Tag Archive: Visit Orlando



Being a #BigWorldExplorer: Our Orlando Story

April 13, 2017

Some people visit the family cottage every weekend. Others pack their backpacks for an outdoor camping adventure. My family? Well, friends like to joke that Orlando is our home away from home.
_DSC1615They’re not incorrect! Looking back, we’ve visited Orlando 12 times over the past three years – most recently, courtesy of my friends at Expedia.ca as part of their #BigWorldExplorer program. (Were you following my tweets?) And there’s a reason – actually several – we keep going back.

Proximity. If you’re flying from Toronto, did you know that Orlando is only 2.5 hours away? Too true! It’s a great short-haul option and several airlines offer a direct flight from YYZ (or BUF, if you’ve found a less expensive flight via JetBlue or Southwest). The proximity makes it perfect for families with young children – I like to say that the flight is one-and-a-half Disney movies away!  (more…)

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It’s a ROAR! T-REX Cafe in Orlando, Florida

January 13, 2014

With so many friends and family escaping the cold this winter, I’m often asked for dining suggestions in Orlando, Florida. Now normally, if you’re staying at the Walt Disney World Resort, I’d say just break bread at one of their fabulous, kid-friendly restaurants. They have a variety of themes and cuisines to suit every taste, and in fact are very reasonably priced for families of four.

(If you’re on a budget, you can try the quick-service restaurants – however, while easy on the wallet, they’re not-so-easy on the waistline, offering heavily greasy, heavily portioned food.)

Of course, whether you’re staying on- or off-resort, there’s one dining option that is always a treat for the whole family: T-REX Cafe in Downtown Disney.


I had the pleasure of visiting T-REX Cafe last year during a Visit Orlando media trip, and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience from start to finish. However, it occurred to me this morning that for all the times I’ve recommended the restaurant to family and friends, I haven’t written an official review! But first –

Why It’s a ROAR:

1) Squawking pterosaurs, wooly mammoths, a massive undulating octopus and life-sized animatronic dinosaurs – including a 15-foot-tall T. Rex – make for a roaring good time.

2) Dine on family-friendly American favorites beneath luminescent jellyfish or inside the midsection of a triceratops! Every 20 minutes or so, witness a meteor shower complete with rumbling and fiery “explosions.”

3) From salads to steaks, tear into tasty tectonic plates that every creature in your family will enjoy. Brought to you by the same folks behind Rainforest Café, T-REX features family-friendly fare sure to please herbivores, omnivores and carnivores alike.

4) Visit the Paleo Zone, a hands-on experience where you can dig for hidden dinosaur fossils, pan for precious treasures in Discovery Creek and learn more about “the time before time” through interactive displays.

5) Parking is complimentary at the Downtown Disney area, so even if you’re staying off-resort, you can drive in to enjoy a feast for the senses. Then, stay awhile and explore the Downtown Disney area, where world-class restaurants, dazzling entertainment and unique shops line the waterfront. (more…)

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The Invitation You Simply Can’t Refuse: Disney Social Media Moms

June 13, 2013

Years ago, when I first started blogging, I had no idea that one day, I’d be personally invited to attend a conference.

A conference that my whole family was welcome to attend. A conference at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

In fact, when telling family and friends that I had been selected to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, their reactions ranged from “That’s totally awesome!” to “You’re sh*tting me, right? They have a conference for that kind of stuff?” Ahem. Indeed they do.

Of course, an invitation to #DisneySMMoms is one you simply can’t refuse. Where else can you celebrate social media, family, friendship and fun – smack in the middle of the most magical place on earth? Surely I have the best job in the world! And so it was with equal parts flattery, curiosity and unbridled joy that I RSVP’ed with a big, fat YES.

(Underscoring my decision was the fact that Ryder’s 5th birthday took place during the conference stay. I reasoned that I’d likely never again be able to say, “Hey dude, let’s go to Disney World for your birthday!”… so that was a huge motivating factor for me. And oh, it was so very magical.)

Of course, as I was a #DisneySMMoms virgin, I really didn’t know what to expect. Sure, the family time and theme park passes were a big draw, but what would I learn from the conference? What would I take away? And most importantly, how could I share those learnings with my audience?

The truth is, the conference was everything I could have hoped for, and more.


It has been exactly one month since I returned home, and it’s taken me that long to get my thoughts together about our time at Disney Social Media Moms. From the stunning welcome reception to the very last tender moments at the Mother’s Day brunch, it was a celebration I’ll never forget. And because I’d love to share the magic with you, I present…. (more…)

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And THAT’S the Disney Difference.

May 14, 2013

I get it. I really do. I know that every time I publish a review of a resort, vacation or hotel, at the back of your mind you may be thinking, “Yeah, but was it all roses because you received special treatment? Did they go over and above because they knew you were reviewing their property?”

Okay, so the truth is – YES – often perks and rewards are bestowed upon us media folk. But certainly, it’s to be expected; it’s the same reason you clean your home before company arrives, grab the best wine and/or break out the fine silverware. You want your guests to leave with a wonderful impression. Because the truth is, if they knew that you actually just dusted in front of the picture frames instead of lifting them off the shelf, and that the wine currently stocked in your wine cellar was purchased 15 minutes before your guests arrived – maybe they wouldn’t tell your friends about the perfect dinner party you hosted. And that’s all we really want, isn’t it? Kudos. Pats on the back. Good press.

Hence, when writing reviews, I’m always sensitive to the “bonuses” that members of the media receive, and refrain from gushing or being overly obnoxious about them. You will rarely see me Facebook a perk, freebie or something else that is unique to my situation as a blogger; my attitude is, if my reader won’t be offered special treatment, there’s no need to prove that I was.

So, it gives me great pleasure to tell you about a wonderful – no, magical – example of exemplary customer service that we experienced this past Sunday at Walt Disney Resort in Orlando, Florida. Staying at the Contemporary Resort for the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, read on for an example of the Disney Difference – not because I am media personnel (he had no way of knowing), but because I am a person. Here’s what happened.

We were booked for the 4:20pm Magical Express to take us to the airport for our return flight. Since we were flying out of Buffalo, we were able to take advantage of Disney’s Resort Airline Check-in. Simply put: we could check our bags and receive our boarding pass right there at the resort, and then jump on a complimentary shuttle to the airport. After ridding ourselves of our heavy luggage, we decided to make our way to Hollywood Studios, to ride Star Tours… oh, 8-10 times.

However, at some point between the 35°C heat and the repeated passage on the simulator ride, Ryder began to feel sick. All the classic symptoms of heat exhaustion, really; irritability, drowsiness, complaining of thirst, and an overall feeling of malaise. And, since I was so wrapped up in making sure he was okay, I did something really silly – when I checked my phone, I thought “3:45 pm” read as “2:45 pm”. So yeah, by the time I figured out my mistake and we booted it back to the Contemporary Resort, we had missed our 4:20 pm Magical Express.

Truth be told, I wasn’t too concerned. I knew there would be another leaving at 4:50pm, 5:20pm, 5:50pm… etc. And, since our flight wasn’t until 7:20pm and our bags were already checked, there was no real emergency. We just had to make sure there was room on the 4:50pm bus. So, after collecting our carry-ons from bell services, I ventured to the front of the hotel and explained the situation to the Magical Express coordinator.

Me: (Eyeing his name tag) Hi Greg!
Greg: Hello there! How are you?
Me: Well, I have a small problem.
Greg: How can I help?

(Note: Greg didn’t say, “What’s the problem?” – rather, he immediately jumped in and committed to helping me find a solution. Love that.)

Me: Well, my little guy was under the weather in the park, and in turn we missed our Magical Express.
Greg: That’s not a problem.

I followed him over to a podium where I assumed he would check for availability on the next shuttle. Instead, he simply grabbed a taxi chit, filled in a few details, and said,

“Are you ready to leave now? Or would you like to cool off in the hotel for a while? I can arrange for towels if you’d like to freshen up.”

“Um, no…” I sputtered. “You really don’t have to do that. We can take the next Magical Express, I don’t want to put you out.”

“You’re not putting me out”, he laughed. “Everything is already taken care of. This chit even includes a tip, so unless the taxi driver sings and dances for you, you don’t even have to worry about that. Honestly. Just go inside, rest a bit, and when you’re ready to leave, the taxi will be waiting here for you.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Listen, you’ve got a little guy who’s under the weather. And the last thing you need is to board a bus that makes multiple stops. Relax; it’s my pleasure to make your vacation the best it can be, right up until you board your flight.”

And THAT’S the Disney Difference. 

“Well Greg,” I said. “You’re so awesome, and you know what? You’ve helped someone who has the ability to tell the world how amazing you are,” I said. “I’m a Disney Social Media Mom, and you just know I’m going to put this on social media! Can I take a picture with you?”

Stunned, Greg posed for a photo. (Thanks again Greg!)

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Home Sweet Home

May 13, 2013

I’ve come to realize a trend.

Every time I go away for a press trip, vacation, weekend getaway, etc… I always arrive home just before midnight on a Sunday night.

Some may say I endeavour  to make the very most of my time away, down to the very last minute. And I suppose they would be right: we had the most glorious time at the Disney Social Media Moms Conference, and we simply did not want the magic to end.

Of course, inevitably, comes Monday morning. And what comes with the territory? The “I’m-back-but-too-tired-to-blog-today” post.

Exhibits A, B and C:

Allure of the Seas – too tired: Back to Life; Back to Reality
Disney Fantasyland – boo hoo I’m pooped: Arriving Home from Vacation with Children…
Visit Orlando – I’m exhausted so just read this recipe: Orange Granita with Balsamic and Mint Strawberries

Yup. That’s me – telling y’all that while I love you and am happy to be home, I’m just gonna go find my wits about me. And do some laundry. Oh, the endless laundry.

Hence, this time I’ll just keep it real. I’ll be back as soon as I can figure out what day it is, where I packed my makeup, and why the hell it’s only 4°C in MAY, with a FROST WARNING. In the meantime, here’s a picture from the Sunshine State – while in Orlando, I actually managed to enroll in a new school! That’s right, I’m now officially a student at Monsters University :)

(Disney Social Media Moms were treated to an exclusive advanced screening of the movie – it’s FABULOUS! One of my favourite Disney PIXAR movies ever – the whole family adored it.) See ya real soon!

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I Have Nothing to Wear.

May 3, 2013

It happens each and every time before a big event. I wait until about a week before I depart, and then frantically tear apart my closet.

I have nothing to wear.

“This won’t do! Ugh – why do I own that? This will work if I can lose 10 pounds in 4 days… That looked good in 2006. OMG I SUCK!”

*Technically* I have a few clothes to wear. Okay, more than a few. But come on, how can I go to an event as special as the Disney Social Media Moms Conference next week – without at least a few brand spanking new threads to show off?

(I know y’all are all wondering about this #DisneySMMoms hashtag I keep tweeting. Simply put – “The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration was created as one of the first family-friendly conferences where social media savvy moms and dads can network, learn, and share knowledge of social media while experiencing the magic of Disney with their families. The goal is to provide an intimate experience packed with access to industry leaders and opportunities to network with peers.” Translation: being the BEST social bee I can be… at the happiest place on earth. PINCH ME!)

To tell the truth, I know I’m not alone. Much discussion has flown back and forth between fellow attendees about what to wear, who’s going shopping – where, when, and what did she buy. (This gets a little complicated when you have friends with similar tastes and styles – yes, there will be an influx of long, flowing maxi dresses at the event.) We all seem to have one thing in common: a closet completely devoid of anything we want to take along with us. Buy. Buy. Buy. Spend. Spend. Spend.

So why do most women have the uncontrollable desire to pack a suitcase filled with brand new clothing? Certainly 99.9% of the attendees would have no clue if we are wearing a new top or one that is 5 years old. And 100% of the attendees wouldn’t care either way.

In fact, I’m willing to bet that some women will spend over 10 hours doing a combination of online research, in-person shopping, closet raiding, Spanx fitting, closet raiding part II, and finally, a Hail Mary trip to Insert-Your-Favourite-Store-Here a mere 12 hours before they jet off to Orlando. Not that I’m speaking from previous experience.

So why is there pressure to walk off the airport runway like we’re walking on a fashion runway? 

I suppose when it comes down to it, it’s because most women feel their best when they look their best. And it’s hard to feel your best in a shirt that you know has been crumpled at the bottom of your closet for months; a pair of pants that you swear your baby once peed on; or a dress that has been worn so many times, it has stretched and faded to accommodate your more voluptuous areas. A new outfit means a new me; a “me” that has taken much care and attention to present the best Lena possible.

(“Don’t be fooled by the dress that I bought; I’m still, I’m still Lena from the block…” – Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

The last conference I attended was BlogHer ’12 in New York City – you’ll recall that I wrote up a “Frugal Fashion Recap” that included the following looks:

Since purchasing the dresses for BlogHer, I’m happy to report that I’ve worn the first two outfits once more, and I’ll be bringing the last one to Disney SM Moms to wear again at the opening family dinner. See? My entire wardrobe does not have to be new – I am capable of recycling outfits!

However, I am currently in fashion panic mode and will be undertaking a shopping mission of epic proportions this weekend, as I only have five (5) shopping days left before we leave. This time, I’m trying to plan for an outfit that can withstand 40-degree weather, but also be fashionable enough to identify myself as someone who is attending a professional conference. I’m thinking tank dress? Perhaps an airy cotton wrap dress? Fashion gods, have mercy.

Do you rush out to buy new clothes before a special event? Or do you work with what you’ve got?

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Staying Off-Resort in Orlando? Stay Here.

March 24, 2013

It’s safe to say that Orlando, Florida is my happy place… and the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort is as close as you can get to the Happiest Place on Earth… without staying at the Happiest Place on Earth. I’ll explain.

Located in beautiful Orlando – within the gates of Walt Disney World Resort – the Wyndham Grand Orlando is your gateway to Orlando’s legendary attractions, theme parks, entertainment and shopping. In fact, you can catch a complimentary shuttle to the Walt Disney World theme parks or explore Downtown Disney for incredible shopping, dining and live entertainment. And trust me, the enviable location is just one of the many reasons you should consider this resort for your next Orlando stay – with rooms starting at just $164.25 per night (“Stay 3 or More Nights” Promo) you won’t break the bank, either.

Accommodations

Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort offers 400 guest rooms and suites that overlook the property’s 10-acre lake and Walt Disney World parks. (In fact, we watched the fireworks from the comfort of our room each night at 9:00pm. Now that’s my idea of magical.) Each room is appointed with contemporary furniture; a 40-inch, flat-panel television; high-speed wired and wireless Internet access; black granite surfaces; and True Blue Spa and Bath & Body Works amenities. (more…)

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A 7-Day Dream Vacation? Yes Please! Win it Here!

March 18, 2013

I know y’all are probably tired of me going on and on about how much I adore Orlando, Florida. Walt Disney World this; SeaWorld that. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I do have a few more reviews coming up. Stay tuned!

However, since I’m sensitive about detailing my amazing adventures without being able to spread the love around, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to give back to my readers – in the form of a 7-Day Dream Vacation to Orlando, Florida!

Here’s the scoop: my good friend Stephanie over at How to Survive Life in the Suburbs recently vacationed in Orlando, including a luxurious stay with Global Resort Homes. (You can read about her adventure here.) From unique town homes, luxurious condos to spacious vacation homes, Global Resort Homes has something to suit every style and budget. The best part: each home is in the center of everything, located in one of nine distinctive resort communities only minutes from the Walt Disney World Resort.

(more…)

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My Brush with Fame. Without a Makeup Brush.

March 3, 2013

I suppose I can laugh at it all now. But let me tell you – 48 hours ago, I was highly stressed out.

It all started with my recent press trip to Visit Orlando. In exchange for a family vacation, my obligation was twofold: blog coverage on my site (a given), and media appearances to chat about our amazing adventure (a bonus).

Now you’re probably familiar with my blog coverage, as I’ve been churning out reviews of the places we visited and the wonderful things we did. But, you may not be familiar with some of my media appearances. I’ve chatted about Orlando and family travel on outlets such as Daytime Live, CH Morning Live, and this past Friday – CP24 Live at Noon.

And while all media appearances give me the opportunity to go LIVE in front of the camera (which I actually adore! Yes, I’m an attention-you-know-what) I was particularly excited for my CP24 appearance on Friday afternoon. After all, if you live in the Greater Toronto Area, who hasn’t tuned in to the all-news station? It’s like media royalty, if you will.

So, Friday arrived and I was super pumped. Because not only was I appearing on Live at Noon, but then I’d literally be walking over to the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms PR Agency Boot Camp, where I was a speaker on the Social Media Blogger Panel. And so, I gushed accordingly –

I checked over the instructions once more. Chatting with Stephen Ledrew, segment to air live at 12:45pm. Check. Arrive at 12:00pm, as one of CP24’s professional makeup artists will get me camera-ready. Check. Need to get to the infamous 299 Queen Street West, where there is ample parking within a few blocks. Check.

Okay, I was ready. (more…)

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SeaWorld Orlando: Start Your Adventure Today

February 17, 2013

As part of our #VisitOrlando adventure, my family had the wonderful opportunity to visit SeaWorld Orlando. In fact, although our entire trip was fabulous, our day spent among aquatic friends was definitely the highlight of our vacation. If you’re booking a trip to Orlando, a day at SeaWorld is a must. Here’s why –

SeaWorld truly offers fun and adventure for the entire family. From animal encounters to thrilling rides; spectacular shows and educational opportunities – the whole day is jam-packed with excitement. Feed stingrays in the morning and take in the fabulous killer whale show at noon. Spend the afternoon riding coasters – but not before you feed the dolphins and learn about polar bears. And, don’t forget to grab a few souvenirs from the gift shop before you leave. Too much fun!

Now, to make the most of your visit, consider one of their Exclusive Park Experiences; they allow you to go behind-the-scenes and get up close and personal with some of SeaWorld’s most famous residents.

Our family was treated to SeaWorld’s Family Fun Tour. The 4-hour walking tour allowed us to experience the best of the park! The tour is not included with admission, and you’ll need to reserve ahead to ensure availability. Here’s the scoop: the tour is $79 for ages 10 and up, $59 for ages 3-9, and free for children 2 and under. Is it worth it? Should you do it?

The answer: YES.

The fact is, chances are that if you’re visiting Orlando, it’s part of a family vacation. You’ll want to make the most of it! Plus, included in the price of the tour is all animal feedings, light refreshments and line-bypass for rides. Read on for a detailed account of our amazing day partaking in the SeaWorld Family Fun Tour. It truly gave us an experience we’d never be able to duplicate on our own – and, when we return to SeaWorld, I am positive we’d do it all over again. (more…)

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For the PERFECT Family Vacation, Visit Orlando!

February 11, 2013

It’s been exactly one week since the end to our excellent family adventure in Orlando, Florida. In other words, I’ve been dreaming and reminiscing about Orlando for exactly one week now. Sigh.

(I kid you not – I’ve dropped it into every conversation that I’ve been a part of since our return. I’ve even taken to applying bronzer with a heavy hand; lest you forget that I just came back from the Sunshine State, I need to direct your attention to my tan. Ahem. You could say I have a one-track mind, but the truth is, when your family vacation is as awesome as ours was, it’s hard not to sing it from the rooftops. Orlando! Orlando! I love you, Orlando…)

Okay, the truth is that I have a lot of posts coming up – reviews of the majestic Wyndham Grand Orlando, our fabulous experience at the T-REX restaurant, the iconic Universal Studios, the childhood nirvana that is Legoland, and the ever popular SeaWorld. However, I’ll get to that over the next several weeks, because I have simply taken way too many photos to condense the goodness into one post! But before I get to the in-depth reviews, I just wanted to share with you why I think Orlando is the perfect spot for a family vacation – especially for Canadians. (more…)

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Orange Granita with Balsamic and Mint Strawberries

February 4, 2013

We’re BA-ACK!

Well, technically we’ve been back for exactly 6 hours… because after a late night flight and two flight delays… we didn’t touch down in Toronto until well after 2:00 a.m.

Did I mention that -10°C in the middle of the night, after vacationing in Florida, feels like pure torture?

Now I’d like to say that I’ve got my wits about me and am ready to bang off another brilliant blog post, but the truth is, I’m exhausted from four days of non-stop sight-seeing; two whiny children who slept at the wrong times and fought a few hundred times; and frankly, am depressed that I can’t live in Orlando year-round. It is quite honestly my happy place.

However, I realize that you’re probably tired of seeing my same old post from last Wednesday (in the spirit of family travel, I decided to shut down completely and enjoy time spent with my loved ones). So, to take myself back into a Florida state of mind, I’ll be making this recipe for Orange Granita with Balsamic and Mint Strawberries very soon (maybe even today). It’s just one of the fabulous recipes you can find on the Florida Citrus Facebook Page, where they feature a Citrus Recipe Swap

The thing I love about granitas is that while they sound incredibly sophisticated, they’re really just scraped ice. Ever wonder what to serve your boyfriend’s parents, a discerning friend, or others you’re out to impress? Serve them a granita. The traditional Italian ice dessert is the perfect way to cleanse the palette, particularly after a rich meal. And with the addition of orange juice, this dessert is full of purifying antioxidants and will satisfy most sweet tooths in a fresh, healthy way.

Think this dessert will take me back to the Sunshine State? I’m counting on it! I can already taste the tangy, citrusy goodness. Serve in martini glasses for extra panache.

¼ cup sugar
1¾ cup 100% Florida orange juice
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp fresh mint cut into long, thin strips

Place sugar and 1/4 cup orange juice in a small saucepan, and bring the mixture to a boil.

Remove from heat and stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups orange juice and lemon juice. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch by 13-inch shallow pan and place in the freezer.

Every few minutes, stir and scrape the granita with a spoon to create an icy texture. This procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes depending on your freezer.

Combine sliced strawberries, mint and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and let sit while granita freezes. Serve 2 ounces of granita topped with 3 ounces of strawberry mixture in individual dessert bowls.

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We’re Off to Visit Orlando!

January 30, 2013

I know, I know – right about now you may be having a deja vu moment – Didn’t she just come back from Orlando?

Yes, we did. In fact, memories of our Walt Disney World vacation are still front of mind! But when my family was selected by Mom Central Canada to participate in a Family Travel campaign with Visit Orlando, we just couldn’t refuse. After all –

1) We had a chance to experience Walt Disney World, which in itself is spectacular, but did you know that Orlando also boasts world-class dining, several renowned spas, more than 175 golf courses, a stellar combination of malls, boutiques and outlets (yay!), outdoor adventures like hang gliding and zip lining – and much, much more? After seeing how amazing our last family travel experience was, how could I deny the boys such adventures as LEGOLAND, Universal Studios and SeaWorld?

2) Orlando is THE perfect spot for a family vacation. Several airlines offer direct flights to Orlando and it’s only a 2 ½ hour journey from TO! Quick travel time makes it the perfect location for a long-weekend getaway (especially to escape the cold weather… brrr). You all know that if it’s going to work for my family, it has to be convenient. I love that we can be in a totally different climate – and give my boys totally new experiences – in less than the time it takes to watch two Disney movies.

3) I suppose the main benefit of visiting Orlando is that because there’s so much to do, everyone will find something to meet their vacation needs. From toddlers to grandparents, there’s always a day trip or night-time adventure to pique even the most discerning interests, and, you’re bound to discover a few new activities to bring you all together.

So, although I’d love to stay and chat, I really need to start packing! (The Eternal Procrastinator strikes again!) Here’s a sneak peek into some of the amazing places and attractions that have been built into our itinerary:

Our Home Away from Home – The Wyndham Grand OrlandoPlay, relax, dream, escape, and be you. At the all new Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort, you will experience a spectacular hotel resort that will captivate your senses.

(more…)

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5 Reasons to Stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

January 17, 2013

As you may have read, until just a month ago – I was a Disney newbie. Seriously! It took me 34 years to finally experience the most magical place on earth for myself. Through the tears and misty-eyed moments (here)… the wonder and awe surrounding the New Fantasyland (there) … and even the less than perfect photographic evidence (everywhere)… let’s just say that it’s never too late to experience Walt Disney World for yourself.

And, if you have a couple of beautiful, excited children to take along with you, it’s even better.

When we returned, I expected friends and family to ask, “How was it? What did you enjoy most? What parks did you visit?” – etc, etc. BUT, to tell the truth, the most frequently asked question was “Where did you stay??”

It makes sense, of course – a huge part of your Disney vacation budget is allocated to lodgings, and you want to make sure that you’re getting the best comfort, convenience and value for your money. And so I pretty much have this to offer – our stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort was flawless. Truly, we could not have asked for more. But you don’t have to take my word for it – listen to the 458 people who rated the hotel a 4.5/5 on Trip Advisor. For a “value” or “budget” hotel – a rating so high is virtually unheard of. Told you it was awesome, no?

The following review is not written with the air of a professional traveller, sharing yet another review of another hotel she has visited on yet another media trip. The fact is, I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed a hotel! So, rather than complicate things, I think it’s best to simply share 5 Reasons to Stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. If you’re planning a trip to Walt Disney World, trust me – you’ll want to read this. (more…)

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I Always Feel Better in Florida

January 11, 2013

Weeks ago, just before my family departed for Orlando, my entire household came down with a dreaded winter cold. Sneezing, coughing, runny noses – if the symptom is listed on the side of an OTC cold product, trust me, we had it. And with just days before we reached our sunny destination, I was worried that our first trip to Disney World would be ruined.

“Get rest, de-stress and load up on Vitamin C,” my mother suggested. “As soon as you touch down into the lovely Florida climate, you’ll feel just fine.”

She was right, of course. Through a combination of aggressive hot citrus therapy and the balmy Florida weather, our cold symptoms melted away in a hurry. And is it any coincidence that the delicious orange juice and grapefruits that I was consuming before the trip happened to come from the sunshine state too? Let’s just say that I always feel better in Florida :)

Now I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, but this year, I’ve resolved to do one simple thing: incorporate as many fresh foods into my diet as possible. I am tired of feeling rundown and battling colds, and I figure the quickest way to good health is through good nutrition.

Will I follow through? Well, I even put it in writing, because somehow it makes me feel more accountable –

I’ve also developed an S-M-L action plan to implement my new dietary changes. What is S-M-L?

SMALL

My plan is to eat small amounts of the bad stuff – refined sugar, simple carbs, trans fats and those unpronounceable ingredients you find in practically every boxed food. Now I say small – and not total removal – because I truly believe that there’s a place for everything in our diets, and let’s be honest: I have two small children. Complete elimination of convenience snacks and foods just isn’t realistic. However, I can limit the amount of the bad stuff we’re exposed to, so when it’s time to enjoy that bowl of potato chips, it’s a treat – not a dietary staple. (more…)

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Inside the Magic: Disney World’s New Fantasyland

December 18, 2012

It’s been just over a week since my family returned from Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida… and we still have the magical afterglow. Oh, it’s all Disney-this and Disney-that from the boys non-stop… but you know what? It’s all good! Because I can’t stop talking about it either. #LOVEDisneyWorld

Now I know I teased you last week with a small peek into our experience – and, of course, the many misty-eyed moments I encountered – but I also promised that I would follow up with more details about the New Fantasyland. So here we go! Read on for The Facts (what you need to know) and The Fantasy (our experience and thoughts).

The Facts

The New Fantasyland is the largest expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. Featuring attractions, dining, shopping, character interactions, recreation and more, the new grounds are laid out fairy tale-style amid waterfalls, grottoes, arched bridges, forests and circus big tops.

“Walt Disney once promised that Disneyland, and by extension all of our parks, would never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world,” said Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “New Fantasyland is a spectacular addition to the Magic Kingdom that delivers on Walt’s promise. We’re thrilled to take guests beyond the walls of Cinderella Castle to discover new worlds featuring iconic Disney characters and stories in ways that are more imaginative, more interactive and more immersive than ever before.”

The Fantasy

Every inch of the New Fantasyland is perfect for young children. EVERY INCH. Reid, who is an average two-year-old at 35″ tall, was able to go on all the rides with us! (Often more than once – we had to do Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid six times just for him. OMG.) From Dumbo, the Flying Elephant to the elegant Be Our Guest Restaurant, the New Fantasyland is the perfect destination for toddlers and young families. During our 5-day stay, we spent 50% of our time at Magic Kingdom, including the Fantasyland expansion. So, for every reader who has commented “My kids are too young!” or “I have a whiny 2-year-old” – guess what? So do I… and he LOVED it.

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