Paddling our own Davy Crockett Explorer Canoe

We hail from the state of the voyageurs, the land of ten thousand lakes and the headwaters of the Mississippi. Canoes are not a novelty in our neck of the woods. That doesn’t stop us from thinking of how extraordinary it is, however, to ply the Rivers of America alongside the Mark Twain Riverboat and the Sailing Ship Columbia. Certainly not in Minnesota are you going to circle Tom Sawyer’s Island with its pirate trappings and treetop secret hideouts. Not likely that you’ll encounter a Native American village along the banks, either, or all manner of wildlife conveniently hanging out at the river’s edge for easy viewing.

The park guest-powered Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes in Disneyland have been on the map since 1956, making them one of the few remaining attractions of that early era. But please, don’t make the mistake of thinking the canoes have passed their expiration date. Our whole family found it to be one of our favorite outdoor attractions. Most of the kids were excited to get their paddles in the water on a sunny spring day (even the smallest ones can participate if they please) and my tween amused himself by “accidentally” dousing me each time he dipped his oar. All of us enjoyed rounding a curve to find the native woodland creatures out to greet us. Sure, you can find moose in Minnesota, but good luck spotting ones so eager to be photographed.


Saddle up “Jingles” on King Arthur Carrousel

She was Walt’s favorite horse. Christened “Jingles” for the ornate carvings of jingle bells on her saddle and cantle, she’s the plum ride on King Arthur’s Carrousel for those in the know. Lovely touches on Jingles include tributes to Julie Andrews and her famous role in Mary Poppins: a quartered crest of images special to the film on the saddle and an umbrella on the blanket. Other bits of glitz on the horse are the beautifully-painted rosettes on her head, a jeweled Hidden Mickey on her rump, and a breastband embossed with a Disney “D”. Jingles was dedicated to Julie Andrews in 2008.

Location: Jingles is located among the steeds on King Arthur Carrousel in the Fantasyland section of Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort.

A very merry unbirthday on Mad Tea Party

My stomach just isn’t what it used to be. I stopped deliberately spinning those teacups half a lifetime ago. When the kids were toddlers they were pretty content to ride without the extra rotations but each year they get a little bolder and want to move a little faster. Thus, my two main Mad Tea Party rules are as follows: Make sure to ride before lunch. And please, go easy on Mom.

Celebrate your own unbirthday aboard a twirling teacup on both coasts.  Our favorite way to spin is beneath the colorful lanterns in Disneyland Park.

Location: Find the Mad Tea Party attraction in the Fantasyland sections of both Magic Kingdom Park, Walt Disney World Resort, and Disneyland Park, Disneyland Resort.

Hunting an Easter Eggstravaganza

The hunt was on for these Disney kids. The annual EGGstravaganza, hosted by several of the Disney parks during the spring season, can be a fun family activity that doesn’t have to divert your attention much from a touring plan. You can simply be on the lookout for the sizeable character eggs while moving between attractions. Or, as we did, you can purchase a special map and stickers to mark your progress. Whether or not you choose to complete the hunt, you are entitled to a little prize. We found that our kids, even the big ones, loved scouting for the eggs. Here and there a bit of fierce competition broke through their united front, but for the most part it was a cooperative effort.  It’s also a great activity for younger ones to do while their big sibs are on the thrill rides. (more…)

10 Things for Tweens at the Edge Youth Club, Disney Cruise Line

The Edge youth club on the Disney Cruise Line ships for ages 11-14 is the perfect getaway for tweens to meet new friends, hang out, and get some much-needed time alone with kids your age! From a recent awesome experience, I can tell you about my top ten reasons to go here:

1. Heroes vs. Villains: This is one of the big group activities done every day in Edge. At the beginning of the cruise, you split into two teams, and the game is on! Throughout the cruise you participate in activities such as dodgeball, trivia, and singing contests. The team with the most activities won by the cruise’s end is the champion (our team won, 6-5!). (more…)

Spend a day on Castaway Cay’s family beaches

Sunbeams on placid turquoise water, soft white sand under the feet, and a day stretched out ahead with nothing much in particular to do. It’s a dream come true in March for a family that hails from the snowy state of Minnesota. This island paradise, known as Castaway Cay, is an exclusive retreat for guests sailing aboard Disney Cruise Line. We spent a wonderful, relaxing day on Castaway’s family beaches recently, much needed after months of cold weather. The kids were happy paddling around on inner tubes (rental on the island), collecting shells (for pictures only!), and playing in the sand. During a relatively uncrowded cruise, we had no problem snagging lounge chairs to kick back in – not that our little ones allowed us to do much dozing in the sun. (more…)

See the species soar in Flights of Wonder

It’s such a joy when we cross off some rare attraction on the to-do list for the first time. In the case of a recent fall trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we finally made it to the Flights of Wonder show! The show had never been a priority, though I had read nothing but positive reviews. (more…)

Disney Classic: Matterhorn Bobsleds

How refreshing it is to slide down, around and through this landmark Disney coaster. Pocked with caves, ice crystals and Yetis to give it that Alpine feel, you can almost forget you’re in a sunny Southern California theme park. Listen for the howling of the wind on the mountain and the sounds of yodeling in the queue before you embark on your “thrilling bobsled ride!”


Listen to the Voices of Liberty harmonize

Many an exhausted mid-afternoon have we found ourselves halfway around Epcot’s World Showcase seeking air conditioning and a peaceful respite. For our family, nothing recharges the touring batteries better than a break on one of the benches tucked under the soaring dome of the American Adventure Rotunda. If we’re lucky, while waiting for the titular attraction to begin, we’ll be treated to a magnificent performance of “Shenandoah” by the a capella ensemble Voices of Liberty. The acoustics in the Rotunda are incredible. (more…)

A round of golf at Winter Summerland Miniature Golf

We’ve all had those days at Disney: half days before we’re due back at the airport, days when we need a break from the hustle-bustle of the theme parks. In our case, we had a day to kill before setting sail on the Disney Magic. We decided to head over for a round at Disney’s Winter Summerland Miniature Golf. (more…)