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Eat-Shop-Play Guide to Holidays at the Disneyland Resort: Tips from a Disney Parks Moms Panelist

posted on December 18th, 2013 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

For the past two years, Amanda Ficili has been the Disneyland Resort panelist on the Disney Parks Moms Panel, answering all kinds of questions from people who are planning a visit. She offers a mom’s keen insights, tips on where to eat, fun ideas for all ages and lots more. I caught up with Amanda to get some holiday recommendations for Disney Parks Blog readers.

She loves the soundtrack in the new “World of Color – Winter Dreams” and the silly snowman Olaf. She also recommends the food and festivities at “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

From her long list of tips, I narrowed it down to an Eat-Shop-Play Holiday Guide, with “must-dos” to experience before the end of the Holidays at the Disneyland Resort on January 6.


Eat: Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge is a beautiful place to sit down for a holiday meal, and there’s a special holiday menu the week before Christmas. You can you reserve a table online. If you’re looking for more of a pit stop, swing by Flo’s V8 Cafe in Cars Land, where holiday tunes are rocking from the juke box and lights are twinkling from the record-clad Christmas trees. Flo’s V8 Cafe serves delicious comfort food and a holiday version of the “Ugly Crust Pie” – Pear and Cream Cheese. Meals for the little ones arrive in a winter-themed Lightning McQueen car lunchbox.

Beautifully Disney Unlock the Spell Collection Beautifully Disney Unlock the Spell Collection Beautifully Disney Unlock the Spell Collection Beautifully Disney Unlock the Spell Collection

Shop: From a holiday Duffy the Disney Bear to Disney-themed ornaments, there are plenty of gift ideas at the Disneyland Resort. Two favorites are the glass ornaments that can be personalized, and any item from Beautifully Disney, the new line of cosmetics that includes blush, eye shadow, nail polish and lip gloss. If you can’t decide, Disney Gift Cards are always a hit with the Disney fan on your list.
'it's a small world' Holiday at Disneyland Resort

Play: Along with the fun attractions, be sure to see the amazing shows, stunning Christmas trees and holiday décor, too.

    • Celebrate holidays around the world with a cruise through “it’s a small world” Holiday in Disneyland park. Plan your voyage in the evening and you’ll see the exterior shining with thousands of dazzling lights, plus a charming animated show that’s projected onto the façade of the attraction.



    • Take the little ones to Jingle Jangle Jamboree at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree in Frontierland. It’s a great place to relax and let them play in the middle of a busy day, with games, crafts, cookie decorating and holiday cheer.


    • Don’t miss “Believe … in Holiday Magic,” the fireworks spectacular that sets the skies ablaze over Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle and concludes with snow falling over the park! Amanda’s favorite viewing location is from Main Street, U.S.A., looking at the castle. The snowfall is beautiful in New Orleans Square, too.


    • As you’re speeding into Cars Land over at Disney California Adventure park, stop at the entrance and snap your holiday photo with the Snow Car. You can also take photos throughout the parks with characters in holiday attire.


    • Step back in time to 1920s Los Angeles on Buena Vista Street, where every lamp post and shop window is adorned with elegant, vintage decorations. Look for Santa at his post in the Elias & Co. department store, and the Red Car Trolley News Boys, who woo you with familiar Christmas tunes.

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your tips about the Merriest Place on Earth and for all your tips that help families plan their vacations to the Disneyland Resort.

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Moms Panel Monday: Go Team!

posted on March 18th, 2013 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

For the first time in Disney Parks Mom Panel history, we have added two very special moms who can help you plan sporting event vacations at Disney Parks. It is my pleasure to introduce ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex panelists Audra Anders and Angie Gregg.

Team Mom Audra
I’m originally from Alabama but have lived in Atlanta for over half of my life. I’m the only female in a house of two boys, a wonderful husband of 17 years and our dog George. We have crazy sports schedules that include baseball, football, cross country, basketball, golf and fishing. Baseball is our favorite and my husband and I have been Atlanta Braves fans since the 1980’s! I’ve been a team mom for years and I am very excited about helping other parents and coaches plan trips to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for tournaments!
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Panelist Audra Anders Has Been Added to our Disney Parks Mom Panel

Team Mom Angie
I work part-time as a certified dermatology coder and also volunteer at my children’s school as a room parent. I served the role of team manager for my oldest daughter’s soccer team for the past 3 years. That meant that I was responsible for registration, tournaments, financials, hotels, and group dining. I am ecstatic to be one of the first sports specialist for the Disney Parks Moms Panel. I can’t wait to share my experience with those families who mix sports and vacation!
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Panelist Angie Gregg Has Been Added to our Disney Parks Mom Panel

If you are the team coach in your community, now there are two moms who know how to put the ‘planning’ in team! Go meet them before your team’s season starts.

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Moms Panel Monday: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words at Disney Parks

posted on March 11th, 2013 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort


Ever thought of a different way to capture magical moments at Disney Parks? If you already have pictures with the Fab 5, your loved ones in front of the castle, and other iconic areas at the parks, why not get pictures you’ve never taken before? For Disney Parks Mom Panelist Mandy Milhoan, taking pictures becomes a game for the whole family and a new adventure each time she visits the parks. “I love Disney Parks, but I know that sometimes subtle magical details are overlooked. There are layers of stories in the streets of the Disney theme parks that you have probably passed by a million times.”

Mandy and her family have scavenger hunts that open their eyes to the very smallest details. “The wonderful thing about scavenger hunts is that you can tailor them for your age group. I prefer a photo scavenger hunt because you will have some hilarious memories,” she says.

What are some of the unique and little known details you have found on your journeys through Disney Parks? You can tell me. I can keep a secret.

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Moms Panel Monday: Start Your Engines at Disney California Adventure Park!

posted on March 4th, 2013 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

It’s hard to believe that less than a year ago, Disney Parks Moms Panelist Amanda Ficili and I were at Disneyland Resort filming a commercial in the not-yet-opened Cars Land. As we walked down the vacant Route 66 that morning, we were beyond giddy with excitement. In just a few days, the grand opening was planned and we were running on all pistons. Not far from that spot, Courtney Bautista was also giddy in anticipation for the park that would thrill her then 2-year-old moto-tot Mason.

What a difference a year makes! Courtney’s dreams came true and she became our third Disney Parks Moms Panelist representing the Disneyland Resort. Now that Mason is turning three this summer, Courtney and her family have made it a must to visit Cars Land whenever they can.

“From the moment we entered Cars Land, it was like stepping into the town of Radiator Springs. The look on Mason’s star-struck face when he spotted his favorite characters, Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater, was one I’ll never forget.”

Cars Land has become one of Courtney and Mason’s favorite places to visit at the Disneyland Resort, but for Courtney, it’s the snack fare that gets her motor revving.

“Every time we are there, the Disney foodie in me has to grab one of the tasty ‘cone-coctions‘ from the Cozy Cone Motel. My favorite? The dill pickle flavored popcorn.”

Courtney says the evenings are a great time to visit. “Cars Land is especially stunning at night. The countless colorful neon lights and the Cadillac Mountain Range in Ornament Valley truly look like the skyline of a bygone era. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the six peaks of the mountain range represent Cadillac tail fins from 1957-1962!”

What is your favorite blast from the past at Cars Land?

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Moms Panel Monday: More Time, Please

posted on February 25th, 2013 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

According to a blind study conducted by a top research firm, 91 percent of parents report that quality time is when they learn something new about their child. Over 84 percent say that it means their child learned something new about them.

Amy McCready, author and parenting expert stops by Walt Disney World Resort to share her tips on how to put ‘time’ back into quality family time.

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Moms Panel Monday: There’s Always Something New to See at Disney Parks

posted on February 18th, 2013 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Before my family and I moved to be closer to the Mouse, we used to visit Walt Disney World Resort at least once, sometimes many times per year. But for those who make this their happy place, each trip can be completely different than the last. Disney Parks Moms Panelist Bernie Edwards is a frequent pixie dust flyer – with trips to Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort, Tokyo Disney Resort, Disney Cruise Line and more. And that was just in the past two years. Wow!
Disney Parks Moms Panelist Bernie Edwards

Bernie is known to friends and family as the “Disney Guy.” He says, “In my opinion, a frequent visitor has done the usual things and is looking for something special or unique.”

Here are Bernie’s ideas for a different twist on your Disney Parks stay:

What is something you want to try for the first time on your next Disney Parks vacation?

Read on for more from the Disney Parks Moms Panel:

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Moms Panel Monday: I Do… at Disney Parks

posted on February 11th, 2013 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Love is in the air this whole week at Disney Parks as we celebrate Valentine’s Day. One of our panelists can’t think of a better romantic, life-long memory than her recent engagement right here at Walt Disney World Resort.
Last December, during the holidays, Emma Nicholson got the biggest surprise of her life when her boyfriend (now fiancé) proposed to her at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. I was blessed to help celebrate her new ring with her the next day.

Here are a few tips Emma has for romantic proposals at Disney Parks, so gentlemen, make sure you take out a pen and pencil to write this down if you’re planning to pop the question to your princess anytime soon!

Top 5 proposal ideas from Emma The Bride:

  1. Visit for lots of brilliant proposal ideas and to find out more about how a Disney engagement can be like no other.
  2. Set sail on a VIP boating experience on the waters of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake aboard the ultra luxurious Grand 1 Yacht.
  3. Enjoy a romantic dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table, which is a fairytale setting for romantic marriage proposals. Once you have a reservation and would like to arrange a Fairytale Engagement or simply learn more about the variety of enchanting enhancements available, from personalized glass slippers to signature slipper desserts, email (Please note: These options require at least 7 days’ advance notice.)
  4. For a proposal that is guaranteed to take your breath away, why not consider Characters in Flight, where you can take your special someone up in a giant balloon 400 feet above Downtown Disney to pop the question.
  5. If a quiet, intimate setting is more of what you had in mind, I can personally recommend a proposal on the beach at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Just like Mary Poppins, this turned out to be practically perfect in every way for me!

Now it’s the countdown to our second Disney Parks Moms Panel wedding. I will tell you about the first one later!

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Moms Panel Monday: Romance, Hearts and Mouse Ears!

posted on February 4th, 2013 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Parks Moms Panelist Doug Ingersoll is a dad of two small princesses, but that doesn’t stop him from taking time to be romantical with his wife during their Disney Parks vacations.

Check out Doug’s Valentine’s Day advice for making your visit memorable.

To You From Doug, With Love

A Disney theme park is widely pictured as the quintessential family vacation. Images of pint-sized princesses in their gowns, grinning children peeking out from under a set of Mickey ears, or waving families atop Dumbo The Flying Elephant have become iconic. But it hardly inspires a vision of a romantic paradise. This, despite Walt Disney World Resort holding the title as the top destination for American honeymooners.

Have Kids? No Problem!
Your kids may not want to see you smooching poolside, but you can still enjoy a romantic night out on a family trip. Disney’s Child Activity Centers provide an answer for a common family vacation dilemma: Who will watch my kids when we want an evening alone?

These facilities, located within select Disney resorts, provide an ideal solution. My wife and I use the centers to free ourselves for a less hectic dinner at one of Disney’s many signature restaurants.

Give Your Spouse the Gift of Time
Give your partner time to recharge away from the kids. My daughters and I surprised my wife with an afternoon off. When she rejoined us for dinner at her favorite restaurant, the California Grill, we presented her with a framed picture of the family in front of Cinderella Castle. It may not be classic romance, but it certainly made her vacation special.

Just the Two of You
A romantic, adult-only trip to Walt Disney World Resort may seem counterintuitive, but it really can be an ideal getaway. Accommodations vary from the affordable to the luxurious.

The parks offer a romantic backdrop for any couple. A romantic stroll along Main Street, U.S.A., or sampling foods at the eleven national pavilions of the Epcot World Showcase can be magical.

For more in-depth romance planning, visit the panelists at the Disney Parks Moms Panel, and check out their bios to select a panelist with similar tastes, backgrounds, and interests as you and your loved one.

Those are Doug’s tips. How do you create romance at a Disney park? Do tell!

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Moms Panel Monday: Vanna!

posted on January 28th, 2013 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Working mom Vanna White stopped by while filming “Wheel of Fortune” in Orlando to share her vacation tips on the brand spanking new Disney Parks Moms Panel website. Enjoy!

For more from the “Moms Panel Monday” series, check out the posts below:

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Announcing the Disney Parks Moms Panel

posted on January 24th, 2013 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Disney Parks has officially given a new name to the ever-growing Walt Disney World Moms Panel: the Disney Parks Moms Panel. The website’s 19 newest members debuted in January. Also new for 2013, two Team Sports Moms will join the roster to assist guests with youth sports-related travel to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Meet the new members of the Disney Parks Moms Panel, here. Visit for more information.

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