I Love Christmas Movies – Gaylord Palms 2020

Christmas tradition.

Quite a few things have changed for us this year, I’m sure in your family too. One thing that was have made a habit of doing each and every year was ICE at Gaylord Palms. (see last year’s post here)

Missing it was actually something that I was worried about as the summer rolled around and things were canceled or postponed.

Once I saw Gaylord Palms announce it’s holiday lineup I knew we had to go.

I Love Christmas Movies at Gaylord Palms 2020

This year Gaylord Palms changed a few things about their holiday events and introduced I Love Christmas Movies. You are able to walk-thru the most iconic scenes from your favorite Christmas movies in their multi-sensory experience. The walk through usually lasts about 20 minutes.

See a behind the scenes sneak peek on my Insta Stories Highlights.

Elf scene from I Love Christmas Movies, Gaylord Palms 2020

You are able to interact and capture moments with the sets and moments you know-and-love, with over 13 fully immersive scenes complete with replicas of film props, audio clips, and more. Featuring THE POLAR EXPRESS™, A CHRISTMAS STORY™, ELF™, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION™, and THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS™.

Considering that National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is my favorite holiday movie I couldn’t wait.

I don’t want to spoil anything for you… but ‘A little full, lotta sap.’

I’ve had people ask me if it was better than ICE. My answer is… it’s just a little different, but still an awesome holiday event. If you like ICE, you will like this too. I honestly loved that there were 5 different movies to experience. Because my kids LOVE Polar Express, their excitement for that was fun to watch… along with my husband’s excitement for A Year Without Santa Claus.

Social distancing at I Love Christmas Movies – Gaylord Palms 2020

Because Gaylord Palms is a Marriott property, while on site masks are required.

Unlike previous years, there are not large groups walking freely through the exhibit. Each group (your reservation party) walks through with a tour guide to show you each movie scene and share movie trivia. There are plenty of photo opportunities, so have your cameras ready.

Something else that is a little different this year is each activity in the Alpine Village requires a reservation. This is another way the property is keeping their guests safe and distanced.

The village is set up the same way it has been in previous years, with a few additions.

  • I Love Christmas Movies™
  • Snow Flow Mountain
  • Snowball Build and Blast
Snowball Build and Blast – Gaylord Palms 2020
  • The Grinch’s Wonderful Awful Idea Scavenger Hunt (around property)
  • Mrs. Claus’ Christmas Traditions
  • Gingerbread Decorating
Elf Training Academy – Gaylord Palms 2020
  • Sugary Sweet Storytime
  • Elf Training Academy (painting wooden ornaments)

You can also get photos with Santa…. don’t miss this one.

My boys absolutely loved the Snowball Build and Blast. They wanted to do this one multiple times… and I absolutely loved it too. Yes, it is real snow to create snowballs with.

Snowball Build and Blast – Gaylord Palms 2020
Snow Factory – Gaylord Palms 2020

I don’t know what’s so magical about “snoap”. You know that mixture of soap and snow, maybe it’s just a Florida thing.

But watching my kids play in this was my favorite part of the weekend. Dancing and playing, spinning watching the bubbles fall on them.

Snoap fun at Gaylord Palms 2020

Depending on how many activities you book, depends on how long your day, or weekend would be. Staying at Gaylord Palms, especially during the holidays is something I ABSOLUTELY recommend. It’s one of those gifts that is an experience that will be talked about for a lifetime.

No matter what time of year it is, my entire family loves sitting on our balcony at night. At Christmas time the tree light show is a must see. You can see this from almost all atrium view rooms. This is from an Emerald Bay Atrium view. Our favorite part of the hotel to stay in.

I’m not sure if it’s all the time or just during this part of the year, it is cold. Take sleeves. This is fun in Florida, and something I absolutely needed to start off my holiday season.

If this is something you have been considering, make sure to go ahead and call. Since so many of our 2020 plans have changed, I was thrilled we were able to keep this in our socially distanced Christmas plans.

Click here for more on our stay (video coming soon)

Click here for more information on Gaylord Palms and their holiday activities and line up.

Egg Nog Blondie Bites – Fun Festive Food

I asked my husband what his favorite holiday flavor was going into the Christmas season… and was a little surprised when he said Egg Nog. Now, I absolutely love Egg Nog — always have–but I try not to buy it because I will non-stop drink it. Do you have any food like that?

So when he mentioned Egg Nog, I was glad I could buy some and use it to bake with.

I started digging out all of my flour and sugar this weekend and then saw a box of yellow cake mix hiding in the back of the cabinet, and thought I would much rather fancy that box up than go completely from scratch.

I think it worked out pretty well… and I would absolutely make these again.

I used a regular yellow cake mix box and changed the ingredients that it called for.

I replaced vegetable oil with butter, replaced the water with Egg Nog and added one more egg than recommended. Take a look at your box mix recommendations and make a few changes to completely elevate it.

I also added cinnamon and nutmeg (actually pumpkin pie spice… because I couldn’t find my nutmeg).

I pored half of the made batter in the pan and then added half of a bag of white chocolate chips and holiday sprinkles. The sprinkles are completely optional, but I think such a fun little twist.

Then pour the rest of the batter over and add the rest of the white chocolate chips and more sprinkles.

Bake as directed on the box… because of the change of ingredients, make sure to watch it for the last 5 minutes or so, just to make sure it doesn’t get to dark. Let it cool before you cut it.

The Egg Nog and white chocolate pair perfectly together. These were more of a cake consistency than brownies, but once cut into squares were easy to eat and didn’t fall apart.

These were just as easy to make as a box cake mix and tastes so much better! Get your kids involved… my oldest made this with me and loved adding in just the right amount of sprinkles.

Ingredients:

Box of Yellow Cake Mix

(you might alter the following ingredients based on ingredient recommendations on the box)

8 oz of Egg Nog

1/2 cup melted butter

4 eggs

1tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 bag of white chocolate chips

sprinkles of choice

Fantasy World Resort -Kissimmee- a Budget Friendly Family Getaway

Two bedroom villa at Fantasy World Resort

As a mom, the closer the time came for Halloween, the more worried I was about taking trick or treating away from my kids. I wasn’t sure what it was going to look like. What houses we would go to, or if anyone would even have their lights on. Anyone else know the feeling?

I knew the best way to distract the boys from not trick-or-treating was to hit the road and find a fun place to stay.

Did I find a new place to explore? Yup!

Did I distract the boys from Covid Halloween? Yup!

Super close to all of our favorite Disney properties, is Fantasy World Resort, in Kissimmee. Think more along the lines of town homes than hotel rooms. Each villa has two bedrooms, two full baths and a kitchen. Everything a family would need for a weekend getaway or an extended stay. Let me highlight the fact there is a washer and dryer, which after our third time to the pool (in one day) came in very handy.

Let me also point out the fact that the boys loved having stairs in their hotel. Isn’t it amazing the things that stick out to little ones.

Water slides at Fantasy World Resort

What we really loved about this property is not only the amenities that go on for days, I’ll get to that in a minute… but that our newest family member ZERO was welcome to stay with us. Remember – he’s our 8 pound mini German Shepard.

Water slides, a walk in pool, kiddie splash pad and last but not least, lazy river. We were very fortunate that the Florida weather played nice and it was a beautiful weekend away.

We spent hours here – most of it in the lazy river. Why don’t more hotels have lazy rivers?

Private cabanas available for rental at Fantasy World Resort, Kissimmee, FL

Traveling hint: during the day the water areas were super busy, so we explored the town a bit and Disney Springs (which is free). Both Friday and Saturday night we had the lazy river and pool almost completely to ourselves – it was amazing. For a little more privacy they do have cabanas available for half day and full day rental if you want to make a day of it.

Kiddie Splash Pad at Fantasy World Resort, Kissimmee FL

Of course after seeing the map of the property I wanted to go out and explore to see everything there. There were so many activities posted at the pool deck, but make sure to plan out time for all of the other goodies too!

Pool deck activities, Fantasy World Resort

On property there are batting cages, tennis and basketball courts, shuffle board, bocce as well as a mini golf course. Most of the amenities are included with your stay, but double check at check in. Also take a look around for the absolute longest foosball table I have ever seen. No matter what your family is into – they have it there. Or try something new!

Like other properties Fantasy World Resort has a rewards program that is completely free to join. But unlike others, there are no points that need to be accumulated to use. It doesn’t matter if you just joined or if you’ve been a member for a while… everyone gets the perks.

Some of the perks are:

  • Arrival Gift – (this changes month to month) Key shaped 16GB Flash Drive
  • Two complimentary welcome drinks at Oreo’s Poolside Cafe
  • Grab’n Go Complimentary daily Continental Breakfast
  • Discounts for local restaurants and entertainment venues

They have also recently installed a dog park. If you are headed out for the day to the pool or possibly Disney, you can take your pup to the park to work out some of their energy. I have to say this is the most animal friendly property we have ever stayed in, and if you are an animal lover there are countless families out walking their dogs along the brick paths.

Zero was just as excited as we were to be there.

They even have two real life animal mascots. I got so excited when I saw Oreo (the cat) walking around property. Almost like a celebrity sighting. I didn’t have my phone with me to snap a picture. I won’t make that mistake again.

So for any of y’all not from Florida… please make sure to watch the water as you are walking to the dog park. There are posted signs about alligators, but I know not everyone fully understands that if there is water, there is a great chance there is a gator there. We saw quite a few bubbles coming to the top of the water, but that could have easily been from turtles too.

Large dog park, Fantasy World Resort

While the whole trip was a cover to distract the boys from missing trick-or-treating, Fantasy World resort staff came up with the brilliant idea of creating not one, but two different haunted houses on site.

They say one is a little more tame than the other, but they both scared me. (I scare easily though). The boys went through both of them and honestly it was one of the best parts of Halloween. Forgetting all of the events that have been canceled and just enjoying the scares and screams.

The family haunted house (1st floor) has only animatronic scares – so no one is jumping out at you. They also only allow one family in at a time. Which is great for social distancing, as well as making it a little more creepy because you know you’re the only family in there getting all of the scares.

Haunted House, Fantasy World Resort

Let’s just say the haunted house upstairs… well, here’s who greets you – so yeah… good luck with that.

Both haunted houses were awesome… and if you hide behind your 4-year-old, it’s not so bad.

No? Just me? 🙂

They have the haunted houses open until Nov. 14th – so if you aren’t ready for all of the Christmas that’s about to come your way, you can still make a reservation and enjoy the last few frights of the season.

Something else special the resort did (which I wasn’t expecting at all) was to host their very own trick or treating around property. While we didn’t have costumes to wear, the boys though this was even better than trick-or-treating at home because it was almost like a scavenger hunt too.

Trick-or-treating, Fantasy World Resort

There was also a pumpkin carving contest in the lobby the weekend we were there, and with so much going on celebrating Halloween… it didn’t feel like we were missing out on anything at all.

If I didn’t point out the amazing staff, I would be missing one of the highlights of our trip. Everyone we saw or talked to was amazing. The staff was friendly, courteous and always had a smile on their face (even under their masks). They made us laugh, scream a little – in the haunted house- and gave out a little extra candy to make sure our Halloween was super special.

We can’t wait to go back — and as my 4-year-old calls it – to the hotel with the stairs and the lazy river.

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Not Trick or Treating??? 4 (Not So Scary) Halloween Ideas for Families

I feel like it’s a toss up when you ask people what their Halloween plans are. I know most of it has to do with the area they are in… but also so many of our favorite Halloween events have been canceled. I already know with a 95% certainty we will not be trick or treating, simply because our neighborhood isn’t doing it. (Most of our neighbors keep to themselves anyway – imagine a street with all of the porch lights off…that’s where we live.)

Halloween Build a Bear

Something that my boys absolutely loved this year was a visit to Build a Bear. Now my boys are not stuffed animal people… but the fact they were able to pick out their animals and then add spooky sounds and clothes… they were completely into the experience. As a mom, I knew this was something we are going to do on special holidays.

We plan on packing up our holiday bears with our decorations. That way each year, when we unpack it will be something that is uniquely theirs. In fact, we are headed back for another trip to grab the Jack Skellington Bear – because duhhh….

Movie Night with Snacks and Games

If you’ve watched Hocus Pocus once, or a million times… you can always watch it again. Make it different. Make it special. We made home made pizza in the shape of a dead man’s toe (use your imagination people) and played our new Hocus Pocus game from Ravensburger.

Do you remember when I found this on Amazon and ordered it within seconds. I’m not mad about it one bit.

Scary Storybooks (well maybe not so scary)

I love a great kids holiday book… If I’m being honest I think they are the easiest way to bring a little extra magic into the day, especially at bedtime. Go through your kids books and find all of the ones that could be Halloween books… or head to your local library. You can also find so many great books on YouTube, if you can believe it.

We added these from Candlewick Press to our holiday collection and I’m already planning a ghostly painting activity with Gustavo. (I’ll post it here once we are finished.) Head to your local book store and let each child pick out a new book, grab a flashlight and create your own spooky story night. Don’t forget the perfect snack…

The Perfect Snack

Like that transition??? Hahaha. If your kids are like mine, they have been asking for their own YouTube Channel for forever and a day. Now I didn’t give in and create a channel for them, but instead had them film a video for the holiday.

Looking for a no heat, kids in the kitchen friendly snack mix? Here you go! Have your kids watch it and then make it themselves this week.

Or if you are looking for something more substantial try these pumpkin chocolate chip bars… your life will never be the same…

Not in the mood to bake something yourself? Now is the perfect time to support a small business too! So many companies are offering do-it-yourself kits, that make it way too easy to add holiday happiness to your routine. We grabbed a cake ball decorating kit from Bova’s Bakery (on the Treasure Coast) but I’m sure there is something close to you that offers something similar.

Whatever your plans are… keep it simple, keep it fun and make the memories that your kids will remember from the Halloween of 2020.

Fall Family Bucket List – 7 Easy things to plan this month…

Our Fall must do list has dramatically changed from previous years. I think the frustrating part is I don’t know what will be open, what will be limited and what will be so overcrowded that we would need to avoid it all together.

Continue reading “Fall Family Bucket List – 7 Easy things to plan this month…”

Gooey Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars- This Will Become a Fall Favorite…

I’ve started my pumpkin baking season already, and I’m not sorry about it one bit. I figure, if I only have 2/3 months that I can, I might as well enjoy it. I also added some of my sourdough discard into it on a whim and it totally worked.

Continue reading “Gooey Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars- This Will Become a Fall Favorite…”

Forget diaper cakes – make a ONESIE WREATH – a fun and updated idea for baby showers…

I was a huge fan of diaper cakes when they first came out. They were cute, they stood out and who didn’t need diapers on diapers? Although the are still a great gift, I think everyone expects a diaper cake or two.

Continue reading “Forget diaper cakes – make a ONESIE WREATH – a fun and updated idea for baby showers…”

Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf at Walt Disney World – A Disney day without going to the parks…

While in Orlando last month, we wanted to experience a little of the Disney magic but without going to a park. With the new reservation system currently in place, we were not able to just pop on over. I get it, no worries… it gave us time to discover new areas of Disney that we don’t get to see.

Continue reading “Fantasia Gardens Mini Golf at Walt Disney World – A Disney day without going to the parks…”

SummerFest at Gaylord Palms – The Must Do Florida Family #staycation

It’s not a surprise how much I love Orlando. Tons of things to do and something for any interest you may have. Orlando can be exhausting though. When there are too many places to go, it feels like you are always in a rush and can never fully enjoy one thing before rushing off to the next.

Continue reading “SummerFest at Gaylord Palms – The Must Do Florida Family #staycation”

Simple (3 ingredient) Mickey Trail Mix Treats

What are your favorite parts of trail mix? Salty and sweet right?

I ALWAYS find that these are the two ingredients missing from our trail mix after my kids have gone through it. So instead of sad lonely peanuts at the bottom of the bag, I thought we could make our Mickey trail mix out of the best parts. The salt and the sweet.

Continue reading “Simple (3 ingredient) Mickey Trail Mix Treats”