How to Become a Wilderness Explorer at Walt Disney World

Wilderness Explorer program at Disney's Animal Kingdom

“A Wilderness Explorer is a friend to all, be it plants or fish or tiny mole.”

If you’ve ever watched the Disney/Pixar film, “Up”, then you know how important being a Wilderness Explorer is to Russell.  Earning all those badges can be hard work!  Did you know that your little explorer can become an Official Wilderness Explorer while visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

Today we celebrate Earth Day.  The day where the world shows its support for environmental protection, is a perfect day to share with you information about Walt Disney World’s Wilderness Explorer program.  This educational and challenging activity involves your child participating on a self-guided adventure throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.  During his adventure, he can earn more than 30 different sticker badges to complete the 40 page Wilderness Explorers Handbook. The handbook and miniature challenges are included with the cost of your park ticket, so don’t worry about any extra fees.  It’s up to your child and, of course your family’s schedule, as to how many badges he earns in one trip to the park. Explorers are not required to fill the entire book in one day.

Wilderness Explorer HandbookThis past fall, my son Gavin became a Wilderness Explorer.  During our visit at Animal Kingdom, we stumbled upon the Wilderness Explorer sign-up kiosk located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island.  We noticed a bunch of children yelling “Caw Caw Roar“, so headed over to check it out.  There Gavin met a Troop Leader and a Badge Guide.  They welcomed him into the program and helped him earn his first badge, “The Wilderness Explorer Call Badge”.  Then his Troop Leader handed him a pencil and a handbook, which included a map showing all the badge-earning challenges he had before him, and sent him on his way.  We quickly discovered that we could spend more than an entire day earning badges, but didn’t have quite enough time that day to complete them all.  So we decided to complete badge-earning challenges which were at the attractions that our family already predetermined to see that day.  The one badge-earning experience that really stood out from the rest was at Conservation Station.

Disney World September October 2013 259At Conservation Station Wilderness Explorers can earn a handful of important badges in one location!

Conservation Station was where Gavin learned about conserving natural resources, caring for our planet Earth and the animals that inhabit it.  During the years of working at Walt Disney World and then over a dozen trips to parks after moving back to Pennsylvania, I never took the time to go to this attraction before our Wilderness Explorer day.  What a mistake that was!  It’s a wonderful experience where learning meets fun.  Of course it is, this is what Disney does best!

Disney World September October 2013 269Although earning badges was fun for Gavin, Victoria spent her entire time at Conservation Station brushing the animals.  Don’t forget to wash your hands when you leave this station.  You’re child will earn his “Hand Washing Badge”.

Gavin truly enjoyed participating in the Wilderness Explorer program.  We plan to take his handbook with us the next time we visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and we’ll complete some new challenges until he’s earned all the badges to complete his handbook.

I encourage you to stop by the Wilderness Explorer sign-up kiosk during your next trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  When you do, tell them we said “Caw Caw Roar!”

Wilderness Explorer discoveries

 

 

 

Easter at Disney: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort’s Easter Egg Display

Grand Floridian Easter Eggs in loggy

Have you visited Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa during the Easter season?

Happy Easter to you and your family!  Was the bunny good to you this morning?   Personally I was hoping to receive one of these beautiful chocolate eggs from the bunny.  However, unfortunately, the task was a bit unachievable for Mr. Rabbit. On the bright side, I’m happy to report that you and your family can still visit these outstanding works of edible art in the lobby of  Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa through April 22nd .

Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa’s lobby is well-known for the life-size Gingerbread Houses that amaze the resort’s guests during the Christmas season.  But did you know that “The Grand” is in its third year of hosting a wondrous display of decorated chocolate eggs?  Below is a photo of the information you’d find about this display if you happened to stumble upon it today at The Grand.

Grand Floridian Easter Eggs

Photo courtesy of Jackie Mroczka

If you’re visiting The Walt Disney World Resort today, I hope you have the opportunity to see these exquisite eggs in person.  Wherever you’ll be celebrating today, I hope you all have a blessed day with the ones you love this Easter.  Happy Easter!

Disney Easter Egg Decorating Ideas For Kids: Q-Tip painting and Monster’s U Egg Dying

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Today, many kitchens are filled with families preparing for Easter by dying hard-boiled eggs.

Yesterday, my children and I followed the tradition of decorating eggs, but this year we decorated eggs two different ways, of course both showcasing our #DisneySide. For our usual way of decorating eggs, I purchased a packaged dying & decorating kit to use at Grandma’s house for some hard-boiled egg fun.  I purchased this Monsters University Easter Egg Dye Kit at Target for $3 US.

Easter Eggs 018Gavin’s favorite part of the kit was the little blue hard hat that he used for his Mike egg.  I’m thrilled to report that he made this adorable egg for his Mommy!

Easter Eggs 043As with previous years, the kids and I had a blast dying eggs with Grandma.  It’s a shame that despite all the hard work that went into decorating the eggs, they will be gone in a few short days.  So this year I scheduled an additional egg decorating activity for the kids to make eggs that we will be able to keep for years.  I purchased these craft eggs at our local Michael’s Craft Store.  I laid out some newspaper, wax paper, paint and Q-Tips and let the kids have some fun.  Having small children work with non-breakable eggs really is a great idea.  The eggs fell on the floor a few times and it saved quite a few tears when my son saw that they had survived the multiple falls!

Easter Eggs 003This Q-Tip project is perfect for young children, like my 6-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter.

Here are the reasons that I love to have my children paint with Q-Tips.  First, LESS MESS.  Painting with kids is messy.  Giving a child a tiny little cotton swab to use for painting alleviates the potential mess that could come with having a regular paint brush in the set of destructive little hands.

Easter Eggs 008Second, painting with Q-Tips allows for QUICK CLEAN UP…if there is such a thing with kids.  Once the kids were finished, I simply picked up the Q-Tips and threw them away.  I  enjoyed not having to clean the brushes after the project was over.  Take a glimpse of just some of the Q-Tips that were used in decorating six eggs!

Disney character inspired eggs Q-Tip painting

Have you figured out what characters we’ve modeled our painted eggs after? Victoria worked on a pretty Sophia the First purple egg.  She tried her best to draw the white on her dress, so the other purple dress is my attempt to make a Sophia dress design.  Gavin’s red and black egg is a Mickey Mouse inspired egg.  Any guesses as to whom the silly one in the middle is themed after?

Happy Egg Decorating!

Thumper’s Bunny Feet Cake Pops

Bunny FeetDuring the last few months of winter, the kids and I have been digging into the movie drawers in our living room.  Each weekend we take one evening to have a Disney movie night.  Sometimes we watch a newly released Disney film, but most of the time I like to recommend three movies from the Disney vault and let the kids pick which one they want to watch.  During the month of April the movie Bambi is at the top of my must view list.   From the “Drip Drip Drop” of the  “Little April Showers” outside, to the celebration of rebirth, I think this movie is a perfect choice to welcome in Spring.  As an added bonus, it stars one of Disney’s most famous bunnies, Thumper!  I used these two Thumper books as references for making these pops look a bit like his feet.  The books really get a work out during the Easter season in our house.  On a side note, if you have a toddler in your house, I’d highly recommend the “Disney Bunnies” books!  You can find three of the “Disney Bunnies” books by clicking on the Disney Store logo on the side bar.  It will take you to the Disney Store site.  Once you’re there search for toddler books and you’ll find them.

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To make our movie night extra special, I like to make the kids a themed treat.  These bunny feet cake pops were inspired by Thumper’s oversized thumping paws.  As with all of the treats I make, these are super simple to make.  I have to warn you, they’re packed full of sugar so I’d only recommend them for a special treat and not an everyday snack.  If you’d like to make them for your little bunnies, here’s how!

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Supplies:

  • bright white Wilton candy melts
  • vanilla candy melts
  • black food coloring
  • cookie pop sticks
  • pink jelly beans
  • Tastykake Dreamies Crème Kakes

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Melt bright white Wilton candy melts in a shallow microwave safe pan.  The pan that I used is a Pampered Chef melting tray.  Once melted add some black food coloring to create the light shade of gray for the top of Thumper’s feet.

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Tilt the pan so that all of the melted chocolate is on one end.  Place the rounded top of the Crème Kake down into the corner of the pan.  Roll the top of the cake back and forth to cover the top and half of the sides of the cake with gray chocolate.  Insert one of the pop sticks half way through the cake.  This will help you take it out of the pan.   The photo below shows you what the end result of this step will look like.  Allow the chocolate to harden before moving onto the next step.

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Once the chocolate on the cake is hardened, add vanilla candy melts to your remaining gray chocolate and melt the combination.  The yellow color of the vanilla melts will give the gray chocolate a brown tint for the bottom of the feet.

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Holding the top of the cake, dip the bottom of the foot and the bottom of the sides in the brown tinted color chocolate.  Next, lay the bunny feet top side down on wax paper, so that the bottom of his foot is facing up.  While the chocolate is still warm, add the jelly beans to create the paw effect.  Allow the jelly beans to harden on the chocolate and you’re done!

If you’ve made these for a later date, be sure to store the pops in an air tight container to keep their freshness or if you’re giving them away for an Easter treat, wrap the pops in plastic and secure with a bow.

Have you made any bunny-inspired treats this spring?  I’d love for you to share them!  If you’re a blogger, feel free to add the link to your bunny-inspired treat in the comments section below.

I love all of Thumper’s little statements in the film Bambi.  Today, I’ll leave you with these wise words that Thumper learned from his father:

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Thumper is such a smart little bunny.

Thumper-Inspired Easter Garland

Easter Garland

When I think of Spring and the Easter season, I think of my favorite Disney bunny, Thumper.  His thumping feet, big fluffy tail and twitching pink nose made me fall in love with him as a little girl.  He’s so adorable!  Couldn’t you just squeeze him?

I’m not the only bunny fan in our home.  My daughter, Victoria, loves rabbits, aka “Hop Hops”.  She has a couple Thumper books that we enjoy reading. Our favorite one is a sweet “Touch-and-Feel” board book, called Thumper’s Fluffy Tail.  To say the least, she’s pretty taken by Thumper too.  Today I decided to make Victoria a “Thumper-Inspired” Easter garland for her bedroom.  Her room is filled with a variety of pinks and whites.  I thought the brown of burlap and the gray and white of Thumper would coordinate nicely in her room and I knew she would love to see little bunnies hopping across her window!

This garland is an easy, quick and inexpensive way to add a touch of spring, Disney-Inspired of course, to any room of your house.  Here’s how I made it!

mom's birthday and easter banner 017Supplies

You’ll need burlap toile, a marker, black and white paint, a Wilton bunny cookie cutter, adhesive, and ribbon.  I used Fabri-Tac for my adhesive and a 5/8 inch grosgrain stitch ribbon for my garland.

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Iron the burlap, measure, mark and cut out five triangle flags.

The burlap toile that I purchased was 18″ x 24″.  I had enough material to cut all five, 8″ wide, triangles and have material left over.

Wilton cookie cutter on burlap

Using a rabbit cookie cutter for a template, paint the gray-bodied rabbits onto the burlap.

This cookie cutter is a Wilton cookie cutter.  Wilton sells at least one other rabbit cookie cutter.  I chose this one because it reminded me of little Thumper.

In addition, when you’re looking at my photo you can see I used wax paper underneath the burlap while I was painting.  Just a bit of hard knowledge that I learned, double up on the wax paper because the paint can seep through onto your work surface.

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After the gray paint has dried on all five flags, add Thumper’s white tail to each.

I have to tell you that I got a bit impatient and brought out the blow dryer to move the project along.

mom's birthday and easter banner 031Once the paint has dried, glue ribbon to the top of each flag to create your garland.

"Thumper Inspired" bunny garland  It’s that simple!

I’m really pleased with the results, especially for the minimal amount of effort it took to complete this craft.  It looks great in my daughter’s room and I think it would work perfectly in a baby’s nursery and especially on a dessert table for Easter! Don’t you agree that there’s something about a dessert table that screams “I need to be decorated!”?

Thanks for stopping by the blog today and remember, “Eating greens is a special treat.  It makes long ears and great big feet.”

 

 

Top Five Free Children’s Activities at Walt Disney World

Free adventures at Disney World

Vacationing at Walt Disney World isn’t cheap.  It’s nice to know that there are things you can enjoy in your down time from the parks that won’t add to your vacation expenses.  Today I’d like to share with you and your family our family’s top five things to do at The Walt Disney World Resort that are free for all guests to experience.

Boardwalk

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

1. Disney’s Boardwalk Entertainment

Varying from day-to-day, you will often find jugglers, magic shows and other street entertainment while walking along the Boardwalk.  Our favorite time to visit Disney’s Boardwalk Resort is in the evening.  When Epcot’s world-famous “Illuminations” show fills the night air with a beautiful display of fireworks you can see the fireworks from the Boardwalk.  If you’d like to explore Disney’s Boardwalk, and you’re staying on Disney property, you can get there by taking a bus to the Disney Hollywood Studios.  To the right of the park’s entrance you’ll find a boat launch, which can take you to Disney’s Boardwalk Resort.  If you’d like to walk to the resort instead of taking the boat, there is an illuminated path to stroll along.   If you’d prefer to drive there, you’ll find Disney’s Boardwalk Resort located in the Epcot Resort Area.  At the security gate of the resort, let the officer know that you’d like to check out the Boardwalk’s entertainment and he will tell you where you can park.

Free Adventures at Walt Disney World

2. The MONORAIL

Riding the monorail does NOT require a theme park ticket.  We love taking a ride on the monorail simply to enjoy the sights.  The monorail track has two different routes.  In the Magic Kingdom Resort area the Resort Monorail will stop at The Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, The Transportation and Ticket Center, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.  If you get off of the monorail at the TTC you can hop the rails over to the Epcot monorail route.  The kids love to ride and look out the window.  I enjoy getting off at the different resorts to check out themed décor and of course, their shops!  Warning, the shops may result in spending…

Electrical Water PageantPhoto credit: auntie rain / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

3. Electrical Water Pageant

The Electrical Water Pageant has captivated guests with its beautiful pageantry of lighted floats synchronized to a fun musical score since 1971.  I remember seeing it as a child during the 1980s when my family stayed at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground.  Now when I visit WDW with my family, we often watch the show at Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. Regardless of where or when I’ve watched the dolphins dance across the water or saw the Crocodile chomp away, it’s always magical.   Every evening the parade performs in six different locations on the two waterways located in the Magic Kingdom Resort area, Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon.  This would be a perfect show to catch if you’re visiting resorts off of the monorail loop one evening.  As a reminder, there’s no cost to watch the pageant!  To find out more information about the pageant, such as show times and locations, please visit the link below.  It will take you directly to the Electrical Water Pageant page on Walt Disney World’s website.

  https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/entertainment/magic-kingdom/electrical-water-pageant/

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4. The Lego Store at Downtown Disney

My son LOVES this place.  Located outside of The Lego Store at Downtown Disney is a wonderful Lego construction area for kids to create their own race cars and then put them to the test against each other.  The photo above of my son and nephew building their cars, shows an example of one of the several tables with Lego building supplies that are stationed through the common area.

IMG_2434I apologize for the poor quality of the Lego Store images.  They were last-minute photos with my cell phone.  Regardless, I think you can see from these photos, this is serious business for the little builders.  They’d race and rebuild and then race again.  No lie, the boys would have played for more than an hour if we did not move them along to another store.

DSCF87575. Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Settlement/ Marina Area

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is truly a gem that is often overlooked when planning at Disney vacation.  There are so many fun and unique activities that you can do at this resort that I’d highly recommend all Disney vacation planners to take a look at this resort’s line up of fun experiences.  However, today I’d like to share with you the “free” activities that we like to experience at The Fort.

A Disney vacation can be, at times, overwhelming to small children.  Midweek during our vacation we always plan a couple hour excursion during the day to Fort Wilderness.  When in the Magic Kingdom Resort Area the best way to get there is by boat, the boat ride alone is wonderfully relaxing.  Then when we dock at the marina we head to the playground.  It’s simple, with a few swings and a climbing area, but it’s just what a little Mouseketeer needs to have a bit of down time.  Each time we visit we go during the day in the middle of the week, so there’s hardly any resort guests around.

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Within the Settlement area is ton of things to experience.  To name a few, you can visit the Tri-Circle-D Ranch Stables to see ponies and horses, shop at The Settlement Trading Post (obviously this could cost you some money) or check out the Fort’s restaurants (again you may end up opening your wallet.)   Our family believes that hidden inside The Settlement area is the Fort’s hidden gem, Trails End Restaurant.  We’ve often eaten there for lunch.  There’s no wait time and the food is fantastic.  On the beautiful wrap around porch you’ll find games of checkers and building blocks for you and your children to play with.  In the evenings I’m certain they’re used by restaurant guests, but during the afternoon, when guests are at the parks the porch is empty and waiting for fun to be had.  Last but not least, enjoy a stroll on the beautiful sands of the marina’s beach.  During our walks at the Fort we’ve even come across an armadillo or two!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s review of my family’s top five picks for Fun Free activities at Walt Disney World.  Is there a free activity that you like to do while on vacation at Walt Disney World?  If so, I’d love for you to share!

Have a Fantastic Friday Everyone!

Mouse Ears Mom’s Review of “The Pirate Fairy”

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Do you love the movie Peter Pan?

On April 1st DisneyToon Studios released their fifth film in the Tinker Bell series titled “The Pirate Fairy”.  When it arrived at our doorstep yesterday afternoon, the kids and I sat down for a special treat ~ Movie Night on a Tuesday night!  Our movie night is usually on a Friday or Saturday evening, but the three of us were so excited to see this film that I made an exception this time.  I have to say, it was a good decision on my part.  We all loved it!  Gavin and I have proclaimed it to be our favorite Tinker Bell movie to date.

Here’s a little glimpse into the movie.  “The Pirate Fairy” tells the story of a curious and smart dust keeper fairy called Zarina.  She’s a bit like our favorite fairy, Tinker Bell.  Unfortunately, Zarina’s experiments get out of control and land her in trouble with the head of the Pixie Dust operations.  Upset and frustrated, she choses to leave Pixie Hollow and “hooks” up with a few pirates at Skull Rock.  Can you guess whom one of them might be? If you’ve guessed a certain Captain then you know Zarina is going to need some help from her friend Tinker Bell.

I truly enjoyed watching this movie with a Peter Pan magnifying glass, dissecting each scene to find a connection to the original Peter Pan film.  There are so many connections that I believe it’s a MUST SEE for any Peter Pan fan.  The film is a pure joy to watch.  The storyline is sweet.  The animation is fantastic for a direct to DVD release and the soundtrack was fun and cheerful.  I simply love the song, “Who I am” by Natasha Bedinfield.

Gavin, my six-year-old, who said he was “too old to watch a Tinker Bell movie”, couldn’t help getting caught up in the storyline, laughing and telling me how he sees it all connecting to the Peter Pan movie.  Victoria, being two, made it half way through the film before becoming distracted, returning later when the music grabbed her attention.  She loves “Jake and the Neverland Pirates”  Disney Junior show, so she’s familiar with the most famous pirate.  However, I was really surprised when watching “The Pirate Fairy” she announced, “Hook Mommy, Hook!”

So in case you have any doubt, my Mouse Ears Mom’s opinion of “The Fairy Pirate” is Fantastic!

If you have a swashbuckling crew that you plan to view the movie with, you may want to make them a few Pirate themed treats to enjoy during your family’s movie night.  Here is a photo my Captain Hook cupcakes. The link below will take you to the simple tutorial of how I made them.

http://www.mouseearsmom.com/2013/07/22/a-pirate-picnic/

Captain Hook Cupcake

If you’re a fan of Peter Pan, I hope you have the opportunity to view “The Pirate Fairy.”  I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!  If you haven’t purchased this film yet, stop by the Disney Store online, where you can purchase the movie along with more than a dozen Pirate Fairy items!  Below is the Disney link to take you there!

Find your favorite Disney Fairies apparel, toys, collectibles, movies and more in the Disney Fairies Shop at the online Disney Store.

Kids Easter Activity: Mod Podge Minnie Mouse Easter Eggs

Mod Podge Easter EggsTo some they’re just scribbles…to others they are works of art.

I love to see my children creating.  I encourage any little creative spark I see within them at that very second I notice them reaching for a crayon.  I try my best to display and not throw away any of their artwork, but coloring sheets can be overwhelming.  Victoria, my two-year old, can go through three sheets in a sitting.  I have to admit that not all of them have made it to the refrigerator display.  Today I decided to channel her love of coloring into creating cute little Easter gifts for members of our family that I know will appreciate them as “Works of Fine Art”!  Here’s how we made them…

Victoria and I began by getting out her Mickey Mouse Clubhouse coloring book.  She picked her favorite coloring sheets of Minnie Mouse and got straight to work.  If you’d like to try this too, any coloring book will do.

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Once she finished coloring her sheet, I cut the paper down to 4.5 inches from top to bottom and kept the width at its original size.  We used extra-large eggs for this project so the eggs used the entire width of the paper.

Gramma and papa's 104Before we used the Mod Podge, I cut slits into the top and bottom of the sheet.  This allowed the egg to be covered a tiny bit easier.  Then the messiness began, aka Mod Podge.  Victoria took this step very seriously.  Finally the yuck factor became too overwhelming for her and she announced “Mommy, you do, I watch” for the remaining egg.  Gramma and papa's 109

And that’s it!  After the eggs were dried, I hot glued a little pink bow on to each.

Gramma and papa's 111I hope that you enjoyed reading about our Easter Egg craft.  This craft was perfect for my little two-year old, Minnie Mouse fan, but I think it would be a great project for older elementary education kids too!  The ideas for Mod Podge on plastic eggs is endless!

I hope you enjoy your weekend and it’s full of creative fun!

The Magical Reasons Our Family Loves Bay Lake Tower

Bay Lake Tower and The Contemporary Resort “Our Building”

Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is my family’s favorite resort at Walt Disney World. We stay there so often that my six year old son, Gavin, refers to Bay Lake Tower as “Our Building”. From the monorail, to Chef Mickeys, to the background sounds of a steam train’s whistle blowing nearby, to the side walk leading to the Magic Kingdom’s gates, to the beaconing boat dock by Bay Lake, every corner of the Tower leads to adventure. For my family, it’s the tower of our own Disney castle nestled nicely next to Cindy’s!

Today I’ll share with you the many magical reasons that my family choses to stay at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. You’ll read about the convenience. You’ll read about the fun. You’ll read about the potential money savings. And of course, you’ll read about the Magic!

walkway to Magic KingdomConvenience

My husband and I have two small children, 6 years old and 2 years old. The Magic Kingdom is our most frequented park during each vacation. Our mornings are as close to stress free as could be possible. There is no rushing to the bus stop in hopes that we don’t miss the next bus to the Magic Kingdom. We simply take the elevator downstairs, walk out our door and stroll along our side walk which leads us straight to the Magic Kingdom . Then, as the evening comes to a close and our feet are tired of walking, we hop on a monorail and get off at the first stop, The Contemporary Resort.  BLT (Bay Lake Tower) is connected to the Contemporary by a walkway located on the Concourse Level of the main Contemporary building.  The Concourse level is where you’ll catch the monorail and it’s also home to the famous Chef Mickey’s Restaurant and Contempo Café, a quick service dining option. So to get to our room all we have to do is roll our stroller off the monorail, walk across the walkway, hit the elevator button for our floor and we’re home.

Chef Mickey’s is the 2nd most popular character dining experience at Walt Disney World. Each year we kick off our first full day of our Disney vacation by having breakfast with the characters at Chef Mickey’s. We leave our room fifteen minutes before our reservation time and moments later we’re at the check-in desk of the restaurant. If you are not staying at a Magic Kingdom Resort, getting to the early morning breakfast reservations for Chef Mickey’s can sometimes be challenging, especially if you do not have a vehicle. There are no direct buses to the Contemporary from other Disney Resorts. With small children, mornings are stressful enough without adding the pressure of lengthy transportation ordeal to get to the Contemporary. For example, if you’re staying at the Coronado Springs Resort you would take a bus to Downtown Disney then transfer to a bus to the Contemporary, or take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and walk over to the Resort.

Another convenience of BLT is that Epcot is an easy and fun ride to the Transportation and Ticket Center and then a skip over to the Epcot Monorail. Traveling by monorail is massively convenient if you have an infant or a young child. Little ones love riding the monorail. It’s not out of the norm to hear that the monorail is a little Mouseketeer’s “favorite ride at Disney”! Also, strollers do not have to be collapsed for you to ride this mode of transportation. This is especially convenient if your child is taking his or her nap at the time.

Most importantly, Bay Lake Tower is a Disney Vacation Club Resort. Since it is part of the DVC family of resorts, all rooms have extra amenities, such as a kitchenette in the studio rooms and a full size kitchen in the one, two and three bedroom grand villas. Although this is a DVC Resort, you do not have to be a Disney Vacation Club member to stay at Bay Lake Tower.

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Bay Lake Tower offers a variety of fun adventures.  In this photo my husband and our son wait on the boat dock for a boat to take them to Fort Wilderness Campground where we’ll check out the playground and animals.

Fun Adventures

An entire post could be dedicated to fun adventures to be had while staying on property at any of Disney’s resorts. However, today I’ll share the fun adventures that my family enjoys while staying at BLT.

After checking into our resort, the first thing we do is drop off our carry-on luggage in our room, check out our view of the castle and monorail, and then head to the monorail platform for a ride. Due to travel, our first day at WDW is often a half day, so we try to do some fun things that don’t require using a full day’s park ticket. Although the monorail is used to get to two of Disney’s four main theme parks, it also stops at three resorts, Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We enjoy stopping at each Resort to explore their gift shops, restaurants and entertainment.

Another fun exploration that’s a must do for my family is riding a boat from our boat launch over to the Fort Wilderness Campground where we let loose and explore. Our son loves to play at the beach, then move to the playground, followed by checking out the animals and he’s even frequented their arcade. The Fort seems to move at a much slower pace. They have less crowds in the middle of the afternoon, so it makes for a great place to go for a brief escape from the over stimulating environment that children are in while at the parks.

Once we return back to “Our Building” we stop in at Community Hall to check out the week’s special events and projects. The Community Hall is usually very quiet when we stop in during the day, so our son has the place to himself, pick out coloring pages, check out their movies and games. One great activity that is preschooler friendly and that they seem to do often, is make your own pillowcase or pirate treasure bag. We also note the movies that will be playing that week at our resort.

Having a young children that have an early bed time, we haven’t yet taken advantage of the following fun adventure, but I thought I would mention it, in case you have an older child that could enjoy the event. During the evenings, outside of Bay Lake Tower and the Contemporary, located in a nice open area, between the two buildings and close to the boat launch area, a Disney movie is shown on a huge screen for families to watch. I look forward to the future when I can take our children to one of those showings. I’m certain they will think it’s pretty cool.

IMG_2416And we can’t forget the awesome slide at the pool!  Not pictured in this photo is a wonderful splash area separate from the pool, perfect for toddlers and preschool age children.

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In the above photo Gavin intently watches the monorail while finishing up breakfast in our 2 bedroom villa at BLT.

Money Saving Potential

Since Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a Disney Vacation Club Resort, many of the conveniences of home can be found at the Resort and some even in your room. The resort has four types of rooms, Deluxe Studios, One Bedrooms, Two Bedroom, and Three Bedroom Grand Villas. The Deluxe Studio is the type of accommodation that we have recently chosen, since our family consists of four. In previous years, we have stayed in the Two Bedroom when we stayed with additional members of our extended family. Both types of accommodations at Bay Lake Tower were fantastic. In regards to saving money, the Deluxe Studio and the Two Bedroom saved us a lot of money when it came to purchasing food in the parks.

The Deluxe Studio at Bay Lake Tower has a kitchenette, which we used everyday. It includes a small refrigerator, a kitchen sink, microwave, coffee pot, toaster and a pull out pantry. The kitchenette area is stocked with plastic utensils and paper products, including paper plates and bowls. Other than the morning that we eat at Chef Mickey’s, we eat our breakfast in our room before leaving for the parks. It’s so nice to sit on the balcony and watch the park come to life in the morning. You can see the Monorails start zipping on their rail, hear the whistle of the steam engine warming up for its day, and watch as the astro-orbiter prepares for approaching passengers, all as you munch on a bagel and sip your tea. With the close proximity to the Magic Kingdom, we would eat one other meal at our resort each day. The short walk or monorail ride back to the resort allowed us to do this without missing too much of our day. On occasion, we would sneak in a quick nap for everyone.

The One, Two and Three Bedroom Villas all have full size fully equip kitchens with a small dining area and a spacious living room. It’s wonderful to have that extra space if you have a large family or are traveling in a group.

In addition, they have a washer and dryer within the one, two and three bedroom villas. The Deluxe Studios do not have the washer and dryer but there is a laundry facility at Bay Lake Tower and it is free for guests to use. I find that this has saved our family money. We usually travel by plane, so when we do we have to watch how much stuff we pack. Checking luggage can really add up to a large expense with multiple people in your family needing to check bags. We make sure that we take only enough clothing to cover three or four days, then we do laundry on our day off, usually the middle of our week.

As I mentioned many times earlier, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a Disney Vacation Club Resort. Our family members are DVC members. We use our membership to the fullest and know that it has saved us a lot of money. Honestly,we would not be able to afford to stay at this magnificent resort without our ownership. If you are a Disney Fan and love to travel to Walt Disney World and stay on Disney property, take the time to look into the membership. The DVC tours, that are done on Walt Disney World property, are stress free and fun. It could save you thousands too.

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Magic

The one word to sum up staying at Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is magical. Each night the resort is in the middle to two special evening events, Wishes and The Electrical Water Pageant. Since there are several types of views at Bay Lake Tower, each room experiences a different view of the events.

The resort rooms are booked under the following “views”, Theme Park View, Standard View, and Bay Lake View. I’ve come to find out that there is another view labeled “obstructed” but this is not an option to book. The resort rooms are broken down into the following percentages, 25% of the rooms are considered Theme Park View, 25% are Standard View, and 50% of the rooms are Bay Lake View. On one occasion, we booked a Bay Lake View and were given an Obstructed View. This view was fantastic for us. We had a view of the Magic Kingdom but also some of Bay Lake.

Disney Easter Disney Birthday 025The theme park view in a Studio Villa during the day.

Most of our stays have been in a Studio with a Theme Park View. We enjoy staying in our room and using the balcony to view Wishes. The kids’ favorite part is seeing Tinkerbell fly!   After my children and husband are fast asleep, I enjoy a silent moment, soaking in the sight of Cinderella’s beautiful castle lit up for the evening. It’s simply breath taking and a site that I wish I could capture with a camera.

One or two evenings during our stay, my husband or I take the kids with us as we walk over the Skyway Bridge to The Contemporary Resort. Gavin’s tall enough that he can see over the railing of the bridge to view the Electrical Water Pageant. Of all the parades he has seen, this is favorite. The only down side is that the pageant stops at the resort a bit late for little ones, so he doesn’t get to see it every night.

For those Disney Vacation Club Members not staying in a Theme Park View but wanting to see Wishes at the resort, they are in for an extra magical treat. At the Top of the World Lounge located at the rooftop deck of Bay Lake Tower, DVC members staying at the resort are able to take in the sights of Wishes while listing to the music of Wishes in sync with Magic Kingdom firework display. The view is amazing and one of the most magical on property.

From rooftop to balcony, no matter what room we may stay in at Bay Lake Tower, my family believes “Our Building” is the most magical in the “World”. We hope you enjoy your next vacation to Walt Disney World and hope you get the opportunity to discover for yourself the magic at Bay Lake Tower.

If you have any questions regarding Bay Lake Tower, I’d love to answer them!  You can leave them in the comments section, or email me at info@mouseearsmom.com .

I hope you have a Magical Day!

Easy To Make Kermit Inspired T-shirt

Muppets Shirt 052It’s So Adorable Being Green!

With the release of  “Muppets Most Wanted” this weekend, and the continuation of planning my son’s upcoming Muppets party, I’ve been searching the stores for anything Muppets related.  Strangely enough, there’s not much available.  I haven’t been able to find even a t-shirt!

Freezer Paper Stenciling is something I’ve wanted to try for a while now, and I thought this would be a perfect time to try!  Today I’m going to share with you my experience trying this for the first time, my mistakes and all!  First I started by consulting my little Muppet fans as to their characters of choice.  To my surprise both picked Kermit!  Then I went to work gathering supplies.

1. Before you head to the craft store, pick up some Freezer Paper at your local grocery store.  Muppets Shirt 003

2  . Pick up the supplies from your local craft store.

You’ll need a T-shirt, fabric paints, cutting board, X-Acto cutting knife, and brushes. I purchased this basic green t-shirt for $2.50 at Michael’s Craft Store. The paint that I chose to use was Tulip brand.  The first mistake I made was not reading the bottles completely, I purchased three containers of Matte finish paint and one container of Pearl, which could have easily been called glittery.  Luckily I started with my daughter’s shirt first!  Gavin quickly put his foot down and proclaimed he wasn’t wearing a shirt with glitter.

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3. Choosing an image to stencil.

 I chose a photo of Kermit that I sized to fit the area I wanted to paint.  I found the photo on Disney Wiki.  Here’s where my first problem occurred.  Since Kermit’s green and red are deep colors, I had a horrible time trying to trace the mouth.  If you take a look at the image below, you can see that the eyes were easy to trace, but I ended up having to freehand his mouth and looked to other images to come up with his neck area too.  After this project I can see why most freezer paper stencil projects are text or graphic related.

Muppets Shirt 0154. Trace your image onto the Freezer Paper.

Make sure that you have the shiny side of the Freezer Paper on the image and the dull side of the paper facing up.  This means that your tracing on the dull side of the paper.  I used a black permanent Sharpie marker to draw the template.  Here’s a look at the template.

Muppets Shirt 025   5. Cut the Template Out

Protect your cutting surface by a mat board to cut on.  Take your time cutting it out and remember that the remaining negative space is where you will be cutting.  Here’s what the template looked like after cutting out the areas to paint.

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6. Iron the Freezer Paper template to the t-shirt.

Before ironing the paper to the t-shirt, iron out all the wrinkles on your shirt.  Then I placed a cardboard piece in-between the top and bottom of the shirt.  This way it’s prepared for me to paint in the next step.   Next, shiny side down, place your template where you want it on the shirt and gently iron it onto your shirt.

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7. Paint!

In painting Kermit, he had overlapping colors, such as the white and black of his eyes and red and pink of his mouth and tongue.  So, first I painted the white and pink layers.  The paint bottles told me to wait 4 hours for it to dry, but being impatient I used a blow dryer to dry it quickly so I could move on to the next layer of paint.  His eyes took three coats to cover the green color.

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 8. Peel off the Freezer Paper to see your finished piece.

Unfortunately, the result wasn’t what I had hoped.  The paint of Kermit’s eyes and mouth didn’t have the clean edge I had hoped for.

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9. Touch up the edges.

Freehand touch up any little messes left behind where the freezer paper allowed the paint to leak through.

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10. Steam iron the painted area to allow it to set into the shirt.

According to the paint instructions, I was supposed to hold the iron 1/2 an inch away from the shirt and steam the image.  I haven’t washed the shirt yet, but I’m pretty happy with the turn out!  Now to make another one for my son, Gavin…without the sparkly pink paint, of course!

 There were a few bumps in the road, but it’s actually pretty easy being green!

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To complete this project I looked at a few blogs for reference in learning this technique.  If you’d like to check out their projects and steps for completing them, here’s the links.

http://crafts.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-make-freezer-paper-stencils–craft-1838

http://topicspill.com/2013/04/10/diy-tutorial-freezer-paper-fabric-stenciling-a-beginners-guide-to-stenciling/

http://www.thinkingcloset.com/2013/08/12/keep-calm-onesie-with-freezer-paper-stenciling-silhouette-winner/

 Have you tried Freezer Paper Stenciling?  I’d love to see your results! If you’d like, share the links to your Freezer Paper Stenciling projects in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today and as always, I hope you have a Magical Day!

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