Monday, July 30, 2012

Vegan Eating in Disneyland-Hakuna Matata Monday

Vegan Eating In Disneyland

The Quest for a Family Meal

     So what do you do when you’ve lived your life as a confirmed and card-carrying member of the Junk Food Nation and you suddenly find yourself faced with living your life as a Vegan?  At home, although the transition wasn’t easy, it was eventually obtainable. But what happens to your new found life style when you find yourself in the Happiest Place on Earth with churros staring you in the face at every turn-how will you ever survive? Just as Lori talked about last week with her  article  dealing with food allergies, Disney once again has you covered no matter what your needs happen to be. 
            Most people know what vegetarians are but not Vegans.  I know we didn’t until a year ago when two heart attacks brought on a complete life style overhaul for one of our family members.  Simply put, Vegans, like Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish or poultry.  In addition, Vegans do not consume any animal products or by-products so that means no dairy, eggs or honey of any kind.  I think the heart attack wasn’t nearly as scary as being faced with the terror of not knowing if we would be able to eat as a family ever again at Disney.  I am here to report that even at Disneyland there are many places for a not so healthiest of eaters ( I am convinced that whatever the preservatives are that keeps a Twinkie around for hundreds of years is working on me too), a teenage boy and a Vegan to sit down and eat as one big happy family. Below is a list of eateries we have personally tried just for you!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Guest Author Sunday-Erica Hamric McLachlin

Guest Author Erica Hamric McLachlin

     Meet this week’s guest Disney Gal, Erica Mamric McLachlin, a 35 year old self-professed Disney Addict living in Baltimore, MD with her husband Jason and their two rescued “fur babies”. Erica’s first trip to WDW was in 1994 and she stayed off site. Erica told me that at the time, she thought it was the best thing she had ever done. Many trips later, Erica continues her love of visiting Disney but now as a proud DVC owner. Welcome Erica! We’re so excited to have you here today as an honorary Disney Gal!

My name is Erica, and I am a Disney Addict. My DH Jason is not a full-fledged addict like I am, but we’re slowly making progress! Just a little background on us- We don’t have any kids (yet) but we do have kiddos in our lives that we adore. We’ve taken all of them- with the exception of our youngest nephew -who is not quite a year old and an unborn niece (at least that’s what my sister says she wants, so we’ll go with that for now)

We love sharing Disney World with other people- mainly my family because Jason’s family just doesn’t get it.We bought into DVC as a “reward” to me for having gastric bypass surgery. I was very overweight pre-surgery and my quality of life was going down the tubes. From what my surgeon says, the surgery literally saved my life. My liver was in really bad shape, and to pair that with other medical issues I was having, he thinks that I may have been dead within a few years had I continued on the path I was on with my habits. To date, I have lost 184 lbs.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Combating Food Allergies at Disney

I am a Disney Gal-Jewish Mother. I take my role seriously. I think feeding everyone fresh, healthy food is in my job description.

Granted, it’s within the realm of possibility that your eating habits have caused you to question dining outside your comfort level. You dream about a dinner uninterrupted by telemarketers, or the texting thumbs of your teenager. Maybe you dream of dining with characters from the most beloved Disney stories.  

The thought of eating food prepared by others conjures up images in my mind of trips to the restroom from being lactose intolerant or a ride to a nearby hospital due to anaphylactic shock.

Does this situation sound familiar? If your fear of cupcakes stems from an allergy to red food-dye rather than how far around EPCOT’s World Showcase you need to jog to burn off those calories, you are in luck at Disney. 

Disney Dining puts my mind at ease as I welcome each chef to our table to discuss my options.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Navigating Your Disney Cruise with Your Personal Navigator

No matter what cruise line you sail, every day on board offers a wide variety of activities. So much fun, so little time, how do you choose? Disney Cruise Line makes this easy for you with their Personal Navigator, or "The Bible", as my family calls it.

Your first copy of the Personal Navigator will be in your stateroom when you board. This Welcome Aboard issue helps with the business end of your trip. It gives you advice on making dining reservations in Remy or Palo, the adults only dining areas, how to use the safe, changing dining times, lifeboat drill information and evening attire. All very important, especially for first time cruisers. It also gives fun information, such as time and place of the Sail Away Party, the show in the Walt Disney Theatre, drink of the day and more. And that's just on the cover!

Once you open the Personal Navigator you will see how Disney makes planning a bit easier. All activities are broken down by age and time. They are color coded for adults, family, or kids only. It's broken down even further in age groups for the children by which club they belong to; Oceaneer Club & Lab, Edge and Vibe. They also breakdown which characters are available with their times and locations.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Military Side of Disney - Guest Author

Today we have a guest author, yes we know it is not Guest Author Sunday, but this is a special post due to the recent rumblings that Disney may eliminate the Disney Armed Forces special 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets, which are good through September 30, 2012. This is a little closer to our family as our two sons are both in the military, our oldest being in the Coast Guard for the last fourteen years and our youngest in the Air Force for the last eleven years.  Also my father was in the Marines for thirty-one years and my oldest brother is still in the Marines, well over twenty years .  We have used these tickets many times with my parents and with our sons, so I asked our oldest to write from the military’s side today, so here is our Guest blogger today, Chief Petty Officer Paul Roszkowski, USCG:

As a member of the military and a lover of Disney I have taken
advantage of the Disney Military Salute program several times. As a senior enlisted member I get paid a little more than the majority of the members of the military but I still have to save to go to one of my favorite places. I have some advantages as a military member when I visit Disney. We have our own hotel, The Shades of Green, where we can stay and we get a special price on tickets. The Shades of Green charges based on rank so junior members can receive significant savings on rooms. If Shades of Green is booked we receive discounts on other rooms at Disney hotels.

My job requires me to travel away from home for more than 160 days each year; other military members are gone for even longer. This program gives them the opportunity to be together with the ones they love in a magical place away from the stress of military life in an affordable way.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Guest Author Sunday-Stephanie McKinney

Welcome Guest Author Sunday- Stephanie McKinney

     Welcome to Guest Author Sunday!  We were amazed to discover that there were still many people out there just like ourselves that had Disney magic, advice and stories they wanted to share, but no place to share it ( and here we thought we were the only people in the universe not to have a Disney Blog). And thus Guest Author Sunday was born. To start us off, meet super mom Stephanie McKinney.  Most people know the remarkable McKinney family and their inspirational story. For those who do not, fellow Disney Fan David Mullican wrote a beautiful article about these amazing parents.  To learn more about the McKinney family and read David's story, click here.  The world is truly a better place because of Stephanie, her husband Eric and their fabulous brood of children!  Thanks Stephanie for being our first honorary Disney Gal Guest Author!

Blessings of the GAC

 This may very well be a redundant post, I’m not sure. I just want to tell people about how the GAC helped my family enjoy the absolute most of each WDW park!  What’s the GAC you might say…”An amazing program”, I will promptly respond!  GAC stands for Guest Assistance Card. It allows guests with disabilities, special needs, and severe circumstances to have a chance at enjoying the attractions, shows, and all forms of entertainment just like everyone else.  I’ll admit, after reading about Fastpass a few years ago, I was so excited. Re-reading about them here lately, and about how much of a push it is to get in, get one, and get back for ride really intimidated me. It’s not bad, and no I’m not just THAT lazy…I have 6 little ones that will be following me to and fro, and everywhere in the parks.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Anything Goes Saturday-Disney Gal Favorites

Disney Gals Roll Call
 Favorite Ride - Magic Kingdom

     Last week we shared with you what some of our favorite snack foods were at the Magic Kingdom. Now that we're all fed and happy, it's time to go and ride some rides! See if any of our favorites are your favorites too!


Gayle: "Hello Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to the world famous Jungle Cruise!" My earliest memory in life is my mom trying not drop me into the water all while keeping her balance as she stepped on board the Jungle Boat. The year 1955-my age approximately 8 months old. To this day it remains the top of my "must do" ride list whether I'm at my home park of Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom. Hundreds of voyages later, I still giggle with glee every time we round the bend to revel in the glory of the 8th Wonder of the World-The Back Side of Water. Someday, when I grow up, I am  going to be the captain of this magnificent vessel!


Tricia:  Happy Haunts at The Haunted Mansion for me!! The classics will always hold a special place in my heart and I have a very vivid memory of my favorite ride from about 1982. I recall being on the Tomorrowland bridge with my Mom and Dad at the end of a very long day and realizing that if we ran we could get in one last ride before the park closed. My Dad and I chose The Haunted Mansion and, leaving my Mom in the dust, ran as fast as we could through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland to reach our destination giggling the whole way. It was a great father/daughter moment and we got to bring home a hitchhiking ghost to boot!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

And the winner is.....................

Our first Disney Gals contest was a great success!  I loved reading some of your answers, but the real answer was:

 Alice in Wonderland Playing Card Figure was used to cover Sleeping Beauty’s Castle during the 50th Anniversary refurbishment.
Here is where we won the item from:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Can you tell us; where was this hanging before here in our home? 
If you can one of you will win the first ever Disney Gals Prize!!! 
Everyone who gets the correct answer, their name will be but into a bag at the end of today and one name will be pulled, they will win the special prize package shown below.
Click here to send your answers:
We will announce the Winner tomorrow!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Hakuna Matata Monday-Wild Africa Trek



     If you're like I am, one of the items on my bucket list is to someday go to Africa and go on safari.  Thanks to Disney, I was lucky enough to live out my dream without ever leaving WDW by taking the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom.  Last week I shared with you the first part of this incredible experience.  To help refresh your memory about my adventures along the Pangani Forest Trail and my up close and personal encounters with hippos and crocodiles, click here.  

     The next part of our trek was where our real courage kicked in as we faced not one but two suspension bridges that were overlooking the hippos and crocodiles that we had just met face to face.  Although we had trained earlier on a practice bridge, nothing can quite prepare you for this until you are actually on it. Both bridges span 100 feet in length are are 30-40 feet off the ground.  The bridges have the feel of an old, rickety and weathered bridge that you are convinced is going to collapse at any moment.  As you can see, there are even missing boards and broken planks. It dawned on me as I cautiously made my way across the first one, that this is Disney's way to get you to look down from your unique vantage point and marvel at all it has to offer. It only took a moment or two, and maybe a few jumps up and down, to relax and take in all the splendor that surrounded me.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Disney Gal Favorites

Disney Gals Roll Call
Favorite Snack - Magic Kingdom

You're hungry and you're on the go to the next ride or show-what do you grab? You've just staked out your spot for the afternoon parade and you are in need of a quick fix-what's your go to snack item? Luckily for you, you're at the Magic Kingdom where the Disney magic is at it's best and there's something for everyone. We asked our Disney Gals what their favorite Magic Kingdom snacks are: 

Tricia: Gotta be ultra-obvious here and go with a Dole Whip from Aloha Isle in Adventureland!! There are about 27 other snacks that are running in at a very close second though. The Mickey Ice Cream Bar and cupcakes (or actually anything) from the Main Street bakery for starters...(mmm...mmm!)

Gayle:  When you're looking for that must have sweet treat, the Churro Cart is where you'll find any and all of the Turners.  Whether it's the one as you walk in to start your day at the end of Main Street or over in Tomorrowland for that late night pick me up, it's Churros for us, extra sugar please!

Heather:  It's a must do on every trip that my husband John and I take to Disney (we even got our 2 year old addicted)...we LOVE stopping at Auntie Gravity's in Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom!  We always order a strawberry-banana fruit smoothie!  All smoothies are made with non-fat yogurt and they cost $4.19...however if you are on the Disney Dining plan you can use a snack credit for the smoothie!  These smoothies are so refreshing and delicious!  They are a great way to cool off in the hot Orlando sun!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Anything Goes Saturday - Disney Hidden Magic


Did you know you can get your hair cut at the Magic Kingdom?  Yes you can and just like everything else at Disney it is just as magical. 
On Main Street tucked back into the corner just past the Firehouse and next to the Emporium is the Harmony Barber Shop.  This barber shop fits right in on Main Street as its d├ęcor is turn-of-the-century, even the barber chairs.   “First Haircuts” is the establishment’s specialty. Children who receive their first haircut are treated to surprises, including bubbles, Mickey Mouse stickers, an extra-special “My 1st Haircut” set of Mouse Ears, special “pixie dust” and a certificate.

Photo courtesy of Intercot

You know your husband loves you when he does this for you: 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Foodie Friday - A Sweet Summer Salad and a Taste of Disney World All in One

A friend was hosting a cookout for the 4th of July and I was asked to bring a dish to pass.  Yes, I could have brought one of the staples like potato salad or baked beans, but I wanted something new and yet easy and kid-friendly.  In going through recipes in my cookbooks and recipe cards, I found a winner: African Fruit Fool from Boma in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Just missing a garnish to make it look as great as it tastes!
As a disclaimer, I do not regularly cook.  In reality, my family eats out most evenings.  That being said, sometimes I like to make things just to prove that I still can!  Fortunately, this salad was simple, although somewhat time consuming.  Cutting up all that fruit took about 1/2 hour.  I got some great mother-son time doing it, though, because my 8-year-old son helped cut some of the softer fruits like the bananas.  I also whipped cream for the first time and it was fun!  I may stop buying premade now that I know how easy it is!

Anyway, I tried the salad and ended up licking the mixing spoon before putting it in the sink to wash.  Plus, I not only had some with dinner, it's so sweet that I also had it for dessert.  My friends at the cookout also all enjoyed it and it gave me a little "Disney" in between trips to the parks so I definitely give it two thumbs up.

Food Friday-Tow Mater Cupcakes

Tow Mater Cupcakes

Cooking Fun With Kids

Ka-chow! What better way to spend an afternoon with your kids or grandkids than to recreate these these tow-tally fabulous cupcakes as featured on Disney's Family Fun site. Get ready to be floored-they really were surprisingly easy!

Here's what you'll need to make 6 Tow Mater Cupcakes:

     1  Box Cake Mix (we used chocolate but any flavor works)
     2 16 oz. cans Milk Chocolate Frosting
     1 16 oz. can Vanilla Frosting
     1  6 cup large muffin baking pan 
     1  12 cup regular size cupcake baking pan
     Non stick spray for pans
     2 boxes Keebler 100 calorie Rite Bite cookies (Family Fun  
       suggested Grasshopper cookies but any cookie that resembles a wheel will work)

     1   Go-Pack of Mini Oreo Bite Size ( tires)
     12 White M&M's candies (headlights)
     12 Green M&M's candies (eyes)  
     6   pieces Eclipse gum (teeth)
     8" cardboard cake boards (paper plates also work great)
     Black edible ink pen or black decorating gel
     Ziploc bag

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sick or Injured + Walt Disney World = Help is Close By!!!

Nobody gets sick or injured at the "Most Magical Place on Earth," right?  If only that were true.  For a while, it seemed someone someone in my family needed medical attention every trip!  If your family falls into the same unfortunate situation, don't fret.  There are a lot of options for you.

If you have an accident or get sick in one of the parks, Disney has first aid stations in each of the theme parks and water parks.  These aren't just your "run of the mill" first aid stations.  According to the person with whom I spoke, while there isn't a doctor on the premises, each one is staffed with a nurse and carries a number of over-the-counter medications and supplies for typical bumps, cuts, and bruises.  You can find them at:
·         The first aid station in Magic Kingdom theme park is located next to The Crystal Palace restaurant on Main Street, U.S.A.
·         The first aid station in Epcot theme park is at the Odyssey Center; enter from the World Showcase side.
·         The first aid station in Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park is located near Guest Services on Hollywood Boulevard.
·         The first aid station in Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park is located behind Creature Comforts in Discovery Island.
·         The first aid station in Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park is located behind Leaning Palms.
·         The first aid station in Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park is between Lottawatta Lodge and Beach Haus.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trips and Tips Tuesday-Wild Africa Trek

A Walk on the Wild Side

Animal Kingdom's Wild Africa Trek

Are you looking for the ultimate in animal experiences? Does your heart skip a beat just thinking about getting up close and personal with hippos, crocodiles and the exotic animals that inhabit Animal Kingdom? This was me-always wanting to take an African Safari but never getting closer than the Jungle Cruise until last March when I went on the adventure of a lifetime-the Wild Africa Trek.  My day started bright an early on a beautiful sunny morning as I was allowed entry to Animal Kingdom before the park opened. Wandering through the Park with no one else present is an amazing experience all on its own. Once crossing the path into Africa, I headed to check in at the Dawa Bar located behind Tusker House. As soon as everyone that would make up our safari had checked in, we were on our way up the path to meet our guides, be outfitted in our safari gear complete with water bottles and given our first task of the day-the practice rope bridge. Now let me just say that crossing over a rope bridge 6 feet off the ground in no way prepares you mentally for the two suspension bridges we would travel over later in our trek. Once our training was completed, we were treated to "jungle juice", sunscreen and bug spray, filled up our water bottles and were off to embark on our trek of a lifetime. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Disney Dining


If you use your Disney Visa to book a Walt Disney World vacation package that includes a 6-night, 7-day stay at a Walt Disney World resort and a 7-day park ticket, you will receive the dining plan for free! *

Book a Disney Value Resort and get the Quick Service Dining free!
Book a Disney Moderate, Deluxe or Deluxe Villas Resort and and get the Regular Dining free!

Curious if it's worth getting the Disney Visa just for this offer? My answer is YES! We love our Disney Visa so much that we recently upgraded to the Premier ($49 annual fee) but were awarded $100 in Disney Reward Dollars to do so. Now the premier is something you have to decide for your yourself. Most of the perks are included in the free Disney Visa so you need to know your spending habits. You get 2% cashback with the Premier card on supermarket, restaurant, gas stations, and most Disney locations whereas the regular Visa card only gives you 1% so basically that means that you have to spend at least $2,500 per year in those categories to make it worth it to have the Premier card. With the Premier card you can also redeem your rewards for airline travel which is an exclusive benefit just for those cardholders. Otherwise, the perks are the same.

Either way, if you like to vacation to Disney, having the little extra perks (and extra spending money from your reward dollars) at the parks is a nice bonus!

* This discount must be booked by 9/29/12. Free dining available select nights 9/30-10/4, 10/19-11/1, 11/9-11/15, 11/23-11/29 and 12/10-12/13/12. Blackout dates may apply.  Discount is not valid at campsites, 3-bedroom villas or the Little Mermaid Standard View rooms at Disney's Art of Animation resort. All discounts are subject to availability, certain restrictions apply. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Anything Goes Saturday - Navigating the Disney Cruise Line

Show of hands, how many of you have been on a Disney Cruise? Fantastic! For those that have not, keep reading because you never know where future travel plans may take you. Show of hands again, how many of you have ever gotten lost on the ship? Come on, it's o.k., we're all friends here. Raise those hands high. That's better.

My first ever cruise was on the Disney Wonder. She was so beautiful, so impressive and so big (or so I thought). It took quite a few days before I could easily navigate my way around, unless I was outside on deck 9, where you can practically see from one end of the ship to the other. Many nights I would find myself coming off the mid ship elevators heading for the Oceaneer's Lab to collect my son, but turning the wrong way and ending up at the Buena Vista theater. No, it wasn't one Bahama Mama too many, it is just very easy to get turned around.

Nine years and a few cruises later, I find myself on the Disney Dream, completely overwhelmed by her size, longing for the familiarity of the Magic and Wonder. First and foremost I had to find out, which way to the soda machines. How can you tell which direction you are going when you are on an inside deck, no portholes, in seemingly never ending hallways? I couldn't tell my forward from my aft, that is until I learned the secret. Look down.

photo courtesy of Inside the Magic
Throughout the hallways is rather nautical looking carpeting, covered in stars, and every so often a globe featuring the Disney Cruise ships, and your Disney ship's name spelled out in maritime signal flags. But the stars are really the key. They are 5 point stars. The top point will always direct you forward and the two bottom points will direct you aft.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

DIS and Dat Thursday

At first I was excited because we were going to be staying in one of the new Royal Guest Rooms at Port Orleans – Riverside, but when we got into the room there it was on the table…….......

The Bounce Back!!!!

 I think I was more excited about that then the room (okay maybe for 5 minutes); I will have to tell you about the Royal Guest Room in a future post.  A Bounce Back in your room is a chance for you to come back to your favorite place at a future date, at a discount, as long as you book before you check out of your current room.   The “clock” gives you the calendar for the current year and the highlighted dates are the dates that are available for booking your Bounce Back visit. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Where we post a photo and you comment.

Does anybody remember this parade from 1976?

Happy 4th of July!

From Minnie and the rest of us Disney Gals!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tips from a Disney Grammy-Tips & Trips Tuesday

Grammy and Me…………Tips and Tricks from a Disney Grammy

If you thought that the first time you saw Disney through your child’s eyes was the most magical moment you could ever hope to experience, then just wait! As hard as it is to believe, it gets even better when you see it through your grandchild’s eyes!  There is no greater thrill than the anticipation of spending time with your grandchild, especially if it’s at Disney, but before you go rushing through the gates, a little bit of planning and research can ensure that your that your trip to build memories to last a lifetime, is not remembered for years to come for all the wrong reasons!

Even though you know in your mind that you’ve done this trip hundreds of times when your children, aka the parents of your grandchild, were little, take the time to listen to what the parents have to say; in fact actively solicit their advice! Find out about the child’s temperament, eating habits, bathroom habits (huge if the child has just recently become potty trained), what time of day is naptime, and the little things such as are they afraid of dark places. More often than not, your wonderful daughter in law will send along everything  you will need to get them through the day, and more. However, it never hurts for you to have extra snacks, water, sunscreen and a treat or two. Don't forget, just as it was all those years ago, the  Baby Care Center on Main Street is still there  for those last minute emergencies. If you are borrowing their stroller for the day, learn how to collapse it ahead of time!  We once held up the Monorail for 10 minutes because we could not figure out how to collapse the stroller.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Meet Disney Gal Laura

"Hi everyone! My name is Laura. I am a single, working, mom to Connor (4) and birthmom to Drew(2). To say that I love Disney would be an understatement! I was born, raised and still reside in Tampa, FL so, I am pretty close to the magic. 

I remember visiting the parks when I was young. We always went around Christmas or my birthday and stayed at the Contemporary. I still remember watching the monorail going through. Disney always stuck with me over the years and I even dragged two friends with my on my 16th birthday.

My real obsession started when my oldest son was born. We went for his first birthday and we were both hooked. I had to get a pass because we were going so often! I love that my son never gets tired of going and always asks if we are going today. We now go every year for his birthday and several times during the year. Christmas at Disney is so magical! I love that my youngest son also gets to be part of the magic with his wonderful family. I have pictures of his first trip when he was just a few months old and it fills my heart with joy.