Sundae Dreamin’ on a Snowy Sunday

It’s the end of March and we just got pounded with snow last night. It’s times like these I like to look to my favorite snowman, Olaf and do what he does, “sometimes I like to close my eyes, and imagine what it’d be like when summer does come.” Although I secretly think it’s never coming, a girl can dream. My summers are not complete without weekly ice cream stops (sometimes multiple times per week.) I just can’t get enough of the delicious creamy cold stuff. When I’m eating ice cream, the world slows down and I’m happy (true signs of an emotional eater.) Luckily when you are at Disney World, you can have your favorite flavor all year round. These are my 5 top spots in Disney World to get ice cream.

Beaches and Cream ice cream with sprinkles

Beaches and Cream ice cream with sprinkles

Beaches and Cream Soda Shop at the Beach Club

Beaches and Cream serves up some serious ice cream. Located at the Beach Club resort, you can eat your ice cream inside the 50’s style soda shop, sit by the Stormalong Bay pool (with valid magic band), or venture out by the lake and sit on a hammock or walk the path. They also have a to-go walk up counter if you are just interested in ice cream. I am a sucker for

kitchen sink

kitchen sink

sprinkles and think that all ice cream shops should give you unlimited sprinkle refills but regardless, the amount of ice cream in my giant waffle cone was able to satisfy my sprinkle need. If you are feeling courageous, or are traveling with a giant group, consider splitting the “kitchen sink.” They are definitely enormous, and for almost $30, they should be. Beaches and Cream also offers other soda shop classics like banana splits, sundaes, and milkshakes.

plaza ice creamPlaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom

This is by far the best smelling ice cream parlor on my list. I’m assuming they pump scents into the air to get your tongue salivating faster. This is my go to ice cream spot when I’m at the Magic Kingdom. Sometimes I’ll get it to eat during the parades or fireworks. Sometimes I get it and like to pop a squat on a bench and do some serious people watching. At the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, they have hard ice cream and specialize in sundaes. You also get some additional options for the guest that is trying to watch their waistline with sugar free and fat free options. Sugar and fat free ice cream just sounds like an oxymoron to me but whatever floats your boat.

Hollywood Scoops on Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Mickey Sprinkles!!

Mickey Sprinkles!!

Everytime I get ice cream here I’m blown away by how much ice cream they give me that’s technically 1 scoop. Hollywood Scoops is located directly across from the Beauty and the Beast Show on Sunset Boulevard. It’s become somewhat of a pre show ritual to get a scoop and head to the show. On super hot days, you will be thankful for your frozen treat. Once upon a time, when I asked for sprinkles, they gave me ones in the shape of Mickey heads. There was something about tiny little Mickey’s all over my ice cream that made it even more delicious. I’m not sure if they still have these magical sprinkles, but it’s worth asking. Hollywood Scoops is also in a great waiting spot if you’ve opted out of doing Tower of Terror and/or Rockin’ Roller Coaster. The time will fly by with your ice cream in hand and piercing screams in the background. They also have sundae options available.

Italian Gelato Kiosk at the Italy Pavilion at Epcot

benvenuto

benvenuto

If you are at Epcot and walking around World Showcase, chances are you might be feeling an urge to suddenly become more cultured. Look no further than the Gelato Kiosk at the Italian Pavilion. The best part is you won’t have to feel guilty about eating it or giving it to your kids because you can rationalize it as cultural experience.Get a single flavor or opt for one of the Gelato Creations. This super creamy ice cream will keep you satisfied on your worldly travels around the lagoon. Delizioso!

Seashore Sweets at the Boardwalk

Enjoy the Boardwalk

Enjoy the Boardwalk

Boardwalks and ice cream seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly…it just works. Seashore Sweets is in the perfect spot to get your ice cream to go and take in the sights and sounds of the Mid Atlantic inspired Boardwalk. Last time I was there I ordered the smallest size kiddie cone (with sprinkles) and it was just enough to satisfy my craving and leave me with the option of second dessert. It can get a bit crowded in there at times, but in my experience, ice cream is worth the wait.

You can never have too much of this stuff.

When a Mickey ice cream bar just won’t do the trick, head to one of these delicious spots to cleanse the pallet, kick back, and enjoy. When you are surrounded by good people at the best location with yummy ice cream, life can’t be beat. Perhaps time will slow down for you as well.

 

Getting Around Using Walt Disney World Transportation

If you have ever been to Disney World, it doesn’t take long to notice the sheer size of the place. It really is it’s own city (about twice the size of Manhattan), complete with a variety of transportation methods to get around. While it is sometimes really cool to think that in one day, you might have been on a plane, train, bus, monorail, boat, and spaceship, it can get confusing knowing when to use what, and how to get around. This post will provide a basic rundown of getting around using the Walt Disney World transportation system.

 

Monorail entering the Contemporary

Monorail entering the Contemporary

Monorail:
The monorail’s iconic yet futuristic design makes it a favorite mode of transportation for people of all ages. It is a great way to travel in the sky and get some great views of the property. Knowing that there are 3 different monorail tracks will help you determine what you have to do to get to where you want to go. Track 1 is the resort monorail, and makes stops at the Contemporary, Transportation and Ticket Center, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, and the Magic Kingdom (in that order). This is why if you are staying at the Contemporary, it might make more sense to walk to the Magic Kingdom. You will get there way before the monorail makes it all the way around the lake. Track 2 is called the Express Monorail. It only makes stops at the Transportation and Ticket Center and the Magic Kingdom. If you drove to the Magic Kingdom, a tram will transport you to the Transportation and Ticket Center. The Express Magic Kingdom monorail will get you there faster than the one that stops at all the hotels, but even the resort monorail will get you there if you need to use it. Finally, Track 3 takes you back and forth from the Transportation and Ticket Center to Epcot. When you travel to Epcot, the monorail actually goes over the park to provide some excellent views. So let’s say I’ve been chillin at Epcot all day but I need to get to the Magic Kingdom for dinner reservations. The best way would be to hop the monorail back to the Transportation and Ticket Center, switch to the Express Magic Kingdom monorail, and then you’re there.

Ferry heading to Magic Kingdom

Ferry heading to Magic Kingdom

Ferry:
There are 3 Ferry boats that transport guests from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Magic Kingdom. Currently, they are building another dock so both Ferries can load or unload guests at the same time.

Friendship boat heading back from Epcot

Friendship boat heading back from Epcot

Boats:
There are many options to getting around the Walt Disney World property by boat. Allow me to break it down for you. You can get to the Magic Kingdom by boat from the Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, and Fort Wilderness. These resorts all transport back and forth across the lake. You can get to Epcot and/or Disney’s Hollywood studios on a Friendship boat at the Yacht/Beach Club, Boardwalk, or Swan/Dolphin. The boats go in the order of Epcot, Boardwalk, Yacht/Beach, Swan/Dolphin, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Swan/Dolphin, Yacht/Beach, Boardwalk, Epcot. This entire loop takes about 25 minutes or so. Lastly, if you want to get to Downtown Disney, you can take a boat to and from Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside. Old Key west and Saratoga Springs also have boats that travel to and from Downtown Disney (name soon to be changed to Disney Springs). Don’t forget that at most hotels, you can also rent boats if you’re feeling one with the water.

Enjoying my own private bus

Enjoying my own private bus

Bus:
The bus is the primary mode of transportation to the parks. If a hotel was not mentioned in any of the above transportation sections, the only way to get around is by bus. If a hotel was mentioned, but only about going to one particular destination, all other transportation from that hotel will be by bus. For example, from the Beach Club, I can take a boat to Epcot and Hollywood Studios, but I will have to take a bus to get directly to the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, Blizzard Beach, and Typhoon Lagoon (assuming I do not

Bus stop from Port Orleans

Bus stop from Port Orleans

have a park hopper pass). A couple things to keep in mind about the buses. Value resorts have separate lines depending on where you want to go and are not covered, therefore you may be waiting in rain or extreme heat. Moderate and Deluxe resorts have bus stops where you have to keep an eye on what bus is coming. They are covered, and some of them have fans and vending machines for a little additional comfort. Also, be aware that the buses at Downtown Disney will take on guests from a couple hotels. This can tack on additional travel time, so plan accordingly. At times it has taken me almost an hour to get back to the Contemporary from Downtown Disney.

Walkway to Epcot

Walkway to Epcot

Foot:
At the very start of your vacation, when you are still bright eyed and bushy tailed, you may want to forgo Disney transportation and just walk to a park. You are able to walk from the Contemporary to the Magic Kingdom, and from the Boardwalk, Yacht Club, Beach Club, Swan, and Dolphin to both Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (depending on which hotel you are staying it may be a 5 -25 minute walk).

The Disney property is a magical place to be. I’d recommend making every minute matter by using a variety of transportation — there are few places on earth that offer free rides on boats, trains, busses, and especially monorails. With a small amount of planning and a keen sense of adventure, it’s really easy to make transportation to the park attractions as much of an attraction as the parks themselves.

Walt Disney World Kennels

Puffin and me

Puffin and me

This week my husband and I welcomed a new addition to our family, an adorable yet feisty Cavalier King Charles named Puffin. We were quick to learn that new puppies are a full-time job and it got me wondering about families that bring dogs to Disney. I realized I didn’t know much about the Disney World Kennels so I did a little research. If you are interested in bringing a pet to Disney, here are a few facts to know.

best-friends-pet-careYour pet will have a blast. Just as Disney caters to providing memorable experiences and excellent customer service, you can bet your dog and/or cat will be well taken care of at the Best Friends Pet Care Kennel on the Disney property, with staff of over 45 pet care providers. All of the staff is certified in Pet CPR and there are many Vet Techs on site.

Dogs (with the exception of service dogs) are not allowed at any Disney Theme Park, Resort, or mode of transportation. The only exception is select Full Hook-up campsites at Disney’s Ft. Wilderness Campground (additional charges apply). Pets are NOT permitted in Wilderness Cabins or in NON-designated loops.

Best Friends Pet Care gives the option of day services as well as overnight accommodation. The Kennels are equipped with air-conditioned indoor space, outdoor space to run freely, and even a dog park to keep your pooch well socialized.

You have the option to spoil your pet like crazy. I took this information straight from the Disney Best Friends Pet Care website. It shows some of the options available for housing your pet and providing them with ultimate VIP status. If you have multiple dogs, they will be able to hang out together and share a condo.

Courtesy of Best Friends Pet Care

Dogs:
VIP Luxury Suites- This 226 square-foot suite package includes 2 potty walks, 2 playgroups, a flat-screen television, webcam, bedtime story and, after a 3-day stay, a bath.
Vacation Villas- This 72 square-foot suite package includes one potty walk, playgroup, a flat-screen television and a turn-down biscuit.
Indoor/Outdoor Suite- This 32 to 48 square-foot suite package includes one potty walk.
Indoor Suite-This 36 square-foot suite package includes 2 potty walks.

Cats:
2 and 4 Level Condos

Pocket (Small) Pets:
Guests must provide an enclosure for smaller pets, including birds, reptiles and rodents. Please note that Best Friends Pet Care cannot accommodate venomous pets or primates.

Courtesy of Best Friends Pet Care

Don’t feel guilty for a second that you are housing your precious pet at these kennels. A typical day of activities for your dog or cat is just as exciting as a full day at the Magic Kingdom complete with snacks. Dogs will enjoy playtime, cuddletime, explore time, story time, bottled water, and ice-cream break, and a luxurious bed to dream the night away. Cat’s will be in heaven with playtime, activity time, cookies and milk, tuna on rice, and a deluxe kitty bed.

Think your “other child” needs her version of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique? Grooming is available with the ultimate list of treatments like skin and flea.

When bringing your pet in, you must have written proof from your vet that he/she is up-to-date on their vaccines.

There is a lot more info on the website wdw.BestFriendsPetCare.com in terms of options to stay, what to bring, and daily rates. Guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort will pay a slightly reduced rate. Prices range anywhere from basic doggie daycare, around $34, to the VIP Luxury Suites around $89 per day.

The more I read about it, the more it sounds like these kennels would be a wonderful retreat for any pup. It might have all started with a mouse, but dogs are man’s best friend. Pets are family, and knowing that a family member is in good hands is always rewarding for everyone involved.

Courtesy of Best Friends Pet Care

Disney Magical Express

As soon as you step foot into the Orlando airport, your Disney vacation has begun. If you are staying at a on site Disney hotel, you will have the luxury of free transportation to and from the airport to your hotel. For a budget conscious family, a party that won’t be leaving the Disney property, or the couple that doesn’t want to think about anything except sitting back and enjoying your vacation, the Disney Magical Express is a huge complementary bonus. This post offers some of the ins and outs of using Disney Magical Express.

Where To Find It

The Orlando airport is quite large, and finding the Disney Magical Express can be a little confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Prior to your vacation, Disney will send you your Magical Express info complete with yellow baggage tags. If you decide to put these on your bags, you simply set it and forget and head to the Magical Express line. If you decided you want to take your luggage with you on the bus, forgo these yellow tags and make sure you get your bags at baggage claim before heading to Magical Express. When you arrive at your gate, you will need to follow the signs for baggage claim which will take you on a little shuttle/tram to get you to the main A/B terminal. This main terminal is where the Hyatt hotel is and the gift shops really begin. You will come to a crossroad where you can walk towards terminal A and forget about your Disney vacation, or head to terminal B, and see what Mickey has in store. I would recommend going to terminal B. Head down escalator number one, then go down one more. There should be signs or cast members pointing you in the right direction. With the rollout of the Magic Bands, Magic Express is even easier, simply line up the Mickey on your band with the light up Mickey head and you’re good to go. A cast member will tell you what line to get in depending on what hotel you are staying at.

For Your Consideration
Depending on what time of the day, and more importantly, what time of the year you are going, the Magical Express line can either be a ghost town or the ultimate test of waiting in a really boring line for an hour. While there are a handful of tvs to pass the time, it can get a little crazy when you throw in mounds of luggage, hunger, antsy kids, and the need to get to the Magic Kingdom for your fastpass times. If you can, plan ahead. Make sure everyone in your party has something to make the time pass quicker. Snacks usually help. Please keep in mind that just because you have made it on the bus doesn’t mean the waiting is over. You might sit on a parked bus for up to half an hour if it’s not super crowded. But at least you are sitting in the AC, and watching clips about Disney World.

dme tvs

TV’s onboard Disney’s Magical Express

Couple Things To Look Out For
Remember when I said you might be waiting on the bus for a while? That is because your hotel won’t be the only hotel that is loading on that particular bus. I haven’t quite figured out how they decide which hotels go on which bus because in my opinion, sometimes they are quite spread apart. So just a FYI, if they drop off at your hotel last, that can be up to an additional hour of the already 45 minute trip, and wait time back at the airport. This is one of those things where it’s hard to predict and sometimes things work out better and sometimes you get stuck in the slow line. Best not to stress about it, plan fastpass times and meals for later in the day, and remember there will be a dozen of times on this trip where you don’t have to wait in a line.

Basically Golden Tickets

So What Am I Really Getting?

While what I might have just described to you sounds like an insurmountable amount of wait time, I assure the Disney Magical Express is full of value. Remember when I mentioned yellow luggage tags? These are more like golden tickets to families that have tons of stuff, or parties that want to hit the parks right away. Simply walk by baggage claim like the VIP you are and head to the Magical Express Line. In the real world, skipping airport necessities like the baggage claim is probably as close as any of us will come to being a rock star. This is an incredible value when you consider most other family vacations include, shall we say, “character building moments” when two parents are wrangling two giant rolling suitcases while wrestling their two children, eight carry on bags, three personal items and the new princess themed flip-flop sandals you bought Suzie that looked SO cute in the store but are currently being carried because they leave blisters on her feet. Run-on sentence intended. What are you really getting by riding the Disney Magical Express? You’re getting a walk through the airport that looks more like two parents holding the hands of their two children looking at all the fun new sights and carrying only the few dollars they need for snacks, and arriving at the parks relaxed and ready for more fun.

Usually 2-3 hours after your get to your hotel, your luggage will magically appear. I’m not lying about the magical part. When my husband and I were in Disney Beach Club Villas for the Disney Marathon, we entered our room and said the words: “when do you think our suitcases will arrive?” <knock, knock, knock>

Carry all marathon clothes onboard

“Hello, I’m here with your luggage. Where would you like me to put it?” You do not need to be in the room for them to leave the luggage. Just be sure to pack anything you might need, (sunscreen, shorts, poncho, etc.) in your carry on bag. Another important note for all you aspiring runDisney participants and racers: ALWAYS place all your racing gear in your carry-on bag. While the luggage delivery service is very reliable, if you’ve trained for 12-24 weeks of your life to compete at a race, you don’t want to leave any chances that all your favorite gear will be with you through the miles. Running in a bathing suit and boat shoes is not recommended. AND, if your room isn’t ready yet, they will even hold on to your carry on bag for safe keeping. You are also getting free roundtrip transportation. Renting a car can be very costly, especially when you throw in parking fees. Even having a Mears or shuttle van can add up quickly.

Getting Ready to Get Back to the Real World
Through the magic of the internet, we have now flashed forward to the day before you leave Disney. You will receive an envelope with your Magical Express information. This letter provides you with the time you must be out at the bus stop the day of your departure. For those of you new to Magical Express, it might be earlier than you hoped or planned. It is typically 3 hours before your departure time. Disney wants to be sure there are no missed flights on their account, and I can’t blame them for that. I think one of the best features of Magical Express is that for participating airlines, they check you into your flight. That envelope will provide your boarding pass so when you get to the Orlando airport, you can head straight to security. You might notice that there are no yellow luggage tags in this envelope. Think of it as a way to ease yourself back into reality, you have to handle your own baggage. But don’t get too sad, if you are on a participating airline, you can check your baggage right at your hotel. That’s right, the hotel will usually check your bags, print your passes, and leave you baggage free so no “character building” moments are necessary at either the beginning or ending of your vacation. Be careful to read the fine print on what times the airport check in is available at your hotel so you can plan ahead.

Now It’s Time To Say Goodbye
The day of your departure will basically be your arrival day in reverse. Best to be out at the bus stop 15 minutes or so before the time that was given to you. No one likes a tardy tourist. At this point, you may or may not have baggage. Hop onboard and relax. You will be dropped off at terminal B, right where you got on the Magical Express bus. You will have to take the elevator back up, double-check which terminal you need to go to, head to security, then back on the shuttle/tram to your gate. If all goes according to plan, you will arrive at your final destination to find your luggage at baggage claim.

More Fine Print
•Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resorts to not participate in Magical Express.
•Luggage delivery is only available for flights arriving between 5:00 am and 10:00 pm. For airport arrivals outside of that timeframe, you must pick up your own luggage and bring it on the bus.
•International Guests can expect an additional hour or so for luggage arrival and Magical Express pick up times.
•For your return flight, baggage fees apply with certain airlines. You must call and pay in advance.
•Resort Airline Check-In Service is available with AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways

Having fun onboard

Having fun onboard

Disney App Review…Disney Creativity Studio

home page

Creativity Studio home page

Every once in a while I’ll browse the app store for any new, free Disney apps. I’m not really big into paying for apps, but I’m always willing to try the free ones. The Disney Creativity Studio is a top-notch free app that could keep kids (and adults) of all ages busy for hours. This review will cover some of the features, pros, and cons, that accompany this app.

coloring book

coloring book tab

 

learn to draw

learn to draw tab

 

 

Features:

The Disney Creativity Studio app is just that, a creative outlet for the Disney lover to create to your heart’s content. A large selection of Disney characters runs along the bottom of the app, with choices from Mickey Mouse and Friends, Minnie Mouse, Disney Princesses, Monsters University, Sofia the First, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Minnie. For each character selection, you can choose different drawing folders. Under the activities folder, you can choose from coloring book pages, tracing paper, or connect the dots.

The Mickey and Friends, Minnie Mouse, Disney Princesses, and Monsters University characters have a learn to draw folder, which is my favorite. If provides a step by step tutorial on how to draw your favorite characters. There is a draw your own folder where you can take your skills to the canvas, add backgrounds, characters, and frames. Lastly, there is folder for all your saved artwork. At any time, you can print, email, or export any of your drawings.

connect the dots

connect the dots tab

draw on your own

draw on your own option

 

 

Pros:
•This app provides enough free material that the expansion packs are not really necessary.
•There is enough material for all character lovers.
•You can come back to unfinished artwork at a later time.
•You can save, print, email, and export drawings.
•There are are about 35 marker colors to choose from along with the option of drawing with a pen, marker, or crayon.

with stylus

with stylus

coloring without stylus

coloring without stylus

 

 

Cons:
•Each character comes with an “expand your fun option.” These upgrades cost $.99, so if you choose to get the upgrade for all the characters you’re looking at an additional $10.
•It can be very difficult drawing with your finger. We grow accustomed to drawing and coloring by holding a utensil. It can be challenging to be precise when just using your index finger. Apple has to option of buying the app with a Disney stylus for $39.95. Below I will tell you how to make one for practically free.

Verdict:
I love this app. I was always a fan of coloring and activity books growing up, and this one satisfies my inner child. It’s a great addition to a long car ride, keeps you busy for hours, and for the parents out there, it’s 100% stain free.

How to make a stylus for your iPad for practically FREE

If you ever tried using a tablet or smart phone with gloves on, you may have noticed nothing happens. A stylus needs to be able to carry the static electricity from your finger to a conductive material and onto the screen. With these household item, you can quickly make a stylus for your tablet or smart phone.

Materials: Pen, Q-tip, Tin Foil, Tape, Water

Directions:
1. Unscrew the pen and remove the ink.
2. Cut the Q-tip at a sharp angle and insert it into the mouth of the pen. Secure with tape if necessary.
3. Wrap the tin foil around the neck of the pen, a couple of centimeters above the tip of the cotton swab. Wrap tightly, and secure with tape at the top. This will prevent the tin foil from sliding or twisting.
4. Dip the Q-tip into a tiny bit of water. Without the water, your stylus will not work. It’s perfectly safe for your device. If the Q-tip dries out, simply re-wet.
5. Make sure you are gripping the tin foil when you write and enjoy!

homemade stylus

my homemade stylus