Thank you to Disney for providing tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. As always, all opinions are my own and true.
Thank you to SEAWORLD Spooktacular Orlando for inviting me and my family to attend the Halloween Spooktacular media event. As always, all opinions are my own and 100% true.
SeaWorld Spooktacular Orlando Review
Fun at SeaWorld Spooktacular Orlando with a Toddler!
Surviving a Road Trip with a Toddler
10 Tips to Driving Long Distances with Children!
Little Man, Hubs, and I take a LOT of road trips! I mean we drive between Charlotte and Atlanta almost on a monthly basis!
Last month we drove from Charlotte to Orlando to Miami and back….so we’ve got the road trip with a toddler down pat at this point! We used to fly a lot but since Little Man is now 2 and requires his own seat, which he refuses to use, it’s just become more economical to drive…it takes a little bit longer – although when you consider all the extra time it takes at the airport when you’re traveling with children it’s really almost a wash. If you follow a few certain steps you really can make your road trip with a toddler a fun and exciting adventure! (more…)
The Gift of Lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway
An affordable night of Holiday Fun for the whole family!
Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to The Gift of Lights for this review. However, as always, all opinions are true and 100% my own.
Surviving Disney: Toddlers and Characters
How to Introduce Toddlers to Disney Characters in Person
Welcome to my series on Surviving Disney with Toddlers! If you’ve missed part of the series make sure you check out How to Stay Cool at Disney and When is the Best Time to Visit Disney World for more tips about Disney!
One of the main attractions to Disney World is the excitement of your child meeting their favorite cartoon characters in person! I think it’s just as fun for the parents as it is for the kids– nothing brings greater joy as a parent than seeing your child’s face light up in disbelief as the magic of Disney unfolds right before their eyes!
Disney Jr. is a staple television channel in our house– it’s on when the TV is on! So Little Man just adores Mickey Mouse, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Sophia the First, and the newest: Henry Hugglemonster! Seeing these characters in real life and being able to touch them was quite exciting and overwhelming and scary all rolled into one monsterous emotion! So I’m going to share some tips for helping your toddler deal with the reality of seeing these imaginary characters up close and personal…
1. Start talking about meeting the characters before your trip begins.
Every day we would watch Mickey and Jake and Sophia and the rest of the gang. Every day while watching the show I would tell Little Man “Guess what??? We’re going to go meet so and so next week! Do you want to give so and so a hug and kiss?” Of course he would look at me like I was crazy and just laugh…but I’m sure somewhere in the back of his head he was thinking “Has Mom just lost it or am I really going to meet Jake? That would be soooooo cool…..but Mom’s probably just crazy….maybe I should tell Dad…..if only I knew how to talk!” Yeah, Little Man and I have long conversations like that together all the time….I may need a little more adult interaction….
2. Start from far away and slowly move closer.
We started with shows and parades before the actual meet & greets and character meals. This helped Little Man compartmentalize the fact that now the characters were live. They went from being on TV to being on stage and in the parade…..so now they are real. The first time Little Man saw Mickey in real life he started squealing and pointing as if saying “OMG….there’s Mickey…..Mom, look, he’s real, he’s really real….Mom it’s MICKEY!!!!” I was so excited to see that he was so excited and not afraid……but as the real Mickey got closer the less enthusiastic Little Man became. By the time we were to the point of touching Mickey Little Man was safely tucked between my legs and holding on for dear life. So take it slow!
3. Don’t force your child to interact with the characters.
I know it’s hard not to try to talk your child into getting closer to the characters or forcing them to get in the picture– trust me, I’ve done it too. It’s hard for us as parents because we shelled out a pretty penny for this experience and we want them to participate in as much as possible and enjoy it damn it! But, I learned on this trip that if I let Little Man have his space and become comfortable with the characters on his own without me forcing him- he warmed up much quicker– by day 3 he was ALL about meeting the characters!
4. Parents go first.
Show your little one that the characters aren’t scary….show how friendly they are! Be the first to walk up to the character (leaving the Little One with a spouse or family member), give the characters hugs, talk to them, talk to your child, wave, smile, show your child that it’s a fun experience!
5. Don’t force a character to stay so your child can warm up.
The characters are taught not to overstep with the children. They approach with caution and if they see your child is about to freak out they politely wave and walk on to the next child…..this is standard protocol that Disney has put in place. The characters don’t want to scare your children– so don’t worry, at the character meals the characters will come back around so you’ll most likely get another chance.
6. Go to Hollywood and Vine for the BEST character experience for little ones!
We have done many of the character meals and I must say that Hollywood and Vine is my FAVORITE for toddlers! Hollywood and Vine features the Disney Jr characters so Little Man immediately recognized Jake, Special Agent Oso, and Handy Manny….I’m hoping they’ll replace June with Doc McStuffins and/or Sophia since June isn’t really recognizable without the other Little Einsteins. Anyway, Little Man recognized most of the characters and he felt comfortable with them. They encourage the kids to get up and dance every 15 minutes or so….this really makes the interaction fun and casual.
7. Relax & Have Fun
You may not get that perfect shot of your child embracing Mickey with open arms but you’ll still have a wonderful trip to remember! And who knows…maybe later in the week….. once your little one relaxes and feels more comfortable with characters……. you’ll be at a parade and the most amazing experience will happen:
8. Order Your Disney World Custom Map
Order your free set of Disney World Custom Maps to get your family excited about visiting the most magical place on Earth! I ordered ours before our first trip and had them framed at Michaels….now they’re on display in our playroom as a fun reminder of our trip!
Do you have any tips for helping your little one with meeting characters for the first time?? Share in the comments below!
Gaylord Palms Resort ICE Review
Merry Madagascar Ice Exhibit Review- Fun for the WHOLE Family
Note: Non-compensated review post…. just sharing my family fun memory!
When we took our trip to Orlando for Thanksgiving I was on the hunt for something different to do that would be good holiday fun! Well, I found it over at Gaylord Palms Resort!
Have you ever seen Gaylord Palms? It’s that HUGE beautiful hotel right outside of the Disney World Resort Complex. Well, the hotel itself is an amazing attraction all on it’s own! They decorate it to the nines for the holidays! You can see it all lit up from the expressway with twinkling lights everywhere!
Inside the resort is decorated just as extravagantly!
In the atrium they have a 54 foot tall Christmas tree and they do nightly Lightings with free live stage entertainment. Now, this free entertainment is not what you would expect for free!
It’s FANTASTIC! They had a wonderful holiday show called Luminescence that featured an awesome band (not your typical elevator style holiday music)- they rocked the place out! The show also features laser lights and aerobatics (acrobatics done in the sky)…. the talent was unbelievable! They also have other live shows every hour or so (but little man was getting tired so we missed those).
The decorations extend throughout the hotel through the restaurants (you can even have breakfast with Shrek on the weekends). Even without the decorations the hotel itself has a bunch to see….. they had a yacht, alligators, turtles, waterfalls, etc.
Now, for the STAR of the resort! ICE…..
The ICE experience is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before!
Located in the conference center of the resort… they took several ballrooms and converted them into a HUGE freezer and dropped the temperature all the way down to 4 degrees. Then they brought in 2 million pounds of ice and a team of artists to construct this amazing exhibit made completely of ICE! The artists worked around colored lights and with paints to bring to life ice the scenes from Merry Madagascar…..
The experience starts off in a warm environment that sets the stage with scenes from the movie. Then you head to the preparation area where EVERYONE is given a parka (YOU WILL NEED IT!!!!). They have parkas of ALL sizes so no one is left out in the cold (hahaha…. I’m so funny!). Anyway, once you’re all bundled up you get to head on in to the actual ICE experience.
I do wish that they had little corners where you could warm up throughout the exhibit because it is quite large and with a little one getting colder and colder we didn’t get to spend as much time as we would have liked in there. I’m sure it would have been better if the little man were older and not affected by the cold as much….. but hey, if one of the executives of ICE happens to be reading my little review then I have a suggestion for next year…. Maybe half way through make a little “hot cocoa stop”, make a room that’s just a little bit warmer so we can take the chill off our noses and grab something warm to drink then we can continue the exhibit without cranky little monsters. Okay, now that I’ve given my expert suggestion, on with the review!
I LOVED the idea of ice slides for the kids—the kids we saw going down them were having an absolute blast!
The whole experience was unbelievable and I totally recommend checking it out if you’re ever in Orlando while they have it going on!
Once you finish the ICE experience you’re not done! Nope, they have a whole bunch of other holiday excitement for little ones. How about decorating cookies with Gingy (the gingerbread man from Shrek), or visiting Santa Claus, oh and what about those penguins! There’s a whole area full of holiday activities and excitement that we didn’t get a chance to explore because the little man was done—oh the fun of having a one year old!
The only criticism I have (and this really goes for all the event planners down there) is the pricing of the pictures. They take your picture on the way into the ICE experience and they’ll do Santa pics and all…. but it’s WAY over priced (like many attraction pictures) and although I liked the picture I could not bring myself to pay $25 for a single pic! Why charge so much? The way I see it, you print them out already to try to sell them to people, well how many do you throw away every night? I’m sure TONS! So, instead of charging $25 and hoping that 2 out of 10 people buy one why not charge $10 in hopes that 7-8 out of 10 will buy one. I would think your object should be sell more to make more…. you’ve printed them out anyway…. the more people that buy the more you’ll make even though they may be paying less….. but oh well…. you missed a sale with this girl.
Other than the picture cost I have NOTHING bad to say about ICE! If you’re looking for a unique experience then I suggest Gaylord Palms ICE experience!
NOTE: I was in no way compensated or asked to do a review for ICE or Gaylord Palms Resort… I simply wanted to share my opinion. .
If you are a company that would like a review of your family friendly facility or attraction done please contact me at SerendipityandSpice at Yahoo.com.