Walt Disney World is Not Just for Preschoolers – Tweens Love It Too! #DisneyTweens

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As the years race by, it’s hard to realize how fast my first baby is growing up. Apparently, he is a tween. How did that happen? I guess I should have noticed the clues. The video games, the headphones attached to his neck, the newfound love for Top 40 hits, the desire to fit in or be “cool”, and yes – even the little bit of attitude I’ve been seeing appear every now and again. As much as I hate to admit it, my baby – my 8 year old Lucas – is growing up right before my eyes and I want to do everything I can to press pause on every moment we get to spend together. That’s why we all jumped at the chance to visit Walt Disney World Resort and experience everything the parks have to offer tweens and families.

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We were ready for 3 days of jam-packed Disney tween fun! After arriving and checking into our Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah Room (complete with views of animals like giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and so much more – Lucas was amazed), we met up with a group of influencers and friends that would be joining us for the press trip.

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We quickly headed to dinner and then our first ride…Test Track at Epcot. Lucas was able to create his own custom car on a computer terminal before boarding. The ride will then test the abilities of the car you designed and show you the results. The ride was so fast and so much fun. It is officially one of our favorite rides at Walt Disney World and definitely tween approved. As Lucas said, “Best ride of my life!”

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The next day we were off early to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. After breakfast we boarded the Kilimanjaro Safari. Guys, this ride is one of a kind. You truly get a close encounter with real wild life – rhinos, elephants, lions, monkeys, and more. Lucas – and all of us – were in awe. Lucas especially loved the driver who was doling out cool facts and trivia tidbits (did you know that a giraffe only sleeps for a total of about 30 min a day, in no more than 5 minute increments? That’s insane. And I thought I didn’t getting enough sleep!).

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After the safari we rode Dinosaur, which is a thrilling adventure ride that takes you back in time to experience dinosaurs right at the time the asteroid hit. We also rode Expedition Everest which is by far one of the coolest roller coaster rides we have been on and is Lucas’ favorite. The coaster shoots up a mountain and before you know it, you are headed backwards in the dark and brings you up close and personal with the dangerous yeti. Scary and fun all rolled into one!!

Later that afternoon we went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and headed straight to Star Tours, of course. If you haven’t ridden Star Tours, it is a 3D simulator ride that puts you right into the heat of battle in a galaxy far far away. This is without a doubt Lucas’ and Mike’s favorite ride. Ever. They are huge Star Wars fans and this ride is like being inside the movies. They would literally ride it all day if I let them lol.

And, finally Lucas and Mike rode Tomorrowland Speedway several times. They love this ride!

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After dinner, we rode Aerosmith’s Rock n’ Roller Coaster, which is super cool and super fast. You take off going 0 – 60 in less than 3 seconds as you shoot into a loop and head off into the neon and black light filled room. Why so fast? Because if you don’t hurry you will miss Aerosmith’s rock concert!

That evening we had front row seats to what I have to believe is the single greatest fireworks show on earth. I have never seen anything like Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular. This awesome new show is actually a precursor to another show coming later this year (more on that in another post). Fireworks are set off to the music and sounds of Star Wars. You really have to see it to believe it. The music is beautiful and the fireworks are breathtaking. Literally breathtaking. 

On our last day we went to Magic Kingdom where we rode just about every thrill ride at the park. We rode Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which is a relatively new coaster that is fun for the whole family. Even our 2 year old Amelia rode it! The Seven Dwarves Mine Train combines the thrill of a coaster with the magical animatronics that Disney is known for. We rode it twice!

Another tween-approved ride is Space Mountain. This coaster is an oldie but goodie! I can remember riding Space Mountain when I was a kid! Space Mountain takes you flying around in the dark with stars projected all around you. It’s like being in outer space.

To finish the day we headed over to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney). Mike and the kids did some shopping while I got to see first hand, the big changes that are coming to Disney Springs (again, more on that in another post). We all got to do a little shopping, which is always fun and there were plenty of stores for each of us – even the boys – to enjoy!

 

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We ended the evening with a relaxing ride around the Disney Springs lake in an Amphicar (which is a car and a boat in one) and dinner at Boathouse. The Amphicar was a pretty sweet ride! The driver was hilarious and the view was gorgeous. This is a must-do at Disney Springs.

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By the end of the trip, here’s what I knew for sure. Disney just gets it. They understand the intricacies of families. They understand the challenges that parents of little ones face so they provide stroller rentals and baby care stations and rider switch passes and more. Disney understands that tweens and teens are looking for a cool experience at the parks and they provide it through thrill rides and shopping and magical experiences. The world that Disney creates for their customers and the service they provide is second to none. Disney makes it easy for families of all ages – from young families with newborns to families with tweens and teens to families with all grown-up “kids” – to reconnect with one another and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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Lots of New Disney Experiences this Summer!

Not only do packages start under $2,000, but this year’s Awaken Summer event will debut new experiences across all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks with an epic array of shows and attractions to open throughout summer, creating exciting new guest experiences across all Disney theme parks and entertainment venues. A new Magic Kingdom castle show will bring favorite characters from “Tangled” and “Princess and the Frog” for the first time to the grandest stage in Walt Disney World. Stars of the runaway Disney hit, “Frozen,” will take a bow in multiple Disney parks, and the first Frozen-themed attraction will sail into guests’ hearts at Epcot. Even more Star Wars-themed original entertainment, nighttime Animal Kingdom experiences and Disney Springs openings will set the stage for endless summertime fun. Visit DisneyWorld.com for more info.

Family Friendly Things To Do In New Orleans

In February, I (along with a group of bloggers) got the opportunity to travel to New Orleans as an iRetreat Conference Ambassador. New Orleans is the host city for this year’s iRetreat Conference so we were there to learn more about the city and its offerings.

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Instead of flying, I decided to make it a road trip and take Mike and the kids with me too. They had never been to New Orleans either so we thought it would be fun to get to know the city together. I have to tell you that New Orleans surprised us in so many ways. Mainly in that New Orleans is way more than Bourbon Street. It’s a destination that families can and should visit. There’s so much to experience together. The food. The rich culture. The architecture. The city is literally alive with history and tradition and the people that call New Orleans home. We loved it so much that Mike and the kids are going back with me for iRetreat Conference and we added several days after the conference so that we can explore the city even more. So today I wanted to share a few activities that every family must-do while in New Orleans.

Go on the French QuarTour Kids Walking Tour: Lucas and a few other kids joined us for the tour and they all had such a wonderful time. The tour is very interactive and led by an experienced teacher who knows how to grab a child’s attention (and keep it).

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While the tour is definitely educational and teaches kids about the history of the city, it also has lots of funny and silly moments. For example, the kids couldn’t stop giggling when they were asked to reenact a courtship between a young man and a lady.

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Their mouths dropped when they were shown a small piece of coal and the guide explained that people used to brush their teeth with it. It was a lot of fun and by the end – both kids and adults – had learned so much! Tours are available for kids starting at ages 4 and up.

Spend and afternoon at City Park: This is one of my favorite spots in New Orleans. City Park is a park unlike any that I have ever seen. At 1,300 acres, it is massive. It also happens to be one of the oldest urban parks in the country. A few of my favorite City Park spots:  Storyland, is an enchanting kid’s playground with play structures that have literally been pulled from the pages of a fairytale. There’s also Carousel Gardens Amusement Park which features 16 rides and an antique wooden carousel.

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You can’t go to City Park without stopping by Morning Call for beignets and coffee. Quick Tip: Make sure to powder your beignet like a true New Orleanian by banging the sugar container on the bottom. No lightly sprinkling the powdered sugar on your beignets!

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City Park also has ancient oak trees that have grown so large they actually need crutches (one of these oak tress is over 800 years old).

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But even all of these things aren’t why I fell in love with City Park. It’s the feeling that I get when I’m there. It makes me feel like I’m a part of something that has been around for centuries. It honestly feels magical.

Visit Audubon Zoo: This zoo is fantastic for several reasons, but I honestly love it because it’s not overwhelming in size. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a large zoo at 58 acres and features a wide variety of animals. You’ll see elephants, bears, giraffes, monkeys, flamingos, snakes, alligators, a few animals that I never even knew existed, and much more.

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However, you can get through the zoo in a morning or afternoon. It’s the perfect activity for small kids like Amelia who need a nap after a few hours. Also, make sure to look for Gator Run – Audubon Zoo’s new lazy river! It wasn’t open to the public while we were there, but we were given a quick sneak peek. Gator Run has two sandy beaches and three water canons to spray people as they float down the river. There are spots for parents to sit back and relax on loungers while the kids play. It’s going to be a big hit this summer, I’m sure!

Take a stroll through The French Quarter:  Every street is alive with culture and music and the soul of the city – the people. Walking through The French Quarter is an experience in itself. People literally break out in song and dance. The sound of jazz and blues and folk music fills the air.

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And, you’re surrounded by beautiful architecture and buildings that have been around for centuries. It just makes me happy. You’ll also find lots of eclectic shops selling beautiful handmade goods, antiques, and of course, there’s the famous French Market. And, make sure to hop on one of the streetcars!

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Enjoy the Food: Yes, the food deserves it’s own category. New Orleans has an abundance of amazing restaurants to choose from. We literally ate our way through New Orleans and it was a truly divine experience. From crawfish to po’ boys to beignets and the best bread pudding of my life, eating in New Orleans was like being in foodie heaven. This is one of the best places to eat in the U.S.. Without a doubt.

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Additional Info:

For more information about New Orleans, make sure to check out neworleanscvb.com. For hotel accommodations, I’d recommend staying at one of the gorgeous hotels that are part of the New Orleans Hotel Collection. For this trip we stayed at the Dauphine New Orleans and we will be staying at the Hotel Mazarin (both part of the New Orleans Hotel Collection) when we go back in the summer.

If you’re thinking about visiting New Orleans and are an online influencer, the best time to visit is June 28-30 for the iRetreat Conference. I’ll be there and would love to see you there too! For more info, visit iRetreatConference.com.

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014 Recap #DisneySMMoms

At the beginning of April, we packed up the car and headed on a trip of a lifetime. From Atlanta to Miami for Hispanicize 2014 to Key West, FL for vacation and then we hopped on a plane and headed to the Happiest Place on Earth for the 2014 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration at Disneyland Park in California! We were so honored and excited to be invited to this years annual celebration! Did I say excited? Because we literally could not stop talking about it for weeks! We started our trip with a little Disney magic – a gift bag filled with Disney-themed goodies for both Lucas and Amelia…

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We arrived at the Disneyland Hotel and immediately checked in to the conference.

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We were so happy to run into one of our best buds…Mickey Mouse, of course! It was Amelia’s first time meeting Mickey and she loved him!

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The official conference events began that night with a welcome cocktail party for attendees followed by a dinner for families.

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The conference sessions the next two days were amazing and so inspirational! I wrote about my key takeaways from the sessions HERE. They are perfect for bloggers (or anyone) trying to build their brand and business.

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I loved getting to see so many friends and their lovely families!

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Our stay at the Disneyland Hotel did not disappoint! It is such a beautiful hotel and has several restaurants, pools, and shops on the property. It is bursting with magical details! For example, kids (and adults) can receive wake-up calls from their favorite Disney characters, the headboards on the beds light up and play music, and more. 

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We ended up extending our stay by adding an extra four days. It was perfect! We were able to fit in two pool days and even rented a private cabana by the slides. The cabana was ideal for us because it allowed us to spend all day at the pool with a baby.

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The cabana comes with a play yard, which Amelia napped in quite happily while we read and Lucas had a blast making friends and playing on the slides.

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As you can see…he also relaxed quite a bit too lol.

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Disneyland was…magical.

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We made memories we will NEVER forget.

Look at his face. PURE JOY.

Look at his face. PURE JOY.

 

Riding Dumbo with my baby

Riding Dumbo with my baby

 

Watching Fantasmic from VIP Dessert Buffet Seating

Watching Fantasmic from VIP Dessert Buffet Seating

 

Lucas & Mike on Space Mountain for the first time!

Lucas & Mike on Space Mountain for the first time!

 

The sign we made for Jedi Training & it worked!

The sign we made for Jedi Training & it worked!

Lucas' dream come true! Fighting Darth Vader at Jedi Training

Lucas’ dream come true! Fighting Darth Vader at Jedi Training

 

Meeting Captain America

Meeting Captain America

 

My princess meeting Cinderella

My princess meeting Cinderella

 

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Enjoying cotton candy at Mickey’s Magical Map

 

 

Meeting Princess Aurora

Meeting Princess Aurora

At Goofy's Kitchen

At Goofy’s Kitchen

Stay tuned for additional posts in the coming weeks with Disneyland tips and tricks!

*Reduced rates for accommodations were provided during the conference. However, all opinions are my own.

What We Learned On Our 19 Day Family Vacation – Travel Tips

*This is part of a sponsored campaign. All opinions are my own.

We just got back from a very long trip – 19 days  to be exact. We went to Miami, Key West and California. We drove to Miami, which is a 12 hour drive from Atlanta, including stops. We flew to California from Miami, which is a 5 1/2 hour flight. All with two kids. One of those kids being almost 1 year old. We are crazy, for sure!

Checking in to our flight to California

Checking in to our flight to California

Surprisingly though, traveling with kids wasn’t that bad. I mean – don’t get me wrong – we definitely had some bumps along the way. For instance, on our way back from California we were waiting to board our flight when Amelia had a nuclear meltdown for several minutes. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE was staring at us. You know they had to thinking “OMG, I hope that baby is not sitting next to me on the plane!” For a brief moment, I wanted to cry, but then I just started laughing because seriously…what could I do? I couldn’t reason with a 1 year old. I tried my best to console her until she quieted down, but besides that – there wasn’t anything I could do.

For the most part though, everything went pretty smoothly and we had a great time! The key was preparation! Below are a few things that we learned along the way. Hope they help your family travel easier this spring and summer!

Amelia on the plane with daddy

Amelia on the plane with daddy

Mom Tip General - 4

  • When flying with a baby, I recommend booking her a seat even if she is young enough to be a lap child (2 and under). We didn’t do this so that we could save money and ended up regretting it. Amelia was very squirmy on the flight and it would have definitely been a better flight if she’d had her own seat (sitting on a carseat, of course).  If you can’t book your baby a seat, then make sure that you are sitting next to someone you know as a buffer from other people who your baby will inevitably want to grab at LOL.
  • Snacks, snacks, snacks! Whether you are flying or traveling by car, be prepared with lots of snacks! I don’t know what it is about food, but it can buy you a few minutes of sanity almost every time.
  • Pack small toys that you can pull out throughout your flight or road trip. It’s a good idea to have a few new things that will be exciting and hold their attention for longer periods (look in clearance or dollar bins).
  • For older kids, pack a portable DVD player, movies, iPad, iPod or other electronic gaming device, books, coloring and sticker books, etc.
  • If traveling by plane, make sure to get to the airport early so that you can get checked-in, check your bags, go through security and get to your gate with plenty of time. This will lower your stress level and start your trip off on the right foot! You don’t want to be running in an airport with kids in tow.
  • If traveling by car, get on the road as early as possible. We like to leave at 4 or 5 am so that it’s still dark and the kids will sleep for the first few hours.
  • Be flexible, stay positive, and know that kids will be kids. There will likely be bumps (read: meltdowns) along the way, but it’s ok! Breathe!
Lucas opening his Disneyland goody bag on travel day

Lucas opening his Disneyland goody bag on travel day

 

 

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For additional parenting tips and tricks, make sure to visit Playtex Baby Mom Trust!

 

What are your family travel tips and tricks?

 

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Holiday Travel Tips for Families

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The holiday season is all about spending time with loved ones, but for some of us – that can mean travel. Traveling during the holidays can definitely be a bit stressful. There’s the packing and crowds and expenses – it can be so overwhelming! So today, I thought I’d share some Holiday Travel Tips for Families – enjoy!

Lucas on a family road trip

Lucas on a family road trip

Holiday Travel Tips for Families

  • Plan and plan some more! Traveling always has some bumps along the way, but one way to reduce the number of mishaps is to plan ahead.
  • Ship gifts to your destination. Instead of lugging gifts and stressing about luggage space, bag check fees, and potentially lost items – ship them in advance. It’s so much easier!
  • Make sure that you’re ready for security at the airport. Read TSA Rules beforehand so you can sail through the long security lines.
  • Bring entertainment for kids. Whether it’s a handheld gaming device, portable DVD player, coloring books, small toys – it’s a good idea to be prepared with a few small items that your kids enjoy. Make sure that they are easy to access!
  • Bring small snack in your carry-on. It’s amazing how a snack can keep kids happy – pack a few!
  • Avoid peak travel days. This way you’ll avoid the large crowds and you can probably save on travel costs.
  • Breathe. Remember that it’s the holidays and keep calm. You will get through this!
  • Stay healthy! Bring sanitizer and wipes to battle germs. However, make sure that you have medicine just in case! PediaCare® Children’s Fever Reducer Plus Cough & Runny Nose With Acetaminophen is perfect for travel because it attacks several symptoms thereby eliminating the need to pack several different medicines.

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Fever Myth #2 – A fever can hurt my child

Winter Family Entertainment at Beech Mountain, NC

For the past couple of months, my Facebook feed has been filled with my Northern friends’ complaining about all the snow they are getting. Well, as the saying goes — “the grass is always greener”. I would LOVE to get some of that snow! Here in the South – specifically HOTlanta – we are lucky if we get a few flurries every year. So far, we have gotten zero snow – zilch. If we want snow, we basically have to go TO THE SNOW! Beech Mountain, NC is the place to go!  Beech Mountain is the highest town in Eastern America and an ideal vacation spot in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Our elevation (5,506 feet) sets us apart 12 months a year. Winter brings an average snowfall of 84.6 inches and transforms Beech Mountain into a wonderland for: skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing and sledding. It is a short drive and offers all sorts of winter entertainment for families!

 

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Check it out!

Beech Mountain Ski and Stay Packages

*$99 for 2 nights lodging, a day on the slopes

Includes:

  • Two nights, double occupancy at participating locations (Mon – Thurs)
  • One all-day lift ticket for each adult (Mon – Fri)
  • Access to town’s free youth sledding hill
  • Kids free at select lodging
  • Weekend packages available too

*Restrictions apply.

Skiing 101 at Beech
Provides one night’s lodging, equipment rental, helmet rental, full-day lift ticket, and a beginner skiing or snowboarding lesson at Beech Mountain Resort.

The month-long program is available Monday through Friday to anyone age eight or older. Cost of enrollment is $101 per person, double occupancy required.

Registering for “Skiing 101 at Beech” is simple. Just contact any of the participating lodging options listed at: www.BeechMtn.com/skiing101 and ask for the Skiing 101 package. The accommodation will book your room and provide a voucher at check-in to be redeemed at the ski resort for a lesson, equipment rental, helmet rental, and lift ticket.

Free Youth Sledding Hill
Enjoy free sledding daily for children 12 and under.The hill, located adjacent to the Visitors Center, provides good sledding conditions with a combination of man-made and natural snow. The sled run is operated by Beech Mountain Parks & Recreation Department seven days a week (weather permitting) with safety personnel on duty. A loud speaker plays music and hot chocolate is available at nearby restaurants. Hours of operation are: 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Disney Social Media Moms Celebration Recap #DisneySMMoms

Whew! April was a very busy month! I spent most of the month traveling to Miami for Hispanicize, Chula Vista for the Kellogg’s Champions of Great Starts trip, and to Orlando for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. If you haven’t heard of the Disney Social Media Celebration — it is actually an annual 3-day conference hosted by Disney World for mom and dad bloggers and social media influencers. It is the ultimate blogging conference as it is designed specially with families in mind. There are blogger only sessions during the day, built in time to head to the parks with your family, time to spend networking and meeting the other bloggers, and special VIP dinners every evening for bloggers and their families. Mike and I hadn’t visited Disney World since we were kids. Lucas had never been at all. To say that we were excited about heading to Orlando for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration would be the understatement of the year! The night before we were leaving, I was running around trying to get everything packed when Lucas comes to me and says, “Mommy, are you sure Disney is really there? We have only seen it on TV and on your computer.” My answer, “Yes, honey — it’s really there.”

On the morning that we were driving out to Orlando, we surprised Lucas with a special goody bag filled with Disney products, including Mickey Mouse. He now sleeps with that Mickey every night!

After a quick bite to eat, we were off!

Day one of the conference started out with Mike, Lucas, and I heading to Magic Kingdom in the morning. Lucas’ expression when he first saw the castle was priceless. He literally gasped and kept saying “It’s really there!”

After a morning at Magic Kingdom, I headed to cocktail event for bloggers only and then met back up with Mike and Lucas and the rest of the families for the Swashbuckler Soirée & Dinner at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club.

Lucas loved the pirate theme and he even got to meet Jake from the Neverland Pirates and Captain Hook and there was a treasure hunt!

I loved getting to spend quality time with friends…

Day two was filled with sessions and amazing speakers for the bloggers while the families got to enjoy the pools, relax, or head to the parks.

I was incredibly inspired by several of the speakers, especially Social Media Strategist and Founder of Digital Royalty, Amy Jo Martin (pictured below) who spoke a lot about “finding your why”.

“Find your why. Do more of what makes you happy and less of what doesn’t.” – Amy Jo Martin

Other speakers included Chris Brogan, Author, Strategist, Consultant – Human Business Works,Lisa Druxman, CEO & Chief Founding Mom – Stroller Strides, Ramon DeLeon, Marketing Mind – Domino’s Pizza Chicago, and Peter Shankman, Marketing & Customer Service Strategist.

That night, bloggers and their families headed to Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the Dino Mite Nite Dinner. This night was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. We had Disney’s Animal Kingdom COMPLETELY to ourselves. This was probably the best night of all! We had unlimited access to several of the rides and all of the classic Disney characters were in attendance — Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Chip & Dale, and more. Lucas even danced the robot with Daisy! It was awesome!

One day three, attendees could choose from a variety of breakout sessions like a Fantasyland Sneak Peek, Wild Africa Trek, Disney Innovation for Good, and more. After that, we had the entire day to enjoy the parks with our families until that evening’s Nemo’s Somewhere Under the Sea Farewell Dinner at the brand new Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

Which if you are planning a trip to Disney World, you should definitely consider staying at the Art of Animation Resort – it is adorable, affordable, and the rooms are so spacious! Plus, it boasts the largest pool of all the resorts!

We decided to extend our stay for an additional four nights after the conference and I must say — it was the trip of a lifetime. We actually moved over to the Polynesian Resort, which is gorgeous! There honestly aren’t words to explain the fun and joy we felt while we were at Disney World. We made memories that we will never forget. Ever. Let me show you some of them.

Mike and Lucas riding one of the cars at Tomorrowland Speedway – one of Lucas’ favorite rides!

Meeting Mickey Mouse
Riding the Great Goofini — also one of our favorite rides!
Eating a midnight snack at the Mainstreet Bakery at 1:45 am! Magic Kingdom was open until 2 am that night!
Princess kisses and hugs at the Royal Table Dinner at the Castle
The Jolly’s meet The Incredibles
Pure joy. The look on Lucas’ face throughout the trip.
The Claw…
Meeting Buzz & Woody
Meeting Minnie Mouse
At Disney Jr. Live on Stage — one of Lucas’ favorite memories

Disney Social Media Moms Conference attendees paid a conference fee which included hotel accommodations, park tickets, meals, admission to private parties, and more. We were not required or asked to write about the conference.

Carnival KNOWS Fun: Rock The Deck This Summer! #CarnivalConcert

 

If you live in Atlanta, Washington D.C, Houston, or Dallas–you’re in luck because Carnival Cruise in now an Official Concert Series Sponsor at the four Live Nation amphitheater concert venues listed below!

Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta
Jiffy Lube Live in Washington D.C.
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Houston
Superpages.com Center in Dallas

What does this mean exactly? Well, it means that Carnival Facebook Fans will be able to get VIP status through Carnival Cruise Lines and Live Nations Rock The Deck Summer Mystery Tour Sweepstakes! This is a series of Facebook sweepstakes providing five winners and up to three friends with a fun-tastic trip and once-in-a-lifetime VIP music experience at some of the summer’s best concerts. Winners will travel in style and be VIP guests at a top rock, pop or country music performance with the mystery artist unveiled when the winner is announced.  

Look for the following perks to be available through “Rock the Deck”: VIP priority seating, in-venue visibility, fan interaction, exclusive artist access, pre-show entertainment gatherings, “Carnival Sailgate Parties,” Carnival-reserved VIP seating areas for fans, and photos capturing concertgoers enjoying the pre-show festivities that will be made available on Carnival’s Facebook page after the events. 

Concert goers attending select Rock The Deck Concert Series shows throughout the season at Carnival-sponsored amphitheatres in the cities above will also have the chance to enjoy Carnival Sailgate parties. These pre-concert parties bring all the fun Carnival has to offer with great tunes and dancing, a live DJ and fun activities with the chance to win VIP ticket upgrades for that evening’s show, more tickets for upcoming concerts and other great Carnival prizes.

 

Photo Credit: Stacie Connerty

 

As part of the Carnival Cruise Ambassador program, I was given complimentary tickets to the local Rascall Flatt concert here in Atlanta. I was going to attend with several Atlanta blogger friends, but there was a family emergency and sadly, I wasn’t able to attend. However, my good friend Stacie from The Divine Miss Mommy was able to attend with her sister and friends. They had a blast at the concert and were given AMAZING seats in the Carnival section.

 

Photo Credit: Stacie Connerty

 

Thank you to Carnival for the tickets and the VIP “Rock the Deck” experience for my friends! Make sure to check out the Rock The Deck Summer Mystery Tour Sweepstakes for your chance to win VIP concert experiences at Live Nation venues in major U.S. cities! 

Carnival Fantasy Cruise Ship: They Don’t Call It a “Fun Ship” For Nothin’…

So, we are officially back from our 7-day Carnival cruise vacation and we are all going through some major “fun ship” withdrawals. Seriously, when Carnival dubbed their ships “fun ships”…they meant it. There was so much to do aboard the Carnival Fantasy that we didn’t even come close to doing it all.

Every night, you receive a copy of the “Fun Times”, which outlines everything that is going on the next day. Every night, after dinner–we would always head back to our stateroom to browse the “Fun Times” and to check out the new towel animal that would be left on Lucas bed. It was one of the highlights of our day!

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The Fantasy offers something for everyone. There are the obvious things like the Pool

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The Waterworks area

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The Casino

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Ping pong tables, mini golf, and, even life size board games!

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Shopping galore…

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The many bars and lounges. From piano bars to comedy clubs to dance clubs…the Fantasy had it all! Believe it or not, there’s even an art gallery and art auctions with complimentary champagne.

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The Universe Lounge is where all the evening shows happen and this was one of our favorite things to do! We never missed a show…even Lucas went with us and he loved them too. Unfortunately, due to copyright laws I couldn’t take any pictures, but the shows were wonderful. They had everything from Broadway style shows to juggling comedians to an amazing Beatles tribute show called Ticket to Ride.

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Of course, there is dinner, which is an event in itself. The menu changes every night and the wait staff is exceptional.

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Plus, they are so. much. fun. Every night, they put on a little show…from singing to dancing. Check them out!

And, on our 7-day cruise we had two elegant nights. It was a lot of fun to get dressed up and see everyone else on the ship dressed to the nines!

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What I listed above is only a small portion of all the fun activities aboard the Fantasy! There are triviathons, bingo, karaoke, dance classes, tea parties, laser tag, game show contests, round the clock live music, and so much more.

However, if you just want to relax and unwind…you can do that too. There are many places on the Fantasy to just chill out like the adults-only Serenity deck and several lounge areas to name a couple!

There’s even a quiet library area with books and board games that can be checked out.

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Plus, there are a ton of things for the kids to do sans parents…from Camp Carnival to dance clubs just for tweens and teens to arcades and more. More on kids’ activities coming soon in a separate post.

Stay tuned for more posts from our Carnival Cruise vacation and for cruising tips and advice! In the meantime, make sure to follow Carnival on Twitter and Facebook. For more information on their ships and booking, visit them at Carnival.com!

Thank you to Carnival for providing the complimentary 7-day cruise as part of their Mom-bassador Program. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone. Please refer to this site’s Terms of Use for more information.

Carnival Cruise Shore Excursion #3: Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands

Our third and final stop on our Carnival cruise was Grand Turk and honestly…it was our least favorite port. Partly because we were exhausted from two back to back beach days and both Mike and I were sun burned {ouch!}. Partly because we had been seriously spoiled from the absolute beauty of both Blue Lagoon Island and Half Moon Cay. Don’t get me wrong…Grand Turk is very pretty. The water is clear and there are beautiful coconut trees lining the beach…

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but…our other two stops were SO MAGNIFICENTLY BEAUTIFUL. Maybe if we’d stopped at Grand Turk first then our experience would have been different? Either way…don’t let me discourage you from Grand Turk. Like I said it is a beautiful place and getting to the beach area is super quick and easy so that is a huge plus. The ship docks right there and all you have to do is walk down a short pier to reach the beach. Easy peasy!

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For those of you who like to shop…there is shopping aplenty in Grand Turk! Diamonds, gemstones, jewelry, handcrafted souvenirs, apparel, duty-free shopping, and much…much more. I think I read that the Grand Turk shopping center is like 45,000 square feet!

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For the thrill seekers, you have to check out the FlowRider! It is basically a surfing ride that creates an artificial wave utilizing a pair of high-pressure water jets that produce a thin, two- to three-inch layer of water moving over a pre-formed and cushioned surface at high speed.

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Or, you can lounge by the pool at the famous Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville! You can use their pool free of charge and they of course serve food, drinks, cocktails and more so this is a great place to just kick back and relax the day away.

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I think that if we’d rented one of Margaritaville’s Poolside Cabanas, we would have had a much better day in Grand Turk! Check it out:

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– Air-conditioned, private poolside cabana
– Up to four people
– Outdoor shower
– Private deck with loungers
– Waiter service from Margaritaville Restaurant
– $129 per day.  You rent these through the Shore Excursions desk on the Carnival cruise ship.

Stay tuned for more posts from our Carnival Cruise vacation and for cruising tips and advice! In the meantime, make sure to follow Carnival on Twitter and Facebook. For more information on their ships and booking, visit them at Carnival.com!

Thank you to Carnival for providing the complimentary 7-day cruise as part of their Mom-bassador Program. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone. Please refer to this site’s Terms of Use for more information.