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Luxury Family Travel At Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa #TheMomsEscape

Disclosure: Travel and accommodations were hosted by the Dreams Resort.

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

 

 

The Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa recently partnered with The Moms (Denise Albert and Melissa Gerstein) to invite a group of lifestyle bloggers to tour Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa in Mexico. The trip, called “The Moms Escape,” was a wonderful escape to the beautiful Mexican Caribbean. While I had traveled to Cancun years ago, this is the first time I had toured an all-inclusive resort open to adults and kids.

 

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

 

 

Although we spent time touring the resort, we also had time to unwind. It was during those quiet times wandering around the resort that I had to chance to take in the beautiful surroundings while enjoying quiet places to sit on the beach, bask in the sun and listen to the ocean. As a busy mom with three boys, just finding a quiet hammock by the beach put me in vacation mode. I sent a few friends pictures of the resort and said we should all come back for a gal’s weekend away! But I also enjoyed touring the resort so I set out to learn more.

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa

 

So… What is the Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa?

 

From the website: “Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa is a luxurious getaway for couples, friends and families designed to reflect the charm of the Mexican Caribbean. Surrounded by glistening pools, lush tropical gardens and a palm-studded beach, this 486 all-suite resort defines Unlimited-Luxury with an array of amenities for every age and interest, from the Explorer’s Club, a supervised kids club, to a variety of daily activities, nightly entertainment and gourmet à la carte dining”.  The resort is located between Cancun and Playa del Carmen on a stretch of beach which is in the Riviera Maya.  Best yet, the world’s second largest barrier reef is a short boat ride from the resort beach. From a travel perspective, Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa is located a short 20 minute ride from Cancun Airport, which I found to be traveler (and family) friendly airport.

 

 

 

AN ALL INCLUSIVE RESORT

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun is an “all-inclusive” resort, offering a signature Unlimited-Luxury concept where everything, from gourmet a la carte dining to top-shelf premium spirits, is included with the stay. As a mom of three boys who eat “adult” portions, that means that I don’t need to worry a food bill because it is already factored into our stay. Family vacations can be stressful because going out to dinner with voracious boys can break the bank. I want to relax on vacation, not worry about day to day expenses, so inclusive offerings is great for our family.

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun’s Unlimited-Luxury offering includes “Full breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks each day, Theme parties, oceanfront bars and entertainment venues, unlimited natural fruit juices and soft drinks (for kids) and unlimited international and domestic top-shelf spirits, Mini-bar refreshed daily with soft drinks, bottled water, and beer, 24-hour room service, pool and beach wait service , Explorer’s Club for kids with supervised activities, Indoor theater, Complimentary greens fees at nearby Grand Coral Riviera Maya golf club and All taxes and gratuities”.

 

RESTAURANTS

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

The restaurants included in Dreams Riviera Cancun’s Unlimited-Luxury are six à la carte gourmet restaurants, a buffet venue, a grill and a café as well as 24-hour room service: World Café ( International cuisine buffet-style), El Patio (Mexican cuisine),  Himitsu ( fusion of Pan-Asian delicacies), Portofino (Italian cuisine), Oceana (Seafood), Seaside Grill, Bordeaux (French cuisine –Adults Only), Coco Café (Coffees, teas and pastries served daily), Barefoot Grill (Made-to-order snacks). One of the night activities during our stay was a poolside themed party that included tables with linens and beautiful stations along the edge with all types of food to enjoy (also included as part of Unlimited-Luxury).

 

There is also a great selection of bars for adults: Rendezvous (Lobby Bar), Barracuda (Beach Bar), Sugar Reef (Pool Side Bar), Manatees (Swim-up Bar), Desires (Music Lounge) and Revive (Spa Bar).  There is live, nightly family-friendly entertainment, including music at the Lobby Bar on select nights if you want to dance with your family after dinner. For adults who want to dance the night way, Desires is a good fit. For couples that want some extra romance, they can reserve in advance a private candlelit, seaside dinner for two (additional cost).

 

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

 

My favorite restaurants (although we did not have time to try all) were the Bordeaux and the World Café. The Salmon dinner we had at the Bordeaux cafe was the perfect mix of fresh food, great tasting flavors and an artful presentation.

 

Dreams Riviera Resort & Spa - Bordeaux

 

 

If we had more time I would have also enjoyed trying the Seaside Grill on the pool front just for that great view! I found that the restaurants offered a great variety of food, including salads, fruit and vegetarian offerings, my personal preference. Room service is also included and I enjoyed a great salad delivered to my room. The resort has filtered water and I had no problem with drinking the water, ice or eating the salads. The only water that is not filtered is the sink water in the rooms, so I used the ample bottled water in the room to brush my teeth and drink at night.

 

Note: Although taxes and gratuities are included, I did choose to tip when I felt I received extra or unique service.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

 

When I am researching a family vacation, one of the most important things I look into is accommodations. Dreams Riviera Cancun offers:”486 luxurious suites uniquely designed in an octogonal shape facing breathtaking views of the Caribbean or lush gardens. Amenities include: King or two double beds, Private and furnished patio or balcony, Full marble bathrooms, jetted whirlpool bathtub, separate shower and separate water closet, Double vanities equipped with phone and sound speaker, Bathrobes & slippers, 32” satellite TV, Air-conditioning with climate control, Hairdryer , Sound system with music channels, CD/DVD player, Direct dial telephone, Unlimited Connectivity, Alarm clock with MP3 player, In-room safe (lap-top size) and Coffee maker along with the daily refreshed mini-bar with beer, juices, soft drinks and bottled water.“

 

 

There is also a Preferred Club that has amenities such as: Private Preferred Club Lounge, Concierge service, daily continental breakfast , afternoon hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, desserts & fine liquors in the lounge, complimentary newspaper in room every day, upgraded mini-bar service and upgraded bath amenities.”

 

I traveled for business around the world before I got married and experienced a wide range of hotel accommodations. I found the quality of the rooms at the Dreams Riviera Cancun luxurious. We stayed on the preferred floor and also had a chance to tour a range of other rooms. All rooms were clean and well-appointed, with details including a stone-tiled bathroom, comfortable beds, and fresh linens. I also appreciated the separate bath and shower, with an easy to use shower handle located near the front of the shower where you step in. So many hotels have the shower handle directly underneath the shower head, and I get sprayed with cold water when starting the shower.

 

Best of all, there were multiple electrical outlets in the room and throughout the resort that fit my US plugs and WiFi (included in the stay). Dreams Riviera Cancun, as well as other properties under the Dreams Resorts & Spa brand and sister brands, has its own app called “Unlimited Connectivity.” The iOs and Android app enables free WiFi and US/Canada International calls within the resort (see the Unlimited Connectivity App for full details), as well as: “allows guests to make local and international calls, free of roaming charges, by connecting to the resort’s Wi-Fi. Guests can also personalize the app through social media to enhance their stay. In addition, the app can be registered as a room extension so guests can receive and make calls throughout the resort as if they were in their room.”

 

 

Dreams Rivieria Cancun Unlimited Connectivity App

 

 

I had purchased an international cell phone plan but had trouble connecting in Cancun. So I was thrilled to use the resort app for WiFi not only in the room but across the resort to stay online and make the calls home during the trip. Having regular access to WiFi allowed me to efficiently get online when I needed to and “unplug” when I needed a break. I did find that at times I needed to re-log into the WiFi when I changed locations in the resort. But the connection always worked.

 

 

Note: I did find my mobile phone’s international plan helpful at the Cancun Airport when my flight was delayed. I was able to make the calls I needed to rearrange plans after I found out I needed to stay the night in Phoenix!

 

SPA AND FITNESS

 

The options for spa adventures were dreamy! The resort offers a variety of classes at the beautiful fitness area as well as poolside. As I was taking pictures around the resort I found a morning yoga class near the beach that looked very scenic and centering. The next morning I was lucky to do yoga with the other women in our group by the pool, lead by Melissa. At first I was not excited to wake up at dawn for a yoga class down by the Dreams Riviera pool, but as the sun rose I quickly concluded it was a great way to start the day. Melissa shared some of her favorite yoga techniques, one of them called Vinyasa and I was so inspired I started taking Vinyasa when I got home!

 

 

The Dreams Spa by Pevonia with options including full spa menu of body treatments and rejuvenating therapies, Hydrotherapy whirlpool baths, Steam rooms and cold plunge baths, Swedish saunas, Swiss showers, Warm cascading outdoor Jacuzzi, Ocean front massage cabins, Garden palapas, Facials and Beauty salon. Spa services are at an additional cost, but access to hydrotherapy treatment is included with Preferred Club stay.

 

One of the most important things after food for families on vacation is activities. Dreams Riviera Cancun has a range of different activities including pool, beach, ocean and plenty of areas for relaxation. And seriously, one of the most important things I look for in family vacation resorts is the ability for us all to relax to take a break from our busy lives!

 

RELAXATION

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

Along with the spa, there are many other ways to relax. For one, there are shaded huts along the pool area, and well-cushioned beach chairs in the pool and beach area. One of my favorite areas to chill was a hut bar with swings located down on the beach. Whether it be a bottle of water or Sangria, sitting on a swing sipping a drink near the beach is a great way to unwind and take in the sea air.

 

POOL AND BEACH FUN

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

POOL ACTIVITIES

 

Along with the quiet spaces, the pool area also has many activities throughout the day and night. There is a shallow kid’s pool area and across a footbridge is an ankle level pool with ping pong tables that really looked like fun. On the other side is a pool with basketball hoops and regularly scheduled activities (including water exercises and even dance lessons!). The pool area also has a big chess set that my twins would of loved to compete against each other for some downtime fun.  Closer to the beach was my favorite pool that included a pool bar and a very well designed “infinity” style that looked as if it were linked with the ocean. This was an adult area that generated a fantasy vision of time spent just lying on a raft, getting up only for visits to the pool bar.  I also just enjoyed sitting on my balcony looking at the  beauty of the pool and beach areas!

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa travel

 

 

OCEAN AND BEACH ACTIVITIES

 

The beach area had nets set up for volleyball and soccer games. For those who wanted to take advantage of the ocean more there was a water activities desk where you can reserve (at an additional cost) snorkeling equipment, a sailboat or even a trip in a glass bottom boat. One more exciting aspect of the Dreams Riviera Cancun is that it is located a short boat ride out from the world’s second largest barrier reef.  Resorts that are close to reefs can have more seaweed in the oceanfront like I found at Dreams Riviera Cancun.  When it comes to ocean activities with three boys, I prefer they swim in pools so I can watch them. However, if we go into the ocean, activities like snorkeling are great for our family to do together. My kids love looking at fish and the reef would certainly be a draw.

 

For even more adventure, there are tours and excursions available. The Amstar website has the pricing and a listing of tours for each location (i.e. Cancun),  resort (i.e. Dreams Riviera Cancun) and by type of activity. For example, for my history buff son would want to visit the Tulu private tour.

 

WEATHER

 

As part of the Mexican Caribbean, Cancun is known for it’s warm sunny climate. But with any tropical climate there is changing weather such as rain during the year.  When I checked the weather websites before the trip mid October,  it showed 4 days of rain during the tail end of our trip. But then I read that weather estimates in Cancun can be off because the weather moves quickly from one area to another. I found that to be true during the trip. While it did rain, it mostly rained at night and early morning. When it did rain during the day it was the tropical type of rain that passed quickly. That left us with days of beautiful sun to enjoy during our stay.

 

THE KIDS EXPLORER CLUB

 

Dreams Riviera Cancun Tour

 

Kids ages 3 to 12 can go to the Dreams Riviera Cancun Explorer’s Club which can give their parents some time to themselves while their kids have fun! The program is a fully supervised and includes activates such as sandcastle competitions, arts and crafts and creative play, with a large playground and game room plus weekly adventures. You can also reserve a sitter through the resort (additional cost). During our trip I saw kids with a sitter playing soccer on the beach and another group having dinner while their parents enjoyed a romantic night out.

 

The Dreams Riviera Cancun is not only a beautiful resort in the exotic Mexican Caribbean, but it has activities that families, couples or groups of friends can enjoy together. The customer service was top rate, everyone had a smile on their face that helped set the tone for a fun vacation.  There are lots of types of vacations, but when you are looking for a luxurious resort that is able to offer everything from quiet spaces to relax, dancing at night to adventures at the pool or beach and access to the world’s second largest barrier reef offshore – the Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa is a great option.

 

 

Diane Mizoto from The Spiritual Playground brought her camera and captured the essence of how we all felt spending time connecting, adventuring and relaxing as the perfect break from the daily grind we have back home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: Travel and accommodations were hosted by the Dreams Resort. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Thanks to Dreams Resort and The Moms for hosting such a fabulous #TheMomsEscape. Shout out to Miracle Suit who supplied us with fun swimsuits (shown on my hammock picture) that made this mama feel like a Stud Muffin for weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Family Adventure Inspired by the film #EarthtoEcho

Disclosure: Sponsored Post.

 

official geocacheNow that summer is here, it is a great time for outdoor adventures and fresh air. One family activity my kids especially enjoy is called Geocaching“ a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices”.  Beyond the excitement of looking for outdoor treasure in hidden containers, Geocaching gives us exercise by riding our bikes while using the Geocache app to find local sites.

 

When I was asked to join in a campaign for the new movie “Earth to Echo” and document our own sponsored adventure using the Go-Pro 3 – I could not wait! It was a great opportunity to spend quality time with my teen and document it with the GoPro. Check out the bottom of this post for the video of our geocaching adventure!

 

Watching the trailer for the new movie (coming out July 2nd), I was reminded of my favorite childhood family films like E.T. which capture the excitement of an adventure between friends. “Earth to Echo” has the added twist of some new modern technology and a mysteriously cute alien.

 

 

Here is more information about Earth to Echo from the movie’s press release:

 

“Friendship is the greatest adventure of all.  Earth To Echo – In theaters July 2, 2014.

 

Tuck, Munch and Alex are a closely bonded trio of inseparable friends, but their time together is coming to an end. Their neighborhood is being destroyed by a highway construction project that is forcing their families to move away. But just two days before they must part ways, the boys find a cryptic signal has infected their phones.

 

Earth to Echo

 

 

Convinced something bigger is going on and looking for one final adventure together, they set off to trace the messages to their source and discover something beyond their wildest imaginations: hiding in the darkness is a mysterious being, stranded on Earth, and wanted by the government.

 

Earth to Echo

 

This launches the boys on an epic journey full of danger and wonder, one that will test the limits of their friendship and change all of their lives forever.

 

Earth to Echo

 

Rating: PG

 

Cast: Ella Linnea Wahlestedt, Reese Hartwig, Teo Halm and Brian “Astro” Bradley.

 

 

Earth to Echo

 

What family adventures are you planning this summer? Maybe start by heading to Theatres on or after July 2nd to see #EarthtoEcho, and stop off along the way to find some Geocaches…

 

Talk about adventures, here is the video my son and made sponsored and “inspired” by the film Earth to Echo to show our geocaching adventure.

 

 

 

INFORMATION ON MORE EARTH TO ECHO GEOCACHING FUN from press release:

Earth To Echo hits theaters on July 2, but you can prepare for the journey in the meantime with the brand new Geocaching EARTH TO ECHO Adventure now available in a few major cities! Geocaching is a family-friendly activity, where adventure seekers can use an app or GPS on their mobile devices to search for cleverly hidden containers placed in nearby neighborhoods.”

 

Geocache Earth to Echo

 

Go on a Geocaching adventure in your city with Earth To Echo! Play to unlock the mystery today, start here. Adventures are currently available in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle.

 

For more informationon the Earth to Echo film, check out – #EarthtoEcho, the Official Website, Like’ Earth to Echo on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube or follow on Twitter, Instagram & Tumblr.

 

 

Earth to Echo

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All of my words are my own.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Fun at Disneyland

Christmas Tree on Main StreetHolidays mean time with family and friends and I can’t think of a better place to spend time than Disneyland. I had the fun opportunity to attend a press preview of the Disneyland Holiday events and with a full line-up of cross-cultural activities there was lots of holiday cheer to go around. Beyond my regular delight with being at Disneyland, it was great to experience holiday surprises in many of the attractions, yummy holiday treats and decorations that sparkled beyond belief. Here are details, including my favorite events and tidbits from the press releases and a video made with my partner in “video” Kimberley Clayton Blaine, TheGoToMom:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

 

Disneyland Holiday Disney ¡Viva Navidad!The newest celebration at the Disneyland Resort is “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” -Nov. 15 2013 through Jan. 6, 2014 in Disney California Adventure Park. I had the chance to see the beautiful parade with music that made me want to get up and dance (I was wishing I had one of those amazing skirts to dance in). Then I learned more details from the press release: Disney ¡Viva Navidad! is a merry celebration inspired by the warmth and joyous spirit of the Latino culture, filled with holiday traditions, jubilant dancing and exciting music. Based in and around the Paradise Garden area of Disney California Adventure, the special activities include crafts and face-painting for children, live Latino music, dance lessons, holiday foods, the “Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party” and, of course, appearances by some popular Disney characters“.

 

 

Disney ¡Viva Navidad!

 

 

“Micky Mouse, Minni Mouse and  Goofy will have festive costumes along with the Three Caballeros: Donald Duck, Panchito from Mexico and José Carioca from Brazil.  It takes place at Paradise Garden several times a day (check the daily schedule for timing). You can watch a great performance at the Disney ¡Viva Navidad! Street Party that includes “Mexican folklorico dancers, samba dancers and drummers, plus giant “Mojiganga” puppets, including Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus” Jan. 3 Through Jan. 6 2014 will be the grand finale of “Disney ¡Viva Navidad!” with a special celebration of Three Kings Day (Dia de los Reyes).

 

If you are hungry, you can also head out to dining locations in Paradise Garden to try popular Mexican dishes such as “such as pozole (hearty stew), chicken mole drumettes, pescado (fish) Veracruzano, champurrado (Mexican-style hot chocolate), sweet tamales, torta al pastor (pork sandwich), buñuelos (deep-fried sweet treat) and choco flan”.

 

 

World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams:

 

The new version of the after-dark Paradise Bay (Disney California Adventure) experience called  “World of Color − Winter Dreams” features a new story including new characters from the Walt Disney Pictures animated motion picture “Frozen” hosted by Olaf the snowman. There are also new special effects, advanced technology, music and methods for utilizing the “massive “stage” of water, color and light on which “World of Color” is presented”.

 

World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams

 

 

The new World of Color – Winter Dreams has seven sequences that was explained in the press release:

 

 

1. “The Pre-Show: Glow Honor Choir Wonder – Season’s Greetings:  features the “World of Color” Honor Choir singing “Glow,” written especially for this new show. Then Tinker Bell’s traditional greeting from “Wonderful World of Color” summons Old Man Winter and the skating Frost Fairies. more than 500 singers representing all 50 United States appear in the pre show! Disneyland Resort teamed with Grammy®-winning composer Eric Whitacre, who has joined hundreds of voices online in similar “virtual choirs.” More than 1,400 submissions from around the country were received for the “World of Color” Honor Choir.  Other Disney fans designed holiday cards and submitted them online to appear in the “Glow-A Season of Light” sequence.

2. Snow – A Winter Wonderland: Olaf takes guests on a breathtaking winter sleigh ride, encountering Bambi, Thumper and, from “Frozen,” sisters Anna and Elsa.

3. Glow – A Season of Light: The holidays are celebrated with images of holiday cards created by Disneyland Resort guests and cast members.

4. Enchantment – The Toy Story Nutcracker:  This familiar ballet is danced in some delightful, offbeat renditions by favorite “Toy Story” characters.

5. Spirit-Holiday Sing-Along: Snowman Olaf has always loved the idea of a warm summer. He innocently imagines himself enjoying the sunshine, then leads the audience in a holiday sing-along.

6. Finale – Merry & Bright Holiday Lights”: Olaf welcomes a surprising Santa as 700 newly installed lights blaze to life for a colorful finale around the lagoon.

7. After Glow: Finale (Honor Choir): “World of Color – Winter Dreams” features more than a dozen songs, ranging from familiar holiday tunes such as “Jingle Bells,” “Feliz Navidad” and “The Dreidel Song” to musical numbers from “Frozen” and original compositions such as “Glow.

 

 

 

Olaf World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams

World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams

World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams World of Color Holiday Winter Dreams

 

Those interested in the “behind the scenes” will be excited to know that the programming for the new “Winter Dreams” show took three months to create the 17 million pixels in the “World of Color – Winter Dreams” screen.  The surrounding area was enhanced with “700 high-power, color, LED strobe lights were installed along the side of the California Screamin’ roller coaster, 16 narrow-beam moving lights within the sun-ray sculpture on Mickey’s Fun Wheel, plus 21 narrow-beam movie lights within the viewing area. To add to the Winter Dream theme were six snowflake generators within the viewing area produce giant snowflakes in six different shapes. The beautiful sparkle effects were created with ten mirror balls installed on the speaker and lighting towers.”·

 

The existing “World of Color” technology (already amazing in itself) includes “a platform composed of nearly 1 full acre of engineered superstructure, longer than a football field and capable of settling on three levels – one for the performance, one under the water surface and one for maintenance. There are nearly 1,200 powerful and programmable fountains, and a vast underwater grid with more than 18,000 points of control.  Each fountain has multiple points of control for lighting, color intensity, water angle and height”.

 

Steve Davison, creative director of the original “World of Color” show in Disney California Adventure, also staged “World of Color − Winter Dreams.” Davison, parades and spectaculars, executive for Walt Disney Imagineering Creative Entertainment, said: “I’m thrilled and amazed to see ‘World of Color – Winter Dreams’ come to life on the Paradise Bay. Each night as we worked on the programming, it was fun to see the magic happen as we blended the new music, animation, lasers and special effects into a dazzling holiday show.”

 

 

 

Disneyland Park – Here is information from the press release about the other Holiday fun at Disneyland and California Adventure Parks:

 

* Fantasyland, guests meet the enchanting sisters from “Frozen” – the fearless and optimistic Anna, and Elsa, who has the power to control snow and ice.

 

 

* Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle – A sensational holiday lighting and special-effects show carries the magic of the holidays from the castle all the way to the 60-foot tall Disneyland Christmas tree in Town Square. The finale of the show includes the legendary “Believe … in Holiday Magic” fireworks show, ending with a touching rendition of “White Christmas,” along with a climactic snowfall swirling upon Main Street, U.S.A., “it’s a small world” Mall and New Orleans Square.

 

Sleeping Beauty Castle Disneyland Holiday

 

* Tomorrowland, Thor: Treasures of Asgard invites guests into a column of light and color which magically transports them from Disneyland to the home world of Thor, the Mighty Avenger.

 

 

A Christmas Fantasy parade Disneyland* A Christmas Fantasy” Parade - On Main Street, U.S.A., Disney characters celebrate the magic of the season, wrapping gifts, baking holiday treats and preparing for the arrival of Santa Claus, who shouts a jolly greeting to spectators along the parade route. New for 2013, winter skiers (on roller skis) glide around a frost-covered pine tree, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen from “The Princess and the Frog” join the Candlelight Costume Ball, and a corps of Finale Dancers in gorgeous Dickens-era costumes lead  the way for Santa and his reindeer.

 

 

Its Small World Holiday Disneyland

 

*“it’s a small world” Holiday becomes  a worldwide celebration of the season, boasting more than 300,000 glittering lights on its façade and, inside, the children of many nations in their holiday attire. New for 2013, the smiling clock at the front of “it’s a small world” reveals a sparkling, new projection show. After dark, on every quarter hour, the façade of the attraction is transformed into an enormous clockwork mechanism with advanced 3D-projection technology. The gears and springs pull back to reveal a world of holiday wonders hidden behind the clock.

 

Haunted Mansion Holiday Disneyland

 

* Haunted Mansion Holiday presents a madcap celebration as the traditions of Halloween and Christmas collide.  The ghoulish but well-meaning Jack Skellington from the film “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas” has come to Haunted Mansion to transform it with his skewed vision of the holidays.

 

Mickey and Minnie Holiday

 

* Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus greet Disneyland guests at Jingle Jangle Jamboree in Big Thunder Ranch, in Frontierland.  Children and families can chat with St. Nick, meet Disney characters, and enjoy games, music, crafts and seasonal entertainment.

 

California Adventure:

 

Disneyland holiday Carsland

 

* Carsland: Adventure A whimsical “snowcar” (the Radiator Springs version of a snowman) stands at the entrance to Cars Land, and each address along Route 66 – Flo’s V-8 Café, Fillmore’s, Cozy Cone Motel, Luigi’s Casa della Tires and more – features holiday décor that reflects the personality of the “Cars” character who lives there.

 

* Disneyland HolidaysBuena Vista Street: A dazzling, 50-foot Christmas tree adorns Carthay Circle along Buena Vista Street. The tree and surrounding buildings, inspired by Los Angeles as it appeared when Walt Disney arrived in the 1920s, are decorated with vintage-style ornaments. Children of all ages may visit a classic department store Santa at Elias & Co., the main department store along Buena Vista Street.

 

I enjoyed the treats at Trolley Candy Treats on Buena Vista Street:

 

 

Trolley Candy Treats, Buena Vista Treat Disneyland

 

* Mad T Party: Wintertime fun rocks the night at “Mad T Party” as Alice and the Mad Hatter add their own brand of off-kilter holiday spirit to the nighttime celebration in Hollywood Land.

 

* “a bug’s land” transforms as Flik and his bug buddies spread giant Christmas lights and oversized ornaments throughout their realm.

 

* A Holiday edition of the street show, “Phineas and Ferb’s Rockin’ Rollin’ Dance Party,” includes festive décor, costumes and holiday tunes. The show invites guests of all ages to “seize the day,” dancing and singing on Paradise Pier with the Disney Channel’s inventive animated boy geniuses.

 

 

*We found Hanukkah Decorations at a store on Buena Vista Street which I promptly purchased to celebrate Hanukkah in Mickey style. The stores at Disneyland have a wide assortment of holiday décor.

Disney Hanukkah Wall Hanging

 

 

*Guests in the Downtown Disney district get into the holiday spirit at the Downtown Disney Winter Village, visiting the quaint cottages, browsing for gifts in the “shopping chalets” and enjoying a 30-foot Christmas tree. Guests also lace up their skates to make spirits bright along the newly themed Olaf’s Frozen Ice Rink. The rink hours are scheduled for 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 3 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

 

Olaf's Frozen Ice Rink

 

 
I was thrilled to bring a new TechMamas.com writer, Jennifer. She is not only my friend but also one of the most knowledgeable people I know about all things Disney with great tips about the park and rides. Here are some of her tips from the Disneyland Holiday 2013 press event:

 

Disneyland:

 

The Haunted Mansion has been transformed into Nightmare Before Christmas in the most entertaining, eye-catching way.  I found this attraction so amazing that it alone was worth the trip to Disneyland!  The creativity and artistry was truly impressive, and I became attached to Zero, the darling ghost dog who appears throughout the ride. If you are traveling with a child who can handle just a little spookiness in the not-so-dark amidst a ton of visual delights, then I would label this attraction kid-friendly. If a fast pass is offered when you are visiting the park, I suggest grabbing one and making the Haunted Mansion a priority.  Check in at the information booth on Main Street to ask about the fast pass option or wait time.

 

It’s a Small World is another must-see on your holiday to-do list at Disneyland.  How could you not just relax and enjoy with a big smile as you sit back and tap your feet to the musical beat on this boat ride through a wide assortment of singing dolls?  I loved singing along to the usual “It’s a Small World” tune perfectly mixed with Jingle Bells to give it that holiday spark.  Disney went all out with the holiday decor for this attraction, both inside and out.  Even with its popularity, this ride handles large crowds. Rarely is there much of a wait. But, if you want to avoid a line, consider visiting in the morning or later in the evening for your best chance of walking right on. For Hidden Mickey fans, keep your eye out on the ride for extra Mickeys this holiday season.

 

California Adventure:

 

World of Color: I’ve seen the World of Color show many times, and it’s always a delight.  Without a doubt, the new World of Color show, “Winter Dreams”, is my all time favorite!  Olaf, the Snowman in Disney’s movie, “Frozen”, is the host of this spectacular. Now, I cannot wait to take my family to see the movie Frozen.  A couple of things to keep in mind…you can pick up a free Fast Pass for this show earlier in the day to reduce your time in line for a great standing spot.  Alternatively, you can purchase a dinner package, which is a great way to enjoy a delicious sit-down dinner followed by a short wait for this fabulous show!  Just call Disney’s dining for more information on this.

 

Of course, you’re not required to do either of these and can just show up an hour or so prior to show time.  Ask a Disney employee when people start lining up. Once you arrive, choose to stand in the front section if you enjoy a good spray of water.  Alternatively, there are plenty of good viewing spots slightly back which allow you to stay dry. When planning out your souvenir purchases, keep in mind that it’s fun to pick up a pair of Mickey Ears for this show because the ears light up and change colors in sync with the show.  I was impressed with the comfort and (light) weight of my set of ears.

 

Buena Vista Street:

 

I just loved experiencing the festive holiday cheer from every direction, both in sight and sound. Many times, I heard the music of a quartet singing holiday songs or discovered a gorgeous array of wreaths loaded with attractive colors.

 

I have to admit…I’m a shopper.  I couldn’t help but recognize this as an opportunity to pick up holiday gifts of adorable plush characters decked out in cute holiday outfits!  And, who can resist the yummy sweet treats in the candy shops?  I certainly couldn’t.  A little chocolate is a great way to end a fabulous day!  It always tastes better when in the shape of a favorite character, of course.

 

For more information about the Disneyland Resort, visit www.disneyland.com/holidays.  For ticket and hotel offers, visit www.disneyland.com/offers.

 

Disclosure: This was a press event.

 

 

 

Planning For Travel Upgrades #TMOM

One of the important things to plan for when it comes to being a parent is travel. In my book “My Parent Plan” I talk about planning for family travel to make sure you can get the best rates and set up the trip to be as family friendly as possible. When the TravelingMom.com asked me to join in a Twitter Party on 6/17 with the topic of Travel Upgrades, I decided to join in the fun (*sponsored post -see disclosures on the bottom of this post*). When taking the time to plan in advance for trips, travel upgrades are one of the things that are worthwhile to look into. Here are some specific tips:

 

1. Airline Loyalty Programs: Many years ago before I had kids, I had a job that involved lots of travel.  Planning ahead, I decided to travel on one main airline and join their loyalty program to accumulate miles. That paid off -  years later I still have an American Airlines Gold card that gives me advantages like going through the ticketing First Class line in some airports,  travel upgrades and lots of trips subsidized by miles.  As parents, it is also a good idea to look ahead at the routes you think your family will be traveling to find the right airline to sign up with. Also make sure to sign up each family member up with their own loyalty card.

 

When considering which airline to focus on, also look at their “partner” airlines that you can travel on and still accumulate miles. For example, while American Airlines does not fly all the routes our family needed, looking at partners such as Alaska Airlines helped up cover most of our travel destinations while still earning miles. We also signed up for Virgin America loyalty program because we can count on their high tech planes having WiFi to make our travel more productive and entertaining! Luckily, over time more and more planes across airlines have on-board WiFi.

 

 

2. Credit Cards that offer Travel points (and upgrades): Of course, it is optimal to pick a credit card with the best financial fit for your family. But along with that, families should consider credit cards that offer the ability to accumulate points for travel and travel upgrades. Not only can I use the points I earn on my American Express Card for airline and accommodations, but I can also use their travel service to help me book.

 

3. Hotel Upgrades: While this post and my participation in the Traveling Mom Twitter Party: Travel Upgrades was sponsored by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, I have been in the  Starwood Preferred Guest Program for some time and have been staying at Sheraton Hotels for years. I suggest families spend the time to join the hotel loyalty programs as another way to earn points and special member only experiences for hotels.  Then while planning for family travel, see what types of deals and upgrades are available. Sheraton  has a Club Rooms/ Club Lounge that offers conveniences such as complimentary breakfast, afternoon hors d’oeuvres, computer & printer and beverage options.  When traveling with a family, a complimentary breakfast can even justify the cost of upgrading your hotel room (and be easier then getting everyone to go down to a restaurant together). Or when traveling with groups, socializing at the Club Lounge is more comfortable then meeting in hotel rooms.

 

Another upgrade I always look for is great hotel health club with a spa so mama can get some E&S during the trip (exercise and spa).

 

4. Don’t Be Shy – Ask For What You Want: When making travel reservations, always ask or look into the upgrades possible. Even while checking into a hotel, it is always good to see if there are any special deals that have opened up for that day or upgrades available to make your trip more comfortable.

 

What type of travel upgrades do you use or look forward to?

 

 

CLICK HERE to JOIN IN FUN with the TravelingMom.com  #TMOM #SHERATONCLUB Twitter party from 9-10 pm EST Monday June 17, 2013.

 

Disclosure: This post and my participation in the Traveling Mom Twitter Party: Travel Upgrades was sponsored by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts.  My opinions and tips are my own.

 

 

 

New Family Fun at Disneyland: Cars Land and Buena Vista Street Now Open

Buena Vista Street Disney California Adventure

Photo Credit: Disney

Recently, friends asked me about my summer and one of the highlights I mentioned was being invited as part of the media to cover Disney’s California Adventure Park Grand Re-opening , including two new themed lands: Cars Land and Buena Vista Street.  You just have to see it to believe it.

 

 

When visiting Disneyland Park, with Cinderella’s Castle and rides from Pirates of the Caribbean to Star Wars, it’s very clear that the park was created so that Main Street USA is the grand entrance and centerpiece that sets the stage for a great park experience. Similarly, with the recent Disneyland Resort expansion, guests enter California Adventure Park on Buena Vista Street, the striking anchor of this new park.  The shops, period costumes and architecture of Buena Vista Street were inspired by the history and experiences of “ Los Angeles in the 1920’s similar to what Walt Disney experienced when he came to America”.

 

 

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Heading to Family Fun With The Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship

Tomorrow I am heading to Florida to join in the fun on the newest Disney cruise ship called Disney Fantasy. This is a media trip for me (and other media) to find out details about the ship to pass on to my readers.  I am braving the trip with my twin 9 year old sons (hubby and my tween are staying home). I consider myself a savvy traveler after traveling the world for business – but traveling with kids is something completely different. Honestly – traveling with kids simply makes me nervous. Which is why I love going on Disney adventures that are not only made for families and put also put nervous mother’s like myself at ease.

 

 

So check back next week where I will share my adventures and all the family fun the Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship has to offer!

 

Disclosure: My travel expenses for this media trip are covered by Disney. This is not a paid post, my words are my own.

 

TechMama Joins The Bloggers Embark To The USS Nimitz

I was thrilled to be invited by Lieutenant Commander Charlie Brown, Public Affairs Director for the Commander – Naval Air Forces – Pacific (COMNAVAIRPAC) to be part of a Blogger Embark aboard the USS Nimitz later this month. We'll be flying to and from the Nimitz on a Navy C-2 Greyhound (twin-turboprop Navy Transport) where we will witness Navy and Marine Corps life at sea.

Here is the list of Blogger Embarkees: Charlene Li , Jennifer Leo, Jenny Lawson, Pamela Slim, Jennifer Van Grove, Jennifer Jones, Guy Kawasaki , Bill ReichertJefferson Wagner a.k.a. Zuma Jay, Robert ScobleAndy Sernovitz, Andrew Nystrom , Dennis Hall, Captain (Mr.) Carroll LeFon, USN (ret.), Chris Pirillo, and I (Beth Blecherman).

Guy Kawasaki, Dennis Hall, Bill Reichert Bloggers' Embark meeting 10-08-08Guy Kawasaki is the lead Blogger for our first visit, his second. He had the opportunity to visit the USS John C. Stennis last year. His post, " 26 Hours at Sea: The Longest Posting in the History of Blogging", describes his adventure. The picture on the left is at Garage Ventures when the idea for this Blogger's Embark was hatched (Guy Kawasaki on left, pictured with Dennis Hall and Bill Reichert). 

F-18 Hornets pitch-out

Dennis Hall provided some information on what we will see: "Here is a shot of a scene you will see typically during your embark. It shows F-18 Hornet fighter jets arriving for landings or 'traps' in formation and individually pitching out for their descent to the flightdeck. The Navy Blue Angels fly F-18s."

Here is a subset of the group that could make an early evening meetup in Silicon Valley to discuss the Embark:

Bloggers' Embark icebreaker - Dennis Hall, Beth Blecherman, Jennifer Jones, Robert Scoble, Charlene Li 

Pictured left to right: Dennis Hall, Beth Blecherman, Jennifer Jones, Robert Scoble, Charlene Li

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