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Moms Panel Monday: Beautiful Sunflower

posted on June 25th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Sunflowers are strong and beautiful, and produce in abundance seeds to grow and feed. And they always turn towards the light. I know this because years ago, I grew a sunflower bed in my backyard.

Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Dannée Neal

A few days ago, we lost one of our own, Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Dannée Neal, after a courageous fight with cancer. It seems fitting that the sunflower was Dannée’s favorite blossom. Dannée is one of the most beautiful people I have ever met, both inside and out. She had a glow. She was always positive and believed in light and love. Along with her precious husband and family, she loved her friends on the Moms Panel and sharing pixie dust with our guests.

I think Moms Panelist Kaylene says it best in her tribute to her here. Today, I am without words.

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Moms Panel Monday: Celebrate Dads at Disney Parks!

posted on June 18th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! I use Father’s Day to give my Prince Charming “boy band” clothes he only wears on dates with me. They make him look so handsome and cute it’s more a gift for me than him!
Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Terry McKinney

Did you know that we have six dads on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel? Our dads bring some extra manly magic to the panel each day to help you plan your next Disney vacation.

If you’re looking for ways to let the dad in your life know just how awesome he is, Father’s Day and all summer long, here at Walt Disney World Resort, panelist Terry McKinney has some tips to share:

“I was never able to visit Disney as a kid and my first visit was when I was 21, so I’m catching up on the fun as an adult alongside my children,” Terry says. “We love spending time together in the parks and try to do things that include all four of us, like The Pirates League. What’s cooler than becoming pirates together?”

Terry also knows that dads like to relax, so he recommends some downtime at any of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. “They have so many fun things that Dad will enjoy, such as movies under the stars or even boat rentals if you want to go for a boat ride.”

For a photo finish to the fun, Terry suggests paying a visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to watch Fantasmic! “For a guy, that’s a phenomenal show: the special effects, fireworks and lots of action. It’s a great way to end your day at the parks and it’s something my family sees every time we visit.”

If you’re a dad, Terry says one of the most important things to do is let loose once in a while and act like a kid. “This is the only place you can act like a kid and no one will look at you funny! For me, it’s all about seeing the excitement in my children’s eyes, and we love being able to have fun together as a family.”

How did you celebrate this Father’s Day? Tell me the ways you celebrate Dad Mickey-style.

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Moms Panel Monday: Amanda & Laura Visit Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park

posted on June 11th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

This weekend, I put on my big sunglasses, my pink fedora and channeled my inner Nora Ephron and headed to Hollywood to be a director! Well, not exactly Hollywood, but to Disneyland Resort to a film shoot at the soon-to-be-opened Cars Land! Disneyland Mom Amanda Ficili and I spent the weekend filming some fun segments for the Disney Channel. Also making her TV debut was Amanda’s adorable daughter, Princess Bella. Yes, that’s her real name and she works it!

Disneyland Resort Mom Amanda Ficili and her Daughter Bella Visit Cars Land at Disney California Adventure Park

Amanda and I also were able to spend the day with her co-star, Cole Pendery, “Disney 365″ star and member of the up-and-coming band, “IM5.” Both Amanda and I kept telling his mom that he was the sweetest, most well-raised young man we had ever met. There is no doubt that in the near future, his poster will be on my daughter’s wall.

Since the filming took place in Cars Land, we got an early sneak peak into one of Disney California Adventure park’s newest and most exciting lands! I won’t spoil all the secrets, but everything there exceeded my expectations. I even got to take a ride on the new Radiator Springs Racers attraction, a dream come true for me. A fast race car, a pink dress, high heels and the sunshine of the West Coast. That’s California dreamin’ my way!

Cars Land opens to the public this week. Let me know if you loved it as much as we did!

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Moms Panel Monday: It’s a Jolly Holiday with 2012 Panelist Sue Farrell

posted on June 4th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Parks are an international vacation destination with magical locations in the United States, to France and soon Shanghai. I plan to take my pink high heels (umm and my family) to visit the parks all over the world. So it makes total sense that our Walt Disney World Moms Panelists live all over the world too! I am visiting the United Kingdom this summer and hope to have a spot of tea with our own Mrs. Potts, Sue Farrell!


Sue Farrell, a wife and mom from Cheshire, United Kingdom, is putting the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious into the vacation plans of guests with their flying umbrellas headed toward Walt Disney World Resort. Since Sue and her family usually spend at least two weeks at a time visiting Disney Parks and Resorts on holiday, she is the expert planner for families visiting from abroad and loves to share her advice.

What is your advice for families living outside of the U.S. who are planning a trip to Disney Parks?

“I would recommend having a look at MyDisneyWorldPlanner website, which has lots of useful videos for visitors from the U.K. From this website, you can also order a free planning book, ‘The Little Big Book of Magic’. First, it is worth taking things at a slower pace while you adjust to the time difference after long-distance travel. So, we like to schedule relaxation days in addition to the more busy days. We love to enjoy the resort pool, spend some time at Downtown Disney – a little shopping and a table by the waterfront enjoying coffee from Ghirardelli’s is one of my favorite ways to relax.”

What are your tips for planning a Disney vacation that is longer than one week?

“When planning a longer vacation, it is important to remember that you cannot do everything, and I ask all family members for their top three or four “must-do’s” so everyone gets to enjoy their favorite attractions or activities.

There are two things that I believe to be true: firstly, there is something for everyone at Walt Disney World Resort; and secondly you will need comfortable footwear! Do your research and make a plan, but be relaxed about changing your day and take a break if you need to. For just a moment or two, slow down and soak up the magical atmosphere.”

How does your family divide up your vacation time when you plan an extended stay?

“Over the whole holiday, we plan two non-consecutive days at each theme park, two mornings at the water parks, then pool days, shopping, miniature golf, and then return to any parks we wish to revisit. It’s nice to be able to take our time! We tend to visit the Parks early in the day until lunchtime, and utilize Extra Magic Hours (available to Disney Resort hotel guests when the parks are open outside usual hours for those guests only), to make the most of our time.”

What are some things you’ve learned and can share with families to make it more affordable?

If you stay on property there are more than 20 resort hotels to suit everyone’s taste and budget and you will receive use of Disney transportation around the Resort, and complementary shuttle from the airport on Disney’s Magical Express. Downtown Disney is always on our to-do list because it has no admission fee, great entertainment and there is lots to see and do.

I also recommend looking into purchasing one of the Disney Dining Plans and looking for promotions when it is offered at no extra charge as part of a package. We usually bring snacks for breakfast, which saves cash or dining credits for lunch and dinner later.

Want to know how you can make your vacation practically perfect in every way? Get yourself a spoon full of sugar with the panelists at

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Moms Panel: Meet Military Mom Ashley Forster

posted on May 29th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Many of us celebrated this Memorial Weekend with backyard barbecues or a quick getaway with family and friends. I also took a moment to reflect on brave men and women like the Tuskegee Airmen, Crispus Attucks and my ancestors past and present, who put their lives on the line for me.

If you are planning a trip to Walt Disney World Resort and are looking for ways to have some patriotic fun, Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Ashley Forster has a few special tips to share. As our “Military Mom” on the panel, Ashley assists guests with lots of questions, including information about military discounts and the best way to travel with little ones in tow.

“My husband serves in the U.S. Coast Guard, so Memorial Day is very important to our family,” Ashley says. “We live in a big military area, so we and most of our neighbors will have a cookout this year and watch the local parade.”

In the past, Ashley and her family have come to Disney Parks on Memorial Day weekend and spent their time going to shows and attractions that highlight America’s history.

“We decided to make it a patriotic day, starting with a stop at the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot, where we watched the Voices of Liberty perform,” Ashley says. “We ended the day with something really special at Magic Kingdom: the flag retreat ceremony. When it’s time to take down the flag on Main Street, U.S.A., each day, Disney cast members will invite active duty or retired military members to help with the ceremony, and being able to watch that with my family was truly memorable.”

Ashley says that her best advice to military families planning their Walt Disney World vacation is to take advantage of the discounts offered to Members of the U.S. Military, which include special Walt Disney World Resort hotel and Disney Park ticket rates.

Ask Ashley a question about your next vacation at

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Moms Panel: Melissa Joan Hart Live!

posted on May 18th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

So if you remember last week (remember the word “remember”!) I talked about how Disney Parks kicked off our “Summer to Remember” with a huge media event, announcements of new attractions, world-wide itineraries, and new ships. There are zillions of ways to make the few summers we have to spend with our kids before they grow up, magical and memorable!

Melissa Joan Hart, former star of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch and current co-star of Melissa & Joey on the ABC Family network, will join Moms Panelists Amanda Ficili and Jill Cooper for a live web chat next Tuesday, May 22nd, at 9:00 p.m. ET.

What will they be chatting about? You! Well, not exactly you, but they will be answering guest questions right here on the Disney Parks Blog. Did I mention that it will be live?

Melissa is no stranger to traveling to Disney Parks with her two little ones. She is currently planning an upcoming Disney vacation herself after the stork visits her home with her third prince or princess!

For a chance to participate in the live video chat with Melissa, email

You can also ask me your questions right here below! I will be printing them out this weekend and picking some of your Disney Parks vacation planning questions on my way to the studio.

What do you want to know about how to make this summer’s vacation one of your summers to always remember? Ask me now!

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Moms Panel Monday: A Summer to Remember at Disney Parks!

posted on May 14th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

A few days ago, Disney Moms Amanda, Ari, Jodie and I spent a whirlwind weekend at a special event showcasing to media the magical “summer to remember” we have planned all over the world at Disney Parks!

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Moms Panel Monday: A Dad’s Tips for a Disney Parks Mother’s Day

posted on May 7th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and that means it’s time for moms everywhere to sit back, relax and enjoy a day where it’s all about us! My perfect day would involve waking up late, spending some time at a spa, taking a nap, then having a light lunch, watching episodes of my favorite shows, taking a nap and then going to dinner, where I clink glasses of pink bubbly with my own mom.

If you’re a dad looking for ways you and your children can make Mom feel extra queen-like this Mother’s Day, Walt Disney World Moms Panelist, husband, and dad of two princesses Doug Ingersoll is here to share a few of his tips for celebrating Mom at Disney Parks and at home.

Q: What are some things dads and kids can do to make Mother’s Day extra special for Mom — either at Disney Parks or at home?

A: We always try to think of what she would want, not what we would want. So for a special “Mom day” we start with giving her some alone time to catch up on some reading, or just to relax. Then when she rejoins us, we make a point of having some activity ready to go, so that she does not have to plan everything as usual. The real key is to give her time for herself, but also time with the family.

Another fun thing we do is when Mom wants a little treat on the weekend, we go “get the newspaper” for her, which is code for us getting her a special drink from Starbucks. Now that there are going to be Starbucks at Walt Disney World Resort, we can incorporate that special tradition into our family vacations!

Q: Can you share some examples of things your family has done for Mother’s Day at Walt Disney World Resort that were a hit with Mom?

A: On one of our Walt Disney World Resort trips, we planned a special afternoon for my wife to thank her for being so great. At lunch in Magic Kingdom Park, I brought back a tray with only sandwiches for myself and the girls. For Mom there was card telling her to go to our room at Disney’s Polynesian Resort for an afternoon of relaxation. Waiting for her were some of her favorite magazines to read by the pool, lunch and a massage appointment. While she enjoyed herself, I took the girls to the pool, and later got them cleaned up for a nice dinner out. When she was done she met us at the California Grill (her favorite!) and we had a framed PhotoPass picture of us in front of Cinderella Castle for a present.

You can even re-create part of this later at home by going to a local craft store and creating a shadowbox just for Mom with memories and photos from a vacation.

Q: Since Mother’s Day is only one day to celebrate just how awesome moms are, what can you do to make her feel special all year round?

A: Once a month we have a themed dinner. Dad cooks, one daughter is the theme master in charge of decoration, and the other daughter is the server. While Mom relaxes in another room, we create a dinner themed to a Disney movie. We create a custom menu on the computer, decorate the room, and play the movie soundtrack during dinner. A recent hit was our “Mulan” meal, complete with ginger sesame pork chops, paper lanterns lighting the dining room and a menu from “Mushu’s Diner.” The hardest part is picking the next theme!

Watch some more ways to pamper Mom (or yourself) here. How are you adding Disney touches to your Mother’s Day? Let me know!

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Moms Panel Monday: Staying Fit and Healthy at Disney Parks and Resorts

posted on April 30th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

If you’re trying to slim down for swimsuit season or need help thinking of new ways to get the kids excited about exercise, Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Carrie Burrows is just the one to ask.


As the owner of a health and fitness company in her hometown of Georgetown, Ontario, Carrie helps men and women reach their dreams every day. But while Carrie is away at her favorite vacation destination, Walt Disney World Resort, she makes sure that her family doesn’t forget that good health is important even while on vacation!

Here are Carrie’s top five tips for staying fit and healthy on your next Disney Parks vacation:

  • Make time to play at the resort pools or Typhoon Lagoon. “My kids love swimming and it’s a total body exercise,” Carrie says.
  • Rent a tandem bike at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. “Canadian winters make biking tough, so it’s always a treat for us to take a bike ride in March when we typically visit.”
  • Stroll or run along the walking paths at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside. “The pathway there is such a great thing. My family will race the boat as it goes along the water near the path and see who can get there first!”
  • Opt for veggies instead of French fries. “There are so many healthy options at Disney; you’re not going to blow your diet. Most meals at Disney come with great fruit or veggie options, so eating healthy here doesn’t have to be bland or boring.”
  • Sneak fitness in wherever you can. “It may sound funny, but we’ll run from pavilions on one side of Epcot to the other, or play a round of mini golf at Fantasia Gardens, and that is burning calories while you’re not even thinking about working out.”

Want to trade health and fitness tips with our Moms? Visit

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Moms Panel Monday: Go Green with New Panelist Stacy Cacciatore

posted on April 23rd, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

As you probably know by now, pink is my favorite color. But, yesterday I let go of the fabulous fuchsia colors I normally wear and went with a beautiful green frock in honor of Earth Day. Besides simply changing my clothing choice, I became a vegan two years ago and although my carnivorous family doesn’t exactly love my food choices (and like clockwork, they head for the closest steakhouse when I travel for business), we make sure to turn off lights when we leave a room and turn off the water while we brush our teeth. It’s not a lot, but we feel that every little bit helps.


There are lots of ways to help teach our kids about conservation and protecting our Mama Earth, and one of our Walt Disney World Moms Panel Moms loves to think of new and innovative ways to celebrate Earth Day every day. Stacy Cacciatore has a few tips from her family about how they became more Earth-friendly after being inspired at Disney Parks.

“When my family took the Behind the Seeds at Epcot tour, it was amazing to learn about some of the ways that Disney is eco-friendly,” Stacy says. “I thought it was really impressive that the foods grown at the Living with the Land attraction are actually used in the Sunshine Seasons restaurant there.”


Stacy says the tour helped introduce her kids (aged nine and five) to new things, like eating more veggies. “They saw the cucumber shaped like Mickey Mouse and now that’s all they want to eat!”

“I am always trying to teach my kids where food comes from and keep them healthy,” Stacy says. “We grow tomatoes, basil and onion—all ingredients for pizza! It’s a hands-on approach and teaches them so many things about gardening, measuring, and science in the process.”

Planting these plants in container gardens—where plants grow in small containers instead of the ground—is a low-maintenance approach for busy moms and dads, and it’s really easy for kids to put together, Stacy says.

Another project Stacy likes to do with her kids is recycling, and specifically upcycling.

“Upcycling is when you take something like a Gatorade bottle and transform it into something useful, like a hummingbird feeder,” Stacy says. “We save cardboard paper towel rolls and then use them to do crafts. The kids get really into it, and we’re doing something to help recycle items in a fun way.”

Ask other Moms and Dads how they celebrated Earth Day at

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