Enchanted Evenings At Waldorf Astoria Orlando

The Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, near Disney, has an unimaginable amount family fun going on this summer during Enchanted Evenings. Enchanted Evenings schedule of events happen every weekend through Labor Day. We had the chance to stay at the Waldorf Astoria, in a two bedroom suite perfect for families, during Read more

Family Getaway Postcard Inn St. Pete Beach

A few weeks ago, our family, along with two other Orlando families,ventured to St. Pete beach on the Gulf Coast to celebrate a little friend's 8th birthday at the Postcard Inn. I was attracted to the aesthetics of this trendy spot since it was transformed from a Travelodge in Read more

Best Play Spots in Paris

It's almost three weeks since we returned from Europe, and I've finally sifted through my photos. I felt like my first post should talk about the fun playgrounds/parks in Paris. What an awesome experience to see the girls jumping right into the mix at playgrounds many miles from their Read more

Fun Travel Prep for Kids - Paris & London

It's not everyday you travel over the pond to such amazing places like Paris and London. I decided to start the journey for me and Mia long before we packed our bags for the airport. Here are a few fun things we did to get ready and excited! My brother sent Read more

Hidden Gem: Sand Key Florida

My other half planned a short getaway for our nine year anniversary. I wasn't exactly sure where we were headed, but knew it was somewhere around Clearwater Beach. As we drove over the bridge to Clearwater, I kept expecting a turn off at one of the many beach hotels. To my surprise Read more

Westin Cape Coral Weekend Getaway

Most of you who follow my Instagram or Twitter know that we had a fabulously fun weekend at the Westin in Cape Coral, FL a few weeks ago. The property became a Westin in December of 2013 and underwent a plethora of renovations, which I believe puts it in the best Read more

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

We finally had the chance to visit Disney's Art of Animation Resort this week for a little staycation. It is located where construction on the unfinished half of Disney's Pop Century Resort was started, but later abandoned after 9/11. The resort is the first to be built in the complex Read more

Meeting Winter - Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Most of the world has seen (or at least heard of) the movie Dolphin Tale. The story highlights the rescue of a wounded dolphin who ends up losing one very important important thing... a tale! The Clearwater Marine Aquarium works hard in the movie to create a prosthetic tail just Read more

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Sofia The First CD Giveaway

I haven’t done a giveaway in awhile, but I’m pretty stoked to be able to giveaway three copies of the new Sofia The First:Songs from Enchancia music CD. You all know we are Disney fans… Kind of a given living where we live.

Sofia The First: Songs From Enchancia

Sofia The First: Songs From Enchancia

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this recently released Disney Jr. series. Even my older daughter and nephew beg to watch this show. I love that Sofia is part of a blended family (like our own). In my opinion, this show does an excellent job of teaching children how to be kind and accepting of others. Project Runway fans will become attached to Baileywick… Tim Gunn is the voice behind this loveable character.

The album includes tracks such as “Good Little Witch” and “Ride of our Lives,” plus 4 instrumental karaoke tracks. Oh yes, we love some karaoke.

How To Win:

  • Leave a comment below letting me know your fave character from the show.
  • Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did. I swear you’ll love my tweets!
  • Tweet about this contest with the following tweet: Win a #SofiaTheFirst CD from @amandamkeefer & @disneymusic www.themammamiablog.com

 

This giveaway is for US residents. I will select and notify winners on 2/14. For more information on Walt Disney Records’ releases, please visit Disney.com/music, become a fan at Facebook.com/disneymusic or follow at Twitter.com/disneymusic.

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Holiday Fun Around Orlando

I’m going to petition to add just a few more weekends to the month of December. There are always so many fun things to do in the Orlando area over the holidays. I had a long list, but here is a quick snapshot of the holiday themed activities we were able enjoy this month.

 SeaWorld Sea of Trees is part of SeaWorld’s Christmas celebration. It’s amazing and a must-see in Orlando over the holidays.

The Rosen Shingle Creek Nutcracker Tea is a chance to dress up and celebrate the holidays with carolers, an abbreviated performance of the Nutcracker, great desserts and snacks and a visit from Santa. Truly the perfect mommy daughter holiday outing.

Nutcracker Tea

Nutcracker Tea

Lake Eola Park has a huge Christmas tree as well as gigantic nutcrackers guarding the entrance to the park off of Rosalind Ave. The Russian Academy of Ballet does a free Nutcracker performance at the lake each year and other activities take place at the lake throughout the holiday season.

Lake Eola Park Holidays

Lake Eola Park Holidays

Disney Magic Studios Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights will take your breath away. Disney puts on this magical show of lights each year at Magic Studios.

Whether you are on a budget or have money to spend, there are always fun activities around Orlando during the holidays!

Be sure to follow more of our family travel & holiday adventures on Instagram!

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My Birthday Party Boycott & Disney Character Celebration

This year, I decided I was not putting myself through Pinterest stress to create the perfect birthday party for my three-year-old. I was on a mission to find an alternative that would bring just as much fun for us as a family to overshadow the lack of birthday party. My solution was a Disney character dinner. I came upon my solution about two weeks prior to her actual birthday… In desperation mode to figure out a plan. She is obsessed with her Disney pals so why not take advantage of the character dining that Disney does right in our backyard.

I was a little late on the planning and as Disney would have it, there weren’t a whole lot of openings for the celebration.

Party guests

Party guests

(Guests can book 180 days out from their visit so reservations were slim pickings.) I called the Disney reservations line and the helpful planner identified an opening at the Swan Hotel’s Garden Grove. I was hesitant as I know the Swan Hotel to be a convention/meeting focused property, but thought we’d give it a shot.

The restaurant was not buffet style so we were able to order from a menu. Score!

There was a soup and salad bar where I had thebest clam chowder I’ve ever tasted and the most delicious bacon vinaigrette dressing. The kids loved their meals. Our adult entrees were salmon and chicken. There’s was a dessert bar where we observed the pastry chef creating a chocolate nutcracker while we were selecting our desserts. We also had an amazing server who made sure the birthday celebration was complete.

Of course the greatest part of our dinner was the personal interaction she had with Pluto and Goofy. Not her first choice of characters, but they are definitely high on the list and she was a happy girl.

So Orlando moms, if you are stressing about an upcoming birthday and have a Disney character loving child in the house, I completely recommend one of the character dining options.

 

This mom is #winning

This mom is #winning

 

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Disney on Ice Presents Princesses & Heroes – Win Tix!

While I’m on a Disney roll, I am excited to let everyone know that Disney on Ice is coming back to Orlando’s Amway Center the weekend of September 9 for Disney on Ice Presents Princesses & Heroes.

Amway Center Sept. 9 - 11

Amway Center Sept. 9 – 11

Guests to the show can join Ariel (my personal fave princess) as she yearns to explore the world above the waves and Prince Eric breaks Ursula’s slithering spell to reclaim his one true love. Also in the line up, Prince Philip defeats the evil Maleficent as she transforms herself into a fire-breathing dragon in a race against time to rescue Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora. Princesses & Heroes comes full circle with appearances by Jasmine and Aladdin, Cinderella, Belle, Snow White, Rapunzel and Tiana!

We’ve been to the show the past two years and are always in awe at the high flying jumps, acrobatics and amazing skating. Not to mention the Disney friends on hand. 

Join us for the show! Enter below to WIN a family 4-pack of tickets to either the Friday, Sept. 13 7:30 pm show or the Saturday, Sept. 14 11 am show. If you aren’t selected for the family 4-pack, you can use special offer code MOMDOI when you purchase to receive a $4 discount on tickets.

How To Enter:

  • Leave a comment with the name of your favorite princess or hero.

Extra Entries:

  • Like Disney on Ice on Facebook and leave a comment below letting me know you did so.
  • Tweet about the contest with a link to the tweet in the comments. Tweet: Win a family 4-pack tix to @DisneyOnIce in #Orlando @mammamiafl http://www.themammamiablog.com.

I’ll notify the winner on Friday, August 23.

Hope to see you at the show!

See pictures as I post from Princesses & Heroes and witness our other family adventures on Instagram. Be sure to follow me!
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We will attend the show as guests of Feld Entertainment. All views and opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my very own.

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Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

We finally had the chance to visit Disney’s Art of Animation Resort this week for a little staycation. It is located where Lobby Art of Animationconstruction on the unfinished half of Disney’s Pop Century Resort was started, but later abandoned after 9/11.

The resort is the first to be built in the complex in over seven years and the fifth to be placed in the value-priced category, along with Disney’s All-Star resort family. Family suites opened in May 2012, and standard rooms opened in September 2012. It took us some time, but we finally made a visit last week with my mom in town.

I wasn’t keen on visiting any of the parks in mid-July at the height of tourist season and heat in Florida so I felt a stay at Art of Animation might just do the trick. Upon arrival, there was a sketch artist sketching away and the lobby was decorated with sketches from popular Disney films. I knew right then as my daughters sat mesmerized watching the artist, that we had made a great decision.

We stayed at The Little Mermaid building, which was perfect for the girls and our short staycation. The entire room was themed after the popular Disney movie. Even the bathtub was painted to represent Ariel’s treasure trove. The Little Mermaid pool area is surrounded by large characters from the movie.

Nemo's Splash PadThe other resort themed buildings include Lion King, Finding Nemo and Cars. My girls had a blast walking through the center area between the resorts and bonding with the extremely well-done characters from the movies and replicated atmospheres.

At Nemo’s Big Blue Pool, my mom and I indulged in a signature cocktail, which was a reasonable $7.50 and the girls swam around in the beach entry pool under the large water spraying jellyfish. There’s a splashpad where my two-year-old spent a huge amount of time splashing around and poolside activities kept the kids entertained all day. Did I mention this is the largest Disney resort pool? There was even a showing of Cinderella under the stars poolside.

The Landscape of Flavors eatery had a wide variety of food to select from and healthy side selections like grapes, apples and yogurt for the girls. I had a Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 1.05.47 PMdelicious veggie burger. For four of us (two adults and two children) our dinner came to about $35. That’s a great price for a meal on Disney property.

In total, there are 1,984 rooms, of which 1,120 are family suites capable of housing up to six people, featuring living rooms and bedrooms. Our room for one night was $148 (prices vary) plus tax. Check on prices here.  As a mom on a budget, this price is super attractive for family fun.

Art of Animation

This was definitely a memory with Nana that will last a lifetime. We had a blast. I can say for sure, we will be going back sometime in the fall for Charli’s birthday!

 

Check out more photos from our most recent Art of Animation visit and other family adventures on Instagram. Be sure to follow me!
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Disney Live! Orlando Ticket Giveaway

My two-year-old Charli is absolutely obsessed with Mickey and his crew. I’m sure the upcoming Orlando Disney Live! show is going to further foster this obsession…. Especially when they pair Mickey and the gang up with today’s hottest hits.

Mickey Mouse and friends will rock with the stars from The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story in their new touring show Disney Live!  Mickey’s Music Festival.  Disney hits are remixed to the hottest sounds of today featuring hip hop, pop, swing, reggae, rock, country and more!

Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival

Lineup of performers include Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Ariel, Sebastian, Ursula, Jasmine, Aladdin, Genie, Woody, Buzz and Jessie! These are a just a handful among the more than 25 Disney stars featured in the jam session.

The show is coming to the UCF arena on March 3, 2013 for two shows at 2:30 and 5:30 pm. Mamma Mia readers can get a special $3 off ticket discount by entering DLUCF at checkout.

I’m also giving away a family four-pack of tickets to the March 3 5:30 pm performance.

How you can enter:

1.) Leave a comment letting me know your favorite friend of Mickey’s.

2.) You can enter daily by tweeting about the giveaway and letting me know you did so in a comment.

3) You can follow @disneylive on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did so.

I’ll be selecting a winner on February 17 so get your entries in now!

We will attend the show as guests of Feld Entertainment.

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, Orlando 37 Comments

10 Tips For Visiting Disney World Fantasyland

We live in Orlando so it was pretty much mandatory we check out Disney’s new Fantasyland last weekend during the soft opening. My wonderful uncle had sent along a handful of “after 4 pm” passes for me to use before Dec. 31 so timing was perfect.

New Fantasyland

Limited on time with our “after 4 pm” passes, we didn’t have the chance to experience every detail of Fantasyland. However, I did play the part of “extremely annoying and inquisitive theme park girl” and had  way too many questions for Disney cast members. (I’m sure my face is on a list somewhere.) I’ve also been getting the inside scoop from local Orlando friends. Official Grand Opening is tomorrow – Dec. 6.

And now, I present to you my top 10 insider tips for Disney’s new Fantasyland!

1.) Meet Ariel on her turf. The girls were ecstatic to meet Ariel in her Grotto. The line (on a busy holiday weekend) was only 20 minutes and moved quickly. The girls enjoyed toying around with the seashells imbedded in the walls during our wait. The photographers let us take our time once we reached Ariel too. Bonus!

2.) Join the Circus.  Don’t pass up Storybook Circus. It’s full of fun and home to the classic Dumbo ride and the Barnstormer kiddie roller coaster, an all-time Magic Kingdom favorite. Luckily, Barnstormer made the transition over to Fantasyland from the former Toon Town. Casey Jr. Splash & Soak Station looks like it would be tons of fun on a hot Orlando day.

3.) Have fun waiting for Dumbo. Much to my surprise the Dumbo line dumped us into a play area complete with activities for little ones and older kids. The adult receives a pager when the group enters the play area and the pager goes off when it’s near time to ride. The play area was a little hectic, but genius for avoiding typical line waiting meltdowns.

Ariel’s Grotto

4.) See Disney friends up close and in one place. At Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus, Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Minnie are circus stars and ready to meet guests. We were limited on time so our meet and greet was with Ariel, but this is on the list for next visit. Always good to know where you can find all of the characters in one place instead of meeting by chance on a park walkway!

5.) Go Under The Sea. The ride itself is built into Prince Eric’s castle. No worries on meltdowns in this line either! Kids are entertained with Scuttle’s scavenger hunt and the chance for little ones to sort Ariel’s whosits and whatsits. Fun things to do in line means sanity for parents. Thank you Disney. Guests board a giant clam shell and ride through musical scenes from The Little Mermaid.

6.) Be A Guest.  Beast’s castle is actually the Be Our Guest, quick service food by day and fine dining by night restaurant. This is one of the most touted attractions in Fantasyland! I’m going to go ahead and recommend making a dinner reservation for the next, um, forever if you plan on dining there. Be Our Guest might be on your list as a parent spending the day in busy Disney for multiple reasons, but important to note it is the ONLY place in Magic Kingdom that serves beer and wine… Just sayin.

7.) Live the story.  Enchanted Tales With Belle lets you step into the actual story reliving the “tale as old as time” with recognizable characters leading the way. The journey begins in Maurice’s workshop. The actual “story telling” lasts around 20-30 minutes so be prepared if you have, say… a two-year-old who doesn’t like to cooperate or be confined. However, if they are obsessed with princesses and Belle, like my little one, you are good to go.

Gaston & my girls outside his tavern

8.) More than just a tavern.Gaston’s Tavern is more than just a quick-service food spot. Go inside, take a seat in Gatson’s chair and have a delicious A LeFou’s Brew. Brew is made up of  no-sugar added frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam. Yum! The tavern is an attraction in itself and my girls ran into Gaston right outside.

 9.) If you’re wondering why there’s still some construction going on, it’s because there’s more to come!  Princess Fairy Tale Hall will be home to the Disney Princess meet and greet and is scheduled to open in 2013. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will open in 2014.

10.) There will be a wait. Lastly, it’s inevitable there will be a line and there will be a wait. I think as a parent once you put yourself in that mindset, your day will be a lot better. There’s always Fast Pass, if it’s available. Pack snacks and drinks to save money on in between meal hunger and don’t forget that Mickey Mouse and princess costume from home. This will save you on souvenir purchases!

Get more insider tips from my friend here in Orlando The Suburban Mom or visit Disney’s Fantasyland page.

Check out photos from our most recent Magic Kingdom visit on Instagram. Be sure to follow me!
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Posted on by Amanda in Orlando, Travel 6 Comments

Disney On Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After

Just the title of the new Disney On Ice show has me counting down to show time! In a new twist on fairytale fun, favorite Disney characters compete to be the next superstar in comical segments leading up to the tales of show stopping princesses – Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, and Merida from Disney•Pixar’s BRAVE in her ice debut!

Mickey and Minnie encounter the most talented performers in the land with an all-star lineup that includes Sebastian and the Daughters of Triton from The Little Mermaid, the rowdy pub thugs from Tangled and the spunky enchanted servants from Beauty and the Beast. The journey continues to the Scottish highlands where audiences will be captivated and star struck by Merida, as an exhilarating archery contest ensues for the right to marry the fiery redhead.

Good news! I’m giving away a family four-pack to the show!

How to enter:

  • Leave a comment below letting me know which character you are most excited to see.
  • Extra entries daily for tweeting! Just leave a comment with a link to your tweet.

I’ll select a winner on Wed. Aug. 15 at 3 pm.

Tickets for performances at the Amway Center are on sale now! If you don’t win the giveaway, I still have a special offer for you. You can get 4 tickets for just $48! This special offer is valid for specific show times: Sept. 7 at 7:30 pm and Sept. 9 at 1 and 5 pm by entering the code MOM12 at checkout.

Additional showtimes are Saturday, Sept. 8 at 3:30 and 7:30 pm. See you at the show!

Disclosure: My family will attend the show as a guest of Feld Entertainment.

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Posted on by Amanda in Giveaways, On Stage, Orlando 26 Comments

Make The Most of Your Disney Dream!

Back from our long awaited Disney Dream cruise and so excited to share tips!

Me & Charli with Mickey & Minnie

Our famly decided to embark on the three day cruise out of Port Canaveral (close to our home in Orlando) taking us to Nassau, Bahamas and Disney’s private Caribbean island.

It’s no secret Disney’s cruises are not cheap. Hopefully some of these tips will help you make the most of your Disney Dream.

Use a travel agent. We used an amazing travel agent here in town. This trip was a big deal to us and I couldn’t risk going through a travel booking site where you didn’t have a dedicated person helping you along. Our agent was able to answer all questions ahead of time and had us set up with exactly what we needed for our multi-dimensional family.

Mia & Her Buds At The Sail Away Party

No crowds for me.  When first on board you WILL feel a little crowded. Do not despair. This is the ONLY time EVERYONE on the ship is doing the SAME thing at the SAME time. We  skipped getting off the ship in Nassau. It was better to stay on board while the rest of the ship ventured off to the straw markets. (Been there done that) View Atlantis and Nassau from the ship! You’ll be thankful for this advice once you get to Castaway Cay. On your day at Castaway Cay, don’t rush to get to the beach in the morning. Hold off, enjoy the empty pool deck and head over after lunch when the crowds are heading back. You don’t have to be back on the ship until 4:30 pm so going at noon will give you plenty of time to enjoy the amazing island.

Ride the Aquaduck – See characters. The Aquaduck is the highly sought after waterslide that takes cruisers above the ship and over the ocean. There can be a wait at times. Same story with getting a picture with the characters who appear on the first floor of the ship. Best times to ride the Aquaduck are around 6:30 pm when the first diners are headed to dinner, when others are on shore excursions or on the final days of your voyage. Best times to see characters are early morning or mid-day when others are on excursions or pool side.

Mia & Madi Snorkeling Castaway Cay

It’s a “family” vacation. Yeah it is, but let it go. My other half was focused on the family spending non-stop time together, but as it turns out we were much happier together when we could spend a little time doing our own thing. Mia was obsessed with the Oceaneers Club, Madi love the tween area and Charli was perfectly content at It’s A Small World. The Disney cast members who interact with the kids are amazing. Plus, you have two phones (provided by Disney) that work on board so you can be reached at any time by the kids clubs. Or, if you have a tween, they can take the other phone to check in.

Did I mention the “adult” time? Yes that’s me on the raft floating off into the sunset!

A good morning. There’s a room service breakfast order form in your desk drawer. No one will tell you about this, but it is there. Use it! (A big thank you to The Theme Park Mom for this tip) Even if you plan to go to one of the restaurants for breakfast, you can enjoy your coffee, fruit and bagels on the balcony before you ready to head out. (Oh yeah, get a room with a balcony!! It’s worth the extra money for sure.) 

Not just for kids. It’s no lie, I would totally embark on the Dream without kids. There’s an adult pool area and an entire  part of the ship that caters to adult nightlife. Adults can eat at the adults only restaurants for an additional charge. Castaway Cay has an entire section dedicated to “us big kids” with yoga, private lagoon, sand bars and eateries.

Travel with a fun group!

 

 

Lastly, we traveled with two other families, which added to our fun. Highly recommended to travel in a group! I could go on and on about this perfect family vacation, but I’ll stop my novel here. If you are planning a Disney cruise, please feel free to comment and I’ll answer your questions the best I can. I absorbed all I could onboard and am already thinking about how/when we can ship off again!

 

 

 

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Dream A Little Disney Dream

Our Disney Dream Savings

After one year, two family yard sales, two lemonade stands, daily change contributions by daddy and the sacrifice of forking over birthday and holiday monetary gifts, we will set sail on our Disney Cruise this Thursday!

About a year and a half ago Mia expressed her desire to embark on Disney’s newest ship, The Dream.

This cruise meant pirate parties, princesses, a plexiglass waterslide and an adventure on Disney’s private island. This also meant a chunk of change for our family. We created a “cruise fund” complete with an image of the ship and began our saving mission.

One year of nickels, dimes and the occasional one dollar bills brought us to a grand total of about $250. This in no way shape or form is going to cover our  cruise. However, it will cover most of our on board tips, activities etc. (I hope).

Mia’s All Packed & Ready To Go!

Mia has been observing this jar and working towards a goal for one year. Part of my joy in taking this cruise is the fact that she truly understands what it means to save and watch the savings accumulate over a year.

Stay tuned for posts on our Disney Cruise experience!

 

 

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