It’s Back- Disney Free Dining 2015 is here!

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While other blogs are anxious to report rumors, we hold off until Disney announces an offer. There’s no reason to get all excited over what may come to be. BUT NOW DISNEY FREE DINING 2015 IS HERE!!!  We are as excited as you are! When you use Trips To The Mouse as your travel agent, they have you covered on all offers so you don’t have to worry about the rumors. You sleep in and know they are hard at work for you!

The Disney free dining offer has a few twists this year. The first is the requirement you must have a park hopper or a water park & more park ticket for your stay. Excluded hotels are: Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort(only the Little Mermaid rooms), campsites, and all 3-bedroom villas. There appears to be limited availability and possibly exclusions for Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter and Riverside as well as Disney’s All Star Movies as well. For value resorts you will receive the quick service dining plan and for moderates and deluxes you will receive the plus dining plan. You can upgrade as well if you want to go from the quick service to the plus or from the plus to the deluxe. It is reported you must have a six night stay but that has yet to be confirmed if it is being enforced. Honestly, we can’t imagine staying less than six nights anyhow so of course that’s a non-issue.

The promotion is for most nights arriving:

August 28-October 2, 2015

October 25-31, 2015

November 8-November 19, 2015

December 15-December 21, 2015

The availability for this promotion is extremely limited. We encourage you to complete a quote request form Trips To The Mouse  and include as much information as you can so they can secure a courtesy hold on your booking. Please include all names of the travelers as well as the children’s ages and your preferred resort and dates. Remember when you book with Trips To The Mouse  you get so much more service. They handle your dining reservations, your fast passes, and provide you with a custom itinerary.

Happy Monday everyone! Where will you be staying for Disney Free Dining 2015?

 

Free Dining

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Annie at Bass Concert Hall

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Annie openingOnce again, Broadway Across America brings an incredible performance to Austin with Annie at Bass Concert Hall. If you haven’t purchased your tickets to see Annie this week, stop reading and go buy them now. The show runs April 21-26th, 2015. I would definitely say it is appropriate for all ages but the evening performances are a bit late for the under 7 crowd. I had the pleasure of going with a friend on opening night last night. Obviously any little girl in the 80s knows the songs and the story line. And likely any little girl in present day does as well thanks to the remakes of the movies.

orphans

A few things really stood out to me. All of the child actresses were unbelievably talented. When you think about how young they really are, it blows your mind. They attend class, rehearse, and perform almost every night of the week. These kids are on the road traveling for weeks at a time. They all brought a level of energy and talent to the performance that really made the performance.

Lilly Mae

 

I know I am supposed to say my favorite was Issie Swickle who played Annie. Don’t   get me wrong she did a fabulous job at her role. But she was upstaged a bit by the adorableness of Lilly Mae Stewart who played Molly. Molly was the cute little curly haired girl in the performance.  She was so charismatic and every time she was on stage the audience was in love with her. If you are curious to read more about her, here  is a great article. Annie was her national debut. I have no doubt that she is going to do  incredible things in her career.

 

I don’t want to diminish Issie Swickle’s performance by any means. I do think her acting was far superior to her singing abilities but I am not an expert when it comes to music. Here is a clip for you to hear yourself that was shared by Bass today.

Issie Swickle as Annie in the #BroadwayinAustin production of Annie Bass Concert Hall through Sunday. http://austin.broadway.com/buzz/180481/a-new-deal-for-austin-national-tour-of-annie-begins-performances/

Posted by Mix 94.7 on Wednesday, April 22, 2015

 

Annie the Musical

 

 

I didn’t realize Sandy would actually be a key role as well. There were two dogs that played Sandy and I am not quite sure which one we saw or if both were on stage. It is official though, our Daisy Belle dog doesn’t have what it takes to be a doggie star. If awards are given, these dogs deserve all the doggie treats!

Miss. Hannigan was played by Lynn Andrews. She was made for that part. I wanted to keep picturing Carol Burnett but couldn’t because Lynn was so convincing!

 

The last part of the production that I feel was one of the best of the season was the set production. Not a single detail was spared. There were a lot of set changes and they were completely seamless. The New York City backdrops were actually flat but you would have never known because they created the illusion of dimension. As you all know by now I compare a lot of things to Disney and the set design was one that I thought was on par with the imagination you would find at a Disney performance.

Any little girl, grown or just one at heart,  would love this performance. I think it would make a great mother/daughter outing and of course a girl’s night out! Go see for yourself. You will leave smiling and quite possibly singing!

Annie the Musical

*This review was of my own opinion. I did receive complimentary tickets to provide an honest review for the show.

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#DisneySide @Home Celebration Recap

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I was honored when our family was selected to host another #DisneySide @Home Celebration this year! I think all of our friends were as excited as we were! At first, I considered keeping it small but as you guys know I am incapable of a small gathering. It is just too hard to limit our guest list. So we went all in and threw the best party we could! We had over 120 people who all had a blast. We had a lot of help from some incredible businesses and of course the party would have not been possible without Disney! All of the photos you see below are courtesy of Emily Cannata Photography. She is truly gifted with children and adults. She captures the moment in such a real way that I love. She has done photos for us with our kids as Jedis and it remains to be some of my all time favorite photos ever of our children. We also added a twist this year and decided to help Austin Diaper Bank with a diaper drive. Every pack of diapers gave people another chance to enter the raffle drawings. It was a win win for all! The Raffle Table was full of prizes once again. Most of these were courtesy of our hostess kit. Wonderful companies like All, HP, Duff, and Twinings to name a few. I supplemented with a few items from the Disney Store Online also.

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Party Favor BagsOur theme was Cars this year. We tried to recreate Radiator Springs from Disneyland for our guests to experience! As you entered, there was a welcome race track leading the way. Then in the entry room there was all kinds of information dedicated to the Disney Destinations: Disneyland, Walt Disney World, The Disney Cruise Line, Aulani, and Adventures by Disney. It seems a lot of people were interested in the Disneyland 60th Celebration this year and Aulani! Then the guests saw the make your own party favor bag. The table was filled with stickers, Disney Play Packs, Star Wars goodies, bags, and of course the most adorable Cars inspired hair clips from OMG Adorable!

 

Freestyle Baking Cars treatsOne of the biggest hits of the party were the sweet treats provided for by Freestyle Baking Company! Jenny is creative beyond belief. She came up with three desserts. I think we can all agree, the donut cakes that looked like tires was the overall “winner” of the sweet treats! They were like taking a little bite of heaven and really did look like Luigi’s tires! She also created a cake inspired by Carsland. We all know how much kids love their decorate your own cookie and these did not disappoint. And yes, I did save the leftover frosting and might have had a few spoonfuls following the party. Jenny’s cakes taste as good as they look. Buttercream is always used which is my favorite. And one of the best parts about using Jenny is that she delivers and does the set up for you! Talk about making the party day easy. She joined us for the event as well but generally she sets up and heads out. I also learned how to cut the tiered cakes properly. I have been doing it wrong for years. You don’t remove the top layer first. You make small slices around the outside bottom layer first. This was genius!

Popcorn

 

I tried desperately to find a way to serve food in cones just like the Cozy Cones at Carsland. I could not find a cost effective way to do this so I opted for just serving the popcorn in cones instead. It wasn’t quite what I wanted but the kids loved it and the cones were still fun.

 

 

HEB Tray WrapsThis year instead of doing all the food ourselves, we decided to enlist the help of HEB Catering. Guess what Austinites, they deliver now too! They arrived right on time with the best looking party trays I have seen. I have ordered trays before from HEB and the food is always amazing. I had no idea they would add decorations to your trays if you ask. These came Cars inspired! We had veggies, fruits, a cheese tray, and a wraps tray. More than enough food for all of our guests. The only recommendations I would make when ordering the cheese tray for a kid inspired party is to sub out the speciality cheeses for the colby jack cheese and cheddar cheese.

 

 

 

Carsland Table

And now for the entertainment we offered. The weather cooperated. We were so worried about rain this day and weren’t quite sure what we would do if it did rain but it held off. We cleared out our playroom and only left the Carsland Cars Table. Yes, it is like a train table but with Radiator Springs set up. Snapology of Austin came and entertained the kids, and parents, as well. We intentionally had them come just a little bit after the party. I kid you not, every single child that walked into our house before they were set up started to head directly upstairs first to find the LEGOS. If you haven’t had a party with them yet, book it now. They also offer camps and after school workshops. Legos

 

 

Coloring table

 

Entertainment for Anything

The coloring table was set up inside the kitchen and tattoos were outside. Then came the other big entertainer, the balloon guy! Adam with Entertainment for Everything had even the adults talking! He was recommended by several neighbors and he really blew away my expectations. Let’s be real-a lot of balloon and clown type entertainers are a little wacky. Adam was just entertaining! He had the adults laughing and the kids lined up constantly. Weeks later, we still have a balloon octopus he made floating around. He throws in a little magic while kids are waiting and is funny. The kids also played outside on the playscape and ran around.

 

It wouldn’t be a #DisneySide party without the photobooth from Say Cheese. We did move this to the garage in anticipation of rain. I was worried about the location but Jenny helped by sending people out that way. Kids and adults love the Say Cheese Photobooth. They come and do the set up for you and they provide the fun props! They also let you adjust the size of prints and everything. Super fun! Their team is so professional and their quality of photos that their photobooth generates is the best I have seen.

Adults Disney Side Princesses

 

 

 

Our guests all showed their #DisneySide too!

 

 

 

 

While we did have a lot of similar things as our last year’s party, the theme of Cars was new and really cool to get to explore and go with! Now, if the powers that be are reading, the kids have asked if there could be a Star Wars themed #DisneySide Party next year! I have a feeling they are already planning such an event in their heads. I also may be creating little party planning monsters by going all out for our #DisneySide party but these smiles are totally worth it! This was certainly the party of the year for us. Check out the #DisneySide, #MainStreetTales, and #TripsToTheMouse for more pictures and fun on any social media site.

Family Disney Side

 

*As a #DisneySide @Home Celebration Hostess, I did receive a party hostess kit. I opted to share almost everything in the kit with our party attendees. The reviews and opinions in this post are my own.

Below is a list of our major sponsors. Please show them some love and like their facebook pages! 
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Disney In Concert at the Long Center

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I had the pleasure of taking my family to see Disney In Concert at the Long Center here in Austin. We had the best time! This was the first indoor event at the Long Center we had taken them to.  During the summers, there is an event called Concerts in the Park that we have taken them to which is outdoors but other than that, this was our first experience with kids to the Long Center. The simplest of terms comes to mind and that is it was easy! They had age appropriate snacks for the intermission, the booster seats were just like at the movies, plenty of bathrooms for those bathroom breaks that come with preschoolers, and such a friendly staff. We had staff actually speak to our children numerous times and ask them about the time they were having, etc. The Long Center gets a huge thumbs up in my book for making it easy to go with children. Even the parking was easy! We were running late so we valet parked and that couldn’t have gone smoother. You almost felt like you were at Disney with the level of service you received.

The kiddos before the show. We ran into a good friend also.

The kiddos before the show. We ran into a good friend also.

Now, on to the show! I didn’t know what to expect as we had not seen Disney In Concert before. It was a perfect mix of music, singing,  performing, and visual enhancements. There were children near us that were likely in the 2 and under range. I think it was a little long for them and probably during nap time. But for the three and up crowd, it was just the perfect combination to keep them interested and entertained at the same time. It made for the perfect first symphony experience for preschoolers. Now there were some big kids near us too and I would say every adult aka ‘Big kids’ near us was fully engaged and entertained too!

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The orchestra warming up prior to the show.

 

One of the wonderful things about Disney, whether talking about the parks or the movies, is the music. It always captures your heart and the Disney In Concert performance did the same. The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Mary Poppins, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Lion King were all represented. And of course Frozen made a surprise appearance too.

Aaron Phillips

Aaron Phillips

Lisa Livesay

Lisa Livesay

 

Lisa Livesay and Aaron Phillips stole the show from a performance standpoint. When I read about them after the fact, I was honestly surprised only Lisa had a history with Disney. Lisa, besides having an incredible voice, really became the character on stage. Aaron did the same and at times you felt like he must have surely been in the original films because he was one with the music through his        expressions and actions. They made you feellike the parts were written for them. The others were fabulous too, but these two captured the parts and took them to the Disney level!

 

 

 

The orchestra and the conductor were equally wonderful. They seemed to enjoy performing and overall it was a lively performance. The conductor made it a very personable experience.

While I enjoyed the accompanying videos that they showed, I also enjoyed the parts that didn’t have a clip to watch with it. When I asked my children which part was their favorite, they both said Pirates of the Caribbean which was one the conductor asked the audience to just imagine what is taking place. The kids have been on the ride but never seen the movie so it was especially interesting to me that they chose that selection as their favorite. Little known fact about me, I am not a huge fan of the It’s a Small World ride but I loved how the segment for It’s a Small World was presented. I felt like it was so true of what Walt would have wanted captured.

The only negatives we experienced were other people not being respectful of the rules. Please if you go to a live performance, honor the requests of the venue. Once the show begins, stop recording and taking photos. It isn’t safe for the cast members and it is certainly rude to those surrounding you. Likewise, please honor the no food in the theatre rule. I kid you not, we had a mother and son behind us eating their Chex Mix as loudly as you might imagine. I understand some medical conditions require food but please step outside to partake if that is your situation. It was very distracting and yes, other children do recognize when rules are being broken. And finally, remove your hat. You may not realize how distracting the bill of a baseball hat might be to those seated behind you but it really is. The staff was so polite in handling situations like recording even when they had to keep reminding one person over and over. There is no better time to teach your children etiquette when it comes to outings. Lead by example and you will never regret good manners. And to be honest, there is something about disconnecting from the outside world and enjoying the moment with your family.

Kiddos enjoying the intermission and a snack.

Kiddos enjoying the intermission and a snack.

 

Overall Disney In Concert brought together an incredible symphony of music and brought it to life for the audience. I have never been to a symphony performance that engaged the audience to that level and it was perfect for little kids and us big kids alike. If you are able to see Disney In Concert in your city, take the chance to do so. And for those of you in Austin, go see a show at the Long Center. Here is a link for upcoming family shows. I’ve always enjoyed the venue for adult outings and now see how wonderful they are for the family events as well. I can not say enough good things about the experience we had with our children. You can count on us to be back!

 

*This review was of my own opinion. I did receive complimentary tickets to provide an honest review for the show.

 

 

 

 

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Disney Fans Give Away – Enter Now!

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I am thrilled to be one of the blogs asked to be a part of this Disney Fans giveaway because it is all brands and things I love!

 

Oct November Giveaway

First up- City Strollers! Those of you who have gone to Disneyland know they are my preferred choice of vendors to rent a stroller from. They are always on time, clean, and super friendly! And of course they rent my favorite stroller- The City Mini! In the giveaway they are GIVING AWAY a four wheel City Mini! We own one and it is the best stroller there is in my opinion.

Second place prize is a Disney Survival Kit!  This prize includes a $50 Disney gift card(remember those can be used anywhere at the parks and online!), a Copca Hydra Bottle, a personal fan, and my favorite part of this kit, a Jackery Bar Charger. I have to carry a portable charger for my devices at the parks. This is especially true at Walt Disney World now that the app is so critical!

Third place prize is a Vera Bradley wristlet. Love the wristlets!

These prizes are brought to you by City Strollers, Love Our Disney, and Temporary Tourist!  These are all great resources and also great friends of Main Street Tales!

Enter here!

Stroller Giveaway

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