Walt Disney World 101 – Resort Accommodations

One of the most fabulous things about Walt Disney World Resort is the variety of accommodations they offer. Rooms are available at several different price levels with a multitude of themes to choose from.

No matter which Disney resort you choose, you’ll receive:
-free transportation between your resort and the airport (MCO)
-free transportation to and from the parks
-free parking at your resort and the Disney theme parks
-free wifi
-access to morning and evening Extra Magic Hours
-free merchandise delivery from the parks to your hotel
-access to Disney Dining Plans
-ability to make dining reservations 180 days prior to arrival
-ability to make FASTPASS+ reservations at 60 days prior to arrival
-MagicBands

Disney provides a handy comparison tool at this link: WDW Resort Comparison Tool

VALUE RESORTS

Finding Nemo Courtyard

Value Resorts are the lowest priced of all the Disney resorts. You can book 4 to 6 guests per room, depending on room type. Amenities include themed pool, playground, arcade, jogging trail, food court, pizza delivery, bus transportation, and self-parking.

All Star Movies Resort -near Animal Kingdom & Blizzard Beach
All Star Music Resort -near Animal Kingdom & Blizzard Beach
All Star Sports Resort -near Animal Kingdom & Blizzard Beach
Art of Animation Resort -near Wide World of Sports
POP Century Resort -near Wide World of Sports

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MODERATE RESORTS

FrenchQuarterCopBoat

Moderate Resorts are priced slightly higher than the values. And like values, you can book 4 to 6 guests per room, depending on room type. Amenities include themed pool with waterslide and hot tub, playground, arcade, jogging trail, table service and/or counter service restaurant, bus transportation and self-parking.

Caribbean Beach Resort -near Epcot & Hollywood Studios
Coronado Springs Resort -near Animal Kingdom & Blizzard Beach
Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter -near Downtown Disney and Typhoon Lagoon
Port Orleans Resort – Riverside -near Downtown Disney and Typhoon Lagoon

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DELUXE RESORTS

A Wilderness Lodge Spring

Deluxe Resorts start out at about twice the price of moderates. Some units can accommodate up to 12 guests. Amenities include themed pool with waterslide and hot tub, arcade, jogging trail, room service, concierge service, counter service and table service restaurants, valet and self-parking, and recreational activities. Some of the deluxe resorts offer fitness centers and health spas, spectacular views, white sandy beaches, award-winning restaurants and Monorail transportation.

Animal Kingdom Lodge -near Animal Kingdom & Blizzard Beach
Beach Club Resort -near Epcot & Hollywood Studios
BoardWalk Inn -near Epcot & Hollywood Studios
Contemporary Resort -near Magic Kingdom
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa -near Magic Kingdom
Old Key West Resort -near Downtown Disney and Typhoon Lagoon
Polynesian Resort -near Magic Kingdom
Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa -near Downtown Disney and Typhoon Lagoon
Wilderness Lodge -near Magic Kingdom
Yacht Club Resort -near Epcot & Hollywood Studios

This information is basic and doesn’t include ALL your accommodation options, but it is a good starting point. I’ll be writing more about each resort level in future posts and will link to them from here.

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Disney @Home – In the Craft Room – Folding Towel Bunnies

Very nearly Easter now…but there’s still time for this really cute and easy-to-make gift. I made a basket full of them one year and passed them out to my sisters at our family gathering.

I’m including the instructions here on my blog because I got the idea from a towel animal I received at Walt Disney World Resort…so it’s Disney. Right? ;o)

For each bunny you make you will need one wash cloth and one rubber band. They’ll be cute as can be with just these two items, but you may embellish with buttons and bows if you wish. I inserted Hershey’s miniatures into the folds of bunnies I gave to my sisters.

Adorable Wash Clothes

Place your wash cloth out flat, unfolded on a table in front of you. Fold-in two alternate corners into the center as shown in the photo below (folded cloth on left).

01FirstFolds

Next fold those newly formed sides into the center (folded cloth in center) and then fold in half as shown (folded cloth on right).

Next step…fold the long folded cloth in half to make it shorter as shown in the photo below. The two cloths show the difference between top and bottom. The side with the slit (on left) will be the bottom and the side with the fold (on right) will be the top. It’s important to get this right so the bunny ears will be correct.

02NextFolds

Hold the cloth as shown in the photo below and…

03MajorFold

…scrunch/fold it in half like this!

04BunnyFold

Wrap a colorful rubber band around the bunny’s neck and voila! You have bunny. :o)

Look! A bunny!!

Hoppy Easter, Everybody!!

Posted in Parties & Crafts | 14 Comments

Disney @Home – In the Kitchen – Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cookies

Writer’s Stop at Disney’s Hollywood Studios sells a carrot cake cookie that has a reputation for being an amazing, do-not-miss treat. I’m a fan of carrot cake in general, so I was intrigued by all the cookie chatter. Sadly, there’s not a gluten-free version (that I’m aware of), so it seemed the only way for me to sample said cookie, was to make one for myself. And that’s what I set out to do.

I researched different recipes online and combined a few to make a GF cookie for my #DisneySide @ Home Celebration. They were moist and flavorful…not overly complicated to make. The recipe is definitely worth repeating.

Delicious gluten-free carrot cake cookies!

Here’s what I did:
Gluten-free (GF) Carrot Cake Batter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp GF vanilla

2 cups GF pizza crust mix
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp GF baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

3 cups grated carrots
1 cup golden raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º and lightly coat baking sheets with Pam cooking spray.

Cream together sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla with mixer.

In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients, then add them to the creamed mixture until well blended. Stir in carrots and raisins.

Drop batter onto baking sheets in small spoonfuls. Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove cookies and allow to cool on wire rack.

Ready for the oven!

Fresh baked!

Cookie Frosting/Filling
8 oz cream cheese
8 Tbsp butter
1 cup confectionary sugar
1/2 cup crushed pineapple (drained)
1 tsp vanilla

Whip together, the cream cheese and butter. Slowly add sugar. Whip in pineapple and vanilla until well-blended. Spread frosting mixture liberally on the bottom side of one cookie and then sandwich together with a second cookie.

Store cookies in the refrigerator.

Hopefully, my directions are easy to follow and you end up with the most delicious carrot cake treat you ever will eat. Enjoy!!

Posted in Disney How-To, Parties & Crafts | 5 Comments

Disney @Home – A #DisneySide @ Home Celebration – Party Time!

I'm Celebrating MY #DisneySide

I received free products in order to host the #DisneySide @ Home Celebration. Regardless of such, the opinions expressed here and throughout my blog are, and always will be my own. ~Lucinda

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Party day at last! While I didn’t accomplish all that I’d hoped to, I managed to put together a decent #DisneySide @ Home Celebration.

I decorated my dining/family room area with the party kit contents, on-hand Disney memorabilia and a few inexpensive purchases from Party City. The house looked festive and VERY Disney for under $20.

Decorated Food Table

DISNEY!!

My menu was simple and stress-free for the most part. The food table was stocked with Hidden Mickey gelatin salad, a meat & cheese tray, chips & salsa, Mickey Mouse rice crispie treats, my very favorite item, gluten-free carrot cake cookies (Recipe here!) and cheese balls. We devoured nearly everything…there were barely any leftovers.

Yummies!!

Beverages were served over Hidden Mickey ice cubes.

Pepsi Mouse

I started the party with an explanation of the #DisneySide campaign and told everyone how I became an @ Home Celebration hostess. I showed off my American Tourister hostess gift.

Perry and Disney John

Guests were invited to grab a Duffy or Perry to color as we chatted and got to know one another better. The youngest participants weren’t the only ones to express their creative #DisneySide. Some of the “grown-ups” joined in as well. Notice how well my buddy, John stayed inside the lines on his Perry the Platypus.

We folded paper wish makers from a printout I received in 2010. I think even more grown-ups joined in for this. You can print yours here: Disney Wish Maker. An instruction sheet is included in case you’ve forgotten how to fold these things.

We revealed our competitive #DisneySide with a few rounds of Disney Parks bingo (Warning: Bingo printout page takes a while to load) and the Disney edition of Apples to Apples. I’ve had this game for a while, but this was my first time ever playing it. I’m glad I thought to finally give it a try. I love that it’s simple to play, appealing to all ages and I really like that so many players can join in. It was a perfect fit for the party. Everyone really seemed to enjoy it.

Crafts & Games

When it was time for the final event, we all stepped outside to watch the back side of Wishes Nighttime Spectacular from my front yard. While the grand version of the fireworks show went off over the tree line, we simultaneously created our own tiny version as the kids played with lighted sparklers. For some of them, it was their first time holding the small flaming sticks. They seemed both delighted and a little wary. They were adorable.

I had take-home goodies for everyone. Treat bags with small toys, candies, stickers and tattoos for the kids…Will Gay lithographs and HP photo card packs for the adults. I shared info for the free HP Photo Creations download and explained how TwoSmiles.com worked. You can read about it HERE: HP Photo Creations & TwoSmiles.com.

Sparkler Wishes

I think everyone went home happy. A couple of the young guests stayed over as the #DisneySide party evolved into my daughter’s first Florida slumber party. I’m really happy how everything turned out. Going to have to do this again sometime soon. Nothing better than good times with family and friends…and Disney is a very nice addition to that mix.

If you’re interested in throwing your very own #DisneySide @ Home Celebration, check out this site: Disney Side Celebrations. You’ll find lots of ideas, recipes and tips that will help you put together a perfect Disney Side party.

My sincerest thanks go out to Leanne and Jamie and their team at Disney Parks and also to Maria Bailey and her team at BSM Media for putting together a wonderful party pack and for allowing me to be a part of a fabulously fun campaign. It was practically perfect in EVERY way! Thank you, thank you!!

I received free products in order to host the #DisneySide @ Home Celebration. Regardless of such, the opinions expressed here and throughout my blog are, and always will be my own. ~Lucinda

Posted in Mickey Moms, Parties & Crafts | 23 Comments

Disney @Home – In the Craft Room – Simple Mickey Mouse Party Table Top

I have a ceramic top table which is pretty, but the grooves between the tiles can be a problem when a smooth surface is required. To resolve this issue for my #DisneySide Celebration, I came up with an inexpensive, decorative table top cover.

And when I say inexpensive…I mean that this project cost me literally nothing. I spent zero dollars…made it entirely from items I have on hand. It was super easy to put together too.

When I take on a project, I have an idea of what I want in mind, then I put it together from my head as I go along. I wing it! So, I grabbed a large cardboard moving box, a couple rolls of Mickey Mouse contact paper, scissors and a roll of packing tape.

I initially planned to use a single layer of cardboard by cutting my box down to the proper dimensions, but when I realized that the flattened box was almost the exact size of my table, I decided a double layer would be better–sturdier. I removed the top and bottom flaps of the carton with my kitchen scissors. A box cutter would be a better tool (choice if you’re comfortable using one), but I don’t happen to have one here in Florida yet.

Let's Create Magic!

As it turned out, I didn’t need both rolls of paper. One roll covered the entire top side. I kept a small margin of paper hanging over the cardboard edges and folded it over onto the back of my new table cover. To help secure the contact paper edges on the backside, I used clear packing tape around the perimeter.

That’s it! Project completed. I have a smooth surface on my table that fits the theme of my party and it wipes clean with a damp cloth. Seriously simple, delightfully decorative and totally utilitarian!

Party Table

I received free products in order to host the Disney Side @ Home Celebration. Regardless of such, the opinions expressed here and throughout my blog are and always will be my own. ~Lucinda

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Disney @Home – In the Kitchen – Making a Castle Cake

I’m not sure when this idea first came to me, but I’ve been trying to perfect it for a while. My goal is to make a fabulous castle party cake without purchasing expensive pans or kits. This is what I came up with:

I’m using a single boxed cake mix, two 8-inch cake pans, one 12-cup cupcake tin and a dozen cupcake wrappers. If you need to feed a bigger group, use two cake mixes and make 24 cupcakes instead of 12. You’ll also need 5 sugar cones, 2 sets of wooden to-go chopsticks and a wooden skewer.

Let's build a castle!

Follow the directions for the cake mix and distribute the batter between your three pans. Fill the cupcake tin(s) first then divide the remaining batter evenly between the two cake pans.

If you’re using one cake mix, your layers will be somewhat thin, but they’ll be fine. Bake all pans according to box mix directions until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes then invert and remove cakes from pans. Leave cupcakes in wrappers.

Whip up your favorite frosting recipe and crumb coat your two 8-inch cakes into one double layer cake. I like this recipe at Wilton.com: http://www.wilton.com/recipe/Buttercream-Icing

Castle Blueprint

Peel off cupcake wrappers and begin your first cupcake tower. Use the diagram (at right), and assemble towers in the order illustrated. Carefully stack five cupcakes in position #1. Gently pierce the stack with the one of the chopsticks and continue down into the cake to anchor the tower. It’s ok to leave the stick poking above the stack. It will be concealed with a sugar cone roof. Cover the tower completely with icing before beginning the next tower.

All towers assembled and iced...

Stack three cupcakes in position #2 and anchor them to the cake with a chopstick. Ice the tower. Stack two cupcakes in position #3 and anchor with a third chopstick. Towers #4 and #5 are made of a single cupcake each and can be anchored with 1/2 of the wooden skewer apiece.

Once the cake and cupcakes are completely covered with icing, begin working on the tower roofs. Holding the cone on two fingers of one hand, coat the outside of the cone with icing then carefully place it atop the center tower. Working your way from the center out, place a frosted cone on each tower.

Conical Spire

Now you’re ready to add details with a decorator bag of icing. I added turret windows and edgings around the base of the roof tops and base of the castle on mine. I would have liked to add flowering vines, but I didn’t want to take the chance of messing it up.

You can also use the decorator bag to add bricks to your castle…add glitter decorator sugar for magical sparkle. Be as elaborate or simple as you wish. This cake is actually impressive either way. Someone with more decorating talent than I have could really make this into a stunning cake.

I hope you’ll give this cake a try and I wish you great success with it! Enjoy!!

Cinderella's Castle Cake

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Disney @Home -In the Kitchen – DizzneeMomma’s Tonga Toast (gluten-free)

I’ve been craving Tonga Toast for a very long time. Three years probably. So…a few weeks ago, when I read about gluten-free Tonga sliders at Kona Cafe, my craving became more intense. I tried to formulate a breakfast plan that included Kona, Tonga and myself…but it wasn’t coming together as I’d hoped. Something had to give. I needed Tonga!

Tonga! Tonga!

Today, I resolved my Tonga hunger. I made my very own gluten-free Tonga Toast masterpiece. Here’s how:

Ingredients for Toast
1 TBS butter
2 slices bread (this ingredient determines whether or not your dish is GF. Use your favorite GF bread.)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp sour cream
cinnamon sugar

Melt 1/2 TBS butter in a skillet on medium heat (or use cooking spray). Mix together egg and sour cream in a small bowl. Dip bread slices into egg/sour cream mixture, coat slices on both sides and place into hot skillet. Cook to desired level of doneness.

Remove toast from skillet and place on serving plate. While the toast is still hot, spread remaining butter on the top sides of each slice and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Ingredients for Topping
1TBS butter
1 banana
1 TBS cinnamon sugar
1 TBS sour cream
sliced strawberries and whipped topping

Melt butter in the same skillet you used for toast. Slice banana into warm skillet and cook to soften slightly, do not over cook. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on bananas. Add sour cream and mix together until smooth. Spoon cooked bananas over your toast slices or spread them between the two slices. Top with strawberries and whipped topping. Enjoy!

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Walt Disney World 101 – What Time of Year is Best?

When planning your Walt Disney World vacation, one of the first questions you’ll need to answer…“When are we going?”

It's Time We're Aware - It's a Small World After All

There are several things to consider when choosing the best time of year for your trip. Number one…your time constraints. When CAN you go? If you’re traveling with a large party, this can be difficult to determine. Jobs, commitments and school schedules will likely limit your options.

Budget, for most of us, has to be taken into account also. Accommodation pricing varies based on resort, room type and season. You can see a good reference chart at wdwinfo.com. Check the Disney website or contact your travel agent for current special offers. Theme park ticket prices don’t fluctuate with season (unless you’re a Florida resident), but they do increase annually.

Can you handle large crowds? I mean, really…large…crowds. Make sure you investigate seasonal crowd levels so you know what to expect. Disney always seems busy to me. Holidays, summers and weekends are well-attended and wall-to-wall people can be the norm then. Occasionally, the parks reach capacity and close early to new guests. This typically happens at Easter, Christmas and New Years.

Cinderella's Castle at Christmas

Research Central Florida weather patterns. Summers are hot, muggy and often stormy. Hurricane season occurs in late summer through early fall. Winters can be warm enough for swimming…but also cold enough for coats, hats and gloves. For me, early spring is ideal. It’s starting to get nice and warm in late March…and most kids are still in school then…which means they won’t be in the parks with their families. ;o)

One last consideration I’ll mention is special events. Is there a particular festival, holiday, tournament or race that you wish to experience at Walt Disney World? Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival is held in spring, Food & Wine in fall. Holiday parties at the Magic Kingdom run from September through December. Numerous races and other sporting events happen pretty much year-round. There’s always something going on at the Happiest Place on Earth.

So…the best time of year to go to Walt Disney World? That’s for you to decide. If you address each of the above factors, you should be able to pinpoint your perfect vacation window. And now that you know when you’re going…you can start your countdown to fun!

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Disney @Home – A #DisneySide Celebration – Inside the Party Kit

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

My party kit arrived and I have to admit, I’m impressed. I had NO idea it would be this wonderful. My hostess gift is an amazing piece of American Tourister luggage. Seriously fabulous bag…sturdy, functional and beautiful.
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American Tourister 21-inch Spinner - Wood Viloet

I opened it up to find it packed full of various party planning items, favors and supplies. And now that my party kit is here, it’s time to put it all to use. I’m happy to begin organizing and preparing at last.

I’m leaning towards a general, Disney Parks theme, but so far the only thing I’m really certain about is that I want to make carrot cake cookies like the ones I’ve seen at Writer’s Stop. I also want to try the Dole Whip recipe I found in my party kit. My head is full of ideas right now. I need to sort them and start experimenting pronto!

@Home Celebration Party Kit

Of all the items inside my care package…my favorites by far are the “So This is Love” lithographs by Will Gay. I sincerely love his work.

So This is Love...

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to interview Will Gay. I was a bit nervous, but found him to be very personable…so easy to talk to. Having listened to him describe his paintings and the creative process behind them makes these posters extra special to me. I can’t wait to share Will’s work with my guests…all but one of them, that is. I’m definitely keeping one of these for myself!

ºoº Be watching for more party posts ahead. I hope to come up with some unique #DisneySide creations to share. ºoº

Posted in Mickey Moms, My Disney Calendar, Parties & Crafts, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Disney @Home – A #DisneySide Celebration

More good news from Disney! I’ve been selected by Disney Parks and Mom Select to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration next month. To help me with my party, I’ll receive a package containing gifts, games, recipes and other party ideas and items very soon.

Show Your Disney Side

In exchange for the party box, I’ve agreed to host my gathering during the last two weeks of February and to share my #DisneySide with my world.

What a great excuse to have a Disney party! I plan to use this opportunity to get to know more of my neighbors and find more playmates for my kiddos.

I’ve started my to-do list already and I’m looking forward to fine-tuning my plans. I’m incredibly anxious to see what this party becomes. Fingers crossed, it’s a good one.

If you’re not sure what a Disney Side is…click over to the Disney website and check it out for yourself. We all have Disney Side…show us yours!

Posted in Mickey Moms, Parties & Crafts | Tagged , , | 4 Comments