Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Walt Disney World Tips for Babies thru Preschoolers

I recently read a post on Facebook that was asking about the appropriate age for kids at Disney...ie. "...how young is too young?". I have gotten this question a lot when we were planning the trips with my kids. I have also had people tell me, "Your kids won't remember it!". I typically would respond by telling people, "Hey, I went before the kids, why would I NOT go because I have them?". That being said, my four year old knows a ton about Disney and the resorts because he sees pictures in his scrapbooks. He "remembers" being there because he relives it often. So, if you want to take your kids as a baby, toddler or a preschooler, don't let anyone convince you otherwise...it is a GREAT idea!!

Today I will go over some tips that I have found to be helpful while at the Walt Disney World Resort with my little ones! Enjoy!!

1. Baby centers...know them....USE THEM!



 Baby Center at Epcot's Odyssey Building
 Each of the four major parks have a baby care center. They are all very clean and provide changing tables, restrooms, microwaves, private nursing rooms, highchairs and merchandise to purchase including diapers, bottles, formula, baby foods and the like. In Epcot, it is found on the Mexico side of the Odyssey building. In Magic Kingdom, it is tucked in between Casey's and The Crystal Palace (this is where you can also find the first aid station). In Animal Kingdom, it is also near the first aid station, which is on Discovery Island close to the bridge to Africa. In Hollywood Studios, you can find it in the Guest Relations Center, which is at the park entrance. This is the only baby care center that doesn't not have items for purchase in the actual center. You will have to visit the gift shop which is located just to the left of Gest Relations. We used the centers very frequently with our son, and less frequently with our daughter. Different children will have different needs. If nothing else, use them for a clean changing table!!

2. Baby Swap or Rider Switch
       Do you, your mom, your sister and your husband want to ride Expedition Everest...but who will stay with the baby? Disney has a program called Rider Switch...or as most call it, Baby Swap.  When your group gets to the front of a ride that has height restrictions, ask the cast member about baby swap. They will explain how it works and give you a return pass (which looks like a legacy fastpass). One person will stay with the baby. You can look around the gift shop, which is usually where the riders will exit, or maybe use that time to ride a baby friendly attraction that is nearby. Once the first set of riders exit, you may use the pass for up to three people to get into the fastpass line. Remember though, the whole process can take up some time. If you have a pressing Fastpass+ time or a dining reservation, you may want to just chose one person to sit it out.

3. Just because you don't want to stay at a value doesn't mean you should visit them.

 My little guy with his grandma and grandpa at All Star Movies Resort

        The second time we took my son to WDW he was about 18 months old. We decided to stay at a moderate resort because my husband is tall and likes the queen bed option. We knew that our son would miss out on the larger than life characters and he was really into Toy Story at that age. On our arrival day we took him over to All Star Movies so he could run around the Toy Story area and "meet" the giant Buzz and Woody. It was one of the most memorable days of that whole trip. Best part..it was free! There are a plethora of characters features at the value resorts. If you tot is really into one of them, spend an hour or so visiting there. You'll have a great time!

4. Celebrate the each milestone height restriction.

 My son's first time on Tomorrowland Speedyway
   Toddler and preschoolers can feel left out when all you do all day is baby swap and they have to sit and wait. Take time to make them feel super special by making a big deal out of it when they can finally get on a "big kid" ride. Take a picture and maybe even get them a pin to remember it!

5. Naps are your friend.

      Taking a mid-day break can seem like a hassle. Between getting to the front of the park and getting to your room...and then having to do the reverse, it hardly seems worth it. Trust me...it is. This last trip we took was a short one and we only had one day in the park. We just figured we'd ride it out and if the kids were sleepy, they would nap in the stroller. Not only did they not nap (too much to look at and see), but the heat and the lines were ridiculous during the time we would have been gone. I think we did one attraction and then found somewhere to have a snack because it was too unbearable. We will always take that break from here out. The recharge is worth it and missing those crowds and heat would have been welcomed.

6. Use a stroller even if you think your child may be too old.
 Double City Mini from Kingdom Strollers

        Preschoolers are full of energy. Most of them don't want to use a stroller anymore, however when you visit a Disney park you will walk. A lot. The average person will walk between 7 and 14 miles in a day in Disney world. Last time I wore a pedometer in Disney, I was walking about 15 miles a day, which included my morning walk to get coffee and a walk to the bus afterwards. We have a Graco double stroller at home for visits to the zoo, however it is bulky and heavy. When we go to Disney World, we take an umbrella stroller for our little one. For the parks, we rent a double City Mini from Kingdom Strollers and we have it delivered to the resort. I have never had a problem with their service. They are friendly and prompt and provide coolers and stroller rain cover free of charge. I highly recommend them!

7. Character meals and kid friendly restaurants
 My Daughter at 13 mos at 'Ohana Breakfast

Most of the restaurants in Walt Disney World are kid friendly, however we try to visit the ones that are either highly themed (T-Rex, Biergarten, Sci-fi) or are a character meal for most of our table service meals. The kids will have a great time and you can relax a bit. Character meals are also a good bet because you won't have to wait in line later to get an autograph or a picture.

 My Daughter at 9 mos at Cocoa Beach

There you have it! I hope this ideas help in planning your next trip to Disney with little ones. If you want more information or would like additional help planning, feel free to email me at eva.baker382@yahoo.com. I am a fee free travel agent and would love to help you book and plan your trip!

Friday, April 25, 2014


One of the BEST parts about running in a runDisney event at Walt Disney World is getting to use an actual bathroom! They have plethora of porta-potties, and although you will probably have to use one before the start, you will find that a nice autoflush toilet and a real sink to wash up are ahead on the course. I'm going to outline where you can find them...but shhhhh it's a secret that I have saved for my best running buds and readers! ;)

Now...there is no guarantee that these will be open, but here's the restrooms that are directly on most of the half and full marathon courses. I don't think you want to go off course to find a bathroom, and Disney doesn't want you to for that matter.

Transportation and Ticket Center

The first real bathroom you will come to on course will be at the transportation and ticket center. These bathroom are usually crowded and the area is too, since it is a popular viewing location for friends and family spectators. Fell free to stop here, however if you think you can wait there will be lots of spots to do your business in the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is the first park you will come to, at about mile 5. There are bathrooms located on Main Street, however you will not be able to get to them since that side if the "street" is closed off for spectators to cheer. The next set you will find will be across from Tomorrowland Speedway and there are some near the teacups, as well.  I have not used them, however the Tangled bathrooms do not appear to be too far off course. I don't know if they would have it roped there or not. Magic Kingdom is a little more restrictive because the park is technically not open during the races. In past years, I normally try to get to the bathrooms near Country Bears, it is in the pass-through between Frontierland and Adventureland. You will also be quite close to Pirates and those bathroom may be available to you, before you leave the park.


Animal Kingdom
If you are running the full, you will be heading into Animal Kingdom at about mile 12. That means maybe an hour or more could have passed by and you may need to stop. I like to hit the bathrooms here to through some water on my face and freshen up. The course has changed a bit since last time I ran a full here, so when I last ran in Animal Kingdom this was about mile 15-17 and the tough stuff was close ahead. With the new course, you will be enter the park in between Africa and Asia and heading towards Expedition Everest. There should be a bathroom near Flights of Wonder, however on the course map I cannot tell. There will be a set of bathrooms near Kali River Rapids those will be your best bet to stay on course. There will also be a restroom near Finding Nemo, however in years past this was also roped off. Before you exit the park, you can hit up the one near Restaurantosaurus.

ESPN Wide World of Sports

This is new to me. I haven't ran a full marathon in Disney since 2012, when I ran Goofy. I was busy having a baby and whatnot. If you are familiar, please leave a comment and I will add in any bathroom info! Please and thanks ;)

Hollywood Studios

You will enter HS from backstage. There are restrooms near Lights, Motor Action that may be available. The one I would go to is near Muppets and Star Tours. There is also one across the way near The American Idol Experience, but I think those are inside and would not be a quick stop. The next best place to stop here would be right at the park entrance. There are bathrooms near where you pick up strollers and wheelchairs.


There are plenty of restrooms here in Epcot. The ones that I have found to be the best are the restrooms near Norway and near Spaceship Earth, however you can see that there are some right after you enter in Morocco. The ones in America, but those are tucked away, as are the ones near Germany. If you want, you can head to the back of Innoventions, however those would be a bit off course too, considering you are ALMOST DONE!!!

And of course once you finish...you get a big shiny medal...and there are more porta-potties available to you!!

I hope this helps some of you! If you know of any other prime potty stops...PLEASE share your knowledge with us! I will update the blog and give you credit!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easy Mediterranean Veggie Lasagna

After hosting Easter, I was a little hammed out. I wanted something light, yet filling, for supper. I scanned what I had on hand and I whipped together, what I think, is a nice twist to a typical veggie lasagna. Spinach and artichokes are the main players here...oh and lots of bubbly cheese!!

Easy Mediterranean Veggie Lasagna

1 pkg no-bake lasagna noodles
2 cans artichokes
1 bag baby spinach
2 sml cans sliced black olives
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 carton fresh button mushrooms, sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1 jar of Alfredo sauce
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups shredded Italian cheese
2 cups reduced fat or fat free mozzarella cheese
olive oil
parsley (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. and lightly grease the bottom of a 13x9 baking pan.


Add some oil to a large fry pan and sauté the onions and mushrooms until the onions are traslucient. If you prefer cooked spinach, now would be a good time to through your spinach into the pan and wilt it down. If you choose not to you will get some pieces that do taste "fresh".

Mix together the ricotta, egg and Italian seasoning in a small bowl.

Once it is all mixed throw about 1/2 cup of the Italian cheese into the blend and mix well.

Pour a small amount of the sauce onto the bottom of the pan and spoon it around.

Place four noodles onto and spoon about 1/4 cup of ricotta mixture onto each noodle.

Add some of the onion mixture, then spinach, then tomatoes, then artichokes, then black olives...

Top with more sauce and generously with Italian cheese and then start the process over again. The top layer will not have any of the ricotta mixture or as much spinach, however you will use twice as much artichokes, cheese and sauce. You really want the artichoke flavor to stand out.

Once all of your layers are done, take some foil and tent it over the pan. Try to get it high enough that the cheese will not stick to it.

Place it in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for 10-15 minutes more. It should be all melty and looking delicious!

You could also add chicken into the layers of this dish for a non-vegetarian version.

Serve it with a salad or some garlic bread. I just love this meal...I hope you do too!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Main Street Style Ice Cream Sandwich

One of my favorite ways to spend a snack credit at Disney World is on a big, yummy, chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich on Main Street, USA. If you have ever had one...you know how big and delicious they truly are. Well, you see, I gave up ice cream for Lent this year. I adore ice cream and I have been missing it....A LOT! I was looking for a good way to incorporate ice cream into our Easter dinner. Although I have already made my Carrot Cake Roll, I decided to make more sweets. This occasion calls for Main Street Ice Cream Sandwiches!!


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325° and grease cookie sheets...yes, grease them...and you will need 2-3 cookie sheets.

Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together into a bowl and set aside.


Mix the melted butter and sugars together in a mixing bowl. Once well blended, add in egg and egg yolk. Beat it on med-high until it looks light in color.

When it is mixed, go ahead and add in the flour mixture a little at a time until it is smooth.

After it is all combined, add the chocolate chips. I used the Spring chips because it was Easter, but like any chocolate chip recipe, you can use whatever you'd like. I think a peanut butter chocolate mix with chocolate ice cream would be super yummy!!

Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to drop the dough on the cookie sheet. You will need to space them very far apart. The final product will be about 4 inches big, so you need lots of room for them to spread out and get comfy while they are in the oven.

Bake them in the preheated oven for about 16-17 minutes. Do not try to take them right off of the sheet when you take them out, they will fall apart. After they have cooled for about 5-10 minutes, you can transfer them to a cooling rack. I didn't have enough room, so I also used plates.

I recommend placing them into the freezer before you scoop the ice cream onto them. I pair mine up with good matches for size and put them into baggies. Two of mine didn't even fit...monsters!!

Once the cookies are cooled down quite a bit and are frosty cold, you can make the sandwiches. Look at how big these cookies are! This is a large Fiestaware plate!!!

Scoop 2-3 ice cream scoops onto the bottom cookie. Hidden Mickey!

Smush the top cookie onto the sandwich and if you choose to use sprinkles just roll them into them or use your fingers to drop them onto the ice cream.

Eat them immediately or you can wrap them in plastic wrap and place them into a gallon freezer bag to eat later (which is what I did). Once again...I hope everyone has a great Easter! I cannot wait to eat ICE CREAM!!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Carrot Cake Roll

My husband loves pumpkin roll. Unfortunately for him, we were staying with family during Thanksgiving and I wasn't able to make him his coveted desert this last year. I was brainstorming ideas for our Easter menu, since we are hosting Easter dinner this year and I thought, "Who says that rolls are just for Thanksgiving and Christmas?!". My dad loves carrot cake, so it is a win-win for me. With a little alteration to a classic, I was able to make a yummy Easter dessert that will please the whole family! I made it early to share the recipe with you guys...and I popped it in the freezer for us to eat on Easter!

Carrot Cake Roll

4 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup finely grated carrots
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Sifted powdered sugar
Recipe below for Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounce cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375°

Separate eggs (yellows in one bowl and whites in another) and allow eggs to come to room temperature.

Grease jelly roll pan (I used coconut oil) and lightly flour.


In a small bowl mix flour, baking power and cinnamon together and set aside.

In a medium bowl beat egg yolks and vanilla on high speed for 5 minutes. It should be butter colored and thick.

Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar to the yolk mixture. Once the sugar is almost dissolved, add in the carrots.

In another bowl use hand beaters (or just swap bowl and wash the beaters good) to beat egg whites until you get soft peaks.

Once you are getting the soft peaks, add in the 1/2 sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Fold egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture. Once combined, gently fold in the flour mixture. And pour into jelly roll pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 375°.

While that is baking, you can make the frosting....yuuuuuummmmmmmm!!!

Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until it is mixed and light in texture.

Now, gradually add in the powdered sugar. I like to add 1/2 cup at a time until it is all mixed.

When you get done, place it in an airtight container and leave it at room temp.

Now you are ready for the fun part! Get a clean kitchen towel out and lay it flat on a clean counter top.

Sift powdered sugar onto the towel until it is covered.


When your cake gets done, you will need to let it cool a bit, but you will still want it warm. Once it is cool enough to work with, pop it out of the jelly roll pan and place it onto the sugared towel and roll, roll, roll it up!

Once it is all rolled up put it on a tray or a large plat and place it in the fridge.

Let it cool in the fridge for a couple of hours. Once it is done take it back out and unroll it on a clean countertop. Frost the inside of the roll with your room temp frosting. If you decide to place your frosting in the refrigerator, you may need to microwave it for a few seconds to get it soft enough to spread it.

When it is all frosted, go ahead and roll it back up (without the towel this time)

You can serve it right away or place it in the refrigerator or freezer. I like to cut off the end pieces to make it look more presentable...and also to get a taste of my handy work!!

I hope you enjoy the cake and have a very, happy Easter!!!