Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and 'been-there-done-that' reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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Best Disney Restaurants for Kids Ages 5 and Under

OH!  Disney Dining…you keep us coming back for more and more and more!

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With 7 Disney trips under their belts, my kids have eaten at a ton of WDW restaurants, ranging from simple snacks to quick counter service to almost every character meal to fine dining at Victoria & Albert’s.  They have seen and eaten it all–and at all ages–from 8 months to 23 years old!

Disney does a great job of creating themed restaurants to serve all guests, kids and kids-at-heart.  Though almost all Walt Disney World restaurants offer a kid’s menu, some are obviously more geared towards the younger visitors.

My daughters and I chose the BEST kid restaurants based on kid-centered theming, characters, fun environments and kid-friendly (not just kid’s menu) food.

 

These are the BEST of the BEST table service restaurants for kids ages 5 and under.

For a list every character meal inside the Walt Disney World theme parks, click here.

Put these table service restaurants on your ‘Must-Do’ list!

Magic Kingdom:

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The Crystal Palace–Read all details and a review here

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Be Our Guest Restaurant–Read all details and a review here and avoid the West Wing dining room if your child is afraid of the dark, simulated thunder and lightening.

Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

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Epcot:

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Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Garden Grill Restaurant

 

Hollywood Studios:

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Hollywood & Vine

50’s Prime Time Café–Read all of the details and a review here.

 

Animal Kingdom:

Tusker House Restaurant

 

Disney Springs:

Rainforest Café–Avoid if your child is frightened by simulated thunder and loud noises.

T-REX–Avoid if your child is frightened by loud noises and large dinosaurs that move.

 

Resorts:

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1900 Park Fare–Read all details and a review here

Chef Mickey’s–Read all details and a review here

‘Ohana

Cape May Cafe

Whispering Canyon Café

 

Click here to learn all about the 2017 Disney Dining Plan.

Click here to learn how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation like a pro!

Click here to read about our favorite Disney buffet!

 

 

 

 

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A Review of 50’s Prime Time Café

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Among the glamour of Hollywood films, exciting stunt shows, Star Wars rebels and Toy Story mania, there is a magical restaurant offering guests an opportunity to step back in time to a by-gone era of poodle skirts and Ford Thunderbirds.

50’s Prime Time Café is a retro-themed restaurant serving American comfort food to theme park guests inside Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.  And.  We.  Love.  It.

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The entire restaurant is perfectly and classically themed, including the large lobby, created to look exactly like a 1950’s living room.  Comfy, floral couches, vinyl chairs, old fashioned wallpaper, wood bookcases, sunburst clocks and vintage tchotchkes fill the retro-styled room.

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The quaint decorations and considerable 1950’s knickknacks generate a familiar feeling of visiting an old family friend or spending time at Grandma’s house.  The waitstaff conveys the delightful, old-school time warp by donning checkered dresses, scarves, dish rags and simple aprons.

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50’s Prime Time Café highlights old-fashion theming throughout the restaurant, including the many dining rooms built as if each table is placed in a splendid 1950’s kitchen.  Antique refrigerators, decoupage art, fruit-themed items and copper Jell-O molds line the walls.  Dining areas are separated by open bookshelves displaying kitschy decorations and rooms are reminiscent of a simpler time in American history.

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In this Formica and vinyl heaven, diners can order hearty home-cooked comfort food while enjoying black and white popular vintage sitcoms on multiple retro television sets.

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Lunch and dinner have the same home-style, classic menu featuring familiar and family favorite dishes.

Appetizers include crispy beer battered onion rings, chicken noodle soup, and a delicious Cousin Amy’s iceberg lettuce wedge salad with thick blue cheese dressing, bacon and chives.  I can’t help it–I order the wedge every time.

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Hearty and tasty retro entrées include Dad’s Stuffed Pork Chop with gouda cheese, apples, herbs, roasted potatoes, carrots topped with a demi-glaze drizzle and Mom’s Old Fashion Pot Roast, slow cooked and served with garlic mashed potatoes, brown gravy and carrots.

My husband’s favorites are the chicken potpie and the traditional meat loaf.  My son (age 23) loved ‘A Sampling of Mom’s Favorite Recipes’ that included golden fried chicken, tender pot roast, traditional meatloaf and all the fixings.  He voted 50’s Prime Time Café the best meal we enjoyed during our January 2017 trip.

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Try the vegetable lasagna, sustainable fish or the Caesar salad with chicken or salmon.

Kid’s meals include turkey meatloaf, baked chicken, meatless meatballs, mac-n-cheese, pot roast sandwich and fresh fruit.

Yummy old school desserts include warm apple crisp, a delicious pineapple upside down cake (My FAV!), ice cream sundaes and my kids (ages 23, 12 and 11) loved the PB & J milkshake!

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Familiar drinks and beverages are served, but there are also flavored sodas, like Coca Cola with vanilla or cherry!  Don’t forget to order a root beer float!

Classic 1950’s cocktails are available–Mowie Wowie, Grandma’s Picnic Punch, Long Island Iced Tea and a chocolate martini, to name a few.  There is a full bar with wine, craft and draft beers.  The Tune-In Lounge is next door and serves the same menu in a 1950’s vintage bar setting.

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The banter between the servers and the diners is just as entertaining as the delightful environment.  Just like momma always said, the waitstaff will yell, “Elbows off the table!” and “Eat all of your veggies!”  Our waiter sternly told my son, “No toys at the table!” when my son was checking his phone.  LOL.

If you eat everything on your plate, you might receive a “clean plate club” sticker.  My husband laughed at the sticker and in conversation, mentioned how he would love to give the sticker to his dad.  Our server overheard us and came around the corner with a roll of extra “clean plate club” stickers, which we gave to my father-in-law when we returned to Texas.

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50’s Prime Time Café is our favorite restaurant inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The remarkable theming is second-to-none and the service has always been outstanding.  Eating at this super fun restaurant is a chance to step back in time and experience a splendid, by-gone era, while enjoying some delicious and old-fashion home cooking.


 

Yes, lunch and dinner menus are identical.

Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Dinner is served 3:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Operating hours for all Disney restaurants can change due to seasonal crowd levels and refurbishments.

Dress is casual.

A theme park ticket is required to dine at 50’s Prime Time Café.  The restaurant is inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios and remember, any restaurant inside a Disney theme park requires a ticket for entrance into that specific park.

To travel to 50’s Prime Time Café, take any Disney transportation to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park.  Parking is also available in the Disney Hollywood Studios parking lot for a fee.  Walking from the park entrance, the restaurant is near Echo Lake on the left.

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) are highly recommended and can be made directly on the Disney website, through the My Disney Experience app on a smart phone or by calling 407-939-3463.

Current and full menus for every Walt Disney World restaurant can be found on the Disney website.  Click on “Things to do”, then click on “All Dining”.  Every restaurant is listed alphabetically.  Click on the name of the restaurant and then click on “View Menu” off to the right of the middle photograph.

50’s Prime Time Café accepts the Disney dining plan.

Both lunch and dinner are 1 table service credit on the dining plan.

Click here to find out if the Disney dining plan is right for your next vacation!

If you only learn one thing from my blog posts, I hope it is the fact that Disney changes every day.  That is exactly why Disney is so popular–there is ALWAYS something new for junkies like me to experience!  It is also why I always say everything is subject to change.

Overwhelmed with planning a Disney vacation?  Click here and learn everything you need to know!

To read about how I save money on every Disney vacation, click here.

Want to know which restaurant is our fav in Magic Kingdom?  Click here!


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A Review of Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen Restaurant

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Step into Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen, where the Jungle Cruise crew serves up hilarious corny jokes, silly idioms and entertaining puns along side some creative and unique food.

Casually called Skipper Canteen, the entertaining outpost restaurant is located deep inside the jungles of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Adventureland.

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An outdoor pavilion welcomes diners with an island vacation flair, showcasing comfortable wicker chairs, green shutters and a beautiful glass ceiling with cooling fans.

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Three uniquely themed rooms with quirky, British outpost decorations create a quiet escape from the theme park crowds.  The Crew’s Mess Hall is the largest dining area.  There is also a Jungle Room and the S.E.A. room–the secret meeting place for the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.

Take a minute and check out each room–there are some silly and interesting finds!

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Walls are decorated with artifacts, sculptures, maps, photographs, masks and baskets collected from many high adventure explorations of the world’s tropical jungles.

Muted, but colorful, the walls and moldings are painted to look like worn wood and fresco-style plaster, with plenty of shutters and exotic travel details.

Tables are comfortably spaced and can accommodate large parties or small intimate couples.  Seating is mostly cushioned chairs, but there are a few tables with one-sided, fabric-lined, booth seating.

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The restaurant servers are rusty, I mean, trusty skippers ‘taking a break’ from narrating tongue-in-cheek tours aboard Disney’s light-hearted Jungle Cruise expeditions.  Clever jokes and silly puns create a fun and entertaining interaction between diners and servers.

A creative, wandering menu, fusing exotic flavors of South American, Asian, Latin, and African spices and cuisines, represents the rivers visited on a Jungle Cruise journey:  The Amazon, African Congo, Nile and Mekong River.

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Skipper Canteen servers both lunch and dinner and the menus for these two meals are identical.

Appetizers include Baladi Salad, an Egyptian creation made with Romaine lettuce, red peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and parsley served with coriander mint vinaigrette and Ambasha bread croutons.

Though the portion was too small, I enjoyed the Falls Family Falafel made with chickpeas, garlic, onion, lemon juice and herbs served with white bean dip and a tomato and cucumber salad.  Try the Orinoco Ida’s Cachapas, which is corn pancakes, mojo-braised pork, black bean salad served with an avocado cream.

Entrees include Char Siu Pork served with Chinese broccoli and jasmine rice, noodle bowl with chicken, lamb chops and a sustainable fish option.

My daughter liked Skips Beefy Baked Pasta, an Egyptian dish with spiced braised beef, pasta, cheese and Béchamel sauce served with seasonable vegetables.

We also recommend the Curried Vegetable Crew Stew, served with coconut rice and seasonal vegetables.

Kid’s meals include sustainable fish, grilled flank steak, mac-n-cheese, chicken and fresh fruit.

Desserts are the artistic showstoppers at this Magic Kingdom restaurant.  The coconut bar with pineapple basil compote, vanilla ice cream, vanilla chiffon cake with coconut lime, white chocolate ganache was delicious and probably the reason we will return.

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The Kungaloosh is an African inspired chocolate cake with caramelized bananas, cashew caramel ice cream, topped with coffee dush.  Our favorite part was the cashew ice cream.

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Traditional sodas and teas are served as well as coffee, espresso, cappuccino and lattes.

Skipper Canteen also serves a few select beer and wines.

The bold menu also offers fun non-alcoholic beverages, like exotic Coca Cola Guarana Kuat from Brazil and Fanta Melon Frosty from Thailand.

Yes, lunch and dinner menus are identical.

Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 2:55 p.m.

Dinner is served 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Operating hours for all Disney restaurants can change due to seasonal crowd levels and refurbishments.

Family-friendly, tongue-in-cheek narration mixed with clever jokes from the skippers makes this a fun and light-hearted restaurant.

The food plays second fiddle to the fun interactions with the servers.

Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen was very clean and the service was top-notch.  Though the food was original and bold, there wasn’t anything we desire to eat again, except the coconut bar dessert.  The food was underwhelming.

The ambiance is relaxing and since this is not a character meal, it is a peaceful escape from the chaos and crowds outside.

Skipper Canteen is a must for die-hard Jungle Cruise fans.

Dress is casual.

A theme park ticket is required to dine at Skipper Canteen.  The restaurant is inside the Magic Kingdom and remember, any restaurant inside a Disney theme park requires a ticket for entrance into that specific park.

To travel to Skipper Canteen, take any Disney transportation to Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park.  Enter the park and take a left before the castle and head towards Adventureland.  The restaurant will be on your right.

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) are highly recommended and can be made directly on the Disney website, through the My Disney Experience app on a smart phone or by calling 407-939-3463.

Current and full menus for every Walt Disney World restaurant can be found on the Disney website.  Click on “Things to do”, then click on “All Dining”.  Every restaurant is listed alphabetically.  Click on the name of the restaurant and then click on “View Menu” off to the right of the middle photograph.

Skipper Canteen accepts the Disney dining plan.

Both lunch and dinner are 1 table service credit on the dining plan.

Click here to find out if the Disney dining plan is right for your next vacation!

If you only learn one thing from my blog posts, I hope it is the fact that Disney changes every day.  That is exactly why Disney is so popular–there is ALWAYS something new for junkies like me to experience!  It is also why I always say everything is subject to change.

Overwhelmed by the planning process of a Disney vacation?  Don’t worry!  I am here to help!  Click here to learn how to plan a WDW vacation like a total pro!

Click here for a list of all character meals at Walt Disney World.

 


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Chihuly Collection At The Morean Arts Center

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Dale Chihuly is a world -renowned, American glass blowing artist.  Born on September 20, 1941, in Tacoma, Washington, Chihuly’s large scale, contemporary creations are unique and inventive.  His breathtaking environmental art and gravity defying installations create a sense of wonder and amazement.

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Within the Central Arts District of downtown St. Petersburg, the Morean Arts Center includes a building designed specifically to display a permanent collection of Dale Chihuly’s glass creations.

We visited this amazing exhibit in December of 2016.

The Morean Arts Center is free to the public and showcases the work of local artists.  Across Central Avenue is the spectacular building containing the Chihuly permanent collection.  To view the Chihuly collection, buy tickets online or inside the Chihuly building.  Tickets are $19.95.

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As a pioneer in the artistic glass movement, Dale Chihuly is creating stunning, fragile artwork completely made using different glass blowing techniques.  His sculptures range from enormous, complex outdoor installations to ornate and breathtaking colorful bowls.

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Because this is a permanent exhibit, the architecture of the building and the glass pieces were designed to work in harmony, creating an unique visual journey and a peaceful experience for visitors.  The intricate and very deliberate placement of lighting showcases and highlights the dancing colors and delicate artwork.  It is purely breathtaking.

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We spent at least 2 hours enjoying the collection and near the exit, we found a Dale Chihuly biographical movie playing in a small theater with benches for seating.  The film was a little long, but very informative and worth the extra time.  My daughters studied Chihuly several months before our vacation, but learned quite a bit more from the movie at the museum.

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My family and I were completely mesmerized by the glass work of Dale Chihuly.  If you find yourself near St. Petersburg, put this museum on your “Must-Do” itinerary.

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The Morean Arts Center is located at 719 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701.

It is free and open to the public.

Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Sunday 12:00 noon-5:00 p.m.

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The Chihuly Collection is located at 720 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701.  The main website is www.moreanartscenter.org  For more information, call 727-822-7872.

Ticket prices are $19.95 per adult and include entry into the Chihuly Collection, The Morean Arts Center, live glass blowing demonstrations at the Hot Shop and docent lead tours Monday-Friday.

Senior, military and student discounts are available.

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If you love the beautiful glass work created by Dale Chihuly, check out this post to find out how you can experience glass blowing and make your own piece of artwork, right across the street from the Chihuly Collection!


Click here to read about the Dali Museum is St. Petersburg, Florida.


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How I Save Money On Every Disney Vacation

Let’s just face it–a trip to Walt Disney World can be crazy expensive.  Most families save and save and save to make a Disney vacation possible.

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Is it worth it?

YES!

Is it expensive?

It can be.

But, don’t fret–I am here to help!

There are a few ways to save a little here and there…and every little bit helps, right?

Ask yourself these questions before you start planning–click here.

To learn how to plan a Disney vacation like a pro, click here.

Confused by the 2017 Disney dining plan?  No worries.  Click here.

Get out your spiral notebook and take notes, my friends.

These are all great ways to save some $$ on your next Walt Disney World vacation.

  • Be flexible with travel dates.  The greatest savings on a vacation to Walt Disney World can be found in the travel dates.  Peak travel times (like Christmas, other holidays and summer) will produce the highest prices for Disney resorts, dining and plane tickets.  Plus, crowd levels can get out of control.  Consider booking during slower weeks, when on-property resort prices can drop by 35%-40%.

 

  • The magic of a Disney pin code.  With no rhyme or reason, a pin code (think promo code) can magically show up via email or snail mail.  Pin codes are exclusively linked to your name–you can not pass it along to your Aunt Sally or best friend Jen.  And, no one is quite sure how to get one sent…but, I do have suggestions.  My pin codes appear after I excessively snoop around the Disney website.  (That’s like every day!  HA!)  But, seriously…I suggest you create a free My Disney Experience account on the Disney website (There is an app, too!) and then log in every time you visit the website, even if you are just playing around.  Visit regularly.  Visit often.  You can also request to have a free planning DVD sent to your home address.  If Disney knows you are interested and thinking of a WDW vacation, a pin code just might be the incentive you need to book a trip.  ***Make sure your email address and mailing address are correct.

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  • Disney Credit Cards.  Chase offers 2 kinds of Disney credit cards and the offers attached to those cards change regularly, so check it out for yourself and see what is current.  Traditionally, this is what I have come across:  Card #1 has no annual fee, $50 statement credit after the first purchase and 1% back in Disney reward dollars.  Card #2 has a $49 annual fee, $200 statement credit if $500 is spent in the first 3 months and 2% back in Disney reward dollars for gas, grocery, restaurants, most Disney locations and 1% back in Disney reward dollars on all other purchases.  The Disney reward dollars are transferred to a Disney gift card (transfer online once you have at least $10 in rewards).  The Disney gift cards can then be used to pay for all things Disney–resort, tickets, dining or souvenirs!  ***I do not love credit cards, BUT…if you promise to pay it off each month, I think this is a great way to save a little towards a Disney vacation.  I put all of our reoccurring monthly charges (that were originally coming from our bank account) on the Disney credit card–i.e. orthodontist, electricity, Taekwondo–and we don’t use the credit card for anything else.

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  • Disney Savings Account.  Google Disney Vacation Account. It is a free, online savings account.  It takes about 10 minutes to set it up.  Enter a possible vacation date and how much $$$ you want to save and it will calculate how much needs to be deposited.  You can choose how often and where the withdraws originate (think about using the Disney credit card to get more rewards).  You can change everything at anytime.  For every $1000 from the savings account that is used towards a Disney vacation, Disney will send you a $20 Disney gift card.  I know it isn’t much. Bummer.  But, if you are spending several $1000 anyway, why not get $20, $40, $60 or more???  One-time deposits can also be made through bank accounts or by entering Disney gift card numbers.  Money can be withdrawn at anytime and will be refunded in the same manner in which it was deposited with no penalties.  When it comes time to pay for your vacation, there is an option to use a Disney savings account on the check out page on the Disney website.  More detailed information can be found on the actual Disney Vacation Account site.

 

  •  Discount Warehouse Shopping.  Sam’s Warehouse and Costco occasionally offer Disney gift cards at a discount.  Last Christmas, I was able to purchase $500 Disney gift cards for $476.  Check often and check online.

 

 

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  • My Savings Plan.  ***This is how I use the above suggestions.  Stick with me…it is slightly confusing, but I will do my best to accurately describe my plan.  I use my Disney credit card (the one that gets 2% back on groceries) to purchase the discounted Disney gift cards from Sam’s Warehouse.  Then, I enter the gift card numbers as a deposit into my Disney savings account.  Eventually, I use the savings account to pay for our Disney vacation, hopefully during a non-peak period and with a pin code.  It doesn’t always work out that way, but it sure is nice when it does!

 

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Other Ways to Save $$$:

  • Target Red Card.  I read a lot of talk online about the Target Red Card and Disney gift cards.  Honestly, I do not have a Target Red Card.  But, I do know Disney lovers use the Target Red Card to purchase Disney gift cards and get 5% off.  Suggestion:  Try to purchase the gift cards with some other items–I have read it doesn’t always work if you purchase the cards alone.  Let me know about your experience!

 

  • Presents and Gifts.  Ask for Disney gift cards for your next birthday/anniversary/holiday.  Put Disney gift cards in Christmas stockings or Easter baskets to be used during an upcoming vacation.  I write my children’s names on the back of the cards with a Sharpie marker and put all of them in a baggie during the year…and when our vacation finally arrives, we total the amounts and each child knows how much they have to spend on souvenirs–before we even leave!

 

  • An Extra $25.  Pick up a $25 Disney gift card each time you go grocery shopping and just throw all of them in a baggie (to pay for meals or souvenirs) or use the cards to make deposits into your new Disney savings account.

 

  • Stop Eating Out.  Ok.  Ok.  Yes, we eat out too much!  I do a great job of cooking at home for awhile, but then…well…life…  So, we try to only eat at home for the months or weeks leading up to our Disney vacation.  It really does make a difference!

 

  • Garage Sale.  Seriously.  Go through your junk and host a garage sale.  Use the proceeds to make a deposit into the Disney savings account or buy Disney gift cards with your loot!

 

  • Money Jar.  Start a collection jar for loose change and coins.  Collect coins from every empty purse, car console, couch, junk drawer and school backpack!  Get everyone involved and watch those coins stack up!  When the jar is full, have the kids count it all out or use one of those change counting machines.  Turn the money into a Disney gift card for souvenirs!

 

  • Water and Snacks.  Take bottled water and snacks into the Disney theme parks.  Empty water bottles can be filled at water fountains and cups of ice water are free at every quick service restaurant.  Save $$ by carrying a backpack with snacks and meals for your family.  Lockers are also available for storing a soft cooler or bag.  If you drive your own vehicle, leave a large cooler in the car and go to the parking lot for a mid-day picnic!

 

  • Buy Souvenirs at Home.  Disney themed everything can be found everywhere!  Save some serious $$ by purchasing Disney items BEFORE you enter the parks!  Stash the goodies and surprise the kids with “souvenirs” each day.  I call it ‘The Disney Fairy”.  Once you are in Orlando, the Walmart Supercenter and the Disney Warehouse outlet store are also fabulous places to visit for discounted souvenirs!

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Everyone likes to save $$$.  And we all love Disney!  So, saving $$ on a Disney vacation is a win-win situation!

I hope you guys can use some of these money $$ saving ideas–Share your own Disney saving ideas below!

Best places to purchase cool Disney shirts?  Click here!

For a list of every character meal at Disney, click here!

 

 


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The Museum Of The Great Plains

Tucked away in the sleepy town of Lawton, Oklahoma, is a surprisingly impressive and highly interactive museum bursting with exhibits dedicated to the Great Plains of the United States.

My family and I found this showpiece completely by happy accident.  While searching for the Comanche National Museum, our GPS told us to drive through an empty parking lot first.  It was the parking lot of this museum.

We decided to stop and check it out.

We are so smart!

If you are headed to or through Lawton, Oklahoma…put this museum on your itinerary.

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Welcome to the Museum of the Great Plains.

The Museum of the Great Plains officially opened in 1961 and a massive 25,000 square feet of space was added in 1997, including a foyer and gift shop.  We were told the main museum was recently renovated when we visited in 2016.  The museum was very clean, well organized and one of the most interesting museums my family has ever visited.

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The Museum of the Great Plains is a top-notch, hands-on history museum, focusing on the diverse cultures and inhabitants of the Great Plains.  It celebrates the enormous area located in the interior of North America between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, spanning the vast land separating Mexico and Canada.

Nods to the past, present and future, with a dash of Oklahoma history fill the immense, educational space.  The museum website suggests at least an hour for the self-guided tour, but we were there all day (and could have stayed longer!)

 

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An excellent tornado disaster-themed theater showcases a realistic tornado cellar, simulated storm and video clips from Terrible Tuesday, which was a catastrophic tornado outbreak in 1979 that destroyed Wichita Falls and the Red River Valley.

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A large, life-size bison replica allows visitors to remove various organs from the guts and learn the different ways hunters used 100% of the animal.  Did you know that 87 non-food uses for buffalo have been documented?
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Many interactive exhibits encourage visitors to take a step back in time and experience the Great Plains in practical, every day settings.  Several teepee dwellings, canvas shelters and covered wagons are completely accessible to visitors, creating tangible connections to the past.

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An authentic mammoth dig site provides tools and an active environment for fossil discovery.

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“Exploring the human history of the Great Plains” is the museum’s motto and is best represented by the fantastically realistic general store.  Every item found inside could be moved, used, bought and sold during creative and imaginative play.  It was historically accurate and surprisingly entertaining.

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A captivating leather stamping exhibit teaches visitors how to wet and properly stamp leather disks, which can be taken home as souvenirs.  The leather workshop is equipped for live demonstrations, but there was not one scheduled for the day we visited.

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An enormous printing press artifact sits in the corner of an interactive newspaper print shop, where visitors are encouraged to choose printing blocks to create a visually pleasing newspaper front page by designing the layout and presentation of information.

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My girls enjoyed the simulated calf roping exhibit, where they learned to handle the rope, practiced proper placement of the swinging arm and worked on perfecting the correct time for the release.

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Encased in clear display stands, artifacts sprinkle the museum landscape between the multitudes of interactive exhibits.  Informational postings explain and describe the objects in simple concepts and details.

The crowning jewel of this unexpectedly remarkable museum is the 1830’s trading post and fort we discovered outside.

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Within the knobby log walls of this genuine trading post, we uncovered a fully-stocked supply building with several pioneer history buffs dressed in period clothing, reenacting the day-to-day events of the early 1800’s.  The men and women were knowledgeable and passionate and taught my girls to make fire with forged tools.  We spent at least 3 hours enjoying the outdoor grounds, reenactors and displays.

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The Intermodal Transportation Center can be found outside near the trading post.  A large train engine and multiple farm equipment machines are on display near a replica depot.  Unfortunately, the center was closed by the time we finished touring the outdoor trading post.  However, we were able to walk around and view a few of the items parked outside.

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The entire Great Plains Museum provides an educational journey through the history and activities of the people living and working in the Great Plains.  Every exhibit is authentic, interactive, educational and hands-on.

My daughters were 10 and 11 at the time of our visit and they greatly enjoyed this museum.

 

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The Museum of the Great Plains is located at 601 NW Ferris Avenue, Lawton, OK, 73507.  It is inside Elmer Thomas Park, beside McMahon Auditorium and The Comanche National Museum.  Call directly at 580-581-3460 or visit their website at www.discovermgp.org.

Hours of operation:

Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Fees:

Free:  Visitors ages 2 and younger

$8:  Visitors ages 3-12

$10:  Visitors ages 13+

$9:  Visitors with a military ID card

$9: Visitors ages 62+

Free:  Museum members

 

Are you curious about homeschooling?  Click here to read about the top 5 reasons we homeschool our daughters.

 

 


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Why Is Disney World So Important To My Family?

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Obviously, we love Walt Disney World.  I know I mentioned that my parents took me and my sisters there countless times.  And, I will admit, in the beginning of my own parenting journey, I took my children to Disney purely for the memories and nostalgia factor.

But, somewhere between 2011 and 2014, our family Disney vacations began to evolve and our time in the theme parks started to represent something even more powerful than pure entertainment.

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50’s Prime Time is my youngest daughter’s favorite restaurant because she loves the history and culture of the 1940’s and 1950’s. 

 

It is as simple as this:

My profoundly gifted daughters can be themselves at Disney.

 

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My youngest, driving like a crazy person

 

They can act their chronological age and their mental age at the exact same time, without constantly being self conscious.

And, Disney has become our escape…An escape from our extreme lives.

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Day-to-day, my daughters have to exist in an extreme dichotomy of situations and they constantly have to choose which “version” of themselves to represent.

There is the college student version:  Responsible.  Mature.  Studious.  Goal oriented.  Attentive.  Serious.

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And, then there are the little girl versions…who still enjoy playing with Barbie dolls, sleep with stuffed animals and splash about in swimming pools.

A child-like calmness washes over my daughters when they step onto Main Street, USA.  Instead of college students, they are innocent children ready to tackle Splash Mountain!

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It is a surprising, odd and interesting phenomenon.

The simple joys of Walt Disney World rejuvenate their spirits and relaxes their chaotic brains.  Honestly, it does the exact same thing for me.

My family can enjoy a 5 hour, 10 course dinner at Victoria and Albert’s, learn about hydroponic farming during the Behind The Seeds Tour, study marine life for hours at the Epcot aquarium and giggle uncontrollably while spinning the tea cups inside Magic Kingdom…All in one day, if we choose.

Disney is the perfect balance of everything my family needs.

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Victoria and Albert’s.  December.  2016.

 

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The joy of the tea cups!

 

 

It is freeing and playful.  It is educational, historical and cultural.  It is beautiful and majestic.

There is no other place like it.

 

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Do you want to learn how to plan a Walt Disney World vacation like a pro?  Click here.

Confused about the Disney dining plan?  Click here.

For a list of all character dining meals available at Walt Disney World, click here.