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Family Entertainment on a Disney Cruise

posted on May 4th, 2012 by Jonathan Frontado, Disney Cruise Line

From stage shows to game shows and deck parties to pirate parties, Disney Cruise Line Mom, Andi, gives us a mom’s point of view on entertainment your whole family can enjoy on a Disney cruise.

What is your family’s favorite Disney Cruise Line entertainment?

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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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Moms Panel Monday: Celebrate Special Events at Walt Disney World Resort with Panelist Jodie Hilson

posted on April 16th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Spring is in the air and that means it’s time for me to break out my fuchsia, tangerine and teal stilettos. I also dust off my cinnamon buns wig and lightsabers. You read that right–lightsabers! In about a month, Star Wars Weekends, an annual special event, returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. You can join Star Wars celebrities and characters for special shows and autograph signings, and even party with some stormtroopers!

The force is especially strong with one of our new Walt Disney World Moms Panelists, Jodie Hilson, who loves to visit Disney Parks with her husband and their four children during annual special events like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Jodie says that whatever time of year you plan to visit Walt Disney World Resort, you will find something special going on and something for every member of the family to enjoy.

Walt Disney World Moms Panelist, Jodie Hilson’s Family at Star Wars Weekend Seen Here with Darth Vader

“My sons are huge Star Wars fans so we surprised them a few years ago by planning a day just for Star Wars Weekends. They took photos with Darth Vader, got special posters and ended the day dancing at the Hyperspace Hoopla,” Jodie says. “There are so many fun elements to special events, from the limited edition merchandise to the rare-character encounters, these events have really been our favorite as a family.”

Jodie’s tip for making the most of your trip: plan ahead of time by looking at what events are taking place during your visit and make sure you experience all the special shows, parades and character meet and greets.

Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Jodie Hilson with her Family and Minnie Mouse at the Walt Disney World Resort

“These events are great for families who want to see special things and meet unique characters that you don’t always see in the parks,” she says. “During Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for example, you can go Trick-or-Treating in costume and still go on the classic rides you know and love.”

Ask Jodie more about her favorite special events at

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Moms Panel Monday: Hola! Meet Malanie Rivera, Who Can Help You Plan a Walt Disney World Resort Stay in English and Español

posted on April 9th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

When we rang in the New Year and brought our 15 new Walt Disney World Moms Panelists onboard in January, we also announced an exciting new feature for 2012 – the panelists can now receive and answer guests’ questions in Spanish! Since then, our newest bilingual mom, Malanie Rivera, has been busy answering your Walt Disney World Resort vacation planning questions on everything from celebrating holidays at Disney Parks to “Is it OK to bring a canoe with me?”


Malanie told me that she especially enjoys these types of quirky questions and any questions about Disney Resort Hotels. “I have visited a lot of [the resorts] and there are some experiences guests don’t really know they’re missing, like yummy cookies and lemonade that are offered as a free snack when you check-in,” she says. “These little touches can really make their vacations different and special.”

As a single mom of two children and an occupational therapist for special needs children, Malanie always has her hands full. So, when this New Yorker likes to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, her favorite retreat is Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

“I love the colonial, Spanish feel there and I have two ‘tweens,’ so I’m always looking for something special that they would like to do,” Malanie says. “This resort hosts Movies Under the Stars at the pool and my kids were adamant about watching the movie every night—they loved it! There’s a lot of pool activities too, not to mention Disney trivia, hula hoop contests, s‘mores around a campfire and more.”

Malanie enjoys helping others plan magical Disney moments, including her brother’s engagement at Cinderella’s Royal Table.


“Now that I get to answer other guests’ questions on the Moms Panel, it’s awesome to swap stories of these special memories and help others plan future moments,” Malanie says. “And I’m thrilled to pieces that we can be available for the Spanish community!”

Ask Malanie a question en Español at

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Moms Panel Monday: Meet Elisabeth Lackey, Our Newest Adventures by Disney Mom

posted on April 2nd, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Let the adventure begin! Where to, you might ask? Well, I’m hoping somewhere with excellent shoe-shopping options… How about a camel ride excursion in Giza for an up-close view of the Great Pyramids, or a dip in the warm waters of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef?

If you’re wondering what this has to do with Disney, just ask our new Adventures by Disney Walt Disney World Moms Panelist, Elisabeth Lackey. She’s a wife, preschool teacher and mom of four who loves to travel the world Disney-style.


She, along with her family, has used Adventures by Disney for China, South Africa and Costa Rica family vacations, and can’t wait to plan her next getaway. I got the chance to pick Elisabeth’s brain a little and get her expert advice on what to do before embarking on my next journey.

Q: Let me in on the secret—what makes Adventures by Disney vacations so special?

A: While I love helping people plan their Disney vacations, the great thing about Adventures by Disney is that you don’t have to do any extra planning! There is a set price, an Adventure Guide with you at all times, and everything from the hotels to your meals are included so there are little to no out-of-pocket expenses.

Q: Are these trips designed for the whole family?

A: All of the itineraries are family-oriented, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go as a couple on your honeymoon or on a girls trip without the kiddos! It’s really designed to make all ages happy and it’s also very educational. For example, our kids still talk about the different animals they learned about when we visited South Africa.

Q: You mentioned the Adventure Guides, can you tell me more about what they do?

A: There are so many special experiences that you simply would not get if you tried to plan a vacation on your own and the Adventure Guides are a huge part of that. The Adventure Guides are in-country guides who are extremely knowledgeable and provide you with so many extra facts and cultural activities throughout your trip—you’ll never want to come home!

Q: What’s a tip for families who are thinking about taking a trip with Adventures by Disney?

A: If you’re considering an overseas trip, it’s a big difference from a vacation to Disney Parks but provides the same exceptional service and attention to detail that Disney is famous for. One thing I love about Adventures by Disney trips is meeting other families traveling in your group. You bond with them just as much as you do with your Adventure Guides, and it’s nice to share these incredible experiences as a group.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories from the trips you’ve taken?

A: There are so many! Seeing the iconic Chinese landmarks and visiting Hong Kong Disneyland is definitely at the top of my list, but really it is the warmth of the people you meet and the chance to broaden your world that stay with me.

Do you have a question for Elisabeth? Visit

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Moms Panel Monday: Meet Scott Houston, a Dad Who Loves Learning and Makes Walt Disney World Resort His Classroom

posted on March 26th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Spring has sprung here at Walt Disney World Resort! With the 19th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival in full bloom and warm weather all around, it’s the perfect time to take a spring break trip to come and enjoy the sunshine. The flower creations at Epcot literally blow up like a colorful fireworks display of horticulture! For Scott Houston, one of our newest dads on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, spring vacations are an opportunity for learning.


As an assistant principal, former math teacher, and dad to an adorable 3-year-old prince named Evan (who calls Spaceship Earth a geodesic sphere!), Scott knows how important it is to keep kids’ brains engaged even when you’re on vacation. “I want my students and my son to be lifelong learners, always growing and experiencing the world around them in new ways,” Scott says. “I think it’s important for parents and children to know that you can still have fun while you’re learning.”

On a recent trip to Epcot, Scott and his wife Christy took Evan to Innoventions to experience the Storm Struck exhibit for the first time. “After a tornado touched down near our home last year, the storm was all my son could talk about. When we took him to the exhibit, he just lit up with excitement and we realized he wouldn’t have an experience on that scale in a classroom setting.”


For more edutainment, Scott recommends Conservation Station, which is part of Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. He says the hands-on nature of the exhibit allows kids to get close up with unusual animals and teaches them about what it takes to care for the wildlife they see during their visit.

“When I’m helping people plan their vacations, I think it’s important to let them know about the amount of real-life learning that can happen at Disney. While it’s not necessarily math and reading in the traditional sense, the educational value is unmatched; it’s the practical, real-life experiences that will stick with kids.”

Need more of Scott’s ideas for sparking your child’s thirst to learn while on vacation at Disney Parks? Visit

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Moms Panel Monday: Meet New 2012 Walt Disney World Panelist Kim Dillen

posted on March 19th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

Look up the word “superhero” in the dictionary and you will learn that it is someone who is “a hero, possessing extraordinary, often magical powers.” Most moms wish we had stretchy arms like Elastigirl from the movie The Incredibles to easily multitask in our crazy lives. I secretly think that one of our newest Walt Disney World Moms Panelists, Kim Dillen, does!


Kim is not only a superhero to the many patients she helps as a Registered Nurse, but also to her husband Rich, 19-year-old son Andrew and 9-year-old daughter Nia. One of Kim’s superpowers is her wealth of knowledge to share with families who have questions about Walt Disney World Resort – in particular, helping plan vacations for families with children with mobility and medical needs.

“As the mom of a special needs child myself, it’s great to be able to share my experience with other parents and talking about what works (and sometimes what doesn’t work) with my own daughter,” Kim says. “I think it’s a great way to get the message out to other parents that you really can do a Walt Disney World vacation. In my opinion, Disney Parks are the most special needs-friendly destinations on the planet, and I’m happy to help other guests discover that.”

Kim’s advice to all parents planning a Walt Disney World vacation is to schedule a lot of downtime when you’re organizing your family’s schedule. Kim’s daughter Nia loves traveling to Disney Parks, and while squeezing in time to meet princesses and seeing all of her favorite shows, Kim says allowing time for both mom and daughter to recharge is a must.

“Nia has some sensory issues so you can imagine that might be difficult for her to navigate in a place with so many bright colors, lights and loud sounds,” Kim says. “But we take things at her pace and make sure she doesn’t get overwhelmed. It’s really important to be able to take a few moments or even an entire day while on vacation [at Walt Disney World] to just relax by the pool at your resort or take breaks if your child seems like they need some rest time.”

As a self-described “Disney fanatic and Type A planner,” Kim is someone who loves making vacation magic happen for her own family and for others. She has planned dozens of trips that each required unique needs; from special diets to traveling with a preschooler and a teenager at the same time, Kim has done it all.

“I love seeing questions directed to me involving guests with disabilities or diet restrictions because I’ve been in their shoes,” she says. “And for them to have a vacation where they don’t have to worry about some details and are treated just like everyone else, that is truly magical.”

Do you have a question for Kim about traveling with children with special needs? Visit

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Moms Panel Monday: Meet Ari Krell, a Dad with Tips from His Boyhood at Disneyland to New Discoveries with His Daughters

posted on March 12th, 2012 by Michele Himmelberg, Public Relations Director, Disneyland Resort

Like thousands of Disneyland park fans who live in Southern California, Ari Krell had to be at the park Feb. 29 for “One More Disney Day.”


“How could I miss it? It was part of Disney history,” Ari said of the 24-hour adventure celebrated at Disneyland park and Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort.

That sums up the passion Ari has for Disney Parks, a passion that started with his boyhood adventures at Disneyland and grew in ways he never would have imagined as a dad of two “princess” daughters. He brings all that knowledge and enthusiasm now to the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, as the first dad to answer vacation planning questions about Disneyland Resort.


As an annual passholder, Ari has the luxury of visiting Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks multiple times throughout the year. He and his family like to watch the shows, ride the attractions over and over, and sample food from various restaurants. Two of his favorites are the Blue Bayou and River Belle Terrace (he tipped me off to the tasty and filling roast turkey sandwich at the River Belle!).

With that much time at the parks, you begin to find the unexpected delights. And those surprises are the best moments of all, Ari said – from gazing in awe at the Zoetrope in the Art of Animation building to spying a new show detail to discovering how helpful cast members can be.


“What I enjoy most about being on the Moms Panel is being able to share personal and family experiences,” Ari said. “When I tell upcoming visitors that my 7-year-old daughter loves Tower of Terror, they can use that information to plan their own visits. It helps them plan a better, more fun vacation, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Do you have questions about Tom Sawyer Island, rainy day fun at the parks, or what’s opening this summer at Disney California Adventure park? Just ask Ari or our other Disneyland Resort panelist Amanda Ficili about all the adventures revving up at the Disneyland Resort. You can find them at!

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Moms Panel Monday: Ahoy There! Meet Nancy Walshe, Our Newest Disney Cruise Line Mom

posted on March 5th, 2012 by Laura Spencer, Social Media Manager, Walt Disney World Resort

I had the honor of helping welcome Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Fantasy, at a celebrity-studded christening ceremony in New York City last week.


Of course, seeing such luminaries as Ty Pennington, Jerry Seinfeld and Mayor Bloomberg was amazing. And in keeping with maritime tradition, the dazzling Mariah Carey is the ship’s official godmother and christened her with bubbly!

What truly made an impression on me was the beauty of the Disney Fantasy against the wintry backdrop of New York’s skyline. I was breathless when I first arrived at the pier. I walked over the gang plank and into the atrium to the gorgeous art nouveau lobby and front and center I saw the ship’s welcoming statue, “Mademoiselle Minnie.”

In keeping with our own maritime tradition, we debuted earlier this year Nancy Walshe, one of the newest members of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel and a Disney Cruise Line Specialist Mom.

Whether you are traveling with kids of all ages, looking for tips while selecting an itinerary or picking which exhilarating Port Adventures to book, Nancy will help you get your vacation ship shape. A mother of two, Nancy sails on our fleet often and she knows the ins and outs to help make your Disney cruise magical.

“The first cruise that we took included three different generations and one of my favorite memories was watching the kids playing in the ocean with their grandparents on Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.” But Nancy feels that the ship is truly a destination in itself.

“I love that my kids always ask when they can go again even before we get off the ship!”

Do you have questions about the four grand ladies of our fleet? Just ask Nancy or our returning panelist Marisol Lopez about setting sail Disney-style at!

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