Saturday, October 18, 2014

Traveling Disney Parks with Babies and Children

Traveling Disney Parks with Babies and Children

Traveling to a Disney Park with an infant or young child can be daunting. There are many concerns. What supplies do you need? What accommodations are available inside the parks and at the Disney hotels? Is it worth the stress? Should you wait until they are old enough to remember the trip?

First off if your child is very young (under 2 or 3) they may not be able to remember this special trip, so why take them? Because YOU will remember it! You will have precious memories of your child at Disney. You will have pictures of your little prince or princess with the Disney characters that soon will become part of their lives through cartoons and movies. These will become part of their memories by you telling the stories and showing them the pictures.

There are lots of ways to make taking a baby or young child to Disney easier. Bring or rent a stroller for a young child. Bringing your own stroller can be a chore if you are flying. Checking it in and picking it up and the risk of loss or damage make it a risk as well as a hassle to bring your own strollers. The Disney Strollers are good enough for a single day but if you are staying multiple days you may want to consider renting from an outside rental company that will allow you to take the stroller back to your hotel either on property or off. Do you really want to carry your child back to the hotel from the park? How about the hassle of having to check in the stroller at one park when going to another in the same day? Here are two companies recommended by the Disney Experts at the Disney’s Mom’s Panel.

Disneyland and the California area:
Walt Disney World and the Orlando, Florida area:

Both of these companies deliver to your hotel and provide the extras needed upon request. You can order cribs and other needs as well. You can take your strollers out of the resort and to different resorts and areas if you wish.

Restrooms around the parks have changing stations so you can care for your little one. But when you need a quiet place to nurse, feed or just let your little one calm down check out the Baby Care Centers in each and every Disney Park. At the Baby Care Centers you can warm bottles, change diapers and clothing, nurse in privet and just find a quiet place rest.

While traveling around the parks you will find many rides your little bundle of joy can’t go on. You have a choice. You can skip the attractions all together or do child swap. One parent stays with the child while the other rides. This works really well if you have an extra family member or two come along. One parent can wait with the child, the other rides the attraction. When they return the parent that wait hands the child over to another family member and the parents can go ride the attraction together.

While at the parks look for quiet places to let your little one relax for a few. You can find these spots in restaurants and little off the path areas. Just keep your eyes open for an open bench in the shade. If they fall asleep in the stroller so much the better!

When taking a toddler be aware they may be afraid of characters. Please don’t force little ones to get their picture with Mickey if a tall Mouse panics them. Hold them, tell them what will happen before you go up to the character. Let them watch others be close to Mickey and see they are safe. I know you want the cute picture of your tot hugging Mickey and Minnie all smiles but it is not worth making them afraid of the characters for the rest of their lives.

Give your child a chance to rest! Be aware of their physical limitations. Your time will be much more enjoyable if you return to the hotel for a nap and maybe a swim. Be aware of the weather as well. Is it so hot it will tire your kiddo out faster? Are they so cold they are grumpy? Get them comfortable and let them rest. Do not push them further than their little bodies can take. Be aware that their little ears are more sensitive than yours. Is the music and sound effects too loud for them? Bring cotton to put in their ears or some other type of ear protection. Make sure they have shade in their stroller to protect them from the sun and bring sunscreen for them. Make sure you have plenty of the food and drinks they enjoy.

Adults and other kids think of all of Disney Parks as giant playground. Smaller children get bored easy. Make sure you give them time to play and run around. Little ones that are learning how to crawl or walk need the time and space to practice. Let them out and about some. Bring some toys, books, blankie or other comfort item. This is especially true if the child is ADHD or has other special needs. There are places at the parks and hotels to let a child be a child. Tom Sawyers Island and Challenge Trail are just two of the spots at the Disneyland Resort. Every park has several areas for kids to let of pent up energy. It is up to you to make sure it happens.

The most important this is ENJOY!! You are there to walk in Walt Disney’s Dream of having a place where families can “play” together! Just do what is natural and right for your family and if that means only spending a few hours a day in the park and heading back to the hotel then it is worth it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Can you help me with An Angel Remembers 25 Voices of Christmas?

Can you help me with An Angel Remembers 25 Voices of Christmas?

I'm working hard at getting my book, An Angel Remembers 25 Voices of Christmas published before Christmas. I'm doing Print on Demand publishing with Outskirts Publishing. They will get the book into Amazon as both print and Kindle as well as into many other online book retailer sites. To do this I need money to get the ball rolling. Can you help? Any donation is gratefully accepted!

Here is one of the stories from An Angel Remembers:


My name is Isaac. I’m five years old; my Papa owns one of the shops on Market Street. We live aboves the shop. Papa got a man to make new tables and things for his shop. Joseph – dats da guy – had a new baby. My Mama took me to visit dem. My Mama told me I had to be very quiet as we visited ‘em. She said they had a new baby and the new mama must be all tired. All babies need lots of sleep too.
When I walked into da stable where they were staying there was lots of people. There was da shepherds with all those sheep, Joshua, da innkeeper, and all his family and a whole lot of other strange people!
The strange people were mostly very big. Bigger than my daddy!! One of them was very small, lots smaller than me even! I’ve never seen people like them before. They all had the prettiest wings I’d ever see, even da little one! The little one was sitting on the manger softly singing to the baby. The little one called me over to look at the baby! The baby was so beautiful! He smiled at me when I tickled His chin!
I tried to show Mama all the people in the stable, but she could not see ‘em. She kept telling me to be quiet and to stop being silly and making up stories. But I was not telling stories!
As the boy got bigger we played together! He was real fun! He could talk to the animals and they would do what He said. Even our big nasty cat liked Him. It scratched everyone but Him! He always had a lot of those strange people around Him. I like Nahem, the littlest of His friends the best. Nahem sang the prettiest songs and told the funniest stories! Nahem would even play games with us. I miss playing with Jesus and His friends.
My Mama still says that I need to stop telling make believe stories about seeing those strange people. She does not believe I have seen them around Him. But I know I saw ‘em! Nahem told me who “HE” is. Do you want to know who He is?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What is Disney’s DAS and how does it help?

What is Disney’s DAS and how does it help?
Doing Disney with Disabilities

 The Disney DAS (Disability Access System) is how Disney helps those with disabilities enjoy the parks.

Let’s start off with what it is not. DAS is not a front of the line pass for anybody with any disability. A DAS Card is not issued to all disabled guests. It is not for all guests with mobility issues.

What is DAS? It is a Fastpass type return system for guests with disability limitations that make it difficult for them to be in long lines. For example the DAS system is for guests (young or old) that have cognitive disabilities such as ADHD, Autism and Traumatic (or other types) Brain Injury. If a person gets overly nervous or upset in lines then a DAS Card can truly save the day. It is good for the guest with disabilities and those in their party as long as the person that the DAS card is issued too rides the attraction with the party. You can only have ONE Return Time at a time. Once you use the Return Time you can get another.

So what do you do if you have mobility issues? You may not need to get a DAS Card. Instead just go into the regular queues for all rides. All lines at Walt Disney World parks and at Disneyland Resorts Disney California Adventure are designed to accommodate wheelchairs and ECVs. Disneyland Park has many lines that are NOT equipped to handle wheelchairs and ECVs. There are special secondary lines for wheelchairs and ECVs at Disneyland. My recommendation for those with mobility issues is take advantage of the regular Fastpass and Fastpass+ Systems. Have family and friends go to get passes is possible so you don’t have to wheel around the parks.

The exception to the above statement about mobility issues is Disneyland Park. Built before the days of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) many of the queues do not accommodate wheelchairs and ECVs. They have secondary lines for those with mobility issues and you can get a DAS card to use for those attractions. Some secondary queues do not require a DAS. It is still NOT a front of the line pass and many of the wheelchair lines are longer than the normal standby line. Not all attractions at the Disneyland Resort use a DAS Card for mobility issues. This is especially true for Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain.

So how do you get and use the DAS? Go into any of the Guest Relation buildings at any of the Disney Parks and request one. You will need to discuss your needs with the Cast Member at Guest Relations. They will not look at Doctors notes or medical records so you don’t need to bring them. You just need to tell them why you need it. I’ll be honest if you have ADHD or some other issue that makes it hard for you to stand in long lines let go of some of your emotion control and let them see what might happen if you lose it. Don’t get upset or rude. Just let them see your disability for what it is. DAS cards can be issued for the guest and their party, up to 4 people total on just the word of the guest getting the DAS. For groups over 4 the entire group needs to go to Guest Relations and show the Cast Member how many people are in the party.

You will get to pick your first Return Time for the first ride at Guest Relations. At Walt Disney World the DAS works just like the regular Fastpass. You or a family member takes the DAS card to the ride you wish to go on and obtains a return time.

At the Disneyland Resort there are 10 locations, 5 in each park where you can obtain a return time. You can go to Guest Relations any time to get a return time or to any of the locations in the parks. For Disneyland they are at the City Hall, Central Hub, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and New Orleans Square. In Disney California Adventure (DCA) Chamber of Commerce, Carthay Circle, entrance to Cars Land, Bugs Land and Paradise Pier.

To use your DAS Card go to the Fastpass Entrance or the Alternate Entrance if you use a wheelchair or ECV. There you can show your DAS card and enter the line. At some point during the ride they will cross out your Return Time so you can get another.

If at any time you find that the DAS Card is not meeting your need go and talk to Guest Relations. Some people with cognitive disabilities have a harder time than others with lines. Disney is committed to assisting those with Disabilities but, Disney can’t help you if you don’t talk to them.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Non Spoiler Review

Guardians of the Galaxy!
Non Spoiler Review
Marvel Studio

The Guardians of the Galaxy is fun romp through the Galaxy of Marvel’s creation.

A group of misfit prisoners are thrown together by greed and circumstance. This rag tag group of loaners and scallywags becomes a tight group of companions that share a goal of riding the Galaxy of the worst evil they know. The Guardians are a mix of escaped prisoners. Each broke out for their own reasons and at first have little loyalty to each other.

The Guardians leader is Peter Quill (AKA in his own mind as Star-Lord), a human kidnapped as a child from earth and raised by a group of interstellar thieves. Peter has a faults sense of importance and is a women chasing rogue.

Gamora, an orphan raised and trained by an evil leader to be his personal assassin. She has a great sense of right and wrong and does not like her forced servitude. At first this is her reason for joining the group

Drax the Destroyer is a warrior looking for vengeance against Ronan for killing his family. He is a berserker when let loose and will align himself with anybody who will help him reach his goal of killing Ronan. He has a soft heart inside.

Rocket is a genetically engineered raccoon who is a bounty hunter and mercenary. (It was fun seeing a bazooka carrying raccoon.) He is a weapons and tactics genius.

Groot is a tree-like humanoid who is Rocket’s protector, friend and house plant. He speaks but not much. He is an innocent in the middle of the mess.

Ronan the Accuser is the evilness in the galaxy. His soul purpose in life is to destroy anything that does not fit into his view of reality.

Like all Marvel Comics Guardians of the Galaxy is a mix of good and bad with the lines clearly defined. Where the line gets blurred is in the heroes of the tale. Each is a flawed person with demons of their own. Each of our heroes chooses to do the right thing in the end.

This movie is a darker and more adult than most Marvel/Disney offerings. Most of the adult humor will go over the kids heads. None is so offensive as to persuade me not to take a younger fan.

The visual effects were incredible. The story fun. It is well worth seeing in 3D in my opinion.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Disney Studio Store

                                         Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Disney Studio Store

 Next to the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, Ca there used to be the Disney Soda Fountain and Disney Studio Store. Late last year the Disney Soda Fountain closed and the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain opened. The Disney Studio Store remained a part of the location.

The Disney Soda Fountain was a place my husband and I would go when we needed a Disney Fix but could not get to Disneyland or we just wanted a special short date. We would hop the MetroRail and ride to the Hollywood & Highland stop and walk across the street to the Soda Fountain. It was a wonderful Disney Touch. Why Disney chose to close the Soda Fountain and allow Ghirardelli to take over I don’t have a clue.

Some of the problems with the Disney Soda Fountain was its limited size and the number of people it could accommodate at a time. They would have pin trading events there and sometimes the Pin Sharks got out of control. There were fights between traders and weapons showed up. It was reported that one person even got tasered over a pin! We never went when we knew there was a pin event.

We recently decided to stop at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and we were not impressed. The Disney touches were mostly removed in favor of Ghirardelli pictures and ads.

Before you could go to the Disney Soda Fountain and have a wonderful lunch or dinner. Now Ghirardelli only serves ice cream with different types of chocolate toppings and brownies. So it is now just a desert stop.

It was no problem for us that they only serve deserts as we were hoping for an ice cream sundae. We were pleased to see they still serve the Pin Traders Sundae where they give you a limited edition pin along with the Sundae. We did not choose the Pin Trader Sundae but were still happy they have it.

When it was the Disney Soda Fountain was that they limited the number of people allowed in to eat. If you just wanted to shop at the store they let you in without much waiting, unless that area was also crowded.

When we got to the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain it was crowded inside. They were not controlling the number of people in the Fountain at all. There was a lone line to order. Once we ordered we were given a number and told to find a table. There were no tables available! As we walked around we noticed that there were tables (enough for fourteen people) were pushed together and there was a large group crowded around the tables. On the tables were Starbucks Coffee cups and Pin Trading books. There was only one Ghirardelli product on all the tables! It was obvious that these people had been there for quite some time and really had no plans on leaving anytime soon.

We wondered around for about 15 minutes waiting for our Sundae and looking for a table. Finally we asked a supervisor of the Soda Fountain if she thought it was right that the pin traders took up tables and did not have products from there. She went over and asked the group to please let the two of us have a table. She also mentioned that they had not ordered anything from there. Our Sundae came and we stood waiting for another 10 minutes or so for 2 of the pin traders to finally give us a seat!

The Sundae was fantastic (as all Ghirardelli Sundae’s are) and we enjoyed a few moments together. It was noisy there and the pin traders were still hovering around making trades and not caring they were crowding people who were trying to enjoy their treat.

While I will give the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain high marks for the quality of the Sundaes they serve I rank it at the bottom for atmosphere and comfort. The management needs to get control of the pin traders and limit the number of people in the soda fountain at a time. This is for both the comfort and safety of the customers.

While we used to go to the Disney Soda Fountain several times a year I don’t think we will be going back to the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain anytime soon if ever.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Maleficent ~ Non-Spoiler Review & Spoiler Review

Maleficent ~ Non-Spoiler Review & Spoiler Review

Non-Spoiler Review
This is the first weekend for Maleficent to be in theaters. I was one of the many that went to see it. . . Yes it was worth it!

Maleficent is the Sleeping Beauty story from Maleficent’s point of view. I found it quite interesting and predictable at the same time. This is NOT your 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty! Do not expect the same tale. While quite enjoyable it is different enough to make me do a double take and wonder if I like, love or don’t care for the movie. In the end I do give it 2 wings way up!

While it is from Maleficent’s point of view don’t expect Arora to be absent or not a focus of the movie. She is also essential to the story. King Stephan is there as is his wife, still only a small part of the story. The three good fairies are a required part of the story and just as silly as they are in the cartoon, Sleeping Beauty.  The story is told differently so don’t expect the same ending.

If you go to see this expecting to see Sleeping Beauty as you know it from Disney’s 1959 animated classic you may be disappointed. If you go expecting to have another enjoyable version of the classic tale you will be very pleased.


The movie starts out with a young and happy Maleficent living happily in a marsh populated by fairies. She is happy and carefree. She is aware of the human world outside and how dark it is. The evil king of the land outside the fairy borders is set on taking over their land.

Her day of frolic and fun was interrupted by a ruckus at the border. A human was in the forest! Maleficent stepped in and took over the situation and talked to the creature! She found a young human boy about her age. He had stolen a gem and she made him return it. His name is Stephan.

As she takes Stephan out of the Fairy realm they talk and when they part the boy shakes her hand. His iron ring burns her hand, because fairy folk are burned by iron. He is a poor and orphaned. Maleficent is also an orphan. Stephan tosses his ring away so he can shake her hand. Maleficent is taken by the fact that one with so little will toss it away to shake her hand. As he leaves Stephan tells Maleficent that he has a goal of living in the castle someday.

Stephan and Maleficent became friends and for years the two meet at the edge of the two realms. They talk and as teens eventually Stephan kisses Maleficent and tells her it is true loves kiss.

Years pass and Stephan has not come to visit Maleficent. Maleficent wonders where her friend is. One day the king shows up at the edge of the forest and tries to come into the fairy realm. Maleficent has risen to be the most powerful fairy there and takes to the sky and directs the defense of the fairy realm. She is pivotal in stopping the humans from breaking in.

When the wounded king is taken back to the castle he tells his men whoever kills Maleficent will become king when he dies. The gown Stephan hears this and decides he can do it. He goes to the edge of the realm where he use to meet Maleficent and calls out to her. She comes to him and they talk. He gives her a drink that he spiked with something to make her sleep. He stands there with a knife planning on killing her. Instead, using iron he cuts off her wings and takes them to the king claiming that Maleficent is dead.

Maleficent awakes and is angry. She has been betrayed by someone she believed was her true love. This turns her cruel and she takes over the fairy realm and instead of each fairy trusting each other and there being not designated leader she declares herself queen. She leads her people with one thought in mind, destroy King Stephan!

Maleficent saves a crow and it becomes her wings, protector, friend and advisor. She sends the crow, named Diaval to spy on King Stephan. When she finds out that King Stephan is having a celebration for his new baby Maleficent decides to make an appearance. She come in after two of the three good fairies had given their gifts of beauty and grace.

Maleficent’s gift is to say she will indeed grow in beauty and grace. But on her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and fall into sleep and she will only be awoken by true loves kiss. Because King Stephan said his kiss was true loves kiss she believed true love did not exist.

King Stephan becomes frantic in his desire to save his daughter and stop Maleficent. He sends his precious daughter out into the forest to a cottage with the 3 good fairies to hide her until the day after her 16th birthday.

The 3 good fairies are comically inept in their good intentions. They have no clue how to care for a child. They do not know what to feed a baby and are even easily distracted to the point where they allow Arora to be in danger. Diaval had followed the 3 fairies with the baby when they hid. Strangely this became a good thing because Diaval lead Maleficent to the child.

Maleficent sees the baby starving because of the incompetent actions of the 3 good fairies. Maleficent sends Diaval with proper food for the child and keeps her eyes on the child. When the child gets into peril Maleficent is there to rescue her. Maleficent things she is watching to gloat over the impending doom of the child. Instead you see her slowly growing to care for the “Little Beasty” she has cursed.

As Arora’s 16th birthday approaches Maleficent revels herself to her. She takes the child to the fairy realm and lets her meet the other fairies. Arora knows that Maleficent has been following her all her life and thinks of her as her Fairy Godmother. Arora asks if she can stay with Maleficent in the fairy realm and Maleficent agrees thinking this is the way to avoid the consequences of the spell she cast years before.

On her way home to tell her “Aunties” that she is going to live in the fairy realm Arora runs into a young man her age. He is on his way to the castle and his name is Phillip. She points him in the right direction but before leaving he asks if they can meet again.

King Stephan was also getting ready for Arora’s return. In my opinion he was driven almost insane with guilt and shame for what he did to Maleficent along with fear for his child’s life. He was planning on getting Maleficent before she had a chance to get at Arora.

When Arora returned to her home and started to tell her Aunties that she was going to live with Maleficent they surprised her by telling her she was the Princess and had to return to the castle. She felt betrayed, angry and confused. She decided to go to the King for answers and went straight to the castle. Once there King Stephan was angry because she returned a day too early and therefore was not safe yet. He had Arora locked up but did not connect to her in any way.

Locked in her room Arora looked for a way out and found a hidden door. She chose to try to run away and in the process the curse too control and lead her to a room where all the destroyed spinning wheels were locked up. Once there she walked over to a magically reconstructed spinning wheel and pricked her finger on the spindle falling into her magical sleep.

Maleficent knew the curse and taken hold. She knew about the young Prince Phillip being interested in Arora. She grabs Phillip and takes him to the castle, breaching King Stephan’s security she takes the boy to Arora’s room where he does kiss her. Nothing happens! Maleficent is angry and sad it did not work! She wanted to save Arora, She had already tried to reverse the curse but could not.

While grieving Maleficent kisses Arora and Arora awakes! While the two woman and Diaval try to leave the castle the king finds them and attacks. He does not even seem to notice that his daughter is awake and the curse lifted! He is fixated on killing Maleficent, driven by guilt, fear and sorrow.

Arora finds Maleficent’s wings hidden in the king’s chambers. She releases them and they fly strait to Maleficent reconnecting to her. This turns the tide of the battle and Maleficent is able to defeat the king!

In the end Maleficent introduces Arora as the queen of the fairy realm as well as the human realm. By her side is the young Prince Phillip.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past ~ Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past ~ Review

I saw the newest Marvel Movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past last night. I will do my best to leave spoilers out of this review and apologize right now if any slip in.

X-Men is a great popcorn flick (a movie that is fun and a good excuse to sit and eat a bag of popcorn). More than that it is wonderful Thinking Man’s movie. It makes you think about what if . . . What if I had made a better choice back when . . . What choices am I making now that will affect my (and other people’s) future and how can I chose best? How should I respond to intolerance?

I saw it in a standard theater not 3D (I do hope to see it again in 3D sometime). The special effects are wonderful, per usual and the storyline well done. The characters stay true to the past movies and this installment just deepens them.

First off I suggest you see at least the movies X-Men: First Class and X-Men Origins: Wolverine before seeing this movie. This movie can stand alone as a fun popcorn flick but it helps if you have the background to make it a much fuller and more enjoyable experience.

Per usual X-Men is full of action, adventure, a touch of comedy and a good message about tolerance. The entire X-Men franchise is about teaching tolerance. If you did not know it be aware that Professor X is based on the moral teachings of Martian Luther King and Magneto is based on Malcom X. The idea Stan Lee had for this story was to teach the next generation that discrimination for any reason is wrong. The other message behind this movie is hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope and faith that if given a chance people will make better choices.