Why Disney is Magical for Tweens

IMG_1378

Last week I spent 4 days at Walt Disney World as a guest of Disney at their Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.  The event is an annual conference of sorts where Disney invites mom and dad bloggers from across the country to learn, get inspired and take part in a truly unique Disney experience.  Our families are invited along too – but they don’t attend the real conference part of the schedule, just the straight up park-filled fun.

This was my first time at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, and I have written before about how I grew up with Disney, and how totally dorky I can be about the Walt Disney World experience.  I never out grew it.  But, seeing Disney Parks through my kids’ eyes is a totally different experience.  While everyone talks about the their little ones seeing a princess for the first time, or running up and giving Mickey and Minnie a big hug, I think there is something equally magical that comes over the older kids too.

My daughters are 11.  They are now firmly in the tween space –  that awkwardly wonderful time when they are on the cusp of real emotional and physical change, but still wide-eyed and happy to be with me.  They can be moody, they can be super sweet, they can be ridiculously mature and then do something so bizarrely immature that I wonder how they make it through the day in one piece.  But, something wonderful happens at Disney – they move pretty squarely into that kid space – yet still have the stamina of an older kid.  They regress in the best way, holding on to their childhood with both hands.  Equally happy to see Minnie Mouse now as when they were 4.

 

And they are equally excited to share the whole Disney experience with me as when they were little…

And the regression isn’t only for tweens and teens.  Disney is the only place where your entire family can wear matching shirts, sparkly ears or full-out princess costumes and no one cares.  In fact, it’s encouraged.

I’m glad my daughters got my Disney gene, and now that Star Wars has really, truly been brought into the Disney family, my husband can get on board too.

I’ll be writing more about the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, but in the meantime I leave you with this picture:

IMG_1376These are Disney cast members that searched high and low to try to retrieve my daughter’s birthday button that had fallen down a grate.  They couldn’t get it out,  they disappeared for about 20 minutes, and showed up with a brand new one – I have no idea from where since we were in a closed off area of Hollywood Studios, but they did.   Now that’s some serious Disney magic.

My Knight in Cardboard Armor – Belle’s Enchanted Tales at Walt Disney World New Fantasyland

knight in shining armor

You’d think after waiting in line for Belle’s Enchanted Tales at the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World my girls would have been upset that they weren’t picked to be in the story.  But, they were more excited that my husband was.  And he kept that castle safe!

Walt Disney World New Fantasyland and Granting Holiday Wishes with GM Northeast – A Very Merry Giveaway!

Last week I attended the Grand Opening of the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World.  I hadn’t been to Walt Disney World in probably 20 years or so.  My daughters had never been.  I still remember walking through Cinderella Castle the very first time – I was 6 years old – and seeing Fantasyland spread out on either side of me.  It’s so vast and unbelievable that first time.

castle

This trip was no less magical, and maybe even more so watching my daughters experience it for the first time.

There are a couple of words that get repeated over and over again when you are at Disney World – wishes, imagination and dreams.  At the core of Fantasyland are those ideas that form the foundation of fairy tales.  New Fantasyland expands on these themes in dramatic and incredibly engaging ways.  The expansion of Dumbo into an entire Circus experience is whimsical and wonderful.

dumbo

Belle’s Cottage, the Beast’s Castle and the little French village built around the Beauty and the Beast area is truly enchanting.  And Ariel’s Under the Sea Ride brings you into that undersea world completely.  It feels new in every way – from the technology to the artistic details.

bellemermaid

For us, this trip was truly a holiday wish come true, an amazing vacation filled with take our breath away moments – especially the end of the evening castle projection show on Cinderella Castle.

Disney hosted me and my family for this trip, but all starry-eyed opinions are my own.

GIVEAWAY:

onwish

Now, I feel especially lucky to help grant a wish to one of my lucky readers.  I have partnered with General Motors Northeast to pick one reader for their Grant One Wish program who will win a $500 Amex Gift Card and a one week car loan from GM Northeast to help make their holiday wishes come true.

Want to visit family?  Drive around to volunteer and do good this season?  Take a holiday road trip?  What would you do with a fab car for a week and $500?  I can’t wait to hear all about it!

Method of entry:

  • You must follow me on twitter @beccasara
  • Tweet your holiday wish and include the hashtag #GMNER and my handle: @beccasara, then leave a comment below with the link to the tweet.  (to do this click on the time stamp of your tweet and you will be taken to the tweet’s url.)

Additional Entries:

  • Like KidzVuz.com on Facebook and leave a comment with your Facebook name so it can be verified.

Stand Out!

  • Add a picture to your tweet or link to a video on YouTube telling me and GM your big holiday wish.  Just don’t forget the hashtag #GMNER and @beccasara so we can find it!  You’ll get 5 extra entries for going the extra mile! Make sure to leave a comment below with a link to the image-filled tweet.

Eligibility:  Winner MUST be 21 years or older and live in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut or Washington, D.C. areas.  Employees, and their relatives, of GM and Beccarama.com are not allowed to enter.  Contest ends on December 17, 2012 at 12:00pm EST.  Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Prize to be provided by GM Northeast.

GM Northeast sponsored this giveaway and I was provided with a car loan in exchange for hosting this contest. 

GOOD LUCK!

My Cinderella Story

Today is my fourteenth anniversary.  My husband and I have been married for 14 years, together for 19 years, and met each other almost 21 years ago.  It sounds crazy when I think about it in terms of numbers and actual time.

We stopped buying anniversary gifts for each other years ago.  We’d rather spend the money on a shared experience – an amazing dinner or a trip without the kids.  And truth be told, gifts are not the strong point of our relationship – except for one that I was reminded of this morning when I was at a Disney Parks event celebrating the opening of the newly redone Fantasyland and they gave us a Mickey Mouse watch as a parting gift.

The first time I went to Disney World I was 6 years old.  I loved it.  I was a Disney kid – and since this was before VCRs, my experience with Disney was in the movie theater.  When there was a rerelease of classic Disney films we were there.   Disney world was only 7 years old when I visited, having just opened in 1971. So, in many ways it was a brand new kind of place for everyone who visited, but for a 6-year-old, movie addict girl, walking through Cinderella’s Castle was truly a magical experience.

I can tell you exactly what I bought as souvenirs that first time at Disney World: A Snow White figurine, a mug with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves painted on it, and a Cinderella watch.  The first two items traveled with me from home to home my whole life and now are displayed in my daughters’ room.  The last item, the watch, which I irrationally loved, was stolen by a housekeeper who also stole real jewelry from my mom and our bathroom rugs.  True story.

My Disney figurine collection grew over the years since I was lucky enough to return to Disney World many, many times.  Yes, we were/are one of those Disney-fan families.  But, I never got over the loss of that watch.  It had way too much sentimental value, and was the earliest thing I can remember truly appreciating owning.

I told this story to my husband pretty early on in our relationship.  I don’t even know how it came up. He was probably horrified that I still had my figurine collection (not displayed – I wasn’t that bizarre) and I was trying to explain why Disney was meaningful to me.  I never got over losing that watch.  And I never replaced it because they just weren’t the same.

Then one day my husband (who was not my husband yet) presented me with a gift for our dating anniversary.   And there it was, my Cinderella watch.

How did he find it? Well, a little start-up called Ebay made it all possible.  And while it’s not MY watch (mine had a light blue band) it is the SAME watch.  The mid-70′s Cinderella watch that I loved and lost.

So it was so fitting that I started my anniversary day celebrating the relaunch of Fantasyland at Disney World with the Disney Parks people, and will end my day having dinner out with my husband who remembered a tiny thing I mentioned in passing and made it into the best, most romantic gift ever.