June 20, 2017
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Tips and Products for Keeping Kids Safe on Vacation

Travel safety is #1 priority! Check out these inexpensive & practical ways to keep kids safe on vacation!

Over our spring break vacation to Monterey we lost my 5 year old son. One moment he was playing on the lonely beach in the sand with my husband. The next moment he was gone. It was the scariest ten minutes of our lives, not knowing where he was. Looking back there are a few things we should have done to ensure that he’d never been lost in the first place. And there are also steps and precautions we can take in the future to keep him safe. Here are my tips and products that help keep kids safe on vacation.

Getting Lost (Scary for Kids & Parents!)

On our Monterey vacation I was on the hotel balcony watching my sons and husband on the beach below. My husband and teenager were poking in the sand with a stick, looking for crabs while my preschooler ran up and down the wet sand behind them. When the baby needed a diaper change I took her inside and returned to the balcony a few minutes later. What I saw next made my heart stop.

My eldest son was yelling up to me, “Mom, is Dillon up there with you?”

Then I saw my husband. He was running up and down the beach, calling Dillon’s name. He was stopping strangers to ask if they’d seen a little boy in a blue bathing suit.

He didn’t go into the water, I knew that (he was scared of the ocean’s big waves). My eyes squinted at a crowd of people sunbathing in the distance. Had he wandered that far?

My husband was now in full panic mode. He ran around to the front of the hotel, concerned that my son might have gone with someone to the parking lot. My teenager was racing down to the crowd further down the beach. I raced down to the hotel lobby.

I met my husband in the lobby as he’d looped around the front of the hotel. He was cradling our 5-year old in his arms. My son had wandered into the lobby, wanting to return to the hotel room and asked for his mommy. The reception desk had wrapped him in a towel and had him stay put. Thank goodness, found.

Travel safety is #1 priority! Check out these inexpensive & practical ways to keep kids safe on vacation!

One moment he was there, the next moment he was gone.

Tips to Keeping Kids Safe on Vacation

It was a scary 10 minutes and honestly, it’s taken its toll on us all. For the first month after our vacation, my son was extremely clingy and afraid of getting lost. He has cried during drop offs at school and Sunday school at church, something very unusual for my independent boy. I started trying to think of ways that we could have kept him safe.

Here are tips and products that help keep kids safe on vacation.

I received complimentary product for testing and review. All opinions are my own. Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

SafetyTat

If my son had been wearing a SafetyTat when he was lost, it would have saved us 10 minutes of worry. The hotel lobby would have been able to call me immediately! SafetyTat is a water-resistant temporary tattoo. The original SafetyTat can be pre-printed with your contact info and applies with a damp paper towel.

Travel safety is #1 priority! Check out these inexpensive & practical ways to keep kids safe on vacation!

The SafetyTat temporary tattoo is water resistant

Write-on SafetyTat peels and sticks with a bit of pressure and can be personalized with the included water resistant pen. I love the idea of using the SafetyTat when traveling to busy locations like at the zoo, children’s museum or amusement park when kids can easily become lost.

Travel safety is #1 priority! Check out these inexpensive & practical ways to keep kids safe on vacation including this SafetyTat personalizable tattoo.

Write your number to personalize the SafetyTat and keep kids safe on vacation

In addition to returning lost kids, several of the SafetyTats have specific child-safety needs printed on the tattoo. Alerts like, “I have Autism”, “Allergies – Ask First!”, “Non-Verbal” and “Alert – Diabetic” help other adults know immediately about your child’s special needs. These special SafetyTats would be great for children to wear when in large groups where they might be separated from their parents, like at day camp, church or at a party.


Fairy Tales Bug Bandit

I received a complimentary bottle of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit Repellent just in time for my trip to Orlando Florida. On my last visit, I’d gotten a nasty bug bite on the final day and it took ten full days to clear! I was hoping to avoid such a fate this time, especially for my kids!

The contents of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit are Deet-free and include lemon Eucalyptus oil, soybean oil, cedar bark, citronella, peppermint and rosemary blend. These non-toxic and pesticide free ingredients help to repel mosquitoes, flies, fleas, gnats and other biting insects. It’s proven effective in children 3+, though I did use it sparingly on my 1-year old’s legs and arms with good success.

Travel safety is #1 priority! Check out these inexpensive & practical ways to keep kids safe on vacation, including Fairy Tales Bug Bandit

Spray Fairy Tales Bug Bandit before going outside to protect skin from insect bites

Simply spray the Fairy Tales Bug Bandit onto your body after dressed and ready to head outside. It worked like a charm! The smell is pleasant and works for several hours.

And then there was the day I forgot to apply the spray. I was headed to a conference and stepped outside briefly to access another building and within 2 minutes a bug got me. Within moments my ankle was swollen and itchy, ugh! I immediately texted my sister-in-law to remind her to spray the kids before they went outside! Happy to report that my kids returned from our week-long vacation without one bug bite.

Travel Baby-Proofing Safety Kit

Before settling in at the hotel, make sure you check out the room for any potentially hazardous items. Looped window cords? Furniture that your toddler or child could climb and topple over? Loose cables? Exposed electrical outlets? Bring a safety kit along with you on your travels to “baby-proof” the room (even if your child is no longer a baby, they might become curious).

If your baby will be using the hotel crib, be sure to inspect it for any loose screws, chipping paint or pinchable parts. If you’re taking medications with you, be sure that they stay inside their child-proof bottles and keep out of the reach of your children (consider a box with a lock).

Preventing Stomach Bug

Ugh, nothing ruins a vacation like coming down with the stomach bug.

Help keep the bug from spreading through the family with frequent hand-washing and the use of hand sanitizer. Disinfect items in the hotel room that are frequently touched, like the door knobs and remote control.

Travel safety is #1 priority! Check out these inexpensive & practical ways to keep kids safe on vacation!

Of course if spending your vacation in another country make sure that the water is drinkable before allowing your child to sip.

Avoiding Sunburn

If your kids are extremely prone to sunburn, consider indoor activities during the day and then swim at night. I’ve found that one of the best ways to avoid sunburn is to cover up as much as possible. My kids have Lands’ End rash guards with UPF 50 rating. A hat for toddlers that can be worn while their splashing will protect scalps and faces.

Travel safety is #1 priority! Check out these inexpensive & practical ways to keep kids safe on vacation!

And of course, you can’t forget the sunscreen! Apply sunscreen 20 minutes before getting into the water otherwise it’s just going to rinse off in the pool!


Pack a Get-Well Bag

Despite all preparations sometime your child may get sick. Rather than have to make a run to the 24 hour market at 3 am, have a get-well bag ready to go with what you might need.

    • Stomach pain relief like antacids or kaopectate
    • Fever reducer
    • Benedryl (in case of allergy)
    • Aloe vera or sunburn relief cream
    • Anti-itch spray or lotion in case of rash or bug bite
    • Travel First Aid Kit with antiseptic and bandages

Car Seat and Stroller Safety

Don’t assume that you’ll have the car seat you need when you arrive. For instance Uber may provide car seats for some children. However they don’t have rear-facing car seats that children under two must use. For infants and toddlers, it’s best to bring your own.

For pre-K and up, bring along a mifold Grab-and-Go Car Booster Seat. Weighing only about one and a half pounds, the mifold is a booster seat designed for ages 4 to 12. So clever and convenient when using Uber, Lyft or a taxi.

If renting a stroller at your vacation location, be sure to inspect for any spots that might pinch little fingers. Always use the buckles to secure your child in tightly. Get in the habit of putting the stroller brake on each and every time you let go of the handle. You never know when the stroller might roll away from you. Never leave your child in a stroller unsupervised.

Travel safety is #1 priority! Check out these inexpensive & practical ways to keep kids safe on vacation!

Safety After Dark

If you’re worried about losing your kids, it can be even more challenging once night falls. Remind kids to stay close to you. Carry a flashlight. I keep a supply of glow necklaces and bracelets for my kids to wear when we’re walking about after dark. If walking in a dark area where there are vehicles, dress your children in light colored clothing. Consider adding a reflective strip of tape to their back and down each pant leg for better visability.


Other Things You Can Do to Keep Safety First

  • Before hitting the road for an extended vacation, be sure to schedule a pre-trip check up with your child’s pediatrician. The doctor will be able to check for any developing illnesses.
  • Bring your child’s immunization records.
  • Dress your child in very bright clothing. It’s so much easier to see them if you can spot a bright yellow, orange or hot pink shirt.
  • Remind kids not to touch wild animals (this includes squirrels and pigeons)
  • Take a photo of your child each morning so you have a record of what they are wearing.
  • Before going into an establishment (like a theme park or museum) discuss what to do if lost.
  • Wash hands frequently and especially before eating.
  • Remind children to stay put in case they are lost.

Travel safety is a priority when bringing your kids on a Disney parks vacation! Check out these inexpensive & practical ways to keep kids safe on vacation!


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


June 16, 2017
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Disney World Dining – Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

 

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Have you heard of the Hoop-Dee-Doo? This two-hour long dinner show is long standing (over 40 years running!) and takes place nightly at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. I recently had the opportunity to attend the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. Keep reading for more details and my honest thoughts about the production and food. Namely is the Hoop-Dee-Doo worth the cost?

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Pioneer Hall at Fort Wilderness, Walt Disney World

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through will help me in a small financial way, thank you!

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

High quality song and dance routines you’ve come to expect from Disney? Check. Buckets of hearty and delicious food? You’ve got it. Silly jokes that are family appropriate. Yep!

That’s the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue in a nutshell. It’s a 2-hour dinner show so be prepared for a slower dining experience than you might be used to at Disney World. You’ll also need to allow plenty of travel time to and from Fort Wilderness. If planning to see Hoop-Dee-Doo schedule it for a non-park day when you don’t have tickets.


Advance Dining Reservations Required

Despite over 40 years running, the Hoop-Dee-Doo is still a hot ticket. You’ll need an ADR (Advance Dining Reservation) to dine here. I visited Walt Disney World during a slower season (in mid-April) and our show was still fully booked.

There are three shows nightly, seven days a week. Show times are 4 pm, 6:15 pm and 8:30 pm (we dined at 6:15).

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

The Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue dinner show is a longstanding tradition (over 40 years!)

Since this meal and a show have a set price, you’ll be charged up front once you make the reservation. The price you pay includes tax and gratuity. I was attending with my preschooler and just-turned-one year old baby. Any child 2 and under do not require a ticket but I did put her on the reservation so they could make room at the table for the highchair.

There are three category levels. I wanted to be close to the stage, so I chose Category 1 on the main floor. I have read online that some of the chairs and tables upstairs face the wall. Guests need to turn around each time they want to see the stage.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

There’s a menu so you can see what’s to come (leave room for dessert!)

Getting to the Hoop-Dee-Doo

Since there is no direct bus route from your Resort Hotel to Fort Wilderness, you’ll need to transfer at one of the Parks. Be sure to allow plenty of time because the bus rides can be lengthy.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Ready to explore Fort Wilderness

I chose to take the ferry from Magic Kingdom to get to Fort Wilderness. We arrived plenty early (about 3 hours before the show started) and there was no wait for the ferry. The Disney World website recommends you allow up to 90 minutes for this process.

Arrive Early to Play and Explore Fort Wilderness

It’s recommended that you arrive at least 30 minutes before the Hoop-Dee-Doo show begins but I think you should arrive even earlier.

We choose to take the ferry from Magic Kingdom Park, leaving just after 3 pm for the 6:15 pm show. It was our first visit to Fort Wilderness and we were in awe of the tall, shady trees and country vibe. Taking the ferry was a delightful and relaxing way to get there.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Guests can take a horse-drawn carriage ride at Fort Wilderness in Walt Disney World

Once we arrived, we wandered the grounds for a bit, getting a feel of the woodsy location. The Hoop-Dee-Doo takes place inside Pioneer Hall. Inside this same large building is the Trails End Restaurant, Davy Crockett’s Wilderness Arcade and Crockett’s Tavern. The restrooms are just to the left of the Pioneer Hall front entrance.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Settlement Trading Post at Walt Disney World Fort Wilderness

A short walk away is the Settlement Trading Post, perfect if you’re looking for a souvenir. My preschooler spent a good amount of time on the playground while the baby slept in her stroller.

Wander down the path past Pioneer Hall to see the Tri-Circle-D Ranch. By the time we walked back there, the Ranch was already closed. Guests can visit with the horses and even take a pony ride (for a fee). Horse-drawn carriage rides are available for groups. Mickey’s Backyard BBQ takes place at Fort Wilderness as well.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Playground at Fort Wilderness Walt Disney World

When leaving for the night, you can choose to take the ferry back to the Magic Kingdom or there are buses available to the Park. Keep walking past the Ranch to catch a bus. Note that you’ll have to go back to Magic Kingdom and from there, get the bus back to your resort (FYI: it’s a LONG trip!)

PhotoPass Photographers

There were several PhotoPass photographers on the Fort Wilderness grounds available for special photo ops. We had our picture taken in front of the Settlement Trading Port.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Take advantage of PhotoPass photographers before entering Pioneer Hall

Before admittance to the Hoop-Dee-Doo show, photographers were stationed on the grass in front of the Ranch. Thank goodness for the shade because it was mighty hot in the sunshine! They had some cute props for us to use.

There are several other fun photo spots around the front of Pioneer Hall so be sure to take your camera!

All-You-Care-to-Eat

When we walked into the Hall, our tables were already set with salad and corn bread. We dug in right away but I held off on eating too much salad because I wanted to save room for the main course.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Starting with salad & cornbread at Disney World’s Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue (don’t get too filled up!)

Soon enough our waiter arrived with heavy metal buckets stuffed with fried chicken, smoked BBQ pork ribs, mashed potatoes, corn and baked beans. It was a lot of food!

I’d love to say that we ate everything and ordered more but we hardly made a dent in the plentiful food! Everything was delicious and I wished I had a bottomless stomach to eat it all. If my teens had been with me, I know that they would have been able to eat everything and we’d order more. But as the only adult traveling with a preschooler and a baby, we just couldn’t eat a lot!

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Chicken, ribs and all the fixin’s for dinner at the Hoop-Dee-Doo (Photo Credit: Disney)

Also, I knew that I wanted to at least make an attempt at dessert! The strawberry shortcake dessert is presented in a grand way and it doesn’t disappoint. Sadly we couldn’t finish it either, though we tried!

All-You-Care-to-Drink?

Included in the meal are unlimited drinks. This includes soft drinks as well as draft beer, wine and sangria for those 21 and up.

I question the true “unlimited” nature of the alcoholic drinks however. My waiter made only 3 stops at the table so I’m not sure how often one could reorder drinks. I ordered a white sangria when he first came and asked for drink requests. I reordered when he returned with the food and asked if I wanted another drink. By the time he came back with dessert, alcoholic drink orders were closed.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Chowing down (the foods a’plenty) at the Hoop-Dee-Doo

Truthfully the white sangria was absolutely delicious and very refreshing. It was also very strong for me (perhaps I’m a lightweight!) It didn’t bother me that I couldn’t reorder. I know that having “unlimited” draft beer would be a draw for my husband to attend this dinner and it’s a definite perk.

The Hoop-Dee-Doo Show

I went into the Hoop-Dee-Doo not knowing anything about the show so I’m not here to give any spoilers! Here’s a brief baseline: 6 countrified friends entertain guests with singing, dancing, crowd participation and silly fun.

Costumes are colorful and bright. We were able to see everything very well (seated in the center of the room on the floor). The singers moved around the room during some parts of the show and it was easy enough to follow the action by turning in my seat.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Inside the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

I enjoy musical theater but admit that some shows really drag on with too much boring singing. But not the Hoop-Dee-Doo! The songs are lively and fun and the audience participation is a highlight.  Everyone in the crowd was really getting involved with clapping and singing along.

The entertainers were top-notch, just as you’d expect from a high-quality Disney show. Singing was excellent. Dancing and choreography was fun and energetic. There is live music, which adds a fun element.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Inside Pioneer Hall for the Hoop-Dee-Doo

It’s truly a show for all ages. One look around at the audience and that was plain to see. My 13 month old baby daughter enjoyed it as well as anyone there (even though I didn’t let her eat any of the messy BBQ ribs!)

There are breaks in the show to allow you to enjoy your dinner or to make a stop at the bathroom.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

The delicious strawberry shortcake (if you have room to eat it!)

Bottom Line: Hoop-Dee-Doo Review

The big question is, is Hoop-Dee-Doo worth the cost? True, it’s not cheap (the cost of an adult ticket hovers around $60). When given the cost of other Disney World meals, I do think that this cost is in line.

If I were to go to any other buffet at Disney World with unlimited food, the cost for dinner would be about $50 for Chef Mickey’s. Chef Mickey’s is a character meal and no alcohol is included. Keep in mind that these type of buffet dinners are usually rushed and you might be done within 45-60 minutes.

Is the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney World's Fort Wilderness worth the cost? Find out more about this longstanding dinner show.

Ready for fun at the Hoop-Dee-Doo in Walt Disney World.

Given that the Hoop-Dee-Doo has unlimited alcohol as well as a 2-hour dinner show, I’d say that the value is well worth the cost. I highly recommend booking a dinner at Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue on one of your non-park days.


For more on this really awesome topic,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!



June 7, 2017
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No Painful Feet! How to Find Foot Comfort in Your New Shoes

If painful feet stop you from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

I hate shoe shopping. Okay, so I know I’m in the minority and lots of ladies love to buy new shoes. But I don’t. I HATE getting new shoes because it means I have to try them on, break them in and suffer through the pain and discomfort of new shoes. The thought of painful feet is enough for me to avoid buying new shoes. So I stick with the worn out and broken in shoes I already own. I’m on the hunt for foot comfort, especially when I know I’ll be traveling and walking a lot!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you! I’ve received complimentary product for some of the items reviewed in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Painful Feet? Try These Tips

  1. Compression Socks
  2. Open-toed shoes
  3. Shoes that don’t require “breaking in”
  4. Stick with what works for you
  5. Inserts

Compression Socks

Several years ago my husband and I flew overnight to Europe. It was my first long-haul flight and I made the mistake of taking off my shoes and putting on cozy socks while I slept. When it was time to get off the plane, I had to cram my swollen feet back into my shoes. By the time we reached the taxi I had blisters on every toe, across my heel and several of my toe nails were broken! Not the best start to a 10-day trip.

The next time I flew long distance you can believe I was wearing compression socks! I’ll be honest: I always thought that compression socks were for “old people” or if you were in the hospital and couldn’t exercise. But these adorable patterned socks from Vim & Vigr changed my mind (they are so cute!)

These nylon compression socks from Vim & Vigr have a multi-dimensional weave and 400-needle count that allow for comfort, flexibility, and breathability. They even offer socks for wide calves.

I hear that compression socks are great if you’re running (not that I’d know about that!) I’ve worn the Vim & Vigr socks on each flight since and no blisters or broken toe nails after flying again!

Vim & Vigr 15-20 mmHg Graduated Compression Socks – Nylon Collection – M – Cream & Black

Why I Gravitate Towards Sandals

After the birth of my last baby I realized that my feet had grown along with my belly! In fact I now have one foot that is over a half-size larger than the other foot – how annoying is that?! And it makes it nearly impossible to purchase certain shoe styles. I suffer with having one shoe too tight or the other flopping off.

If painful feet stop you from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

My 7 1/2 months pregnant feet walked the Disney parks in Crocs!

That’s why I tend to choose sandals over any other shoe type. Fortunately I live in Southern California, where I can wear sandals 75% of the year! Here are a few of my favorite sandal choices that are comfortable for long distance walking. I discuss more sandal options in my post, Best Shoes for Disney Parks – Why I Love Sandals! 


Comfortable Shoes for Kids (No Breaking In Period!)

I’ve been purchasing pediped shoes for nearly 6 years. They were my son’s very first pair of shoes. When I saw how comfortable they were for him and how much he enjoyed walking in pediped, they quickly became the only pair of shoes I would buy for him. It’s a happy day for him when he sees a box from pediped in the mail!


When I first found out I was having a baby girl, a pair of pedipeds Originals was one of my first purchases! They are the shoes she took her first steps in and I’ll be putting them into her keepsake box. Any other shoes she outgrows will be gifted forward to another child. We’ve handed down my son’s outgrown pedipeds to his cousins.

If painful feet stop kids from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

My kids wearing their pedipeds at Walt Disney World.

I’ll be honest about the price because it might be more than you’re used to paying. Many people will not pay a high price for kids shoes, preferring to buy cheaper shoes. I’d much rather purchase something of high quality that is comfortable for my child, supports her feet and won’t fall apart or look worn after just a few wearings. My kids only have 2 or 3 pairs of pediped shoes and rotate between them (instead of a dozen pairs of “cheap” shoes).

If painful feet stop you from exploring check out these tips and products that will minimize blisters, swelling and foot pain!

My son in his Flex Sahara Red sandals at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.

Because many pedipeds are washable they uphold their look. And the high crafted quality means they last and last. My son is currently wearing pediped sandals he had last summer and they still look in perfect condition!


My only complaint? That my eldest daughter is now 13 and has outgrown them! I’ve only bought her pediped shoes for the last five years. She has one foot that rolls inward, causing shoes to get a hole in them after just a few wearings. Pediped is the only brand that we’ve found that will hold her foot solidly upright and not to roll. pediped footwear has been awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for the promotion of healthy foot development.

Stick with What Works

I legit own 8 pairs of shoes total. Four of these shoes are exact duplicates of each other, just in different color schemes. I know what works for my feet so I tend to purchase two at a time.

I gave up a long time ago trying to wear regular high heels. Now if I’m dressing up I wear my favorite crocs Women’s Leigh Ankle Strap Wedge Sandal. I have them in oatmeal and black and they’re versatile enough to wear with either a dress or jeans. And the best part is that I can actually dance and walk comfortably all night in them (and not revert to the barefoot walk back to the car at the end of the night!)

If you have a favorite shoe, next time buy two so you can switch out between them!

Comfort Aids for Inside Shoes

Adding extra support where your foot needs it is a great way to get comfy. A little lift here, a little cushion there and your foot pain can be greatly relieved. I recently tried Silipos Active gel products. These conform to your body reducing friction, abrasion and burning sensations during high impact activities.

I tried Silipos Active Ball of Foot Gel Cushions. Slip the loop around one of your toes and the cushion rests underneath, covered by a sock. These cushions are so thin I wondered if they’d make a difference. I tested them on a 5 mile hike we took across concrete and gravel. I could really tell the difference after walking as I didn’t have the usual ache in my foot bones that I usually do after walking on that type of terrain.

Ever worn a pair of flip-flops when the center post cut into your toes? That is just the worst! Silipos Active Sandal Toe Protectors slips over that post to cushion between the toes.

How do you counteract painful feet? Share in the comments!

May 30, 2017
1 Comment

Gifts for Father’s Day that Dads Really Want!

What are the gifts for Father's Day that Dads really want to receive?

Stop right there with the tie. Put down the funny patterned boxer shorts. And a money clip? No, thank you. Most Dads don’t really want any of those gifts for Father’s Day. So what does Dad want? Besides sleeping in and full control of the television remote, these are the gifts for Father’s Day that will make Dad happy!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Gifts for Father’s Day

I’ll be honest, we don’t usually buy my husband anything for Father’s Day. He’s really hard to please and always says he doesn’t “need anything”. I thought hard about the things that would make him happy and this is the bomb list that would totally make his day. (I also asked him specifically what he’d like to receive!) Check out these gifts for Father’s Day that will truly make him smile.

Shower Products That Aren’t Girly

My husband not-so-secretly loves a good soap. He wants to get the grime, sweat and stink off but he doesn’t want an overpowering scent after he gets out of the shower. He’s partial to the hard-milled natural and organic soap bars from the market. I think he’d really enjoy these vegan soaps that are more “manly” scented – Beer Soap Gift Set of 4 Bars and Three-Pack of Activated Charcoal Bar Soap, Handmade & Natural Vegan Soap

   

Key Chain That Helps Dad Locate His Keys (and Wallet) (and Phone)

My husband is forever misplacing things. They’re not LOST he says, he just can’t remember where he last set them down. I’m totally buying him these! The slim design means you can slip them inside your wallet or hook them to a key ring. Use the app on your phone to send a message to the Tile tracker and a loud noise will sound so Dad can find his stuff. Can’t find his phone? Press one of the Tile trackers and his phone will ring (even if it’s on silent mode). – Tile Mate & Slim Combo 4-Pack

Comfy Lounging Clothes

As soon as my husband comes home he takes off his heavy work pants, showers and slips into comfy clothes. It’s flannel in chilly weather and knit when it’s warmer. He likes the ComfortSoft brand because they have a comfortable drawstring. Plain Tagless Hanes tees are a favorite as well -Hanes Men’s Cotton ComfortSoft Printed Knit Pants and Hanes Men’s ComfortSoft Tagless Tees.

Cell Phone Charger (Because He Almost Always Forgets to Plug in His Phone)

I plug my husband’s cell phone into the charger every night before I go to bed. He’s an early riser and usually heads to bed without remembering to plug in the phone. If I’m not home, he doesn’t always remember to charge before going to bed. He needs this charger to keep in his glove box so he’ll be able to recharge on his work lunch break!-  Anker PowerCore 10000

Something That Lets Him Jump into Summer

My husband loves the water (while I’m more of a land-lubber). I do enjoy sitting pool side though, watching him swim and play with the kids! I buy Lands’ End swimwear for all of us, Dad included. And a swim tee means I don’t have to use half a bottle of sunscreen lotioning his back! – Lands’ End Men’s Swim Trunks and Swim Tee

Books with Subjects that Your Guy Likes

My husband isn’t a reader. However there are a few subjects he enjoys that I think he’d crack open a book for. Think about your husband’s favorite interests (mine loves exercise, being outdoors and cleaning…yes, really!).

The Men’s Fitness Exercise Bible: 101 Best Workouts to Build Muscle, Burn Fat, and Sculpt Your Best Body Ever!, Best of The Total Outdoorsman: 508 Skills: Featuring Field & Stream’s All-Time Greatest Hints and Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home.

  

Polarized Sunglasses

This is the most expensive item on the list but if well cared for, a good pair of sunglasses can last a long time. The Maui Jim brand are my husband’s favorite. He says they are very comfortable and stay on his face, even when he leans forward. He liked the polarized lenses (as a fisherman, he can see clearly past the water glare at the fish in the water) -Maui Jim – Five Caves – Polarized Lenses

Something Yummy That Dad Doesn’t Have to Share (Unless He Wants To!)

My husband has a chocolate sweet tooth! Chocolate is one of his few indulgences and See’s Candies is his favorite. He prefers the dark chocolate so I graciously take care of the milk chocolate candies so he can just eat the dark :)See’s Candies Father’s Day Gifts

 
For more Father’s Day gift ideas,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


May 25, 2017
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5 Reasons to Plan a LEGOLAND California Vacation

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

We’ve been LEGOLAND California guests since shortly after the park opened in 1999. I appreciate that it’s a park for a good variety of ages, with places for toddlers to roam, rides geared just for preschoolers and adventures for older kids too. These are my 5 reasons why I think you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

I am a LEGOLAND ambassador. I have received complimentary tickets to the parks. All thoughts and opinions are my own. There are affiliate links in this post. Purchasing through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

Why You Should Plan a LEGOLAND California Vacation

Like the versatile LEGO play sets, the LEGOLAND California park is constantly reinventing itself. Over the last few years LEGOLAND has been consistently adding new and exciting pieces to their theme park. New sections like Ninjago World, Star Wars to Miniland USA and LEGO Friends Heartlake City have rejuvenated areas of the park. Additions to the resort like Sea Life Aquarium. LEGOLAND water park and the Resort hotel make LEGOLAND California a true family vacation destination.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Waiting for the water park to open at LEGOLAND California

1. LEGOLAND Water Park

Last year I visited the LEGOLAND water park for the first time. I was so impressed with the variety of play areas for a wide range of kids. There is a Duplo-inspired Splash Safari and Splash Zoo for toddlers & preschoolers. My kids liked the wide “family-sized” short water slides here. There are plenty of big-kid water slides too with lots of interactive ways to get wet. I’m partial to floating in the Build-a-Raft River.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

The size of the LEGOLAND water park is impressive as well, with the addition of the Chima section. This includes a more slides and the Lion Temple Wave Pool. And the water park is about to get even bigger!

Opening next month is Surfers’ Cove. In Surfers’ Cove, kids will be able to race their friends at Riptide Racers timed water slides, enjoy an epic splash-ground at Wipeout Lagoon and enlighten their taste buds with the new Beach Street Tacos. My family got a “sneak taste” of the tacos and they were deliciously authentic. I still can’t decide which were my favorite – carnitas, carne asada or the fish!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Amazing street tacos will soon be offered at the LEGOLAND California Water Park

Riptide Racers will be a competitive water raceway designed for children to jump on a mat and race down one of six slides with family and friends for the fastest time! Each slide stands 17 feet high and is more than 100 feet in length. Wipeout Lagoon is a “spray ground” with multiple water jets splashing on and off and plenty of new LEGO® models like a surfing dog to create a fun place to cool off this summer.

The LEGOLAND Water Park is open seven days a week starting Friday, May 26 2017.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Waiting for the water park to open at LEGOLAND California


From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

The Duplo Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad

2. LEGOLAND Hotel and Castle Expansion

My older two kids stayed at the LEGOLAND Hotel with their grandma a few years ago and I’m jealous! This hotel is jam-packed with fun (if a disco-ball in the elevator and a treasure hunt in the room is any indication!) Check out this enormous pirate play house in the hotel lobby.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

This big pirate ship play area is inside the LEGOLAND California Resort Hotel lobby

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel has already broken ground and is slated to open in 2018. Given the popularity of the LEGOLAND Hotel, I’d expect this new hotel to be equally fantastic!

3. LEGO Fun for Babies

With all the bright colors and interactive elements, LEGOLAND California includes things for baby as well. Sweet and slow rides like Fairy Tale Brook and Coast Cruise are appropriate for baby to enjoy. There are baby-friendly splash pad areas in Pirate Shores and Heartlake City (just be sure to bring swim diapers & a towel).

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Babies and toddlers will enjoy the LEGOLAND California water park Safari Splash

There are some rides that I would have thought would be okay for babies to go on (like Safari Trek) but my 14-month old wasn’t tall enough. Make sure you check the height requirements before getting in line.

My baby’s favorite place in all of LEGOLAND is Duplo Playtown. She enjoyed walking around the playhouses, playing with the blocks and riding the LEGOLAND Express train. My preschooler was able to climb and explore in this area as well.

Book a stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel and you can return to the room mid-day for a nap then return to the park later in the day.

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Riding the LEGO Express Train in Fun Town

4. The Perfect Park for Preschoolers

Coastersaurus is a great first roller coaster. Mia’s Riding Camp is a cute carousel. Every preschooler loves the Royal Joust which takes kiddos on a LEGO horse ride through the “countryside”. Junior Driving School is a can’t-miss attraction for kids 3-5 (they can drive their own LEGO car!)

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Preschoolers will love to drive their own car at LEGOLAND California Junior Driving School.

I love that there are places in many of the queue for little ones to play with LEGO blocks while parents wait in line. You can simply scoop up your kids before boarding the ride!

The 4D movie experiences are short films that preschoolers will delight in (3D glasses and quirky interactive moments will make preschoolers giggle!) Leave time in your day for a visit to Sea Life Aquarium. This area is nicely geared for preschoolers, with plenty of hands-on activities in this LEGO-splashed space.

Check out my TravelingMom post for all the reasons to take preschoolers to LEGOLAND.


From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Preschoolers can gallop on a LEGO horse at LEGOLAND California

5. Stuff for LEGO-Loving Tweens and Teens

My teens love taking in all the brick-by-brick details of Miniland USA. The Star Wars section is of particular interest! The scenes replicated from each of the Star Wars movies are crazy-detailed and impressive (1.5 million LEGO bricks were used!)

There aren’t any wild thrill rides at LEGOLAND California but unique and clever wins over thrills in my book (The Technic Coaster, Knight’s Tournament and Ninjago the Ride are all cool for tweens & teens).

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

LEGOLAND California features amazing Star Wars displays in Miniland

LEGOLAND California is also a foodie paradise as far as theme parks go. There are a great variety of flavors represented here, from Japanese style ramen bowls, smokehouse ribs and Bánh Mì Vietnamese sandwiches. Of course there are the traditional pizza and burgers too. For dessert Granny’s Apple Fries are a can’t-miss. Your tweens & teens could happily eat there way around the park and be quite content!

From cool rides, water parks and billions of bricks, here's why you should plan a LEGOLAND California vacation!

Inside the LEGOLAND California Resort Hotel

Have you ever been to LEGOLAND California? Would you consider a vacation here? Share in the comments!

 

May 22, 2017
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7 Books for Kids to Read Before a Disney Vacation

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Getting kids ready for a Disney vacation? Every child, from babies to teens can benefit from one of these tried and tested Disney books for kids before their magical vacation. Whether doing Disney parks research, educating on the history of Disney or just getting familiar with characters, these are books kids will love. These are the top books for kids to read before a Disney trip that will get them prepared and excited!

Disney Books for Kids

Yep, the internet is great for travel planning but I don’t necessarily want my kids surfing the web (even if they’re just looking for Disney vacation stuff). I love that these Disney books for kids exist to help get them prepared for vacation. Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing the Disney books you should have in your collection. I’m talking about the books for kids that they should read before your Disney vacation.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

For Research and Planning

If you want to get the most out of your Disney vacation (money and time well-spent) you’ll have to invest some research and planning. Get kids on board with a guide book they can read with you at home.

The Birnbaum’s 2018 Walt Disney World For Kids guide book really helps to build excitement. Kids may have heard of the rides and attractions but not know any details other than that. The book informs kids on what to expect once they get to the Parks (psst…helping kids know what to expect can help minimize disappointment and meltdowns!)

For Babies

If you’re planning on taking your baby to Disney, I suggest helping them get familiar with the characters. Disney Baby I Love You This Much! features Mickey and his friends with a sweet story line. Point out the characters in the books and repeat their names. Expand baby’s character palate with the equally adorable Disney Baby My First Colors. I love the colorful fold-out pages and less often seen characters in this book.

My daughter loves these books (we received complimentary copies from Disney Baby). Most babies are very excited to see characters in the park though some might not want to get closer than a few feet. My daughter at 6 months old wanted to touch characters. However at 13 months old, she cried anytime we were within 10 feet! Read more about my “no-cry” ways to introduce your baby to characters in the parks.

For more tips about taking babies to Disney, read about the things to do at Disney World with a baby on TravelingMom or my posts at Disney Baby.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

Even babies will appreciate these Disney books for kids before their vacation.

For Preschoolers

When planning your preschooler’s first Disney trip, you’ll want to give them more of a backstory on the attractions. Preschool #DisneyKids are easily drawn into the magic! My preschooler loves storybooks, like the Walt Disney’s Classic Storybook Collection.

Planning a California trip to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure park? Check out my TravelingMom post with insider tips for taking preschoolers to Disneyland. And more preschooler at Disney tips here, as well.

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For Princesses-in-Training

Is your little princess excited to wear her costume at the Park? Get her ready from head-to-toe with the help of this DIY book, Disney Princess Hairstyles. The step-by-step illustrations make it easy to recreate some truly stunning braids, buns and up-dos, inspired by Disney Princesses. For even more inspiration, try Disney Frozen Hairstyles: Inspired by Anna and Elsa.

  

Give yourself plenty of time at home before your trip to practice and perfect some of the more elaborate designs.

Doing your child’s hair and sprinkling your own glitter will save you big bucks! However if you can’t handle the complexity of these styles, consider booking a reservation at Bibbidi Bobbity Boutique instead.


For Tweens

Many kids at this age have an appreciation or interest in history and historical figures. A non-fiction account of Walt Disney can really spark the thoughts of impressionable tweens. Walt’s quotes about imagination, hard work and steadfast dreams hold true for kids today. Tweens can truly find inspiration in knowing Walt Disney’s background and childhood history.

Tweens also love to find out how things work. The basic principles of creative “Imagineering” can affect tweens in a positive way.

I recommend Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker (Childhood of Famous Americans) and Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real.

    

For Teens

My fantasy-loving teen has really enjoyed the Kingdom Keepers (7 Book Series). Getting to stay at Disney after everyone leaves – amazing, right? Fighting Disney villains to save the world? Even better! This dramatic chapter book series is great.

For Aspiring Animators

Immersing kids with Disney pre-trip really gets them in the mood for a magical vacation. Watching the classic Disney animated features helps get kids excited for what they’ll see on the rides. And possibly for the character meetings they’ll have as well.

My kids enjoy the Learn to Draw series. The step-by-step illustrations guide kids how to draw characters, whether it’s classic Mickey from Learn to Draw Mickey Mouse & Friends Through the Decades, an animated favorite from Learn to Draw Disney’s Classic Animated Movies or Moana & Maui from Learn to Draw Disney’s Moana.
    

Stock up on sketch paper, pencils, erasers and colored pencils so kids can work on their art. This is a great on-the-road activity as well!


Looking for Recommended Disney Books for Grown-Ups?

Make sure to check out my post, Best Books to Buy When Planning a Disney Vacation. Those are the books that the grown-ups should read for research and fun before their trip!

Many of these books are available for Amazon Kindle as well.
Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

What are the recommended Disney books for kids before leaving on your magical vacation? Check out these 7 books for every kid in the family.

For more Disney book recommendations,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Black | Ultimate Guide to Disney Books

May 19, 2017
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Adjusting to Changes When Traveling with Kids

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

Traveling with kids is rewarding for parent & child alike!

My family doesn’t leave home very often. Yes, I’m a travel writer for TravelingMom.com but most of our “vacations” are only one or two days and very close to home (that’s why I’m the Day Trips TMOM!) There are many considerations to make in schedules when traveling with kids, whether short or long distance.

Traveling with Kids

In the course of 30 days, my family and I had two scheduled vacations where we were gone from home a total of 16 days. As adults, we can likely adjust just fine to that kind of schedule variance. In many cases, we relish a break from our usual daily grind! But for kids, the changes in their daily routine can make things a little rough. They’re in new surroundings, away from their home and what they’re familiar with. Perhaps there is a time zone difference. And all the new people and faces they’re seeing and meeting can be confusing. Here are a few things we learned on our recent travels that I wanted to share in case they help next time you’re traveling with kids.

As an HP Smart Mom Panel member, I receive products, promotional items & educational material to use and share as I see fit. However, any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience.

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

1. Bring Something Special from Home

Allowing your child to pack one special something can help ease travel anxiety. My son’s rainbow blankie is a frequent travel companion for road trips. A favorite bedtime book that can be read in the hotel room is another must-have. A small favorite toy (like a race car or a doll) can occupy kids and give them a connection of home. Help them choose one special thing (hopefully small!) that they can bring with them on the trip.

2. Aim to Keep Kids on Their Usual Schedule

I recently traveled with my 5 year old and 13-month old from San Diego to Orlando. I had the idea that I would keep the kids on California time and not change them to the three hour time difference. That meant my kids would be staying up till 11 pm and sleeping in until 9 am.

Thank goodness, it worked! My kids stuck to their California time schedule, which meant staying up very late and sleeping in.  Not only did I keep their sleep times the same but we stuck with a Pacific coast dining time schedule as well. This meant we were usually eating dinner at 9 pm EST! It totally worked for my kids and our travel schedule.

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

Eating late-night pizza in the hotel Just sticking to our at-home schedule!

The key for us was staying in a hotel with blackout curtains so the kids could sleep in. I also made sure to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door so the kids weren’t awakened by hotel staff wanting to clean the room.

3. Remind Kids of Familiar Faces with Photographs

When traveling with my little ones I like to bring photos. Photographs of loved ones can spark conversation and help with sadness over missing someone while away from home.

When my two littlest children traveled with me cross-country to Orlando, I made albums that included photos of their Dad and older siblings who didn’t come on the trip. These softback albums cost about a dollar and can be personalized with your own printed front cover. Include simple photos like a picture of your house, their bedroom or even a favorite toy that was left behind.My preschooler wanted pictures of his teacher and friends from school.  I’ve also made the albums for my husband and I to take with when we’ve traveled without our children. It’s a “brag book” of sorts, so we could show fellow travelers our brood left at home.

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

Printing at home couldn’t be easier! My HP printer, Snapshots app & Instant Ink give me photos in a minute.

Print Photos at Home

How many photos do you have in your phone that have never been seen? Printing them out doesn’t require a lot of work. Good printer paper, a full color cartridge and your at-home printer are all you need. My new HP Envy 7640 prints photographs like a dream!

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

Sweet memories at the Beach Club pool at Walt Disney World

I’m having fun with the HP Social Media Snapshots app and the coordinating photo paper sheets. You can print them off at home then take them on vacation with you. The back of the 4 x 5″ photo paper is stickable.

Simply peel off the backing, place the Snapshots wherever you want (in the car, a bathroom mirror in the hotel room, on your laptop, etc) and then pop them off easily without any damage. And since most of my photos are taken on my smart phone, I love that I can easily share and print from my mobile device straight to my printer.

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

With the Instant Ink program I’ve never run out of ink mid-project. At a cost of $2.99 a month I receive 50 pages. My printer “talks” to HP and lets them know when my ink is low.  I get a new ink cartridge in the mail and never have to go to the store or figure out which ink cartridge I need. Sign up via my HP Instant Ink link & you’ll receive a month for free.

Traveling with Kids? These 3 practical tips will help ease into the changes like missing home or time zone adjustment.

What are the ways you adjust to changes while traveling with kids?

May 10, 2017
7 Comments

What to Do on a Non-Park Day at Disney World with a Preschooler

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

No ticket? No problem! There are tons of things to do on a non-park day at Disney World with a preschooler from resort hopping, dining and free fun. Preschoolers can be notoriously fickle and many will have a better attitude when allowed free time and play without structure. These ideas for a non-park day at Disney World with a preschooler show you exactly what you can do with little ones without having to purchase a Park ticket.

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Green Loop. Today we are sharing fun things to do at Disney on non-park days.


11 Things to Do at Disney World with a Preschooler

Being a longtime Disneyland guest if we go to Disney, we always go into the Parks. Outside of the resort hotels and a few shops at Downtown Disney, there isn’t much that’s “Disney” to do if you’re not inside the Parks. However at Walt Disney World there are so many amazing things to do outside of the Parks (and lots of these ideas are totally free!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

I’ve always wanted to pad my visit with several non-park days and I was recently able to do that. My one-year old toddler and my 5-year old preschooler and I were recently at Walt Disney World and we had three non-park days on our visit. This allow us plenty of free time to explore some of the entertainment options outside of the Parks. Keep reading for my tips on how to enjoy a non-park day at Disney World with a preschooler.


1. Transportation is a Ride for Preschoolers

My preschooler couldn’t wait to get on his first Disney World ride and was disappointed when I told him we weren’t going to Magic Kingdom the first two days. He was appeased however when I told him we’d be taking the Monorail, the bus, and several boats that day instead. For preschoolers hopping aboard transportation is a Disney ride. And you won’t need a Park ticket or even need to be a resort guest to ride them.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

The boats from Epcot to the Boardwalk, Beach Club, Yacht Club and Hollywood Studios are totally free to ride!

2. Resort Hopping

During our visit we were able to visit a total of six different resorts. We chose to stay overnight at three different places (Port Orleans Riverside, Disney’s Caribbean Beach and Beach Club Resort). Then we jumped aboard the Monorail and made stops at the trio of resorts on the loop (Contemporary, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Grand Floridian). Walking through the lobby, wandering the grounds, grabbing a snack inside a quick service restaurant and perusing the gift shops were fun activities for my preschooler.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Be sure to check online as to different activities that take place inside the resorts that anyone can enjoy. After reading an article on the Disney Blog site, I found out that the annual Easter eggs would still be on display in the lobby of the Grand Floridian during our visit.

3. Preschool Fun in Disney Springs

The first night of our stay we hopped on a boat that took us from the Port Orleans Riverside. In just under 15 minutes we were deposited into Disney Springs, a lively outdoor shopping spot with plenty for preschoolers to see and do.

My preschool was enthralled by the splash pad. It was quite late at night but being Florida, it was still pretty warm. I happily let him run through the water and it pretty much made his entire vacation!

Other preschool activities could be taking in a G-rated movie at AMC Theater, The night of our visit there was family-friendly singing and dancing at the Waterview Park amphitheater. Brave preschoolers could take a high ride in the basket of the Characters in Flight helium balloon. If preschoolers just can’t wait for their first ride, the Marketplace area has a train and carousel.

4. Dining at Disney Springs That’s Perfect for Preschoolers

We ate dinner at Blaze Pizza, the perfect VERY quick meal for hungry preschoolers who don’t want to wait. The pizzas cook in just 180 seconds! Blaze had some deliciously unique pizza combinations available but we settled for simple pepperoni for my guy. It was a decent size for the two of us to share along with a green salad.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Other dining locations that preschoolers would love are T-Rex, Earl of Sandwich and Rainforest Cafe. The volcano outside the Rainforest Cafe ignited with shooting flames, something we had to stop and watch. Splitsville would be a great place for a few hours of dining and entertainment so you can eat and bowl a few games.

Ghiradelli ice cream and soda shop was our dessert location that night, with overflowing cones of mint chip. We’d intended to grab cupcakes from Sprinkles but the shop was closed and they were in the process of loading the ATM. There is also very preschool-friendly shaved ice from Florida Snow Company and treats from Erin McKenna’s Bakery.

5. Souvenir Collecting

If you plan on resort hopping, one fun activity that my son enjoyed was collecting pressed pennies. Resorts have themed pennies that you can only collect in that location.

Disney Springs has many great souvenir locations for preschoolers. Souvenir shops that are preschool-perfect here are Build-a-Dino inside T-Rex, The LEGO Store, Once Upon a Toy and the enormous World of Disney (only go in there if you have LOTS of time!)

6. Resort Playgrounds

What do preschoolers love more than playing! Many of the resorts we visited had playgrounds that let little ones burn off steam. My preschooler loved the waterside play area called Caribbean Cay at Caribbean Beach as well as the rustic playground in the woods at Fort Wilderness.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

7. Get in Character

Even if you’re not going to walk through the Castle that day your little princess can still get dolled up. A visit to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique inside Disney Springs allows her to get a magical makeover with make-up and hair styling. With any luck (and no swimming!) her hair will still look stylish the following day.

Another fun option is face painting or hair braiding. Many resorts as well as Disney Springs have this option.

8. Making a Splash at the Resort Pool

Take advantage of the amenities right there at your resort hotel. A day at the pool is one of the best ways for preschoolers to enjoy a non-park day. While parents can grab a drink from the poolside bar, preschoolers can swim and splash to their heart’s delight. There are life jackets available for new swimmers. Some resorts have very cool interactive pools like the water slide at Port Orleans Riverside or the fenced in pirate play area specifically for preschoolers.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

This play area at Caribbean Beach is made for preschoolers.

And nothing beats Stormalong Bay at Beach Club Resort. It’s the ultimate pool experience! My preschooler loved the sand-bottomed zero entry pool and the beach buckets and shovels to build sandcastles. And for brave preschoolers the dramatic water slide that shoots you through a pirate ship will be the talk of the trip!

9. Grab a Bite at a Resort Hotel

One of our favorite things on our non-park days was enjoying some of the dining at the resort hotels. While resort hopping, we enjoyed lunch as Gasparilla Grill inside the Grand Floridian. This quick service location offers freshly prepared dishes along with grab & go items (like this adorable and delicious Minnie Mouse cupcake!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Minnie Mouse cupcake at Gasparilla Grill, Grand Floridian Walt Disney World

The following day we enjoyed lunch at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at the Beach Club Resort. This charming location has such a fun vibe from the kid-friendly food and of course, the sweet treats. My son loved that his hot dog lunch came with the happy ending of a Mickey Mouse ice cream sundae.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

The Mickey Mouse ice cream sundae comes with a kid’s meal at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.

Dinner at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue was definitely one of our favorite things of the entire trip. We took the boat from Magic Kingdom to Fort Wilderness and wandered the grounds before dinner. I’m so glad we indulged in this dinner show. Everything from the plentiful and delicious food to the top-notch entertainment was perfectly tailored for everyone in the family. My preschooler loved the loud atmosphere, the strawberry shortcake & being handed a washboard to make loud music!

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Strawberry shortcake at Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

10. Indoor Fun for Preschoolers

Inside many of the resort hotel lobbies are artists waiting to draw your child’s portrait. My son had never had a caricature drawn before and it looked like a great souvenir to bring home so I had him sit for one.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

We don’t usually watch television when we’re on vacation but I did let my preschooler watch a bit before bed each night. Disney World has an entire channel devoted to safety. This very fun and informative cartoon series features Timon & Pumba from The Lion King. It was the only thing that my preschooler wanted to watch!

While waiting for our dining reservation we wandered the lobby inside the Beach Club on a hunt for Hidden Mickeys. Preschoolers absolutely love spotting Hidden Mickeys everywhere from the flower arrangements to the carpet design.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Hidden Mickey finding is perfect fun for preschoolers! Here’s one in the Beach Club lobby.

Be sure to check the resort guide for other activities they offer to guests. Many have organized things to do indoors including scavenger hunts.

11. Outdoor Adventures

If your preschooler loves the great outdoors, take ‘em to the fishing hole and see if they can catch the big one! There are small places to fish (like this area at Port Orleans Riverside) or larger fishing excursions (like on the Seven Seas Lagoon).

https://youtu.be/TXvOjyZfnRI

Some of the resorts have horse drawn carriages that will take you for a tour of the property. Or rent a bike surrey and everyone can pedal while enjoying the resort.

We’d intended to visit the Campfire at Fort Wilderness however our dinner at Hoop-Dee-Doo let out later than expected and we missed it. Many of the resorts offer this evening activity with the option to purchase and prepare your own s’mores over the flames. At Fort Wilderness Chip & Dale greet guests and there is a cowboy singer (no charge at all to attend this event!)

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Ready to explore Fort Wilderness

While at Fort Wilderness we had the chance to see the horses. My preschooler didn’t want to ride but that option is available if you have a horse lover.

There are dozens of things to do at Disney World with a preschooler. Here's what to do on a non-park day that doesn't require a ticket (and many are free!)

Did you know that Disney World has two mini-golf courses (Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland – read Adventureland Pam’s review on that with the link below). My son really wanted to go miniature golfing during our trip but we just didn’t have enough time. Guess we’ll just have to plan more non-park days on our next Disney World vacation!

For more ways to spend non-park days at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Blogorail Green | Things to Do on Non-Park Days at Disney

April 24, 2017
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A Week at Walt Disney World with TravelingMom

A Week at Walt Disney World with TravelingMom

I’m heading to Walt Disney World with TravelingMom today! We’ll be bringing you lots of great Disney updates around the parks all week long so be sure to follow the hashtags #TMOM and #TMOMDisney.

The TravelingMom conference will be taking place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday but I’ll be there a few days early with my little ones to explore. We’re going to be taking in some of the free things around the Disney World resort, like touring the resort hotels, attending a campfire and singalong and watching the Electrical Water Parade. Temperatures will be around 90 degrees so you can bet we’ll be spending plenty of free time in the pools too!

Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

My 1-yr old daughter, 5-year old son and I will be starting off the week at Port Orleans Riverside. We spent one overnight here several years ago and fell in love with the peaceful grounds. We even stayed in one of the beautiful princess themed rooms last time! We’re looking forward to exploring more of this beautiful resort.

Disney’s Beach Club Resort

The TravelingMoms are staying at this beautiful resort this year, my first stay at a deluxe resort. Before we meet up for our first conference day, I’m going to be sure to take the kids swimming at Stormalong Bay (you’ll find me floating in the lazy river!) The kids and I also have an Advanced Dining Reservation booked for Beaches & Cream Soda Shop (“No Way Jose”, here I come!)

Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Our final overnight will be at this colorful sprawling resort and I’m looking forward to the Fuentes del Morro pool. All dining establishments here going to be refurbished starting the following day of our visit, so I’m hoping that everything will still be operating business as usual (we’re planning on having Mickey waffles for breakfast here on our last day!)

Spending Time in the Parks and Beyond

For several days I’ll be with my two littles on my own. I’ve traveled to Disney alone with my baby before, so I’m not worried about that at all. And my preschooler has never had a meltdown at Disney, he’s always up for fun and adventure!

We’ll be hitting up Magic Kingdom for dinner at Be Our Guest, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. World Showcase at Epcot is something my aspiring world-traveler wants to explore more this visit and we’re hoping to see Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on this visit as well.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Walt Disney World- Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The decorated Easter eggs will still be on display at the Contemporary and Grand Floridian Resorts so we’re going to stop in and see them. We’re going to grab a Dole Whip at the Polynesian. And dinner on Tuesday evening will be at the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, some place I’ve been wanting to visit for years!

I hope that you’ll follow me on social media this week. Please like and comment so I know you’re enjoying the coverage and I look forward to bring you more content about the Parks when I return from my trip!

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER, INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK THIS WEEK

April 19, 2017
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Budget-Friendly Guide for Mother’s Day Gifts Under $20

Looking for Mother's Day gifts under $20? Check out this budget-friendly guide with items to make mom (and your wallet!) happy!

I love to give gifts! And naturally, I love to receive them too. But it seems like there is always another “holiday” coming up with yet another gift to buy! And all the gift giving can really take a hit to the budget. I want to show my mom and mother-in-law my love and appreciation for them with a gift but I can’t really get too extravagant with it. Are you looking for Mother’s Day gifts under $20? Check out this budget-friendly guide with items to make mom (and your wallet!) happy!

Budget-Friendly Mother’s Day Gifts

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing gift ideas for Mother’s Day.


Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase will help me in a small financial way, thank you!

Something with Memories

I know what my mom likes to receive for Mother’s Day: new photos of the grandkids! From prints that she can put in a frame, mugs, a photo book or magnets for the fridge, she loves to show off the photos. I love Shutterfly for printing all my photo memories. Sign up to receive notifications of sales from Shutterfly and you can often receive 50% off or even free products!

Looking for Mother's Day gifts under $20? Check out this budget-friendly guide with items to make mom (and your wallet!) happy!  

Something to Eat

Give Mom a treat with no expectation of sharing! This Godiva Truffles Flight are decadent and all for her to indulge. Or maybe Mom’s a gourmet in the kitchen and would love this White Truffle Oil? Ever drizzled this stuff on popcorn, amazing!

Something to Drink

This beautiful poppy print Tervis Mug is a bright spot on a dreary day and perfect for re-hydrating Mom. Maybe Mom’s more of a coffee drinker? In that case, a Starbucks gift card is always appropriate so she can pick up her own latte!

     

Something for Pampering

A day at the spa is special but for pampering on a budget, there’s nothing like DIY at home. I love these little ways of treating Mom to a manicure at home with Jamberry nail wraps and hand care products.

Something for Travel

A cross-body bag (like this messenger bag that’s under $8!) is a great size for travel. Small enough to stay out of the way but roomy enough for essentials. A Travel Life Journal will give Mom a special place to jot down her travel memories and keep them all in one place.

Something for a Song

Mom loves to sing and dance to her favorite songs? For under $10 a month, you can give Mom the gift of song with an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription. There’s even an Amazon Music Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial to check it out first.

Rose gold is such a hot look and these in-ear headphones are stylish and practical.

Something for Summer

Think ahead to summer and gift Mom a new pair of sandals. The lightweight and stylish Crocs Kadee II Flip are summer-ready for beaches, boardwalks and beyond.

COUPON SAVINGS! Use code TOWEL30 and pin 4082 at Lands’ End to save 30% on a beach towel for Mom.

Something for Fun

One of my mom’s favorite things to do is to play a game with her grandkids. From board games to cards, a fun family game night will be something Mom will cherish.

Something Scented

Instead of splurging on the largest bottle of Mom’s favorite perfume, choose a travel size instead. She’ll love to receive her signature scent and appreciate the purse-sized bottle that she can tote with her.

COUPON SAVINGS! Spend a few dollars more at Sephora ($25+) and you can choose from one of 7 deluxe samples using the code SKINSAVER.

I hoard those trial-sized bottles of Disney resort Sea Salt Shower Gel! I just love the scent and this big bottle of it would have me in shower heaven.

 

Something to Warm Her Up

The Yankee Candle in Lilac Blossoms large candle with a spring time scent will burn up to 150 hours. Mom will think of you each time she lights it! This stylish scarf will keep her cozy and also has a clever zipper pouch to store cash or keys while she’s out exploring – Women’s Scarf with Zipper Pocket

Something with Art

If Mom is crafty, consider a box of Crayola art supplies and a grown-up coloring book. Nothing like a fresh new box of Crayola crayons! Or maybe she’d like to have something crafty that she can display in the house. This chic Craft Crush Felt Succulents Kit will give Mom something very pretty to show off when she’s done creating.

For more Mother’s Day Gift Guides,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Black | Mother’s Day Gift Guides Loop: