Disney Studios, Here I Come! DVD & Blu-Ray Releases #PirateFairyBloggers #FrozenBluray

 

 

Next week I will be taking a short plane ride to sunny Los Angeles for a quick but incredibly magical three day trip and I can’t wait to tell you about it! Melissa is amazing to let me step in for her and I promise to do my best in sharing with you all of the amazing Disney coverage. Trust me, it’s going to be a really, really good time. You will want to keep up with the party on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #PirateFairyBloggers and #FrozenBluray!

I’m not going to deny it, we have seen FROZEN in the theater three times. The first time was a fun night out when Dad had to work late. We all fell in love with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and the rest of the characters. My kids adored Olaf so much that my five year old son declared in a very serious (and not open to any discussion) tone, that from now on all of our snowmen must be named Olaf! The second was because Dad hadn’t seen it and the third was my daughter’s choice for her birthday night. I guess I don’t have to tell you that we have already pre-ordered FROZEN!

Frozen Blu-ray

Walt Disney Animation Studios presents a chilly twist on one of the most humorous and heartwarming stories ever told. “Disney Animation’s best since The Lion King” (William Bibbiani, CraveOnline) will melt your heart.

Fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey — teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven — to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

Did you see the exclusive preview of The Pirate Fairy during the Super Bowl? I missed it too! Here is a peek into the new adventure starring Zarina:

 

Pirate Fairy Blu-ray

From the world of “Peter Pan” comes “The Pirate Fairy,” a swashbuckling new adventure about Zarina (voice of Christina Hendricks), a smart and ambitious dust-keeper fairy who’s captivated by Blue Pixie Dust and its endless possibilities. When Zarina’s wild ideas get her into trouble, she flees Pixie Hollow and joins forces with the scheming pirates of Skull Rock, who make her captain of their ship. Tinker Bell (voice of Mae Whitman) and her friends must embark on an epic adventure to find Zarina, and together they go sword-to-sword with the band of pirates led by a cabin boy named James (voice of Tom Hiddleston), who’ll soon be known as Captain Hook himself. With laughter, heart, magic and thrills, “The Pirate Fairy” sets sail April 1, 2014.

Back to this exciting Disney trip… here is what is on the tentative agenda:

Monday, February 10th 

  • Travel to Los Angeles and check in at the Sheraton Universal Hotel.

Tuesday, February 11th

  • Travel to Walt Disney Animation Studios for a behind the scenes look at the making of FROZEN including:  
    • Q&A with Director, Chris Buck and Producers, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
    • Hands-on demonstration of the Rigging process lead by Character TC Supervisor, Gregory Smith
    • Voice-over recording session with FROZEN’S Audio Engineer, Gabe Guy

Wednesday, February 12th 

  • Travel to the DisneyToon Studios for a look at THE PIRATE FAIRY including:
    • Advance screening of the THE PIRATE FAIRY
    • Sit down with THE PIRATE FAIRY Director Peggy Holmes and Producer  Jennifer Magee-Cook
    • Walk through the creation of “Zarina”, The Pirate Fairy from story to character design to animation

Did you catch the part about the voice-over recording session? VOICE-OVER! Aghhh! I’m going to be standing in the same studio where all of the biggest talents have made Disney’s most loved characters come to life. And if I happen to get the chance to do a voice-over for a character, and you happen to hear it, you have to promise to not laugh!

And on Tuesday we will also be visiting Walt Disney Studios to… I can’t tell you yet! It’s a surprise! So make sure you stay tuned in so you don’t miss it.

Okay, well… I am off to make my trip-list. Yes, I do this before every trip. Nerdy, I know. But tell me, what questions do you have for me to ask the film makers and creative teams behind FROZEN or The Pirate Fairy?

Disclosure: Disney is providing an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles including travel, accommodations and activities. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own. 

CoCo Key Hotel & Water Park is a Family-Friendly Getaway!

 

 

My family recently got the opportunity to stay at the CoCo Key Hotel & Water Park in Orlando, on International Drive (which, as you may know, is a very popular and fun area of Orlando to visit and vacation).  After dropping off the twins with both sets of grandparents in blustery Indiana, the three of us (Me, Husband Keith and son Isaac) headed toward the sunny skies of sweet, sweet Orlando.

ExteriorImage

Our first impression was that we drove past the hotel.  Oops.  From the photos online, it didn’t seem like there could be a cool tropical hotel smack-dab amongst all these buildings, but yes, there it is!  We drove in, went to the front desk and were greeted by an extremely friendly young lady who set us up with our room keys and welcomed us to the hotel.  The lobby is a welcoming place with things to do for kids and adults of all ages.  It’s a very relaxed atmosphere and I cannot begin to convey how absolutely friendly and helpful ALL the staff were to us.  Very gracious hospitality!

There is a business center (out in the open so kids can be monitored), a corner TV station, a nice open layout lounge area and a kids play area called Club Key!

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CoCo Key Business center

CoCo Key TV Lounge

coco key Our room, which was actually a suite with 2 queen beds, was just as was pictured.  It has clean, updated décor and extremely comfortable Serta Perfect Sleeper beds.  Truthfully, it was at least 10 times more comfortable than my bed at home!  It was clean, comfortable, and spacious.    There was a mini fridge, digital safe, flat screen TB, desk, coffee/tea maker, hairdryer, full ironing board and free Wi-Fi.  Regretfully, I did not take a picture of the bathroom so the third image is a stock photo.  I did take the photo of our beds and the couch as part of our suite.  Ignore the bed bumps, we had already taken a nap in it! LOL!

COUCH

ROOM

Bathroom

I just loved this sign!  It felt like vacation!  Isaac was holding up a bowling pin keyring he got from a local bowling alley for his first time bowling!  So cute.

direction sign

 

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Because we were here during off-season, the water park was closed the days we were there.  Isaac was disappointed but the weather was just not warm enough.  We did see people swimming in the pool, but our thin Texas blood just didn’t allow for swimming in 70 degree weather!  Too cold!  Despite is being closed, we were able to walk around and look at everything and it looks AMAZING!  The photos I took were not as true-to-life as the stock photos, so I will share these instead.  There is a LARGE canopy-covered water park area (the only one in Orlando!) so kids who can play without the harmful rays of the Florida sun.  VERY nice!

Aerial View

Under the Canopy

Bucket

Boomerango2

There is also a HUGE (6500 sq. ft.) arcade with a mini bowling alley and cool games!

Key Quest Arcade

We ate dinner at TradeWinds restaurant next to the arcade and it served affordable, family-friendly meals.  There is also a food court featuring Pizza Hut Express and Callaloo Grill, as well as the Wet Rooster Tiki Bar for Mom and Dad to grab some adult beverages.

Tradewinds Restaurant

You may even run into CoCo (the namesake of the hotel and water park) himself!

CoCo and Friends

Whether or not your stay is part of a larger visit to Orlando (2 miles to Universal Orlando Resort, 4 miles to SeaWorld, and 10 miles to Walt Disney World) or a one-stop family vacation, I think CoCo Key Hotel and Water Park can fit just about any family’s idea of a fun getaway!

Make sure to check them out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Disclosure: I was provided free accommodations at CoCo Key Hotel & Water Park Orlando.  All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always.

Opening Soon: The Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Studios

 

 

When my family visits Orlando, Florida, one of our favorite places to visit is Universal Orlando! We love visiting both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, there’s so much fun for each member of the family!

Universal Heath

 

I’m so excited to share with you about their latest resort, the Cabana Bay Beach Resort!

Swizzle Lounge - Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort

The Cabana Bay Beach Resort is Universal Orlando Resort’s fourth on-site hotel with striking color schemes and nifty, nostalgic details throughout the décor. The new 1,800 room hotel features moderately priced family suites available this spring at the special preview price and value-priced guest rooms available in summer of 2014 along with a wealth of recreation. When complete, guests can experience a 10-lane bowling alley and enjoy two massive pools with sand beaches, a lazy river, waterslide and more!

Doesn’t that sound amazing?! We can’t wait to get down to Orlando to stay here because with our family of 5, it’s definitely an affordable option for us!

The all-new family suites sleep up to six, surrounding guests with bold design, period colors, neon and a cool retro feel. The suites also feature a kitchenette with microwave, mini-refrigerator and sink. Combining affordability with convenience, the hotel’s location is within walking distance of both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Plus, hotel guests enjoy Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter one hour before the theme park opens. With three kids, it’s worth it just being able to get into the parks early!

Right now, there is an awesome rate that you’ll want to grab up!

This limited time offer includes:

• Incredible rates for the entire family to enjoy all-new family suites

-   Seven-night stay: as low as $104 per night

-   Five-night stay:  as low as $108 per night

-   Three-night stay:  as low as $134 per night

• On-site convenience – the hotel is within walking distance of Universal’s two theme parks and Universal CityWalk

• Early Park Admission to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (when guests purchase theme park tickets)

 

**Package is available for purchase now through January 31, 2014 for travel March

31, 2014 through June 14, 2014.

**Theme park tickets are not included.

**Blockout dates may apply.

Connect with Universal Orlando

Facebook: Universal Orlando Resort

Twitter: @UniversalORL

Instagram: @UniversalOrlando

Will you be checking out the Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal Orlando?

Why I Love Memphis: Food, Baseball, Music and Justin Timberlake!

 

 

Living in St. Louis, there are a few cities within easy driving distance. While we’ve been to Chicago, Louisville and Kansas City, there’s one city that’s only 5 hours away that’s on our Bucket List to spend time in.

ILoveMemphis

That’s right, Memphis, Tennessee! We actually have passed through Memphis a few times. Once, we drove to Memphis to see Weezer in concert and then drove right back. I’m not quite sure why we didn’t spend a few more days there but hey, we were young and broke. The second time, we were driving through Memphis on our way to Gulf Shores, Alabama and heard that we had to stop and try some of that famous BBQ at Rendezvous – and it didn’t disappoint. It was one of the best lunches I’ve ever had. Now, I’m ready to get back to Memphis for a few days and while there’s a ton of stuff drawing me there like the music, food, shopping, attractions and more….there’s one thing that I’m ready to put my blue suede shoes on for….

JT

Justin Timberlake!

Memphis is the hometown of Justin Timberlake and he still keeps close to the city. He owns a golf course called Mirimichi and is a minority owner of the NBA team, the Memphis Grizzlies. He also has his own tequila – 901 (area code of Memphis). Justin Timberlake is performing in Memphis on Monday, Nov. 18 at FedEx Forum and I would love to be there! I bet you would too, so sit back and read some other reasons you should visit Memphis and then see how you can have a chance to see him perform live in Memphis!

Read on for my JT songs themed tour of Memphis!

“Strawberry Bubblegum”

My husband and I love to eat, so Memphis is the place to be! Memphis may be known for their BBQ, but that’s not all they have. Memphis was named by Travel + Leisure as one of the best cities for barbecue (of course) as well as burgers, pizza and dive bars. I’d love to try Lunchbox Eats, a school cafeteria-themed restaurant with dishes like a chicken-and-waffle sandwich or the broken rib bones sandwich. Sounds like an experience in itself!

If it’s desserts you’re looking for, you came to the right place. At La Michoacana you’ll find only the most authentic paletas (Mexican popsicles). At Jerry’s Sno Cones, try the red wedding cake supreme and a stop at Muddy’s Bake Shop is also a must – try the Prozac chocolate cupcake!

We’re also fans of craft beer and Memphis is the home of craft brews like Ghost River, High Cotton and Wiseacre.

Red Wedding Cake Supreme Sno Cone at Jerry’s Sno Cones

“Dress On”

Shopping! If you’re looking to pick up some eclectic items or art, Memphis is the place to go. There are so many interesting neighborhoods to spend time in where you’ll find everything from clothing to art. The South Main Arts District sounds like a great place to spend a day – there’s a strip of local clothing boutiques marking this area as the newest fashion district.

Shopping in Memphis

“Winner”

My husband and I are huge fans of the St. Louis Cardinals and I still can’t believe we haven’t gotten down to Memphis for a Memphis Redbirds game! Right now, the Cardinals are rocking thanks to some of the players who came from the Redbirds and it would be so exciting to see a game there.

If baseball isn’t your thing, there’s a ton of other sports to see. There’s golf at JT’s golf coure Mirimichi and of course the Memphis Grizzlies. With no NBA team in St. Louis, I say Go Grizzlies!

Memphis Redbirds Game

“Let the Groove Get In”

In addition to the food, the shopping and sports, there is of course - the music! Memphis is home to Sun Studio (birthplace of Rock ‘n’ Roll) and the funky Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Both have hosted music legends who recorded the music that changed the world – Johnny Cash, Otis Redding, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes and Elvis Presley.

If live theater is your thing, you can catch a live theater show at Playhouse on the Square. There’s also the National Civil Rights Museum and of course, Graceland! So many things to see, so little time!

There’s so much to do in Memphis and here’s a great list of reasons:

  1. Funky, historic and world-famous cultural attractions like the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Sun Studio and the National Civil Rights Museum
  2. Vibrant music scene. Live music at the Levitt Shell, which hosts 50 free concerts a year at this famous outdoor amphitheatre. The Hi-Tone another Memphis landmark just opened its new location in the Crosstown Arts neighborhood.
  3. Eclectic neighborhoods like Cooper-Young, Overton Square, Broad Avenue Arts District and South Main.
  4. The local beer palate is expanding with craft brews like Ghost River, High Cotton and Wiseacre (just opened a taproom and patio in August 2013).
  5. Nightlife at Raiford’s Disco, Rumba Room
  6. Fine attractions like the Dixon Gallery and Gardens or Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
  7. Food – Soul Food, Barbecue, nationally renowned chefs
  8. Memphis in May International Festival – Beale Street Music Festival, World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest and Sunset Symphony
  9. Hotels – keep it classy with The Madison or The Peabody. Get closer to the Mighty Mississippi at the River Inn.
  10. Experience the Grit & Grind of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum or watch the future stars of the St. Louis Cardinals play at Autozone Park – home of the Memphis Redbirds.
  11. Golf at Mirimichi (owned by Justin Timberlake) located in his childhood neighborhood.
  12. Memphis Fashion Week (March 27-29, 2014)
  13. Indie Memphis Film Festival (October 31 – November 3, 2013)

 

Okay, I’m ready to GO to Memphis! Are you ready, too? If you’re in St. Louis, you will want to enter this AMAZING giveaway courtesy of ALIVE Magazine and I Love Memphis.

One lucky winner will receive the following prize package:

-A two day stay at the famous Peabody Hotel (Nov 17-18)

-Two tickets to the Justin Timberlake show on Monday, Nov. 18 at FedEx Forum

-A round of golf at Justin Timberlake’s Mirimichi Golf Course (If your golf game is a little rusty, no biggie, enjoy a complimentary lunch and tour the club instead! We heard JT often makes an appearance while he’s in town.)

-Tickets to your choice of local music attractions like the Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, Graceland, Sun Studio or the Stax Museum.

 Head over to ALIVE Magazine to enter, St. Louisans!

 

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post, but have the chance to win a trip to Memphis!

Fun-Filled Weekend at Grand Traverse Resort

 

 

Michigan is full of beautiful places to visit, never ending sandy beaches, amazing restaurants, top-notch golf courses, wineries, and there are but a few areas in Michigan that can boast all of those at once.

Traverse City is one of the top destinations in Michigan and around the country and recently I spent the weekend up there with my family at the Grand Traverse Resort. If it weren’t for the beautiful area I probably would have never left the resort! They had everything that I needed and more to occupy me for the weekend.

GT Resort 1

The resort, which opened in 1980, is situated on 900 acres just a mere 6 miles northeast of Traverse City and is along the shores of Lake Michigan’s East Grand Traverse Bay. Complete with 585 rooms, suites, and condo’s there is room for just about every occasion available. But… I’d recommend booking well in advance because the resort does fill up fast!

Our room was in the Tower on the 12th floor and overlooked the East Bay and the Peninsula. The view was spectacular! I spent a great deal of time just sitting there looking out the window at the area and thinking how much more beautiful it would be in the fall when the leaves start turning the deep reds, bright yellows, and orange.

One thing that I notice about hotel rooms is the bathrooms. I think that this is because I really hate mine at home and am always looking for ways to get rid of it and start over. Ours was very spacious! Both myself and my daughter could get ready at the same time without bumping into one another ever. And the jacuzzi whirlpool tub… well that was calling my name for sure!

Our first evening at the resort we had dinner at the Aerie Restaurant which is on the 16th floor at the top of the Tower. I’ll be honest… it was an incredible restaurant and there was nothing about it that we did not love. The food was superb, service was amazing, and the view we had overlooking the Bay & Peninsula with the sun setting in the sky was perfect. But the cost of eating there is high and not something that we would do on a regular basis. Special occasions? Most definitely!

The resort is perfect for a Michigan family getaway too!

  • They have three distinguished 18-hole championship courses plus a driving range for you to use. And just in case your game isn’t all that perfect you can check out the Spa Golf Academy and take a few private lessons.

  • Pools! Indoor with a splash pad area and water slide and an outdoor one when the weather is nicer. Of course there are hot tubs inside and out to help you relax.

GT Resort - Pools

  • Health Club where you can use workout machines, sit in the sauna, or take a yoga class.

  • Indoor and outdoor tennis courts.

  • Children’s Center. The Cub House is a 2000 square foot daycare that is fully supervised and licensed by the state of Michigan. They also have 24 hour babysitting available.

 

I saved the absolute best for last though. The Spa.

GT Resort - pedicure

I could spend all day at the Spa Grand Traverse! It’s two floors, 7000 square feet, and a full service spa with 23 treatment rooms. Of course, cherry-themed services are the signature thing at the spa too.

I opted for the cherry infused pedicure. Pure bliss. It was an hour of being totally pampered.

It’s very similar to a regular pedicure but then they use a cherry infused scrub that is made locally and followed by a cherry lotion. Then your feet are dipped in paraffin and wrapped in plastic bags, then damp hot towels, and then finally covered in a larger dry towel. All of this helps the pedicure last longer and leaves your feet feeling super smooth and pampered.

You can learn more about Grand Traverse Resort by visiting their website and following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: Accommodations were  provided complimentary by Grand Traverse Resort but all thoughts and opinions are my own.