Best Pool Safety Product

This past weekend we were able to go to my in-laws’ pool for the first time this summer. (Better late than never I say!)

I am big on trying to get Lily to learn how to swim, or at least teacher her how to save herself  in an emergency.

In addition to a Florida Fence (a sturdy fence that can be installed and un-installed easily) we wanted to find something that Lily could wear that would keep her above the water while trying to swim.

My mother-in-law found and bought this really cute product called a “Puddle Jumper” for Lily to use at their pool.

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Cheesing for the Camera

The Jumper is comprised of three components, two armbands and a middle flotation device.

It works by having the toddler put their arms in the arm bands and place the center over the chest and snap in the back.

The great thing about the product is that it will automatically push the child on their back if they fall forward too much. This would prevent them from submerging their face in the water which could cause drowning.

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Getting ready to test it out.

By supporting Lily underneath while she was laying on her belly, helped her learn how to kick her feet. Later when she masters the kicking she will be able to move her arms and swim.

In addition to the Puddle Jumper, Lily enjoyed spending time in the pool so much and had a blast being in the water with her family.

If you are interested in learning more about The Puddle Jumper or purchasing one you can go to Amazon.com. (Disclosure: If you do use this link to purchase the Puddle Jumper or anything from Amazon I will receive a percentage of the sale.)

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Having Fun in the Sun

 

 


Mexican cuisine added to Disney Springs

 

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Photo courtesy of Frontera Cocina’s website.

 

Disney Springs, formerly Downtown Disney, has grown so much since the new concept took over.

The most recent addition to Disney Springs is Frontera Cocina by Chef Rick Bayless, which just opened Monday.

Bayless, a six-time James Beard Foundation winner opened the restaurant located in the Town Center section of Disney Springs.

The menu features a lot of gourmet Mexican dishes like freshly made salsa, The Cocina Half Chicken and more.

Here is a listing of the dishes available according to the restaurant’s website:

Starters

  • Chipotle, salsa verde
  • Creamy Yucatecan pumpkin seed-habanero dip, crisp cucumber and jicama
  • Tortilla soup
  • Coctel Rojo
  • Coctel Verde
  • Queso Fundido
  • Chipotle Chicken Tostada
  • Zucchini and Poblano Raja Tostada

Guacamole

  • Verde Guacamole
  • Bacon Guacamole
  • Atomic Guacamole

Salads

  • Taqueria Salad
  • Caesar

Tacos and Tortas

  • Carne Asada Tacos
  • Chicken Tacos
  • Pepito Torta
  • Cochinita Pibil Torta
  • Mushroom Torta

Entrees

  • Crispy Half Chicken
  • Carne Asada
  • Oaxcan Red Chile Chicken
  • Shrimp Mojo De Ajo
  • Carnitas
  • Red Chile Chicken Enbchiladas
  • Salsa Verde Shrimp Enchiladas Suizas

Sides

  • Arroz Con Plantains
  • Fried Plantains
  • Refried Black Beans with Cotija Cheese
  • Queso Anejo Mashed Potatoes
  • Grilled Calabacitas

Desserts

  • Pecan Pie Bar
  • Platano Sundae
  • Coconut Lime Quattro Leches

Drinks

  • Carrot Ginger
  • Avocado
  • Minty Pineapple
  • Tamarind
  • Topolo
  • Spicy Grapefruit
  • Jalapeno
  • Agave Flights
  • Wines
  • Beer
  • Sangria

Kids

  • Quesadillas
  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • Chicken Tacos
  • Ice Cream

If you are interesting in going to the restaurant,  highly suggest making reservations.

Will you and your Mousekatots be checking out Frontera Cocina in the future? Leave your comments below.


Attraction Spotlight: Dumbo

One of the most iconic attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort, especially for Mousekatots, is Dumbo  the Flying Elephant located in Fantasyland in The Magic Kingdom.

Before the attraction was situated in the newer section of Fantasyland, at the back of the park where Mickey’s Toontown was previously located, it was in a different section of Fantasy and only featured one central hub where the Dumbo elephants flew around.

With the new expansion of Fantasyland, the attraction was also able to grow in size and expand into one of the best themed attractions in all of Walt Disney World featuring the best waiting areas anywhere.

One of the areas that Disney knew they had to expand was to create a second attraction to help cut down on the long wait times. The second hub has enabled the amount of riders to double and has cut down on a lot of the long wait lines.

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Photo courtesy of WDW Shutterbug

Another aspect that is so unique and will be a big hit with a lot of parents is the waiting system.

When you get into line at the attraction a cast member will hand you a pager. Once it is your turn to get onto the ride you will be paged. Until then, your Mousekatot is able to run around inside and play on a circus themed playground complete with cargo nets, lots of places for parents to sit, other climbing structures and more.

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

 

 

But the biggest and best part of Dumbo the Flying Elephant is how much your Mousekatot will love the attraction. From soaring high in one of Walt Disney’s most beloved characters to having the ability to participate in the attraction with your child. This is the perfect fit for your family.

Mousekatip: Experience the attraction at night. Not only will the wait times be reduced, but the lights and the fountain around the structure are absolutely beautiful. Don’t forget your camera!

Do you and your family ride Dumbo when you visit? Leave your comments below.

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort


Tot Five: Free Ways to Plus Your Experience

Walt Disney World offers a lot of entertainment for the price of admission.

While there are plenty of attractions to keep you and your Mousekatot busy, Disney also offers some additional ways to add a little extra pixie dust to your vacation.

So here is our Tot Five ways to plus your family’s Disney experience for free.

1. Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

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Photo courtesy of AllEars.net

Hades and his henchmen are trying to take over the Magic Kingdom and only you can stop him with the help of favorite Disney characters.

To play this interactive game that takes place on screens throughout The Magic Kingdom, go to the Firehouse on Main Street U.S.A.  Here you will receive a pack of cards, like the image above, to help aid you on your quest.

When you reach the interactive screens you will hold up the card that you selected to cast a spell to try and defeat the villains.

You get one free pack of cards, per park ticket, per day. So if you are traveling with a big group and not everyone is interested in playing, still have everyone go to the Firehouse and get their free pack of cards.

For an additional fee, you can go to the Emporium and pick up a game board that will allow you to play the game at home.

2. KidCot Fun Stop at Epcot

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

A lot of kids, and some parents, think that World Showcase at Epcot can be boring for little Mousekatots. Many of the countries feature plenty of shops and restaurants but can sometimes be light on attractions that would be appealing to the younger set.

Disney has answered this by offering various KidCot Fun Stops at the different countries.

At these stops, kids can do a craft at the stations and receive a stamp from the host of the fun stop that represents that country.

Your Mousekatot will love to collect the stamps and learn a little more about the different countries represented.

For an added cost, you can purchase a passport to put the different countries’ stamps in instead of having them stamp the craft that is made.

3. Flag Retreat Ceremony

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

 

While this special ceremony isn’t targeted for Mousekatots it is still something the whole family will enjoy and helps to remind people of their patriotism.

 

Each day in Town Square on Main Street U.S.A. a special ceremony is marked to lower the flag for the day.

The event includes a tribute to veterans, the pledge, “Star Spangled Banner” played by the philharmonic and “God Bless America” as members of the color guard remove the flag and fold it properly.

To make the event extra special, a guest veteran is handed the flag.

There is also a short procession down Main Street U.S.A. complete with a medley of U.S. military songs.

If you have a veteran that would like to be included in the ceremony, visit Town Hall early in the day.

4. Wilderness Explorers

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

Anyone who is a fan of the Disney/Pixar film is acquainted with “Up,” which features the Wilderness Explorers, a sort of boy scout organization. The character Russel was a member of the group.

Now your Mousekatot can have the opportunity to earn Wilderness Explorer badges by completing different tasks through out Animal Kingdom.

When they sign up for the program, at a Wilderness Explorer kiosk in Animal Kingdom, they will receive a book that contains all the different tasks and a place to put the stickers they receive for completed tasks.

The nice thing is that this program can be completed on different trips to the park and you can do it at your own pace.

5. Phineas and Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure

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Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort

 

Just like at the Magic Kingdom, you are charged with a mission to stop evil forces at work. This time you need to go on a scavenger hunt around World Showcase at Epcot to stop Dr. Dofenshmirtz.

 

To participate, guests need to find the kiosk pictured above located near the Odessy bridge. After signing up, participants will receive a communicator that will be used to send you clues to help you on your hunt.

By completing different tasks, and using the communicator to interact with different scenes in the park, you can stop the evil doctor.

This would be a great activity to get the whole family involved in the fun.

Which of these five activities are you most looking forwarding out with your Mousekatot? For us, it would be the Wilderness Explorers. We plan on taking advantage of this on our upcoming trip.

Leave your comments below.


Our Park Away from Walt Disney World

While our heart will always belong to Disney when it comes to our favorite amusement park, we are also lucky to live relatively close to what has been voted “The Best Children’s Park in the World,” Idlewild Park.

Located in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, the park is situated in a beautifully shaded area that is abound with picnic pavilions and lots of benches everywhere for grandparents to relax while the kiddos enjoy the numerous attractions tailored to the younger set.

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The three of us outside of Storybook Forest, a section of Idlewild.

Idlewild Park is broken into three major sections: Storybook Forest, the main area and Soak Zone.

Storybook Forest was created by Arthur Jennings who portrayed the clown “Happy Dayz.” in Idlewild during the 1950s. He also an engineer and approached the staff of Idlewild about creating a themed are that relied on “emotion instead of motion.”

Jennings worked to create the may larger than life characters and structures that are seen today including a pirate ship, the over sized shoe for the old woman who lived in a shoe, the crocked man’s house and more.

When Storybook Forest first opened it was a separate park that required additional admission to visit. Now for one price guests gain acesss to Idlewild, Storybook Forest and Soakzone.

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Even Pinocchio has a home at Storybook Forest.  

I can remember going to Storybook Forest when I was little. It was such a magical place for me that was home to many of my favorite nursery rhyme characters. On this trip, we attended with my parents as a sort of belated birthday/Father’s Day outing.  Over time a lot of things have changed  and some of the attractions have either disappeared or gone into disrepair. However, I feel like this year the park is beginning to be better taken care of. In fact the park is going to be having a grand opening of a new castle inside the forest that is going to debut sometime this summer.

 

 

Another new addition to Idlewild this year is the introduction of a new princess, Princess Lily. (Our Lily was so excited and shocked that the two had the same name.)

Once the castle is finished in Storybook Forest, that is where guests will be able to find her. However, until the project is finished, Princess Lily has been meeting with guests on the main stage near the Balloon Ride.

The costume for the character is beautiful and the  young lady portraying the princess was so sweet, friendly and great with kids.

I was surprised to find that she didn’t have more of a line waiting to see her. I think Idlewild is missing out on a major opportunity by not offering this princess top billing and promoting her location more. Doing occasional character meals or having an official Idlewild photographer stationed with the princess could be profitable.

 

The area known as Raccoon Lagoon is tailored specifically to the littlest ones. There are several different rides that include motorcycles that go around in a circle, dinosaurs that go up and down, little cars that go around on a track and more.

The biggest highlight of the entire day for Lily was a ride on a trolley into Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

If your Mousekatot is a fan of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on PBS, then you can imagine how excited she was to see all of her favorite neighbors including Daniel, O the Owl, Henrietta Pussycat and more.

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Visiting with some of our favorite neighbors.

This attraction is adorable and will be a big hit with your little one. It includes interaction, singing and of course ugga muggas.

We had plans to go on a few more attractions, but our Mousekatot decided to take a nap in her stroller instead.

We didn’t have the opportunity to visit the Soakzone this trip, but we are planning on going back again in the near future.

If you ever find yourself in the southwestern Pennsylvania area, take time to visit Idlewild Park. It is a fun, family day that is in a beautiful setting that offers pavilions for picnics and grilling.

What is your favorite amusement park to visit in your neck of the woods? Leave your comments below.

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New Norway Attraction Receives a Not so Frozen reception

More than a five hour wait time, attraction malfunctions and several ice cream bars later and the new Frozen Ever After attraction at Epcot’s Norway pavilion is now officially open.

On Oct. 5, 2014 the last viking boarded the final cruise of the popular Epcot attraction Malestrom. Many people were upset about this iconic attraction being discontinued and one of Disney’s most popular franchises, “Frozen,” taking its place.

Almost, two years later and those who were doubting the longevity of the updated attraction featuring Anna, Elsa, Olaf and the gang might find themselves eating a slice of frozen humble pie.

Yesterday, when the attraction first opened to the crowds, it featured extensive lines, even for those with fast passes. The standby line even reached up to five hours.

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Photo courtesy of Attractions Magazine.

Part of the issue also arose due to the fact that the attraction was experiencing several difficulties that was resulting in the delay of people boarding the attraction and having the line advance.

However, in true Disney fashion, they had prepared by having displays of free water located by the long line and handed out complementary Mickey Bars and ice cream sandwiches several times to those waiting in the long lines.

Despite the extremely long wait time and the issues with the attraction, fan photos from Frozen Ever After look amazing and the videos have been giving me chills.(Especially the scene with Elsa singing “Let it Go.”)

The animatronics look like they are next level and are so smooth and expressive. (As long as they don’t turn out like the Yeti from Expedition Everest.)

It also looks like Frozen Fever will be going strong because Disney has announced new original stories from the “Frozen” franchise including a novel, “Journey to the Lights” scheduled to hit bookshelves July 5. Even the Lego Group is going to release four animated shorts that turn the characters into the popular Lego, stylized look.

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Photo courtesy of Oh My Disney.

 

For a complete POV ride through video of the attraction, go to the Mousekatot’s Facebook page.

Would you wait over five hours to see this new attraction? Leave your comments below.

 

 

 

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Photo courtesy of Orlando Sentinel


Big Change Coming to the Dining Plan

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Photo courtesy of hojoanaheim.com

 

 

Recently the Walt Disney World company announced that there will be some changes coming to the 2017 dining plan.

One of the most notable changes is instead of a quick service meal receiving an entrée, a beverage and a dessert, guests will now be entitled to two snack credits to be used throughout the day instead of the dessert.

So, this means the new basic dining plan will include one quick service meal,. one table service meal and two snacks. The refillable mug will also be included.

Another change that is already taking place is that snacks can be anything that is a single serving item such as fresh fruit, a beverage, a bag of snacks and even a bowl of soup at some locations. Items that can be redeemed for snacks will have a purple and white logo next to them. Snacks are available at quick service locations, food carts and event gift shops where candy is sold.

As it has been in the past, signature restaurants will require two table service dining credits. This is the same for dinner shows and private in-room dining and pizza delivery.

Today is the first day that 2017 Walt Disney World packages can be booked.

Do you and your family participate in the dining plan? What do you think about this new change? Leave a comment below.