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Princess Half Race Report

Princess Half Race Report

A couple weeks ago I ran the RunDisney Princess Half Marathon and it was amazing. I also completed the Enchanted 10k the day before the half. These two races are known as the Fairy Tale Challenge and are 19.3 miles of fun and fatigue. Below is my race report for the weekend.

The Challenging Part of the Fairy Tale Challenge

The Fairy Tale Challenge was really challenging and not because of the distance, but because of:

  • Early mornings
  • Tired legs from a week of Disney days
  • Racing on a diet of Disney snacks
  • Heat! RunDisney issued a heat advisory because of high humidity

To complete the challenge I was up Saturday and Sunday at 3 AM. I nursed the baby, ate some oatmeal, grabbed my water bottle and dashed to the bus in a quick 30 minutes. We decided to start our Disney World vacation the week before the race so that we could adjust to east coast time. Otherwise we would have been waking at what would have felt like midnight.

Shelby Hancock details her Princess Half Marathon Race
Anna and Elsa (minus their capes) finished the Fairy Tale Challenge!

Princess Half Race Weekend Recommendations

If you want a magical weekend of fun and fatigue then make sure you sign up for a RunDisney challenge. Here are a few of my recommendations:

  • After each race, go to the medical area and get ice packs wrapped around your legs so you can speed up recovery.
  • Try and have a chilled out day on the Saturday after the 10k.
  • Dress up for the races.
  • Bring some cash to your race for a Joffrey’s iced americano.
  • Be prepared to walk to the start line for the Half – my fitbit indicated that I walked 42 minutes from getting off the bus to stopping in my corral!

Enchanted 10km

I think the 10k race was probably my favourite of the two, but only because it was my first RunDisney race in Disney World and I wasn’t exhausted. I was also in corral A, which meant I started the race within 5 seconds of the start line. As seasoned RunDisney runners know, the closer to the start of the first corral, the shorter the line-ups to get character photos. In the lead up to the race other runners had been talking about 15 minute line ups and I was nervous about that. In my Tinker Bell Half Marathon a couple years ago there was barely any wait so I wasn’t sure what to expect in Disney World.

I ran both races with my mother and we decided to only stop for characters that we knew. This meant we skipped the photo with Stitch from Lilo and Stitch since I haven’t seen the movie. The first characters we came across were just passed the 1 mile marker and it was Belle and the Beast.

The sun began to rise at the 5 mile marker, but even some of our finish line photos look like it is still the middle of the night. While we ran through Epcot the PhotoPass photographers were hard to see because it was still so dark and I hate to miss a good photo op! Haha!

I was thrilled to see Mickey Mouse available for a photo as we were leaving World Showcase and transitioning into Future World. For a “Princess” race I found it a bit light on Princess photo ops, but I am more of a Fab 5 kinda girl than a princess.

Photo Ops

We got photos taken by PhotoPass photographers with:

  • Belle and the Beast
  • Pinocchio
  • Jasmine and Aladin
  • Goofy in his baseball uniform
  • Inside Out characters
  • Mickey Mouse
  • The Epcot ball
Shelby Hancock details her Princess Half Marathon Race and Fairy Tale Challenge
It was more fun to strike a pose!

I’m not sure where my Donald Duck photo ended up since we stopped with him too.

I found the 10k race route to be nicer, but I think that is to be expected with a shorter distance. I really enjoyed running along the Boardwalk since I wasn’t visiting that part of Disney World outside of the race on this visit.

Princess Half Marathon

I won’t lie, I was bummed to be starting in corral C and not A or B. That said, I ran my qualifying race 6 months postpartum and it was the farthest I had run in almost a year at that point. I really shouldn’t have had a pity party over this since before the race started I felt like a car running on fumes. I got caught up in the need for short character line ups. In the end I had an amazing race with my mom and we finished closer to our marathon times than our half marathon times. At the 4 mile mark we acknowledged that we were having lots of fun, we were tired, and that we didn’t care about our time enough to skip photo ops.

It took us about 32 minutes to run a kilometer through Magic Kingdom.
We stopped for a selfie near the castle on Main Street. In Tomorrowland, we stopped for Buzz Lightyear, which was about a 1 minute line. We waited in a very long line for Belle and Gaston and then ran about 100 metres and stopped for Cinderella which was probably 15 minutes. In front of the castle there were 5 PhotoPass photographers taking photos so this made for a fairly short line.

Shelby Hancock details her Princess Half Marathon Race and Fairy Tale Challenge
An INCREDIBLE experience with 20km done and 1 to go!

I was shocked that the majority of runners don’t stop for photo ops. Why not? With the bottle necks that occur when lanes on the road are reduced it would be difficult to run the race course for a PB so I would recommend getting your moneys worth and stopping for characters.

First Half vs. Last Half of The Half

The first half is exciting and fun – I felt like a puppy! It was dark out and fireworks were set off every couple minutes to light up the sky. The monorail would blare its horn when it passed by the runners. You’re on your way to Magic Kingdom and that made me feel like I was on a mission. Then you run through the Park and it is as magical as its name. However, once you’re in the back lot and making your way behind the Grand Floridian you still have another 10 kilometres to run. I felt like I’d accomplished what I wanted and suddenly on tired legs I had to run 10km. Even on the roads back towards Epcot there were a few character stops, which was fun. There were also a lot of water stations to keep us going through the humidity. Knowing my two girls, my husband, and my dad were all going to be at the finish kept us going!

Shelby Hancock details her Princess Half Marathon Race and Fairy Tale Challenge
Smiling and finishing the Fairy Tale Challenge!

Summary

It. Was. Amazing.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve done a RunDisney race or if one is on your bucket list!

Shelby Hancock details her Princess Half Marathon Race and Fairy Tale Challenge
5 Tips for Planning Your Disneyland Vacation

5 Tips for Planning Your Disneyland Vacation

Recently I’ve had a lot of friends head south to Disneyland for a family vacation. Since Disney Parks are my jam I thought I’d post the top 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation. I remember going on a spontaneous Disneyland vacation as a kid and it was memorable, but the more planning you put into your Disneyland vacation the more you can get out of it. There can be fun in spontaneity, but these 5 tips will help ensure you get the most out of your Disneyland vacation.

Not What You’d Expect in a List

Below are my 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation and I’m well aware that these 5 words may seem odd in relation to a vacation. Trust me, I’ll explain each below and hopefully you’ll realize I’m not as crazy as my list sounds.

  1. Strategy
  2. Technology
  3. Food
  4. Expectations
  5. Lingo
Shelby Hancock of Mouse House Mom gives her 5 Tips for Planning our Disneyland Vacation
5 Tips for Planning Your Disneyland Vacation

1. Strategy

In order to maximize your time in Disneyland, you should have a strategy. Depending on your personality you may not want to take a vacation that requires a strategy. However, a basic strategy will help you manage the Parks. Each Park has multiple “lands” that you’ll want to explore with interesting attractions in each part. A simple strategy would be to pick a land that you want to start in and then decide which ride you want to do first (ahem, Peter Pan in Fantasyland) and then you could finish exploring nearby attractions in that land before moving to the next land. I find having a plan fun and I like to memorize it, which I’ll admit was difficult when I planned our trip in 8 minute intervals starting at rope drop.

Strategy Basics:

  1. Have a starting time and a starting point.
  2. Conquer each land instead of pinball’ng around the parks.
  3. Decide whether to watch parades or go enjoy shorter lines on rides at this time.
  4. Plan whether to eat your meals slightly early or late to avoid crowds at restaurants (i.e., more people in food lines equals less people on rides).
  5. Don’t forget about Disney California Adventure – it is an amazing Park for all ages (and serves alcohol).

I mentioned Rope Drop above and it is worth mentioning again. If you want to:

  • Beat the crowds,
  • Maximize your time in the parks,
  • Get a daylight castle pic with not many people in it.

If those appeal to you then you’ll want to find out what time Disneyland opens and aim to be there 45 mins to 1 hour earlier (and earlier if its a holiday or a Monday). This will give you time to get through security, the ticket gates and into the rope drop crowd on Main Street.

2. Technology

Even on vacation you can’t escape technology. First thing you must do is download the Disneyland App. You can create an account, link your tickets, buy additional items (i.e., MaxPass), make dining reservations, obtain and view your park photos, and even order food from certain places when you’re in Disneyland.

I’m Canadian and the wifi in Disneyland isn’t fully reliable. I actually had to rely on my mother’s iPhone back in October because she had a US data plan and I hadn’t bought one for our trip. I would suggest purchasing a US data plan so that you can use the Disneyland App.

With all this technology and the inevitable use of your phone as a camera, you’re going to need a plan for how to keep your phone battery from dying. As an iPhone user I suggest using the “low power mode” for the battery in addition to keeping a portable charger with you. Or use the tag team method and use one person’s phone until it dies then move on to the next phone.

Shelby Hancock of Mouse House Mom shares Disneyland Tips
Not too crowded at 3pm on a Friday.

3. Food

I love food and if you can’t indulge on a vacation then when can you?! Your vacation will not be complete without devouring some Mickey shaped foods, such as waffles or ice cream bars.

When we go on any Disney vacation (world or land) we always try to ensure that we have a sit down meal at least once a day. We have always been travelling with a child under 3 so we find a sit down meal important to slow the pace and give us all a much needed break. You can book your Disneyland advance dining reservations (or ADR as the cool kids say) at select restaurants up to 60 days in advance. Go crunch the dates and find out your earliest booking date and get right on it – there’s no time to lose! You can even change your mind later so book it early and change it if necessary.

Character Dining is expensive, but waiting in line ups to meet characters can be viewed as a waste of time by some. You’ll have to balance your budget so consider what option is best for you. My daughter hates characters and has continued this trend the last few trips. She finally warmed up to princesses last October. We ate at Chef Goofy’s and Goofy sort of snuck up on my toddler while she was eating a cake pop and she almost knifed him. So maybe don’t waste your money, unless you’re me and are hopeful that one day she’ll get over her fear.

I have found that Disneyland was more expensive for food than Disney World and if you want to keep costs down be aware that you are allowed to bring food into Disneyland. I normally bring snacks, but you could pack sandwiches and treat yourself to churros for a dessert.

4. Expectations

As a parent I’m constantly trying to manage expectations and that’s important on your Disneyland vacation. Before you tell your kids how amazing Splash Mountain is you’ll want to check if any rides are closed for refurbishments. This information can be found on the Daily Event Schedule on the Disneyland website. I was heart broken my baby missed out on It’s A Small World when we visited in October.

All the minimum height requirements are also listed in the Disneyland App (seriously, what are you waiting for – get this App!). We kept a growth chart for my daughter and specifically marked 40″ as “Splash Mountain” and now all the neighbour kids know they are tall enough to ride it when they do a Disney vacation.

5. Lingo

Not only do you need a strategy and technology for this fun family vacation, but you also need to learn the lingo of Disney. Are you sure you haven’t just signed yourself up for a business conference? All of this work is actually fun and your family will have no idea all the time and effort you put in behind the scenes to make sure this Disneyland vacation feels effortless.

You’ll need to decide if you’re going to be a paper-based (free) FastPass user or upgrade (for a cost) to MaxPass. This debate deserves it’s own blog post, which the Magic Kingdom Mamas have already done here so check it out.

Depending on your family dynamic you may be utilizing Rider Switch or Single Rider lines. I do not advocate for families using Single Rider lines to avoid waiting in the main line. Riding as a family is fun and waiting in line as a family can be fun too (there’s even an App for that).

Single Rider lines are for singles – like when I went back to the park when my baby and hubby were sleeping and I didn’t want to wait in line. Rider Switch is for when hubby and I can’t leave the baby unattended.

Other lingo you may encounter is listed below:

  • DCA = Disney California Adventure
  • DLR = Disneyland Resort (the hotels, Downtown Disney, and 2 parks)
  • ADR = Advanced Dining Reservations
  • FP = FastPass
  • GOG = Gaurdians of the Galaxy
  • AP = Annual Passholder
  • CM = Cast Member [employee]
  • PH = Park Hopper

That’s All Folks

Those are my 5 tips for planning your Disneyland vacation and it will certainly be a memorable trip. Remember that even with all the pre-planning, there will be meltdowns, there will be chaos, there will be surprises, but there will also be magical moments that make it all worth while. Have fun and please let me know how your vacation goes– I’d love to hear about it!

Grandma Goes to Pandora World of Avatar

Grandma Goes to Pandora World of Avatar

This is a guest post by Mouse House Mom’s own mother, Marg.  While Marg isn’t the Disney enthusiast that her daughter is, she is a huge Avatar fan.  Since Marg recently returned home from Walt Disney World, she’s guest posting to share her Pandora – The World of Avatar experience with you. I hope you enjoy it.


My husband and I recently returned from a 5 day, Walt Disney World vacation with our son, his wife and their 3 kids (17, 11, and 9). This was our second trip with my grandkids in Walt Disney World and what made this vacation extremely special, was being able to experience the newly opened Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom. While I booked this vacation unaware of Pandora, I certainly felt blessed that it was able to be a part of our vacation.

Grandma goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Grandma goes to Pandora World of Avatar

I’m a huge Avatar fan and in the lead up to our trip I made a special granddaughter date night to watch Avatar with my two granddaughters who were toddlers when the movie was released.

Animal Kingdom is the perfect spot for Pandora.  You would think the Tree of Life at the entrance was put there years ago knowing Pandora would one day come along to compliment it.

Mouse House Mom's Mom goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Strike a pose!

Attractions

Prepare to be truly amazed with the floating mountains, entertainment, and attractions. My personal all-time, favourite attraction was the Flight of Passage. I have never experienced such a true to life ride experience.  The seat is like getting on a motorcycle, but it is soft and your legs feel the movement of the bird breathing.  I have been on many 3D rides that felt realistic, but none compare to the reality of this ride.  It didn’t hurt that my favourite part in the Avatar movie was where Jake Scully takes his flight of passage. In addition to Flight of Passage there is another major attraction: Na’vi River Journey.  This is a slow ride and has no height restrictions, unlike 44 inch height requirement for Flight of Passage

Swotu Waya Na’vi Drum Ceremony

While walking through Pandora, we came upon a live show, the Swotu Waya Na’vi Drum Ceremony.  The performers in the show got my grandkids involved in playing drums and we all learned a new song.  Thanks to the advice of my daughter, we had purchased a Memory Maker and were able to take advantage of the PhotoPass photographer to capture some great shots during this experience.

Mouse House Mom's Mom goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Time to start drumming!

 

Recommendations to Maximize Your Pandora Experience

Having been fortunate to experience Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom in its first month open, I recommend the following to maximize your experience:

  1. Book FastPass ASAP
  2. Bring Snacks
  3. Watch the Movie

More on each tip is provided below.

1. Book FastPass ASAP

Book your 1 Pandora FastPass the moment you get access and book it for early in the day.  Learn from my confusion (I had to call Walt Disney World), when you book your FastPasses for Animal Kingdom, keep in mind you only get 1 Pandora FastPass (per day) for the 2 attractions available (i.e., Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey).  You can use your other 2 FastPasses on some of the other amazing Animal Kingdom attractions.  Don’t book another FastPass too soon because you’ll probably find it hard to leave Pandora!  Although Cast Members do a good job shading the lineups it gets very hot spending up to 3 hours in line is tough for kids and adults.

2. Bring Snacks

Bring water and snacks for the lineups.  It’s important in the Florida heat to stay hydrated. We found munching on snacks kept us from getting grumpy and hungry between meals.

3. Watch the Movie

Watch Avatar before going so you can fully appreciate how true to the movie Pandora is. A word to the wise, Avatar was playing every night on the TV in our Walt Disney World hotel.

Mouse House Mom's Mom goes to Pandora World of Avatar
Everything is realistic in Pandora!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Cheers,
Marg, the Mouse House Mom’s Mom

Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland

Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland

Wake up extra early? Check. First in line at the bus? Check. Through the ticket gate and in time for Rope Drop? Check. Take digital SLR camera out in preparation of Welcome Show? Check. Take 1 test picture? Check. Drop camera and have pieces fly everywhere? Check. That was how we started our 2016 Walt Disney World vacation and the reason I became familiar with Disney PhotoPass.

The purpose of this blog post is to save you having to go to the trouble of smashing your camera to find out about Disney PhotoPass. We recently traveled to Disneyland and now I’m sharing my knowledge of the Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland with you!

What is Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland?

Disney has photographers located at most key photo spots (more on this below) where they will take your photo with their professional, high quality, digital cameras. The photographer will initially give you a bar code (via app, web, or a card) that links to your photos. You can continue to give this bar code to each photographer and the pictures get added to your account. A full list of photos included in the Disney PhotoPass is listed in the paragraphs that follow. After your vacation you can download your photos within 45 days. Trust me, it’s easy to use!

Shelby Hancock Disney PhotoPass info for Disneyland
Seeing Mickey with our Minnie Mouse.

Why I Like the Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland:

  • Saves you from bringing a camera.
    • We rely on our phones for the majority of our photos, but we still want some vacation memories we can frame. The Disney PhotoPass pictures are top quality and perfect for framing.
  • You can be in your vacation photos.
    • No more playing photographer or asking a stranger to do that. We also like that some photos don’t look like you’re at Disneyland – they look like we sweat a lot and then hired a professional photographer for family photos.
  • It is a good value to buy a Disney PhotoPass, especially if you want Dining Photos.
    • One day is $39 and one week is $78.

Disney PhotoPass pictures Mouse House Mom
Finally not screaming when she meets a character!

Disney PhotoPass Options + Pricing

You can purchase a one day Disney PhotoPass for $39 or a one week Disney PhotoPass for $78.  The photos covered by both options include:

  • Disney PhotoPass photos (including RunDisney race photos and photos from character greetings).
  • Attraction photos (i.e., see Splash Mountain).
  • Dining photos (i.e., the coveted Mickey Mouse family photo from PCH Grill).
  • Magic shots (i.e., photos with embellishments added by the photographer).

The price for the Disney PhotoPass at Disneyland doesn’t change based on when you purchase it. Unlike the Walt Disney World Memory Maker, the price for a Disney PhotoPass doesn’t increase if you buy it last minute. Also, when you buy it isn’t the same as when you activate it. I bought mine on a Monday, but didn’t activate it until the Thursday when we encountered Mickey Mouse out for an unexpected stroll.

One thing that surprised me was the cost of Dining Photos at the character dining restaurants. If I recall correctly, the photo package at Goofy’s Kitchen was almost $40 and if I didn’t already have the PhotoPass I’d be horrible at saying no. A person actually comes to your table with your photos printed out in a beautiful portfolio, which also includes recipes from the restaurant you’re at and they sell it as a package. Thankfully, if you have the Disney PhotoPass and can show that it is active for that time (take out the App and voila) then you get the digital pictures without having to buy the printed out package.

Stop for Photos

If you’ve spent the money on the Disney PhotoPass, make sure you stop and get your photos taken. Using the Disneyland App you can view where the photographers are located. That said, it is pretty intuitive – almost all of the must have photo spots have a Disney photographer present.

I mentioned above that you can get some photos taken that don’t look like you’re at Disneyland. This adds to the versatility of the Disney PhotoPass because now you have some great professional looking family photos that you don’t necessarily associate with a Disney vacation.

Shelby Hancock Family Photos with Disney PhotoPass
Taken in DCA, but could pass for Whistler or a nature hike somewhere else.

Also if you’re on an attraction that has photos, you’ll want to stop at the end and record the code associated with your photo so you can link it to your Disney PhotoPass account later.  I found it easiest to snap a picture with my phone of the code rather than try to enter it on the App in the moment.

Tip: if you want a less crowded Castle picture then get it taken earlier in the day.  However, we’ve never had a problem with the number of people floating through the background of our photos.

Shelby Hancock Disney PhotoPass Castle
Not too crowded at 3pm on a Friday.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for a Magic Shot

We weren’t having any magic shots offered to us so towards the end of our trip I asked a photographer if they could take a Magic Shot. The photographer was happy to do so, but didn’t tell me what “magic” they’d be adding. The photographer only advised how to pose.  I’m really happy with how the magic shot turned out and its extra special since we were in Disneyland for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.

Shelby Hancock shares about the Disney PhotoPass
The Magic Shot of my Munchkin and Tinker Bell.

 

Alternative to Disney PhotoPass

One alternative to the Disney PhotoPass is to ask the Disney PhotoPass photographer to take a photo with your camera. They are going to get a pretty good photo and while they’ll snap some with their official camera, you can simply choose not to buy them. Even during the Tinker Bell Half Marathon, cast members (not official photographers) were ready to take a photo with your phone/camera for you.

Just so we’re clear..

I don’t get paid for supporting or speaking positively for any products on this blog. Anything I choose to endorse is because I truly believe in it.

 

 

See ya’,

Shelby Hancock

 

My Love of Splash Mountain

My Love of Splash Mountain

Everyone has a favourite Disneyland attraction and for me, it is Splash Mountain.  When I was a kid on Disneyland vacations, we’d always enjoy the queue and the ride as a family. It was our “final attraction” tradition. I’m not alone on this since I can see that this very minute (July 3, 1:20 PM) there’s a 75 minute line for Splash Mountain.

My 3 Splash Mountain Tips:

  1. FastPass or ride it during a parade when lines are shorter.
    • On a cooler day, ride it before you leave so you can get into warm clothes sooner.
  2. Ride it as a family and make it a tradition.
    • Don’t force your family to do the shorter “single rider” line – you need the family picture!
  3. Sing a long to the music.
    • Even if you aren’t alone, sing and wave those hands to the music!

Splash Mountain Mouse House Mom
All by myself.

My Disneyland Has Always Had Splash Mountain

Being a Canadian, child of the 80’s meant that my first trip in 1989 was after the opening of Splash Mountain. As a 5 year old, I have no memory of Splash Mountain from my first Disneyland vacation. However, I know all of the words to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, which was recorded almost 40 years before I was born. This leads me to hypothesize that the memory of riding Splash Mountain didn’t stick, but the experience stayed with me in my love of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.

Final Attraction Tradition

Growing up, we had a family tradition of making Splash Mountain our last attraction of the day.  Now that my husband and I have a couple Disney vacations under our belts as parents, we’ve started our own final attraction tradition with It’s A Small World.

In my last family Disneyland vacation as a kiddo (not a parent), I recall complaining that the ride was too much build up until the exciting drop. To this day I think Brer Rabbit heard me utter those words and made sure I’d regret them.  As we rode one of the little drops that I found “too slow”, we plunged down it and I got absolutely soaked.  This caused roars of laughter and I’ve never again thought or said anything bad about Splash Mountain!

Famous Splash Mountain Photos, or Not

One family trip we were in Disneyland on New Year’s Eve (20 years ago) and we decided we wanted to be the last people to ride Splash Mountain for the year. We planned to get the photographic evidence to prove we rode it at the insane time of 2AM. Everything was working fine and we got on the final log with a young couple in front of us in the log. When the ride was over my parents went to purchase our photo, but it turns out one of the people in front of us flashed their ta-tas at the camera and we weren’t allowed to get a copy.  In the end we got a funny story that has lived longer than any picture souvenir would have lasted.

Splash Mountain – Not Just a 52 Foot Drop

Earlier this year, after my munchkin was put to bed, I ran back to Disneyland for just over 1 hour.  In that hour, I had to use my Space Mountain FastPass and see everything else I wanted.  After Space Mountain I crossed Disneyland to “single ride” Splash Mountain. There was zero wait for “single riders” and I joined a group on their ride. Exiting the ride I noticed that there was no line. I got my picture code, came back and went to walk up and around in the “single riders” line, but a Cast Member told me to just hop on since the loading area was vacant.  You may be wondering how the ride, which can boast 2 hour line ups was empty.  Lucky for me, the Electrical Parade had just begun and that’s where the masses were.  I rode Splash Mountain twice, completely alone,  in my own log.

Splash Mountain Mouse House Mom
#SplashMountainPoser

Lonely or Amazing?

Riding Splash Mountain in my own log, by myself was amazing. They asked me to sit in spot “3” and I asked a Cast Member if that meant I would be getting soaked. The response back was, “You should be ok” and I truly was. All the thrills and fun, without getting soaked! In the moment of riding Splash Mountain all by myself I realized that I should have had that on my Bucket List and then did a celebratory dance in achieving this newly added, and newly achieved Bucket List item. I was able to ride and sing along to the music without my brother or my husband complaining about my singing voice. This also had the benefit of nobody ruining my coveted Splash Mountain picture!

January or February Vacation

If you have a January or February vacation to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, be warned that Splash Mountain is typically closed for a short while in these months for routine maintenance. When we went mid-January to Walt Disney World it was closed.

Splash Mountain Single Rider Pic
Memories with total strangers. Single riders are usually seated at the very back!

Height Restrictions

There is a 40 inch height restriction on Splash Mountain. We are hoping by the time my Munchkin is 4 1/2 years old she’ll be tall enough to experience this attraction with us!

 

Happy splashin’

Shelby Hancock

Weekly Meal Plans for Working Parents

Weekly Meal Plans for Working Parents

I am happiest when I have solved a problem with the use of a spreadsheet. A few years ago, I began using a spreadsheet to make my weekly meal plans. Having weekly meal plans keeps me focused and efficient.  Also, my husband and I both arrive home from work between 5:30 and 6 PM and that doesn’t give us much time to boil water, let alone make an entire meal.

Why I do Weekly Meal Plans:

  • Holds me accountable to eat better.
  • Reduces food waste.
  • Saves money on one-off grocery trips or eating out.
  • Saves time as I can prepare food in advance.
  • Reminds me to use freezer food.

Shelby Hancock weekly meal plans dinner pic
Dinners planned out and enjoyed as a family.

Easing into Meal Planning

If meal planning is going to be a shock to your system, then start out slowly with only planning weeknight dinners and plan to make more than you need so you can eat leftovers during the week. I know leftovers are a polarizing subject, but let it be known I’m #TeamLeftovers.

Below is a sample week for my family:

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Dinner Leftovers Veggie Stir-fry with chicken and rice Leftovers Pasta with microwaved meatballs Crock pot Chicken w/root veggies.
Next Day Prep Measure rice.

Take chicken out of freezer.

Boil pasta + assemble.

Take whole chicken out of freezer.

Chop veggies and get crock pot ready.
Evening Activity 8pm Run 8pm Run

Shelby Hancock weekly meal plans dinner pic
One of our weeknight dinners.

The Extra Rows

I find it very useful to add additional rows to my weekly meal plans to include “next day prep” and “evening activity”.  As a result of “next day prep”,  you don’t forget to take food out of the freezer. This allows freezer food time to defrost and you can also plan more evening prep when you anticipate a more hectic next day. The above example shows that I take my chicken out of the freezer and into the fridge on Wednesday night.  Come Friday, I can put the thawed chicken into the crock pot.

Depending on the amount of time you have to prepare your dinner each day, you can adjust the amount of next day prep to do and move some to the day of. For me, it is useful to have my rice and water measured the night before so that it is ready – all I have to do the day of is rinse the rice and turn on my rice cooker and in 15 minutes, I’ll have my carbs!

Adapting for Children’s Eating Habits

I add rows to my weekly meal plans for my daughter (the Munchkin), to indicate who will pick her up from daycare (e.g., my husband or the grandparents) and on what night she needs a bath.  If my husband and I are eating perogies or potatoes then I need to plan a meal for the Munchkin that is different from ours. She’s usually a good eater, but has always refused potatoes.

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Pick Ups Dad Grandma Dad Grandpa Dad
Bath Night? Yes Yes

 

You can expand the weekly meal plans to include weekends and all other meals. I’ll be sure to blog about some of my favourite quick and easy week day meals.

 

Mouse House Mom gives an overview on how to start weekly meal planning for working parents.
Mouse House Mom gives an overview on how to start weekly meal planning for working parents.

 

Shelby Hancock weekly meal plans dinner pic
Roasted cauliflower is her signature dish.

Mickey’s Printable Weekly Meal Plans

My family likes that I use the Mickey’s Printable Weekly Menu [pdf] found on the Disney Family site here: https://family.disney.com/activity/mickeys-printable-weekly-menu/

I can quickly write in what our dinner is for each night and post it on the fridge. Alternatively, you can start with this if it is your first foray into meal planning. Posting the printable Mickey menu on the fridge helps us keep Disney alive all year in our home!

 

Related

If you’ve survived a busy week, then treat yourself to my Churro Treats at Home Recipe for a weekend family brunch.

Churro Treats at Home Recipe

Churro Treats at Home Recipe

When I’m at Disneyland, I have a weakness – I can’t walk past a churro cart without wanting to stop. I remember as a child, standing by Rivers of America, when my dad brought me my first churro from the stand by the Haunted Mansion.  It has since been my fifth food group while on vacation in Disneyland.

Shelby Hancock Churro home recipe

While I crave churros all year, I’m fortunate to have grown up in an Italian family where we had a special occasion breakfast tradition of “fritti”, which is fried bread dough topped with sugar. When I’m not at Disneyland, I can make fritti at home and be reminded of the fried chewy, yet crunchy goodness of churros.

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home

Friendly Disclaimer:

These are more like “beaver tails” or “elephant ears” than the long stick-like churros, but they are also a whole lot easier to make at home without much effort. That said, these are still fried-doughy goodness like that of a churro. Call ’em churros, call ’em fritti; as long as someone is making them, I’m happy!

Fritti Ingredients:

1 loaf of frozen French bread dough

2 cups Vegetable (Canola) Oil

Topping:

Butter, for spreading on finished product (use your pre-made butter dish)

1 cup Sugar

3 tsp Cinnamon

 

Fritti Directions:

Take frozen loaf out of the freezer the night before and leave it out overnight on a cutting board with large bowl/lid on top of it to allow it to rise.

Cut off a piece of dough about the size of an egg.  Stretch the dough with your hands; keeping it about ¼ inches thick. Shapes when pulled will be round or oblong – it’s not a science so don’t worry about messing it up! Note: in the pictures I actually made dough from scratch instead of store bought frozen bread dough. Using homemade (super sticky dough) is why I had to flour my cutting boards.

Heat oil in a large, deep skillet.  Oil should be at least a few centimetres deep, this may require more than 2 cups.  Allow oil to heat up (e.g., a water droplet will cause sputtering in the oil so stand back!). Gently lower the stretched dough pieces, one at a time, into the hot oil and fry each side until golden brown. Layer cooked fritti on top of paper towels. Serve immediately.

Combine 1 cup of sugar with cinnamon in a bowl or a pie plate. Add more cinnamon to your liking and set aside.

Butter your fritti then spoon the cinnamon and sugar mixture onto it.  Shake off excess sugar. Due to shaking off the excess sugar you may prefer to have your mixture in a pie plate as it is larger and will catch more of the excess when you shake it off.

Photo Descriptions

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
The pieces of dough cut from the loaf.

 

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
The dough after it has been pulled/stretched.

 

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
Stove top is ready.

 

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
Flipped and cooking on the other side.

 

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
When removing from the pan allow excess oil to drip off.

 

Shelby Hancock Mouse House Mom Churro at home
The art of applying the cinnamon and sugar.

 

Plan Ahead Tip:

We make fritti for most special occasions so I keep a premade cinnamon and sugar container in my cupboard. Don’t fret about measuring cinnamon and sugar as it is best to make it to taste. Enjoy!

 

I hope you enjoy fritti as much as I enjoy eating a churro in Disneyland. Thank you for reading!

 

Shelby Hancock of Mouse House Mom enjoys final churro of Disneyland vacation
My final churro of our Disneyland vacation.

 

Related Mouse House Mom posts on DISNEYLAND:

 

Disneyland Side Trip: LA Angels of Anaheim

Disneyland Side Trip: LA Angels of Anaheim


In honour of Father’s Day this weekend, I’m dedicating this post to a fun activity dad will love: LA Angels of Anaheim baseball game!

Last month we had an amazing Disneyland vacation where I was able to research first-hand how to have a successful time at a LA Angels of Anaheim baseball game.

Angels Game on Disneyland vacation
Happy Father’s Day from section 104!

Afternoon or Evening Angels Game

We opted for an afternoon game to give us some mid-day enjoyment. In reviewing the LA Angels of Anaheim schedule it appears that their home games on Saturdays are 6:07 PM and Sundays are 12:37 PM. As for weeknight home games, those appear to be scheduled for 7:07 PM.

If you choose an afternoon game then try to get a seat in the shade. This can be done by picking seats on the third base side, especially the 200 level. We sat third base side, section 104, row 3 (by the foul post), and were in sun the entire time.  If we moved probably 15 rows up in this 100 level we could have been shaded.  That said, we had amazing views!

Angels Merchandise

My husband has a very specific fitted hat size and whenever we travel we always support the home team.  To be sure he’d have an Angels hat we purchased them online a month before our Disneyland vacation.  This way we had the hats for the entire trip and it was fun to walk through the Vancouver airport at the start of our trip being all matchy-matchy.  The stadium had no shortage of shirts, hats, and other merchandise to purchase.

Angels Game on Disneyland vacation
Take me out to the ball game

Angels Stadium Logistics

We rented a car for our vacation and from Harbor and Katella we had about an 8 minute drive to the Stadium.  Directions were simple and we didn’t even need to plug it into the GPS.  Parking at the stadium was $10 and the walk to the closest gate was no more than a minute or two.

I spoke with our hotel staff who advised that Uber would cost $10 and a taxi would be a bit more.  We opted for a rental car because of car seat requirements.

The “Will Call” line was where we had to obtain our tickets and we only had one person in front of us in line.  As for the line-up for security and getting in the park, that moved quickly as well. No bottle necks, at least not 15 minutes before the first pitch in what we experienced.

Buy Me Some Peanuts & Cracker Jacks

While the stadium had various food options ranging from hot dogs to poke, we stuck with regular ballgame food. Hot dogs, popcorn, and water were all priced similar to Disneyland. As a Canadian, I felt that the prices were more reasonable than what we pay at sporting events back home.

Mouse House Mom’s 3 Tips for LA Angels of Anaheim Game

My 3 tips for a successful trip to an LA Angels of Anaheim game are as follows:

  1. Bring a hat and sunscreen.
    • You could be sitting for a few hours and that much sun will cause a burn if you don’t reapply sunscreen often.
  2. Leave the stroller at the hotel.
    • While I had heard there was stroller parking “if it didn’t fit under your seat” I didn’t see anyone outside of the stadium or inside with a stroller. The walk from the parking lot wasn’t far so unless your balancing multiples under 2, I’d go sans stroller. A baby carrier would work, although we did not use one.
  3. Explore the stadium.
    • My munchkin loved walking around the stadium and exploring. We even found a patch of turf and some balls to play with in between innings. If you explore during an inning it won’t be as crowded!

 

Have fun and happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!

Disneyland Vacation over Mother’s Day

Disneyland Vacation over Mother’s Day

Last month we enjoyed our Disneyland Vacation over Mother’s Day weekend.

To be honest, the trip was planned around the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and the dates collided in a magical way!  While we didn’t seek out a Mother’s Day vacation it was really special spending it on vacation. A full week of not having to wash dishes sounds good to me!

Planning Mother’s Day

In planning how to spend Mother’s Day in Disneyland, I considered our itinerary carefully.  I knew we would be going hard at Disneyland on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and another day might be too exhausting.  Mother’s Day became our day for brunching, baseball, and pool time.  I also wanted to keep the Disney magic alive so I added a Character Meal and time to explore Downtown Disney. I was also running a half marathon on Mother’s Day and didn’t want to over-extend myself.

Restaurants and Dining on Mother’s Day

Disneyland accepts reservations 60 days in advance, but in March when it was getting close to booking there was no Mother’s Day specific dining information available.  Mother’s Day specific information is usually released closer to Mother’s Day on the Disney Blog.  However, a quick Google search told me of past Mother’s Day events.  These dining related events were typically a tea or special dessert being featured on a menu.  I felt that obtaining a reservation 60 days in advance was more important than waiting for the information to be released.

I had reminders in my calendar to make my dining reservations exactly 60 days in advance.  I’m up at 5:30AM for work, which was the perfect time to log in and get my reservation.  Reserving this early allowed me to obtain the exact time I wanted (9:30AM) at Disney’s PCH Grill. I picked Disney’s PCH Grill because I knew I wouldn’t be in Disneyland or California Adventure that day and I wanted to keep the Disney magic alive. Disney’s PCH Grill is located at the Paradise Pier Hotel and upon arrival in the restaurant you are greeted by Mickey Mouse!

Mouse House Mom’s Mother’s Day Tips

My Mouse House Mom tips for a successful Mother’s Day at Disneyland are as follows:

  1. Slow it Down (unless you’re running the Tinker Bell Half Marathon)
    • Ditch the fast paced park day schedule for a laid back day outside the parks.
  2. Character Meal at a Disney Hotel
    • Keep the Disney magic alive when not in the parks by dining with characters.
  3. Pool Time
    • May was hot! Go lounge in the pool. My munchkin loved jumping off the pool deck!

Mother's Day at Disneyland PCH Grill
Mother’s Day brunch at PCH Grill with my three loves.

We added a baseball game to our Mother’s Day and I’ll talk about that later this week when I highlight Father’s Day fun.

Thanks!

 

Related Posts: Tinker Bell Half Marathon Race Report (Race was on Mother’s Day).