Over The Top Mommy

The Value of Play

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own.

 

When’s the last time you stopped what you were doing, unplugged from your phone or devices, and just played outside with your child(ren)? Technology has found its way into all our lives and has become both an important tool and a distraction. I will be the first to admit that technology can sometimes be a distraction in my own life. Ok, often times, actually. Part of my challenge is that I work to maintain my blog, which requires me to be online. It can be a struggle to find that balance between being a good mom and unplugging in order to give my daughter my undivided attention.rancho-mission-viejo-happy-camperI think all parents want the same thing: happy, well-rounded children. Right? So, let’s make the time to join their world of make believe. As a mother and a first-grade teacher, I know the importance of outdoor play. There are so many benefits for a child who has time to play freely including physical and emotional development, as well as development of social and cognitive skills. Research also shows that playtime with adults helps build self-esteem in kids. Whether it be one-on-one playtime with a child or playtime together as a family, there is no time like the present to build the bond you have with a child and your family.the-ranch-photo-shootExplore, Create, Roam, Wander – Play!
Our family lives in the hilltop village of Esencia in the heart of Rancho Mission Viejo, aka The Ranch. After moving to The Ranch a couple of years ago, I was so excited to explore all the places to play. It’s such a beautiful community and the amenities just can’t be beat. If you haven’t visited yet, you’re missing out! There are places to exercise, retreats to relax, parks to play in, trails to wander, pools to swim in, and much more. The newest place to play is “The Backyard,” a 5.5-acre linear park within Esencia’s NorthWalk Neighborhoods.the-backyard-the-ranch-rocksOur family has been spending a lot of time there since its opening about a month ago, so I’ve put together this list of 10 Ways to Play in “The Backyard.” It’s a great place to hang out with your family or even to invite friends to. It’s also the perfect setting to connect with other families like yours, which is one of the things I love about living in Rancho Mission Viejo. Residents here are so friendly and tend to bond with each other and become friends. hanging-out-in-rancho-mission-viejoCheck out our favorite “Backyard” activities:

  1. Be adventurous and ride on the “zip-rail” –This little area is within The Backyard and has drawn visitors of all ages. The “zip-rail” I speak of is actually a swing that can carry either a child or an adult from one side to the other. Sometimes we head over to just take a couple passes back and forth. It’ll leave you feeling giddy after you’ve ridden it!the-backyard-zip-rail
  2. Play “House” – Also within The Backyard are two of the most adorable playhouses, created especially for the community. Whether your little one chooses to “play house” in the white picket fence playhouse or hang out in the mini boathouse, they’re sure to get their imagination working. Playing house is creative play at its best!
    the-backyard-playhouses
  3. Challenge someone to a couple games of Hopscotch – Adjacent to the playhouses is also a Hopscotch to play on. Did you know that hopscotch can help children to manage body rhythm and the hopping movements involved with the game help build body strength, balance, and eye/hand coordination? If you didn’t bring a “marker” just look around for a small rock or something to use at the nearby park.
    the-ranch-play-hopscotch
  4. Have a picnic – Whether you pack a lunch or dinner or grab some tea and teddy bears, there are several lawn areas, perfect for having an afternoon picnic.the-backyard-climbing-structures-2
  5. Bring out your competitive side with a game of Tetherball – The Garage, one of the event spaces in The Backyard, includes a DIY workshop, a lounge area and bar, ping pong table, large event lawn, children’s playhouses and Tetherball! If you’re an adult, it’ll bring back fond elementary school memories. I know it did for me. It’s also great to teach kids to play, as not all elementary schools have Tetherball nowadays. (The Garage is also home to the Esencia Visitor’s Center. the-backyard-the-garage
  6. Gather your friends for a get together at “The Hangout” – This is one of our favorite new places on The Ranch. The Hangout is an outdoor, social gathering place at The Backyard complete with BBQs, picnic tables and unique chandelier trees designed by LA artist Adam Tenenbaum. (The Capo Dispatch even did a feature on it!) One-of-a-kind water features add to the ambiance, making The Hangout perfect for a relaxing night on The Ranch with friends, family and neighbors.the-backyard-the-hangout
  7. Play Hide and Seek – There are a ton of great places to play Hide and Seek in The Backyard. Whether you hide amongst the trees and greenery or climb up into one of the play structures to hide, you could spend countless hours playing the game that’s a favorite of so many.the-backyard-climbing-structures-1
  8. Break out the sidewalk chalk – Stoke your child’s (and your!) creative side and let the sidewalk be your canvas. The Backyard is also home to a giant, community blackboard that welcomes chalk sketching from artists of all ages.the-backyard-sidewalk-chalkthe-backyard-sitting-area
  9. Get your “climb on” – The playground in The Backyard is especially unique. Imported from Germany, this tot lot is not your everyday structure. In fact, it’s the only one of its kind in Orange County! Complete with rope walls to scale, ladders to climb and platforms to balance on, kids will test their limits and be proud of how high they can go! Just be sure to bring your loudest cheering voice.the-backyard-climbing-structures-2
  10. Go on a nature walk – Within the villages on The Ranch are a network of multi-use trails that connect residents to not only The Backyard, but additional parks, playgrounds and community farms.

Feeling more adventurous? The Oak Canyon Preserve in Esencia has more rigorous hiking trails, and exclusive programs and events, like Ridge to Ridge Hikes, butterfly walks, astronomy nights, and docent-led adventures are available to Ranch residents at The Reserve at Rancho Mission ViejoplayingCan you see why we love living in Rancho Mission Viejo so much? There’s just always something to do here, but more importantly, there are tons of places for our family to play. Check out @RanchoMissionViejo on Facebook or Instagram and see for yourself why #TheRanchRocks!

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Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort Returns 9/7 + Mickey’s Halloween Party Dates

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

 

Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort will return for more spook-tacular days than ever this year beginning September 7 and extending through October 31, 2018. Guests of all ages visiting the parks will encounter frightfully fun experiences themed especially for the season!. Eerie encounters and fiendish fun will await visitors to both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park as favorite experiences are transformed into dreadful delights, with seasonal attraction overlays. You’ll find Halloween-themed décor and food and beverage offerings, plus encounter with Disney villains and happy haunts that’ll materialize around every corner.halloween-time-disneyland-resort-mickey-bat-cookieMickey’s Halloween Party 2018
Additionally, the guest-favorite Mickey’s Halloween Party will return with 15 nights of after-hours fun on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 19
  • Friday, Sept. 21
  • Monday, Sept. 24
  • Wednesday, Sept. 26
  • Friday, Sept. 28
  • Tuesday, Oct. 2
  • Friday, Oct. 5
  • Tuesday, Oct. 9
  • Friday, Oct. 12
  • Tuesday, Oct. 16
  • Friday, Oct. 19
  • Tuesday, Oct. 23
  • Friday, Oct. 26
  • Monday, Oct. 29;
  • Wednesday, Oct. 31

mickeys-halloween-party-mickey-and-minnieThis separate-ticket event features some exclusive entertainment, Disney characters in their Halloween attire, trick or treating at locations throughout Disneyland Park and a chance for the entire family to visit both parks in costumes.(See below for more info about Mickey’s Halloween Party.) mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party-selfieHalloween Time at Disney California Adventure Park
Guests entering Disney California Adventure. will have a spell cast over them as Oogie Boogie will take over with his twisted tale of a forever Halloween. Inspired by “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Oogie Boogie’s oversized silhouette will beckon guests through the main entrance of the park, and hover over a swarm of bats that circle around Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge.DCA_entrance_halloweenhalloween-time-carthay-circle Halloween décor extends along Buena Vista Street to Carthay Circle, where guests will encounter a 10-foot-tall statue of the Headless Horseman holding his jack-o-lantern head to the sky.halloween-time-dca-headless-horsemanThe citizens of Cars Land will celebrate Halloween by turning Radiator Springs into Radiator Screams. The entire land will be transformed with a special Haul-O-Ween makeover as the townsfolk of Radiator Springs don Halloween costumes and decorate their respective homes for the season. Guests will encounter Lightning McQueen, Mater, Cruz, Red and DJ in “car-stume” as they get ready to go “trunk-or-treating.” Popular Cars Land attractions will transform as well: Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree takes on a spooky tone as Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree, and Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters gets a seasonal twist to become Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween. halloween-time-flos-cafehalloween-time-materGuardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! will transform nightly into Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark, bringing Halloween adventure to this popular attraction. As the sun sets, the attraction’s exterior goes dark and then suddenly powers back up with lighting effects, a signal that something has gone awry. The Guardians have successfully escaped The Collector’s Fortress, but have accidentally left Groot behind. Guests will help Rocket distract the creatures that have been released so he can find and rescue Groot in this exciting seasonal overlay.halloween-time-at-the-disneyland-resort-guide-mapHalloween Time at Disneyland Park
The Halloween magic continues at Disneyland, where guests will enjoy beautiful décor on Main Street, U.S.A., including a giant Mickey Mouse jack-o’-lantern and a Pumpkin Festival.halloween-time-at-disneyland-resort-giant-mickey-pumpkin halloween-time-disneyland-resort-crystal-arcadeIn Frontierland, guests will encounter the colorful Día de los Muertos tribute, an exhibit that commemorates the Mexican holiday of Day of the Dead with a musical trio of iconic skeleton figurines, brightly colored flowers and other decorative items.disney-halloween-time-zocalo-parkdisney-halloween-time-dia-de-los-muertos-3-calacasTwo  of the most popular attractions will transform into their annual Halloween themes, delivering Halloween thrlls for guests who dare to take a ride. Haunted Mansion will become Haunted Mansion Holiday, inspired by the Walt Disney Pictures classic “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The seasonal attraction celebrates the collision between Halloween and Christmas as Jack Skellington offers his unique take on the holidays. halloween-time-at-disneyland-resort-haunted-mansion-holiday-signhalloween-time-at-disneyland-resort-haunted-mansion-holiday-facadeSpace Mountain in Tomorrowland will become Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, a reimagining of the popular attraction. Guests on board the speeding Space Mountain vehicles are thrust into a ghostly galaxy where they are surrounded by eerie screams, sound effects and music. Spine-chilling spirits pop out of the darkness, appearing to reach out and menace the space travelers.halloween-time-at-disneyland-resort-ghost-galaxyMore about Mickey’s Halloween Party 2018
As I mentioned before, this year there are more nights available for guests to enjoy Mickey’s Halloween Party. This separate-ticket, after hours event permits guests to dress in costume and have the opportunity to trick-or-treat throughout Disneyland Park for candy and healthy goodies. Mickey’s Halloween Party also includes special entertainment, classic attractions and the added bonus of unlimited Disney PhotoPass downloads of the night**, making it easier than ever to capture memories during the party.2017-halloween-fireworks

"Halloween Screams-A Villainous Surprise in the Skies"An exclusive treat for guests attending Mickey’s Halloween Party is “Halloween Screams,” a supernatural firework show. The nighttime spectacular is hosted by “Master of Scare-omonies,” Jack Skellington. mickeys-halloween-party-headless-horsemanAlso exclusive to Mickey’s Halloween Party is the “Frightfully Fun Parade” led by The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow (from the Disney animated classic, “The Adventures of 3 Ichabod and Mr. Toad”). The Horseman rides down Main Street, U.S.A., on his ghostly black steed with a flickering jack-o’-lantern to usher in the parade, which features Jack Skellington and a procession of grim, grinning (and hitchhiking) ghosts from the iconic Haunted Mansion attraction. mickeys-halloween-party-mickey-and-minnieGuests attending Mickey’s Halloween Party may also visit Villains Square for a chance to encounter and take photos with Disney villains. Additional Disney characters donned in Halloween attire can also be found throughout the park. As an added value, guests with a Mickey’s Halloween Party ticket will have the opportunity to “mix in” with regular park guests for three hours prior to the party’s start time. These guests also will be able to visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks with their tickets.halloween-time-at-the-disneyland-resort-pooh-pumpkinTickets for Mickey’s Halloween Party
Beginning Tuesday, June 5, 2018, tickets for Mickey’s Halloween Party go on sale for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club members and Disney Visa Card holders. The general public will be able to purchase tickets beginning Tuesday, June 12, 2018. They may be purchased online at Disneyland.com/party as well as at the Disneyland Resort main gate and by phone at 714-781-4400. Be sure to grab your tickets sooner rather than later as this special event sells out quickly every year!mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party-popcorn-bucketPlease note: Online and mobile purchases are not available the day of the event. Parking is not included in the ticket price, and parking fees will apply. Mickey’s Halloween Party is a nonsmoking event.

For more information about Halloween Time at the Disneyland Resort, please visit http://www.Disneyland.com/Halloween. Entertainment and attractions are subject to change without notice.

Some images are property of Disneyland Resort and used with permission. 

 
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Living My Best Comfy Life in The Perfect Pant™

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

 

Mom confession: I could live all day, every day in comfys! Can you relate?
When I’m at work in my “professional attire”, I’m secretly counting down the hours until I get home and change out of them. When I’m out and about in some dress that pretty much requires me to wear a binding undergarment to make me look thinner, I cannot wait to get out of it.all-day-every-day“Comfys” don’t necessarily have to be pajamas, they’re just clothes you can throw on that are less restricting than others. I can think of several different places I wear mine, aside from just lounging around the house. I wear them shopping, to hang out by the pool, for being active outdoors, and whenever I travel, whether it be by car or plane.the-perfect-pant-sittingladies-i-found-the-perfect-pantWell, lean in! I’ve got something to share with you! I found The Perfect Pant™! Like literally! If you’re like me and love to be comfortable a majority of the time, you’re going to love these!the-perfect-pant-stretchingThe Perfect Pant is made of 91% polyester, and 9% spandex and they were designed with the woman–on–the–go in mind. (That’s me!) They’re available in regular long length and a cropped-length. So versatile and easy to pair with different pieces for several different occasions. You’ll love their great fit and their great fabric! Stock a few of each of these versatile pieces in your closet and you’ll be good to go.nobody-wants-to-dry-cleanThey are easy and hassle–free to care for. You simply wash, dry, and wear them! No need to even think about dry cleaning!the-perfect-pant-1here-comes-my-favorite-partHere comes my favorite part about The Perfect Pant: They’re made in the USA! Not only does the brand care about comfort and style, but they’ve also made it a priority to keep jobs here in America. For me, that’s huge because I worry about the people in our country and our economy. Anything that a brand can do to help out in that way, matters to me.the-perfect-pant-walkingWell, it’s clear that not all comfys are created equal and I’m so glad to have come across The Perfect Pant. Are you living your best comfy pants life? I know I am now. For more information about The Perfect Pant please visit their site here.

You can connect with The Perfect Pant on Instagram and Pinterest. Join in on the conversation on social and follow #theperfectpant.

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LEGOLAND® Florida Resort Announces Its Biggest Theme Park Investment Yet: THE LEGO® MOVIE™ WORLD!

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

 

LEGOLAND® Florida Resort has unveiled its biggest news since the theme park first opened in 2011: THE LEGO® MOVIE™ WORLD will premiere spring 2019 at the theme park built for kids. The announcement represents LEGOLAND Florida Resort’s largest investment yet.legoland-florida-logo

The announcement follows the success of the blockbuster film, THE LEGO® MOVIE™, the upcoming sequel and the popularity of the film’s characters within the children’s theme park. Working closely with Warner Bros. Entertainment and LEGO System A/S, THE LEGO MOVIE WORLD will place guests right in the middle of Bricksburg, the city where Emmet lives in THE LEGO MOVIE.

THE LEGO MOVIE WORLD represents the theme park’s continuing commitment to providing state-of-the-art experiences specifically designed to create awesome memories for kids ages 2-12. “The sights and sounds will be fully immersive bringing THE LEGO MOVIE franchise to life in a way that only a LEGOLAND Park could,” said Rex Jackson, general manager of LEGOLAND Florida Resort. “We know kids come from all over the world to meet the stars of THE LEGO MOVIE and we can’t wait to see their faces light up as they interact within the imaginative world of Bricksburg.”

THE LEGO MOVIE WORLD created in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will feature three new rides, character meet and greets and a giant themed playscape. The interactive boat ride, The Quest for Chi, will be completely transformed and will offer guests an exciting new experience when it reopens as a key attraction in THE LEGO MOVIE WORLD in spring 2019. Guests are invited to experience the current attraction a final time before it closes on May 29.

For the latest news on THE LEGO MOVIE WORLD, please visit https://www.legolandfloridablog.com/.

Logo is property of LEGOLAND Florida Resort and used with permission. 

 
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Submarines for the New LEGO® City: Deep Sea Adventure Ride at LEGOLAND® California Resort Have Arrived

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

 

There’s a new ride coming soon to LEGOLAND® California Resort: The LEGO® City: Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride! As construction continues on the interactive ride, the attraction is expected to open July 2018 and we couldn’t be more excited for it!lego-submarine-ride-1 As it prepares to take its maiden voyage this summer, the submarines officially arrived at LEGOLAND® California Resort! Eight 22,000 pound submarines were unloaded and installed in the 300,000 gallon tank. Up to 12 guests will board one of eight submarines that are designed after the LEGO City Deep Sea Adventure line of toys


LEGO® CITY: Deep Sea Adventure submarine ride is Merlin Entertainments’ single largest investment for a ride in any LEGOLAND® Park. For the first time in the United States, LEGOLAND California Resort brings guests onboard a real submarine where they’ll go underwater to discover a truly amazing world filled with more than 2,000 real sea animals, including several species of stingrays and a variety of sharks. Through the use of touchscreens at each porthole inside the sub, guests can help the LEGO minifigure dive team identify gems, pearls, LEGO® gold coins and more throughout the four minute journey. lego-submarine-ride-2The submarine ride will be included in the price of admission this summer at LEGOLAND California Resort. For more information and to sign up for the latest updates, please visit LEGOLAND.com/deepsea2018.lego-submarine-3

Submarine photo and video are property of LEGOLAND California Resort and used with permission. 

 
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Knott’s HangTime “Dive Coaster” Set to Open May 18

Knott’s Berry Farm will welcome HangTime, a brand new steel rollercoaster, and the only dive coaster on the West Coast, to the theme park in the 2018 summer season. HangTime will tower 150 feet over the Boardwalk area, showcasing gravity-defying inversions, mid-air suspensions and twisting dive tracks. HangTime will send riders up a vertical lift hill into a 15-story 96-degree drop – the steepest drop in California. The coaster’s train will come to a halt once the highest peak is reached, and will leave riders suspended at the crest for several seconds staring downward at a 60-degree angle, giving the illusion of a disappearing track. Then the train will suddenly descend in a beyond-vertical drop, through 2,189 feet of steel track and five gravity-defying inversions. HangTime will be only the second rollercoaster in the Western Hemisphere to feature a
negative-g stall loop, which gives riders the sensation of floating.HangTime-1

“HangTime’s disappearing track creates a memorable illusion of the unknown as riders feel like they are hanging over a cliff, staring at the ground in nervous anticipation. People who crave that adrenaline rush will want to ride this coaster again and again. Introducing a coaster like HangTime firmly positions Knott’s Berry Farm as a must see attraction among Southern California theme parks, and we look forward to welcoming our guests to this new experience.” Jon Storbeck, vice president and general manager, Knott’s Berry Farm.

HangTime’s ride structure itself will come to life and illuminate the Boardwalk area with
colorful nighttime track chase lighting that will accompany the coaster train’s travels across the smooth steel track. The coaster continues Knott’s legacy in rollercoaster innovation and industry firsts; the park introduced the very first corkscrew inversion rollercoaster with Corkscrew, and the first flywheel launch coaster with Montezuma’s Revenge. HangTime is manufactured by Gerstlauer Amusement Rides, GmbH, and is the company’s next generation “infinity coaster” model.knotts-ghost-town-signGuests can experience an entire season of fun including the thrill of HangTime with a 2018 Knott’s Season Pass, on sale now at the best price of the year. A Regular Season Pass includes unlimited admission in 2018 to Knott’s Berry Farm with no blackout dates, and a Gold Season Pass includes unlimited admission in 2018 to both Knott’s Berry Farm and the newly expanded Knott’s Soak City Waterpark with no blackout dates. knotts-soak-city-facadeRegular passes are just $92 or nine easy payments of $10.22 and Gold Season Passes are $110 or nine payments of just $12.22. These offers end October 29, 2017. Applicable taxes and fees apply online. Payment plans are only available at knotts.com. For more information about HangTime, Knott’s Berry Farm and Knott’s Season Passes, please visit knotts.com. Join the conversation about HangTime dive coaster using #KnottsHangTime and #KnottsBerryFarm.

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Our Magical Night at the Happily Ever After Fireworks Dessert Party in Magic Kingdom

I was invited as a guest of Walt Disney World to attend this event. All opinions are my own. 

 

If you’re a Disney lover (and who isn’t?), you are most likely familiar with the sea of emotions that come over you anytime you do something Disney related. Whether you’re watching a Disney film, reading a classic Disney book with a child, or even walking into one of the Disney theme parks, the emotions that come with the territory can sometimes overwhelm you. (in a good way, of course.)happily-ever-after-dessert-party-cinderella-castle-at-dusk“Happily Ever After” is an 18-minute show that features more lasers, lights and projections than any other fireworks spectacular in the history of Magic Kingdom park! Park guests witness the many transformations of Cinderella Castle as it becomes a part of popular Disney stories—and is brought to life by awe-inspiring fireworks and rooftop pyro, state-of-the-art projections, brilliant lasers and immersive lighting and beautiful,contemporary versions of popular Disney songs.happily-ever-after-dessert-party-signOn our most recent family vacation to Walt Disney World Resort, our family was invited to attend the “Happily Ever After” Fireworks Dessert Party in Magic Kingdom. Upon arrival at Tomorrowland Terrace, my emotions were already at an all-time high! I was completely elated!
happily-ever-after-fireworks-dessert-party-elatedThe Happily Ever After Dessert Party is specially ticketed event held nightly at Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant. From the moment you check in, you feel very “VIP”! You’re greeted by cast members who give you a special wristband to wear as event identification. (My daughter didn’t take hers off for 2 weeks!) Next, a cast member shows you around the party and shows you all of the delectable drinks and house-made desserts available to you as part of the experience. It’s all set up buffet style so it’s all you care to enjoy. A cast member shows you to your very own table, which is overlooking the water, with a great view of the Happily Ever After fireworks over Cinderella Castle.Here’s a brief video giving a glimpse into our experience:
There are a variety of beverage offerings at the party including:

  • juices
  • lemonades
  • teas
  • coffee
  • milk

and my very favorite: sparkling cider! It’s the perfect occasion to make a special toast to!happily-ever-after-dessert-party-sparkling-apple-ciderhappily-ever-after-dessert-party-drinksWhen you’re ready for a snack, you’ll be giddy to see the magical spread of light bites and sweets to enjoy including:

  • cheeses
  • seasonal fresh fruit
  • chocolate-dipped strawberries
  • an ice cream sundae bar (it’s not just for kids)
  • create-your-own-cookie
  • delectable cakes, tarts, mini cupcakes, and macarons
  • Disney character-themed desserts (those were my favorite!)

happily-ever-after-fireworks-dessert-party-dessertshappily-ever-after-dessert-party-plateThere was a PhotoPass photographer at the event who snapped some family photos of us. You can access the photos on the app and if you’ve already added Memory Maker to your vacation package, you will already be able to download, save and share your photos from the party.happily-ever-after-dessert-party-photopass-family-photoHere are some tips and facts that you should know before you head to the dessert party.

  • A separate park ticket is required for entry to Magic Kingdom Park.
  • Reservations for the dessert party can be made up to 180 prior to your visit. To book your reservation, you can call (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463 or go here.
  • I suggest arriving early to maximize your time enjoying the drinks and desserts, as well as take photos. Check-in time is 60 minutes prior to fireworks.
  • Remember to bring a photo ID along, which is required to check in.
  • Bring a light jacket with you.
  • Fireworks are not guaranteed as part of the experience and may be changed and/or canceled due to inclement weather. Check the fireworks schedule when you arrive at Magic Kingdom Park.

happily-ever-after-dessert-party-cinderella-castle-1For more information about the Happily Ever After Dessert party and to make your own reservation, please visit here. You can also find information about the latest happenings at Walt Disney World Resort by visiting https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/.

A very special “Thank You!” to Walt Disney World for hosting our family at the Happily Ever After Dessert Party. 

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The LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel is Officially Open at LEGOLAND® California Resort!

I received hotel accommodations in exchange for coverage. All opinions are my own. 

 

Hear ye! Hear Ye! The brand-new LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel at LEGOLAND® California Resort is officially open!  legoland-castle-hotel-grand-opening-1After a royal ceremony complete with knights on horses, a little girl squire and boy knight plus a hawk that flew the key to the Castle to Merlin the wizard and trumpeters to announce the grand opening of in front of hundreds of media and special guests, the hotel was declared “officially open”! Here’s a short video of the Grand Opening Ceremony that also shows a little bit of the hotel too.

 

“We’re excited to open a second hotel having learned from the first how powerful the brand is and children love how their experience in our theme park transforms into an overnight magical memory. Not only will this 250-room hotel bring more people to the beautiful city of Carlsbad which benefits local business, but we’re adding more than 200 jobs further boosting the economy in the region. Considering that, plus the amazing locally-sourced food, great entertainment and whimsical features found throughout the new hotel, this is already a great win for us!” – Peter Ronchetti, LEGOLAND California Resort General Manager

legoland-castle-hotel-statueA royal LEGO statue marks the entrance and is just one of more than 2,100 LEGO models created out of more than three million bricks. As guests enter the Grand Hall, they are greeted by a towering LEGO wizard conjuring up spells to protect the Castle from the bad knights and dragons.legoland-castle-hotel-royal-princess-room-1In the Royal Princess rooms, the princess is joining forces with her jester friend to sneak into the grand tournament and compete with the knights. In the Knights and Dragons rooms, the knights are on a mission to defend the king’s castle and protect his treasure. In the Magic Wizard rooms, the wizards are concocting potions and fireworks for the grand tournament. Every room has a children’s sleeping area which includes:

  • bunk beds
  • a trundle bed
  • their own television
  • a LEGO building station
  • shooting stars illuminating on the ceiling.

Every adult sleeping area has an ornate head board with LED lights which could resemble a stained glass window, a canopy sparking with twinkling lights or shelves filled with potions and a magical bubbling illuminated cauldron.legoland-castle-hotel-dragons-den-restaurant-lego-wallIn Dragon’s Den, a full-service sit down restaurant, guests can watch chefs preparing their food, enjoy LEGO models and entertainers within a unique dining experience. Breakfast is included with each guest’s stay and includes made-to-order items along with a buffet.legoland-castle-hotel-dragons-den-breakfast-buffet-1legoland-castle-hotel-dragons-den-buffet-2The Royal Courtyard immerses children in a fairy tale of their own creation with multiple play areas for different age groups, a giant movie screen, resort-style pool with interactive water features and hot tub and a tented stage for live plays and shows.Iegoland-castle-hotel-royal-courtyard-playground-1legoland-castle-hotel-pool-1Interactive elements throughout LEGOLAND Castle Hotel include a knock-knock door, a royal throne that makes silly noises, LEGO caricatures to build upon, a self-playing piano and a slide from the first floor to the lobby.legoland-castle-hotel-sword-in-the-stone

For more information about LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel at LEGOLAND® California Resort or assistance with planning your trip there, please visit http://www.LEGOLAND.com or call (760) 918-LEGO (5346).

Video and some images are property of LEGOLAND California Resort and used with permission. 

 

 

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Cox Communications Creates Smart Home Options for Seniors To Give Them “Connected Independence”

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. 

 

Did you know that more than 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day? My dad falls into that group and comes from the generation that values choices and individual freedom. As he gets older, I often worry about his future and his independence, especially as relating to his ability to stay in his own home.cox-smart-home-seniorsAging seniors want, and need, accessibility, which is why I’m so grateful for the smart home technologies that have been made available to them by Cox Communications. The senior phase of life encourages people to slow down and simplify but it doesn’t have to mean giving up your independence.cox-smart-home-infoNearly 90% of adults age 65+ would prefer to grow old in their current home instead of moving to an assisted living facility. The want to the ability to “age in place”. With the smart home technology readily available on the market today, this is becoming more a more realistic option for aging Americans. Not only does technology empower seniors to live independently for longer, it is likely a less expensive option than moving.cox-smart-home-welcomeCheck out this short video about Cox Communications Smart Home Living for Seniors:

Cox Communications partnered with senior living experts to showcase a new era in digital living that provides older adults with the ability to age in place, and be able to stay in their own homes and recently featured a “Connected Independence” Smart Home in Lake Forest, California, as part of a Cox Communications multi-city tour of its Aging in Place Experience. The home has more than 50 connected devices designed for seniors spread throughout a single-family home. The Aging in Place Experience event included senior living experts and internet-enabled smart devices, demonstrating how seniors can use new technology to live safely, independently and more comfortably at home while providing their adult children and caregivers with peace of mind. Also on hand were national and San Diego-based senior living innovators, businesses and experts. More than 35 interactive demonstrations, powered by Cox Communications’ broadband network, ran simultaneously throughout the home, including:

  • Rendever, which offers a virtual reality platform so seniors can “travel” to favorite destinationsCox-Senior-Smart-Home-virtual-reality
  • Trapollo telemedicine services so doctors can diagnose and treat seniors from the comfort of their own home;
  • A voice-activated TV remote control, giving seniors the ability to find their favorite shows without pressing buttons or navigating through menusCox-Senior-Smart-Home-voice-activation
  • Telehealth technology that allows patients to have live, personal interaction with doctors via video while at home. This technology relieves patients from travel to a medical facility for every consultation.
  • Double Robotics Telepresence Robot – Provides a way to check on older adults when their loved ones can’t be there in person. People can see and be seen as they steer the robot via remote control from anywhere in the world.
  • Smart Window/Door Sensor – Wireless device detects when doors and windows are opened.
  • Pill Dispensers – Helps seniors stay on schedule with their medications. Helps prevent forgotten dosages or mixed medications, and sends audible and visual alerts up to 30 minutes before pills are scheduled to be taken.Cox-Senior-Smart-Home-pilldispenser
  • Extensive home automation and security features, including the ability to see who is at the front door and lock and unlock doors remotely through Cox Homelife, making it easier for seniors to let visitors and caregivers in and out of the home safely.
  • An automatic pet feeder controlled through an app
  • Amazon Kindle, giving users access to a vast library of books at their fingertips
  • Readable Voice Mail – Sends transcripts of voice messages to email
  • Clarity P300 Handset Landline Telephone – Makes sounds louder and easier to understand. Seniors can call people by pushing a photo button.
  • GeniCan – Garbage can that scans items as they’re thrown away. The GeniCan app builds a shopping list based on what needs to be replaced, and schedules home delivery through Amazon Dash.
  • Parrot Pot – Seniors never have to worry about their plants again. The Parrot Pot gives plants the right amount of water at the right time. This smart flowerpot has four sensors that monitor light, temperature, and soil moisture and fertilizer levels in real time. The simple app even has a database of over 8,000 plants to give seniors advice on how to help their favorite flowers thrive

Additional stations at the event included a Wi-Fi Slow Cooker, Wi-Fi vacuum, Wi-Fi cat (Joy for All Orange Tabby Cat), electronic pet feeder, electronic fork that tracks eating habits, smart door locks and video cameras, glass break sensors, water/flood sensors, motion sensors and other safety devices.

Smart home technology can help families avoid the wrenching decision and the expense of moving an aging parent to an assisted living facility. A connected home ensures seniors can continue their daily routine while maintaining, and even enhancing, their quality of life in their own home.” – said Ryland Madison, director of product marketing, Cox Communications.

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Cox Communications continues to aggressively invest in its network as well as new ventures such as healthcare and Internet of Things to better power smart homes, smart businesses and smart cities of the future. Cox has invested $15 billion in its infrastructure in the past 10 years and is investing another $10 billion in the next five years to bring fiber closer to homes, increase speeds and improve products.

For more information about Cox Communications, please visit here.

Some images and video are property of Cox Communications and used with permission.

 
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