Name: Jennifer

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Bio: Jennifer is a passionate dreamer and doer. A marketing and social media strategist full time during business hours and a writer until the wee hours of the morning. She loves her life with her husband and daughter, and enjoys filling her "cup" by spending times with good friends. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google.

Posts by Jenn:

    Last Minute Entertaining Tips for The Big Game

    February 3rd, 2017

    The weekend is here, and so is The Big Game! Hubby invite friends over out of the blue? Realizing that you have not planned out your menu? Fear not! We’ve got you covered. We have some great last minute entertaining tips so you can enjoy the big game without a big fuss!

    Starters

    For starters, let’s talk about starters. For us it’s all about the dips, we love dips, #allthedips. In fact while figuring out which dips to share with you, our list kept growing and growing and growing. Here are 5 of our top faves!

    Easy Beer & Cheddar Dip

    easy-beer-and-cheddar-dip-2

     

    Easy Taco Dip

    easy-taco-dip-6

     

    Restaurant Style Queso Blanco

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    Easy Cheesy Bean Dip

    easy-cheesy-bean-dip

     

    Jalapeno Popper Skillet Dip

    jalapeno popper skillet dip-3

     

    More Goodness

    While we could live off of dips, we need a little bit more substance. So we love these picks in addition with the dips.

    Mozzarella Caprese Bites

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    Antipasto Salad

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    Main Attraction

    Order Out! You read that right, now that you have all the fun stuff – order out. We recommend PDQ because they are what their name stands for – People Dedicated to Quality! We also happen to know that they are running a promotion for the Big Game too!

    Nuggets, Sandwiches, and Homemade Sauces

    pdq

    Seriously though, look at their sauces!

    pdq sauces

    Final Stretch

    These are our favorite desserts for Game Day! Easy, simple, and super delicious.

    Game Day Oreo Cookie Balls

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    S’mores Dip

    smores-dip-11

     

    Now that you have your menu, what are you waiting for? Head to the store, get the essentials, order your main attraction, then sit back, relax, and enjoy the game! We’re looking forward to the commercials!

     

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    Girls Getaway – Weekend Of Worlds

    January 18th, 2017

    Thanks to Universal Orlando for providing us with passes to experience to create our very own #UniversalMoments

     

    girls getaway

     

    All this talk of travel while writing the Countdown to Disney Series, and sharing tips with Stephanie as she plans on her vacation made me realize I should take advantage of having a Walt Disney World Annual Pass. When Lana mentioned that we should plan a girls weekend, I didn’t think it would be a quick trip to “The World” let alone, adding on visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

    This weekend will be a first for a lot of things, first time getting to enjoy Disney & Universal with my very best friend. First time flying JetBlue. First time staying at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. First time visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. First time with minimal plans made.

    Keeping It Light

    girls getaway traveling light

    I usually don’t travel light. I don’t think it’s within my nature to travel light. When I say that phrase, “I’m traveling light” my husband and parents laugh at me. We’ll see if I end up going with the backpack I had planned or a weekender – I’ve been internally debating this all week.

    Ever the planner, both Lana and I, we are going to be taking it it comes. Yes, we have basic plans – flights, tickets, but aside from that we have 2 reservations made. One of which is optional. We have NO fastpass reservations made. Which goes completely against any of the advice I’ve been giving on the recent planning multigenerational trips. I’m actually feeling excited to have minimal plans made for a change.

    Best of All Worlds

    Lana and I actually met online, what feels like a billion years ago. We met while we were each planning our Disney Fairytale Weddings. While planning we found that we had a lot in common. After our weddings we remained friends, and actually met for the very first time when going to a pre-screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Another love of ours, Harry Potter! Our friendship is built on love, dreams, Disney, Harry Potter, Starbucks, and Target… and I’m sure much more – but those are the core values we share.

    Share Our Adventures

    We are planning on seeing where the days take us while in Disney. We are even going to give their new Express Transportation a go. We are excited to see how much time it saves on our park hopping! We are sure it’s only going to add more fun to our adventures, and we can’t wait to let you know what we think.

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    We are even more excited to be visiting Universal Orlando. We have received passes to experience the magic of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure, along with all the other fun aspects of the park in exchange for sharing our experience with you! While it’s not Lana’s first time, it’s mine – and you can expect lot’s of sharing!

    Be sure to follow along with us on Instagram & Twitter!

    Follow Jenn Gaffney On Instagram

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    Countdown to Disney: Perks On Property

    January 18th, 2017

    The Perks on Property

     

    In case you missed it, we are headed to Disney World! You can follow along in all of our planning in our Countdown to Disney series! Missed the reveal? You can view it here: Surprise, You’re Going to Disney World! Don’t forget to read our tips on Planning a Multigenerational Trip to Disney World how to Optimize Your Timeand the Best Multigenerational Resorts.

    Perks On Property

    As I said previously in the last Countdown to Disney post, my biggest recommendation is STAY ON PROPERTY!!! By staying right on Disney property you have benefits available to you that are not available at any other hotels.

    • Magical Express
    • Transportation
    • Extra Magic Hours at Disney Parks
    • Recreational Activities

    Magical Express

    This is one of my favorite perks of staying on property, however it is my least favorite when it’s time to go home. When it’s time to go home we call it the “Not So Magical Express”. We never want to leave our favorite place!

    When you make your Magical Express reservation, you make a reservation for transportation from the Orlando International Airport to your resort. The best part is, you are sent luggage tags to put on your checked luggage. When you check in for your flight to Orlando, with the luggage tags on your checked bags, you say goodbye to hassle. Because, you won’t have to pick up your bags when you land, they will be sent directly to your resort for you. You will find them in your room later that day! When traveling with a big family, this benefit alone saves some early headaches so that your trip stays off to a great start.

    Once you land, you follow the signs to the Magical Express pickup. You step up to the kiosk, they scan your magic band, and then you get in line to board the motor coach. The best part is that this service does not cost a thing, saving you money from having to rent a car, parking, etc!

    The same service is provided when you are ready to depart and head home. The day before you check out you receive a notice in your room that lets you know the time that the Magical Express motorcoach will pick you up to take you back to the airport. Pick up times are typically scheduled 3-4 hours prior to your flight. The best part is, that if you are flying with one of the participating airlines (listed below) then you can obtain your boarding pass, and check in your checked luggage right at the resort, allowing you to bypass airport check in completely. The participating airlines are below.

    • Alaska Airlines
    • American Airlines
    • Delta Air Lines (U.S. Domestic Flights Only)
    • JetBlue Airways
    • Southwest Airlines
    • United Airlines

    For more information, please visit the official Disney’s Magical Express page here.

    Transportation

    By staying on Disney property you can take their bus services to the theme parks, or in some cases boat, monorail, etc. You don’t have to worry about renting a car when you arrive in Orlando. This is one of our favorite benefits, since it just makes things easier on our family. Buses run all day and come pretty often to the resorts.

    Buses

    Bus Transportation in Disney

    sometimes depending on when you travel, you may be the only ones on the bus

    Guests of select Walt Disney World Resort hotels can take advantage of complimentary bus service to and from all 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, Disney Resort hotels and the Disney Springs Area. Bus service from your resort to any of the theme parks starts 45 minutes prior to park opening, and ends an hour prior to park closing. Bus service back to your resort from theme parks ends 2 hours after park closing. For more information on bus transportation, visit the official page here.

    Water

    Water Transportation

    Take in the scenery and relax with welcome breezes as you sail around Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Feel the wind in your hair and the magic in the air as you cruise Crescent Lake and Lake Hollywood. Water taxis and ferries sail to and from Magic Kingdom park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney Springs. Most routes run on 15- to 30-minute intervals. Below is a listing of the available resorts that offer water transportation. For more information, visit the official page here.

    Magic Kingdom Park
    Accessible by water launch (also known as water taxi) from:

    Ferryboats connect Magic Kingdom park to the Transportation and Ticket Center.

    Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios

    boat ride to Epcot

    this was a leisure boat ride that we enjoyed from Hollywood Studios to Epcot

    Accessible by boat from:

    Disney Springs
    Accessible by ferryboat from:

    Monorail

    Monorail-Epcot

    Known as the highway in the sky, monorail transportation is an experience all on it’s own. We love to do a resort loop on the monorail. The monorail goes to the following:

    You can get on the resort loop that will go from the Magic Kingdom to Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, and TTC. If you would like to go to Epcot, you would need to get off at TTC and switch to the Epcot Monorail there.  Read more about monorail transportation here.

    Express Transportation Option

    They actually have started an exclusive Express Transportation Option this past month that I’m excited to try when I take a quick trip for a girls weekend THIS weekend – follow along on social to see how it goes. The cost is $15/person for 1 day or $24/person for multi-day. So if you have a park hopper pass, or annual pass you can take advantage of this offer.

    Express Transportation service:

    • departs approximately every 30 minutes.
    • is available each day from 10:00 AM until park closing.
    • travels directly between each of the theme parks—with no other stops along the way.
    • lets you off inside the main gate, so you’re in the middle of fun from the moment you arrive!
    • gives you unlimited transfers between all 4 theme parks—for as long as your Express Transportation ticket is valid.

    Best part of that is – SKIPPING SECURITY when you park hop!! We can’t wait to give it a try. Find out more information here.

    Extra Magic Hours

    This is another one of our favorites. Each day, select attractions are open longer at one of the theme parks. This is one of the main perks we take into account when we are planning our vacation. We look at this first and then from there figure out our dining strategy, and then fast pass options.

    Examples of Extra Magic Hours would be instead of Epcot closing at 9pm, it would be open for resort guests an additional 3 hours, from 9pm – 11pm. Or instead of Magic Kingdom closing at 8pm, it would be open from 8pm – 10pm for resort guests, etc. To see extra magic hours scheduled visit the calendar here.

    Recreational Activities

    We touched on this briefly when we highlighted some of the ways we plan a multigenerational trip, but all Disney resorts offer variety of recreational activities. Depending on where you stay or visit, there’s so many other things to do that are off the beaten path. Such as:

    Something For Everyone

    No matter what you decide to do, where you decide to stay, there is something for everyone in Walt Disney World. Even for die-hard fans like us, there’s always something new for every trip. That’s the beauty of visiting, and visiting with a large family – you may experience something you never thought of before.

    Looking for more Disney posts? Check out all of the posts in our Countdown to Disney series!

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    Countdown to Disney: The Best Multigenerational Resorts at Disney World

    January 13th, 2017

    the-best-multigenerational-resorts-at-disney-world-1

     

    In case you missed it, we are headed to Disney World! You can follow along in all of our planning in our Countdown to Disney series! Missed the reveal? You can view it here: Surprise, You’re Going to Disney World! Don’t forget to read our tips on Planning a Multigenerational Trip to Disney World and how to Optimize Your Time!

    Where Do You Stay?

    You are traveling with extended family, and you aren’t quite sure how much space you need, if you want to stay with one another, or where to start. You are not alone! Many people have asked what the best options are for traveling with a big party.

    My biggest recommendation is STAY ON PROPERTY!!! By staying right on Disney property you have benefits available to you that are not available at any other hotels. Here are just a few, and we’ll get to them in a later post:

    • Transportation
    • Extra Magic Hours at Disney Parks
    • Magical Express
    • Recreational Activities at resorts

    Deluxe Options

    Disney’s Beach Club Villas

    photo credit: Rhys A. Sunlight! via photopin (license)

    photo credit: Rhys A. Sunlight! via photopin (license)

    For those of you who are looking for a space that offers luxurious spaces and amazing amenities you can book one of the deluxe resort options. We highly recommend a 1 or 2 bedroom villa at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Within walking distance to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios, an amazing pool named Stormalong Bay with a lazy river and all.

    Disney's Beach Club Stormalong Bay

    A 2 bedroom villa sleeps up to 8 adults with views of Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Woods, Pool or Courtyard. It has the options of 1 King Bed and 2 Queen Beds and 1 Double-Size Pull Down Bed or 1 King Bed and 2 Queen Beds and 1 Queen-Size Sleeper Sofa. You can see a slideshow of the rooms here.

    Disney’s Boardwalk Villas

    Disney's Boardwalk Resort

    We also recommend a villa at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort – but we are also a little biased since that’s where we stayed when we were married. It is directly across from Disney’s Beach Club. It offers the nostalgic feeling of turn of the century Atlantic City. Timeless elegance meets old-fashioned charm at this waterfront Resort hotel. Delight in saltwater taffy-colored cottages, private courtyards and picturesque gardens—plus the ragtime sounds and carnival pastimes of the exciting Coney Island-style boardwalk.

    You can see a slideshow of their rooms here.

    Moderate Option

    Disney’s Old Key West Resort

    Disney's Old Key West Resort

    We highly recommend Disney’s Old Key West Resort. It’s more moderately priced than Disney’s Beach Club and Disney’s Boardwalk Resort. We have stayed here 4 times and absolutely love it. You are transported to the Florida Keys in a tranquil community of Conch Flats, with a fantastic restaurant named Olivia’s, a General Store, with views of the waterways, swaying palm trees and manicured golf-course fairways.

    Disney's Old Key West View

    We have stayed in a Studio that offers 2 Queen beds and sleeps up to 4 adults. We love this option when traveling with extended family on a multi-generation trip because we each have our own space with a studio. In recent trip Billy, Abby, and I had a studio, my sister & her fiance had their own studio, and then Gigi, Poppy, and Riley stayed in a One Bedroom Villa. The One Bedroom Villa offers views of Water, Woodlands or Fairways and includes 1 King Bed and 1 Queen-Size Sleeper Sofa and 1 Twin-Size Sleeper Chair. It comfortably sleeps up to 5 Adults but could fit more. You can see a slideshow of the rooms here.

    The best part about the One Bedroom Villa is that it has a full kitchen with a spacious dining area, which meant that we could have family meals together and not have to necessarily eat at restaurants all the time.

    Value Option

    Disney’s Art of Animation Family Suites

    Disney's Art of Animation Resort

    Disney’s Art of Animation Family Suites are fun and colorful and perfect for families with young children. They provide spacious accommodations for parties up to 6—with room for the whole family to spread out—inspired by some of your favorite animated movies – The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars.

    ORLANDO, FLORIDA - June 2, 2012 - The Food Cart at Disney's Art of Animation, Walt Disney World.

    ORLANDO, FLORIDA – June 2, 2012 – The Food Cart at Disney’s Art of Animation, Walt Disney World.

    Family suites include a bedroom with one queen-size bed; one double-size convertible TableBed; one double-size sleeper sofa; living room; 2 bathrooms and a kitchenette. On our last trip, our best friends stayed in a Cars suite and said it was perfect for their family of 5. It offered a room for Mom & Dad, the pull out couch for their twin girls, and the murphy bed for their oldest daughter.

    The theming in the resort is absolutely adorable and so much fun! You can see some images of their rooms here.

    Unique Option

    The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

    Disney's Wilderness Lodgephoto credit: Brett Kiger Ghosts of Wilderness Past via photopin (license)

    Experience the down-home pleasures of pioneer life—with all the conveniences of home! Stroll to the lakeside dock for an easy 10-minute boat ride to Magic Kingdom park or rent a golf cart or bike and explore the whole darn Resort! This is definitely on our bucket list for Disney experiences we would like to have.

    The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
    photo credit: CL Photographs Transportation Tuesday – Serene Sunset (Explored) via photopin (license)

    Settle in to your settler’s paradise—a fully furnished private cabin in the woods spacious enough to sleep 6 adults. Brimming with rustic charm, these hideaways offer a living room, bedroom, full bathroom, private patio, charcoal grill and modern kitchen complete with a refrigerator, dishwasher, convection/microwave oven and 2 countertop burners. Housekeeping even does your dishes! You can see images of the rooms here.

    No matter where you stay you are bound to find all of the little touches and elements that make up the experience of Disney Magic! We’ll be back with some more information on the special benefits to guests staying on Disney property!

    Looking for more Disney posts? Check out all of the posts in our Countdown to Disney series!

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    Countdown to Disney: Optimize Your Time

    January 8th, 2017

    optimizing-your-time-at-disney-world

    In case you missed it, we are headed to Disney World! You can follow along in all of our planning in our Countdown to Disney series! Missed the reveal? You can view it here: Surprise, You’re Going to Disney World! Don’t forget to read our tips on Planning a Multigenerational Trip to Disney World!

    When is the best time to go to Disney? How long should we stay for? How far in advance should I book? All very important questions that almost everyone asks when considering a Disney vacation. In all honesty, you need to choose a time that works best for your family, but educate yourself on crowd levels and operating hours ahead of time.

    Check On Crowds

    magic-kingdom-crowds

    One of my favorite websites to see expected crowds is on Undercover Tourist. Not only can you see the crowds for all of Disney’s theme parks but you can also see the crowds expected at Universal. Undercover Tourist also shows you the historical temperatures.

    Know that if your child has off for particular school break, chances are that everyone else’s child does too. Don’t let that deter you though, especially if that’s the only time that works for your family. Be prepared that you may not be able to get to everything on your bucket list depending on the length of your stay.

    Length Of Stay

    That depends on the amount of time that you are able to get away or afford. Typically it’s suggested for a full week. With that being said that allows for a day on each end for travel, then 5 in between allowing for a day at each park and a day for down time.

    barnstormer in Magic Kingdom with family

    When we were on our trip in November, we were there for 9 days. With a range of generations being Gigi & Poppy, my niece Riley (5), Billy, Abby (3), and myself, my sister Brittany, and her fiancé Chris, I can tell you that we definitely did not do everything. In fact there were some things I thought that we would be able to do, and we just ran out of time.

    When you go, know that there is no way that you will be able to cover every single thing. That’s the beauty of it, and why we keep returning.  Even if we were able to do a particular attraction 4 years ago, visiting it with our daughter was an entirely different experience. No matter the length of your stay, know what attractions are important to your party.

    Start With Research

    First things first – My Disney Experience! They have so many different resources available to help you plan what not to miss. One of my favorite sections of the site was all of the information that they had for parents of preschoolers. I also suggest watching the Disney Vacation Planning videos that they have to offer on their site with your whole family! You can view them right online, or have a DVD sent to your home. Watching this was a great way for the little ones to know what to expect with certain attractions.

    We have this fun printable to help you make that list of attractions that everyone considers a “must do”.

    Countdown To Disney Plan Attractions List

    Looking for more Disney posts? Check out all of the posts in our Countdown to Disney series!

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