Mickey’s Most Merriest Christmas Party at Disney World #disneyholidays

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Mickey really knows how to throw a Christmas party! Let me tell you. At Magic Kingdom, as soon as you enter during the holiday season it’s like you’re transported into Christmasworld. Everything is decked out with red bows, thick wreaths with gold bells, giant nutrackers and of course Christmas trees. It’s just so beautiful. And the lights! Once dusk hits the entire place starts to twinkle. That’s that Disney magic, lol!

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This year Mickey’s Most Merriest Christmas Celebration was so much fun! It was a beautiful show and has all new surprises. The technology has been stepped up and is exciting for even adults to watch without kids.

This years show is fast paced to keep you engaged the entire time. New this year is a band on stage with the many characters. The singers and dancers were on point. (I may or may not have sang and danced along for Feliz Navidad and All I want for Christmas…) I’m always so amazed at how the characters can boogie down so well. Looking around at the crowd during the show, every single child was rapt. It was nice to see.

MONEY SAVING PRO TIP: You don’t need to buy a full day’s pass to Magic Kingdom as well as a pass for Mickey’s Most Merriest Christmas Celebration. You can just purchase the Christmas Celebration pass and have access to Magic Kingdom from 4pm on. The show doesn’t start until 7pm so you have 3 hours to enjoy Magic Kingdom without paying the additional Magic Kingdom price! #you’rewelcome ūüôā

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A quick trip over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios puts you in the perfect spot to see another great holiday show. Mickey’s Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM Nighttime Spectacular is a Firework show and it is awesome you guys! The show is projected onto the Chinese theater. There are no live performers. It’s super high tech.

I spoke with one of the show directors who said that this year there was a big upgrade in the technology over past year’s holiday shows. I believe it.¬†It’s a mixed sensory experience with the fireworks, the faux snow, the music, the laser lights, the twinkles and the projection show are so well done! The story plays out on the projector but is enhanced big time by the light show. It’s impressive.

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Back at Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is not to be missed. All of your favorite characters are there of course. The music is bumpin’ and there’s a new holiday trolley. The parade rolls through Frontierland spreading holiday cheer two times a night, and has a new interactive feature. People in the audience get to choose one of 3 songs in parade! Spoiler Alert: Santa Claus is Coming to Town by the Jackson 5 is often the big winner voted in by the crowd.

Have you seen Mickey’s Most Merriest Christmas Celebration yet?

CLICK HERE to check out Disney Springs at Christmas Time!

 

You Need a Day at Disney Springs During The Holidays #disneysprings

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If you’re planning a trip to the Disney parks (or even just to Central Florida at large) I’ve got to urge you to add a day (yes, a full day!) at Disney Springs to your travel itinerary. It is an excellent place to spend some time whether it be a down day in between busy theme park days, or just a stand-alone destination. Going during the holidays is an extra special treat as I’ll share with you here.

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Disney Springs used to be Downtown Disney. They renovated, revamped, added a beautiful spring that runs throughout the property, added tons of stores, and great for locals: a huge (free) parking garage. If you’re staying at a Disney property you can get to Disney Springs via complimentary shuttle or boat too. During the holiday season Disney Springs is decked out in Christmas cheer with wreaths, ribbons and tress everywhere!

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In speaking with Sara, the marketing whiz behind Disney Springs, I discovered that they doubled the size of what Downtown Disney started out with. There are now so many places to eat, drink, shop, be entertained, play, have your kids entertained or just relax. It was a bit surreal because Sara said, “where we’re standing now (a beautiful shady spot in “Town Square” of Disney Springs) was a parking lot a little while ago!” I noticed as I went around Disney Springs that it’s more of an experience than I expected. I was legit expecting just a regular outdoor mall… I was so wrong!

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Walking through Disney Springs you find recognizable brands (and a few that may be new to you) to shop. I actually broke my “No Spend November” in a store called American Threads that was completely new to me. But majority of the stores are national brands like UGG, Lily Pulitzer, Diamonds International, Vera Bradley, Columbia, SuperDry, Uniqlo, Sephora, Kipling….ok ok I¬†wont name every store, you can visit this site for a full list:¬†DisneySprings.com

It’s spread out so nicely so you get to just meander and explore all the shoppes and treats in store at each one. I was pleased to find that there are lots of areas to just sit for a spell and enjoy a drink, a Sprinkles cupcake and some shade. No matter where you are on the large property, you have a lovely view.

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(image via Jen of JenOni.com)

There are two really nice treats for kids (and parents) that I have got to share. The Bippity Boppity Boutique (where little girls are transformed into princesses) and the Once Upon a Toy (where kids can build their own toys) shoppes are in Disney Springs too! So if you don’t want to wait in a crazy line, aren’t going to the parks, or can’t get a reservation while you’re at the parks, you can do it there. No muss no fuss.

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There are excellent restaurants as well. I had the pleasure of enjoying the hugest, juiciest fillet ever at STK. The sides, creamed corn, brussel sprout slaw salad, and mini sliders were amazing as well. The truffle oil in the sliders was an unexpectedly decadent touch.

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I also enjoyed a treat at PaddleFish which opens next month. The lobster roll was one of the best I’ve ever had (and I would hunt for them all over NYC) and the drinks were to die for.

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I didn’t get to eat at Fronterra, the Mexican restaurant,¬†but I enjoyed a cocktail while taking in the gorgeously colorful ambiance. Other restaurants are celebrity Iron Chef Morimoto’s self titled hot spot, and celebrity chef Art Smith’s Homecoming where you can get soul-comforting southern cuisine. (There are TONS more places to grab a quick bite as well) I’m excited for the new Planet Hollywood Observatory to open up there.

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After shopping and eating you can enjoy live music at one of the many places offering daily live performances. House of Blues is well known for their concerts, but you will also find random artists sprinkled throughout Disney Springs creating a great musical atmosphere. In one area, there was an edgy/artsy version of Nutcracker being performed by some amazing dancers on tour. (check out the FB Live of that)

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This is going to sound weird, but walking through Disney Springs reminded me of the days I would spend just walking through NYC with friends. We’d shop, sit and eat, shop some more, grab a drink,¬†meet up with other friends, grab dinner, browse shoppes and sit for a coffee. While walking we pass all kinds of street artists and little experiences for a bit of revelry. That’s exactly how Disney Springs is.

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Making it extra special for the holidays is the incredible StarBright Holidays¬†show. It was a beautiful light show of all these twinkling “stars” set to music and creating gorgeous images in the sky. I later found out that the lights were drones. Intel had a hand in creating that show, I can only imagine what it took to pull of that synchronization. (I facebook lived it for ya, check out the video here!) There was also a very sweet “Christmas Tree Walk” that had beautifully decorated themed trees from many of our favorite Disney movies.

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If you’re a local to the Disney¬†area, you must go visit. It’s not the Downtown Disney that you may remember. If you’re in town for the Disney Parks or to visit friends/family, you must spend some time at Disney Springs. There is something for everyone here. All ages and all interests will find something they love to do, purchase, listen to, watch, and eat! Disney Springs is much¬†more than a place to shop, it’s an experience!

Have you been to Disney Springs?

 

Social Media on the Sand Experience at Beaches Negril in Jamaica #BeachesMoms

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Every morning I pick up my phone and immediately go to my gratitude app. I list out what I’m grateful for right at that moment. On Monday morning of last¬†week, my first day home from a whirlwind week in Jamaica, I about broke that app. My gratitude list was a mile long. The sweet memories just kept on coming, I had to keep adding them in.

Crawling out of bed and making my own breakfast was hard that morning, I tell ya. But my heart was full and I was still smiling after our time at Beaches Negril.¬†I attended the Social Media on the Sand Conference at Beaches Negril via #BeachesMoms and it couldn’t have been better.

Listen, this is the first resort that we have stayed in, that my husband said “We’ve got to come back here next year” about. I need you to understand what a big deal this is. I’ve been traveling with this man a few times a year since we met back in 2001. Through boutique hotels, various cruises, and all inclusive resorts… he has never, ever said that he wants to return to a specific resort.¬† (and without any prompting from me!)

Beaches got him hooked! (And once I told him about Sandals being child-free…his eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.)

So here’s my Epic recap of the conference as well as the gorgeous resort Beaches Negril. ¬†Enjoy!! And feel free to send any questions my way!

We had a long ride from Runaway Bay to Negril. We used a great company¬†for the transfer, and I highly recommend them to anyone. Our driver, Errol was early (I love that) personable, and let us stop where we wanted for breaks and beef patties. He pointed out interesting sights (Like where Usain Bolt lived and went to school) but wasn’t overly chatty, which I appreciated with the two napping preschoolers flanking me in the car.

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Arriving at Beaches Negril was sensory overload. Ro was cranky, we were all tired, and Kai had to potty like nobody’s business. I thought it would be a quiet peaceful lobby, and I could run Kai to the potty..but…It was like mardi gras!! There was music playing, everyone dancing, singing, a DJ announcing beachesmoms as we entered, people giving us flower leis, the sesame characters were out to say hi, there was a mini parade and a receiving line that had us feeling like celebrities! (John was high fiving his way down the aisle!) I wish I had been able to get photos before shuffling the kids to the potty. #myoneregret

It was a warm welcome to say the least!

We checked in, got our details for the days ahead and went to our beautiful room. Beaches Negril has it’s rooms splayed across the most beautiful beach.¬†From garden view rooms to 3-bedroom butler suites, there’s no bad room on this property. We were in room 711, a second floor ocean view room. We could see the gorgeous sunset¬†from the bedroom area window as well as from the balcony. (Quick Room Tour Vid) Our room was large enough to comfortable fit a family of 6! John and I shared the comfortable four poster king size bed, and there were two trundle beds! We used one for Rohan and Kais beds and the other was our couch. There was also a desk w/ chair and a vanity. The bathroom had double sinks (so clutch!) and a nice size tub. Closet space was huge! Also appreciated the high bed, it felt…royal…and also we could easily store our luggage underneath.

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Quick backstory: My husband works a lot. He leaves the house at 8 and gets home at 9:30. Needless to say, that only leaves weekends to have quality time together as a family of four and he doesn’t have much daddy/daughter daddy/son time these days. Well, this trip was extra special for him because he got a hearty dose of his children! They hit the waterpark together each day while I was at the Social Media on the Sand events.

Oh yes…. the events!

Our first day at the conference was one I will never forget. Before the trip Rohan and I shopped for school supplies and packed up two bookbags for children in Jamaican schools that needed them. On this day we got to deliver them, and so much more, to schools via the Sandals Foundation!

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The Sandals Foundation does so much good work in the caribbean! They are working with vetted non profits to help Haiti and the Bahamas after hurricane Matthew, they partnered with School Speciality and other great companies to provide books, school supplies and more to schools in Jamaica. They work with the hospitals too, to do good work in the pediatric cancer research arena. (Check them out, and donate here: GoFundMe.com/BeachesMoms)

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We visited the Mount Airy School. It was about a 30 minute drive from Beaches Negril, up a windy hill. The children there were so much fun. I got to work one-on-one with a bright little 6 year old named Tiesha. She sang Let it Go for me, and we worked on her ABCs, writing, read a couple of stories and did some reading comprehension questions. She was smart and also very artistic. We colored in a message that Sandals Foundation is sending to children in Haiti that were impacted by Matthew. I may be biased, but I think she made the most innovative rainbow I’d ever seen.

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After the one on one all the children sang songs for us and I got to watch Tiesha interacting with her friends… This girl was the perfect partner for me. She was a little busy body, minding everyone’s business, answering the teacher when they asked someone else a question and generally being a little extrovert. I love her.

The #BeachesMoms team really had a lot of treats in store for us. We had fun parties each evening. There was even karaoke, tho I didn’t get to attend that event. The first night cocktail party had mini spa treatments which was sweet and appreciated by us weary travelers. The closing night party was pretty epic, (foam party!) though I had to leave a bit early to make it to dinner¬†at the hibachi restaurant.

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The beach party was my favorite, and I wish my kids were in better spirits for it. Dinner was on the beach, open bar, great music and all this after a parade with dancers, fire dancers and most importantly, the Sesame Street characters through the resort and out to the beach. It was so much fun! Then there was an amazing presentation with magicians and contortionists etc. The DJ was great, playing clean versions of today’s hits and reggae favorites. It was such fun for us BeachesMoms.

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At the conference we learned a lot about the Sandals/Beaches brands. ¬†We got the scoop on the history and the future of what’s to comes from Beaches resorts (the family brand) and Sandals resorts (the couples-only brand and parent company). The brand is big on topping itself, and wants to reinvent, be ahead of the trend¬†and amaze guests. They were the first to have butler service in the Caribbean and they are now the first to offer over-water bungalows there!

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image via sandals.com

This year I started travel blogging in earnest, and I’m putting some of the places in the Beaches/Sandals family on my wish list to partner with in the future to share with you. They look amazing and judging from Beaches Negril, the quality will be awesome.

The conference session I attended on FB Live basically let me know that I am totally doing it wrong. I learned about some good gear to get for live-streaming (or doing any type of video) I especially enjoyed Rene Syler’s (Good Enough Mother) presentation to us at the conference. She spoke to my soul reminding us to be women first, moms second, take time for ourselves so we can take care of our families and have more of self left over when kids are gone. So important.

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Social Media on the Sand’s last day was full of fun. We networked, did fruit carving and broke into various sessions. Some took sailing lessons, underwater photography, I took the Jamaican culture session which had us chattin’ in patois and doing reggae dances. We also learned how to play a song I love on the steel pan drums! I was a natural. (not!)

The BSM Media team and the entire Beaches/Sandals crew and all the sponsors really did an amazing job. The conference was a lot of fun, a great family getaway, and balanced the fun and education with free time in a natural way. (Check out some of our sponsor gifts here)

Beaches Negril was the perfect setting for the Social Media on the Sand conference. The resort was large enough to have a whole host of activities, but small enough to not be annoying. The food options were great. We could (and did) grab a beef patty as an appetizer at the poolside grill, enjoy a dinner at the Mexican, Caribbean or Sushi restaurant with no reservations, then go to the Parisian Cafe for a cappuccino and dessert. I tried both of the restaurants that require reservations, the Italian and Japanese Hibachi spots. Both were delicious with excellent service.

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I loved how kid-focused the resort was and every resort employee seemed to be. Every staff member seemed to light up at the sight of our kids and was extra friendly with them. The resort itself offered so much for kids of any age to enjoy. The waterpark was a lot of fun for children and adults (John and I did those slides quite a few times!) There was a DJ Academy for teens/tweens, a separate kids camp divided by age so nobody gets bored, and so much to do all day long at each one.

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For littles like mine, the Sesame Street themed kids camp was perfect! They did activities like baking cookies with Cookie Monster and bird watching with Big Bird. The offerings for parents of littles were exceptional! A breakfast with all the characters, a beach photoshoot with your choice of characters, and the best ever: A tuck in with the character of your choice.

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I told Rohan he had a special nighttime surprise all day and got him excited. He thought he knew what it was. He thought my dad was coming to visit him, ha! He said it’s grampa… then opened the door to see Elmo standing there. He gasped so loud, screamed ELMOOO and ran to him for a hug. It was precious. Then Elmo came in with his helper, and did stretches to get ready for bed, then read a bed time story, sang a song, and went to sleep. Rohan was angling for Elmo to stay the night but we finally convinced him that Elmo had to sleep in his own big boy bed.

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Kaya was scared of the characters, but she hung with Elmo for the tuck in and only freaked out once when he tried to touch her. ¬†She finally gave Abby (one of her faves) a hug on the last day. She straight up told the count she didn’t like him and screwfaced the rest of the characters like she does everyone else in life.¬†#SMH¬†Rohan was the perfect age for these experiences. He called the characters “moving elmo” and “moving grover” hahaa! Kaya calls them “real elmo.”

Balancing out¬†all the kid centered action at Beaches is a lot for¬†parents to enjoy. John and I enjoyed our first scuba dive together in a long time. The dive operation is top notch, and is included in your room price! Other water activities that are included are snorkeling, glass bottom boat rides, snuba diving (cross between scuba and snuba), banana boat rides, kayaks, stand up paddleboards… Lots to enjoy as a family or while the kids are in kids camp.

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If you’re not the watersport type there were patois lessons, jamaican dance classes and other dry activities. The great thing is, you could be as lazy as you want. If you don’t want to participate you’re not hassled to. You could laze in the huge pool with swim up bar or enjoy the beach like a beachbum. The beach here was so beautiful, clean, and full of life. We found many small seastars in the water, small fishies, and even saw a sting ray hanging out. The water was warm enough for even me and I’m always cold.

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We all had an amazing time at Beaches Negril. We had a lot of firsts as a family. My first time attending the awesome Social Media on the Sand Conference. Our first trip to Jamaica, first time at a Beaches resort, ¬†first resort vacation for the kids at at all, first time they had to use passports, first time with the kids meeting “real” characters, first beach photoshoot which I’ve wanted to do for ages. Loved this entire trip.

Ever since we’ve been home I’ve been answering questions about Beaches and I’ve had one of my friends book a trip for next year to Beaches in Turks & Caicos! I would recommend this resort to any family no matter the age of your children. If you have any questions for me, I’m happy to answer. I can’t wait to go back to Beaches!

QUEEN OF KATWE Premiere – What It’s Really Like Behind the Scenes #QueenofKatweEvent

Disney made this Queen of Katwe Premiere post happen, but everything below is from my brain and heart.

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Have you seen those beautiful shots and vids of movie premieres and wondered what it’s really like? Well, I always have and am delighted to be able to give you girls the real scoop on what they’re like. I was chosen among 25 bloggers to visit LA for Disney’s Queen of Katwe red carpet movie premiere. Queen of Katwe is AMAZING and you just have got to see it. It opens with limited release today, and opens everywhere September 30th. (Let me know how you like it after you see it.) Anyway, I was really excited to experience all the Queen of Katwe Premiere¬†goodness and report back to you.

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Here’s what to expect when you’re at ¬†your red carpet premiere (and afterparty):

So, to start, some premieres are different. There may be pre parties and/or the red carpet experience may be more rushed (or less rushed). I hope to attend more so I can give you guys the scoop on  how others worked in comparison to this one.

The Celebs

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We saw, hugged, chatted with the stars of the film both on the red carpet and in the theater….and in the jam packed after party (I’ll get to that later and let you know my embarrassing faux pas with a celeb.) It’s interesting to watch how the celebrities interact with their assistants, the photographer and reports as well as the fans and other premiere attendees.

David Oyelowo was so gracious and sweet, stopping to talk and take selfies with as many people as he could before he was shuttled to the next point on the carpet by his handlers. Lots of other celebs that were not in the film were also on the red carpet. Industry big wigs and corporate folks behind the scenes on the film walked the carpet too, but not too much phototaking for them.

(BEHIND THE SCENES NOTE: There are 2 red carpets. One for the stars of the film and recognizable celebs, then another right next to it for corporate big wigs and movie execs…and bloggers! :))

The Fancy Feels

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Listen. A ¬†step and repeat always makes me feel like a celebrity. (I should put one up at my front door) I don’t care how janky the event is, I’ll smize in front of that step and repeat and feel like everyone in the place is there to see me! ::singing Beyonce’s Ego:: At this red carpet (which by the way was a burgundy/maroon color for this film) it was a long line of photo ops with the signs from the movie. We’re there in our cute lil dresses – Oh, and some folks were in gowns all gorgeous and some were in a cute top and skirt, so attire at the event ran the gamut.

SIDEBAR: The day after the premiere I was able to visit the folks who dressed David Oyelowo and his family for the red carpet (and all the press he’s doing for Queen of Katwe) Kutula Africa (Kutula.org) had David looking sharp!

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above photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

The Business

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You see so much business going on. It’s a fun exciting event but then you remember…all of these people are at work right now! PR folks hustling their clients in front of cameras… actors walking along, smiling and being gracious, taking photos, somehow not going blind from all the flashing lights…security folks hustling people along and watching out for their clients…photographers snapping, reporters shoving mics in people’s faces…It’s a lot.

I was eavesdropping my heart out and when people weren’t talking about the film, they were talking about meetings for later on. Even us bloggers were sure to get pics on the red carpet because of the business we had to do (ie: writing posts like this one!)

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The Movie Itself

Well, I’ll give you the movie review in a separate post, but during the premiere you get to sit in a theater in your fancy dress and eat popcorn and watch the movie… just like regular. ¬†You can kinda peep around and spot celebs if you’re like me ¬†::avoids eye contact:: There were a bunch of Disney child stars that I probably should’ve taken photos with so I can show my kids when they’re at an age to care. Oh, before the film there was a dude playing live music on the stage for us too.

The Afterparty

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The Hard Rock held the afterparty and I was happy to see so many people turn up for it. So many people I didn’t recognize hahaha and a few I did…like:

Jason George who was super sweet and practically begged for my photo so I obliged. *wink* Greys fans…I’ve got some spoilers for you!!*

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Highlights from the party were watching Lupita boogie on down with her on-screen children and when my favorite song from the movie came on. #1 Spice is going to be my new jam!

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Ready for my embarrassing moment: OK So I see a star I recognized and went over and was like “omg hey Jackee!” and Kim Whitley was like “…that’s not my name. beat it kid.” Ha!!! I’m kidding, She was totally sweet and kind¬†about it. I¬†did call her the wrong name lol but she was like “Oh girl I get it all the time for years and years don’t worry, she gets it too.” So I felt slightly¬†less rude. I chatted with her and Vanessa Bell Calloway (who is still looking good!) for a minute and then left them alone.

So, there you have it. That’s what the Queen of Katwe Red Carpet Premiere was really like, from the perspective of one lucky blogger blessed with the chance to attend. Be sure to go watch the film guys. It’s really important, and also just really good. Here’s the trailer if you missed it in my last post:

Check your local theater because it comes out today in limited release and next Friday, the 30th, it’s out everywhere. Take your kids or make it a girls night out, but definitely go see this film, so Disney knows we want more like this!!

 

Have you been to a red carpet movie premiere before?

*no I don’t¬†

How to Cruise with Kids (Part 3): Choosing Your Excursions

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How to Cruise with Kids

If you’re just finding this guide on How To Cruise With Kids, please check out the previous posts:

  1. Choosing Your Cruise
  2. All About the Kids Club

Choosing Your Excursions:

The great part about cruising is that your ship will stop at multiple ports during your cruise vacation. You have the option to simply debark and explore the area on your own or book an excursion. Excursions are organized group tours and experiences.

My number one tip for cruise excursions (whether you go as a family, couple or even solo) is:

RESEARCH BEFOREHAND

Some sites I look to for info:

If you simply google cruise excursions + destination, you’ll find tons of resources to help you plan your trip. You’ll find reviews, ideas and even private tour operator websites.

You basically have 3 excursion-booking options:

  1. Through the cruise ship (beforehand or while on board)
  2. Independently with an excursion company beforehand
  3. Directly with an independent tour company once you’ve debarked at the port

Here’s where you can find the excursions for each destination on a few of the major cruise lines:¬†

Just navigate to your ports to see the list of available excursions available there as well as any age requirements, price and a brief description of what is included.

A few tips and things to note:

Excursions purchased through your ship are pricier (sometimes more than double) the cost of purchasing independently. The benefit is that you’re guaranteed not to be stranded if something unfortunate happens and you’re late returning to the ship. The con (outside of possible cost) is that it’s often more crowded.

So far, we’ve done excursions booked independently and have never had a problem getting back to the port on time. On our past 2 cruises we took excursions through the cruise lines (Royal Caribbean and Norwegian) and had an enjoyable time on both.

We have yet to visit a port that doesn’t have independent tour operators, taxis, excursion companies etc right at the pier just waiting for all the cruise ship passengers who don’t yet have plans. If you choose not to plan beforehand, you’re not out of luck.

Traveling with a family, I would recommend booking ahead of time, whether independently or via the cruise line’s website just so you are certain there is something to accommodate your group.

Four things to consider with cruise excursions as a family:

1. ¬†Consider your children’s age/temperament

Your children’s ages determines a lot of what you can do at¬†each port. ¬†Does your child require a stroller? What can and can’t your child do? Are there any fears to be concerned with? Will they need a nap? Can they handle long bus rides? Keep the needs of the children in your group top of mind when choosing excursions. When you look through the excursion descriptions they will let you know if it is completely unsuitable for children. (ie: cave tubing in Belize)

atlantis dig

2.  Consider breaking into groups

If your group is split on what to do, try splitting up to satisfy everyone. Yes the trip is about togetherness, but doing separate activities allows you to have fun stories to tell when you’re enjoying quality time together back on board the ship. This works well if¬†your family has a mix of risk-taking adventurers and those with more tame sensibilities. Also it’s a great option if there’s a large mix of ages. (I secretly look forward to the day my daughter enjoys shopping and spa days so we can do that while the boys go off¬†gallivanting.)
3. Consider staying on board

At each port most people (I’m talking 90% or more!) get off the ship to explore the destination. If you’re at a port you have visited several times, or have no interest in…or just want the ship to yourself, you may want to consider staying on board. You and your family will be able to enjoy all the ship has to offer with no lines, no waiting, and no drama. I first stayed on board on our Bahamas cruise last year and we tried again a few months ago with the kids in St. Thomas. Felt luxurious having an empty ship and no wait for anything.

4.  Consider your budget

Paying for a group excursion is a lot pricier than paying for a party of two. If budget factors into your vacation plans then choose an option where kids under a certain age are free or at a very reduced rate. You may also want to consider chartering your own excursion if your group is 6-8 passengers or more. It may turn out to be more economical. Some vendors will even work with you on the price and you have the bonus on being able to tailor your experience to exactly what your family wants to do.

Remember: There is no need to purchase an excursion at all. You can stay on board, or just walk around the port.

Stay tuned for How to Cruise with Kids (Part 4):

Life On Board Your Cruise Ship