A First Look at Frozen Fever


Look out!  Anna, Elsa and the gang are back for a video featurette called “FROZEN FEVER.”  {I am so excited!}

In “Frozen Fever,” it’s Anna’s birthday and Elsa and Kristoff are determined to give her the best celebration ever, but when Elsa catches a cold, her powers may put more than just the party at risk.

Here is a first look at Frozen Fever with images and a video from the directors:



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I cannot wait!!  How about you?  Are you ready for more Frozen fever to hit your house once again?

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ all-new short FROZEN FEVER will open in theaters on March 13th, in front of Disney’s CINDERELLA, a live-action feature inspired by the classic fairy tale.


Little Mermaid Party Decor: Creating Ariel’s Grotto

Little Mermaid Party Decor - Creating Ariel's Grotto!


Last month was my daughter’s 5th birthday.  Yes, my baby is 5.  Where did the time go?  For this birthday, my Sweet Girl wanted a Little Mermaid theme.  Last year, we celebrated with a Disney Princess theme, but this year, it had to be Ariel alone.

So where to start with Under the Sea & Little Mermaid party decor?  You could go glam because Ariel is a princess, but I decided to go more authentic…which meant…Grotto.

How to Create Ariel’s Grotto:


welcome to Ariel's grotto - lots of ideas!


1.  Choose Sea Colors.

I decorated with turquoise for the sea and a taupe for the color of sand.  (Can I just say how in love I am with turquoise right now?)

With a light brown table linen and lots of gossamer (thanks to Shindigz.com), I created a flowing sea and sandy stop for the grotto.  (Here is a quick link for the Turquoise Roll or Ivory Roll.)


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2.  Go for the Usual Under-the-Sea Items.

Pull out your collection of shells, starfish, sand dollars . . . whatever you have, can buy or borrow.  I found one of my very large conch shells at a garage sale for $2.00.  It doesn’t hurt to pick your party themes well in advance and scour the garage sales for items that suit your theme.  Nets are also an inexpensive way to “think sea.”  I had several on hand from our Luau party.  The sea shellsstarfish, and mini sea creatures came from Shindigz.  Their variety of products is wonderful!


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3.  Gather Gadgets, Gizmos, Whozits and Whatzits.

I began looking around my house for items that Ariel might have collected for her grotto.  Old items.  Peculiar items.  I raided my house and then I raided my mom’s.  Isn’t it crazy the amount of junk I found?  And I do mean ‘junk’ in the best sense of the word.  Shindigz had these great corked bottles and black lanterns too.


ideas for creating Ariel's Grotto


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4.  A Picture of Prince Eric.

While I would have loved to have found an enormous statue of Prince Eric, Dan would have freaked out just a bit.  Not to mention the issue of storage after the party.  😉

Instead, I searched the internet for a great image of Prince Eric, printed it and put in a frame.  Ariel’s one true love – present.


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5.  Soften the Lighting

I have a couple options for lighting in my basement.  When it came time for the party, I used all my dimmers and this fabulous lamp.  Lighting should be kept on the lower side.  After all, you’re under the sea and in the grotto!


Fun corner in Ariel's Grotto


5.  Don’t forget the Dinglehopper.

Of course, we had to hang a fork in the grotto so Ariel can brush her hair.


Little Mermaid Party - don't forget the dinglehopper


7.  Create an Entrance for Going Under the Sea

The kids loved going through a wave of crepe paper to enter the sea.  We doubled the crepe paper . . . simple and effective.


going under the sea


It was a wonderful party and the first time I felt like my basement fit right into a theme as opposed to trying to override my basement’s usual decor.


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Ariel's Grotto created for a Little Mermaid Party

Related Posts:
Little Mermaid Party – Games & Activities
Food, Favors & the Rest of the Sea

This post contains my affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Policy for more information.

“How many more days?” Making a Disney Vacation Countdown

dry erase disney vacation countdown

The moment you tell your kids you are going on a Disney vacation, you are bound to hear the relentless question, “How many more days?”

Rather than be bombarded with the question, make a countdown and engage your kids with the planning, excitement and yes, a little math.  The trip before last, we made this Disney vacation countdown.  But since our house is on the market, I didn’t want strangers to know when we would be out of town nor did I want to remove lots of random numbers from the window or wall each time we had a house showing.

The new countdown?  An old picture frame touched up with a couple coats of spray paint, some scrapbook paper and a dry erase marker.

As Goofy would say, “Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.”

make a disney countdown

The craft stores sell a great assortment of Disney paper.  This little beauty has been in my drawer for years and I was thrilled to finally use it.  With my Silhouette Cameo, I cut the lettering and Mickey head.  If you don’t have a cutting machine, check out the alphabet stickers when you are at the store.  You may even find something ‘more’ Disney.

We started counting down a month before our trip.  The kids loved erasing and writing the new number.  And I loved the peaceful excitement as we looked forward to our time at Disney World.

disney vacation countdown


Do you make a countdown to your vacations?

You may want to also check out why There is No Crying at Disney World.

Ways to Save at Disney

Ways to Save at Disney-2

You may as well know that I am a Disney World fanatic.  I love the place.  I could go every other . . . month!  And while I have been there over 15 times in my life, I don’t go as often as I wish because a trip to Disney World is expensive.

There is the cost of hotel, tickets, food, any travel expenses and yes, souvenirs.  And for this Disney mama, staying on property is a must in terms of convenience and fun.  But vacation packages add up quickly, so I am always looking for other ways to save money . . . and I have my best tips for you!

>> Read my 13 Ways to Save at Disney at Motherhood On A Dime where I am guest posting.  

20 Not-To-Miss Moments at Walt Disney World

20 Not to Miss Moments at Walt Disney World-2

Walt Disney World is a magical and fun place.  With four different theme parks, there is so much to do.  But in all the opportunities for attractions, shows and activities, don’t miss out on these fun moments.  They are some of my absolute favorites!

1.  The Opening of the Magic Kingdom.  This 10 minute ceremony happens each day at the Magic Kingdom.  It begins 10-15 minutes before the park opens so plan on arriving early for the festivities. What happens?  Magic!  The mayor or other town official of Main Street USA comes out and greets all the guests.  Dancers and singers in 1920’s garb join him and sing “Good Morning,” “Casey Junior’s Coming Down the Track” and “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah.”

It is fun and exciting as guests wait for the Magic Kingdom’s steam engine train to pull into the station bringing Mickey and so many other characters.  The crowd helps count down from 10 to open the Magic Kingdom, fireworks shoot up and pixie dust is thrown.  All that just to open a park!  It is one of my most favorite moments in the parks.

UPDATED:  Since early 2017, the opening has changed.  You are now able to enter the park prior to opening and walk down Main Street.  You can shop in the Emporium, stop at Starbucks and move all the way down to the hub in front of the castle.  Before opening, there is a fun show on the castle forecourt stage with music, princesses and fireworks.  Being at the castle, this show definitely has a more royal feel compared to the train station opening. 

2.  Tinkerbell’s Flight during Happily Ever After, the Magic Kingdom firework show.  You have to pay attention so you don’t miss this.  During the show, Tinkerbell (a real person, lit up in costume) will fly from the right side of the castle to a building at the top Main Street. Best places to stand are:  on Main Street, on the hub right in front of the castle or the Tomorrowland bridge.  If you are in this area, you won’t miss her.  And if you look during the day, you can spot her wire.

3.  The Kilamanjaro Safari.  This is one of my favorite attractions at the Animal Kingdom.  On this ride, you will have to remind yourself that you are still in Florida.  Many of the animals roam freely and often are near the safari truck.  Some of my favorite Animal Kingdom moments have been when we were within a couple arms-lengths of a giraffe or ostrich.

4.  Meeting Your Child’s Favorite Characters.  These moments are not to be quickly passed by.  Some of our family’s favorite moments have been playing chase with Pluto or chatting it up with Cinderella.  If your kids are old enough to engage and ask questions, the cast members are animated, fun and quite entertaining in their conversations.

5.  The Magic Kindgom’s nighttime parade.  Currently, the Main Street Electrical Parade is at the Magic Kingdom.  I am secretly pining for Spectromagic to return, but both parades are wonderful and enchanting.  My favorite spot to sit is on Main Street where the parade starts.  But this does mean arriving quite early (as in 1.5 hours) and taking turns with others in your party shopping and people-watching.  Truthfully, my mom and I arrived 2 hours early to sit on the curb last month.  It was a welcome break after a day filled with walking.  And that takes me to the next one…

6.  Shopping on Main Street at night.  Main Street has some of my favorite shops, but there is something thrilling about shopping during all the buzz before the parade starts.  This is usually when my kids spend their Disney Dollars from Grandma and souvenir money from me.  It is a fun moment, albeit expensive and crowded…but worth it.

7.  The Caves on Tom Sawyer Island.  Grab your family and maneuver your way through Tom’s caves in the Magic Kingdom.  You’ll need to catch the raft over to the island, but from there you are free to roam the trails, explore the fort and brave the escape tunnels.  The caves do get pretty dark and the floor is definitely not flat.  But we love doing this on our last Magic Kingdom day for a change of pace.

8.  Movie Night at Your Hotel.  If you are staying at a Disney Hotel on Property (and you can read why you should here), check the movie schedule at your resort.  Last month, we watched Dumbo under the stars at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarters.  The resort provided *warm* towels to sit on and it was fun watching the movie on a jumbo, outdoor screen.

9.  A Character Meal.  One of my favorite ways to see the characters is by booking a character meal.  Truth be told on our last trip, we did four of them on the dining plan (Akershus with the Princesses, Tusker House with Donald & Friends, Garden Grill with Chip & Dale and the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast with Mary Poppins and Alice.)

The characters come to each table to greet your family, take photos and sign autograph books.  Most of the meals are buffets with lots of great options on food.  But the fun is seeing your kids interact with the characters without having to wait in line.

10.  The Classic Photo in front of Cinderella’s Castle.  No Disney photo album is complete without your family’s photos in front of the castle.  There are Disney photographers on Main Street who will take your picture with their camera and with your own.

When the photographer takes the photo, be sure to link the images to your account with your magic band.  You can purchase it later if you don’t have the Memory Maker…or just use the *free* one on your camera.

11.  Talking with PUSH in Tomorrowland.  PUSH is a moving, talking garbage can that works his way through Tomorrowland at the Magic Kingdom.  Just watch for a crowd (mainly children) and that is probably where he is.

We ran into him at one of the stores on this last trip.  He and my son carried on a humorous conversation much to the delight of my son.  Dan even had him looking at garbage cans in other parks to see if it was PUSH…thanks, Dan for having him touch nearly every garbage can we passed!  Gross.

PUSH is controlled by a cast member that you can spot if you’re looking.  He’ll be wearing a ball cap, satchel with controls and have his hand up to his chin, speaking into the mic.  He does a very good job!  I did hear that there are some problems with his contract and that he would be removed from the MK, but I am hoping he returns quickly.

12.  Epcot’s IllumiNations.  This is by far the best and most impressive firework and laser show I have ever seen.  It is choreographed to music in true Disney style.  I usually don’t worry about arriving super early to get good seats.  Just make sure that you can see the center of the lake in the World Showcase.  You will not want to miss what comes out of the water.

13.  Adventureland’s Spitting Camel.  You may find my thinking a bit twisted on this one, but if you are in need of a little rest and laughter, send your family to the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House and grab a seat near the gold camel.

The camel spits water on unsuspecting guests.  It is a riot.  I was in tears and I can only imagine the kind of idiot I looked like sitting by myself, nearly busting out with laughter.  😉

14.  Mornings at the Magic Kingdom (or any park).  Mornings at the parks are cooler and so much less crowded.  These are the perfect times to hit those long wait rides while other vacationers are still in their beds or eating breakfast.

15.  Street Performers.  Don’t miss out on an opportunity to catch some of the fabulous talent that pops up in the parks.  Some of my favorites are the Barbershop singers on Main Street, the Mariachi Band in Mexico at Epcot or the movie star wannabees at Hollywood Studios.  They are fun, often engaging and enjoy a crowd.

16.  Dinner at the World Showcase.  Be sure to book a meal in one of the countries at Epcot’s World Showcase.  There is a wonderful variety and all cast members/servers are from the country you are visiting.  It is a great way to learn, interact and ask questions about their native country. . . not to mention, enjoy some exquisite cuisine.

17.  Enchanted Tales with Belle.  This Magic Kingdom attraction has won awards and it is no wonder why.  This is an interactive activity where your kids have the opportunity to re-enact Belle’s story with her.  It is small group based and can have long wait times.  Book a fast pass for it!

18.  The Unofficial Early Opening of Hollywood Studios and Toy Story Mania Walk-On.  Each morning, Hollywood Studios unofficially opens about 15 minutes early.  This is your best chance to ride Toy Story Mania without a fast pass or the insane 90 minute wait time.

I LOVE this ride.  If you arrive early and wait for the opening of the park, head straight back to Toy Story Mania and you’ll basically walk on the ride.  When you are done, be sure to look back at the Wait Time when you’re leaving.  You’ll notice it jumped to about 50 minutes!

19.   Enjoying the Largest Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches!  Whether you use one of your snack points on the dining plan or the dessert that accompanies your quick service meal, these ice cream cookie sandwiches are huge!  If you’re at the Magic Kingdom, stop in the ice cream shoppe on Main Street and get one as a snack.  If you are at your resort’s cafeteria for a quick service meal, tell the cashier you are going to come back for your dessert.  They’ll stamp your receipt and you’ll have an hour to return for your treat.

20.  Serving Others in the Parks.  As I mentioned in my ebook, Teach Me To Serve, when we are in Disney World, we try to keep helping others in the forefront of our minds.  One way we do this is by purchasing little Disney candy tins to give away to children who are having a rough or sad moment.  We make sure that the child isn’t throwing a fit over something and my kids ask the parent’s permission before giving the tin to the child.  It is good opportunity to help your kids focus on others.

One of the tins my son gave away was to a fussy toddler on the monorail.  The toddler used the candy tin as a rattle and was entertained the rest of the ride.  My son was beaming after blessing someone else and I was quite pleased to see him take the initiative.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Oh Disney World, how I would love to go now!  What are you favorite moments in the parks?


Top 10 Tips for Disney Vacation Planning

Making it Magical:  10 Tips for Getting the Most of Your Disney Vacation


Our 2014 Disney Memories

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As I shared with you yesterday, our trip to Disney World was not as magical as we had hoped.  We were sicker than dogs for quite a bit of the trip.  (You can read more about our story of choosing to focus on blessings over disappointment here.)

We did have so many fun moments though:  meeting the characters, riding the rides and creating memories.  As my children’s Sunday School teacher pointed out to me, the kids only remember the good of the trip.  They don’t remember the fevers, vomiting, coughing, or the days so many of us spent in bed.  I wonder why that is… but I hope to follow their example.

So here are some of our favorite photos.  And I’ll tell you, I am saving the best for last.

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Sweet Girl was feeling just good enough to enjoy our dinner with the Princesses at Akershus in Norway.


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Unfortunately, this spent several day with us.  I called it the “just in case” bag.  I’m betting all you moms can figure out why I carried it around.


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On our first evening at Epcot, we walked by the wait time info desk and one of the cast members, Danielle, caught a glimpse of Sweet Boy’s jacket.  She immediately started singing the Batman theme song.  He stopped and laughed.  Well, after chatting it up and my son commented on the long wait time for Soarin’.

Danielle disappeared for a minute and then returned with a “no strings attached” priority entrance certificate for the ride.  The kids had not been on it before and they were thrilled.  Soarin’ is such an impressive experience.  Thanks, Danielle, for creating some magic for us!


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One of only the few family photos we got while we actually together and not sick in bed.  Foggy day at the Animal Kingdom.

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One of our favorite restaurants, the Tusker House.  Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Daisy make their way to each table and we love the great buffet.  Our secret:  we schedule the meal for about 10:50am.  This way we enjoy a great assortment of breakfast foods before they switch over to lunch at 11:15am.  My husband loves the best of both worlds!


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This was Sweet Boy’s first ride on Expedition Everest.  He loved it but was ok with not riding it again.  😉


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All of Disney’s 3D (4D!) movies are impressive.  While I love the way the bug eyes look on everyone, “It’s Tough To Be A Bug” does have some scary parts.  We may skip this one on the next trip until the kids are a bit older.


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Even princesses can get good and messy!


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This was the day it was just me and the kids in the parks since my mom and Dan were sick in bed.  We actually did quite well and had a lot of fun.  We hit Hollywood Studios and Epcot!  The pictures above are from our wait time to see Woody and Buzz Lightyear.  Love their faces in these photos!


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Yes, my kids are just like yours!


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This photo is ordinary but so special to me!   The Fast Pass+ system messed up in my favor!  Even though I had changed fast passes for Test Track, they actually gave me three for this ride on one day.  While my son was with us for the first ride, Sweet Girl and I, alone, stayed late to ride Test Track the other two times.  She loved it and after each ride found a red car to sit in . . . and basically push every button she could.


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Sweet Girl is wearing the dress that I wore when I was about 5.  It was the the first Alice dress being sold in the parks way back when.  What a delight to see my daughter in it now!


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This Mad Hatter was a highlight of our breakfast at 1900 Park Fare.  He was quite funny and engaging.


AND NOW, for Dan’s favorite picture.  First, let me tell you that my mom is a riot on roller coasters.  She is terrified of them but has always been compelled to do them because her kids were doing them.  She screams bloody murder and has often gotten a bit panicky.  I have seen her actually willing to pay someone to get off as the “big hill” approached.

For the people riding with her, however, it is hilarious.  I think it is Dan’s favorite part of the roller coasters.  I kid you not, a couple once thanked her for making Space Mountain more entertaining.


So here is the shot Dan captured on Big Thunder Mountain:



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And there you have it!  Our favorite Disney memories.


Are you thinking about a trip to Disney World?  Be sure to check out my Top 10 Disney Vacation Planning Tips.

There Is No Crying at Disney World

There is no crying at Disney World.1

There is no crying at Disney World.

Or at least that is what I tried to tell myself as I pushed my stroller though Epcot while tears rolled down my cheeks.  It was our 6th day at the parks and my body was giving in to rampant chills, fever and pure fatigue.

I was the last adult to succumb to the virus.  My mom and Dan had been hit earlier in the week.  Sweet Girl had been nauseated and exhausted our first couple days.  All in all, we had one good day at the parks where everyone felt decent.

Being sick on vacation is very disappointing.  All the planning.  All the dreaming . . . all the money.  How many times we shook our heads in disbelief as someone else spent days at a time in bed.  My Sweet Boy took to the fever last and at least made it home before the vomiting started.  Yes, this was our vacation.

And while I would love a do-over, there were still great moments, fun days and thrilling adventures.  Ok . .. . I do have to look through my photos to remind myself of this and I will be making a photo book very soon so we can cherish those good memories and dismiss the bad.

But even so, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t disappointed.  Here on the blog, we try to focus on celebrating the moments because days go by quickly and children grow up fast.  We want to enjoy every day, recognizing the blessings of our lives.  Yet even with this perspective, disappointment is a fact of life.  The question is what we do with it.  How do we handle things that have not gone as we hoped, dreamed or planned?

We didn’t get to everything we wanted to do at the Disney World parks.  We were sicker than dogs at times.  We never made it to meet Rapunzel, ride Winnie the Pooh or explore Tom Sawyer’s island and his caves.  I missed dinner at Tony’s and we all skipped our lunch at Be Our Guest.  The growing list of what we didn’t do, the traditional photos we didn’t take, the park hopper tickets we wasted . . . .

Yes, it was disappointing.  But even so, we were still blessed to be there.

This was never more blatant to me than when I stood watching the pre-flight film for Soarin’ that Thursday morning.  As “Puddy” shared where to store your belongings, I noticed a young child in the next queue.  I didn’t have the chance to see if it was a boy or girl.  But what I did see was a little bald head.

Sadness overcame me.  And for the next week and even now, when I think of this child, my eyes still well up with tears.

I began to think of what this family’s life was like.  They, too, were on vacation.  But “sick” was their everyday.  There was no escaping it.  For my family, “sick” was only our time away.  I knew we’d return home and eventually everyone would slowly but surely improve.

Throughout our trip, I kept thinking back to this single verse:

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.”  Job 1:21

You may be familiar with the song by Matt Redman, “Blessed Be Your Name.”  Here are the beautiful lyrics.  Click on the link to listen to it.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Our time of being sick on vacation pales to so many others who are suffering, truly.  But it was a reminder that life here on this planet is marked with disappointment, trials and suffering.  That is why I can look forward with great anticipation Heavenward when there will be no more tears, no pain, no sickness, no loss.

Perspective changes everything.  And being able to praise the Lord no matter what the circumstance unlocks the hold disappointment can have on our hearts.


So here is what I have to say:

Celebrate every day.  Time goes by quickly.

Find joy in the moments.  Let joy defeat your disappointment.

Count your blessings.  It will remind you of how rich you truly are.

Enjoy your blessings.  Don’t be so caught up in what needs to be done or disappointments that you miss out on precious time with your little ones.

Savor the smiles.  You may need to hold on to those pleasant thoughts.

Live life.  Ride the crazy ride.  Try an adventure.  Thrill your kids.

And then at the end of the day, no matter what it has held, may we all say,

“Blessed be the Name of the Lord!”


Stop by tomorrow.  I’ll be sharing some of our favorite photos including the most hilarious shot by Dan with my mother on a roller coaster.  You’ve gotta see it!

Magic Kingdom Collection on sale at Zulily!

Magic Kingdom Collection zulily

You all know how much I love Disney!  So of course, this 50% off Magic Kingdom Collection at zulily caught my eye.

From the clothing, toys, princess gear, adorable decals (oh so very cute!) and much more, this may be a great time to stock up on gifts!  And if you’re planning a little Disney Vacation surprise, you may find the perfect item for the big reveal.

There are a ton of items to check out . . . yep, I may be here awhile.  😉

Magic Kingdom Collection – up to 50% off at zulily


(This post contains my affiliate link.  Please see my Disclosure Policy on the about page for more information.)