The Small Pleasures of Disney World

Disney World is an wondrous place. Just think about some of the amazing attractions and the imagination and technology that it took to bring those experiences to life. Attractions like Mission:SPACE, DINOSAUR, and Toy Story Mania! They’re rides that we, even as adults, love to go on. And hey, that’s why we’re ok with spending some substantial cash to get in, right?

But we noticed a funny thing with the kids, especially when they’re younger, like Kyle – who started visiting Disney at 15 months (He’s also since been back at just 2 and just 3 years old)

Some of the attractions that we think he should love, he simply does not.  And even more surprising, he took a strong liking to some of what we us adults might consider to be the most boring parts of the park. He loved the Tomorrowland_Transit_Authority_PeopleMover, Brer Rabbit’s Playground (a hidden gem of a playground underneath Splash Mountain), riding the Carousel again and again, and the guns on Tom Sawyer Island.

I urge you to embrace the small pleasures your kids find in the hidden nooks at Disney and let go of the need to hustle and bustle to the star attractions. Take in the parade. Hop on the carousel ride with your kids. Dance in the Streets when you find an impromptu character dance party happening. Relish the small playgrounds your kids find in a hidden area of Disney.

Some of our most magical moments and memories at Disney are from the spontaneous joy the kids have found in the out of the way & little known attractions – that also have generally have zero lines and no wait time. Something that will please everyone in the family from birth to age 80.

Disney’s Pirate League – Pirate Makeovers for Boys

A big thanks to my great friend Kelly Cockshaw, whom I met at our childrens’ preschool. Her family just got back from Disney World, and she graciously offered to share some very fun activities that she did with her boys:

A while back, Colleen wrote a blog post about the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Downtown Disney.  Because I have two rough-and-tumble boys, she suggested that we try the Pirate’s League in the Magic Kingdom. It was a great suggestion! As soon as we entered the Pirate’s League, the cast members made the boys feel like they had joined a secret pirate crew. They were given real pirate names (“Ned Bladecutter” and “Joseph Bluefish”) and were transformed into their choice of pirate. With face paint, a sash, tattoo, eye patch, kerchief, earring and sword, they were then “sworn in” to the pirate’s league, and ushered into a back room for their pirate initiation and photo.

The price is very reasonable – $29.95!  Of course they have options to upgrade your pirate costume and accessories, but keep in mind you will want to buy the adorable picture they take, which is an additional $15.00.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your pirate adventure:

  • Make your reservations well in advance (407-WDW-CREW), especially if you have more than one child and want them to go at the same time.
  • Try to get an appointment early in the day, or later in the afternoon. Our appointment was mid-day, and it really interfered with us getting around the Magic Kingdom in a timely fashion.
  • Have the kids wear a plain, solid shirt – it will look more authentic under their pirate sash!

Tips for Taking Kids to see Mary Poppins on Broadway

If you haven’t seen Mary Poppins on Broadway, I highly recommend it. This was my 2nd time seeing the show and it has universal appeal for both children and adults. I love this musical and can’t rave enough about it. Here’s the inside scoop on taking kids to see Mary Poppins on Broadway – my kids ADORE this show and I’m sure your kids and you will love it too!

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Will my child like Mary Poppins? What age is best to take the kids?

Yes! The music is outstanding – especially as you’ll recognize most of the tunes so these updated Broadway renditions sound marvelous to me. Both my 6 year old and 4 year old were captivated by the show. How could they not be with Bert literally dancing on the ceiling and Mary Poppins flying through the entire theater? Incredible!

What age is best to take the kids?

Disney recommends age 6 – and remember, Disney knows kids.

However, Parents also know their own kids best and will definitely know if their children are prepared to see a Broadway musical. Every child has a different attention span and different interests. I took Kenzie last year for her 5th birthday and she was thrilled. This weekend she was 6 when we took her and she was even more thrilled the 2nd time just because she knew how much she was going to love it.

We also opted to buy a ticket for my son Kyle – who is 4 as he has been begging to see this show since Kenzie saw it last year. He loves the Mary Poppins movie and he does incredibly well in the movie theater. We felt that he could do the show but were skeptical about the 8:00 PM start time. So we had both kids nap in our hotel room from 4:15 -5:30. Thank heavens they were agreeable to this as they don’t normally nap anymore – but this nap proved critical to them both being able to stay awake.

Kyle did fabulous and was captivated by the entire show. We did buy him & his Dad the cheapest seats – $67 for the 1st row in the upper balcony – just in case he was too tired and they would need to leave. Mike said the seats were wonderful and he loved it.

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Tips for taking kids to see Mary Poppins:

1. Watch the Mary Poppins movie before your take your kids. Anytime we see a movie or show, we introduce the characters and the story to our kids first. This really heightens the enjoyment for the kids. Remember, kids LOVE repetition so the more familiar they are with the Mary Poppins story, the more they will get out of the experience if they know a bit about it before “showtime.”

2. Consider buying the soundtrack ahead of time to pump the kids up for the music.

3. Consider a matinee and/or the 7:00 PM showings for younger children so getting tired at a show that starts at 8:00 and ends at 10:45 won’t be a factor you need to deal with!

Where to Sit?

If you are confident your kids will love the show and are ready for a musical, go for the aisle orchestra seats on either the Left or Right side of the stage. Pick a row up close (say from A-M). There is a great incline in the theater too and kids can sit on a leather booster to give them a boost! It’s comfy and my kids love the boosters!

These Left or Right Orchestra front row style seats are about $118 when I’ve bought them. I sat in row J and G and loved it and felt super close to the stage.

If you are not sure if your kids will stay through the entire show or this is above your budget go for a front row Balcony seat for about $67. Balcony seats at Mary Poppins are FABULOUS! Burt Dances on the ceiling and Mary Poppins will SOAR literally with her umbrella from the stage to the Top LEFT hand side of the theater. As I’m no Broadway stage expert and do not know my stage terms, by left I mean the left hand side of the theater if you were on the stage looking out at the seats. Or think of it as the right hand side of the theater if you were in  seat looking at the stage.

My favorite part of our adventure…..Back stage at Mary Poppins!

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Disney is all about the magic and our backstage tour of the Mary Poppins Broadway show in New York City was fabulous. Literally we stood on stage in the New Amsterdam Theater, got up close and personal with the Mary Poppins set, and even had a special “archive” tour of all the Disney Musical props – from the Lion King, to The Little Mermaid to Tarzan to Mary Poppins and more.

Here is Kenzie in Ariel’s Bathtub from the The Little Mermaid. Kenzie could have stayed in this room for 2 hour as she literally was soaking up every single bit of it and wanted to learn about everything & touch and feel it all.

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The joy the children had – and the Moms – at seeing these props was amazing and I’m so excited that Disney will soon be sharing this fun with the public. Our tour was essentially a sneak peek of what will soon be a Mary Poppins Backstage Tour option that is rich in history and full of Disney Broadway musical mementos.

Doing a backstage tour before seeing the show was a big bonus as our tour guide gave me a true appreciation for history of the New Amsterdam Theater. The architecture was crazy awesome – especially considering the theater was built in 1903 at a time when there were only 5 miles of Paved roads and 10 registered automobiles in the USA. All materials to build this Theater pretty much arrived by horse!

The kids stood on stage. Looking out at the theater from on stage is beyond cool and a once in a lifetime feeling.

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Video of us backstage at Mary Poppins:

Lion King Masks! They let us try them on – they were incredibly lightweight as the actors in the Lion King need to be able to dance with them on.

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The inside scoop on the theater was priceless too. From ghost stories to tidbits on the architecture. Kenzie was most impressed and somewhat freaked out by the ghost story shared by our guide too – about a dancer/actress named Olive that is known to appear on stage to male night security guards in her beautiful green dress. She’s a beauty who had an untimely death. This nice ghost is harmless, but I guess it was Kenzie’s first official “ghost story” told to her by someone in authority so she is still talking about Olive!

Here’s Kenzie holding Mary Poppin’s umbrella and wearing her hat. We even held some of the “chimney sweeps” too!

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Disclosure: Thanks to Disney Parks for hosting Kyle, Mackenize and I for a backstage tour and Virtual Reality experience in Times Square. Disney also provided Kenzie and I with a ticket to see Mary Poppins.

As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I’ve paid to see this show before with Kenzie and we also bought a ticket for Kyle and Mike to see the show this past weekend so they could join in on the fun. I’m sure we’ll see it again as we’d love to make this a family tradition! This show is well worth every penny. Mr. Banks would approve :)

 

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Behind the Scenes at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Video & photo tour of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique experience in Cinderella’s castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. Maybe you’ve seen kids running around Disney with those tight princess buns or wild colored hair extensions?

Here is where it is done…and boys can book appointments for a knight styling too.

I highly recommend this experience as truly one of a kind. Here’s my tips:

1. Bring your own princess dress for the little girls and book a less expensive package. The cheapest package is $49.95. We book the $54.95 as it includes make up and nail polish – plus the kids get to bring home the polish and makeup palette as a souvenir too.  This package is by far the best value and in my opinion actually a steal in terms of the Disney experience.The more expensive packages will run you over $200.

2.  Book months in advance. Reserve the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the castle as your first choice. For my kids, stepping into a room in Cinderella’s castle is magical.  We wouldn’t have it any other way. The other option is Downtown Disney – which can be great if you are planning a day off the parks and convenient if you are staying at a resort further from the Magic Kingdom or renting at a non-Disney hotel or resort.

3. Boys can participate too. For $14.95 they have a Knights Package. This includes a sword and shield shown below and a spiked hair styling that can include a color gel application. I booked this for my 3 year old so he wouldn’t feel left out, however, he did NOT want to sit in the chair to get his hair done by a stranger. It wasn’t an issue for him being a boy doing girl stuff, as his big sis loves to play with him in dress ups and make up – but as a little guy the idea of getting his done in an unknown location just kind of made him nervous. So we just let him get “Knighted” and he loved the souvenir of his shield and sword.

4. If the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is booked, try the Pirates League, a salon located near the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. For both boys and girls packages are about $30 and include a ton. We hope to try this out on our next visit.

What a day for our little princess and knight. Kenzie loved it despite looking skeptical in her videos- as it is a bit overwhelming to have a stranger combing your hair into that magical bun.

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Our Disney Dream Cruise Vacation – Movie Style!

1st came the Disney Dream movie trailer….. Now, the full length mini movie.

It starts with a big bang.  It’s full of music and tons of footage. I promise  it will give you a taste of the pixie dust and magic that is all things Disney.

Starting off with fireworks this  movie shares all the excitement of our magical and whirlwind vacation on board the Disney Dream Cruise Christening Voyage and at Disney World Resort in Florida. We really do dream of Disney and can’t wait to go back.


Disclosure: Disney paid for my travel expenses on the Disney Dream Cruise Christening Voyage. All thoughts and opinions are our own. As you can tell we are obviously Disney fanatics :)

Tips to Enjoy & Survive Walt Disney World in the Rain

Yep. We tackled the Magic Kingdom in the rain. Actually, make that a total downpour!  This advice will give you some good tips & tricks to help you survive and enjoy your rainy day at Walt Disney World. The plus side of rain is that crowds are low and lines will be very short to non-existent. We never even needed to use a fast pass and never waited more than 5 minutes for a ride on our wet adventure at Disney World. And my kids (ages 3 & 5) never once complained about the rain – in fact I think they thought it was quite exciting & the rain poncho was quite a novelty!

1. Long live the Rain Poncho

When the rain starts to fall, you’ll start seeing ponchos pop up everywhere. We highly recommend using the Disney ponchos you can buy just about everywhere in the parks. They are $8.00 (as of 1/18/11) and if it rips or tears you can return it to any vendor in the park and get a new one free of charge.  They are available in both child & adult sizes. A good poncho is essential as you need a thicker material and the right length with a hood to keep you dry.

2. Pack extra socks

The poncho provides such great coverage you probably won’t feel too terribly wet. Even in the torrential downpours we were in, they truly offered excellent coverage. However, our feet were another story. I mistakenly only packed extra socks for the kids so my feet were soaked through my wet sneakers. The kids LOVED me giving them new fresh socks mid-way through our sopping wet morning at the Magic Kingdom and trust me I was wishing I had thought to pack socks for Mom & Dad too.

3. Bring a Towel

Yes, really pack a small towel. Besides possibly drying off yourself at some point, you’ll really want this towel if you have kids in a stroller so you can wipe down the buggy in between rides to be sure you are keeping the kiddos dry and comfortable.  And if the sun comes out later after a quick shower, you’ll love this towel to dry off a park bench so you can sit and relax to enjoy the sunshine – and hopefully dry yourself out too!

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