending summer doing this:

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At our house, we try to limit the amount of time our kids spend having screen time: television, iPads, games, computer…there are a lot of screens! On top of that, we want our kids to only have access to safe stuff and restrict online access. Circle helps with all this! Circle lets you manage content that your kids are exposed to AND the amount of time they spend online and on apps and games. And parents can manage it all from the Circle app on their phone.

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This is what our app looks like on our phone. Each person has a different age setting: adult, teen, kid and Pre-k. And you can set time limits and bedtimes for each age. So lets say your preschooler grabs an iPad and wants to play a game after their bedtime. If they try to log into the iPad after their set time on Circle, they encounter this page:

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Our family has had issues with managing time on devices. As hard as we work, it is really difficult and Circle is helping us really reign it all in. In addition to setting time limits and bedtimes, you can filter out things you don’t want kids to have access to as well as adults. While our kid’s setting doesn’t allow YouTube, the adult computers do so if they want to see an awesome Disney YouTube video, they can get permission from us to see it. This limits the chance of them clicking on something that we don’t want them to see.

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Parents can also get an insight on each family member and device on what has been played and viewed. What exactly is your tween spending time doing on her phone? What is your preschooler’s favorite game? And how long did they spend on that game or app?

The Circle device is very small and non-intrusive. This is it (minus the box):

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That’s it! Just that little white box and it can be anywhere in your house but of course, a central location is best for internet access. If you are interested in getting Circle for your family, you can purchase it from multiple locations including Amazon and Best Buy. You can also purchase directly from Circle by Disney online. All locations offer it for that same price of $99. If you want to read more about circle, visit the meetcircle website.

Start this summer off right by limiting kids screens and making management easy! We are loving how simple Circle has made this for us and how easy it is to adjust it from our phones. We highly recommend this system for families.

We did not receive any compensation for this review. All opinions are our own and offered by our own accord.

Travel Products We Love: Part 4

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We would like to share with you our next travel product that we love! It is the PiggyBack Rider! Do you have a preschooler who has outgrown a baby carrier backpack? But they get tired walking for long distances? And they don’t want to ride in a stroller or you don’t want a bulky stroller where you are going? We came across this dilemma recently with our preschooler. Our family likes to hike but our preschooler gets tired hiking for very long, and he is way too heavy and big for a carrier backpack. We discovered the PiggyBack Rider and it truly solved our problem!

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The PiggyBack Rider is a strap device that a parent wears and it safely hooks the child into the straps while they ride piggyback. There are straps that go around the child’s arms and then they latch into the straps on the parent. Then the child stands on the bar that hangs in the back. It is quite an ingenious device.

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We have used it on several long hikes and it has been great for our preschooler. He can get down quite easily and walk when he wants to. I did have to help my husband get him on the back but once they got in the swing, my three year old could climb in on his own.

We do have one note on the PiggyBack Rider. It does wear on your back for long periods of time, as would anything where you were carrying your child on your back. With that note, if you were going to use it at a Disney Park for an entire day, we would recommend NOT carrying your child for long periods of walking. It would be good at a Disney Park if you took breaks and the child rode on and off throughout the day. But if your back couldn’t handle carrying your child all day, then don’t plan on using this for hours and hours.

The PiggyBack Rider has also been popular with celebrity parents. Here is a photo of Liev Schrieber carrying his kids around town using it.

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If you are interested in learning more about the PiggyBack Rider, you can visit their website to view videos and see photos of how it works. You can also purchase a PiggyBack Rider on Amazon, which is where we bought ours.

Happy Travels!

For more travel products we love:

Travel Product: EasyLunchboxes
Travel Product: Mommy Hook & Walk-Along Stroller Handle
Travel Product: The Shrunks

A First-Timer’s Take on Disney World

Recently, the K family decided to take their very first trip to Disney World! They did a lot of planning and prep work including talking to us at Preschoolears. Since we believe that it is great to learn from other’s insight and experience when traveling to Disney, we interviewed them after their trip to see if they could offer some advice and tips for those families who will be taking their own first-time adventure to Disney World!

Interview:

PS Ears: What are the ages of your kids when you visited Disney World?

8 (almost 9), 6 and 2 (almost 3)

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PSEars: When did you visit Disney World?

October 13-19, 2013

PS Ears: Where did your family stay? 

We used our friend’s time share discount and since we booked so late, we ended up splitting our time between two hotels – fun to explore different environs on our first trip, but in general not advisable. 😉 The staff made the transition as easy as possible, but we still wasted a morning. We stayed the first two nights at Animal Kingdom and the rest at Saratoga Springs – it was a noticeable difference.

PS Ears: Did you like the resorts as a first-time Disney experience?

We all preferred Animal Kingdom, not surprising given the price. It was pretty incredible and the rooms and facilities were brand new. The pool was amazing and they had great activities (animal viewings, movie nights) planned for the kids. The buffet was really tasty, plenty for kids and adults and got us all to try different foods from around the world – yum! And they had a quick-serve restaurant right next to the pool where you could stock up on breakfast items for the morning. We had a nice unit at Saratoga Springs but the grounds are HUGE! Required a golf cart to get to the front desk, such a contrast from Animal Kingdom where everything is at your finger tips inside the main hotel. The rooms were nicely updated but still had an older feel. Our unit in Saratoga Springs turned out to be right around the corner from Downtown Disney which was pretty fun – we didn’t realize it was a 5 minute walk until we’d already waited 20 minutes for the shuttle to drive us around the corner – ha! Know the lay of the land before you go. 😉

PS Ears: When you were planning your trip, what were some of the most important things your family wanted to see or do?

Magic Kingdom was a priority, having never been with the kids before. But we knew they would also enjoy the wildlife at Animal Kingdom and Sea World so we planned in a day at each. Rides were an important consideration, and minimizing wait times. Tasty food too – knowing we only had a week there I knew we couldn’t begin to do it all and didn’t want to waste time on anything that wasn’t truly magical! 🙂 Our kids had never been to a big amusement park, so we had no idea what they’d be comfortable riding, which made it more difficult to plan. But going in informed on what was available at each park and the intensity level of the rides was a huge help and allowed us to make quick decisions based on initial experiences. As a side note – my 8 year old girl loved it all, even the Haunted Mansion which I thought would freak her out! The 6 year old girl loved Thunder Mountain but nothing much more intense, and the two-year old did great on the Barnstormer, Dumbo and Tea Cup type rides.

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PS Ears: Were you able to do those things or not, and were they what you would expect?

Believe it or not, I think we accomplished most if not all of our bucket list! Not to say there aren’t things I would change next time we go, but we did pretty much everything we’d planned to do. Knowing we wouldn’t come close to doing it all, we tried to sample a little of everything and I’d say we were able to do that, plus some! I didn’t expect to do the bigger rides more than once, but with the MagicBand fast passes and Rider Switch passes, plus closing down the Magic Kingdom at midnight at the “Not So Scary Halloween Party,” we were able to do Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, and a few other favorite rides 5 or 6 times! I was actually surprised my 8 year-old was up for the bigger rides, definitely made the experience more fun, especially for my husband. Everything else was pretty much as predicted.

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PS Ears: What was the hardest part of planning a first-time trip to Disney World?

I think the hardest part of planning for us was the quantity of information – there are endless opportunities in Orlando! And learning the Disney systems and lingo, e.g. fast passes, Rider Swap passes, MagicPlus bands, etc. Also, I’m a very visual person and not having been there in almost 30 years, a lot has changed! Even having all of the information on paper beforehand it was hard for me to visualize our visit and get things completely nailed down. I made a lot of night-before changes to our plans. The Disney Experience app was perfect for that and allowed us to avoid most of the waiting.

PS Ears: What were some good things that you didn’t expect or plan for?

One unexpected highlight was Enchanted Tales with Belle – by nature of the experience, it’s always a LONG wait and we never could seem to hit it right, even first thing in the morning. We were able to sneak in at the very end of the night (11:30 p.m., when everyone else had given up and gone to bed I’m sure!) at the Halloween Party and had little to no wait. It was our very last ride of the trip and it truly was enchanting. The girls loved participating in the story and getting to meet Belle up close and personal!

The kids ages were perfect – no one was too old to really experience the magic (not even the adults) and the 3 year old was just old enough to experience a fair amount of the rides. And he took a daily snooze in the stroller with Nana – invaluable to have grandparents tag along!!

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I sent my hubby on a few missions to book straight to the back of the parks to be first in line – backfired at the Safari ride because he got so far ahead we couldn’t weave through to find him! But we still waited a fraction of the time in the end. 🙂

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PSEars: What were some bad things that you didn’t expect or plan for?

We didn’t enjoy Hollywood Studios quite as much as we thought we would – well, save our 9 year-old. She still talks about the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n Roller Coaster! Our 6 year old talks about the coaster in a very different light – she begged to go on and the poor thing was terrified. I had become a little too lax by that point I guess – knew in the first “zero-to-60” second that she was going to hate it. She’ll never forget! 🙂 The Little Mermaid experience and Nemo were both fun but I couldn’t get the kids excited about the Disney Junior stuff – they didn’t love the character element anywhere we went. That was actually helpful at times in that we didn’t waste fast passes waiting to get autographs. 🙂

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I am bummed we missed the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique because my girls were at the perfect age to enjoy it. Also wish we’d have booked early for the Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table character dinners. We were able to still dine in Belle’s castle by getting in line at 10 a.m. for the 10:30 opening – we were about the fifth family in line – and eating an early lunch / snack. I was glad we used one Fast Pass to meet Snow White and Rapunzel – the girls (and my Mom and Dad!) ended up loving that part and we barely had to wait. They also didn’t care much about the parades – we saw a few shows and parades in passing, usually on our way to the rides!

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I didn’t like that you could only schedule 3 fast passes per day on the Disney app, but the most frustrating part was that if you cancelled a FP the day of – even if it was well before the scheduled time – you couldn’t schedule another ride in its place. As wonderful as the MagicBands were, they’re obviously still working out the kinks – there were a few rides we weren’t able to FP using the app and should have been able to.

PS Ears: What would you do different for your next trip?

If we went during Fall Break again, I would buy tickets to “Mickey’s Not So Scary” party, spend the day at the pool, then get there right at 4:00 as everyone was leaving to get the most out of the experience. As it was, we spent most of the day at the park, went back home around 2, didn’t get back out again until 6:30 and stayed until midnight.

Also wouldn’t book early flights (i.e. 7 a.m.!!), especially the day after staying until midnight at the park! Rookie mistake, and quite honestly we changed our mind so many times about the Halloween party that in the end Friday night was the only option left, but it was still worth it!! The girls did back-to-back rides on Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain – truly a highlight.

I might skip Hollywood Studios or plan a half day there, preferably morning – it was noticeably hotter there since they modeled it to look like LA with tall palms instead of the thick Florida vegetation. Animal Kingdom was actually the best for a hot day – lots of big shade trees and tucked away paths where you could cool down.

I would plan in more time at Epcot for the adults at least – the kids probably saw enough, maybe could have spent a few more hours there, but we were in such a rush and spent all of our time walking to and from the restaurant on the far side of the park – again, know the lay of the land. 🙂 My parents stayed an extra two days at Epcot and loved it. Can’t believe how big it is – a city! It was brand new when I was there 30 years ago and a fraction of the size.

I would make more of an effort to get out the door early and enjoy the opening show and short lines at the beginning of the day.

Would have taken more pictures with Disney Photopass photographers.

Might stay closer to the Magic Kingdom if possible, across the lake looked ideal!

PS Ears: What would you do the same for your next trip?

I’m glad we waited until October – it was still blazing hot! Supposedly it’s less crowded during that time – if so, I can’t imagine going during peak season. I loved the FP system – we were able to avoid almost all long waits! Also loved the grocery service – would definitely do that again. We also loved spending a day at Sea World – the kids loved it and surprisingly they had some of the best rides! I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

PS Ears: What tips would you give other families who are planning their first Disney World trip?

Check out Preschoolears! They have a wealth of information and honestly made the trip as wonderful as it was for us. I would have been lost without the volumes of information and tips they gave us going into the trip. With any type of travel, it helps to have someone “on the inside” – a local of sorts – to tell you what to skip and what not to miss. I certainly made some of my own rookie mistakes and gained knowledge from the experience that will allow me to plan better next time around, but I would have been totally blind-sided were it not for their help!

Fun

Showing Our #DisneySide

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I received free products in order to host the Disney Side @Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

The Preschoolears Blog was selected along with many other social media influencers and Disney-loving bloggers to host a DisneySide @Home Celebration. This was part of Disney’s new promotion this year asking people to Show Your Disney Side. This event was sponsored by Disney, American Tourister, HP and MomSelect.

I was sent a wonderful suitcase from American Tourister. It is a great suitcase with lots of room inside with pockets inside and outside. It is now my favorite suitcase. American Tourister is the official suitcase of Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland. They have great colors in their luggage which I love. Mine is purple, and I doubt I will lose sight of it on the baggage claim. They roll so smooth and they have spinner technology on the wheels for easy movement. Love it! And SO lightweight! If you are interested in checking out this suitcase, here is a link the product on Amazon.

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My kids love my suitcase too, and they decided all their favorite Disney lovies would take a trip in the suitcase!

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Inside our suitcase was packed tons of party supplies and goodies for our friends to enjoy at our celebration. Party supplies included plates, cups, napkins, tablecover, decorations, and Craisins. Goodies included an original Mickey and Minnie art poster, runDisney car sticker, runDisney signs and bracelets, HP Photo Card paper, Muppets calendars, Mickey cookie cutters, stickers, tattoos, recipes and games. Preschoolears added some yummy chocolate covered Mickey pretzels and Mickey pencils.

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We decided to have a Show Your DisneySide party where everyone could come in their favorite Disney tee and ears, and bring their favorite momentos and photos and such to share! Here is the invite that we designed:

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Due to child illnesses and weather, we postponed and postponed and finally had to cancel our party. But we decided we still wanted to show our Disney Side. And our Disney Side is all about sharing and giving. So once everyone was feeling better, we put together a fabulous goody bag with gifts from our pack and we shared everything with our other Disney-loving pals!

So we added more goodies to our bags! We packaged up the Mickey chocolate covered pretzels.

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We love to collect Disney pins at Preschoolears. I don’t actually trade them, but I love all the unique designs and I always get pins for each trip to remember something special. We purchased a batch of Disney pins to give to our friends, and we picked out special ones for each of them. Here are some of them:

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Since my favorite treat at Disney parks in Dole Whip, I included the recipe for homemade Dole Whip that Disney gave us in our packs. Each person received the recipe so they can make their own delicious Dole Whip-like dessert at home! If you would like the recipe for homemade Dole Whip, check out our Dole Whip post.

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We also included this print in a 5×7 so they could put it up at home to show their own Disney side. I put our print in a simple frame and I think it looks cute. If you would like this print for yourself, visit our Pinterest page.

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Everything we wrapped up in a cute bag with our Show Your Disney Side tag. We were ready to share the Disney love!

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My kids were so excited to pass this out to their friends! We all got in the Disney spirit with our favorite Disney ears and shirts. We piled into the minivan and drove to everyone’s house to deliver the goodies! We loved sharing our Disney Side!

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There are many people that were given the opportunity to show their Disney Side with this party pack, from hosting playdates to baby showers to movie nights. It has been so much fun seeing how everyone celebrates in a different way. We were able to share our Disney Side with some of our friends, and bring some Disney fun to their house.

How would your family show their Disney Side?
For more ideas on showing your DisneySide with a celebrations at your home, visit DisneySide Celebrations.com as well as Spoonful.com!

I received free products in order to host the Disney Side @Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Holiday TV Movies and Specials 2013

It is hard to believe it is December 4th already, and the Christmas season is fast upon us! We have put together a easy to follow list of all the holiday specials and movies on TV this season including the new Disney Junior Christmas episodes for your favorite shows. This list isn’t all-inclusive as some movies are showing multiple times throughout December. If something is only showing once, I have it on the calendar. I also did not include the Disney Channel holiday shows as they are playing quite often in December (i.e. Jessie, Good Luck Charlie, Shake It Up…)

Click on the below images to download the printable version. Get your DVR ready to record some wonderful Christmas fun this December! Enjoy!

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