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Minnie Mouse Toys and Gifts for 1, 2, and 3 Year Old Girls

Minnie Mouse Toys and Gifts for 1, 2, and 3 Year Old Girls

My younger daughter, Rebecca, has always been a particularly huge fan of Minnie Mouse. When Rebecca was 2 years old, she had a red and white polka dot Minnie Mouse costume that she wore almost every day for about three months. The only time she […]

Tiny Santa Hat Christmas Ornament Craft (made with Dollar Tree items!)

Tiny Santa Hat Christmas Ornament Craft (made with Dollar Tree items!)

Are you looking for a cute and easy homemade Christmas tree ornament that you and your kids can together? Well, look no further. Not only does this craft take about 15 minutes to make, but it’s made with several items that we found at Dollar […]

6 Things to Know About Disney World in Summer 2021

6 Things to Know About Disney World in Summer 2021

It’s quite unlike me to take a Disney World trip with such little notice, but between the fact that

  • I was about to start a brand new job
  • Masks were (for the moment) no longer required
  • After a few years of not caring, my daughter really wanted to go to Disney World

we booked a quick trip in July 2021 only two weeks ahead of time.

There weren’t many bells and whistles; we stayed in a cheap hotel that was adequate but certainly nothing special, and the only dining reservation we had was at Raglan Road in Disney Springs.

It was first post-Covid trip, and over a year later, there were still many changes that made the parks different.

Here were the things that struck me during our first post-Covid Disney trip:

1. I hated my park bag — and know exactly which one I want for my next trip.

You’d think that after writing about this kind of stuff in depth, I wouldn’t screw it up, but I did.

Since our trip was so last minute, I grabbed a cheap, brown crossbody purse at Target, thinking I would use it in “real life” too. I didn’t even test it out.

Stupid, stupid.

It was way too small for the trip. I couldn’t fit both my phone and the charger brick into my purse at the same time, which meant my phone always died before the end of the day. Also, my sunglasses wouldn’t fit. Extras like sunscreen were out of the question. I was annoyed and complain-y about it the entire trip.

What made me really want to kick myself was that I saw many people with Loungefly Disney mini-backpacks that I loved. They were cute, easy to carry, and held a bunch of stuff.

I tried shopping for one a couple days into our trip, but the only one I could find that I liked at all was a Fox and the Hound design, and like … really? Did anyone even see that movie?

As much as I have nothing against foxes (or hounds), I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on something I didn’t really love.

So I [very stupidly] had to suffer with an ugly, inadequate park bag, while people with the perfect Disney bag were walking past me all day.

DO NOT DO THIS.

Get a good bag. Test it out beforehand.

[By the way, even though I’m not going to Disney World again any time soon, I still want to get a backpack, but can’t decide between these three. Feel free to leave your vote in the comments below.]

Loungefly Disney Cats Mini-BackpackLoungefly Disney Cats Mini-BackpackLoungefly Disney Cats Mini-BackpackLoungefly Disney Aristocats Piano Kitties Mini BackpackLoungefly Disney Aristocats Piano Kitties Mini BackpackLoungefly Disney Aristocats Piano Kitties Mini BackpackLoungefly X Disney Alice In Wonderland Allover Print Mini BackpackLoungefly X Disney Alice In Wonderland Allover Print Mini BackpackLoungefly X Disney Alice In Wonderland Allover Print Mini Backpack

 

 

2. There are still no Fastpasses. (although it may look like there are).

Disney World Fastpass queue sign
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

So Fastpass stopped being a thing once Disney World was temporarily shut down in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

In the middle of me working on this post — somewhat ironically, I had to set it aside because I got Covid — it was announced that Fastpass would never, ever be returning.

I don’t want to get into all that right now, but let’s just say that, at the moment, it’s going to look like Disney World is still using Fastpass. You’ll see people walking through the Fastpass queues and boarding the rides much more quickly than you. And you might [understandably] be confused.

More importantly, you’ll be thinking — like a saw a man ask a cast member when we walking through the Fastpass line at Peter Pan — “How do I get in that line?”

Well, right now the Fastpass line is the Disability Access Service (DAS) line.

Quite unexpectantly, we were able to use DAS on this trip because of my daughter’s friend’s sensory issue. Expect a post from me sometime about DAS, how it works, who qualifies, and who doesn’t.

Although I might wait a while before writing it, because it sounds like it’s all going to change fairly soon anyway with the arrival of the new Genie + system.

 

3. You need to wear masks only on Disney transportation indoors.
See why it’s so hard being a Disney blogger? Things change about every five days.

We were lucky enough to be at Disney World in mid-July when masks were no longer required (except for on Disney transportation, and yes, it was enforced) but within less than two week after we came home, that changed. At the time of this writing, masks are now required indoors.

 

4. Parks are already almost at full capacity.
One of my readers specifically asked me what the park capacity was right now. Like the good blogger that I am, I sought out a cast member at the monorail and asked exactly that.

She told me that she couldn’t give me specific numbers, because it depended on the park and the day, but that Epcot would be back at full capacity by the end of the week (July 17).

I’m guessing that if Epcot is already at full capacity, the other parks aren’t too far behind. In retrospect, I’m kinda sorry we didn’t go to Disney World a few months earlier when crowds were significantly lower.

 

5. There are no character meet and greets (and yes, it’s kind of a bummer).

Donald Duck Disney Character Cavalcade

You probably already knew that there were no Disney character meet and greets at the moment. Instead, there are “cavalcades” like the photo above.

These are cute, and certainly better than nothing, but man, it’s not the same thing.

In the first place, they were practically a blink-and-you’ll-it event. In Epcot, my daughter was walking ahead of me and called out, “Look, it’s Winnie the Pooh chasing butterflies!” By the time I caught up with her and saw where she was pointing, Pooh had literally turned around and was walking back over the hill.

Second, there weren’t very many of them. I think we saw about three or four character cavalcades per a day, which isn’t very many at all for an experience that lasts less than two minutes, depending on where you are.

So not only do you not get to meet the characters and get your photos taken with them, but you just don’t get to even see the character out and about very much. And yes, it did make the parks feel different to me.

 

6. You can use the Photopass photographers to use your cell phone, but they may decline.

Magic Kingdom in Disney World

I didn’t want to pay for Memory Maker for this particular trip, partly because it was only for 3 days, and partly because of the lack of character meet and greets.

So I tried the money saving hack of just giving my phone to the Photopass photographer.

Two photographers took some photos no problem, one refused, and one was hesitant, but agreed when I told her that she could sanitize my phone.

Apparently it’s up to the photographer’s discretion right now. I’m assuming that’s a Covid thing, although that’s a guess.

Anyway, you can still try it, just don’t be disappointed if the photographer tells you no.

Epcot at Night

 

7. There’s not much pin trading right now.

Disney World Cinderella Castle
Photo courtesy of Judd at WDWOW

My favorite thing about Disney pin trading, personally, is that it’s fun to always be on the lookout for cast members with pin lanyards, then go up to them and chat a little while you’re checking out their pins.

Well, due to Covid, the Disney cast members aren’t wearing lanyards, which made pin trading on this trip almost non-existent. You can still ask in the gift shops if they have a pin trading board, but we didn’t think of it most of the time.

 

What has your recent Disney World trip been like?

Have you been to Disney World post-Covid? Were you disappointed? Anything else you want to share? Which backpack should I buy?

Let us know below in the comments!

The Best Dinosaur Toys for Toddler Boys (ages 2-4 years old)

The Best Dinosaur Toys for Toddler Boys (ages 2-4 years old)

Little kids — and especially toddler boys — love dinosaurs. And it’s not hard to see why. Dinosaurs seem like something from a long tale or a mythical land … but they’re real. They’re scary, powerful, and huge … but they’re also safe, because everybody […]

DIY Sensory Bottle Ideas for Kids to Make

DIY Sensory Bottle Ideas for Kids to Make

If your child has sensory processing issues or ADD — or even if they don’t — they will love these simple sensory bottles. Also known as “calm down bottles,” these DIY sensory bottles are a tool for younger and older children alike that can help […]

Mini Aquarium in a Bottle (Ocean Sensory Play)

Mini Aquarium in a Bottle (Ocean Sensory Play)

These ocean sensory bottles — or, as I like to call them, “mini aquariums” — are ridiculously easy and are a great sensory activity for little hands.

There’s nothing wrong with making these bottles just for something fun and pretty to shake around, but they’re also a great way to learn about sea creatures and ocean life.

Just add a few books ….

Mister Seahorse by Eric CarleMister Seahorse by Eric CarleMister Seahorse by Eric CarleIn the Sea by David ElliottIn the Sea by David ElliottIn the Sea by David ElliottNational Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the OceanNational Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the OceanNational Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean

 

… and some videos …

 

Video – Ocean Animals for Kids

 

Ocean Animals for Preschool & Kindergarten

 

… throw in some ocean-themed snacks, and you’ve got a super-easy, hands-on unit study!

We used a Voss water bottle for this, but you can certainly be creative with the type and size of bottle that you use.

You can also add a nice touch to your bottle by adding a few small seashells.

Ocean sensory play bottle

Mini Aquarium in a Bottle

Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Materials

  • 16.9 oz. sensory bottle
  • 1 (5oz.) bottle of Elmer’s clear glue
  • Plastic Ocean Animals
  • Clear Water
  • Blue food coloring
  • Tape or glue for securing the bottle shut (optional)

Instructions

1. Gather all materials.

2. Pour all of the clear glue into the bottle.

Glue in sensory bottle

3. Add the ocean animal toys.

Ocean animals added to bottle

4. Fill the remaining bottle with water.

5. Add one drop of blue food coloring to the bottle.

Add blue food coloring to bottle

6. Close the bottle. Use tape or glue to secure the lid if you like.

Shaking bottle with blue food coloring

7. Enjoy your bottle!

Ocean sensory bottle for kids

Recommended Products

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More Sensory Play for Kids

7 Dinosaur Arts & Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

7 Dinosaur Arts & Crafts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Do you know a little person who loves dinosaurs? Both both and girls tend to be fascinated by these prehistoric creatures. And why shouldn’t they be? They seem mythical, almost like unicorns … but they were real. How cool is that? Whether you’re looking for […]

Mickey Mouse Craft Ideas & Activities

Mickey Mouse Craft Ideas & Activities

There are all kinds of reasons for making a Mickey Mouse craft: An upcoming trip to Disney World A Mickey-themed birthday party A desire to bring a little Disney into your home or classroom Just to show off your love for the mouse! Whatever the […]

What’s the Perfect Age for Disney World?

What’s the Perfect Age for Disney World?

Are you considering a Walt Disney World vacation, but wondering if your kids are too young (or too old)?

Obviously there’s no magical answer to when to take you kids to Disney World. Some of the factors to take into consideration are how many kids you have, how spaced out they are, what your school schedule is like, how much money you have, and whether or not you’ll be able to take another Disney trip within the next 4-5 years.

After reading this post, you’ll know some of the pros and cons of a Disney vacation with each age group and what our experiences have been over the years.

 

Babies (age 0 – 18 months)

I have never taken a baby to Disney World, and frankly, would not really want to.

Between worrying about nursing and bottles and diapers and changing stations and the intense heat and naps (one of my babies would not sleep in a stroller at one point … it makes me tired just thinking about it.

Certainly many families have gone to Disney World with babies and survived had a great time. (And if you had, I’d love for you to leave a comment below.) So it most certainly can be done.

But if you’re considering going to Disney World with a baby, I would highly recommend waiting a couple years if at all possible.

 

Toddlers & Preschoolers (age 18 months – 5 years)

Preschool age kids at Disney World

On our very first Disney trip, my son didn’t exist yet and my daughters were two and a half and four and a half years old and both out of diapers.

If you can go when your youngest is two and a half and fully potty trained, I say do it.

Your youngest will get in completely free (because they’re under 3 years old), and your older kids will most likely still be at the “child” (ages 3-9) price.

The nice thing about going to Disney World at this age is that everything makes them happy.

White rabbit character at Disney World
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

 

It wouldn’t have occurred to them to complain or feel disappointed because we were staying off-site. (They happily called the condo “The Disney House.”) They couldn’t care less that we ate sandwiches for lunch and had dinner at Perkins Pancake House near our condo instead of having any character meals. They weren’t the least bit disappointed that we skipped the parks altogether one day.

In fact, later I asked my four year old what her favorite part of the trip was, and she said it was going to the pool.

So going to Disney World can actually be fairly cheap at this age.

The downsides, of course, are:

  • They don’t remember many details from the trip (which never particularly bothered me; we have photos and our memories of the trip that we share with them)
  • The kids are more high-maintenance and wear out more quickly. (We were lucky to have my parents join us on the trip, which made it less exhausting.)
  • They can’t go on a lot of rides, so if you’re like me and into the thrill rides, you’re going to either forego them or use baby swap. (Again, having grandparents with us was helpful.)

 

 

Elementary age (6-9 years old)

Kids with Minnie Mouse in Disney World

This is probably the sweet spot, depending on how many kids your have and how spaced out they are.

The kids are old enough to know what’s going on and and be a bit more self-sufficient, but young enough to enjoy it in a child-like way. They’re less likely to be scared by things and more likely to be tall enough (and brave enough) to ride the roller coasters.

Plus they still get the child prices until they’re 9 years old.

So if you wanted me to give you the perfect age, I would say to go right before your oldest child turns 10.

Now one big issue that comes up at this age is:

Should we take our kids out of school for a Disney World vacation?

Fortunately, we never had to address this. My kids were homeschooled for many years, once the oldest started going to public school, we went to Disney during our district’s week long “fall break” in September.

If you’re debating whether or not to take a Disney vacation during the school year, the first thing you need to do is check the school’s policies on absences and make-up work.

I’ve heard of anything from family vacations automatically being excused absences, to having to write a letter to the principal explaining the educational value of the trip, to getting angry phone calls from the school threatening to report the parents for truancy.

So first make sure you know what you’re dealing with.

Personally (and I’m a teacher myself), I don’t really have a big problem with the idea of kids missing a few days of school, as long as the kid is a good student and is responsible in making up what they missed. Definitely let your teachers know well ahead of time and be very gracious and respectful about it, since them having to adjust for you adds a bit to their already-full plate.

It’s also a good idea to ask your kids how they fell about missing school. Believe it or not, this can be an issue for some kids, especially if the class is doing something special that week.

 

Tweens (ages 10-13 years old)

Farmer Mickey at Disney World

One of the best Disney trips I ever took was when I went with just my two girls when they were 12 and 14.

Part of it was because it was just the three of us, which made it easier than having to deal with five different people’s preferences.

But part of it was because that age was so easy compared to earlier years. They didn’t need me to go with them to the bathroom or the buffet. They weren’t sobbing on the Disney bus on the way back to the resort after a long day at the park. We didn’t have to deal with people being too scared for this or too short for that. And the girls were much more involved in planning the trip and researching and choosing the restaurants, which was a lot of fun.

It was a really good trip.

Now having that said that, this is an age where taking your kids out of school gets more tricky, not only because of missed work, but also because of extra-curricular activities, play rehearsals, sports practice, etc.

 

Teenager/High School Age

Teen girls at Disneys Grand Floridian resort

Unfortunately, our next trip was not so pleasant. In fact, I almost would go so far as to call it a “mistake.”

For this trip, our kids were 13, 15, and 17. We booked the trip several months in advance, thinking it had a been a while since the whole family had gone.

About a month before the trip we discovered that not only did one kid adamantly not want to go at all, but also the kid who used to be obsessed with Disney couldn’t care less anymore, said they’d rather stay home and hang out with their friends, and begrudgingly went along.

During the trip were texting their friends constantly and were more interested in finding a Starbucks (again) than going on a ride or, God forbid, getting a photo taken with me. Nobody wanted to see any characters. One kid made the comment that they didn’t understand why anyone over the age of 10 would like this place. Another kid chose to stay in the hotel and watch a movie one evening.

I was hurt and disappointed, and I reacted by getting mad at them.

Still, there were some bright moments. I caught the kid who really didn’t want to there saying, “I love this ride” when we were on Splash Mountain. We all had a fun dinner together at Wolfgang Puck in Disney Springs one evening. They really liked both Test Track and Dinosaur. Everyone loved the food at Ohana (although the kids all quickly left in embarrassment when I went to join in with the hula dancing lesson.)

I know that plenty of families go to Disney World with their teenagers and (at least appear to) have a good time, so don’t necessarily be scared off by our experience.

But unless your teens are specifically begging to go to Disney World, I would recommend that you find some new vacation destinations for a while.

 

What do you think is the best age for Disney World?

Now it’s your turn. Do you think there is a “best” age? Have you ever taken a baby to Disney World, and what was that like? Did you ever go to Disney World with teenagers, and was your experience better than mine?

Let us know below in the comments!

Best age to bring kids to Disney World

10 Ocean-Themed Under the Sea Snacks (Beach Party Food!)

10 Ocean-Themed Under the Sea Snacks (Beach Party Food!)

Looking for some cute and easy snacks for an ocean-themed party … or just a fun way to enjoy a summer afternoon with the kiddos? Here are 10 fun treats — from mermaid cupcakes to beach pudding cups to starfish sugar cookies — that will […]