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Behind the Scenes of Disney On Ice Mickey's Search Party


I received an advanced behind-the-scenes look at Disney On Ice's newest production, Mickey’s Search Party. It's called a "search party," because Mickey and the gang follow clues to help release Tinker Bell's fairy powers. The cast even calls out to the crowd asking for advice and answers. It's pretty cute seeing the kids jump out of their seat in order to lend a hand.


New Technology

While I've been to four previous Disney on Ice shows, this is by far the MOST stunning. It combines interactive audience elements, new technology, and high flying circus-like acrobatics.

Disney On Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party extends the performance space beyond the ice surface to better engage and interact with the audience on a new, transformative level. Executive Producer Nicole Feld explains that the ice gives them a large white canvas to work on, and this production takes advantage of it. Projection mapping visually immerses and transports guests to each of the magical worlds of the Disney stories, using 12 projectors and approximately 31,000 Lumens equaling about 186 classroom projectors.

High flying action with skates on!


New characters come out to skate too!
 


There are approximately 45 performers in the production and a total of 40 Disney characters featured. Plus songs from Moana and Disney Pixar's Coco, along with Classics like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, Aladdin and Frozen! Plus, of course, the fab five and Tinker Bell and Captain Hook!

Maui from Disney's Moana joins Disney on Ice - You're Welcome!
This combination of new films mixed with beloved favorites will help to keep both kids and adults riveted. Also, it's a perfect balance of Princess and action ideal for both boys and girls alike.

Disney on Ice Mickey's Search Party Behind-the-Scenes Look and Tips

Arrive Early! 


You don't have to wait until showtime to see the Disney magic. There is a preshow of sorts featuring Pirates and Tinker Bell.

Where to Sit 


Sit higher up in the cheap seats to see all of the lighting effects, however, if you'd like your children to interact more with the performers, try sitting close on either stage left or right. During the Coco segment, performers dressed like sugar skull skeletons and using a "sway poll" they practically fly over the heads of the audience, causing several gasps. It's really cool.

Disney On Ice rehearsal, performer using the Sway Poll
Also, during the Toy Story portion, the iconic Pixar ball gets thrown out into the stands to be tossed around. I actually had the chance to hit it back to the cast, so cool! Plus, if you're lower you'll also get snowed on during Frozen.

What to Wear


Your Disney gear obviously, but have your children wear something white or neon that will glow under the black light during the Coco section for added enjoyment. You might also want to order a light up wand ahead of time to bring with you too, but they can be purchased from the vendors at the stadium too.

Save Money on Tickets

Disney on Ice Mickey's Search Party will be coming to Southwest Florida at Germain Arena in Estero Sept. 21-23. Tickets start at $20 and are available online at DisneyOnIce.com, at the Germain Arena box office or by calling 800-745-3000. Get your tickets now!

Use code FTMMY18 for a $15 flat ticket price in lower level areas. Valid on all performances, on select price levels. Go through the checkout process and on the third step of the ticket purchase page, there’s a box in the upper right corner under the banner to enter the coupon code.

Read on for more tips for attending Disney on Ice with Toddlers


Tips for Taking Kids to Disney on Ice for the First Time

Disclosure: I am a Feld Entertainment Blogger Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and other exclusive opportunities.
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Guide to the Instagram Walls of Disney World


No Fear of Missing Out Here!

Sure, it's fun to find the hidden Mickey's throughout the park, but how about the Disney Walls? I brought different changes of clothes and went on the hunt during my last trip.

What are Disney Walls? Disney fans with an Instagram account know the must-have shot at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom isn’t in front of the castle, but in front of these walls.

Each Disney park has their own photo wall standouts. Go find them all!

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How to Have a Great Staycation

It’s fun being a tourist in your own town sometimes. Before school started for my boys, we spent some quality fun time together during an overnight getaway at IHG Staybridge Suites in Naples, which is only twenty minutes away from our home.

Sure, "staycation" is a buzzword and I was skeptical, but after experiencing one, I'm so down. It's great to check out without having to incur the extra expense of traveling far. And forget an Air B&B when you can have all the conveniences and amenities of a suite and a hotel. In fact, I didn't want to leave and go back to reality.
Staycation Guide and Hotel Review: Staybridge Suites Naples Gulf Coast, Florida

What works for Families and Staycations at Staybridge Suites Naples :

  • Large suites, all with full kitchens are ideal for families. Our two-bedroom suite had a patio with direct pool access, so I was able to watch my boys swim from a private lounge chair in the shade, while sipping a pina colada.

  • Complimentary breakfast each morning with kid-friendly options too, plus juice and coffee.
  • Location! Although not on the beach, but US-41, you're very close and can walk to Waterside Shops or take a short ride to Downtown Naples' 5th Avenue and the Naples Pier.
  • Tiki Bar by the pool. Kids can spend the entire time splashing and you can be sipping, thus a win/win for families ;)

  • Free Social Hour! WHAT? Yup! Starting at 5:30 p.m. out at the Tiki Bar, just flash your room key and receive a glass of wine or beer on draft at no fee. Be sure and tip the friendly bartender of course. My husband had a stout and I called a Cab, Cabernet that is! 
  • Appetizers in the Lobby - besides the generous glass of red wine, they have appetizers and snacks in the lobby in the evening. The evening that we stayed, the hotel had yummy grilled cheese, salad, and tomato soup available for guests. My boys loved it so much that we ended up going light on dinner after.
  • Bicycles are available to rent at this Naples hotel.
  • Parking is also free (I always hate that additional expense). 
  • Fitness Center - it's not grand but has everything you need. I also loved having it to myself at night and even turned the volume up and channel to Twilight. This wellness me time was really appreciated. 
  • DVD library The lobby has a catalog of complimentary movies available, you just need to put down a $10 deposit, which you get back once the disc is returned. And yes, there are DVD players in your room. After the kids had a bath, we watched Muppets in Space that evening together. 

Tips for a Great Staycation - act like a tourist in your own city. Load up the car like you can't go back home again (wine, pool noodles, etc.)

Tips for a Great Staycation:


  • Pack like you can't easily go home. Go big, so you don't have to go back home, lol. After all, you're driving, so load that trunk up. I even tossed in our pool noodles for the boys. The key is to make this stay your temporary home away from home, but without having to clean up after. *sigh*
  • Go overboard on wine and snacks. The wine to unwind and the snacks to indulge. Again, you don't have to worry about oz counts for flying! And whatever you don't finish you can bring back with you - nothing wasted. 
  • Act like a tourist in your own city. Go do something that all the visitors do, but you either haven't or hardly ever take advantage of. We went to the Naples Botanical Garden for the first time after living here for four years and it was beautiful. If you need ideas, look through the pamphlets in the lobby.
  • Relax! After all, tomorrow is another day. Sure, you're still close to home, but pretend you're much further away. Don't think about money or what needs to be done after you get back, just chill! This is your staycation vacation! 
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Top things to do during your Tanzanian family holidays


National Parks & Animal Viewing

Tanzania is a large country, and over 38% of its surface is dedicated to wildlife protection in its 16 national parks. Yes, 16! It is also home to the Serengeti where thousands of wildebeest make their annual journey to the waters of Lake Victoria. Considered to be the prime wildlife spot in Africa, this is definitely the best way to spend your holiday in Tanzania with the family.

From the Ruaha National Park to the Ngorongoro National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, there is a lot to choose from and it might take some planning, especially if you want to include more than one destination.

In most of the national parks you can spot the African big five: elephant, buffalo, rhino, lion, and leopard. There is also rare game like the black and white rhino, the African wild dog, sable and gerenuks. Among the fauna, Tanzania is home to over 1 000 different species of birds that nest along the shores of the many rivers and lakes, including flamingos in the Ngorongoro National Park where over 70% of the world’s population of flamingos come from.

Most of the national parks are accessible by vehicle and make for great game viewing in the dry season between June and November. During the wet seasons from December to April, you can experience boating safaris for a closer look at the hippos, crocodiles and birds that live on the shores.

A post shared by Fallon Rechnitz (@fallonjr) on

The natural plant growth in Tanzania is also something to behold. With acacia trees, baobabs, palm trees and many smaller shrubs and bushes, the tropical plant growth near the Ngorongoro National Park and Arusha, and the incredible site of “God’s Garden” where hundreds of different flowers bloom during September in the Kitulo National Park, every family member will be satisfied with these natural sites.

Camping

A great family activity is ‘roughing it’ in one of the world-class parks in a tent. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for kids to experience wildlife like never before. There are many wonderful guides that will make sure you are safe and comfortable, and you get to enjoy Africa up close and personal. There is nothing like sitting around a campfire at night, listening to the sounds of the bush with a lion’s roar a few kilometers away.

Hot air balloon rides

If you have done a safari drive, the nature walk, and the camping, another way for the family to see some of the amazing wildlife in Tanzania is to take a hot air balloon ride. Basically, it's like riding on Sorin Around the World at Epcot and going over the savannah, but the real thing, lol. 

In the Serengeti and Tarangire National Parks, you have the opportunity to see Africa from a bird’s eye view. The balloon takes off early in the morning, just as the sun rises and you spend the next hour drifting with the wind over the plains where hundreds of animals do not even realize you are looking at them. After the balloon ride, there is a big breakfast with champagne or fruit juice for the kids.

Beach holiday and water activities

Be sure to include a visit to the coast on your trip to Tanzania. You will love the relaxed atmosphere on the sandy beaches, and the kids will love the warm Indian Ocean with its calm waves and coral reefs. There are many spots along the coast, including places like Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam, where you can dive or snorkel, or enjoy other water activities like fishing, canoeing, water skiing, and many more. One of the best sites to visit is the famous Zanzibar islands. Though it is accessible by plane, there is also a ferry that travels between the city of Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

There are a couple of islands in the Zanzibar Archipelago, some quieter than the rest. The main island, Unguja, is home to the Old Stone Town, large spice plantations, slave trading stations and caves where escaped slaves used to hide. There are also many isolated beaches, coves and lagoons to explore.

Cultural tours

Tanzania is home to over 120 different tribes, some of which have inhabited Tanzania for over 2,000 years including the Hadzabe and Datoga. These tribes still live exactly like they did when Europeans first settled in Tanzania, and they offer you tours of their villages. On these tours, you will learn how they hunt, make weapons, build houses, collect food and hear some of their oral histories.

The Maasai tribe that lives in the Ngorongoro National Park also offers tours of their villages, and the colorful clothing they wear is representative of their colorful culture with art, music, and dance being a central part of it. This is a great opportunity for kids to see how other people live. There are also a couple of ancient sites that show how humankind progressed through evolution, and they are quite educational.

Climbing

If you are a family that enjoys an adventure, consider climbing Mount Meru near Arusha. Or if you seek more of a thrill, dare to climb the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro. There are a couple of routes to choose from, and it is a big feat to be able to say you climbed the mighty Kilimanjaro in five days.
Lake Tanganyika

If you like tropical weather and hiking, Lake Tanganyika has lots to offer. From Kigoma you can take a boat to the Gombe National Park, well known for the research of Jane Goodall. This park and the Mahale Mountains National Park are some of the only places in Africa where wild chimpanzees and other primates still live undisturbed, protected from predators and poachers by mountains and valleys. Both these parks are only accessible by boat, and there are no roads meaning you get to hike through them to track the chimps.

Lake Tanganyika, the longest lake in the world also offers beautiful beaches, water activities like snorkeling and the cool waters is great to swim and relax in. This lake is home to fish colorful fish species that can be found nowhere else on earth and makes for a great holiday destination.

More Tips for Traveling to Tanzania with Kids




Top things to do on a Tanzanian family trip




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5 Unplugged STEM Travel Toys for Younger Boys & Girls

We've been doing a lot of road trips this summer and now that we no longer have a minivan (holla! 🙌) we need to work harder to keep the boys entertained during our rides.

While it's easier and quieter to just hand them an iPad and headphones, it's not exactly the unplugged and engaged family trip that we had growing up. Plus, you know STEM and combatting Summer Brain Drain and all those buzzwords that make me feel guilty and stressed, lol.

Along with tons of snacks and limited water (fewer bathroom breaks), I've been packing the following travel toys for my boys. Bonus, they won't dirty your car and kids love them too! Win/win.

5 Unplugged Travel Toys for Younger Boys and Girls

Unplugged STEAM Travel Toys for Kids Ages 3 to 10


BRIO Take Along Labyrinth

Almost like a video game, but not, younger children can play with this portable marble labyrinth by themselves or take turns with their sibling and friends. Warning: dad will likely want a turn too, lol! It requires concentration, dexterity and is surprisingly addictive. The Take Along Labyrinth is two-sided and completely sealed, making it especially ideal for travel. It's also lightweight, durable and quality made. Ages 3+

Hasbro Connect 4  & ThinkFun Stratos Spheres Game - 

If you have more than one child, the family favorite Connect 4 Grab and Go Travel Size Game can have them playing nice together for awhile or at least the best out of three. Better yet if there is a rematch!

If you want to take the classic game to another level though, try Statos Spheres, the perfect game for your lower elementary aged children. Work on visual-spatial skills while creating a 3D game from the classic connect four game. Builds logic skills, visual perception and strategy. With no game board and game-go bag, it's perfect for travel.


Kid O Magnatab 

The Magnatab is a wonderful learning tool that provides an immersive, early writing lesson. While my boys know and can write their ABC's their penmanship needs work (I should talk! lol) especially lower case letters. Following the directional arrows, kids can use the magnetized pen to trace over the letters or numbers and the beads will pop to the surface with an audible click revealing the shape. They can do this over and over again too, by pressing the balls back down with their fingers and start over. The balls are completely self-contained and stay securely in the board, so great for travel too.  There are three different boards available - upper case letters, lower case letters and numbers.

Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! 

It's watercolor painting without the mess! Kids simply trace over the thick pages with their water-filled brush and suddenly color is revealed with each stroke. Eventually, it fades once dry and kids can start to color all over again. This is a favorite travel toy for Logan who especially enjoys coloring and arts and crafts. The only problem is sometimes the water will leak from the pen and you also have to remember to fill the brush with water at some point, but it only holds a little amount, so the leaking is minimal and you can refill at any water fountain or bathroom sink along the way. 
Water Wow Reusable Coloring Toy for kids traveling 


Crayola Color Wonder Coloring Pad & Markers 

Don't worry, color wonder markers work only on special paper and will not stain your child's clothes, fingers, car seat or your car either. Phew! It's more coloring fun without the mess. However, once these pages are filled in, you can NOT reuse them. The markers will work on other Color Wonder pages though and most packs provide numerous pages that end up lasting us both legs of our journey. They also sell blank pages where kids can draw whatever they want instead of just using a coloring book.

Stomp Rockets

I know this doesn't sound like it would do well for traveling, but the stand folds up and the rockets are foam, so it's all very lightweight. Perfect for a camping trip to provide outdoor, unplugged, group fun. I especially love that it gets my boys playing together and outside. Plus, children can learn through play with concepts like trajectory, wind, force, and aerodynamics at work. You can also get the accompanying Stompin' Science book with cool STEM experiments and information that you can do with your rockets. Ages 5+ (parents will have fun with this toy too). 


More Travel STEM Ideas for Kids 8+





Disclaimer: The above post contains Amazon affiliate links. I also received the BRIO Labyrinth, Stomp Rockets and Water Wow pads gratis for an honest review and coverage consideration. 
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Customizing your dream closet

Mr. Big: We're getting married. Should we get you a diamond?
Carrie: No. No. Just get me a really big closet. ~Sex and the City

Seriously, who doesn't wish they had a custom walk-in closet with all their shoes, bags and clothes perfectly on display? No more rifling through to find what you need. No plastic wall hooks, faux shelves, tangled hangers crammed together and stacked piles of shirts? 🙋‍♀️

PLC Closets Naples Showroom 
I wish that was my organized closet! My DIY attempts so far to bring order to my closet look well, DIY and amateur. *sigh* Fortunately, actual experts at PLC Closets in Naples tailor make 100% Custom Closet Storage systems for their clients for a perfectly personalized closet.

Fact: Regular closets are usually a mess (like mine!). Most people keep their clothes and shoes in piles and due to their limited storage options, they almost always reach the conclusion that around half of them are never worn. Fortunately, this problem can be easily solved with a more personalized approach that will make the most out of the space you have for your wardrobe and display it in a more efficient manner.


Tip: Closets that have two rows of hanging space for shirts with a smaller area for dresses can allow a great deal more clothing to fit into the same square footage. When looked at from another angle, this helps shrink the footprint needed to store the same amount of stuff. While I've done this for my boys' closets, I haven't been able to manage this in mind yet.

Closet organization isn't just for clothes, but jewelry, shoes, or a vanity too
For more information, you can visit PLC Closets Naples showroom at 1408 Rail Head Blvd, Naples, FL 34110; (239) 260-1890.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but like usual all of my opinions are 'freely' given, lol.
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