Arrrgh! Pirates IN the Caribbean on Disney Cruise Line

Avast ye Cruisers! Most Disney Cruise Line itineraries feature a Pirate Night during the voyage to allow you to immerse yourselves in the Pirate’s Life as much or as little as you choose. There is a special pirate theme at dinner, pirate games to partake in, a high-spirited deck party awash with buccaneers, and on many cruises, a fireworks spectacle at sea! Here’s a quick rundown of the events our family enjoys participating in. Savvy? (more…)

Count characters in bloom at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival

I don’t garden or tend flowers, don’t cultivate a single square foot of my property, and certainly neither of my thumbs would be mistaken for green. Instead, I’d rather get that green fix at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival. It’s all the beauty of gardening without the hours toiling away in the yard and the inevitable disappointment when the local rabbit population decimates my veggie plot.

A recent springtime trip to Epcot found our sunny days filled with lush gardens, explosions of color, favorite Disney characters in bloom and — very important here — the delicious outdoor kitchens that sustain us throughout our touring. We made our way from Future World to World Showcase checking off the character topiaries on our Garden Passports — which made for a fun activity for the kids and a cool souvenir as well. Here are some of our favorites (clockwise from top left: The Three Caballeros hot pepper garden in Mexico, Phineas and Ferb at Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure kiosk in Future World, the Seven Dwarfs in Germany and the new FIgment sculpture near Spaceship Earth.). (more…)

Join in the “Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It!” Street Party

What I appreciate most about the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party is the way it encourages guests to work off that Dole Whip. (Or, less aggressively, join in the festivities.)

The first time I saw the caravan coming down Main Street — originally called Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! —  I figured it was another rather passive parade and staked out a spot on the curb. (more…)

Chip ‘n Dale’s Campfire Sing-Along at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Chip ‘n Dale’s Campfire Sing-Along was the ideal finale to a resort day spent relaxing and exploring The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. We had earmarked the first full day of our trip as one to take advantage of some of the recreation at the expansive resort — and the campfire did not disappoint. It was a cowboy-crooning, s’mores-stuffed good time had by all.

We started things off with a round of beanbag toss alongside Chip and Dale. Arriving to the outdoor theater a half hour before the sing-along began gave us time to mingle with the ‘munks, purchase a s’mores kit from the Chuckwagon, and snag one of the wooden benches near the front (preferable to the bleachers behind). (more…)

Converse with Crush at Turtle Talk with Crush

We made a great memory several years ago at Epcot when Crush singled out our then-4-year-old daughter to chat with. The attraction does a remarkable job of animating the surfer sea turtle from Finding Nemo in real-time so he can engage you in spontaneous conversation. Our “little dudette” Emily was sitting right up front with her mouse ears on and caught Crush’s eye. Next thing we know we’re fumbling for the camera so we can record her obliging the turtle with a “totally sweet!” right into the microphone! (more…)

Character Series: Meet Mulan in World Showcase’s China Pavilion

MH mulan china pavilionQuite possibly I was the most starstruck person in the family on meeting Mulan in Epcot’s China Pavilion. She’s been my favorite Disney “princess” for years. Not-so-secretly I was thrilled when the kids were game to wait in a lengthy, humid (but shaded) queue to meet her. I tasked our eight-year-old son with collecting Mulan’s autograph for me and totally relished watching his cool attitude immediately break down when she started chatting with him. He suavely treated Mulan to his very best Mushu impression. (more…)

Train with the Jedi Academy

Personally, I’m not a big Star Wars buff. But, I figured, how fun would it be to watch my kids train as young Padawans? If stage fright didn’t rear its head, I knew my son, Andy, would love to don the robe and swing the saber. I could just picture his little Jedi instincts kicking in as Darth Vader attempts to coax the kids over to the Dark Side. It was this vision that kept us in a 40-minute line to sign up for the Jedi Training Academy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Earn Wilderness Explorer Badges on the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

We quickly discovered that in order for the kids to earn these badges on the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, we had to be willing to set quite a chunk of time aside for the elaborate wilderness-themed playground. With rocks to climb, caves to explore, rope bridges to cross, tunnels, slides and even a zip-line, we could easily spend the afternoon. How could we work a little structure into this attraction without zapping the children’s free play? (more…)

Swim with Nemo & Friends at The Seas

MH seas with nemo & friendsI have a soft spot for the ride-through attraction at The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion. It was just about the first ride my firstborn experienced on his first trip to Walt Disney World – and to continue with the trend here – we were among the earliest passengers to embark on the ride after the pavilion underwent a major Finding Nemo makeover.

I grew up before Nemo and his pals took up residence in Epcot’s original Living Seas Pavilion. In my day we sat through a film centered on the formation of the world’s oceans before “descending” to the ocean floor itself in a hydrolator. Instead of chasing after a callow clownfish in a coral-colored clamshell, we rode Seacabs along an underwater tunnel through the second-largest saltwater aquarium in the world. Both versions of the attraction share an ultimate destination: SeaBase (originally SeaBase Alpha), a collection of exhibits and attractions that explore life within the “Big Blue World”. (more…)

“Dream Along with Mickey” on the Castle Stage

Dream Along with Mickey that we could find some shade in which to enjoy this upbeat show backdropped by Cinderella Castle? The thought crossed my mind as we stood in the heat of a late October afternoon. The people who vacation in July – how can they keep from melting while Mickey convinces a skeptical Donald Duck that dreams really can come true? (more…)