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Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

In 1999, I got married. We honeymooned at Walt Disney World. It was my first trip. It also happened to be the same week Episode 1 hit the big screen. Star Wars Episode 1 happens to be the first Star Wars movie I ever saw of the series. It happened on my honeymoon at Walt Disney World. It feels like fate that Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge will be opening while my family is there celebrating not only our 20th wedding anniversary but my birthday. Happy Magical birthday to me!

Today, Disney Parks made a big announcement and we.are.thrilled. We’ve been planning our trip for a few months and we thought for sure we were going to miss the opening of Galaxy’s Edge but we were wrong. When I heard the news, I felt like we had been blessed by the Disney World Gods.

OPENING DATES Announced for STAR WARS: GALAXY’S EDGE in Disneyland AND Walt Disney World

In anticipation of high guest interest, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products announced today it will open Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge ahead of schedule at Disneyland Park in California on May 31 and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida on Aug. 29th. WAIT! WHAT? Yes, you read that correctly. Opening ahead of schedule!

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

On opening day for phase one, guests will be transported to the remote planet of Batuu, full of unique sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Guests can become part of the story as they sample galactic food and beverages, explore an intriguing collection of merchant shops and take the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy aboard Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. My husband and girls have been so excited about Galaxy’s Edge and the Millennium Falcon : Smugglers Run opening. When I told them the news today, actual joy broke out in my house.

READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing Your Disney World Vacation

Phase two, opening later this year, will be Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, the most ambitious, immersive and advanced attraction ever imagined, which will place guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance and will blur the lines between fantasy and reality. In light of tremendous demand, Disney made the decision to open the land in phases to allow guests to sooner enjoy the one-of-a-kind experiences that make Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge so spectacular.

Guests planning to visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park between May 31 and June 23, 2019, will need valid theme park admission and will be required to make a no-cost reservation, subject to availability, to access the land. Information on how to make a reservation will be available at a later date on Disneyland.com and the Disney Parks Blog. Guests staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels during these dates will receive a designated reservation to access Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge during their stay (one reservation per registered guest); valid theme park admission is required.

READ ALSO: 25 Top Secret Tips to Rock your Disney Family Vacation

Once guests step foot on Batuu, they will be part of the action as it unfolds around them, and their interactions with the Play Disney Parks mobile app* will deepen their engagement with the land. They may choose to aid a smuggler, join the Resistance or pledge their loyalty to the First Order. In this all-new environment, guests can make choices about their experience that could impact their adventures as they travel throughout the land by using the Play Disney Parks mobile app in a whole new way. This depth of storytelling is part of the total immersion that will distinguish the two, 14-acre lands – the largest and most technologically advanced single-themed land expansions ever in a Disney park – from any other themed land in history. Is squeeing appropriate at this point because I’m pretty sure that is exactly what this moment dictates?

The new lands build off decades of collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm Ltd., a global leader in film, television and digital entertainment production, including the Star Wars franchise. The work on Star Wars between these two creative powerhouses dates back to 1987, when the groundbreaking Star Tours attraction opened at Disneyland Park in California.

READ ALSO: Best Tips to Beat the Heat at Walt Dinsey World

Batuu is a far-flung destination along the galaxy’s Outer Rim, on the frontier of Wild Space – the uncharted region beyond all known star systems. Batuu is home to Black Spire Outpost, an infamous port for smugglers, traders and adventurers wishing to avoid any unnecessary … entanglements with the First Order. Along the way, guests may encounter some familiar faces, from Rey, Finn, and Poe to BB-8 and Chewie.

For more than four decades, Star Wars fans have imagined what it would be like to blast across the stars inside the Millennium Falconor race through the halls of a Star Destroyer. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will feature two signature attractions that turn those dreams into reality.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

Set to open at Disneyland Resort on May 31 and at Walt Disney World Resort on Aug. 29, Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, will take guests into the cockpit of “the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.” They will take the controls of the Falcon in one of three unique and critical roles as the ship hurtles through space. Some will be pilots, some gunners and some flight engineers, creating multiple ways for guests to experience the attraction.

READ ALSO: Everything New at Disney in 2019

Set to open later this year, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance places guests right in the middle of the Rebellion and gives them an active role in the fight against the First Order, including a faceoff with Kylo Ren. Their journey takes them inside a full-size starship and aboard a nearby Star Destroyer.

What does Blue Milk actually taste like? That question and more will be answered when guests visit Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and experience the new land’s expansive array of food and beverages. Guests will walk through a bustling street market, where vendors offer various local delicacies, including an Outpost Mix of uniquely flavored popped grains from Kat Saka’s Kettle, a unique popcorn snack with a combination of sweet, savory and spicy flavors.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

At Oga’s Cantina, even the blaster-bolt scorches on the walls tell a story. Here, guests will gather to share their tales from around the galaxy as they enjoy exotic beverages served in unique vessels and listen to spirited musical entertainment provided by DJ R-3X, otherwise known as Rex, the former Starspeeder 3000 pilot droid from the original Star Tours. Rex re-invents himself as the cantina’s DJ, and he’s as quirky and talkative as ever.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

A multi-purpose transport shuttle docked on top of a large hangar will beckon guests into Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, a designated location for traveling food shuttles. Chef Strono “Cookie” Tuggs is in much demand for his culinary skills, so he moves from site to site in a modified Sienar-Chall Utilipede-Transport that becomes a mobile kitchen and restaurant. His travels across the galaxy allow him to fill his pantry with exotic ingredients he uses to make new and unusual dishes. He is proud to present Tuggs’ Grub, a “traveling diner for diners traveling,” inspired by dishes he created during his time working for Maz Kanata on Takodana.

In the Black Spire Outpost market, Ronto Roasters will draw attention from passersby with its large podracing engine firing up a barbecue pit for mouth-watering Ronto Wraps. When hungry customers queue up to order, they will encounter a former smelter droid, carefully turning the spit of meats. Guests will also be able to choose from a variety of exotic non-alcoholic drinks like the Sour Sarlacc or Tatooine Sunset.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

Elsewhere in the market, the Milk Stand will offer two local favorites – Blue Milk and Green Milk. Blue Milk was first seen in “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” when Luke Skywalker sat down for a family meal. Green Milk was introduced in “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.”

Food is one of many discoveries just waiting to be made while wandering the lively market of Black Spire Outpost, where guests will encounter a robust collection of merchant shops and stalls filled with authentic Star Wars creations.

READ ALSO: Secrets to Experiencing Magic Kingdom like an Insider

The Droid Depot will invite guests to construct their own astromech droids. Patrons will pick pieces and parts off a conveyor belt to build one of two core models (R-series or BB-series) and they can customize their droids with various parts and colors. These droids will be capable of interacting with elements in the land. Additional programming chips and accessories can be added to further customize these new friends. In addition, the Droid Depot will offer pre-built droids, droid-inspired products and more.

At Savi’s Workshop – Handbuilt Lightsabers, guests will have the opportunity to customize and craft their very own lightsabers. In this mystical experience, guests will feel the Force as they build these elegant weapons from a more civilized age.

Inside Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, guests will find a selection of rare and mysterious items for sale representing different eras of the Star Wars galaxy, including holocrons, ancient Jedi and Sith artifacts, lightsabers and more. As they explore the nooks and crannies of the shop, guests will also see Dok at his desk as the large Ithorian checks his inventory, takes incoming calls and barks the occasional order at his assistants.

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about Disney Cruise

In addition to these special experiences, the Black Spire Outpost market will feature the Creature Stall dedicated to the plethora of rare and fascinating creatures that populate the galaxy, as well as Black Spire Outfitters, showcasing the latest in accessories. Guests will also find the Toydarian Toymaker, a stall full of toys crafted by a Toydarian (the flying alien species first seen in “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace”).

Guests can also demonstrate where their loyalties lie with the gear and accessories they purchase within the land. Resistance Supply is a “makeshift” supply location at the Resistance’s hidden command area. The stall sells Resistance pins, badges, hats, and other accessories to help guests feel like part of the cause. First Order Cargo, meanwhile, is a temporary First Order storage dock near the market. Easily identified by a never-before-seen First Order TIE echelon, the cargo location will offer guests a chance to pledge their loyalty by purchasing pins, caps, gear, model ships and more.

READ ALSO: What is Disney Creator Days and How You Can Get Invited

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is the first land within a Disney park designed to integrate with the Play Disney Parks mobile app, which debuted last year and offers interactive adventures and experiences that bring surrounding environments to life at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. When guests use the app, it will provide new opportunities for them to engage with the land, such as translating a galactic language, learning what’s hidden inside crates and containers, or accomplishing certain tasks by participating in missions.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

Guests also can use the Play Disney Parks app to interact with a variety of elements in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, such as droids, ships, media screens, door panels and antenna arrays.

Music has been an integral part of Star Wars from the moment the iconic themes of Academy Award-winning® composer John Williams first introduced us to this galaxy. The music for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge continues that tradition with a suite of all-new Williams-composed themes written especially for the land and its attractions. Along with a collection of original cantina songs created by composers and songwriters from around the globe, this new music will deepen guests’ connection to the land as Williams complements and builds upon the iconic fanfares he created for the Star Wars films.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

More details about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be released in the coming months. Visit DisneylandNews.com, WDWNews.com, DisneyParksBlog.com and StarWars.com for the most up-to-date information.

Capacity is limited. Access to the theme park, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its experiences may be restricted or unavailable depending on guest demand and other factors.

Olga's Cantina, Galaxy's Edge, Star Wars, Millenium Falcon, Kat Sakas Kettle, opening day, Disneyland May 31st, DIsney World, August 29, Walt Disney World, Disney Creator Days, Disney Parks, Disney Resorts, Disney Cruise

Photos courtesy of Disney

Are you looking forward to Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge opening day? Will you be visiting Disney Parks this fall to check it out? What are you most excited about?

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#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation, cinderella's castle

Wondering what Disney Creator Days is? If you’re an influencer, especially if you’re one who loves Disney, your dream collaboration is to partner with the Walt Disney Company. For years, the most coveted influencer invitation was to be invited to the annual Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, #DSMMC. This year that celebration is on hiatus. Enter Disney Creator Days. But what is it? It’s a new immersive influencer event. It’s not the same as Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.

I’ve been very fortunate and been invited to Disney events and, for me, it felt like winning the lottery. We visit Disney World yearly so being invited to Disney hosted events is icing on the cake. Disney World is the first place we visited as a couple (on our honeymoon) and have continued to do so as a family for the past 20 years. 20-year anniversary coming at you this May.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation

READ ALSO: Tips from Disney on how to get Invited to Disney Social Media Moms Celebration

Growing up, my family loved Disney but visiting Walt Disney World was never an option for us. My mom stayed home with us and my father worked a blue collar job. They had 6 kids. Our vacations consisted of saving everything we could to visit grandparents in Tennessee and Mexico. I’m not complaining, we saw lots of states on our drives to these places (in fact, I’ve seen most of the United States and Mexico by car) but Florida was never “on the way.”

Every time I step foot on the grounds at WDW resorts, it feels special. I’m sure it has a lot to do with who I’m with but where I’m at makes it absolutely magical and has secured Walt Disney World as one of our favorite places to visit as a family. Disney is a feeling for me and I know I’m not the only one. Walt Disney World means dreams coming true, in so many different ways, for so many of its visitors.

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READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing Your WDW Vacation

When I’ve been invited to Disney events, my whole family celebrates because, for us, it is a big deal. The Disney Social Media Moms Celebration was particularly exciting for me as an influencer because not only was I invited, which is an honor in itself, I was able to bring my family along with me. While there, I heard some of the most talented people in my field speak. Not only did my family get to share this experience with me, but Disney also provided me with tools to grow my website and brand. And on top of all of that, I had the opportunity to meet and network with some of my fellow influencers and their families.

This year, when Disney announced that Disney Social Media Moms Celebration was going on a “hiatus” of course I was disappointed because last year’s event was so meaningful to me but, in our field, stopping, reassessing and changing to fit the evolution of social media is what has to be done to stay current. It’s doing what’s best in the long run.

space mountain, #DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation

READ ALSO: Is Disney Vacation Club for You?

When I heard they were hosting an event called Disney Creator Days I had no idea what that was because it’s a brand new adventure but I was excited to find out more. There wasn’t a lot of information out there but there was a lot of speculation. I don’t like to gossip so I did what I always do, I went directly to the source. I asked my contacts at Disney.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation, mickey mouse, minnie mouse

What is Disney Creator Days?

Disney Creator Days is an invitation-only event being held at Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Cruise Line in March.  It is a familiarization type experience for influencers to showcase these incredible Disney vacation experiences.   

Disney Creator Days is not the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.

It is something completely new. From my research online, reading posts by those invited, Disney Creator Days is a week-long land and sea adventure that will be hosted by Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Cruise Lines. It’s a very small event for just a few select influencers and their families. It will be on March 5-11, 2019.

It sounds like it’s going to be awesome and include everything you could ever need for the ultimate Walt Disney World vacation.

  • 4 Days at Walt Disney World including park hopper passes and media Fast Passes.
  • 3 Night stay at a Walt Disney World Resort
  • 3 Night cruise with Disney Cruise Line
  • All Flights and Transportation
  • Unlimited internet both on land and sea
  • Most meals
  • Exclusive access, first-looks, events, one-of-a-kind special experiences, and surprises.
  • All of the above 100% paid for by Disney.

It seems to me that the key difference between the Disney Creator Days and Disney Social Media Moms Celebration is that Disney Creator Days is to showcase the Disney vacation experience.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation

Whereas when at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, influencers attend a conference to grow their brand but are allowed time and encouraged to experience the Disney magic with their families in the parks. The focus is different for each event.

Another key difference, when you attend #DSMMC you pay a very reduced rate for the experience including the conference, lodging and parks. Disney Creator Days is 100% paid for by Disney. Either way, totally worth it.

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READ ALSO: Tips to Rock Your Disney World Vacation

Last difference, when you attend #DSMMC there are no clearly defined sharing obligations. Most influencers in attendance share a lot while we are there because the nuggets of wisdom are so great. Why wouldn’t we? Also, we’re are Walt Disney World and who doesn’t love to share family and travel adventures? So when you attend #DSMMC sharing is encouraged. When you attend Disney Creator Days there is a clearly defined expectation to create unique and engaging content about The Walt Disney Company and the experience itself before, during and after on all channels. Each influencer is expected to use their voice to provide a unique and honest perspective on the event. This is typical expectations of any press event with any company.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation, castaway cay

The next question on everyone’s mind is how do I get invited to Disney Creator Days?

As I mentioned earlier, those invited were hand selected. Here are the tips that I have gathered over the years from Disney on how to be considered for any Disney press event.

Go to conferences where Disney will be at and connect/network with Disney PR. Write strong, engaging content about Disney and send the links to the WDW PR department.

Qualities that Disney looks for in the influencers they work with?

It really depends on the initiative that they have going on. But it is helpful if bloggers have an up-to-date blog, have great social reach and engagement across the different social platforms, Disney-friendly content on social and their blogs, and a good Travel section.

How does Disney choose who to partner with for press events? Do bloggers need a certain amount of traffic to be invited to hosted events? How important is the audience fit?

Disney does not host very many influencer events so they have to be super selective with invitations. A lot of it is based on a variety of things such as brand fit, reach, audience, specialty, engagement, niche, diversity, quality of followers and whatever product Disney is promoting, etc.

#DisneyCreatorDays #DisneySMMC Walt Disney creator, Disney social media moms celebration, Disney Creator Days, What is Disney Creator Days, Walt Disney World, Disney Corporation, space mountainThere you have it, everything I know about Disney Creator Days.

 

Disney Creator Days sounds absolutely amazing and I’m thrilled for everyone who got the invite. I can’t wait to follow along on the inaugural event. Who knows, if they continue this event, maybe one of these days I’ll get some pixie dust. Either way, my love for family travel and Walt Disney World will keep my family coming back year after year. See ya real soon!

 

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Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens, things to do in Boston, Boston Commons, Georgetown Cupcakes, Signature swings

Boston is one of our favorite cities to travel to as a family. We fell in love with it on our first trip when the girls were just preschoolers and we’ve found new things to do and places to check out on every subsequent visit. It’s one of those places that you can go back to 100 times and still find new and exciting adventures to be had. Virginia might be for lovers but Boston is for families and the proof is in my things to do in Boston with teens list that I’ve compiled.

We’ve done the typical things like go whale watching, visit the children’s museum and walk the Freedom Trail. We’ve visited Harvard and explored every inch of the commons. As the girls grow older, from toddlers to teens, what they want t do and what interests them changes. Lucky for us, Boston is a city with endless options.

READ ALSO: Things to Do in Boston When Traveling with Children

One of my favorite things about Boston, and I’ve said this many times, part of what makes it such an amazing family destination is that the people of Boston are so kind and welcoming to their city. Every time we’ve been, it never fails, if I need to stop and ask someone for directions or for a recommendation of places to eat or things to do, without fail they stop and answer my questions. This plays a big part in why I feel safe in Boston and return every year.

If you’re looking for a city to visit that offers something for all ages where you and your family can explore, Boston may be for you.

Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens

Shopping

Primark

Shopping on Newbury Street

Newbury street is more than just a shopping center, it’s a cultural epicenter with all varieties of food and .

Anthropologie

Intermix

Eating

Pret a Manger

We only discovered this gem last year when I was sick and we needed something quick. Pret a Manger is literally, ready to eat. My girls are obsessed with grilled ham and cheese.

Cheers Boston

This is one of our favorite places to go with the girls. They love getting Shirley temples and Boston Creme pie and the Big Guy and I love the casual atmosphere and pub food.

Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens, things to do in Boston, Boston Commons, Georgetown Cupcakes, Signature swings

Georgetown Cupcake

Most delicious cupcakes ever with a fantastic flavor variety.

Eating in Chinatown

Any place you try, it will be good.

The Q

Come for the hot pots and stay for the sushi.

The Gourmet China House

The Gourmet China House is a quaint, unassuming restaurant that serves up some of the tastiest Chinese food I’ve ever eaten.

Stoddards

Gastropub serving vintage cocktails & craft beer in a historical building & former corset shop

New York Pizza

It’s a little bit of New York in Boston. If NYC style is your favorite pizza, you’ll love it.

Legal Sea Foods

Places to Stay 

Westin Boston Waterfront

The Westin has the most comfortable beds and attentive staff. If you are in town for a conference, the Westin is attached to the conference center. It’s also within walking distance to downtown.

Hyatt Regency Boston

The Hyatt is a modern, clean hotel located in the theater district within walking distance to the Commons, Chinatown and Newbury Street. Also, the customer service at the Hyatt is wonderful.

Boston Park Plaza

Entertainment

Best Things to Do in Boston with Teens and Tweens, things to do in Boston, Boston Commons, Georgetown Cupcakes, Signature swings

The Swing Park at the Signature

This is such a fun thing to do for people of every age. We spent hours there from sunset until it was dark out swinging on those glowing swings.

Faneuil Hall

Exploring Boylston neighborhoods around the Public Garden Park

Catch a show at the Paramount Center

The Swan Boats at the Commons

Visit Harvard University and Cambridge

If you’ve never been, you have to go. It’s a beautiful campus with so much to see. Plus, it’s never too early to introduce your kids to the possibility of Harvard.

READ ALSO: Ogunquit Maine the Perfect Beach Getaway

These are just a few of the many places to go and best things to do in Boston with teens and tweens but there are several more. We’re going back this June and I’ll have even more things to do and places to go then.

What’s your favorite city to visit with your family?

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Interview with #DWTS Pros, Pro Dance L.A., Interview with Dancing with the stars, #DWTS, #DWTS juniors, Gleb Savchenko, Alan Bersten, Brandon Armstrong, #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, Disneys Nutcracker and the Four Realms, #ABCTVEvent, DAncing with the stars, DWTS, DIsneys NUtcracker, My #DWTS Experience Inspired by Disneys Nutcracker

Thank you to Disney and ABC for inviting me to Los Angeles on an all-expense paid trip, in exchange for coverage of Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms and the #ABCTVEVENT event. I was hosted by Disney for the #DisneysNutcrackerEvent and given the opportunity to Interview with #DWTS Pros but all opinions are my own.

You’ve heard of Dancing with the Stars (DWTS), right? Who hasn’t? But have you ever dreamed of being on dancing with the stars or wondered what it would be like to dance with one of the coaches on DWTS? Me neither because I’m not a celebrity and that’s just not something that would happen in my normal everyday life. But it did. I still can’t believe this is my life sometimes.

In October, I was in Los Angeles for Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet premiere, which in and of itself was something I never thought I’d say or do. I mean, who am I? Lady Gaga? But there I was in L.A. living my best life doing my best impression of someone who was keeping calm, walking red carpets and rubbing elbows with celebrities.

On our first night in L.A., we had the surreal opportunity to receive dance lessons at Gleb Savchenko’s dance studio, Pro Dance LA. I’ve always loved dancing. I’m the queen of impromptu kitchen dance parties with my girls going back 13 years but I’ve never had any formal training. I pretty much dance like Elaine Benes and Frankenstein had a sweet little pirate baby. It’s not graceful or pretty. So even though I was excited, I was quite intimidated.

The hour we spent “dancing with the stars” was one of the most fun I’ve ever spent on a press trip. Our teachers? None other than #DWTS pros and “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors” mentors Brandon Armstrong, Alan Bersten and Gleb Savchenko.

First, we had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing the guys and they answered all of our DTWS questions. All three of the coaches were friendly, outgoing, funny and handsome. It wasn’t enough time.

Then, the pros gave us a lesson on the dance moves and taught us a choreographed dance for the song “Fall on Me” by Andrea Bocelli Featuring Matteo Bocelli from The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. It’s a beautiful song- be sure to listen for it when you watch the movie!

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After all of us learned the dance, we then broke down into three smaller groups, based on the realms in the movie, each with our own dance pro. I was part of the snow group. Alan was the pro for my group and we had a blast.

Guess what?

You can get your very own #DWTS experience by attending the Dancing with the Stars Tour.

My family and I are going next weekend and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

You can catch the DWTS Pros on the road in a city near you, with “Dancing with the Stars: Live! – A Night to Remember”. You can see if they’re coming to your city and buy tickets HERE.

Interview with #DWTS Pros, Pro Dance L.A., Interview with Dancing with the stars, #DWTS, #DWTS juniors, Gleb Savchenko, Alan Bersten, Brandon Armstrong, #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, Disneys Nutcracker and the Four Realms, #ABCTVEvent, DAncing with the stars, DWTS, DIsneys NUtcracker, My #DWTS Experience Inspired by Disneys Nutcracker

The tour will be a spectacular night of show-stopping dance performances from world-renowned dancers including Brandon Armstrong, Alan Bersten, Witney Carson, Artem Chigvintsev, Val Chmerkovskiy, Sasha Farber, Jenna Johnson, Gleb Savchenko, Emma Slater, Hayley Erbert and Britt Stewart, with more surprise casting to be announced.

Also, don’t forget that  Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms arrives home instantly with never-before-seen extras and deleted scenes on Digital and Movies Anywhere, and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD Jan. 29, 2019.

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Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, Field Museum, Adler planetarium, art institute of chciago, broadway on Chicago, navy pier, chicago shakespeare theater, Things to do with teens and kids in Chicago, Things to do with teens in Chicago, Chicago, Things to do in Chicago, travel to Chicago, travel with teens, teens, family travel

I’m a Chicago girl and there is nothing I love more than sharing my hometown with my daughters. I love taking my children to visit my family and introducing them to the city I love. It’s nice because while I’m figuring out all the best things to do in Chicago with teens and kids, I get to play tourist.

Chicago is one of my favorite cities but when you live somewhere you never play tourist because you.live.there. When you’re young, you’re like no way, I’m not wasting my time because you think you’ll always be there. Everything tourists come to Chicago to see, we saw on field trips a zillion times with school. You couldn’t pay us enough to go willingly.

READ ALSO: Chicago Ten Things to do Before You Die

But then you grow up and you realize OMG, all of these amazing museums, art galleries, Planetariums, Zoos, Aquariums and theater were right her and I took it all for granted. You realize that there are amazing things to do, food to eat and different cultures all around and you took it all for granted. But no more.

Here is a list of things to do in Chicago during the Winter months

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The Museum of Science and Industry

During the winter months, November through January, Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light is displayed. Explore rich holiday traditions from around the globe while creating your own traditions with loved ones in Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light.

It began in 1942 with a single tree. Today, the Museum’s beloved annual celebration features a four-story, floor-to-dome Grand Tree, surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. On the weekends, you can also enjoy live holiday performances. It’s the one-of-a-kind experience that brings a whole world of holiday joy under one roof.

READ ALSO: Spring Break Make It Yourself at MSI

This has been a favorite of mine since I was a little girl. This year, I took my parents and my daughters and it was truly magical. My only piece of advice, it is very busy over the holiday break between Christmas and New Year.

Also, if you are going during a busy season or when a popular exhibit is at the museum, be sure to get tickets for the exhibits that you want to see. There are some free exhibits that are very popular and so tickets are given on first come first serve basis, plot your plan and get your tickets as soon as you get there so you don’t miss anything.

Free admission days: The Museum of Science and Industry is free for Illinois residents with valid ID on the following dates in 2019: January 7–10, 14–17, 21–24, 28–31, February 4–7, 11–14, 19–21, 25–28

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Shedd Aquarium

If you are looking for a leisurely day to spend with children of all ages, the Shedd Aquarium is perfect. You are inside from the elements, whether it be the sweltering heat of the summer or the brutal cold of Chicago winters, and children (and adults alike) love the serene beauty that surrounds you.

Discover Aquatic Animals from around the World. You can purchase tickets online and save time. Encounter Penguins. Meet Beluga Whales. Award Winning Exhibits. Hands-On Activities. Watch Shark Feedings. Shows: Shark Feeding Tour, Behind-the-Scenes Tour, Beluga Encounter, Penguin Encounter. Our favorite was the Dolphin show and the Beluga Whales. It’s a great day of exciting aquatic fun.

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Don’t forget about the free admission days January 17-21, February 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-28 more will be added to the shed aquarium page free admissions page at a later day. Check back frequently because it’s a great deal.

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Field Museum

Who can forget the iconic shots of Kevin Bacon in She’s Having a Baby at the Field Museum? If your child or teen is into history at all, Field Museum is the place to visit. Even if they aren’t, I think the FIeld Museum could convince them to be. The Field Museum fuels a journey of discovery across time to enable solutions for a brighter future rich in nature and culture. It’s where real science, dinosaurs, and world-class exhibits inspire fun for all. My girls and nephew loved the mummies exhibit, Sue the T-Rex and Maximo the Titanosaur.

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There are Free Admission Days, which is free basic admission for Illinois residents with proof of residency. Discounted passes are available in person and cannot be purchased online in advance.

Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, located in Millennium Park, is a hub for summertime festivals like Lollapalooza, the Blues Festival, and Taste of Chicago but it’s really a great place to visit during the winter months as well. There are many pieces to be adored and to give your family something to think about Wood’s American Gothic, Matisse’s Bathers By a River, Monet’s Water Lilies, Rivera’s Weaver and even Renoir’s Two Sisters. There are O’Keefe, Toulouse-Lautrec and Warhols. All these I remember seeing as a child. But even among the Dali’s and Van Goghs, the piece I love the most is Picasso’s The Old Guitarist. Having a place to go and share these pieces with my daughters, feels a little bit like going to church at the Sistine Chapel. We are overcome with awe and wonder. The art Institute is a must visit when you’re in Chicago.

Just like all the other amazing museums in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago has free admission days.

Adler Planetarium

Chicago’s Adler Planetarium is America’s first planetarium and a premier resource for inspiring the next generation of space explorers and bonus, it is right next door to the Shedd Aquarium so you can make a day of it with the kids. If your child is interested in astronomy or space in general, how it works, what’s out there, or just connecting the constellations in the night sky, they will love the Adler Planetarium.

Countless galaxies, unfathomable distances, exploding stars, diamond planets, black holes, there’s no way around it, space is freaking awesome! Come learn more at the Adler Planetarium during our Illinois Resident Discount Days—where Illinois residents receive FREE General Admission to the museum. General Admission provides access to all exhibitions and experiences (excluding the historic Atwood Sphere Experience and sky shows.*) 2019 Illinois Resident Discount Days

January 21-22, 29-31
February 5-7, 12-14, 18-21, 26-28
April 2-4, 9-11
June 3-5, 10-13
September 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27
October 7-9, 14-16
November 8, 11
December 2-3, 7, 12-13

Navy Pier

If you’ve never been to Navy Pier, make sure to visit on your next trip to Chicago. Originally completed in 1916 as part of Daniel Burnham’s plan for Chicago, Navy Pier is an iconic city landmark inspiring discovery and wonder. Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million visitors have come to enjoy the Pier’s 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. As Navy Pier enters its second century, the venue is evolving into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.

There is so much to do at Navy Pier. There are restaurants, art, shopping, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and even rides. Navy Pier is home to one of Chicago’s most iconic attractions: the magnificent Centennial Wheel, offering soaring views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. And let’s not forget about the Pepsi Wave Swinger, carousel and more. Honestly, there is so much to do…just add teens and instant good time.

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Medieval Times Schaumburg

If you’ve never been to a Medieval Times, you are missing out. I always wanted to go but never made the drive ase I said, when you live in Chicago, you don’t do the touristy things). A couple of years ago, I found myself at a work event with my family and guess where we ended up? Medieval Times. We loved it so much, this past holiday season when I was home visiting my parents, we took them to Medieval times in Schaumburg (just north of the city) and they loved it and so did my kids.

For the first time in Medieval Times 35-year history, a woman is in charge. All hail Queen Dona Maria Isabella. Enjoy an electrifying show featuring heroic knights on spirited horses displaying the astounding athletic feats and thrilling swordplay that have become hallmarks of this unique entertainment experience. Enjoy a “hands-on” feast as the dynamic performance unfolds before you. A sweeping musical score and brilliant lights provide a fabulous backdrop for this spellbinding experience that blurs the boundary between fairy tale and spectacle!

Yes, there is a blue knight and a red knight and you eat with your hands but so is everybody else and it was magical and splendid and I can’t wait to go again. There is a 2-hour medieval jousting tournament, 6 competing knights with real weapons, beautiful horses and a live flight of the royal falcon. Medieval Times is like nothing else you’ve ever experienced.

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Save BIG 40% off adults and teens & 20% off kids. Use code HOL4020. Valid for shows through 1/31/2019. Restrictions apply.

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If you love the theater, Broadway in Chicago is the place to be. Hamilton, anyone? The theater district is vibrant and located within walking distance of so many great restaurants and entertainment opportunities, including the Joffrey ballet. There is no shortage of things to see and places to be while experiencing Broadway on Chicago. There is a constant assortment of plays and musicals to see on the stage, something for everyone, even the most discerning critics.

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There are so many more things, these are just a few and the list gets longer during the warmer months. What is your favorite thing to do, see and eat in Chicago? The best part is that all of these places are great for just adults too.

READ ALSO: The Aladdin Experience

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What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago with teens or kids?

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What's New at Walt Disney World in 2019, walt disney world, disney world vacation, 10 tips for maximizing yoru walt disney vacation for free, magic kingdom, happily ever after, mickey mouse, pandora, #disneySMMC, Toy story land, epcot, astro orbitor, rose gold ears, disneyfamilia, familia first, disney family, family travel

Are you a Walt Disney World fan? Is your idea of the perfect family vacation packing up the kids and heading to Orlando, Florida to spend all the time with Mickey and his friends? Does the thought of spending a week at the parks with your family make you get all giddy and go into full-on my Disney Experience mode? Do you get excited to find out what’s new at Walt Dinsey World?

I wasn’t always a Walt Disney World fan. I wasn’t not a fan either. I just never had the opportunity to visit the happiest place on earth. Growing up with 6 brothers and sisters, a stay-at-home mom and a dad who was a blur collar factory worker, we didn’t get many vacations and the ones we did were reserved for traveling to see family. I just assumed Walt Disney World was not in the cards for me and you can’t miss what you’ve never had so I was alright with it.  Then I met my husband.

Our love story was a whirlwind one and after 4 months of dating, the Big Guy resolutely declared to the world (and his mother) that I was his soul mate and he asked me to marry him. I was shocked, or as the kids say, I was shook! Was I ever.

READ ALSO: 25 Top Secret Tips to Rock Your Disney World Family Vacation

I took a chance and said yes because I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. Yes, after only 4 short months, even I knew that much. He wanted to give me my dream wedding and he only asked for 2 things, 1) we walk into the reception with the Star Wars music playing in the background 2) we honeymoon at Disney.

I wasn’t super pumped about Walt Disney World as a honeymoon destination. I was thinking more along the lines of the French Riviera, Santorini, Rome or Paris. I either wanted a beach or a romantic city full of little nooks and crannies for us to get lost in. That was my dream. But, he only asked for those 2 things and he assured me that Walt Disney World could be romantic. In fact, he promised me that it would be.  And it was.

It was my first trip to Walt Disney World ever and it was magical. We may not have gone to Europe but at least with Epcot, I got to eat like we did. And maybe we didn’t get to lay on an exotic beach but the sand bottom pools at the Yacht Club resort where we stayed concierge was actually amazing. It’s crazy but even though there were thousands of people around, when he held my hand and we walked through those gates, I felt like there was no one else there except the two of us. It was as romantic a place as any I’d ever been to or have been to since, well, with the exception of New Orleans.  That was pretty romantic.

READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing Your Walt Disney World Vacation

All this to say, we love Walt Disney World. It is our home away from home and boy, am I homesick. We have gone almost every year since we’ve gotten married. I’m in the beginning stages of planning this year’s trip. It will be our 20th wedding anniversary this year and we want to go back to where it all began so every time I see one of those #NowMoreThanEver commercials, I get a little choked up and really excited about what’s to come this year at the most magical place on earth, Walt Disney World.

I did a little digging and talked to my friends at Walt Disney World and got the scoop. Now, more than ever is a great time to plan a vacation to Walt Disney World Resort, with new parties, shows, character experiences and more debuting Jan. 18, 2019, at all four theme parks. Excitement is building as a new countdown clock at Disneyworld.com/nowmorethanever is ticking down to the launch of all of these new experiences!

Here is what’s new at Walt Disney World this January

New Parties, Shows, Characters and More Debuting in January 2019 at Walt Disney World Resort

Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration Arrives at Magic Kingdom Park

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Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration will honor those true originals, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, with new entertainment, merchandise and specialty food and beverages at the Magic Kingdom.

JUST ANNOUNCED New at Walt Disney World!

Mickey and Minnie will greet guests together inside Town Square Theater, wearing all-new, colorful outfits for their special celebration.

JUST ANNOUNCED New at Walt Disney World!

Guests will enjoy Celebration Station inside Town Square Theater, where they may sign a guestbook to let Mickey and Minnie know, personally, how much fun they had during the party.

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about the Disney Dream Cruise

JUST ANNOUNCED New at Walt Disney World!

An all-new song, “It’s a Good Time,” will play several times daily as part of the new “Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party.” During this high-energy bash, singing hosts will invite guests to join in the fun with Disney pals including Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, and many others.

JUST ANNOUNCED New at Walt Disney World!

Mickey’s beloved dog, Pluto, will meet guests under the big top at Pete’s Silly Sideshow in Storybook Circus. Party with Pixar Pals and More as Disney’s Hollywood Studios Marks 30 Years.

Wonderful World of Animation – a new nighttime spectacular coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in May 2019 – will use state-of-the-art technology to take guests on a magical journey through more than 90 years of Disney animation. (Disney)

JUST ANNOUNCED New at Walt Disney World!

May 1, 2019, marks the 30th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The park will celebrate this milestone all year long, starting Jan. 18 with the reveal of a new 30th-anniversary logo. Pixar Avenue will be the place for guests to show off their inner Supers with The Incredibles. Guests will celebrate the heroic deeds of Mr. Incredible, Mrs. Incredible, and Frozone, who will make appearances throughout the day during a party featuring lively music, dancing, interactive games and more Super fun. Guests will meet super-suit designer Edna Mode and see some of her greatest creations. They may also spot signs for the whereabouts of the youngest Incredible – the mischievous and multi-powered Jack-Jack.

A door to the monster world will open inside Walt Disney Presents, inviting guests to visit with Mike and Sulley from Disney•Pixar’s “Monsters, Inc.”

(Steven Diaz, photographer)

Guests will feel like honorary toys in the new Toy Story Land. Based on the beloved Pixar Toy Story films, the playful land features two new attractions – Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers – as well as fan-favorite Toy Story Mania!

In addition, the new high-energy live show “Disney Junior Dance Party!” will feature characters from Disney Junior television series, including Vampirina, Doc McStuffins and many more.

READ ALSO: Secrets to Use Disney World Tickets to Experience Magic Kingdom like an Insider

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More Broadway Music Than Ever at Epcot International Festival of the Arts

The Epcot International Festival of the Arts comes to life Jan. 18-Feb. 25, 2019, where guests will indulge in world-class culinary, visual and performance arts.

The Disney on Broadway Concert Series expands to seven days a week during the festival, providing more opportunities than ever before to hear pairs of Disney on Broadway stars sing favorite tunes from award-winning productions. The lineup will rotate regularly, featuring music from “The Lion King,” “Frozen,” “Beauty and the Beast” and other hit shows.

The festival will include 13 Food Studios, plus additional creative food and beverages around Epcot, featuring an expanded selection of delicious new tastes to savor.

Art collectors and Disney enthusiasts alike will find artwork for sale throughout the park, from the Art of Disney store to Festival Markets. In addition, special festival merchandise will be available at Mouse Gear and other Epcot locations.

The 2019 festival provides fun every day for the whole family, including performance artists, complimentary seminars, hands-on activities and Figment’s Brush with the Masters Scavenger Hunt.

READ ALSO: Best Tips to Beat the Heat at Walt Disney World

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While experiencing all the Epcot International Festival of the Arts has to offer, guests will want to spend another evening around World Showcase Lagoon taking in “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” which will be ending in the second half of 2019 to make way for an all-new nighttime spectacular.

Feel the Love During ‘Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Guests will take a walk on the wild side at Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the “Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party,” featuring Timon and Rafiki from Disney’s “The Lion King.”

Each day on Discovery Island, the dance party will encourage young adventurers to let their inner animals roam free on the dance floor as a street band plays a fiery soundtrack in a World Beat style.

All this excitement will be here in two shakes of a mouse’s tail! To make sure no one misses a moment, you will find a new countdown clock online at Disneyworld.com/nowmorethanever. It’s rolling down to when the fun begins on the morning of Jan. 18, 2019!

More Walt Disney World Magic Tips

What to Pack for Disney

Disney Vacation  Tips for the Budget Conscious

So Your Planning a Trip with Friends, 5 Tips from a Disney Mom

Desserts Around the World at Epcot

Disney World Tips and Tricks – Over 50 Disney World Secrets 2019

Walt Disney World’s  Toy Story Land with Woody and Friends is Now Open for Play

What are you most excited for that is New at Walt Disney World in 2019?

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Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Attending Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet experience gave me memories that will last a lifetime! This post is sponsored by Disney for the #DisneysNutcrackerEvent but all opinions are my own.

On Monday, October 29th, I had the privilege and honor of attending my first ever red carpet event and it was for a movie that I have been waiting over a year to see, Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms.  It was more than I could ever have imagined.

The Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Premiere was held at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles. I honestly am still having a hard time believing this is my life. It felt surreal. Today, I will be sharing my very own exclusive Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience, complete with all the behind the scenes stuff I did to prepare for my first red carpet experience and photos of the things and people I saw.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

READ ALSO: Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms a MUST see for Ballet Dancers

The event began like any other day, just kidding, it began like no other day of my life. It began with getting dressed in my fanciest red carpet outfit. I needed something worthy of such an event. The occasion clearly called for sparkles and a wow factor. This was not a test folks, this was the real thing. I dressed up like the inner Nutcracker princess that I’ve always been.

I chose a Morgan and Company fit and flare silhouette, sequined lace cocktail dress from Macys. It had a halter neckline and just a small hem of tulle in merlot. It was perfect. Shades of red remind me of the holidays and the holidays have always meant the Nutcracker to my family. I paired that beautiful merlot gown with a pair of gorgeous Cassiaa Peep-Toe Wedge Pumps in Platino. I felt elegant, beautiful and even a little magical as I left a little glitter everywhere I went.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Disney/ Alex J. Berliner

As if all this was not magical enough, we headed to the Ray Dolby ballroom which had been ethereally transformed into the Four Realms. Guests were greeted by sparkly twinkle lights hung from floor to ceiling against a hanging black backdrop, majestic towers of lollipops as far as the eye could see and beautiful people just as excited to see Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms as I was. It was stunning and invigorating. The energy of the crowd and the anticipation was palpable.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Being greeted by jugglers on stilts wielding flowers and neon colored juggling pins gave the room a whimsical feel. There were crafts for the kids to build their very own snow globes and candy stations provided by Ziploc. Funky Hair was on site giving anyone who was interested a Nutcracker-inspired hairstyle makeover. You know me, I went all in and got a Nutcracker and the Four Realms inspired hairstyle, complete with candies, snowflakes and glitter. How could I not?

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

OPI was also providing manicures using the new Nutcracker and the Four Realms color sets for anyone who wanted them, as well. The new colors are absolutely breathtaking. I have the collection and have been wearing a different color since I returned home.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Disney/ Alex J. Berliner

The food provided by Wolfgang Puck was absolutely delicious. Comfort and delectability met to delight your taste buds and inspire your palette. A few of my favorites were the braised short rib grilled cheese, the miniature pot pies, individual macaroni and cheese and the squash tortellini. Can you say delicious? I probably would have eaten more had my jaw not kept dropping open when I found myself rubbing elbows with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. After all, it was my first red carpet event. I found it exciting to be in the same room with Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, MORGAN FREEMAN and so many others.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Disney/ Alex J. Berliner

READ ALSO: What’s so Special about the Nutcracker Ballet

In case you are wondering, I completely behaved myself. I didn’t obnoxiously bother anyone while they were eating or with their children to take a photo. But they were there and they were beautiful, and they were just like you and me, and that was exciting enough for this work from home ballerina mom.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Disney/ Alex J. Berliner

Though, it was a little mind-blowing for me. I’m not normally one to fangirl but when you are 5 foot from a legend like Morgan Freeman, it’s hard not to get excited about it. I’ve grown up seeing this man perform in some of my favorite movies and there he was to my right, like anybody else, in a gorgeous purple blazer that was subliminally reminding me just how Hollywood royalty he really is. Don’t worry, I completely kept my cool, even if I was squeeing on the inside. I might have admired him for 3 minutes or so but I did it from a safe distance and didn’t embarrass myself.

I did however get this photo of me and Adina Porter. I have been a fan of hers for years from True Blood to Newsroom and now, American Horror Story. She was so kind and beautiful. Loved meeting one of my long-time favorite actresses.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

The ambiance was electric and magical and I was definitely swept up. I felt like a princess. But it goes by fast so I had to keep reminding myself to stop, look around, breathe and take it all in. I wanted to soak every single second of that magic. It felt like trying to remember the details of an amazing dream that someone woke you too soon from. But that Disney magic, you can bask in that glow for some time. I’m still feeling pretty special from just attending.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

After the party, we headed to the iconic El Capitan theater where I watched Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms from the second row while eating sugar plum popcorn, surrounded by all the movie’s stars and some of Hollywood’s most up and coming stars. Morgan Freeman and Mackenzie Foy were just a few rows back from me. I didn’t figure that out until I was going through my pictures from the event tonight. I was actually trying to capture a selfie of my hairstyle that Funky Hair had done to send to my daughters. Talk about a happy accident.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

I know red carpet events might be something others do often but it was my first and Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms was simply magical in the most delightful ways. It was truly a Disney dream come true for this lifelong Disney fan. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Premiere is definitely a highlight of my career that I will never forget.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Coralie Hughes Seright

I’m back home but I’m still scratching my head wondering, how is this my life? I walked the red carpet with the stars from what I am sure will become a new holiday classic that generations to come will watch with their children.

I highly recommend that you take your family to see the movie. Make it a new holiday family tradition. Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms in theaters everywhere, November 2nd.

Disney's Nutcracker and the Four Realms. #DisneysNutcrackerEvent, The Nutcracker, Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Red Carpet Experience , Misty Copeland, Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, World Premiere

Photo Credit: Disney/ Alex J. Berliner

Are you going to see Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms? With who and why?

 

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adventures by Disney, Japan, Teen Travel, vacation with teens, see the world, have teens will travel, family adventure, disney

Anyone who knows me knows that my dream would be to gift to my girls the world; a life filled with adventures. Of all the things I could give them, aside from kindness and tolerance, I’d love to introduce them to different cultures. I’d love to raise good human beings who were strong, independent.  Teen travel is so important. Start them young as babies and your vacation with teens will be an adventure you can share together.

It’s a very different life when you live in a bubble compared to when you’ve seen the world. I know it’s not possible or probable for most and I know that some people don’t care about global citizenship the way or to the degree that I do. It probably has a lot to do with my father not being from this country. It probably has more to do with spending my summers in Mexico.

This has always caused me to be more enthusiastic and open to adventure. Having a father whose first language was not English, made me more patient and tolerant of those who didn’t speak English. It made me want to learn other languages so that I could understand and communicate with others. This is why I spoke 4 languages by the time I graduated from college.

I appreciate the differences in people, places, and things. It’s more interesting to be surrounded by difference than sameness. My girls are falling into this same pattern. They see differences as an endless possibility for adventure and travel as the ultimate exploration. This is why I am so excited for Adventures by Disney. They have something for every family member.

READ ALSO: Top  Secret Tips to Rock Your Disney Vacation

As you know as a reader of my multiple posts about our trips to Disney World, Disneyland and on Disney Cruise line, we love Disney. The thing is you can take a short escape or a long one. You can travel in the United States or internationally. It really is a choose your own adventure Disney style and as anyone who has ever been to the happiest place on earth can attest to every adventure by Disney is different. Make of it what you and your family will.

Adventures by Disney offers many different destinations and new ways for travelers to experience the world’s most remarkable destinations with guidance, which is always nice especially if it’s your first time in a city or country. Teen travel is exciting and hectic because not only are our children changing at a dizzying pace, showing them the world is amazing. Adding a guided vacation with teens allows you to eliminate the frustration and just enjoy your time together.

In 2019, Adventures by Disney travelers will experience the captivating culture and rich diversity of Japan during a brand-new itinerary, with expeditions ranging from ancient locales steeped in tradition to fast-paced modern cities. Adventures by Disney collaborated with the Japan National Tourism Organization to create a trip that is both culturally authentic and deeply immersive. Whether exploring a breathtaking bamboo forest, centuries-old temple or high-tech metropolis, vacationers will be fully immersed in the ancient customs and storied traditions deeply rooted within this cultural wonderland.
During this 11-day, 10-night itinerary, travelers will visit Kyoto, Osaka, Takayama, Hakone and Tokyo.

In 2019, a reimagined Alberta, Canada itinerary will offer all-new adventures in Calgary, before traveling to breathtaking Banff National Park and the stunning Lake Louise. In Calgary, travelers will be welcomed as honorary citizens during a traditional ceremony before visiting some of the area’s ranches and farms.

Banff is one of the most beautiful places in the world that I’ve ever traveled to. I’ve not taken my family there yet. When I went I came home with an entirely new outlook on life and appreciation for natural beauty. There is something about standing amongst ancient glaciers and surrounded by pristine nature that makes you feel so small and lucky at the same time. Banff is on my family travel bucket list. I think this Adventure by Disney would be perfect for my family.

Adventures by Disney also recently announced an array of offerings that can be added to a Disney Cruise sailing. Talk about the ultimate land and sea vacation. In 2019, travelers can journey to unforgettable locales such as Barcelona and Copenhagen. All while enjoying renowned Disney service and storytelling. Can you even imagine?

READ ALSO: Everything You Need to Know about the Disney Dream. 

These unforgettable trips join dozens of Adventures by Disney vacations worldwide, including a new itinerary on France’s Seine River. Revel in the beauty of the sites of Paris while engaging in immersive activities for the whole family. Paris has been on my travel bucket list since I was in 7th grade.

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The 2019 Adventures by Disney land tours feature a wide variety of vacation destination options, something for every traveler. Families will find a wealth of unforgettable moments imbued with special touches that are uniquely Disney.

READ ALSO: Free Tips for Maximizing your Disney World Trip

If you prefer s short trip how about a best of Boston adventure? Treasured American history and contemporary culture come to life in Boston on the new Short Escape itinerary.

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Guests are immersed in the city’s legendary stories. During a privately guided tour along the Freedom Trail, families follow 18th-century costumed guides back in time. A private, after-hours tour of the Old North Church places travelers in the famed footsteps of Paul Revere, while another special after-hours visit to the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum concludes with a private dinner steeped in the city’s storied roots.

Other family-friendly excursions and activities include rowing along the Charles River and biking the city on a private sightseeing tour. Perfect for teens are exploring the grounds of Harvard Yard. Perfect for the entire family, indulging at a private New England clambake on Thompson Island.

I can tell you from going here every year with our children, there is no shortage of things to do in Boston. You could go back time and time again and still find things to do.

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Looking for the ultimate family vacation that’s teen friendly?  Whether you prefer beaches resorts or outdoor adventure, Adventures by Disney has you covered. What are you waiting for?

What Adventures by Disney trip would be perfect for you and your teens?

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Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District

I never thought of New Orleans as a romantic getaway but here I am writing this post Ten Things to Do in New Orleans to get Pregnant. After a well-timed road trip to Louisana, we got pregnant. I’m not saying New Orleans is the best travel destination to get pregnant but I’m not saying it’s not.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before children, the Big Guy and I went away for a long weekend to celebrate our 5th year wedding anniversary and we came back pregnant with our first child. Now, it wasn’t a babymoon. We weren’t trying to conceive but we weren’t not trying to conceive either. We were in the planning to plan to conceive phase of marriage.

READ ALSO: Life is what happens when You are Busy Making Plans

On that trip, we fell in love with New Orleans and even more in love with each other. New Orleans, literally, changed our lives forever. New Orleans made us parents so it is our top best travel destination to get pregnant.

Ten Things to Do in New Orleans to get Pregnant

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA

Stay at a sexy boutique hotel complete with rose petal baths and fertility blessings

We stayed at the International House Hotel to celebrate our 5th Wedding anniversary and it was amazing. Anthony Bourdain said, “The International House sets the standard for modern hotels with its creative design and meticulous attention to detail. ” And the Big Guy and I agree. It’s beautiful, sexy and mysterious and it makes you feel all those things when you are there. They say 1 in 8 New Orleaneans practice voodoo. All I know is that magic happens at the International House Hotel.

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Indulge in Beignets

Warm, powdered sugar pastries are always delicious but the beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans melt in your mouth. They taste heavenly and nothing will start your day off in a better mood than having one after sleeping in with your beloved.

Seriously, indulge in everything.

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Get a drink to go and wander the streets

Yes, you can do this is New Orleans because they operate under Napoleanic law and you can carry open containers as long as the container is plastic and the legal drinking age is 18-years-old. Go crazy, head to Pat O’Brien’s and get yourself a giant Hurricane and hit the streets.

Eat and drink your way through St. Claude Avenue

So much food and so little time. New Orleans has some of the best food you will ever eat and such a variety. You can stroll the city and taste your way around the world.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter

Get a drink at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop or the Old Absinthe House

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is the oldest bar in NOLA and was once the workshop of the famed pirate, Jean Lafitte. Another favorite of ours was the Old Absinthe House. If you’re in the French Quarter, you must stop. The history is palpable.

Jazz do it!

Take a jazz cruise on the Steamboat Natchez .If you like jazz, there is really nothing more romantic than taking a leisurely, night river cruise on the Mississippi. I can still remember the sound of the water beneath us as the jazz band plays in the background. The boat swaying, as you dance with your partner under the moonlight, may just be the most romantic thing you never knew that you were always missing.

Speaking of jazz, listen to live jazz music in Jackson Square. Maybe a little spontaneous dancing will happen. Expect the unexpected in NOLA. I never knew before this trip just how much jazz is baby making music.

While you’re at Jackson Square be sure to stop by St. Louis Cathedral. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and if the fertility statue you got from the voodoo priestess isn’t doing the trick, light a few candles in the Cathedral just for good measure.

 

Stroll through Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District

I know it doesn’t sound romantic but strolling someplace so quiet and introspective, holding hands with your favorite person is so romantic. The Big Guy and I could have strolled that cemetery all day long.

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Go on the garden district tour

The garden district is gorgeous and on a sunny day in May, it might just be the most beautiful place in the world. It kind of felt like walking around our own private island enveloped in flowers and trees as the sun peaked through overgrown willows and it’s shadows played upon our faces. I could feel myself falling deeper and deeper in love with the Big Guy.

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Go to Bourbon street and get lit AF and let go of all of your inhibitions.

We hit the 5 for 1 beer at what used to be the red rhino. Then we stood on the balcony throwing beads to hotties. We got hit on by a couple of swingers, which only fueled our lust.  We refused their offer, drank some more and headed back to the hotel.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District, pizza

Eat the pizza.

Yep, Dominos pizza was being sold on the street by a vendor somewhere between Bourbon street and our hotel. We were ravenous. We bought a $5 pizza and ate a piece before a night that I can only call a blur of lovemaking and gymnastics from which I still daydream about 14 years later. Needless to say,  I now refer to Dominos as pregnancy pizza. I’m not saying the pizza had anything to do with the fact that we got pregnant but I’m not saying it didn’t either.

READ ALSO: What a Difference a Decade Makes

This is by no means a comprehensive list of things to do in New Orleans to get you pregnant or otherwise engaged, but it is my tongue in cheek list. Look, I know nothing can guarantee getting pregnant. My point is that we relaxed, stopped thinking about it and that’s when it happened. Infertility is not as easy as that but, for us, New Orleans changed our entire lives because we came back from that trip pregnant and, to us, New Orleans will always be the city of love and hope.

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I can’t wait to take our girls there someday so they see and experience the amazing, beautiful city that is New Orleans.

 

 

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Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

I think every family should go RVing before their kids grow up, at least once, if not do like some of my friends and take an entire year to explore. If you want to really connect as a family, for us, there need to be minimal distractions, intimate proximity and the freedom to unplug from the rest of the world. Your priority and attention need to be present with the people who are traveling with you. If there is a beautiful destination involved, a place where you can sit in wonder and awe, even better. This year, we discovered that for us, RVing is the only way to ensure that result.

As many of you know, my family and I are nomads. I could roam the world homeless forever. I was raised that home is where the people you love are and so home for me is wherever the Big Guy and my girls are at. That’s all I need; my health, them and the wide open road. Road trips are my jam; while I love traveling by any means possible, especially to a tropical destination, road trips allow for unexpected adventures that you just can’t plan. Detours and roadside stops or choosing a different path feels a lot like living in your own private choose your adventure game.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Last month, we had one of the best family vacations of our lives and that is saying a lot. I knew traveling by RV would be fun but I had no idea how much we would all connect. I had no idea how many beautiful memories we would make on this one trip. It was as simple as unplugging, being present and actually seeing the people and places in front of us.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLifeDisclosure: We were provided an RV and a campsite at a destination of our choice by Go RVing but all opinions and memories are our own.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

A screen is a beautiful thing but it pales in comparison to looking up and seeing the ocean. It is garbage compared to human contact and interaction around a campfire at night on a beach beneath the stars. It’s a poor substitute for real life. Virtual has nothing on human interaction.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

The weekend before school started back, we went on a magical end of the summer trip in an RV. I like to sneak in that one last relaxing getaway with my people before schedules get hectic and we’re all neck deep in the minutia of our day to day schedules. Last year, we stayed in a parked RV model in Traverse City, Michigan and we thought that was amazing and it was but it wasn’t the same experience as driving with your family in an RV. Definitely not the same as a road trip in an SUV or car, though, I do love those too.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the best family trip

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

We drove 9 hours to the D.C. area to pick up our Winnebago Intent Model 31P before driving another 7 hours to beautiful Camp Hatteras campground in Rodanthe, North Carolina. Talk about style. I’m not sure what I was expecting but this Winnebago exceeded anything I could have imagined. It was almost 32′ in length and could accommodate up to 7 people with bunk beds for the kids. There were only 4 of us, so we had plenty of space.

There was plenty of storage space, both inside the RV and in the under-storage areas for food, toys and games and whatever you want to bring along. There was a television in the sitting area, the back bedroom and even outside, along with a mini-fridge and sink; perfect when you’re grilling and don’t want to miss that special game. For us, the television was perfect for when it rained outside. We’d all snuggle up and watch a movie together before a midday nap. That’s what vacations are for, right? We were sucking every bit of relaxing we could get out of this trip.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

The Outer Banks has always been on my travel bucket list and it was not a disappointment. We can’t wait to go back. There is just something about a vacation by water that is intuitively relaxing for me, especially the ocean.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There were a ton of things to do at Camp Hatteras from mini golfing, corn hole tournaments, live music, ice cream socials to crafts and karaoke but we were more interested in sunsets on the sound, long walks on the beach, playing in the surf, exploring under the pier and bonfires under the stars right on the beach. You choose your family adventure.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

You could surf, kayak, take a boat out and fish or you could build sandcastles, bathe in the sun and talk to the people on the blanket next to you on Camp Hatteras’ private beach while your kids laughed and ran from the waves. Campgrounds have a whole culture that I never knew about before and the people are all so fun and friendly. The first night we arrived, our site neighbors came out and helped us novice campers hook everything up.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Cape Hatteras can be as exciting or laid back as you choose. We opted for relaxing togetherness. I took the girls’ phones away. I only used mine for pics. We stopped worrying about ticking boxes and having to be anywhere and we just played it all by ear and it was magical. I seriously can’t recommend it highly enough. If your end goal is to relax on vacation and spend quality time with your family, go RVing.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There was no running to see sights. It was just high grass, soft sand, blue water, crashing waves and star filled nights with the three people I love most on the planet. It couldn’t get any better than that and yet, it did. There were nights of delivered pizza while listening to the wave crash from our Oceanside site. There was coming in from a scorching beautiful day on the beach to an air-conditioned, all the amenities of home RV including a hot shower and a refrigerator full of ice cream.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLifeREAD ALSO: Ogunquit Maine is the Perfect Place to Eat Cake by the Ocean

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There were lots of laughs and lots of love. There were so many moments and memories made in the that RV and on that beach that I will never forget. If I close my eyes, I can smell the salt in the air, hear my girls giggling and feel the Big Guys hand in mine as we watched our girls run in and out of the surf, delighted by the different creatures in the sea from rogue crabs to spotting a pod of dolphins off in the distance. I can’t wait for next year’s end of the summer adventure.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Have you ever taken a family trip in an RV? If not, start planning next year’s trip now. We only get a handful of these precious years of togetherness like this before our kids grow up and the dynamics change. Sure, they will always be our babies but it won’t always just be us and them and they won’t always be as easily contented by spotting a pod of dolphins, splashing under the pier or sitting beneath the stars making s’mores on a starry night with nothing more than the surf and your doting heart.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Take advantage of every single moment you can. Go RVing!

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