More to the Mouse

DisneyRocketsThursday

Many people go to Walt Disney World or set sail on the Disney Cruise Line to escape reality. Let’s face it, the real world can be an ugly and scary place.

For me, this is the main reason why I return to the various Disney properties time and time again. I want to escape.

Another benefit of going to the parks time and time again can be because you can apply the Disney principles to your everyday life.

A lot of different corporations implement the Disney management style to their businesses.

But on a smaller scale, what if you could apply the Disney principles to your everyday life?

For myself and my family, we look at the world through the lense of Christianity. Others might look through a Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or other spiritual lense, and that is the great thing about Walt Disney World. Walt Disney was very careful to not exclude any religion in his films or vacation properties.

However, if you are of the spiritual faith there are some books available that can marry the two together.

One book that I really enjoyed is “Faith Trust and Pixie Dust” by Mark I. Pinsky.

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Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Pinsky, who is a religion journalist, according to the book’s Amazon listing, wanted to take a deeper look at one of the biggest influences on children: Disney.

Each chapter looks at a different film and the biggest message it tries to impart on the viewer.

For example, “Dumbo” looks at a mother’s love while “Robin Hood” looks at tax rebates.

This book does not really have a Christian leaning, or any other denominational leaning. It is more a look at morality and the Disney influence.

For anyone looking for a more direct approach to Chrisitianty and the Walt Disney World vacation, check out “A Christian’s Guide to Walt Disney World Resort” by Jeff Chaves.

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Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Unlike “Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust” this book definitely is geared toward the Christian denomination.

This is sort of almost a “Bible study” type of book that takes a look at a Walt Disney World attraction, attaches a Bible verse to it, a little bit of details about the attraction, how it can connect to Christianity and questions for further discussion.

For example, Space Mountain, located in Tomorrowland of the Magic Kingdom, the author uses the verse “God is Involved in Every Detail of Our Lives” — Matthew 10:30-31.

It further tells people to look out for the Earth that is shown at the end of the coaster and how God is involved in everything that goes on on Earth.

There are then four different questions that can help develop a deeper discussion of the connection between the two.

This format continues through the rest of the book.

Two books that go together well that combine one of literature’s most beloved characters, as well as a bear that has been a part of the Walt Disney World family for many years is “The Tao of Pooh” and it’s companion book “The Te of Piglet,” both by Benjamin Hoff.

These two books explore Buddhist principles through the lense of Winnie the Pooh and his fellow Hundred-Acre-Woods neighbors.

I have only read “The Tao of Pooh,” but I really enjoyed it.

The author interacts with the characters and uses many of their stories that are told in their books as an example of Buddhist teachings.

Hoff even talks about the different personalities of the character factor into the principles as well.

I really enjoyed these books because they are an easy way to learn about what is Tao and offer a different perspective on life.

Obviously, these are just a sampling of these types of books that are available out there. There are lots that look at the connection between spirituality and Disney. A simple search will bring up many of them.

Is this something you are interested in, or do you prefer to keep everything at an entertainment level when it comes to Disney? Leave a message in the comments below.

DCL: Much Needed Quiet Time

For many people setting sail on a cruise ship full of a bunch of children might not be their idea of a relaxing vacation. And for this reason, many people avoid sailing with the Disney Cruise Line.

However, Disney knows this and has made allocations for areas that are just for the adults to enjoy.

One place that is often forgotten among the adult night clubs and pools is the Cove Cafe.

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Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line 

This coffee lounge overlooks Quiet Cove Pool and offers a variety of coffees, mixed drinks and baked goods. Plus, there are some magazines, televisions and for a fee you can surf the Internet.

Pretty much if you can think of it and it contains caffeine, they can make it. Espresso, Lattes, Americano and more can be created.

Food is also available including croissants at breakfast, cookies, crackers and fruit for lunch and dried sausages, marinated olives, cheeses and bread at dinner time.

While the food is included, there is a cost for the beverages.

A few cruises back we enjoyed Quiet Cove and it was really nice and a great way to spend some time before our brunch at Palo.

Would you be interested in trying out Quiet Cove? Leave your comments below.

Set Sail for 2018

 

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Just this week Disney Cruise Lines recently unveiled up coming itinerary and new ports of call for 2018. (It is hard to believe that we are already looking ahead to 2018 right now.)

Beginning the summer of 2018 the cruise ships will explore new ports throughout Europe while continuing to visit favorite locations in the Caribbean and Alaska.

On June 16, 2018, the Disney Magic will set sail for a seven-night cruise from Barcelona to Civitavecchia with stops to Marseilles and Villefranche, France; and Genoa (Milan), Livorno (Florence, Pisa) and Naples, Italy.

Genoa will also be visited during three special sailings from Barcelona and Civitavecchia (Rome).

There will also be a 10-night Mediterranean itinerary sailing from Barcelona on July 7, 2018 that will make a stop in Genoa as well as other ports in Italy, France and Span.

For the first time the Disney Magic will make a port of call in Cork, Ireland during the cruise line’s first ever seven-night British Isles cruise on Sept. 2, 2018.

Additional ports visited during the cruise are Dublin, Ireland; Greenock, Scotland; and Liverpool, England.

Through out the summer, the Magic won’t be forgetting about favorite ports of call including the Baltic, Norwegian fjords, British Isles and Mediterranean.

The newly refurbished Disney Wonder will once again sail to Alaska for the summer for five, seven and nine-night cruises that depart from Vancouver, Canada, with ports at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point and Tracy Arm Fjord.

Not to forget about the Fantasy, it will set sail on an 11-night southern Caribbean itinerary departing June 30, 2018. The cruise will visit the ports of call of Aruba, Barbados, Martinique, St. Kitts, Puerto Rico and, of course, Castaway Cay.

There will also be double-dip (where the ship stops at Castaway Cay twice on the cruise) on June 1, 10, 15, 24, 29 and July 8 on the Disney Dream.

Many exciting things are happening with the cruise line during 2018. Which itineraries sound the most interesting? Leave your comments below,

Playtime for Pre-Schoolers

On Mousekatots we haven’t really talked a lot about the Disney Cruise Line, but there are a lot of opportunities available for cruisers of all ages.

A lot of people might think they have to wait until their child is older to take them on a Disney Cruise, but that is not the case.

Our Mousekatot went on her first cruise when she just had turned one and we had the best vacation.

While there is the Small World Nursery and Nemo’s Reef splash area for the littlest of Mousekatots, once your child turns three and is potty trained, it opens a whole new world (see what I did there) for them to enjoy.

The first area you will want to check out is the Disney Oceaneer Club.

This special kids club is just for kids, no adults allowed.

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Photo courtesy of DCL.

Kids ages 3 to 12 can join hang out at the club where they can rub elbows with some of their favorite characters and have fun doing counselor lead activities including storytelling sessions, playgrounds, dress-up, interactive activities and more.

The clubs are designed to let children be fully immersed into some of their favorite worlds like Andy’s room from “Toy Story,” “The Monster’s Inc.” laugh floor and more.

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Photo courtesy of DCL.

Lunch and dinner can be served at the club, which is a nice benefit if Mom and Dad want to sneak away for some alone time at Palo.

One thing that is nice about the Oceaneer Club is that activities are based on the child’s interest and maturity and not necessarily the child’s age. This allows different age siblings to spend time together.

If you are anything like me, you might be a little apprehensive about leaving your child.

But, find comfort in knowing that Disney has a secure system in place to keep your child safe.

On Embarkation Day, both parents and child must check in at the front desk of the Oceaneer Club and you will be required to fill out final paperwork and your child will receive a special DCL Magicband. Which will let them into the Club and the Lab.

You can also tour the facility, meet the counselors and learn more about the activities.

The good news is that the cost of the club is included in your cruise, so you don’t have to pay anything extra, unlike the Small World Nursery.

Since your child is potty trained they will also be able to have access to all the different pools on the ship except for the adult only areas.

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Photo courtesy of DCL.

This includes the family pool, the Mickey shaped pool and the family slide. Plus, they can also still play in Nemo’s Reef as well.

Another area to check out is the Aqualab that is a different splash area that is located on the ship where Huey, Dewy and Louie (Donald Duck’s nephews) have sprung a leak.

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Photo courtesy of Cruise Critic.

No matter what activities you decide to do with your Mousekatot, you will have a wonderful time. The Disney Cruise Line is absolutely magical!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise with your family? If so, what was your favorite thing to do.

Tot Five: Family Flicks

Summertime is the season for blockbusters. Whether it is action flicks, comedies, horror and animated soon-to-be classics, movies are a big deal this time of the year.

If you are anything like us, the thought of taking your toddler to a movie theater has you on pins and needles. Will they sit still? How much popcorn are they going to dump on the floor? What are they going to yell at the screen?

We found that going to a drive-in was the best bet because she could do whatever she wanted to do in the confines of our car and not bother anyone.

Another way to enjoy a family movie is in the comfort of your own home. You can pause the film for potty breaks (not just for the toddler), load up on snacks and popcorn just a few feet away from your TV and you have the best seat in the house.

Here are our Tot Five picks for Family Flicks for your movie night that might not be on your radar.

5. Sammy the Way Out Seal

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

My mom was a teacher for many, many years. When she would have an end of the year party for her students she would always show them “Sammy the Way Out Seal.”

One time when she rented the video (this is how old school this is) I sat down and watched it and I loved it. I laughed really hard at parts and the retro feel to the film is so endearing.

I have always been a huge fan of the live-action Disney films from the previous generations so this was destined to be a hit for me.

4. The Sound of Music

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

This is a classic! Just seeing the title brings to mind the opening scene of Maria spinning in an open field in the mountains.

The songs are catchy and the tale is timeless.

Just be warned that your Mousekatots will probably end up sing the “Doe a Deer” song for days on end.

3. The Little Rascals (the movie)

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 

So, I came across this movie that came out when I was young. It was as cute as I remembered it. There is also a sequel that came out a few years ago that is also really cute.

Both films are currently on Netflix. You could even make a double feature!

2. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

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Photo courtesy of Disney

We watched this movie for the first time last weekend and I loved it!

It was funny and really entertaining, I laughed quite a bit, and something that parents will enjoy as much as the kids.

It is currently available for free onDemend for Direct TV customers.

1. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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Photo courtesy of Alabamatheatre.com

This movie earns the number one distinction because it is my all time favorite movie ever since I was little!

My poor grandmother who would babysit me would be subjected to watching this movie on repeat. (To this day I know the whole film word by word.)

Just beware of the tunnel scene in the middle of the film. It is so random and terrifying, and contains some graphic images that should be skipped. (It is often featured in compilations for scariest horror scenes ever.)

In my opinion this version is so much better than the remake that featured Johnny Depp.

What are your favorite films for family movie night? Leave your comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

Tot Five: How to Handle Food Allergies

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Photo courtesy of Disney Food Blog
One of the best things about Walt Disney World, Disneyland and the Disney Cruise Line is they cater to the needs of everyone.
For those dealing with food allergies dining out can be come complicated and even dangerous, depending on the severity of the allergy.
Disney has many precautions in place that help people avoid contamination.
Here are the tot five ways to help manage food allergies in your family while at a Disney property.
1. Send an email
If you or a family member have a serious, uncommon food allergy, the number one thing you should do is send an email to special.diets@disneyworld.com. You need to send the email after you have made your dining reservations and at least 14 days prior to your vacation.
People who have an allergy with the following need to send the email:
•Any allergy or intolerance not listed as a common food allergy (i.e. Gluten or wheat, lactose or milk, peanuts or tree nuts, shellfish, soy, fish, eggs and corn)
•Phenylketonuria (PKU)
•Metabolic disorders
•A single guest with multiple allergies/intolerances or multiple guests with allergies/intolerances within the same party
2. Ask for the allergy menu
All restaurants, have a list of the ingredients that are in their menu items, include the counter service restaurants.
Some of the table service restaurants will have a special allergy menu, so don’t forget to talk to your server.
3. Indicate an allergy when making a reservation
It doesn’t matter if you make your reservations online, through the My Disney Experience app or over the phone you can indicate that you have a food allergy.
Because you have this indicated with your reservation you are more likely to have a chief come out and talk to you about your allergies.
4.  Make sure you are prepared
No one wants to think that something will happen on their vacation concerning their food allergies. However, you always have to be prepared with your medication should a need arise.
If there would be an emergency, and you forgot your EpiPen there are several stations throughout Walt Disney World that have EpiPens available.
The stations are located on the guide maps.
5. Don’t be afraid to speak up
If you think there might be an issue with your order or if you don’t trust an ingredient, please speak up. You are never inconveniencing the people that work at Disney. They want you to be safe and not see something happen to you.
Do you have any tips on dealing with food allergies? Leave them in the comments below.

Tot Five: Excitement Overload

Going on a vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Disney Cruise Line is super exciting. Now imagine that you are a toddler and you just found out you will get to meet your favorite princess or Mickey Mouse in person. You can imagine how overflowing with excitement that would be.

In order to help get your toddler in the mood for the trip, here are our Tot Five ways to cultivate your toddler’s excitement.

1. Planning DVDs

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Photo courtesy of YouTube

My absolute favorite way to plan and get excited for our vacation is to watch the latest official Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Line planning DVD.

If you go on the Walt Disney World official website you can either sign up to receive the DVD for free or watch it online digitally.

If you are a real Disney geek, like I am, you can go online and watch the previous years’ videos, even going always the way back to the 1990s.

2. Character Phone Calls

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Photo courtesy of Rantchic

 

If you are traveling on the Disney Cruise Line or if you booked a travel package with Disney, you can receive a phone call from a Disney character inviting them to come for a visit.

Imagine the excitement and surprise that your tot will have when Mickey or Cinderella calls them to invite them for a visit. You can find the link on the Disney Cruise website or through your travel agent for the Walt Disney World call.

3. Countdown Board

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Another way to build the excitement for your Mousekatot is to have a countdown calendar. This can be as simple as a chalkboard, a paper chain or a sign like this. You can make it as fancy or as simple as you like, just remember to keep it fun and engage your toddler everyday with it.

If you are looking for inspiration, you can go to Pinterest where there are a lot of ideas available.

4. Disney Dinner and a Movie

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Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Add a little pixie dust to your dinner and evening by having a Disney themed dinner and a movie night.

When watching “Mulan” create a delicious Asian menu. Watching “Alice in Wonderland”? think of some traditional British fare like fish and chips or Bubble and Squeek.

Pick your favorite movie, plan out a meal themed to the film and you have the perfect family evening.

Once again if you need inspiration go to Pinterest. There are tons of recipe ideas and meal suggestions.

5. Let your Mousekatot plan their own backpack

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Photo courtesy of MyLifeOfTravelsAndAdventures.com

Planning is a big undertaking. Let your Mousekatot give a hand by packing their own “entertainment bag” that will be used to keep them busy while traveling.

Give them a few ideas on what might be good to include (such as coloring books, crayons, cards, handheld toys, etc.)

Have the toddler make a list and get your approval first and double check after everything is packed to make sure it includes things you don’t mind traveling with you.

 

How do you get your Mousekatot excited for your upcoming trip? Leave your comments below.

Major Changes for Disney Wonder

There are some major changes heading to the Disney Cruise line’s Wonder including a new are for kids, a musically inclined restaurant, an English pub and more.

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Photo courtesy of PRNewswire

 

PRNewswire announced that the ship will receive a new children’s area themed to the Marvel Super Hero Academy.

“Exclusively on the Disney Wonder, Marvel Super Hero Academy will offer extraordinary adventures in which each young guest plays an integral role. With the mentorship of some of Marvel’s greatest super heroes, young trainees will learn the value of teamwork, bravery and problem solving through hands-on play and program,” read a statement from PRNewswire.

Spiderman will be in person to show Mousekatots how to hone their spidie senses, other heroes will interact with children via a digital display, and more.

The area will also feature a display of equipment that was used to make the heroes the cultural icons they are including Captain America’s World War II shield, Black Widow’s gauntlets and more.

In the Oceaneer Club, which is for children 3 to 12, there will be new places and more time with some favorite characters including:

  • Frozen adventure: Olaf will lead summer themed games and a sing-a-long, and guests will prepare for a royal in-person visit with Anna and Elsa.
  • Disney junior characters will lead storytelling and games, including Doc McStuffins who helps children learn how to take care of their stuffed animals.
  • Andy’s Room from the favorite film series “Toy Story” will be recreated for kids to enjoy. Even Woody and Jessie will stop by for a visit.

For even the littlest of Mousekatots, the ship will create our favorite play space on the Disney Fantasy, It’s a Small World Nursery.

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Photo courtesy of PRNewswire

 

The change that I would be most excited about is the creation of Tiana’s Place Restaurant (since Princess Tiana is my favorite).

This new restaurant, that is unique to only the Wonder, will feature the finest of southern cuisine complete with saucy jazz and street party celebrations.

The restaurant, themed after “The Princess and the Frog,” will feature recipes from the flavors and ingredients of the bayou.

Tiana will be represented through the restaurant in all the details including her family photos, water lily-shaped candleholders and more. All of this will tell the story of Tiana’s rise from humble server to frog princess and restaurant entrepreneur.

Something for the parents, a new English Pub will be added to the adult district. It will transport people to a cozy pub complete with dark woods and plush furniture and a selection of specialty beers and cocktails.

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Photo courtesy of PRNewswire

 

In proper Disney fashion, the pub will have subtle nods to Disney films that took place in London.

PRNewswire listed the other enhancements included in the update:

  • After Hours — an adult district featuring the pub, an all-new-night club and a shiny new model of the popular Cadillac Lounge
  • Updates to the Senses Spa & Salon and a new Chill Teen Spa
  • “Drawn to Magic” and “Animation Magic” dinner show added to Animator’s Pallete
  • D Lounge for family entertainment
  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
  • Edge club for tweens
  • Cabanas casual dining location
  • A makeover of the adult only restaurant, Palo
  • Twist n’ Spout water slide
  • Dory’s Reef splash zone for toddlers
  • AquaLab pool and interactive water play area for kids

The Wonder will be in dry dock from Sept. 9 to Oct. 23 of this year in Cadiz, Spain. The new additions and updates will be ready for guests to enjoy starting Nov. 10 with a sailing out of Galveston, Texas.

What would you be most excited about when it comes to these new enhancements? Leave your comments below.

Disney at Sea Wednesdays: Tot Entertainment

A lot of parents wonder how old should their child be before they take them on their first Disney Cruise. In my experience any age is really the perfect age, and parents shouldn’t worry if their children are too young.

According to the cruise line’s rules, a child needs to be six months of age for most of the cruises, and 1 year of age for Hawaii, Panama and Trans-Atlantic cruises.

We took our little Mousekatot on her first cruise just after her first birthday. She had a blast and so did we. Actually, there is an argument that can be made that a Disney cruise is easier for young families than a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort.

One of the highlights for us when we take our toddler is all of the entertainment and activities that are available for her.

While a lot of the other kids have free kids clubs and teen hangouts available, the cruise ships also have It’s a Small World Nursery available to all kids up to age three.

The counselors here are amazing and really care about the kids. There are a variety of activities including toys for free play, story time, a room for naps and even snacks.

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Lily loved playing basketball at It’s a Small World Nursery

 

On our last cruise, at the end, we received a package of artwork that Lily did while she was in the nursery. The paintings including her footprint that was turned into a Disney princess. They are such priceless keepsakes that we will treasure forever.

While the other kids clubs do not have a fee associated, It’s a Small World does. It is $9 per hour for the first child and $8 for the second child, with a two hour minimum. The reason for the fee is because the cast members really have to be hands on with the age group. This can include rocking them and changing diapers. You will need to supply your own products for your toddler.

In my opinion it is worth every penny. Your toddler gets to have a little social time on their own, and Mom and Dad get some grown-up time.

Another great service that the cruise line has for toddlers is a playgroup that happens every morning at sea.

Located at the Outlook lounge, activities counselors setup the room as a fun play area for the littlest of cruisers. There are soft mats, fun and soft climbing pieces, toys and even snacks for mom and dad. The cast members are great and they will even interact and play with the kids.

We really enjoyed doing this with our daughter and giving her the opportunity to spend some time with her peers.

If your house is anything like ours, Disney Junior is constantly on. I swear the Hot Dog Dance song is always ruining in the background of my brain.

The cruise line offers a Disney Junior Character breakfast a couple times during the cruise. The breakfast is free, you will just need to go and get tickets at the Port Excursions desk on the ship.

Some of the characters featured included Jake from “Jake and the Neverland Pirates,”
Princess Sophia, Mickey and more.

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When it comes down to it, it is up to your family to decide when it is best to take your own Mousekatot on their first cruise. It could be one of your family’s greatest of adventures.