Tag Archives: Disney World

Disney Waffles – we can relive the magic at home!

The kids were enamored of the Mickey Mouse waffles we had for breakfast at Walt Disney World.

Magical Breakfast, only $9 at All Star Movies resort at Walt Disney World

On a whim, I just searched Amazon for Disney waffle makers, and look what I found! Why didn’t I think of this before?

Feeling a bit slow now, but I think I’ll order one of these for our Ukrainian Christmas family present. Which one, though?

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The Princess version, in pink. Somehow, I don't think this will be as universally appealing in a few years as it is now.

Winnie the Pooh & Tigger – How cute is that?

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Or the classic Micky Mouse. I think this is our winner!

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ID bracelets add a level of security to traveling with kiddos

When Brian suggested we get oldschool-style metal ID bracelets for the kids when we went to Disney World, I thought, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?”

Simple and functional, and only about $10 each.

We both still have our identification bracelets from when we were kids, engraved with our names, addresses and phone numbers. Mine has a sunshine on the front. Of course.

We ordered bracelets for the kids from MakeMeThis.com. The fronts have their first name, the backs have Brian’s name and mobile number and my name and mobile number. We got both bracelets for about $22 including shipping.

We made the kids wear their bracelets every day on our trip. We talked about what to do if they got separated from us: hold still, remain calm. Our names and phone numbers are on the back of your bracelet.

We never had to use them in the parks themselves – Eric got lost one day at Magic Kingdom, but he was lost, not us. He didn’t seem to think anything was wrong with him wandering around on his own. We were frantically searching for him for hours minutes, and thanks to the awesome and professional cast members, were able to find him fairly quickly.

We did get to test the bracelets on our last day. Brian and I were busy packing up the room at All Star Movies, and since we were so close to the giant Toy Story structures, we let the kids play outside unsupervised. I know, you can judge us if you want. Our scariest moments as parents have happened when we’re in a hurry and not paying close enough attention to the parasites.

Brian got a call on his phone, some guy asked him if he was missing an Eric. “No…” Brian says, “He’s right here…”

Shit, he’s not right here. And he’s not right out there….

Eric had gotten turned around trying to come back to our room from the giant toys (50′ away, btw), and *crying* was looking all around for us. This man asked him if he was lost, and Eric nodded yes, and held up his wrist to show the guy his bracelet. Kid and parents reunited. We didn’t even know he was missing – how scary is that?? But the bracelet worked, dammit – it worked!

Anna doesn’t think her bracelet is very comfortable, but asked us recently what she should do if she’s lost and doesn’t have her bracelet on. So I may look into a girlier version that she’s willing to wear all the time. Not that the bracelet should replace her knowing our phone number, but it can’t hurt.

Here is a prettier version available, it just didn’t seem necessary for our trip, but I will probably get one for Anna before too long:

Prettier version, available via Amazon for about $30

Have you used identification bracelets when traveling with your kids to Disney World or anywhere else? Frankly, I feel safer at Disney World than most places – the staff there really is amazing – but I never want to be complacent about my childrens’ safety.

Safe travels,
~Krista

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Disney’s Art of Animation Resort opening Summer 2012 at WDW

It’s all about the swimming pool for this family. When booking any hotel or resort or vacation of any kind, I have to look first at the pool situation. My kids are water babies, and we all four love some play time in the water.

When we visited Walt Disney World in March of 2011, I knew the Parks would take precedence over the pools, but it was still important to have good pools for our downtime. Considering the possibility that this trip may very well be our only chance to visit Disney World, we chose to spend a few days at all three levels of resort at Disney World: Value, Moderate and Delux.

Obviously, I prefer the Delux! We were fortunate enough to get to stay at The Grand Floridian during the Disney Social Media Moms celebration, and it was amazingly wonderful. Just stunning, and lovely. Truly luxurious.

We arrived for the conference a few days early so we could get our sea legs, so to speak, and chose the Port Orleans Riverside for this leg of our trip. We chose a Moderate level resort for these few days for a couple reasons: we didn’t have park passes yet, and we wanted a fun pool experience. Plus it was a short boat ride to Downtown Disney, for which you also don’t need park passes. This resort was great for us: nice pools and amenities. In fact, the pool at Port Orleans French Quarter was our favorite pool at any of the resorts we stayed at. We did in fact spend a lot of time in the awesome pools there, so I know we made the right decision.

I highly recommend the Riverside. The food court was great, the pools were awesome, the rooms were nice, there was a nice running trail that I used each morning, and I liked being able to stroll or boat down to French Quarter to use that pool and grab some beignets. I’d totally stay there again, especially now that they are adding “Royal Guest Rooms” as part of the new Disney Story Rooms experience available at some resorts.

After the conference, we moved to All Star Movies, a Value level resort. The kids really like the giant statues from Toy Story, and the room was perfectly adequate (and a great price), but it was hard not to be disappointed in the amenities after spending a few days at The Grand Floridian. Particularly, the pool left a lot to be desired. It really just felt like a giant bland pool – no slides, no extra features. It’s too bad, because the Value price level certainly is appealing – but I know we couldn’t stay there again.

So I was delighted to see that Disney is adding a new level to their Value resorts! The new Art of Animation resort seems like a good solution to some of the issues we had with ASM.

Courtesy of Disney1. Three pools, with the Finding Nemo pool being the largest pool outside of a Disney Water Park. Awesome.

2. Family suites, for families with more than 2 kids, or if you’re traveling with grandparents or other family members.

Courtesy of Disney

3. More diverse dining areas. Though we had a fantastic breakfast at ASM, the food offerings really felt limited in comparison with the other resorts. Art of Animation will have more healthy options as well as specialty restaurants, such as a Mongolian Grill. My brothers would be thrilled. Maybe it’s time for a whole family vacay?

There will be four different themes at this resort, Finding Nemo opens first, on May 31, 2012. Cars, Lion King and The Little Mermaid will all follow throughout the year. The first three theme areas will be all family suites, and the Little Mermaid will have conventional hotel rooms (opening by the end of 2012).

This resort looks great, and I love that guests can feel like they’re part of the movies. Brian and I had so much fun at Toon Town in Disneyland when we got engaged, and we were looking forward to introducing the kids to that at Disney World. It no longer exists, but I think this Art of Animation experience will make up for that.

Happy Travels!
~Krista

I attended the 2011 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. Although we paid for our own trip to Disney World, the conference fee included 3 nights at the Grand Floridian, the conference and meals for me, several amazing meals for our entire family, park hopper passes for each of us, and some other fun perks. Disney did not ask me to write about this, and all opinions are my own.

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Better Than a Piggy Bank

We’ve been talking a lot about saving money lately, and my mother-in-law Judy even wrote a guest post about it. We are setting some easily-attainable goals for the kids, and encouraging them to earn money by helping around the house.

We have a few different piggy banks, a zebra bank, and a really awesome bank that my mother in law made for Anna when she was a baby. But I wanted a way for the kids to see how their pile of change was adding up, so I combined our love of making a mess doing craft projects with our need for new money vessels.

I jabbed a slit into the tops of two canning jars, and we started gluing things on! The key is to keep the lid free and clear enough to be able to open it up whenever we need to count it or when it's finally time to buy something.

We also made sure to leave a clear space on each jar so we could see the money adding up.

I tied the bow for Anna, otherwise she did it all herself. Eric wanted Lightening McQeen on his, since he's saving up to buy a specific toy car. Anna still is fixated on Disney World, so I'm trying to help her identify something more immediately-attainable to save for that she can take to Disney World!

What do you think? I’m really loving these jars. It seems more exciting to put the money in when the kids have decorated the jars themselves!

~Krista

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Learning to Save

This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at bmoharris.com/parents.

I am not a good saver of money. I have money, I want to spend it. It’s terrible. For this reason, I have set up all kinds of automatic savings processes thereby eliminating my ability to spend my money before it goes in to savings. Some comes out of my paycheck into retirement savings, some automatically goes from checking account to savings. So how does a non-saver teach her children how to save?

Fortunately for me, my husband is much more fiscally frugal/wise/conservative than I am – so that helps.

But here’s how we are helping our kids to understand the value of money:

• Piggy banks, everywhere • The kids have several piggy banks spread throughout the house. Whenever loose change shows up, we say, “Quick! Put it in the piggy bank!” Anna is saving up for our next trip to Disney World. I’m pretty sure Eric thinks his is going towards a robot.

Make comparisons and prioritize • When we’re out shopping and the kids ask for this or that, I ask them to read the price to me. We’ve even gone over to look at the prices of milk and fruit to compare.  Getting through a grocery store with kids is hard enough, so I don’t take this much time a lot, but it does help stop the constant refrain of, “Can we buy this?”  If I’m letting them choose something to buy, we talk about the expense and how long each item might last. Anna in particular is really impressive in her ability to put off an instant gain (small toy now) for something better (Disney World) down the road.

• Counting games with coins • The kids are really in to counting things!  We like to play counting games with change, and they’re starting to get the monetary value of each one. Not that coins will be terribly important in the future – don’t you worry sometimes that coins will go away? I’m not sure why I’m nostalgic about pennies, but I am.

One of our favorite stops at the Hollywood Farmers Market

• Let them pay for some things • Especially at the Farmers Market, where we are interacting directly with the producers. There is something powerful about exchanging dollars for honey with the person who produces the honey.

Why do I go to work? • At least once a week, little Eric asks me, “Why do you have to go to work?” {my heart breaks every time!} I used to just say, “Because I have to!” But for the last several months, I’ve been answering, “So we have money for our house and for food and to go on trips!” We’ve had a couple of lengthier conversations about it, because I think it’s good to normalize the concept that we need money to do the things we have to and want to do, and that we have to work to get that money.

I never say we can’t afford something • We are not poor. We are not rich, but we are not poor. We live in a wonderful house with the most amazing neighbors, in a city we love full of trees and access to nature. We have enough food and clothes. So no, we are not poor. If the kids want to buy something and I don’t, I don’t say, “We can’t afford it.” Instead, I say, “We’re not choosing to spend our money on that right now.” I just think it’s good to manifest abundance instead of manifesting need or want!

So what do you do to help your children save and teach them the value of money? This non-saver could use some additional tips!

~Krista

UPDATE: My mother-in-law wrote a guest post on this topic!
UPDATE: We made our own “piggy” banks
I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about BMO Harris Bank, visit their website http://bmoharris.com/parents.

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We went to Disney World and didn’t spend a fortune on food.

This is a repost from my original blog; someone recently asked me how to save money on food at Disney World. Here’s how we did it!

I was a little nervous about how much money we would need for food on our trip. We packed snacks, I pored over menus of the various restaurants throughout Disney World. I even bought a restaurant.com* gift certificate for Garden Grove, a restaurant at one of the hotels (but not where we were staying).

I’m happy to say that we found the food to be fairly reasonable! Yes, we could have easily spent a LOT more. But we didn’t have to. Here’s what we did:
Brought granola bars, fruit snacks and jerky from home. This was our snack foundation. Oh yeah, and vodka.  Brian walked to a grocery store from Downtown Disney (about a mile walk) to buy orange juice, bananas, cheese sticks and our very important cocktail fixings. The taxi back to our resort was $20, which we figured was totally worth it. The protein was critical. So were the cocktails.

Most mornings, we started the day with our snacks, plus coffee in our refillable mugs at the resort food court. The refillable mugs were great. They cost about $15 after tax, and saved us a ton over the week.

One note about cleaning plastic mugs: if you have a lingering odor from a previous beverage~even after washing~simply fill it up with hot water, let it set for a couple minutes, then dump it and fill it with ice water for a few minutes. Dump, and you’re ready to go. It works every time. I shared this tip at the beverage station almost every day. I felt like making signs to post to save everyone the eww factor of drinking lemonade that tastes like coffee.

There were a few days that we ate breakfast at the food-court/quick service restaurant at whichever resort we were staying. So much food! Check out this breakfast I got at All Star Movies, for only $9:

Eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, biscuit AND a Mickey waffle.

Most days, we found we were too busy to want to sit down for lunch, so we often ate the snacks out of the backpack as we went about our day, then ate a real dinner.

The kids meals ~ breakfast, lunch and dinner ~ were all only $4.99 each and offered two sides plus a beverage. This seemed consistent at parks and resorts, and the sides were awesome. Grapes, carrots, apple sauce… it was nice to have healthy options. Since we have two kids, we usually chose four different sides and split them all between the two kids.

We had heard about the T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney, and wanted to check it out because the kids are soooo in to dinosaurs. Arriving at 7ish, we found a 45-minute wait. But look! Just to the left was a new little place that sounded right up our alley. Pollo Campero offered a family dinner of citrus grilled chicken, rice & black beans, tortillas, and chips & salsa – all for only $19.99. Plus they had free wi-fi which is rather hard to come by at Disney World. We did make it back to T-Rex another day. We realized we hadn’t spent any money ALL DAY. Not a cent. So we splurged on a big dinner. We got there at 5ish, and walked right in – no waiting. Kids were thrilled:

I’ve got to say that the biggest dining surprise and delight came from Gasparilla’s at the Grand Floridian. We ate so well there! I’ve been craving this ever since I had it:

Grown up Mac & Cheese with LOBSTER. Yes, LOBSTER, and a lot of it! $9.99 at Gasparilla's

I almost couldn’t eat it all it was so much, but I somehow managed. Delicious.
Since The Grand Floridian is so accessible from Magic Kingdom, I’ve recommended to several people heading to Magic Kingdom that they take the boat or monorail over to the GF and have a nice dinner before heading back to Magic Kingdom for the evening.

It’s good that we were so prepared with snacks, but we almost had too much. Now that we know we can get reasonable meals, we won’t pack nearly as much next time.

~Krista

*I declined to buy a $25 gift certificate for $10, but then saw a special on MouseSavers to buy the same $25 certificate for only $2! How could I pass that up? We didn’t even end up using it, but I’m not too worried about giving up $2.

I attended the 2011 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Walt Disney World. Although we paid for our own trip to Disney World, the conference fee included 3 nights at the Grand Floridian, the conference and meals for me, several amazing meals for our entire family, park hopper passes for each of us, and some pretty incredible swag items to take home. Disney did not ask me to write about this event, and all opinions are my own.

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