No Moms Panel For Me! Good For You!

So, I didn’t make the WDW Mom’s Panel. I mean, I didn’t even make it into the second round.

Am I disappointed? A little bit. I didn’t really expect to, but a girl can dream! Right!


However, I’ve realized how much Disney knowledge I (and my family) have. So, I wanted to ask you, my readers, what do you want to know about Disney?

Where to find the best character meal?
Where to go for fun with a 3 year old?
Should you get a park hopper?

What do you want to know?

I want to tell you!


New Blogger in the House!

Last week, I told you that I had applied to be on the WDWMoms panel. We haven’t heard anything from that. Not that I really expect to. But, a girl can dream right!?

When I applied, it brought up a family discussion about what they do and what kind of questions they answer. Maggie looked at me and said, “I want to do that for kids.” Well, after explaining to her that their wasn’t a Kids Panel, she decided to figure out a way she could help kids plan their trips to Disney.

For the House of Hills, the planning of a trip to Disney is half the fun. We LOVE spending hours watching videos, listening to podcasts, searching online and just discussing what we’re going to do on our next Disney trip. It’s part of our everyday lives. One of Maggie’s favorite podcasters is Lou Mongello over at WDWRadio. She decided to write Mr. Lou and ask if she can write about going to Disney from a kid’s point of view on his blog.

On our way back from our Labor Day trip, she used Hubby’s iPad to write a letter complete with example posts and then asked me to email it. I complied.

Big parenting moment pause here. Did I think she would end up blogging for Mr. Lou? It was possible. Not probable but possible. Was there a big risk to her self-confidence? Yes. But, if she didn’t ask, she wouldn’t know. As parents, Hubby and I feel like we need to let her try whatever she thinks she can do (within reason of course). We discuss the possible outcomes with her. If she’s willing to take the risk, we’ll back her. And, we’ll be there to hold her if she falls (figuratively or really).

So, I sent the email, and we waited. Every day, Maggie would come home from school and ask, “Did you check your email?” Yes, I live on my email. Silly question really. Finally, I got an email that made her OVER THE MOON EXCITED!

Mr. Lou’s blog editor (whom I’m becoming fast friends with) invited Maggie to be a regular contributor on the blog. Her first assignment was to write an introductory post that told a little about her and what she would be writing about. Then, last Tuesday, my girl’s post went live.


As you can tell by the post, she wants kids (or parents of kids) to ask her questions, and then she’ll answer them in future posts. In fact, she’s writing one right now while I type this. Yes, we’re blogging together. I am SO EXCITED for her and proud of her courage for putting herself out there and just asking.

We have a new blogger in the house. And, I’m pretty sure she’s on her way to being read more than me.

WDW Moms Panel : I Applied!

Well, I did it. I applied for the Walt Disney World Moms Panel.

Many of you that know me well are saying, “Well, duh!” However, it’s not that easy. Well, the first step isn’t hard, but the thought of putting yourself out there for rejection – that part is NOT EASY. And, I applied back in 2009 and didn’t make it past the first round. (However, my friend Amanda did! Whoop!!)

Here’s the thing. I may not make it past the first round again. And, that’s okay. Because ever since this crazy guy

took me to Walt Disney World on my honeymoon it’s been a special place for our family.

And now that this crazy girl is in the mix,

our evenings and weekends can often revolve around our love of Disney.

And, we love to share it with our friends and family.

And, I love to share it with you.

Have you noticed the Disney tab at the top of the House of Hills page. I put that there so you could see all our Disney related posts to help you plan your vacation. And, I have lots more posts in my head. In fact, all I really need to do is go through my emails. I answer questions weekly about Disney, and my plan is to start being more intentional about sharing those answers with you.

If I make it to the next round of the Disney Moms Panel, I’ll be ecstatic. If I don’t, I’ll just share my knowledge here – with you.

If you’ve got a question about traveling to Walt Disney World or going on a Disney Cruise, I’d love to answer it for you. Let me know what you want to know!

Disney: First Aid and Baby Care Center

This is an important sign friends. There is a similar one in all Disney parks. And, these spots are clearly marked on every park map.

Take a minute to see where it is.

Because you never know when you’re going to need it.

Let’s talk about the First Aid Center well, first.

Yes, I’ve visited the one at Magic Kingdom. Several times. Yes, I keep a small first aid kit in my Disney backpack. However, when your child wipes out as you’re getting on the bus and takes the skin off her ENTIRE knee, you need a LARGE bandage, not a little band-aid.

The First Aid Center folks kindly gave us a bandage and offered to help us if we needed anything else. They carry basic over the counter medications and can help you find medical attention if you’ve got more than a small boo-boo.

If you are having a medical emergency while in one of the parks, contact the closest Cast Member, and they will assist you. Seriously, they’re trained for that.

Now, let’s talk about one of my favorite places in all the parks, the Baby Care Center. Oh My. Word. They are an oasis in the intensity that is a visit to Disney.

We discovered them on our first trip with the Princess when she was just three months old. We were in the Magic Kingdom and realized we had dressed her WAY to warmly. A quick duck into the shops on Main Street and we were the proud owners of a summery Mini Mouse outfit. Then, we had to find somewhere to change her. We were directed to the Baby Care Center just up the road right near the Crystal Palace Restaurant.

We went in and found this massive group of rooms. It was WONDERFUL! They had a huge room with multiple changing tables. There was a dimly lit room with rockers for breast-feeding (or bottle feeding) mommies. There was  room with small tables and a television – a space for toddlers to relax,  eat lunch, or just cool off and decompress from the outside craziness. There were loving Cast Members who offered help to tired and overwhelmed mommies (and daddies). Like I said, WONDERFUL.

We’ve visited the Baby Care Centers regularly over the years. Once the Princess was out of diapers, we were potty training and of course had some accidents. It was much easier and calmer to go deal with that at the Baby Care Center than in a regular bathroom stall. The last time we visited was two years ago because the Princess had a really upset tummy caused by the ridiculous food she’d been eating. (What parent allows their child to exist on nuggets and popcorn? Oh, that would be me.) We discovered then that they have a mini-pharmacy in there and will gladly sell you anything from children’s Tums to a pack of diapers or wipes.

We love the Baby Care Centers and can’t say enough about their amenities and their convenience. However, truly the best part of the centers are the Cast Members who work there. They are so patient and kind with both parents and kids. On several occasions, we’ve met up with some special friends in there too…characters dropping by to give the kids some love.

While they may not be a MUST SEE at Disney parks, the First Aid Center and the Baby Care Center are for sure a MUST KNOW. They can make your trip even more enjoyable by assisting you in a time of need.

Linked to Things I Love Thursday, ’cause I love the Baby Care Centers.

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post in any way. I’m just a huge fan of these services at Disney.

Disney: Drive or Bus to the Park


Everyone knows that the House of Hills LOVES us some Disney. Our last trip was in March to the Disney Social Media Moms conference, and we’re already itching to go again.

Because we are Disney “Freaks” and love to shout about it, we often get questions from friends and family about what to, how to, and when to do the Disney experience. It kinda makes sense for us to start answering some of them here on the blog. So, here we go.

I got this tweet the other night.

Now, this is a common question. If you stay “on property” – meaning any of the Disney World hotels – there are shuttle buses that will take you to all the parks. Pretty cool huh!?

What I thought was interesting were the two answers my friend Jessica got back. (Notice she was asking me and another friend of hers who was also at Disney Social Media Moms.)

I said:

Her other friend said:

Pretty funny – right?! I mean, you’d think there would be a BEST way to do it. However, what we’ve discovered is that there isn’t a universal BEST. However, there is a BEST way for YOUR FAMILY. You have to figure out what that is.

We drive to the parks from the hotel because:

  • We don’t have to wait for a bus either at the hotel or the park.
  • We have a child who can no longer be carried once she falls asleep. My Sweetie can drop us off near the hotel room and then go park the car.
  • Our car is not crowded with grumpy, crying children and {whisper} rude tired adults. (Except for maybe me, but My Sweetie took me for better or worse right.)
  • Parking is FREE for on property hotel guests. You just need to make sure your hotel parking pass is displayed.
  • We drive to Orlando and therefore have a car there.
  • We can go wherever we want from wherever we want and don’t have to “work” the transportation system to get there as you might have to do with the buses if going to a different resort for a meal or show.

People take the buses to the park from the hotel because:

  • They don’t want to navigate it on their own. They’d rather not think about where to turn and when. Taking the bus is just easier. (Um, if I was doing the driving, we wouldn’t be driving. My Sweetie is a human GPS.)
  • The buses run to every park all the time – from well before the park opens until well after it closes.
  • They flew to Orlando and don’t have a car.
  • They have children who can either be carried when they fall asleep (and it’s a relief not to have to deal with the car seat) OR are big enough that they can pretty much take care of themselves.

There are pros and cons to both choices. It’s something that you need to think through for your family. I dare say if you have a car in Orlando, you could try it both ways and then go with the one that works best for you.

If you’ve been to Disney World, what do you do? Drive or take the bus?

Disney Social Media Moms: Quick Pics Day 3

Day three of the conference started REALLY early for this Mama! We had been up late the night before and I was the ONLY one of the House of Hills up for breakfast. However, it was a great breakfast where I was able to hear the Head Chef from the California Grill and the Chief Sommelier from Animal Kingdom Lodge discuss Disney Dining.

I walked around the Grand Floridian and took some pictures. Believe me, it deserves its own post, but here’s one pic.

After waking my child up at 10:45!!!! and grabbing some lunch, we headed over to Epcot as a family. The Princess spent a great deal of time in Innoventions. She LOVES all the science techy stuff.

She also did one round of the Kim Possible game. That too deserves its own post. It is SO MUCH FUN for the entire family. We’ve played it before, but she wanted to do one round this trip.

I left the family and went to a press conference for Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living. This is an awesome program that I will be talking about more in the weeks to come. I was able to attend a press conference with some Disney Channel stars (with whom the Princess was later able to dance)!

After a very yummy (and healthy) dinner, we went to a dessert buffet (also healthier) and to watch Illuminations from the BEST SPOT EVER!

We then said good-bye to many of the Disney Mommy Friends and headed back to the Grand Floridian for our final night in paradise.

And just like that, the conference was over. So sad……

Oh, we did stay two more days. Monday we hit Typhoon Lagoon. It was actually our FIRST WATERPARK as a family. OH. MY. WORD. We had the best time. Except for the fact that I bruised my tailbone. Gotta lift your booty on the water coaster folks. Gotta lift that booty.

Tuesday, we went to Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom for breakfast with Pooh and Friends…more about tomorrow…

Disclosure: My family and I were given accommodations and park tickets at a reduced rate as part of the conference. In addition, Disney has treated us as wonderful guests complete with special surprises. All opinions are my very own.

Disney Tip: Rain Gear

I’m currently at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration learning tons about blogging and hanging with my family at the parks. While I’m MIA, I thought it would be fun to share some Disney tips I’ve learned over the years. I’ll be coming home with even more!

I’ve told you before about the backpacks I take to Disney. Yes, I said backpacks… as in plural. One for daily in the park and one for days when it might rain. Because it rains in Florida – often – even at Disney.

The photo above is from a day that the entire House of Hills was thankful for the rain gear backpack. It was POURING at Animal Kingdom. Have you been to Animal Kingdom? There aren’t many places to hide there. We just had to walk in it. Did I mention it was POURING!!

However, we stayed dry wherever we were covered with the rain gear I had in my handy backpack. And, when it stopped pouring, we were happy for dry socks.

Here’s a recap of what I pack in the rain gear backpack:

  • Raincoat/Poncho for each person. The Princess has always had a Lands End raincoat, and I can’t overemphasize how AWESOME they are!
  • At least one umbrella
  • Multiple gallon baggies – I use these to put things in that I don’t want to get wet. The phone and wallet that are in my pocket usually get put in a baggie. The Princess’ autograph book gets put in a baggie, etc.
  • One pair of socks for each person
  • If you have a stroller, at least one poncho to cover the stroller

Now, I do NOT recommend carrying this backpack EVERY day you are at Disney. I highly recommend it when it looks like it’s going to rain.

How do you stay dry when you’re hanging with the Mouse (or on any other outdoor adventure…although why you would want to be any place besides Disney is beyond me)?

Disclosure: All opinions are my own.

Disney Social Media Moms: Some Quick Pics Day 2

Day two at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration was spent in the conference center with some AMAZING speakers, learning, entertainment, and prizes. I took tons of notes and will share them with you later. But, be honest. What you really want are some pictures.

This is actually from Day 1, but didn’t make it up yesterday.

This is also from Day 1. I was SO BLESSED to have my family with me for the trip. It was truly magical to share the time with them.

All prepared for a day of learning. And OH MY! did we learn!
More of what I learned in posts to come.

The stage for our speakers. Yes, the piano was used in the afternoon by Georgia Stitt as she played and sang with Susan Egan. AMAZING women!

Duffy the Bear was there when we returned from lunch. We also received a stuffed Duffy, which my Princess was VERY excited about.

I hung out for a brief moment with Sippy Cup Mom who is one of my favorite Twitter friends, now Real Life friends.

The Princess with Captain Hook at the Disney Junior party.
So much fun!

The Princess on the tea cups at like midnight. It was a LATE night!

Disclosure: My family and I were given accommodations and park tickets at a reduced rate as part of the conference. In addition, Disney has treated us as wonderful guests complete with special surprises. All opinions are my very own.

Disney Social Media Moms: Some Quick Pics Day 1

We started our AMAZING Disney Social Media Moms celebration with some GREAT family fun at Magic Kingdom. Then, I was able to attend a press event for the 20th Anniversary of Disney Weddings. (I TOTALLY want to renew my vows at Disney now.) Finally, we were treated to a FABULOUS family dinner and fun on the Grand Floridian lawn.

I’ll go into more detail when I get home, but I know you want to see some pics.

After checking into our hotel, we headed to Magic Kingdom. It is CROWDED this time of year. One of the reasons we’ve never been in March. It’s still FUN though!

We ran into Ohamanda right inside MK.
We stopped for a quick pic and then she and her hubby were off to park hop.

The view outside our balcony. We’re at the Grand Floridian. Yes, I’m getting spoiled.

What greeted us at the Wedding Pavilion. We all filled up boxes for our “kids.”

All the ladies received fun “Bride Mickey Ears.” I’m wearing mine proudly.

I was so excited to meet Lou from WDW Radio. My Sweetie LOVES his podcasts and videos, and I got my picture taken with him JUST so I could text it to my hubby. SO fun.

Those are just a FEW of the pictures I took. More to come in the days (and perhaps weeks) to follow!

Disclosure: My family and I were given accommodations and park tickets at a reduced rate as part of the conference. In addition, Disney has treated us as wonderful guests complete with special surprises. All opinions are my very own.