Disney MagicConsidering taking a Disney Cruise for your Holiday Vacation this year? Book a 7 Night Caribbean Cruise on the Disney Magic and get a Bonus On Board Credit and 10% Discount on Shore excursion.  Check out this deal for a 7 Night Caribbean Cruise on the Disney Magic from $980 on CruiseDirect.com. Promotional offer is for US & Canadian citizens only. On board credit amount is per stateroom, based on price of cruise cabin price.

The links in this post are my referral links. Read my disclosure policy here.

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Disney Mediterranean Cruise: Rome

by Kristi on September 15, 2014

Italian Minnie Mouse Quite possibly my most favorite place on this planet, Rome is one of the many places you get to go when taking a Disney Mediterranean Cruise.  The port of call  where you disembark is Civitavecchia, and while a historical port itself, you will want to make the most of your time in Rome and for the most part, you will probably breeze straight through it.

Rome is one of the places where we decided to hire a private tour. This was nice for us because we were able to go in with another family (so total of 8 people) for a MUCH CHEAPER rate than any of the bigger tours (through Disney or elsewhere) was charging (I’m talking 50% less).  We had a van with driver (who spoke good English ~ not great, but good enough to tell us what we needed to know) and were able to pretty much plan our day according to what we wanted to see.   I would not have done it any other way!  Look at all we got to see: Pantheon

While on the cruise they would have information sessions on each port of call and areas where we could go. I found these very informative because they gave background information about things you might have wondered about but did not already know. For instance, the lady leading the information session on Rome was able to fully explain the meaning of the latin terms on the Pantheon.

Trevi Fountain

Because you are visiting an ancient city, be ready for scaffolding and refurbishments. When we were at Rome, there was no water in the Trevi Fountain.

the colleseum

Our tour took us to the Colleseum, but it was an additional ticket to go inside. We opted not to do this as our time was limited and we really wanted to see other areas. I would recommend that you purchase all of your tickets in advance to avoid the lines (cause the lines were CRAZY).

VaticanWhether you are Catholic or not, the Vatican is an amazing place to visit.  What I will say is this, be sure to watch the Pope’s calendar. He was there the same day we were so we had to adjust our trip.  It would have been great to see him, but we knew if we did see him, it would take the bulk of our day.  You can only imagine how the traffic is in and around The Vatican when the Pope is speaking so we wanted to avoid that at all costs and chose to go later in the day.

Two things about The Vatican (and other churches). One, we were told that women MUST cover shoulders and knees. Both my daughter and I did, but we saw a ton of people who did not.  Second, I would recommend going self paced through the museums as opposed to with a tour group.  From our stand point, we felt like the tour groups rushed through the museums only hitting on most popular pieces.  You will see soooo much more on your own.

What would you most want to see on a trip to Rome?

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Surviving Disney World with Preschoolers

by Kristi on September 6, 2014

Disney with PreschoolersTaking a preschoolers to Walt Disney World can be an overwhelming experience. You are excited, your preschooler is over-the-top excited and sometimes it can lead to total stimulus overload.  Planning your trip to Magic Kingdom in advance is critical to having a melt-down free trip! Here are my tips to surviving Disney World with preschoolers:

1. Decide which rides you want to make a priority in advance.  Understand that you can use the FastPass+ System, but it is not going to get you to the front of the line for EVERYTHING you want to do.  Make a list of your top rides, attractions and character meet & greets and understand that you probably won’t get to do it all.

2. Pack your day bag for Disney carefully.  Include things like Lollipops (which are great to have when a child’s sugar is running low), snacks that keep well like goldfish and pretzels, and plenty of bottled water.  I would also suggest bringing small activity books (get them from Dollar Spot at Target or Dollar Tree).

3. Bring along your own souvenirs. Kids can easily get hooked on all the merchandise at the shops through out Magic Kingdom. I would honestly avoid them all together and instead bring your own Disney souvenirs (small plush, t-shirts, toy, light up gadgets for night shows) to give to your child during your trip.  If you do want to get them a souvenir at Disney World, consider something cheap and interactive, like pressed pennies!

4. Bring or rent a stroller. The Disney parks are enormous; especially to a preschooler. If you make them walk the entire time, they are going to get overtired and grouchy. It is also the perfect spot to get a front row seat for the parade(s).  Strollers can also be a great tool to lessen your load as you can store your day bag! Believe me, it is worth the investment!

5. If your child wants to dress up, bring a change of clothes. Dressing as a princess might sound good early in the day, but by the afternoon, your little darling will be hot, itchy and sweaty. Sometimes a change of clothes can make all the difference!

6. If your child falls asleep in the stroller, let them sleep.  If that means missing a character, not being able to ride a ride, so be it. You and your child will be all the better for a little R&R.

7. Do your research before you go and pick your top rides and attractions best suited for your preschooler.  Pirates of the Caribbean sounds fun, but might not be the best choice for a child who is timid or scares easily.  As much as your child loves Lilo and Stitch, the ride goes black and there is a bit of a scare factor that preschoolers might find overwhelming. If your child is a thrill seeker, understand that there are height requirements for some rides. There are NO EXCEPTIONS.

8. Get an autograph book. Kids love meeting characters and autograph books are a great souvenir for them to cherish.  If waiting in lines to see characters isn’t your thing, consider a character meal where you can knock out several characters at once while eating!

9. Know where the bathrooms are at Disney World. This is crucial for those that are in the potty training years!  You will avoid accidents if you locate the restrooms on the map ahead of time and plan bathroom stops every few rides.

10. Tag your child. I know, no one wants to think of losing their child, but it does happen.  I love the idea of making a bead bracelet with your cellphone number for your child to wear. Also talk to your child about an action plan if they were to get separated (going to a Cast Member is best idea).

What other tips do you have for surviving Disney World with Preschoolers?

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Febreze NOTICEables for your Resort Room

by Kristi on September 1, 2014

febreze autumnFall is my favorite time to go to Disney World.    The crowds are minimal,  you can still go to the pool and get a sun tan,  and Magic Kingdom is decked out in autumn splendor.  The only problem is that once you are back at your room at the resort, you kinda forget that it is Fall.

One way to make your resort room feel a little bit like Fall is to bring along some Febreze Fall Scents. Whether you choose a spray or an electric diffuser, you can make your room smell absolutely amazing!   Can you imagine coming back to your room after a day at the parks and smelling Toasted Almond, Sugared Cranberry, Spiced Pear, or Vanilla Latte?

Febreze Fall ScentsSheSpeaks and Febreze sent me some products from the Febreze Home Harvest Collection to try out.  My set included a Febreze NOTICEables electric warmer, two packs of special fall edition scents and a car vent clip.  I have one plugged in my office right now and it has my entire downstairs smelling like a Vanilla Latte! I love that the scent is subtle, and the fragrance makes you think I have a pot of vanilla coffee brewing even when I don’t!

febrezeI can’t wait to take the other set (sandalwood & chai) on our next trip to Disney in a few weeks. I know it is going to make my room smell yummy!! As for the car vent clip, it is making my SUV smell like those yummy roasted almonds (from Blizzard Beach) I make in the crock pot during the holidays.

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Febreze

What scents make you think of fall?

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Disney World as an Educational Experience

by Kristi on August 31, 2014

Disney Educational ExperienceOne of the questions I get asked most often is how you can use a trip to Walt Disney World as an educational experience. We often think that Disney is just a place for fun (and it is!!) but it also has many attractions and programs that are geared toward learning about other cultures, the arts and the environment.  Here is a list of some of my favorite opportunities for you to use your trip to Walt Disney World as an Educational Experience:

Animal Kingdom

  • Affection Section- Petting Zoo where kids can get hands on knowledge of gentle animals.
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch-  Kids can go to Conservation Station, an animal care facility featuring hands-on exhibits and Habitat Habit!, a trail where they can view animals in their natural habitat.
  • Discovery Island Trail- Kids can learn about different animals, birds and reptiles while viewing them in their habitat on a self-guided tour.
  • Wilderness Explorers program- Kids can learn about animals and their habitats and how to be a good citizen of the Earth.

Epcot

  • Spaceship Earth- Kids will learn about the history of important events during the history.
  • The Circle of Life- Kids can learn about conservation with this film featuring characters from The Lion King.
  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure- Fun way for kids to learn about energy (and how dinosaurs impacted the Earth)
  • Innoventions- Hands on ways for kids to learn about things like money, engineering and even home safety!
  • Living with the Land- Learn about ecosystems and how food is grown.
  • Caribbean Coral Reef Aquarium- See fish, sharks, dolphins and even manatees.
  • World Showcase Kidcot Program- Teaches kids about different cultures and how to say hello in different languages.
  • American Adventure- Kids will see such American figures as Benjamin Franklin & Mark Twain take them through the history of our great nation.  They can also hear about our nations musical tradition if they get there a little before the show.
  • Bijutsu-kan Gallery- In Japan, kids can learn about myths & legends of that country and how they inspired Japanese art of anime.
  • Flower & Garden Expo- Kids can learn about plants and flowers.

Hollywood Studios

  • Art of Animation Academy Studio- Kids can get hands on experience creating art.
  • Studio Backlot Tour- This ride shows how movies are filmed. It is probably more suited toward older kids.
  • Beauty & the Beast- Kids can get a true sense of the arts with this Broadway worthy production.

Magic Kingdom

  • Hall of Presidents- Kids will learn about how the constitution was formed, important American events, and here from past and present Presidents.
  • Carousel of Progress- This attraction takes you on a journey from the turn of the century til today. Kids will learn about how technology changed over time.

What ways do you use Walt Disney World as an Educational Experience?

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Disney Mediterranean Cruise: Villefranche

August 29, 2014

The first Port of Call while on our Disney Mediterranean cruise was Villefranche. Located on the French Riveria, this region includes Monte Carlo, Cannes, and Nice.  We choose to go on our own for the most part and visited Nice, Monte Carlo and Monaco.  While navigating  the train was a bit more difficult here (unless […]

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Frozen Collection on Sale

August 28, 2014

This is the time to stock up on all your Frozen favorites! Right now Zulily is having a HUGE sale on all things Frozen; I’m talking books, dishes, t-shirts and more! You’ll find just about anything Anna, Elsa and Olaf related! Stock is limited so order while you can. Here are some of my favorites:

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Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Pool

August 28, 2014

One of the best parts about staying at Caribbean Beach Resort, outside of the Pirate Rooms and Shutters, is the Fuentes del Morro Pool. This pool is set up to look like you’ve been transported back in time to a colonial Spanish fortress.   The Caribbean Beach Resort pool also features a ton of places for […]

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Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

August 12, 2014

Wondering what you might expect to see at this year’s Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party? Here are a few of my favorite parts of spending Halloween at Magic Kingdom: Halloween is such a special time at Magic Kingdom! You will find that the park has transformed into a Halloween wonderland of sorts filled with […]

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Sofia the First Comforter

August 12, 2014

If you have a fan of Sofia the First, you might be interested in purchasing this Sofia the First Comforter.  Sofia the First, Disney’s newest little princess, is based on the popular Disney Junior show of the same title.  Disney themed bedding comes and goes based on which character is most popular at the time. […]

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