Friday, December 28, 2018

Should you bring a baby to Disney World?....

We see this question posted to Disney fan groups daily. We cringe, we get the popcorn and we watch the sparks fly... EVERYONE has a passionate opinion on this topic. One thing to keep in mind, the only opinion that matters... is yours as the vacationer. 

When is a baby too young to go to Disney World?.... Never. And no one is ever too old to go either. (Can you imagine the keyboard posse responding to a message posting "Thinking of taking my 92-year old grandpa to Disney for the first time... he won't remember it, is it worth it?" - I would have a few choice words for that person!)  

There are a few things to think about when traveling with an infant....

1. Dining locations
Many dining locations will not allow a stroller in, especially table service locations. There are limited numbers of, if any infant high chairs. Without preparation; you'll be playing "pass the baby" all through a meal. Either use the infant bucket seat, or make sure you have a babywearing apparatus to free up your hands, (which leads us into tip #3)...OOHHH!! and when making a dining reservation be sure to count in an infant or person under 3...even though they are a "freebie" they still count at a table.

2. Keep them cool
Stroller fans and wet washcloths packed in a ziplock baggie for a quick wipe, disposable ice packs and having a plan of escape at each park is key. Each park also has a Babycare Center where you can purchase forgotten items, formula and more. Invest in a good umbrella that will clip onto your stroller too, this helps keep mom and dad cool as well.

3. Feedings on the go
At each Babycare Center, there is a private nursing area - you can also pump in this location - there are outlets for your pump. You can also mix formula or reheat frozen milk here. Unfortunately, there is only ONE Babycare Center per park, and it can be inconvenient to leave your entire family at one end of the park to simply go feed your baby...
         2B. @@ Feed your baby wherever and whenever your baby is hungry. Any ride without a height restriction will work for a feeding session, any bench in the shade will do, or find a seat in one of the quick service dining locations. The Carousel of Progress is my personal favorite nip and nap site - you'll find yours too!! Leave the cover at home - it's hot. If you really need one- just grab one of those light and breezy muslin blankets.
        2C. Florida tap water tastes gross to those who have not acquired a taste for it. If you have a baby old enough to use tap water in a formula mix (if you use tap water to mix formula, I won't turn you into the Momfia) plan to bring or buy bottled water to mix formula.

3. Bring a babywearing apparatus
 Even if you are not a babywearer, you will wish you were. Even for a toddler. It gets really old holding another human in a line for more than a few minutes. Visit your local babywearing group for some great resources, or check out  Put one of those disposable ice packs mentioned above between you and your baby to help keep you both comfy in the Florida heat.

4. Don't leave grandma at home 
If you are traveling with an infant, bring grandma. When you are hot, tired and miserable - Grandma is more than happy to head back to the resort with a crabby baby. She also wants nothing more than to have that little bundle of joy all to herself while mom and dad hit up Jellyrolls or take a quick trip around the world in the EPCOT World Showcase.

5. Take a million pictures and videos
Will your baby remember this trip? NOPE.  But YOU will.

Thinking about heading out to Disney World or another location with your newest family member (or.. running away from said newest member for a weekend?... no judgment here!)... visit us at Castle Vacations homepage.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

WATCH: Disney Releases Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Teaser

PHOTO: Disney Star Wars-Themed Land Artist Concept. (photo courtesy of Walt Disney World Resort)

Disney Parks gave its fans a holiday teaser on Christmas Day with the release of special video breaking down more information about the new Star Wars land coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

To celebrate the new 14-acre Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge themed lands coming to Disneyland in summer 2019 and Disney World in fall 2019, the theme park company released behind-the-scenes footage of what guests can expect.

Disney officials have described the new land as a “never-before-seen planet - a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space - where 'Star Wars' characters and their stories come to life.”

Star Wars fans are excited about many aspects of the themed land, but one attraction making major waves is the Millennium Falcon, which will allow guests to board the vessel and pilot it through space against foes.

For fans of the movie franchise trying to fully immerse themselves in the Star Wars experience, both Disney parks will also be adding a cantina-themed restaurant-bar that is rumored to serve alcohol to guests 21 years and older.

Disney officials described the cantina as “the kind of establishment that attracts some of the most interesting and disreputable characters in the galaxy.”

Road Trip tips!

Ready to hit the road with your family for a fun filled vacation? Check out this list of tried and true tips from a roadwarrior!

I don't fly if I can avoid it. Therefore, I drag my family on epic adventures on the highway!

  • Make sure your car is up to date on all maintenance.
    • Tires, brakes, fluid refill, oil change and fresh wipers make ALL the difference. 
  • Car Seat Safety
    • If you are using car seats- review the manufacturers label on the side of the seat to make sure you are in safely in compliance with your child's weight and height. 
  • Road food
    • Packing a cooler will save your time, money and potentially illness on the road. If you stop in a rural area you are unfamiliar with you might be limited to a single, unpleasant dining option or in some cases- no dining options for MILES. (Looking at you, South Carolina and Arkansas!) 
    • We pack a cooler with cold drinks to avoid paying inflated gas station prices for a soda. (I also like gourmet seltzer, which is not available at gas stations). 
      • By packing a cooler you can transport sandwiches and salads that need to be refrigerated. This is where you can splurge a little - if you have a local deli that you frequent often, get a deluxe sandwich that you will look forward to eating later. Grab a bagel for the road before you hit the highway and pack your HERO away for lunch. 
    • Pack small quantities of tiny foods in multiple baggies. They take longer to eat and kids can snack all day without getting "full". When boredom strikes- hand them a new bag. 
      • suggestions: 
        • raisins
        • breakfast cereal 
        • pretzel sticks
        • dried fruit
        • apple slices
        • string cheese and mini pepperoni
        • olive and pickle cups 
      • ** You will have to vacuum your car when you get home... (If you have a dog- send them through on a preliminary cleaning mission)
  • Plan your stops! 
    • Road warriors, we learned this the hard way... on a Spring break trip between Virginia and Florida we started our plan with "Let's leave at 4 pm and drive through the night with the kids!!" By 11:00 pm we realized we were old. We were exhausted, neither kid could sleep in the car and the kicker was one of them had an exorcist moment and became violently road sick. (Sidenote, want to test your marriage? Try cleaning up vomit in a carseat on the side of I-95 at midnight!). We tried to find a hotel room and there was NOTHING. NOTHING. NOWHERE. While bathing a child in the sink of the La Quinta Lobby in Florence, SC after the night auditor took pity on me and brought me a bar of hotel soap, a towel and washcloth and offered my husband towels and spray to help with the "situation" she even tried to find us a room - as far away as Georgia at ANY hotel chain - NOTHING. (3 years later, I'm still so grateful I will 100% tag them in my posting). 
  • Overpack a little...
    • For example... a towel can come in pretty handy in the car..^^ refer back to example A... Also, a wet washcloth with a squirt of Dawn dish soap and kept in a ziplock can clean up messes you just weren't prepared for... even if it's just the m&m'd faces of your kids from treating them at the last rest stop to some candy.
  • Don't overpack the wrong things....
    • *Activating forcefield to repel judgemental comments*... I let my kids have their tablets. THE. WHOLE. CAR. RIDE.... ALLLLL of it. 
      • Why? There are a bajillion ideas on pinterest of what you can do for road trip fun... I've tried them and we don't use them anymore. The educational magnetic lap desk takes up a lot of space. The tiny dinosaur diorama mat is super cool... but, takes up a lot of space. The coloring books and crayons- also awesome... until a crayon falls into the abyss of the floor and rolls into the track for the seat to slide. We have some little toys kicking around, but I don't pack or buy specific car toys- I'm still picking up tiny Battleship pieces from the last trip between Florida and Iowa. 
      • Kids WILL eventually become bored of their tablets- then, they will talk to you. I actually like talking to my kids in the car- we had a fabulous conversation contemplating if the Grinch has organs... (because he east glass)... on our last road trip. (#youmightbeahomeschoolmomif...your child contemplates organ damage to fictional characters) 
        Always be prepared on the road.
        You never know where a
        scuba mask will come in handy.
      • My tablet tips...
        • If you have more than 1 kid- make sure that some of the items in the tablet movie and app library are the same... because, sometimes EVERYONE wants to play the same thing... or there's a fight
        • With the above situation, also make sure there are a few things that are different so, no one can copy the other person's "tablet idea"...or there's that fight again..
        • INVEST IN HEADPHONES - kid games make annoying sounds.
      • If they are too young to operate a tablet by themselves, invest in a car dvd player. 
        • When my kids were babies and rear facing, one forward facing,  I drove from Virginia to New York by myself (and often). I had a dual headrest dvd player. I would strap the second headset to the rear passenger headrest and the "lead" to the front passenger headrest. It reached a point where I could tell time and my location by how many times we had watched "Cinderella." 
      • Non-tablet ideas- when my crew were babies, I invested in crib entertainers that I strapped to the rear passenger headrest. I would scour sales and secondhand shops for them. Whenever we stopped I would swap the crib entertainer for another one. "Contained" toys were also our friends. Melissa and Doug have a "magic paint set" that is a water-filled paint brush that you apply to pre-colored pages. No mess = winning in the car. Magnetic mazes that require a lot of concentration and silence were also a big hit; and again, totally self contained. Magnadoodle was a winner for several trips as well.  
    • Take pictures
      • Your kids will remember the road trips adventures forever! Take pictures, mom's get in them too! 
<-- mountain side picnic in West Virginia. I wish I had packed that towel or a blanket for the car! It was cold in those mountains! ;)

Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride! 

***Share one of your road trip memories with us!