Saturday, April 7, 2012

Reuse Your Plastic Eggs At Disney

Don't throw these away!
Did you get stuck with a lot of those cute little plastic Easter eggs? Don’t throw them away! Save them for your next Disney vacation and use them in the following ways…

  1. Single serve snack containers for the kids. They are great for Cheerios, Goldfish, M&Ms and other small treats.  You can refill them and put them back in your bag for the next day.
  2. Put sewing supplies inside them and toss them into the suitcase.  You never know when you’ll need to replace a button or fix the Aplix on your cloth diapers.
  3. Cut up your old socks into little squares.  Add a few drops of your favorite scented oils to the sock squares.  Put the squares inside the eggs with the holes on the ends and toss them in your suitcase or diaper bag.  They are a great way to keep your suitcase, diaper or wet bag smelling fresh.  When you want a different scent, just toss the squares in the laundry.
  4. Use them to hold change for the laundry room or penny presses.
  5. Do you save your receipts while on vacation? Keep them inside an egg so they are easy to find when you return home.
  6. Teaching your children to read? Make egg word-families.  On the bottom half of the egg, use a sharpie to write a letter or letters that work with the word family. On the top half of the egg, write the word family (examples: -and, -end, -ate).  Turn the bottom half to make new words.  This is great for keeping little ones busy while waiting in queues. 
  7. Who dresses up at Disney?  Certainly not everyone, but maybe you need to dress up for a Disney wedding or a special dinner.  Eggs are a great place to store hosiery, earrings, bracelets and necklaces if you plan to bring those with you. 
  8. If you have the larger eggs, use them to hold toiletries, instead of using plastic zip top bags. (Examples: cotton balls, cotton swabs, soap, etc.)
  9. Keep extra media cards for cameras inside the eggs for protection.
  10. Fill them with Band-Aids or other small first aid supplies and you won't need to find the First Aid station when someone scrapes a knee.
Also a solution for recycling old socks
Want a snack?
Bandages, Earrings & Floss

Let's make words!

If you decide to use more than one of these ideas on your next Disney vacation, be sure you label the eggs accordingly.  I’m sure your darling child would be upset if they thought they were getting a snack and ended up with mom’s pantyhose.

Happy Easter!
Stay crunchy, friends!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Eco-Friendly Disney Vacation Tips

You don’t have to be a “crunchy mama” to enjoy an eco-friendly Disney vacation.  Here are some tips on enjoying a greener vacation.

Conserve water: Choose to reuse linens and towels.  Do you really change yours at home daily?  I certainly don’t.  Disney has an immense irrigation system that uses reclaimed water the keep all the vegetation lush.  Even knowing this and that there are low flow toilets and shower heads in most guest rooms, we still keep the flushing and showering to a minimum. 

Recycle:  There are recycling bins in every guest room, and containers throughout the resorts and parks.  Even if you don’t think it’s necessary to use the bin in your room, be mindful that there are cast members who hand sort out recyclables.  Save them a little time and sort the items yourself by using the bins.

Resort Mugs: Use them whenever possible while at your resort. If you don’t have to use a disposable cup, why should you?  Also consider bringing a reusable water bottle with its own filter.  This will save you a few extra bucks on water as well. Filters help improve the taste of the water from fountains.  To keep it cold, bring reusable ice cubes.  Since all of the Value Resorts are getting refrigerators (all other resorts already have them), you have a way to keep them cold, and no excuse not to do it!

Don’t take extra supplies: Folks take the cute Mickey stamped soaps, shampoos and lotions all the time.  Housekeeping cast members replace whatever is missing. I cringe every time I see a parent grab a handful of napkins to use during a meal, then leave the unused stack on the table. Think of all the energy being used to make the things we take for granted. Use only what you need, and don’t take extras.

Keep the room temperature at a reasonable level: Why burn energy to cool/heat your guest room and you are not there?  Turn it off when you leave the room.  It will cool down or heat up when you quickly when you return to your room.

Turn off lights:
  Disney has done an awesome job replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, which use about 20% of the energy of old bulbs, but it’s still a waste to leave them on when you aren't in the room.

Use reusable shopping bags: While the bags given at the many shops are made from recycled plastic, why not bring your own reusable bags from home to keep all of your magical souvenirs in? In the past, I've picked up some while shopping at my local Disney store for around $1.  Bring them with you on vacation and use them for items not being sent back to your resort room.   No reusable bags? Just put your items in a backpack. 

Change transportation habits: Whenever possible use the monorail and boats or walk.  They use up much less energy, and emit less carbon than the buses.

Buy Eco-Friendly souvenirs:  Interested in a t-shirt? Check to see if it comes in organic cotton.  Look for stuffed toys also made from organic cotton and jewelry made from sustainable sources.

Don’t throw away maps and other printed materials: If you aren't planning to recycle the paper, use the maps, napkins, fast passes, park tickets, etc., in a scrapbook to remember your awesome vacation.  We recycle all of our receipts after we've returned home and recorded our spending.

Stay crunchy, friends!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Crunchy Disney Ma’s Favorite Places to Nurse at Disney World

Lately, there has been a lot of media attention over a women’s right to breastfeed her baby anywhere she wants, with nurse-ins staged at numerous businesses and government offices.  You will be happy to know that no one will complain and send you to the nearest restroom (eww!) if you nurse your little one anywhere on Disney property! 

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a great set of boobs, but I’m not game for sharing them with the world, whether I’m nursing or not. It’s just an issue of modesty for me.  (For the same reason, you won’t find any photos of me nursing in this post.) There are tons of innovative covers and wraps for mothers to buy or make, and I suggest taking at least one with you if for nothing else but shielding your child from the sun, or for extra warmth inside chilly restaurants.

You can nurse anywhere on Disney property.  It’s a great opportunity pay attention to all of the fabulous Disney details while nourishing your child. These are my favorite places because they are cool, comfortable, and convenient.  If you are bottle feeding, these places will work very well for you, too!

All Parks: Baby Care Centers – I’m pretty sure I talk about these in every post that relates to small children.  There is one in every park; I wish there were more!  Find them on a map prior to arrival. They are one of the best kept secrets at Disney World.  They are air conditioned, private nursing rooms here that are quiet and well kept.  Problem is, most are near the entrance, and if you’ve ventured your way to the back of the park, it just isn’t convenient to make the trek all the way back to the front.  However, if you are nearby, take advantage. 

She really likes the TTA PeopleMover
Magic Kingdom: Carousel of Progress – “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow…” will be stuck in your head until you ride “it’s a small world,” but it’s certainly worth it if you need to stop and breastfeed.  I can never get enough of seeing how much the world has changed over time.  The animatronics and set details are awesome to see no matter how many times you’ve seen it.  It’s quite dark, air conditioned and the hum of carousel turning is sure to put your little one to sleep when they’ve had enough milk.

There are too many honorable mentions at Magic Kingdom to mention.  I just love sitting around, here!  Some attractions I routinely nurse on including, Haunted Mansion, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Mickey’s Philharmagic, and Hall of Presidents.  Carousel of Progress gets higher marks because there is usually no wait, the show at least 20 minutes, it won’t distract the baby, and stroller parking isn’t a mile away.

Sleeping after Spaceship Earth
Epcot: Spaceship Earth – Even though your ride vehicle’s position changes during the course of the ride, it isn’t too much to handle if you’re an established breastfeeder.  Again, there isn’t usually a long wait, stroller parking is nearby and others in your party have something to do (enjoy the attraction) while you are nursing.  There isn’t a whole lot to distract the baby’s attention away from his/her meal, just be sure you aren’t trying to establish a good latch when the camera takes your picture.  Honorable mention at Epcot is Living with the Land.  The cool breeze and soothing boat ride are sure to leave your little one in a milk coma.  This only works if you listen to your baby’s hunger cues, and park the stroller early enough to get inside and wait in line before the crying ensues.   Also worth mentioning are the many quiet spots all over World Showcase.  There are benches aplenty.  My favorite spots in the World Showcase are Canada and Morocco.

Animal Kingdom: Wildlife Express Train – Located in the African village of Harambee, The Wildlife Express Train is about twelve minutes long.  Grab a seat on the back row & start nursing while you take in the scenery en route to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.  You get to see some of the “behind the scenes” work going on at Animal Kingdom, something that’s always appealing to me.  I’m not a big fan of the Planet Watch itself; we usually stay on the train and ride back to Harambee.  Sometimes the wait time to get on board isn’t worth it.  You could easily find a bench nearby nurse and burp the baby before the train gets into the station.  If you can walk right on, it’s totally worth the ride.  Honorable mention at Animal Kingdom goes to any one of the many benches, especially those on the Discovery Island Trails.

Happy Baby, Happy Mommy!
Hollywood Studios: Character Meet & Greet Area, outside the Animation Academy – Right after you leave “Disney Junior – Live On Stage,” leave your stroller parked in the courtyard and walk through the Animation Gallery shop and into the character meet and greet area, outside the Animation Academy.  If you have folks in your group that enjoy drawing, like the folks in my group do, send them off to the class while you grab a bench along the wall, get comfortable, and nurse.  Keep in mind that this area is high traffic, but if you are discreet, and I believe you should be, no one will pay a bit of attention to you because they are too busy playing with the animation themed, touch screen activities, or waiting to take photos with the Incredibles or maybe even Sorcerer Mickey.  I’ve even nursed here while my husband stood in line, waiting for Mickey.  By the time I was finished, it was our turn for a brief visit the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, himself!  Sorry, no honorable mentions here.  Even though there are a few things for the little ones to do, I think this park primarily attracts thrill seekers.  The number of available benches or cool spots with seating is limited.

Remember, Daddy needs quality time, too!
Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club: Swings on the beach – With a front row seat to sand, water and excellent views of Disney’s Boardwalk, these swings are a wonderful place to put your feet in the sand and feel the gentle breeze off the water while you nurse.  Folks travelling with you have lots to explore nearby, so they aren’t bored.  Just bring a towel to get the sand off your feet afterwards and remember not to get into the water. I’ve gone here before and after breakfast at Cape May Café and it is wonderful.  This spot is my absolute favorite spot, just for its serenity value, but this location may not be on everyone’s “Places To Visit” list.

Place I avoid…

Parades:  It just isn’t safe to sit on a Main Street curb and try to accomplish this nearly impossible feat.  We all love a good Disney parade, but there’s just too much noise and commotion to make sure baby gets a good latch.  Grumpy but curious is what your baby will be if you try to attempt this.  Unless you’re baby wearing, it’s also downright uncomfortable to try and nurse standing up. 

Downtown Disney:  We usually only spend a half day in Downtown Disney, and unless we were in a restaurant, nursing here was just painfully awkward.  Benches are few and far between, and they usually are not in shaded areas.  There is a spot right outside Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop that has round tables with umbrellas that face the water; that’s about as comfortable as you can get…if you can call that comfortable.

Attraction Exit Areas: Even though it's a good spot to catch your party after they've left a ride you can't take the baby on (remember to use Rider Swap), they are much too busy, noisy and crowded to try to breastfeed a child. Pick a designated meeting area that's comfortable for you and baby before your group splits up and then trade your finally full little one for a seat on Tower of Terror!

Stay crunchy!