Epcot, Disney World

EPCOT with a Toddler

EPCOT
EPCOT, Disney World

We just returned from our second **Magical** trip (** is my electronic version of pixie dust:)) to Disney World with our 2 year old! We have often heard that Epcot isn’t a great park for a 2 year old, or that it is only a “half” day park with a tot in tow! While Epcot doesn’t offer quite the same level of experiences as Magic Kingdom for a 2 year old, it is still a fantastic FULL day park to be enjoyed with a toddler! Our daughter loves EPCOT! Here are our top things to enjoy in EPCOT:

1.) Character Experiences: EPCOT, in our opinion, has some of the best character meets! At the character spot in EPCOT you can meet Minnie, Mickey & the crew! You can also reserve a fast pass for this attraction so you do not have to wait for long with a little one. We waited all of 5 minutes, and were able to meet some of her favorite characters in one sweep! You can meet Anna & Elsa in Norway, Jasmine & Aladdin in Morocco, Mulan in China, Donald Duck in Mexico, Snow White in Germany, Princess Aurora & Belle in France, and Mary Poppins & Alice in The United Kingdom. We have found the lines are often shorter in EPCOT, and the characters are able to spend more time with the little ones!

 

There is also the fabulous princess dining experience at Akershus Royal Banquet Ball in Norway where you get to meet Belle upon entering, and then get visited table side by other princess who rotate in appearance. We loved this dining experience, and got to meet Aurora, Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel in addition to Belle! We actually prefer this character dining experience to Cinderell’s Royal Table. Plus you are right next door to ride Frozen Ever After upon finishing dining. Having done both Akershus & Royal Table with a 2 year old, I will be reviewing and comparing both during my blog post next week so be sure to check back in! 🙂

 

2.) Kidcot & EPCOT Passport: This is a fantastic free program for little ones! In every country in The World Showcase there is a Kidcot area where your little one can get their EPCOT passport stamped. The cast members will write your child’s name in their native language as well as draw special surprises on their countries page for your little one! Our daughter loved finding the Kidcot area in each country, and kept asking “What country are we going to next?” It was so cute! Also, at each station there are activities. In Japan they were demonstrating how to make origami animals. In Norway they were coloring Olaf pictures with markers. They also will give your child a “Duffy the Bear” and they can color and decorate the bear along the way. The passport comes with a pin, and stickers. While we ate lunch, our daughter had fun finding each page the stickers went on!

 

 

3.) Visit During the Flower & Garden Festival: If you are able, I highly recommend visiting EPCOT during The Flower and Garden Festival which runs from February 28th thru May 28th. During this time EPCOT is stunningly beautiful. There are topiary displays, a butterfly garden, and interactive playgrounds. There is a special playground that is set up on the grass lawn adjacent to the walk way from The Land area to the World Showcase area. This was a fantastic area. Our daughter played, and we lounged under the covered umbrellas with our Dole Whips and Floats! (Which you must try if visiting Disney World by the way –  pineapple flavored frozen soft serve ice cream or if you make it a float with pineapple juice!) The butterfly garden was also a hit! And at each country our daughter loved finding the topiary displays of her favorite characters. Also during this time, there are special food stall vendors that sell small plates which makes eating around the world so fun and cost efficient!

Epcot
Epcot during Flower & Garden Festival!

 

4.) The toy train: Besides Germany in EPCOT is the toy train display. This is a favorite of toddlers! It is a huge toy train that runs thru tracks of villages, displays, etc. It is fun to watch, and follow alongside!

5.) Splash Pads: If visiting during warmer months, pack a swimsuit and a change of clothes for little ones. On the main path from Future World to World Showcase there is an oval splash pad that is a hit for small ones!

6.) Innoventions: Visit Colortopia inside the Innoventions pavillon. This is so fun, and often overlooked! You dip your digital paintbrush in different colors, and then paint screens located around the room. When painting with each color different images appear! Kids can have free reign as it is all digital, and they can reach the screens independently!

7.) Sea Base: This is where The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride is located which is a great ride for little ones, but we particularly enjoy the aquariums located inside the sea base pavilion. This offers a great break from the sun, and is interactive and a big hit with little ones!

 

EPCOT, Disney World
France, Epcot, Disney World

Enjoy EPCOT! Sending Pixie Dust your way 🙂 *****************

A kiss around the world

A photo journal

On our honeymoon we started a tradition that has now been running for a decade, and that our daughter is now a part of! Follow our photo journal below of our kisses around the world!

Kissing in Rome Italy
Rome, Italy
Kissing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Kissing at the Eiffle Tower
Paris, France
Kissing at Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, Peru
Kissing at Sydney Opera House
Sydney, Australia
Kissing at Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn, New York
New Zealand
Matauri Bay, New Zealand
Kissing in New Zealand
The Lost World Cave, New Zealand
Kissing in Venice
Venice, Italy
Kissing in the Bahamas
Paradise Island, Bahamas
Kissing atop Roys Peak
Wanaka, New Zealand
Then there was 3
Then there was 3… Southern Oaks – Alabama
Kissing at the beach
30A, Florida
Kissing Top of the Rock
New York, New York
Kissing Top of the Whistler
Whistler, British Columbia
Kissing Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe, California
Kissing in New Zealand
Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand
Kissing Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand
Disney World
Paris, Epcot, Disney World

We have an entire wall in our home dedicated to “our kissing wall”. When we look at these beautiful pictures, we are reminded of our wonderful memories. Travel has a way of humbling you; making you realize how insignificant you are compared to the scale and grander of the world. However, there is nothing small about love. We are so thankful each and every day for the gift of marriage, and our greatest blessing of all: our beautiful,happy daughter! We look forward to adding to these photos over time… our next stop is Ireland! Maybe a photo in front of the Cliffs of Moher or Ring or Kerry! 🙂 What is your favorite travel tradition?

 

Favorite beach products for little ones!

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Enjoying the beach with little ones can sometimes be a lot of work! There is so much preparation in order to avoid sunburns, heat overload, bathroom disasters, and sandy eyes! Here are my top favorite items that always make our beach trips with little ones a joy!

Tent: We always pack the tent! It is amazing how much more enjoyable our beach trips are with our tent! But then again with me having quite a fair complexion, I probably benefit  from the tent more than my daughter! 🙂 The tent makes nap time, potty breaks, etc so much better. It is like our own little home on the beach!

A portable potty: Little ones often have to have numerous potty breaks at the beach! And often kiddies are very scared about going potty in the ocean, and they do not want to take a break to go find a public restroom. Please use this suggestion within reason because obviously a public restroom will be needed in circumstances especially if anything other than number 1 is going down. We love our Potette Plus Travel Potty! It folds up to fit into a purse, backpack, or beach bag! The legs fold out and make a small potty. Absorbent liner bags fit inside the potty, and once done the bags tie up and throw away mess free. This is one of my favorite toddler contraptions!

Baby Powder: If your little one gets sand all over them, use baby powder! Baby powder takes dry sand right off and will circumvent that dreaded situation of sand in the eyes!

Inflatable Pool: We always take an inflatable pool with us to the beach. Our daughter used this at the beach for the first time when she was 6 months old, and continues to use it and she is almost 3! The inflatable pool we have is small and once deflated folds up to fit in my beach bag! It is easy to blow up, and offers a great place for a tot to play and cool off from the heat!

Inflatable Pool

Portable Clip Fan: Sometimes, the summer heat can be sweltering and a little hot for a baby who is only a few months old. A fan like this is great, and clips to to the beach chair!

Radio Flyer Wagon: This wagon breaks down with all of the paneling coming off, and makes it easy for us to load it into our Toureg for a drive to the beach! The wagon isn’t a necessity, but it definitely adds a bit more fun to long beach days. We use the wagon to pull all of our gear to the beach! Your tot can sleep in he wagon, and our daughter loves wagon rides on the beach!

Radio Flyer Wagon Beach

Mum & Bub Soothing Ointment: Long beach days can sometimes leave little one’s sensitive skin chaffed. This is my absolute favorite skin product! The soothing ointment was developed by a leading dermatologist and is naturally derived. It is infused with pawpaw fruit, and free of sufates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, soy, chemicals, etc.

The Beaches of 30A

Rosemary Beach, FL

Scenic 30A is an appx 20 mile stretch of road in Florida that runs parallel to the beach through charming seaside towns and alongside the Timpoochee Biking Trail.

We have visited 30A numerous times staying in multiple locations. We have stayed at Gulf Place near the beginning of 30A. At Rosemary Beach at the end of 30A, and at Watercolor and Seaside in the middle of 30A. We have booked directly through Watercolor Resort and Gulf Place, and we have also booked through VRBO and cottage rental agencies throughout 30A.

The beaches along 30A are a great place to make memories with little ones that will last a lifetime! I will never forget when my daughter giggled when she saw a crab on the beach the first time, or how she begged us to go crash into the waves with her. She and her cousins had a sand castle building contest and a sand burying contest! She collected nearly 45 seashells which are displayed in mason jars on my bathroom shelves and she filled our hearts with laughter and joy! 30A is where our favorite beaches are located, and I hope these tips help you enjoy 30A with your little bambinos in tow!

Logistics: 30A is an approximate 30 minute drive from Destin, Florida or Panama City Beach, FL. If coming from Panama City Beach you will hit the beach community of Rosemary Beach first. If coming from Destin, you will hit the communities / resorts located at the western end first beginning near Sandestin and hitting Gulf Place, Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, Seaside, etc first.

Activities:

The Beaches: Beautiful stretches of white sandy beach, sand dunes, clear bright blue waves, and beautiful sunsets are abundant along the beaches of 30A. The majority of our time is always spent enjoying the beach and activities beachside.

We love paddle boarding the waters of 30A with our daughter, and have found Surf Sup Rentals to be a great rental company. They deliver and pick up your board when you are done, and we find the prices more reasonable than the companies located directly on the beach especially for a full day rental! If you are only wanting to try paddle boarding for an hour or so then the companies located directly on the beach are much more convenient.

 

 

If your little one wants to try their hand at surfing, 30A adventures hosts daily surf camps from their Seagrove location in both the morning and afternoon during the warmer months! And if you are visiting outside their normal camp offerings, you can always book a private lesson.

Biking: We always book bikes for our trips to 30A. Normally the bikes are included in our rentals, and they are either on the property premise or we are provided vouchers to go to the rental company, and pick up our gear. We always purchase a child carrier as well. Our daughter enjoys riding in a child seat and the pull behind wagon so it is always a tossup as to which we book! We enjoy riding our bikes to the beach, and through the charming towns that dot 30A. We also have tried our hand at some bike trails located throughout 30A. A great guide to the Timpoochee Trail can be found here! Also there are some great trails specific to each development along the way. One such example are local trails located throughout Watercolor Resort that allow you to bike around the lake, etc.

Beachside Communities: Beginning at the Eastern end of 30A in Rosemary Beach, our favorite stops along the way with kiddies are as follows:

The Sugar Shak (Rosemary Beach): Kids LOVE this place which is stocked from floor to ceiling with stacked rows of CANDY! Every candy imaginable is housed here from old school candies to imported candies from Europe. They also have an extensive ice cream bar, and I must say the ice cream is great! This is a fun little shop for kids, and very memorable. Our daughter still talks about the Sugar Shak!

Playground Park (Rosemary Beach): This park is located on the beach side of 30A in Rosemary Beach accessible right off the biking/walking path nestled in between mature trees! It is a great little playground with wooden equipment including swings, slides, monkey bars, and family swings to sit on and watch the kiddies play! We rode our bikes here one evening before heading to dinner!

Camp Rosemary: Created for kids ages 5 – 12, Rosemary Beach offers Camp Rosemary which runs from end of May to beginning of August! The camp is a drop off program with daily activities planned for kids. However, Camp Rosemary also offers kids activities/crafts throughout the week for any kids staying in Rosemary! You can pick up a local calendar of events upon arrival or check their website here!

Rosemary Pools: Rosemary Beach has 4 pools: Coquina Pool, Sky Pool, Barbados Pool, Cabana Pool. The Cabana Pool has a separate kid’s pool and kid’s playground adjacent to the pool which makes it our favorite. The Sky Pool is also great as it is indoors for a brief reprieve from the sun or if you happen to get a bit of rainy weather in sunny Florida! More info on the pools here!

30A Farmer’s Market (Rosemary Beach): On Thursdays and Sundays from 9 am – 1 pm located on the green at Barrett Square. This is a great farmer’s market with so many wonderful local foods, vegetables, fruits, breads, and specialty items! My favorite vendor is “Matt’s Mom’s Mustard”! I did not expect to spend $18 on mustard on a random Saturday morning in Rosemary Beach, but this mustard is so amazing! We purchased the “original mustard”, “pineapple mustard”, and “Russian mustard” We also got a fourth free for buying 3! They give free samples so if you find their stall, definitely stop in for a try!

Cowgirl Kitchen (Rosemary Beach): Love their pizzas!!! Menu here!

Fonville Park & Press (Aly’s Beach): Fonville is a fantastic kid’s park, outdoor seating area, and coffee bar and café located in Aly’s Beach! This is one of our favorite stops on 30A! We love going for breakfast, sitting outside, and watching our daughter enjoy the park! It has a fantastic green space!

 

 

Charlie’s Donut (Aly’s Beach): We enjoyed riding our bikes to this donut food truck located in Aly’s Beach! They open daily, but often sell out quickly especially during the peak summer months. They have amazing donuts with some unique flavors such as red velvet or my favorite the sour cream pound cake. We enjoyed our donuts, and then our daughter played in the splash pad located directly in front of the donut truck! This is a great morning stop for kids! And don’t worry about cash, they accept cards!

 

 

Seaside Outdoor Movies (Seaside Amphitheater): Enjoy Seaside’s Outdoor Movie Series during the Summer Months at the grassy Seaside Amphitheater right in the middle of town! Movies are on Friday nights, and begin at 8:00 pm! Be sure to check the summer schedule seasonally! Our daughter loved this, and my suggestion is to get food from either Modica Market in Seaside which has great takeaways and specialty foods such as cheeses, coffees, cakes, etc or the nearby food airstreams which leads into…

Food Airstreams (Seaside): Enjoy food truck fare right in the middle of the cute, charming town of Seaside which is where the 1998 movie the Truman Show was filmed! There are so many great options, but our favorites are Barefoot BBQ and Meltdown on 30A. Meltdown has some quirky spins on a traditional grilled cheese, and my husband loves the spicy BBQ Pork from Barefoot! And mine and my daughter’s absolute favorite food airstream is FROST BITES for all of your snow cone/ice cream needs! Order the piggly wiggly: custard on the bottom, shaved ice in the middle, and cream on top. My favorite flavor is vanilla custard, peach shaved ice and cream for a spin on peaches and cream!

 

 

Duckies Fun Shop (Seaside): Duckies is a great toy store in the middle of Seaside with fun, unique toys! A favorite of our daughter! We first took her here when she was 6 months old, then at a year, and then again at 2! Every time it was a hit!!!

Sundog Books (Seaside): Sundog Books is a great local book shop for adults and kids located right in the middle of Seaside. All of the books are arranged by categories which is so fun! They showcase popular books up front, and then have similar genres grouped together so that if you are a fan of say Jane Austen books then you would also quite likely enjoy the books grouped with the Jane Austen books! And who doesn’t love a good read at the beach!

Seaside Farmer’s Market (Seaside): Seaside also offers a local farmer’s market similar to the one located at Rosemary Beach although Seaside’s Farmer’s market is a bit bigger! The market is every Saturday from 9 am – 1pm and you can find everything from organic meats, vegetables, fruits to specialty cakes, breads, and crafts!

Watercolor Outdoor Movies: (Watercolor Resort): Watercolor also hosts an outdoor movie and concert series for guests running from end of May through early September. Movies are hosted normally on Thursday nights with concerts on Wednesdays at Marina Park! Be sure to check the seasonal schedule at Watercolor!

Watercolor Pools: If guests of Watercolor resort, you have access to 6 resort pools!!! One pool is an adult’s only pool so for kid friendly options there are 5 pools to choose from! All of the pools are fun and beautiful. We love the Beach Club Pool due to its proximity to the beach and food service; however, we also enjoy the frog and dragonfly pools located further back in Watercolor as they are very kid friendly!

Western Lake (Watercolor): A plus of staying at Watercolor Resort is access to the boathouse where you can kayak, paddleboard, or fish. We have kayaked the lake, and find it extremely relaxing and fun!

Camp Watercolor (Watercolor): Watercolor also offers a kids camp similar to Rosemary Beach. Geared towards children ages 5-12, the drop off camp offers daily activities and crafts!

The Red Bar (Grayton Beach): The Red Bar is an iconic, unique venue located in the heart of Grayton Beach. They schedule live performances weekly, and during the summer months the wait to eat here can be quite lengthy as they do not accept reservations! With smaller children lunch would be a great option, but with older kids in tow they would no doubt enjoy the eclectic mix of furnishings and live entertainment!

Blue Mountain Beach Creamery (Blue Mountain Beach): Located right off 30A on county road 83 in the community of Blue Mountain Beach is the creamery. This place has amazing ice cream made fresh daily, and an amazing amount of flavor variety! The line at this place is sometimes wild, but definitely worth the stop!

Beach Horse Back Riding: (Gulf Place): Just north of Gulf Place on 30A is Arnett’s Horse Ranch where you can enjoy horseback rides along the beach!

Artists at Gulf Place (Gulf Place): The colony of artists at Gulf Place hosts art camps for kids during the summer months at Gulf Place on 30A! The cute little huts in the center of Gulf Place development feature work from various local artists daily! Be sure you check the schedule for which kid’s workshops will be presented during the next summer offering! Visit their webpage here!

For my favorite beach items with a tot in tow, please read my post here!

Rosemary Beach

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Rosemary Beach Sunset