Five reasons you should apply for the Disney College Program

FIVE years ago, I was fresh into my Disney College Program. It’s hard for me to believe that it has been that long already (I’m getting old). I can’t say enough good things about the program and so in honor of my five year CP anniversary, here are five reasons that you should apply for the Disney College Program:

It does wonders for your resume. I can hear you asking “How is working at a theme park/resort/dining location going to help my resume?” but I promise, it does. Before leaving for the DCP, I had applied to a bunch of jobs and really wasn’t getting any hits. When I returned, the only thing that had changed on my resume was my DCP experience and magically (ha – see what I did there?) I started getting responses from every job I applied to. Working for a Fortune 100 company, no matter what role, is something that potential employers everywhere can respect.

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You will make life long friends. I met some pretty incredible people on the program – many of which I still talk to on a daily basis. Working, living and playing together for four straight months builds strong friendships fast. I even had the honor of being in one of my roommate’s weddings last summer. 

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It’s like a four month long Disney vacation. Ok, not quite. Most of your time is spent working and going to classes but in your off time you are free to explore everything that the Walt Disney Resort has to offer. I can’t tell you how many times Lisa and I visited Mickey and Minnie at the Magic Kingdom but, for us, it never got old. Also, when you are on the program, friends and family are welcome to come visit you. Alex got to come see me towards the beginning of my program and we had a blast visiting the parks together. Playing in the parks for free rocks!

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You gain unbeatable work experience. For a lot of people, it’s a chance to try out a job that they would never do otherwise. Not too many “parade audience control” job openings out there in the “real world”, right? I worked as a food and beverage hostess inside Cinderella’s Castle and it was every bit as magical as it sounds. 

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Lots of opportunities for networking. My biggest reason for applying to the Disney College Program was to get my foot in the door with the Walt Disney Company. There are tons of networking and professional development opportunities that you can take advantage of while on your program. I took two classes that were offered by the program and, through those, got to meet some interesting people who were well connected within the company. If you are even the slightest bit interested in staying in the Orlando area, the program will open so many doors for you. Connections that I made helped me find a home at Aulani (which may just be my favorite job, yet!)

So there you have it! Five reasons that you should apply for the Disney College Program today! Have any questions? Want to hear more about the program? Have you done the program and want to talk about it? I’m all ears (get it?) – leave me a comment below!

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Gift Guide for the Disney Lover (and a giveaway!)

There are only two weeks left until Christmas. Can you believe it?!

I’m hoping to get some Christmas shopping done between doctors appointments today so, in the spirit of gift-giving, I’m sharing with you a gift guide for the Disney lover in your life. Plus, I have a fun giveaway for a Disney-inspired T-Shirt so make sure to enter at the end of this post!

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Rooney & Renee T-Shirt || Everyone loves a good T-Shirt, right? Rooney & Renee created a line of Disney-inspired shirts that are not only cute but super soft and comfortable. 

Vans || Disney and Vans – could there be a sweeter collaboration? They recently released a few new styles, just in time for Christmas, and I am loving The Jungle Book print.  

Watch || A nice watch is a timeless Christmas gift (ha – see what I did there?!) and I love this tortoiseshell option from the Disney Store. Your Disney lover could dress it up or keep it casual while still rocking their Disney side. P.S. Did you know that tortoiseshell was one word?! I didn’t until today 😉

Bracelet || Alex and Ani bangles make a great gift. They have TONS of different styles (not only Disney) and can be really fun to collect. I have a Cinderella’s Castle and Aulani bangle and would like to get one for every trip we take. They recently released some Star Wars bangles that would be perfect for this holiday season.

Purse || I’ve got a thing for bags and, while I’ve never splurged on a brand-name bag, I’ve had this bad boy on my list for years. If your Disney lover is a bag-lady like me, I’m sure they will love it. 

Movie Tickets || Surprise your loved one with tickets to see the latest Disney flick (hello, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) even if they go to see it on opening night. 

Disney Day || Is the Disney lover in your life lucky enough to live near a Disney theme park? Give them the gift of a Disney day! Bonus points if you include a ticket for a friend. 

Cruise || If you really want to wow your Disney fan, surprise them with a Disney Cruise. Seriously, their cruises are the best and perfect for all ages. I’m all about experience gifts and this one would definitely top the cake (or the Mickey ice-cream sundae)

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Our friends at Rooney & Renee are giving away one of their awesome shirts to one of my readers. 

They recently sent me a shirt of my choice (I went with the Mermaid Lagoon shirt pictured on the left) so that I could provide an honest review and, guys, I swear this is the softest, most comfortable shirt that I own right now. The fit is great (I went with medium) and it held up perfectly in the wash. I love how subtle the Disney reference is and I’ve already got my eye on a few others.

Want one for yourself? All you have to do is visit their website, check out the designs and leave a comment here telling me which shirt you would choose. I’ll leave the giveaway open until Sunday, December 13th and choose a winner on Monday morning.

Good luck!

 

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5 reasons to visit a Disney park with young children

5 reasons to visit Disney with young children

It’s no secret that Disney parks are a favorite vacation destination of mine. Always have been and probably always will be.

Thanks to my parents, I’ve been visiting the parks since before I can remember. Even though I never second-guessed their actions, I used to swear that I would never be one of “those” people who took their children to Disney before they were old enough to appreciate it.

My best friend (and fellow Disney lover, Lisa) was in the same boat. We would joke that before taking our children to the parks, we would quiz them on Disney trivia with a set of flash cards to determine if they were ready. (ha!)

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^ baby Natasha with her pal Mickey Mouse 😉

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^ Me and my cousin Addie with our girl Snow White

I guess you really should never say never!

Only six-months into parenthood I found myself at the Walt Disney World Resort with infant in tow. Lisa and I had signed up to run the Wine and Dine Half Marathon and I was still breastfeeding Lyla so I couldn’t leave her behind (not that I wanted to). A little over six months later we were on the mainland visiting family and we spent a few days at the Disneyland Resort.

Both trips were great and I never regretted becoming one of “those” people. In fact, I highly recommend that parents plan a trip to a Disney park while their children are “too young”. Here are five reasons why:

[1] They are free! Face it, Disney gets a lot of flack for their high ticket prices. Travel expenses quickly add up for any vacation destination and once you start adding on ticket and dining packages the price of a Disney vacation can be hard to swallow. As long as you visit the parks within the first 1,094 days of your child’s life, they will be free! For our family, this could be a potentially huge savings as we will have two who fit that criteria for a while – might as well take advantage of that. 

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^first visits are delicious

[2] It’s not just for kids. I know this is a hard for people to believe who haven’t visited the parks before but I swear it’s true. I’ve had to defend myself on this more times than I care to count but there are tons of things at the parks and resorts that are adult-oriented. Things like the International Food & Wine Festival. Or the various signature dining options. (hello, Victoria & Albert’s) And then there is my favorite, La Cava del Tequila.

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^me and mi madre at La Cava del Tequila. The horchata margarita is SO good

[3] The food. Again, a major misconception that people have when they think about visiting a Disney park is that the food is mediocre and the prices are way too inflated. At both the Anaheim and Orlando locations, there are tons of dining options that would put those nay-sayers in their places. If you are a big foodie, you can always skip the ho-hum, uninspired counter service meals all together (although, I would argue that there are a lot of really great counter service options too) in favor for unique, exciting (and Zagat rated) full-service restaurants. There truly is something for every palate and if you do your research I think you will be pleasantly surprised. 

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^ My brother with his fun dessert at 50’s Prime Time Cafe

[4] The parks are stimulating. Moms, dads and caretakers of all kinds are always trying to think up new ways to make sure our children are being stimulated and challenged, right? I would argue that the Disney parks are like a sensory activities on steroids. The music, bright colors, and general hustle and bustle of the parks and resorts are appealing to the little ones and they are easily entertained simply by being there. 

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^Lyla taking in her surroundings

[5] The memories. Sure, Lyla isn’t going to remember our first few trips to Disney but she isn’t going to remember our trips to the pumpkin patch either. She wont remember the time we spent on the mainland visiting extended family, or the weekly classes at the local children’s gym that we took her to for months – but we will! Plus, babies totally feed off of their parents’ emotions. So, if mom and dad can let loose and get their happy on in a fun, family-friendly place then those good vibes are going to spill onto the kids. Happy mom & dad equals happy kids equals happy memories that will last a lifetime. 

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^making memories with her daddy 

If you are on the fence about taking your family to Disney because your little ones are – well, too little – I say go for it! Have fun, make memories, take lots of pictures, and thank me later 😉

** This post isn’t sponsored or anything, just my professional opinion 

 

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California Recap

Happy Monday, folks! I hope you all had a good weekend. We spent the last few days house hunting, trying to finally fight off this bug that we’ve been carrying around since we got home and dreaming about endless buffets of food.

Oh, I guess that last part was just me.

Baby boy must be having a big growth spurt because I have been SO hungry lately and never really feel satisfied after a meal. I’m trying not to give into the urges too often but really wish that I could go to a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. Can someone make that happen?

Anyways – I didn’t come here to talk about buffets, I came to tell you all about the California portion of our trip! 

We started off in Fallbrook with some of Alex’s family. His Grampa Earl was celebrating his ninetieth birthday so we all gathered at Aunt Susan and Uncle Bob’s for delicious dinner and fun family time. 

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Next up was Disneyland with Mimi! We stayed at the Anaheim Magestic Hotel which was awesome — I totally recommend it (not sponsored by them or anything, just really pleased with our stay)

At the risk of sounding like “that girl” I have to confess that I love Disneyland and taking my daughter for the first time was so much fun! She really soaked it all in and, even though she wont remember this trip, I know that she enjoyed herself.

Her highlight? Definitely watching Disney Junior – Live on Stage. Her mouth was open in shock the entire time as she watched some of her favorite characters up on stage. I’m going to say her least favorite were the fireworks — kinda scary for a tired toddler (but a great show for everyone else)

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^girlfriend don’t play at a buffet 😉

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After Disneyland, we made our way up to our old stomping grounds in Ventura County. We spent some time in Ojai, hit up the beach and Ventura Pier, and ate lunch at our favorite Mexican food place. It was so great to be able to get the cousins together and to spend time with Alex’s side of the family. I even got to squeeze in breakfast with my good friend, Beth 🙂

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^ Aren’t they cute? Little Grant and Lyla are only one week apart 🙂

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We finished up the trip at a beautiful wedding for a beautiful couple. Congratulations to John and Lauren! 

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It’s always hard when we get to the mainland because there is never enough time to time to see everyone and do everything but I feel like we did a good job this trip. Looking forward to next time!

 

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diy stuffed toy holder

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #InsideOutEmotions #CollectiveBias

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As Lyla becomes more verbal and expressive, Alex and I are making a conscious effort to help her connect her feelings and emotions to words. We feel that by teaching her how to express her emotions, we will help her develop social skills that will lead to a happy, healthy childhood. 

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This is where, I think, parenthood gets hard. We are responsible for raising well-adjusted humans that are going to enter society someday. Our children are going to need to be able to communicate and function within the world around them. That is just mind blowing to me. Thankfully, we aren’t totally on our own and there are tons of tools (books, toys, movies, etc.) out there that are available to assist us. 

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To help Lyla discover her emotions, I picked up a set of Inside Out plush characters from Walmart and put together a fun plush holder. I think it’s pretty obvious that she was a big fan from the get-go. As soon as I got the set into the cart, she immediately started having conversations with all of them. Fear seemed to be her favorite – she was probably afraid I was going to embarrass her with more pictures 😉

While we were in the toy aisle, I also made sure to pick up plastic sand pails in the Inside Out plush characters colors. Don’t you just love the bright colors that are so synonymous with Disney-Pixar? I wasn’t able to find either a yellow or purple pail so I swung by the home improvement section and grabbed a couple of cans of spray paint. 

Once home, I took a pallet remnant that we had laying in the garden and arranged the pails on top. If you don’t have a pallet, any thin piece of wood will do. Or, if you have space, (and don’t mind holes in the walls) you could hang the pails right on the wall in your child’s playroom! 

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When I had the pails arranged in an order I liked, I commissioned my husband to screw the pails onto the board. Nothing like a little manual labor on what seemed to be the hottest day ever. Thanks, babe! 

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With all of the pails in place, I grabbed some paint from my craft supply stash and labeled the future homes of our new plush pals, let it dry and then I was done! 

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I’m so happy with the way this DIY stuffed toy holder turned out. Not only can we use our new Inside Out friends to talk about emotions with Lyla, but we can also work on her color recognition and practice putting the toys inside their respective holders. Also, having the pails set up on a board like this makes it totally portable which I love since I can bring it outside on these hot summer days when I can’t stand another minute in the house with no AC (being pregnant in the summer is no joke!)

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We haven’t seen the movie yet but are hoping to soon – I’m hoping it pops up on the weekly “Crybaby Matinee” list since I’m not sure how Lyla will do in a theatre. If not, Alex and I will have to sneak out for a date night soon. That will bring us both joy. (see what I did there?)

Have you seen Inside Out yet? What did you think? How old were your kids when you took them to see their first movie?

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6 tips for visiting walt disney world with a 6-month-old

It’s no secret that I love to visit the Walt Disney World Resort.

As much as I love visiting the parks, I was always one of those people who said that I would never take my children before they were old enough to remember cause, you know, they aren’t going to remember. 

But, towards the end of my pregnancy, my best friend Lisa text me and asked if I wanted to join her at the Wine and Dine Half Marathon that year and, of course, my answer was “yes, yes, YES!” because I love me some RunDisney events. And Lisa. One of those slightly more than the other. 

So, I found myself eating my words and planning a trip to Walt Disney World just 6 months post-partum. I couldn’t believe I was going to be that person bringing an infant to Walt Disney World! Alex had to stay home (darn that work thing) so my mom agreed to come with to watch girl during my run – not like it took a whole lot of convincing 😉

We had an awesome time on our trip.Bringing a baby was A LOT easier than I could have ever imagined and I credit it to being well prepared. 

So, if you find yourself planning a trip to Walt Disney World (or Disneyland) with a baby-in-tow, here are my 6 tips for visiting Walt Disney World with a 6-month-old: 

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1. Baby Care Centers // Seriously, these are the coolest things ever. One of my favorite things about any of the Disney theme parks is the attention to detail – they have really thought of it all.

Located inside each of the theme parks, the Baby Care Center is the perfect place to change, feed or simply take a break with baby. There is a private room for nursing that is full of adorable rocking chairs which is so awesome for the mamas who may not be comfortable nursing in public. If your baby is already onto solid foods, there is another room stocked with high chairs ready for you to use free of charge. The changing rooms were so great – the changing tables were much sturdier than those you find in the public restrooms and it just felt more sanitary. When you are just looking for a break, or if the rest of your party wants to wait in the AC while you feed your little one, there is a nice room with lots of comfortable seating and some TVs. 

Run out of diapers earlier than you thought? Forget the sunscreen? No problem, mama! The Baby Care Centers also have little shops inside where you can purchase diapers, wipes, sunscreen, baby food, formula, etc. So great, yea?!

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2. Wear your baby // We love our carrier and use it all the time at home. It was so helpful at the parks because at six months, Lyla wasn’t totally into a hip carry yet and definitely not walking. 

We used our carrier while we were waiting in line, sitting down to watch a show, riding attractions and whenever we thought girl would want a break from the stroller. 

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3. Bring your own stroller // Yes, Disney has strollers available to rent. And yes, traveling with your stroller- especially all the way from Hawaii – can be a bit humbug. But I am so glad that I brought ours with. 

We were able to lay her completely flat which made keeping her on her napping schedule a breeze. It was also pretty easy to find our stroller each time we used stroller parking. 

use your own stroller at Disney World

4. Stay at a Walt Disney World Resort // I love staying on property. The convenience factor alone makes it worth it – the cleanliness, theming and 24/7 loop of Stacey’s “Must Do” list are just icing on the cake. 

No matter which resort you choose, you have access to transportation to all of the theme parks, water parks, and Downtown Disney. It is super easy to catch a bus back to your resort during the day if you need a break. Also, not having to remember which row of the parking lot you left your car in at the end of a long day is a major plus. 

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5. Make a plan // I am a crazy vacation planner. I love doing a bunch of research and making itineraries. And not just for Disney trips, although with all of the ADRs (advance dining reservations) and the new Fast Pass + options, Disney is just fueling my fire. 

Going into this trip, I knew that we weren’t going to be able to see and do as much as we usually do. Spending some time before the trip to look up park hours and highlighting the attractions that were “must-dos” for us was super helpful. I booked all of our dining reservations ahead of time too which helped keep us on track and eliminated any wasted time while we weighed our options. 

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6. Be OK throwing away the plan // Yes, I just told you to make a plan. And yes, I still think it’s a crucial part to bringing an infant to Walt Disney World. But, as any parent knows, not everything is going to go according to plan – no matter how much time you spent preparing. 

Staying on track with dining reservations and show times should be pretty simple. But be flexible with some of the other details. My daughter slept during her first trip down Main Street U.S.A. (and her second for that matter) so I didn’t get to capture that moment exactly how I had envisioned. We didn’t hit nearly as many attractions as I had originally planned, but instead absorbed our surroundings and enjoyed each other’s company at our own leisurely pace. And it was all OK. 

Since becoming a mom, learning to let go of plans and expectations has been the biggest game changer for me. Once I realized that my super-planning qualities don’t translate well into infant life, I was able to relax and enjoy myself so much more. 

baby and uncle at WDW

If you are planning at trip to Walt Disney World or Disneyland, I hope these tips help. Have fun!

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Disneyland

Over Labor Day weekend I made the trek across the Pacific to join some family and friends at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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We had an awesome time. We stayed on site at the Disneyland Hotel for the first time (love). We visited both parks which were surprisingly empty for a holiday weekend (love). We ate lots of good food (love). And we danced the night away at the Mad T Party (again, love).

I am very thankful that I was able to make the quick trip and am equally thankful for the house, family, husband and dog I came home too. Life is good.

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