7 Reasons You’ll Love the New Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World

7 Reasons You’ll Love the New Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World

I will admit, the Snow White ride at Walt Disney World scared me.  (not as much as Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but that’s another story)  But, I was nostalgic and a bit sad when I heard they had torn it down to make way for a new roller coaster ride, based in the mine where the Seven Dwarfs went off to work every day.  After all, the movie is called Snow White – and I was worried about a ride that was all about the thrill and not about the wonderful charm and artistry that makes Snow White, the film, special.

Well, I’m not worried anymore.  I LOVED this ride (and so did my sister)  – and rode it three times.

7dwarves

Here’s why you will love it too:

1. You won’t be grumpy while you wait because the queue is full of super fun, hands-on experiences while you wait.  Like barrels full of gems that whirl, illuminated water that makes music, and other gem filled games.

2. Fast Pass! Now you can book up to 3 rides ahead of time on mydisneyexperience.com and the my Disney experience app – so don’t get sleepy and forget to book your fast passes ahead of time for this ride and you’ll zip right on through.

3. Don’t be bashful – there are wonderful, whimsical details everywhere you look on this ride.  Take your time so you will notice all of the little magical things inside and out, like these carved woodland creatures…

woodland creatures

and the vultures high above…

vultures in mine ride

4.  There is nothing dopey about it – big kids will love this ride, it’s got just enough oomph to be a fun coaster, and with the new technology that allows the mine cars to have some side to side swing to them it really feels like you’re  whisking through the mine…

5. But, it’s not so intense that you will have to summon Doc to help you out.  It’s comparable to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, without the big drops.

6. The animatronics are nothing to sneeze at.  The Imagineers truly bring the dwarfs to life inside the mine ride (and spoiler alerts from here on out!) they even recreate one of the most iconic images from the film – the dwarfs’ shadows on the mine walls as they sing Heigh Ho! It was the part of the ride that gave me goosebumps.  Like living inside the movie.

7. This ride will make you Happy!!   The ending to this ride is truly perfect, joyful, and captures the essence of the movie.  Snow White is there in the cottage, dancing to The Silly Song with the dwarfs – and the evil Queen in the form of the old crone – is waiting right outside the door,  a basket of apples hanging from her arm.

inside dwarves cottage

old crone

Disclosure: I was invited to Walt Disney World for this press event and received airfare, lodging, park tickets and some meals. The opinions expressed in this post are my own, as always.

 

Hurricane Season Starts June 1st: NYC Know Your Zone!

Hurricane Season Starts June 1st: NYC Know Your Zone!

photo: Sandrarose.com

photo: Sandrarose.com

We New Yorkers have been through our share of emergency situations over the last 12 years.  I watched the Twin Towers collapse from my apartment window.  I made it through the blackout with twin baby girls who basically slept through the whole thing.  And in 2012, when Superstorm Sandy struck, we were fortunate enough to live uptown, and came to love the huge inclines of the Upper West Side streets that I cursed when I had to push a double stroller up them day after day.  It turns out being perched high up on a concrete paved hill is probably the best place to be in all of Manhattan.  But, it’s also just luck since the power outages could have happened anywhere – and who wants to rely on luck when your family’s safety is on the line?

Know your zone, and know how to be prepared!

  • Use NYC’s Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder or call 311 to find out whether your home or business is located in a hurricane evacuation zone.
  • Understand hurricane hazards and the steps you can take to prepare.
  • Sign up for Notify NYC.
  • Get the latest emergency information via text, phone, email, fax, Twitter (@NotifyNYC), BlackBerry Messenger, and instant messenger.
  • Get the Ready New York Hurricane Guide: The guide contains instructions on how to develop a hurricane disaster plan and secure your home before a storm as well as a map of New York City hurricane evacuation zones.
  • You can check out the SnapGuide too.

And make some thunder of your own!  Participate in the Know Your Zone Thunderclap campaign!  It’s super simple and a great way to let everyone know it’s important to know your zone!

 

Top 5 Takeaways from Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014

Top 5 Takeaways from Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014

When a conference is called a celebration you know there is something else going on.  I was fortunate enough to go to Disney Social Media Moms last year, and this year I went again, but this time to Disneyland in California.  And, since the celebration coordinated perfectly with my daughters’ spring break and Passover we decided to make it a real family trip and stay in Los Angeles to have our seder with all of our family that lives there.  It was Kismet.

I love Disneyland.  I love its charm, its uncomplicated, easy to cover size, and most of all its history.  I believe you can feel Walt Disney’s optimism and desire to build something really special when you’re there.  I hadn’t been to Disneyland since my daughters were 4 years old (8 years ago!)

IMG_0264

And I’m happy to say, my daughters still loved it, even as jaded tweens.

 

One of the things I love about this conference is that they don’t tell you the full agenda and all of the surprises that are in store while you’re there.  And, they include so many different facets of Disney – so there are always unexpected and interesting people and initiatives worth learning about.

Here are my Top 5 Takeaways from this year’s Celebration:

1.  Cars Land is spectacular.  No, really.  Ever wonder what it would be like to step inside an animated film?  Well, this is pretty much as close as you will ever come.  I recommend going at night when the full neon glory of Cars Land is lit up and you can be immersed in the 1950’s vibe.  The Radiator Springs ride is crazy fun – and the backdrop landscape of Route 66 is genius.

Route 66 Neon

 

2.  It’s not the size of the castle that matters…

3. It’s the character of the princess

One of the movies I am most excited about this year is Maleficent – and we got an extra dose of maniacal fabulosity at the celebration – and an extra dose of sweet from Sleeping Beauty herself, Elle Fanning.  She is as adorable as she looks…

Elle-Fanning blows out bday cake

photo by Josh Hallett

There is also royalty of a different kind – a CEO who built a business from scratch and is now using her success for empowering students and teachers.

photo by Josh Hallett

photo by Josh Hallett

That’s Chief Exec Bear, Maxine Clark, founder of Build a Bear Workshop, who spoke to us about teachers – good and bad – and the impact they have on children’s lives.  Hearing from incredibly successful women entrepreneurs is always inspiring, but there’s an even stronger impact when it’s someone like Maxine Clark who is also honest and supportive of other women entrepreneurs.  And I love that she started Build a Bear with an underlying belief that every child should be able to buy a basic bear and fill it with love.

4.  There is magic, everywhere you look.

 Like this unexpected surprise in the headboard at the Disneyland Resort

5. Everyone is creative

When you spend time with the people at Disney you quickly come to realize how incredibly talented everyone who works at Disney is, and how diverse those talents are. But, more importantly is this belief that every cast member has a creative spark that can be brought out.

One of my favorite videos to illustrate that is this one of the janitorial team making art with water:

These things are why this is not a conference, but a celebration.  A celebration of magic, family and inspiration with a big dose of serious fun.  And most importantly for those of us that write, or film, or share our stories, is this quote from Walt Disney…

 

 

Talking Social Media Do’s and Don’ts on PIX11 NYC

Talking Social Media Do’s and Don’ts on PIX11 NYC

Last week I talked to Kori Chambers, anchor for the PIX11 morning team about social media do’s and don’ts for parents. Covering apps that keep your family pictures private, social media shaming and creating a digital footprint for your kid before they can even walk – the segment covered a lot of advice for parents online!

Watch the segment and let me know if you have other online and social media parenting topics you’d like to see covered!

Muggles Will Finally Get to Ride the Hogwarts Express!

Muggles Will Finally Get to Ride the Hogwarts Express!

I am so excited about the Diagon Alley expansion of  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando!  And now, the creative folks at Universal Orlando have unveiled the incredible experience that will join the current Hogsmeade and Hogwarts experience with the new Diagon Alley experience: The Hogwarts Express.

Not just an ordinary train ride (of course not, this is the World of Harry Potter!)  The team at Universal Orlando have recreated Kings Cross, platform 9 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express so guests will actually feel immersed in the journey between Diagon Alley and London to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts.

While on the Hogwarts Express riders will look out their window to see familiar Harry Potter characters whizzing by, and immediately be transported into the Harry Potter experience.

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It’s a brilliant way to connect the two parks at Universal Orlando and recreate an incredibly important part of the Harry Potter story.

I love that J.K. Rowling was consulted every step of the way, and that every fine detail was painstakingly recreated.  The authenticity is what makes the Wizarding World of Harry Potter already so magical and transformative.

Now I can’t wait to see the reveal of Gringotts Bank!  I’ve got my key ready!

gringotts key

Showing off our Disney Side at a Tweentastic Disney Tea Party -

Showing off our Disney Side at a Tweentastic Disney Tea Party -

I don’t think there is any bad age or best age for Disney.  The real magic of Disney is that all ages can find something fun, wonderful and plain ol’ optimistically wonderful to celebrate and explore.  My daughters never went through a Princess phase, but they did go through a fairy phase.  Even when my daughter dressed up like Belle for Halloween at 4 years-old she added a pair of wings…

IMG_1363

As my daughters have gotten older they’ve experienced more and more of the things that make Disney unique, from being able to stay up really late at Walt Disney World to the Broadway world of Disney.  So when we were given the opportunity to host a Disney Side party at our home we immediately brainstormed about what would be special and fun for them and their tween girl friends.  Given that we were throwing this event after school, a tea party made perfect sense – and one that could easily be made supercalifabulous enough for tweens.

The menu:

Cinderella Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

pumpkin chocolate chip bread

Belle Craisins® scones

craisins scones

Mickey Mouse shaped finger sandwiches (cream cheese and cucumber, tuna, and PB&J)

mickey mouse sandwiches

And of course, hot cocoa and tea.

The table was set for an afternoon of Disney fun…

disney side tea party

And then the fun began…

Of course no tween party is complete without some crafting.  The girls went to work on cutting, decorating and styling Hanes T-Shirts into personalized fashion statements…

It was great to get all these girls together and have them express their Disney Side!  Plus, that Mickey Mouse shaped cookie cutter makes every sandwich irresistible!

Want to learn more about Disney Side?   Check out DisneySide.com and DisneySideCelebrations.com and get inspired to show off your Disney Side!

I was provided a suitcase full of great supplies and ideas by Disney to create this fantastic party.  The ideas, opinions, and guests are all my own!

NYC Department of Education Releases a Social Media Guide for Students That Says…Nothing?

A lot of local media press is swirling around the new social media guide put out by the NYC Department of Education this week.  At first glance that sounds great.  Administration is stepping in to help kids navigate social media, provide tips and guidance and empower kids to make smarter choices online – or so you’d think.

But in fact if you read it, it is not a guide – it is a set of cliché ridden guidelines.  Complete with links to multiple Chancellor’s Regulations – because there’s nothing kids won’t enjoy more than reading the A-831 regulation to understand peer sexual harassment.

This guide contains such gems as this advice if you are cyber-bullied and would like to report it to the adult in charge at your school,”If you are not sure who your school’s Respect for All Liaison is, please look for their name on the RFA posters.”

And this warning about crossing the personal-school life boundary, “Sometimes, personal social media use, including off-hours use, may result in disruption at school and the school may need to get involved. This could include disciplinary action such as a parent conference or suspension.”

In other words, this is NOT a social media guide, it is a set of regulatory guidelines, and we shouldn’t be giving the NYC Department of Ed a big hurrah for publishing them.  They are not curriculum or actual teaching tools.

The good news is that there is a media literacy bill right now in the New York Legislature that would mandates the Department of Ed will develop standards and provide resources for incorporating media and social media literacy in K-12 curriculum.  And, it will make teacher training available for media literacy as well.
https://www.facebook.com/rebeccalevey/posts/10202911221120416?stream_ref=10

THIS is worth your time in sharing and talking about so we can actually create media savvy kids.

5 Foods to Break Up With in 2014

This is a guest post from Lauren Slayton, founder of Foodtrainers, and a friend of mine for the last 7 years.  Lauren’s new book, Little Book of Thin, just came out in time for your New Year’s Resolutions, and is chock full of simple, easy to follow advice on eating better and making healthier – but satisfying – choices. I’m thrilled to feature this post from Lauren with this great advice to follow for your whole family.

little book of thin cover

Many of my clients are moms. I’ll sit down with them for initial sessions and hear “I have one soda a day” or “I have Splenda in my coffee”. When I ask if they allow their children to have Sprite or sugar substitutes without fail they’ll say, “of course not our house is totally organic” or  “never!”. Interesting.

I don’t overwhelm clients with “No’s” and I purposely opened Little Book of Thin with Ten Steps to Svelte or 10 tips that are proactive. However, with certain foods firm rules are easier to follow and if you absolutely want to feel your best. Here are the foods you should absolutely break up with, and keep out of your home, in 2014 to start off on a much healthier path.

  1. No Soda:  Ok let’s get this one out of the way since I already mentioned it. You probably know it’s unhealthy but did you know soda (diet included) promotes weight gain, not loss? Diet soda drinkers have higher levels of abdominal fat too
  2. No Skim Dairy:  This one is perhaps a little more surprising. Skim milk doesn’t help you lose weight. One study with 20,000 women over 9 years found that those who increased skim dairy gained 10 percent. Those who increased whole milk consumption lost 9% on average. Fat in milk helps assimilate Vitamin D, which is crucial for our bones and also appetite control.
  3. No Fro Yo:  Fro yo on the surface seems great. Imagine a life where you can have dessert and lose weight until you realize you’re not losing weight. At most yogurt shops the portions are huge, the toppings too tempting and the ingredients? Read them and let me know what you think.
  4. No Bottled Salad Dressing:  I’m guessing you wouldn’t put two to three teaspoons of sugar on a salad not to mention salt. If you’re going to the trouble of getting or bringing a salad for your lunch make your own dressing with olive or walnut oil, apple cider vinegar, lemons or limes. We have a Thin-I-Gette dressing in LBT that uses miso, it’s really delicious.
  5. No Gum:  Gum makes you gassy. Gum contains multiple artificial sweeteners, preservatives and food dyes. Sweet begets sweet too and the more sweet (real or fake) you eat the more you crave. Plus, gum chewing doesn’t look nice.

If you’re rolling your eyes thinking “are we supposed to be perfect all the time”? Not at all. I’m not typing this while nibbling on arugula but I’m in favor of planning. A well-planned wholesome dessert here and there (ok once a week) will leave you so much better off than having these “No” items often or daily.  If something on this list makes a regular appearance, perhaps it’s time to break up. Just hum Tom Petty “I’ll probably feel a whole lot better when you’re gone.”

I wish you a healthy, happy and “thin” New Year.

Add Some Hamptonality to Your Holiday – Plus Win a Free Night at Hampton Hotels

exterior When you live in New York City everyone wants to visit you.  With the theater, museums, great restaurants, and all of the fantastic landmarks and sites – and amazing shopping of course – NYC is a fabulous place like no other.  Add in the holiday lights, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the Rockettes and all of the magic that makes NYC especially glittery at holiday time, and it’s easy to see why friends and family want to come and stay.  However, there is one other reality about living in NYC, the lack of space.  Stepping over aerobeds and no privacy aren’t exactly the makings of a great visit. I love the idea of putting up family at a reasonably priced hotel instead.  Hampton Hotels has launched a wonderful new Hampton Holiday Program where the central theme is making guests feel taken care of and providing a clean, warm place to call their own.  All of the 1,900 Hampton locations feature:

  • Free, hot breakfast with fresh-baked waffles. (This is ESSENTIAL when traveling with kids!)
  • Free wired or wireless high-speed internet access in all guest rooms, so you can post about your holiday travels while visiting family in other towns.
  • The clean and fresh Hampton bed® – so you can rest up for your big holiday weekends.

GuestRoom_HR[1] I always enjoy staying at the Hampton Inn in Maine when we visit our girls for camp visiting day.  We’ve always been impressed with the service, the breakfast and the clean rooms.  Plus, the free wifi is a must for me!  Now I know all of those little things add up to “Hamptonality.”  Also, I love earning Hilton Honors points! Here in NYC it’s nice to know that even if we can’t squeeze people into our apartment there are ways we can personalize their stay in a hotel.  Hampton has partnered with entertaining expert, Jenny Steffens Hobick, to provide simple tips for making out-of-towners feel at home – especially when they’re staying in a nearby hotel. I love these tips especially:

  • Plan a welcome bag with treats, water, (and my tip in NYC – a metrocard and a list of great NYC apps to download!)
  • Hire a babysitter one night and host the kids at your place so the grown-ups can have a kid-free night out together.
  • Make time for resting.  This is so important especially in NYC!  Set a time where everyone just meets to relax, have a hot drink and snacks and regroup.

Here in NYC the Hampton Inn Times Square North is ideally situated for walking to the theater, Central Park and midtown shopping.  Plus it’s close to every subway imaginable. Everyone could use some time away, whether it’s a quick trip or a longer vacation.  And it’s so nice when everyone has their own space too. So, I’m giving away a one night stay to use at any of the 1,900 US Hampton locations!

How to Enter the Hampton Be My Guest Giveaway:

Follow @beccasara on Twitter and tweet your “Hamptonality” tip.  What’s the thing you do to make your guests feel special?   Be sure to include @beccasara and #HamptonHoliday.  Then leave a comment below with a link to your tweet! You can also follow Hampton throughout the year for great travel ideas and promotions:

One winner will be chosen at random using random.org on December 31st  at 12:00pm Eastern.  Hampton Hotels will mail the winner a “Be My Guest” card, which entitles the bearer to (1) free night stay at a Hampton location.  Winner will be notified via twitter and must respond within 48 hours to claim the prize.  Open to U.S. Residents 18+ only. This is a sponsored post.  Compensation was provided by Hampton Hotel via MomTrends.  The opinions expressed herein are mine and are not indicative of the opinions of Hampton or Momtrends

 

Inside the KidzVuz Holiday House Party (Video)

photo credit: Josh Strauss Studios

photo credit: Josh Strauss Studios

100 mom and dad bloggers from all over the Northeast  – and their awesome kids, about 140 of them! – came ready to party with KidzVuz in NYC on November 24th, 2013.  We had amazing large sponsors like Homewood Suites by Hilton, Dermalogica, Samsung, Nintendo, Hasbro, Spinmaster and Audible.com along with smaller NY based brands we love like Downtown Bookworks, IScream NY,  Battery Pop, Green Mustache, Fairway Market and Chloe’s Soft Fruit.  Plus incredible non-profits like The Broadway League, ESRB and The Lamp NYC.

With hands-on activities throughout the room, and video stations where kids could talk about the fantastic products and sponsors that they really loved, the KidzVuz Holiday House Party kicked off the holiday season with joy, fun and plenty of candy to go around!

Watch the video and you’ll instantly see why KidzVuz is the only company that truly brings kids, families and awesome brands and experiences together in a really engaging and unique way!