Early Childhood Homeschooling Made Easy

Taking teaching and your child's future into your own hands.

Disney World Homeschool Days

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Some homeschoolers may not know about this, but Disney World has Homeschool Days (Disney Student Seminars) twice a year.  I ran into some information about this last year, but my daughter wasn’t old enough to attend.  Since my daughter will be turning 5 this fall, I decided to look up Disney Homeschool Days for 2015.  They will be doing it again this Fall.  It appears they do one at the beginning of the year, and one at the end of the year.

When you attend Disney Homeschool Days (Disney Student Seminars), you can buy discount Disney Theme Park tickets at a HUGE savings.  If you’re a homeschooler, this seems like the perfect time to take a trip to Disney.  For instance, a regular 3 day park ticket is normally $275 for an adult (before tax).  With the Homeschool Days discount, you’ll only pay $173.74.  For a 3 day park hopper ticket. you’d normally pay $339 for an adult (before tax).  With the Homeschool Days discount, the 3 day park hopper ticket is only $200.50.  That’s a pretty good savings.  If you are taking a longer trip and need a 7 day park ticket, you’d normally pay $335 (before tax).  With the Homeschool Days Discount, you’ll only pay $232.63.  Wow, right?

The Homeschool Days only gives you discounts on park tickets.  It does not provide discounts for Disney Resorts or Dining Plans.  That’s my understanding of it, anyway.  When you attend the Homeschool Days, you are required to attend at least one seminar, which will be included in your park ticket price.  To attend more seminars, you have to pay extra.  I’ve seen prices ranging from $29-$35 for extra seminar classes.  Disney’s site lists the price for extra seminar classes as $35.

Beyond attending one seminar class, you are free to do whatever you want on your vacation.  You do not have to hang out with other homeschoolers.  You don’t have to attend any other events.  You can go about the rest of your trip as you wish.  Sounds pretty awesome to me.

If you want further information, here are some sites you can check out.

This is Disney’s site for registering for the Homeschool Days (Student Seminars):

https://www.studentguest.com/studentseminars/

Here are a few other sites listing information for 2015:

http://gatewaytomagic.blogspot.com/2014/10/disney-homeschool-days.html

http://www.amothersrandomthoughts.com/2014/11/disney-homeschool-days-now-known-as.html

http://magicalfamilyadventures.blogspot.com/2015/02/dollars-and-sense-walt-disney-world.html

http://www.carolinahomeschooler.com/disney-world/

The last link is for a homeschooling site that offers group homeschooling trips.  The site registers for the Homeschool Days for you as part of their group.  I’ve read good reviews about them, and it’s a reliable site.  I actually may book my trip through them.  The regular Homeschool Days (Student Seminars) are in September and October, but Carolina Homeschooling offers their group trip in November.  They still only require you to attend one seminar, then you are free to spend your vacation however you’d like.  They also coordinate homeschool trips to Universal Studios, but this blog post is all about Disney.  Check out their site for more information on their other trips.

Hopefully, this information will be helpful to those of you that may be interested in attending Disney Homeschool Days. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to register and start planning my trip.  🙂

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Christmas Craft Projects

We’ve done numerous craft and baking projects this holiday season.  They are fun to do, they keep my daughter busy, and they can be a good learning tool.

Here are some of the projects we’ve done for Christmas.

Marshmallow Snowman

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Paper Wreath

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Paper Christmas Tree

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Holiday Coloring Pages (We’ve done a lot, but these were from her dance studio.)

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Chocolate Pretzel Snacks with Holiday Sprinkles

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Baking Cookies

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Salt Dough Ornaments

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Christmas Countdown Chart

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Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

Please feel free to share what types of Christmas crafts and baking projects you do with your kids.

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Beaded Salt Dough Ornaments

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This was the first year we made salt dough ornaments.  For the most part, they came out pretty good.  We’re happy with them, and my daughter was very proud of what we did.  Yesterday, we made some beaded salt dough ornaments.  We didn’t do anything all that special to make them.  My daughter rolled out the dough is circles/ovals, then put beads in them.  We used different colored dough for each ornament.  At first sight, these ornaments can look unimpressive.  But…The ornaments look great when put in front of a light.  They catch the light from the tree, and the beads kind of glow.  Very pretty.

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Once we added the varnish to them and hung them on the tree, we could see their true beauty.  I think these are my daughter’s favorite salt dough ornaments.  We might end up hanging them in our window during the summer like sun-catchers.

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* See previous post for salt dough recipe.

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Salt Dough Ornaments and Cinnamon Salt Dough Ornaments

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When I was little, my best friend’s mom made beautiful salt dough ornaments to sell at craft shows, and to sell to friends and neighbors.  I remember us having various ornaments that she made, and this beautiful fake blueberry pie that looked exactly like a real pie.  I was always impressed that she could make this stuff in her own kitchen.  One year, she even let my friend and me make some ornaments with the salt dough, just for fun.  It was something I always wanted to do on my own when I grew up.

Fast forward over 20 years, and my friend is no longer with us (she was killed by a drunk driver when we were in college), but I still remember the wonderful salt dough ornaments that her mom used to make.  I send her mom and dad a Christmas card every year.  This year when I was working on my Christmas cards, I decided that I would try my hand at making some salt dough ornaments with my daughter.  Kayla is 4 years old now, so she is old enough to do a lot of it on her own.  I know my ornaments won’t be quite like my friend’s mom’s ornaments, but they can still be special.

My daughter and I started out by using a very basic salt dough recipe.  (There are tons of slightly different recipes on the internet, but this one worked for us.)

Salt Dough Recipe

2 cups Flour

1 cup salt

1/2 cup water, and add more water as needed

We mixed the ingredients together in a bowl and kneaded it until it was the right consistency.  Keep adding water little by little until the dough is the way you want it.  If it gets too watery…sticky…add a little more flour.

Once the dough was just right, we divided out the dough.  Some of it we kept as is, and the rest we used to make colored dough.  We used Crayola kid’s paint to color the dough.  We made red dough, green dough, blue dough, and purple dough.  You can do whatever colors you want.  We were trying to stick to Christmas colors, and we also did purple so we could make a special ornament for one of our friends.  We put a dab of paint on a ball of dough, then kneaded the paint into the dough until it was the color we wanted.

Plain salt dough

Plain salt dough

Green dough

Green dough

Kayla working on making red dough.

Kayla working on making red dough.

She kneaded the red paint into the dough all by herself.

She kneaded the red paint into the dough all by herself.

colored salt dough

Colored salt dough

We used the plain dough to make a handprint.  She is giving the handprint to daddy as a surprise Christmas present.  We used the colored dough to make candy canes, and used cookie cutter to cut out ornaments.

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When making candy canes, we just rolled the dough with our hands to make two long worms and twisted them together.  In order to use the cookie cutters, we rolled the dough with a rolling pin, then cut out our shapes.  Once we were all done, we baked them in the oven at 200 degrees for 2 hours.  When we took them out, they were hardening up.  Not super hard, but hard enough.  After that, we just set them out so they could air dry.  Some recipes will tell you to bake them for longer times, like 4 hours, but we simply don’t have the time for that.  The way we did it worked fine.

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After letting them sit for 24 hours, we painted them.  Painting them is optional, especially if you used colored dough.  It adds to the fun of it to let the kids paint them.  Kayla enjoyed being able to paint the handprint for her dad, and ornament gifts for friends.  She was very proud of herself.  Right now, our first batch of ornaments have been painted and are ready to be covered in a varnish.  If you’re painting the ornaments completely, a varnish isn’t necessary, although it does give them a nice glossy finish.  Not all of ours are painted, so we plan to put varnish on all of them to give them a finishing touch.  Plus, this will make them last longer.  These are keepsakes we want to have for years to come.

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Another thing we tried was using a cookie mold tray/pan.  The pan has Christmas molds built in, as you can see in the picture below.  We just put the dough into the molds and baked it.  Halfway through baking, I pulled it out and popped the dough ornaments out of the molds.  I then added the ornaments to the baking sheet with the other dough ornaments we were baking to let them finish hardening.  I’m sure I could have baked them in the molds for the entire time, but I didn’t want to take the chance of them getting burned or stuck in the molds.  These dough ornaments came out great.  We were impressed by the detail.  They will be fun to paint.

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So far, we’ve done 3 batches of salt dough ornaments.  On the last batch, we recruited my husband to do some with us.  He wasn’t exactly thrilled to join in, but he humored us.  I’d like this to be a new family tradition.  Something we can do together every year.  My husband tends to only like to do things that were traditions in his family, and he loves to do stuff WITH his family.  Trying to get him to create new family traditions with me and our daughter can be a challenge at times, but it’s worth the effort.  In the end, he made a few really nice dough ornaments that should look great on the tree.  I think it is important to create holiday traditions with your family.  It is nice to carry on traditions that you grew up with, which are important to us, but it’s also important to create NEW traditions with your significant others and your kids.  It’s all about creating memories.

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In our last batch, we made some cinnamon salt dough.  This dough gives the ornaments a lovely cinnamon scent.  When we paint them tomorrow, we are going to add a touch of cinnamon to the paint to enhance the cinnamon scent.  What I loved most about the cinnamon dough was that it gave the ornaments a beautiful country Christmas look.  I wouldn’t mind keeping these natural and not painting them, but my daughter is looking forward to painting them tomorrow.

Cinnamon Salt Dough Recipe

1 cup Flour

1/2 cup Salt

1/2 cup Cinnamon

3/4 cup warm water

The recipe I used said you don’t need to bake them, just let them air dry for 24 hours.  We baked ours along with our other salt dough ornaments and they came out great.  200 degrees for 2 hours.

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Cinnamon salt dough

The cinnamon salt dough was probably my favorite, but my daughter and husband preferred the colored dough.  I could see the beauty in the simple cinnamon dough ornaments.  They look very traditional to me.  Something you would have seen hanging on trees years ago.

We plan to play around some more with our dough ornaments.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to try making some with beads tomorrow.  If I have time, I will try to type up a quick post with pictures of the dough ornaments with beads.

Happy ornament making!

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Frozen Birthday Party

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Like a lot of girls right now, my daughter wanted a Frozen birthday party.  My husband, who is a little Frozen crazy too, wanted to give her a big Frozen party for our family and close friends.  I was hesitant.  With my husband’s big family, parties are not exactly fun to plan and carry out.  But since Kayla was so excited, I decided to go ahead and do it.  The party was a success, but did require a lot of work to plan out.

As life sometimes happens, the morning of the party, Kayla woke up sick with an upset stomach.  Although the party went well, we didn’t get to put up all the decorations and do everything we planned, but we did get mostly everything done.  Kayla was a trooper while we set up for the party and during 3/4’s of the party.  Toward the end, her upset stomach started to catch up to her.

Here are some highlights from the party.

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We had cardboard stand ups so the kids could take pictures with them, and we used the Olaf one to play Pin the Nose on Olaf.  The kids loved them.

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We played Sven’s Buckets, and used fake snowballs to throw into the buckets.  This was my daughter’s favorite game/activity at the party.

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Then we played Pin the Nose on Olaf.

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Next up was building a snowman with Olaf stickers.  I had a set of Olaf stickers for all the kids where they have to put him together.  I also had other Frozen stickers, so they could create their own Frozen ornaments.

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I decorated a cake table for Kayla’s Frozen cake and Olaf cupcakes.  It came out really pretty.

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Kayla got a lot of present, and only about a third of them were Frozen related.  Which was fine with us because she’s getting plenty of Frozen stuff on her actual birthday and for Christmas.

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Party planning

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Frozen Fridays

As with many kids right now, especially little girls, my daughter loves everything Frozen. We have the dvd, the cd in the car, posters on the wall, several shirts, gym shoes, a backpack and lunch bag, an Elsa costume, coloring books, reading books, dolls, etc. The list goes on and on. Whatever we can find in the stores and online that is reasonably priced, we buy it. Although she has only watched the movie a handful off times, she has listened to the cd more times than I could possibly remember.

Due to this current obsession, I decided to do “Frozen Fridays” over the summer. My husband is always out fishing on Friday nights during the summer, and my daughter and I are free to do whatever we want for the evening. Since I am a stay at home mom, some Fridays can seem to last forever. My solution is to find activities for us to do to keep us busy. Each Friday, I would come up with different Frozen themed activities for us to do together. Although at times it has been a lot of work, it has also been fun.

Here are a few of our Frozen Friday activities:

Make your own Olaf

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Make your own Frozen Cakes

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Make Frozen Rice Crispie Treats

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Frozen Jello

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Snowball Cookies

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Blue Frozen Sugar Cookies

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Those are just some of our Frozen Friday activities. What type of Frozen activities have you done with your kids? I would love to hear about them, and see pictures.

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Best Rides and Attractions for Preschoolers at Disney World

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I’ve been to Disney World many times. The majority of my visits were when I was young, but I have been three times as an adult. I remember the rides I loved as a kid. They stand out in my mind and bring back great memories. There is nothing like being a child and going on some of the Disney classic rides for the first time. It truly is magical.

Last year when preparing for our trip, and my daughter’s first time going to Disney World, I did a lot of research. One of my main areas of focus was rides. I wanted to make sure I knew in advance what rides she was able to ride on (height requirements), and which ones were age appropriate for her. I knew there may be a few rides that she would be tall enough to get on, but she may not be quite ready for yet, for one reason or another. Luckily, since it was Disney World, she was able to ride on lots and lots of rides on our trip. She was thrilled since she is already a ride junkie.

When we went on our trip last November, we went the week before Kayla’s 3rd birthday. A year later, we are planning on going again, this time the week before her 4th birthday. Once again, I find myself researching rides to see what rides she will be tall enough to go on, and what rides are appropriate for her age. I don’t think any parent wants to take there kid on a ride that is going to traumatize them, or that will ruin their child’s love for rides. In all honesty, I think that most of the rides at Disney World are fairly tame for kids that are thrill seekers. But there are rides, for more timid riders, that may be a bit much.

So here is my list of the best rides and attractions for preschoolers at Disney World.

Magic Kingdom

– Dumbo

– It’s a Small World

– Peter Pan’s Flight

– PeopleMover

– Winnie the Pooh

– Mad Tea Party

– Regal Carrousel

– Jungle Cruise

– Magic Carpets (just like Dumbo, but with Aladdin’s carpets instead)

– Railroad

– Buzz Lightyear

– Enchanted Tales with Belle (not really a ride, but still cute)

– Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid

For more daring preschoolers, like my daughter, there are even more options. Some of these have height requirements, so make sure your little ones are tall enough. I am focusing on rides that are for kids 5 and younger.

– Astro Orbiter

– Big Thunder Mountain (40 inches or taller)

– Barnstormer (35 inches or taller)

– Haunted Mansion

– Pirates of the Caribbean

– 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (the newest family roller coaster, 38 inches or taller)

– Splash Mountain (40 inches or taller)

There are all types of stuff for youngsters to enjoy at the Magic Kingdom. Some of my favorites as a kid were the Enchanted Tiki Room, Country Bears, and Carousel of Progress (which is also great for getting out of the heat).

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Epcot

– Spaceship Earth

– Journey into Imagination with Figment

– Gran Fiesta Tour (World Showcase, Mexico)

– Seas of Nemo and Friends

– Soarin (40 inches or taller)

– Test Track (40 inches or taller)

– Turtle Talk with Crush

There are other stuff for the little ones to do, but some of it won’t hold their interest very well. We actually used Ellen’s Energy Adventure to put our daughter down for a nap last year. She stayed awake up until she saw the dinosaurs, then she fell asleep on my lap. Kids also enjoy the kidcot fun spots. It can keep the kids entertained while adults and older kids check out the shops.

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Animal Kingdom

– Dinosaur (40 inches or taller)

– Kali River Rapids (38 inches or taller)

– Kilimanjaro Safaris

– TriceraTop Spin

There are a lot of shows, trails to see animals, and areas to keep the kids busy at Animal Kingdom. This was my husband’s favorite park because it’s more laidback. Not as many rides. There’s a lot of nature. It also has an education aspect to it.

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Hollywood Studios (MGM to those of you that haven’t been there in years.)

– Great Movie Ride

– Star Tours (40 inches or taller)

– Toy Story Mania

– Tower of Terror (40 inches or taller)

Hollywood Studios is a great place to see lots of shows for the little ones. They have the Muppets, Disney Junior, Beauty and the Beast, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. There aren’t a ton of rides here, but the shows and atmosphere make it worth it. And now this year they have a Frozen Sing Along that will delight all the little Frozen fans.

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Disney World’s four theme parks are definitely geared towards kids and families. They have plenty of rides for young kids, with just enough stuff for older kids and adults to stay interested. I hear parents all the time worry about taking kids under 5 to Disney World because they think the little ones won’t have enough to do. Believe me, there will be more than enough stuff to keep your little one entertained at the World. It’s well worth the money.

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Once Again, We’re Counting Down to Disney

It’s been awhile since I’ve put up a new post.  I’ve had plenty of things I’ve wanted to share, but little time to sit down and type up a post, along with pictures.  I promise to do better.  With the summer coming to an end soon, it should be easier to find some time to get this blog rolling again.  

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Once again, my daughter is counting down to our trip to Disney World.  I was able to get her to hold out a little longer this year before putting up our chart, but eventually I had to give in and let the countdown begin.  We are currently under 90 days till our trip (80 to be exact), and I am in full on planning mode.  I am trying to prepare a loose itinerary, plan out what rides I want to try to get fastpass+ for, make any changes to our Advanced Dining Reservations, and make any arrangements that have yet to be made.  Sometimes it feels like a daunting task.  But other times…it just fuels the excitement.

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I’ve been going to Disney World for as long as I can remember.  I have wonderful memories of going there as a kid with my family.  Now as a parent, I am thoroughly enjoying passing down my love for Disney World to my daughter.  (I was even able to get my husband to appreciate Disney World when we went last year.)  I loved seeing her eyes light up when she saw her favorite characters in person, and when she got to go on the various rides for the first time.  The memories are priceless.

Over the course of the next few months, I will be doing multiple Disney themed posts.  If you are not a Disney fan, please bear with me.  If you are a Disney fan, please feel free to post comments sharing your own Disney experiences, memories, and tips.  Remember, everything I post here are just my opinions, or from research I’ve done online, through books, and from my own personal experiences.  I do not claim to be an expert.  I am just another Disney fan that enjoys sharing my love for Disney with others. Come along on this magical journey with me.

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* Note: If you are interested in how I made the Disney Countdown Chart, please see my previous post from July 2013.

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Princess Jasmine Cake

Kayla with her Jasmine cake.

Kayla with her Jasmine cake.

My daughter’s favorite Disney princess is Jasmine. She absolutely adores Jasmine, and she thinks Jasmine is the prettiest princess. Kayla has seen all of the princess movies now and read various books, and Jasmine remains her favorite. Since we’ll be celebrating Kayla’s 3rd birthday at Disney World, I inquired about Jasmine cakes. Apparently, Princess Jasmine cakes are not one of their standard cakes. Not even at Cinderella’s Royal Table where they make various princess cakes.

Instead of trying to convince a pastry chef at Disney World to make a special cake for my daughter, that would probably cost a small fortune, I decided to make my own mini Princess Jasmine cake. At first, I had grand ideas of how I would decorate it. In the end, it was a simply decorated cake because I was short on time and my daughter was getting restless waiting for me to get done in the kitchen.

Kayla helped me make the batter for the chocolate cake and bake it in the oven, but then I sent her out of the kitchen once the cake had cooled. I quickly decorated the cake using one of her Jasmine figurines, buttercream frosting that I tinted sky blue, and blue edible sparkles/glitter.

Examining the batter as we were making it.

Examining the batter as we were making it.

Tasting the batter.

Tasting the batter.

Poking the batter in the mold pan.

Poking the batter in the mold pan.

We slightly overfilled them, but Kayla was helping me pour.  They still came out fine.

We slightly overfilled them, but Kayla was helping me pour. They still came out fine.

Kayla helping me bake.

Kayla helping me bake.

Kayla staring me down.

Kayla staring me down.

The back of the cake as I was putting on the frosting.

The back of the cake as I was putting on the frosting.

Starting to ice the cake with the sky blue frosting.

Starting to ice the cake with the sky blue frosting.

When I showed the finished cake to Kayla, she was surprised and happy. She thought it was pretty, even without all the details I didn’t get to do. All she cared about was that it was her favorite princess, and that the cake sparkled. Kayla had fun licking the sparkles off the cake. She couldn’t wait to tell grandma that mommy made her a Jasmine cake (for her birthday…a month early). She spent a few days looking at it and eating it slowly. She wanted to show her friends her special cake. I was happy that she was happy. That’s really all that mattered to me.

Princess Jasmine Cake

Princess Jasmine Cake

Finished cake.  Not as detailed as I was planning, but still came out cute.

Finished cake. Not as detailed as I was planning, but still came out cute.

Kayla seeing her cake for the first time.

Kayla seeing her cake for the first time.

In awe of her cake.

In awe of her cake.

Cheesy smile.

Cheesy smile.

Tasting the blue frosting with blue sparkles.  She loved it.

Tasting the blue frosting with blue sparkles. She loved it.

My pretty girl and her Jasmine cake.

My pretty girl and her Jasmine cake.

Slowly eating her cake and trying to get Jasmine out.

Slowly eating her cake and trying to get Jasmine out.

Trying to get her Jasmine figurine out of the cake.

Trying to get her Jasmine figurine out of the cake.

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Disney World’s MagicBands and FastPass+ Testing

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As of yesterday (9-25-13), we are 45 days away from our Disney vacation. The resort we will be staying at is part of the testing for Disney’s new MagicBands and FastPass+. I’ve been impatiently waiting for the last month or so to find out if we would be part of the testing when we arrive.

Once it was officially September 25th (sometime after midnight), I decided to log onto My Disney Experience site to see. To my delight, I finally had the options to customize our MagicBands and make FastPass+ selections for our trip. Yay!!! You honestly have no idea how happy I was to see this. I am not one for putting my excitement on display, but I will admit that I was smiling ear to ear and doing a little happy dance.

Kayla updating our countdown to Disney chart.

Kayla updating our countdown to Disney chart.

Kayla is excited that we're getting closer and closer to our vacation.

Kayla is excited that we’re getting closer and closer to our vacation.

The MagicBands and FastPass+ are part of Disney’s new MyMagic+ experience. MyMagic+ is Disney’s way of allowing guests to have more control over their vacation, personalize their experience, and make things more convenient. I was a little worried about these changes when I first started reading about them, but now I’m mostly just excited to see how this all works. So far, I like it.

MyMagic plus has many elements to it, with the first being the My Disney Experience website and mobile app. Once you register on this website, you are able to personalize your entire vacation. You can purchase a Disney vacation package, buy theme park and water park tickets, make dining reservations, set plans for your day to day itinerary for your trip, complete online check-in for your resort, and link reservations/tickets bought from third parties to your homepage. You can make and share plans with family and friends in your travel group. And you can manage your MagicBands and FastPass+ selections. The website and mobile app will be your go-to vacation tools when planning your next trip to Disney World. I’ve been playing around with the website and mobile app for a few months, and I love them. One nice feature of the mobile app is the ability to look up current wait times at each of the parks for rides and other attractions.

FastPass+ is the updated version of the old FastPass system. In the past, you would have to go to the FastPass machines in the theme parks, insert your admission ticket into the machine, and obtain a printed FastPass ticket that would give you a time range for when you could ride with little to no wait. You would come back during your assigned time range and get in a special line that had a much shorter wait than the regular lines. I never particularly liked this system because it required a lot of running around to obtain FastPasses for the most popular rides. There were only a number of rides that even offered FastPasses at each park. Not every ride had this option. If you didn’t obtain FastPasses early in the day, there was also the chance you wouldn’t get one because they would run out.

Old FastPass ticket

Old FastPass ticket

The new FastPass+ has a much more user friendly approach to the same concept. There will be a lot of people out there who don’t like dealing with new technology and planning in advance that will despise this new system. But I am LOVING it. This new system allows you to go online or on the mobile app and schedule your FastPasses BEFORE your trip. So here I am at 45 days until my trip and I am able to schedule all of my FastPasses for each of my days at the different theme parks. Oh, and I can also change the time ranges for the FastPasses if I don’t like the the original time assigned to me and my traveling group. How cool is that? No more running around the parks trying to obtain the FastPasses I want, and hoping to get a good time range. Now I can simply log into the My Disney Experience site, schedule the FastPasses I want, alter the times to fit into our schedule, and not have to worry about it anymore.

When you have access to fastpass+, this is what the initial screen will look like.  It will show if you've already made fastpass+ selections and if you have dining reservations for that day.

When you have access to fastpass+, this is what the initial screen will look like. It will show if you’ve already made fastpass+ selections and if you have dining reservations for that day.

This screen allows you to choose what you want to do next.  You can make fastpass+ selections, change current selections, copy selections to another party member, and cancel all selections.

This screen allows you to choose what you want to do next. You can make fastpass+ selections, change current selections, copy selections to another party member, and cancel all selections.

Here is an example of fastpass+ selections I was playing around with the other night.  I have the option to make changes to all three selections.

Here is an example of fastpass+ selections I was playing around with the other night. I have the option to make changes to all three selections.

If I chose to change the time for Toy Story Mania, it will give me options for what times are available on this date.

If I chose to change the time for Toy Story Mania, it will give me options for what times are available on this date.

This is the itinerary screen.  This is where you can add plans to each day of your vacation.  If you want, you can roughly plan out your entire vacation with the My Disney Experience website.

This is the itinerary screen. This is where you can add plans to each day of your vacation. If you want, you can roughly plan out your entire vacation with the My Disney Experience website.

The way FastPass+ works is definitely different. Big users of the old system may not like the fact that Disney is currently limiting how many FastPasses a guest can get each day. Right now the number is three per day, with some people getting a bonus FastPass for the Magic Kingdom. It doesn’t look like we will be one of the lucky traveling groups getting a bonus FastPass, but I don’t really mind. I hear there are rumors that once FastPass+ is completely up and running (no longer in testing), the number of FastPasses will be determined by whether you are staying at an on-site or off-site resort/hotel, and whether you are at a value, moderate, or deluxe resort on-site. People staying at a Disney deluxe on-site resort may be able to get up to five FastPasses each day. Again, this is just rumors at this point. Who knows what will actually happen once FastPass+ is officially rolled out.

Disney’s MagicBands are the most interesting new development. The MagicBands are rubberized bands that you will wear on your wrists while visiting Disney World. These bands will act as your theme park and water park tickets, your Disney resort room key, and allow you to purchase food and merchandise. You will use the bands to schedule FastPass+ selections at the new FastPass+ machines in the parks, and it will allow you to check-in for your FastPass+ reservations for rides and attractions. In essence, these bands will replace the old “key to the world” cards that guests used to get. It’s my understanding that for people who are against this new technology, you will still have the option to use the old fashion ticket to enter the parks and unlock your resort room, but will not have access to some of the newer features.

New FastPass+ turnstiles at Disney World.

New FastPass+ turnstiles at Disney World.

The MagicBands will also be another way to personalize your Disney experience. People staying at a Disney resort will be able to customize their MagicBand by selecting the color they want and having their name printed on the back. If you customize your MagicBand between 45 and 30 days before your trip, Disney will mail the MagicBands to your home. If you don’t customize them in advance, you will be issued standard gray ones without your name on it when you arrive. When you’re in the parks and you swipe your MagicBand to enter a FastPass+ ride, Disney cast members (employees) will now be able to see your name on a screen and acknowledge you by name. This may seem a little creepy to adults, but will be a cool touch for kids. Imagine how your child’s face will light up when the various people at the Disney theme parks will know their names without asking. Pretty cool to most young kids.

Once you arrive at Disney World, there are accessories that you can purchase to personalize your MagicBand even further. I’m aware of three different kinds of accessories. There are CoverBands, MagicSliders, and MagicBandits. The CoverBands are fabric covers that you can buy to cover up your entire MagicBand. MagicSliders are large square charm pieces that you can slide onto your MagicBand. MagicBandits are small charms that snap into the extra holes on the MagicBands. All three options feature popular Disney characters and designs. I am looking forward to letting my daughter, Kayla, personalize hers once we get there.

MagicBand accessories

MagicBand accessories

The convenience of the new MagicBands is what truly amazes me. I think it’s nice that you will no longer have to worry about fumbling around with a paper ticket or plastic card in order to enter the theme parks, pay for meals, pay for merchandise, and unlock your door at your resort. It’s one less thing to have to worry about. For me, that is exciting since we will be traveling with our daughter who will be turning 3-years-old the day after we return home from our trip. I am all for the added convenience. Whatever makes a trip easier when traveling with children, sounds good to me. Not to mention, my daughter will be thrilled when we receive the MagicBands in the mail. I even customized it in her favorite color, pink.

I am having fun scheduling my FastPass+ selections. I find it is a little hard to decide so far in advance exactly what rides to get FastPasses for, but I like the idea of knowing I have the FastPasses I want and being able to plan my day accordingly. It may take some of the spontaneity out of the trip, but it is an added convenience to me. It probably helps that I am a planner, and I like to have a rough schedule of what we have going on so I can factor in my daughter’s nap time and bedtime, etc. I find myself not even hating making the advanced dining reservations as much as I initially thought I would. It’s a little annoying, but also nice to know that we won’t be limited to only eating at counter service locations because the lines are too long at table service restaurants. That is no fun. The only problem I’ve run into so far is trying to schedule everything around each other…meaning FastPass+ selections, advanced dining reservations, and my daughter’s nap time. Some of the times conflict, so this has been a minor issue while planning, but nothing overly frustrating. All it has really done is make me step back and remember not to over-schedule our days. It is a vacation, so there should be down time here and there to make sure we all get the rest we need.

For all you planners out there, you are going to love the new MyMagic+ experience at Disney World. Just remember, don’t get carried away with planning every second of every day. Disney World has a lot of stuff to do, but it’s important to find time to relax too. Even the princesses and the mouse himself need rest.

P.S. Here is the website for logging onto My Disney Experience. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/

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