Sparks of Magic

Entertainment

Recap: Disney Food & Wine as an AP Holder

Disney, Entertainment, FoodSarahComment
 ©Sarah Brow

©Sarah Brow

Did you get a chance to visit Disney’s California Adventure Park is the Food and Wine Festival

I wanted to share my recent experience as an Annual Passport (AP) holder. Throughout the year Disneyland Resort has special events and often have exclusive experiences for AP holders. The AP Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival Sip and Savor pass was a great purchase & experience, so I look forward to more AP events in the future! It was a great way to really get the most out of The Disney California Adventure Food and Wine Festival experience.

The AP Food and Wine festival Sip and Savor Pass was $45, including tax, and consisted of 8 coupons.

 ©Sarah Brow

©Sarah Brow

With over ten festival marketplaces there was definitely something for everyone. Like many AP events, alcoholic beverages are a separate fee. Even then, I knew that I had to try the Mimosa Flight, located at The Uncork California Marketplace.

The Mimosa Flight included a Pear Mimosa, Apricot Mimosa, and Mango Mimosa. My favorite? The pear!

 ©Sarah Brow

©Sarah Brow

If Mimosas weren't your thing, there was a Beer Garden located in the Paradise Grill Marketplace. You know, if you prefer drink like Gaston. :)

WHAT I ATE

Nuts and Cheese | Brie toast with fig and mint with roasted California almond crumble

I Heart Artichokes | Fried Artichoke Carbonara with Garlic Aioli & smoked bacon

Bacon Twist | Baby iceberg and heirloom tomato wedge with peppered bacon and blue cheese dressing & Smoked bacon mac & cheese with barbecue-seasoned crispy onions

Off the Cob | Sweet corn nuggets with beef chili, spring onions and sour cream

Sweet & Sourdough | White cheddar lager soup topped with bacon, served in a mini Boudin Sourdough Boule

LA Style | Chicken Teriyaki slider with spicy Dole® pineapple jam & Korean barbecue beef short rib tacos with Kimchi slaw

It was really hard deciding what my favorite food was, but my top 3 favorite bites were:

  1. Sweet corn nuggets, from Off the Cob
  2. Chicken Teriyaki sliders, from LA Style
  3. Fried Artichoke Carbonara, from I Heart Artichokes

Pass holders also received a special AP button at each marketplace location, with a Sip and Savor Pass redemption.

The AP corner included a special photo opportunity, a Festival handout, a free Food and Wine Festival button (the design changed weekly) and of course you can't forget limited time merchandise!

Did you attend Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, too? We would love to know what your favorite bites were from the Food and Wine Festival! Please share your thoughts with us!
See ya real soon!

xo, Sarah

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Official Teaser Trailer

Entertainment, DisneyCamilleComment
 © Disney/Lucasfilm

© Disney/Lucasfilm

I don't know about you, but we are counting down to December 15, 2017. Disney has just released the official teaser trailer and poster for Episode VIII.

See for yourself.

"Breathe. Just breathe." – Luke Skywalker

If you remember, we last saw Finn under glass like Snow White, poor guy. I want him to wake up so badly. It's just so eerie to see him laying there STILL. He'd better not die on us. Although, my daughter reminded me that this film picks up from the last one and he was just injured. Let's hope she's right. 

From the trailer, Poe Dameron is running from something, with our favorite droid, BB-8. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the film. He's a bad ass pilot. Oh, and BB-8 is a little smart hunk of technology. He brings so much humor. Lucasfilm always does a great job of bringing EVERY character to life.

We also all know Kylo Ren is just a ball of crazy and we don't trust him, so I have no idea what to expect with him in this next film aside from bad things.

General-Organa-Star-Wars-Sparks-of-Magic.jpg

Um. ALL tears when I saw General Organa's silhouette. For reals. I will be bringing a box of tissues (most likely Star Wars themed) to the theater.

And now, the cliffhanger.

OMG. What hell did Luke just say?! Did you catch it? At the very end. Go back and rewind. I will not be a putting that out into the universe. 

 © Disney/Lucasfilm

© Disney/Lucasfilm

I have so. many. questions.

Sound off, Magic Makers. What are your thoughts?!

May the Force be with us all!

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny

Entertainment, DisneyCamilleComment
 ©Disney/Lucasfilm

©Disney/Lucasfilm

Star Wars fans rejoice because Disney and Lucasfilm have announced a new animated shorts series that celebrates the stories of iconic heroes throughout the Star Wars universe. Fans will be delighted to see key heroines of the films: Rey, Jyn Erso, Sabine Wren, Princess Leia, Ahsoka Tano. There are books, toys and even a TV special that will be following later this year!

"Star Wars Forces of Destiny is for anyone who has been inspired by Leia's heroism, Rey's courage, or Ahsoka's tenacity," – Kathleen Kennedy, President of Lucasfilm

About the Series

Narrated by Lupita Wyong'o (Maz Kanata), the Disney YouTube channel will launch the animated shorts in July 2017. 

What's extra exciting, is that the series will remain true to the Star Wars canon, so fans will have an opportunity to see, as Kathleen Kennedy stated, "small moments and everyday decisions that shape who these characters are." It's important for us to remember that even small decisions impact our destinies, and our kids need to understand that, too! We can't wait to watch them together.

 ©Disney/Lucasfilm

©Disney/Lucasfilm

 ©Disney/Lucasfilm

©Disney/Lucasfilm

Adventure Figures

Joining Disney and Lucasfilm on this venture is Hasbro, showcasing newly created 'Adventure Figures' (think dolls + action figures). If you watched the Star Wars Celebration live stream | Day 2, they revealed the 11" figures to Daisy Ridley (Rey), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano) and Tiya Sircar (Sabine Wren)!

 ©Disney/Lucasfilm/Hasbro

©Disney/Lucasfilm/Hasbro

It is so important that our kids can run down toy aisles with strong female character representation, and more options that don't involve a beach outfit, stilettos, or shopping bag. I was not a fan of dolls growing up and I loathed dress-up dolls. In addition to the fabulous heroines we will see other favorite heroes, sidekicks and villains in the consumer products line. 

Star Wars Forces of Destiny Sparks of Magic.jpg

The figures will hit the shelves in August 2017, along with a global launch of bedding, toys, books, and apparel. OH, Did I also mention that Hasbro will roll out Star Wars Forces of Destiny role play and accessories? You'll find Rey's Extendable Staff and a new electronic Jedi Power Lightsaber toy. I'm most excited about that staff, and I'm sure my kiddos will be thrilled!

Will you be watching Star Wars: Force of Destiny this summer?

Five Reasons to Attend Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival

Food, Entertainment, DisneyCamilleComment
 

Disney + Food and Wine?

Sign. Me. Up.

Fantasia © Disney; Image via GIPHY

It doesn't take much to get me excited about visiting Disneyland Resort (DLR), but the notion of amazing eats and adult drinks has me absolutely elated. I didn't have the chance to visit DLR for last year's event, and sadly this year I will not be eating and drinking my way around Disneyland California Adventure Park (DCA), but my bestie, Sarah will be so stay tuned because she will be reporting on her fun soon!

Are you a food and/or wine enthusiast with a love for magic? You will want to mark your calendar for this year's Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival, now through April 16, 2017. There are just two weeks left of this event, so make it a date night (or day) and head to DCA! There are so many activities for all ages, so feel free to bring the kiddos!

Bonus, if you're an Annual Passport holder, make sure to check out AP Corner for limited edition experiences and treats. 

 Images © Disneyland Resort

Images © Disneyland Resort

5 Reasons you need to visit
Disney California Adventure
Food & Wine Festival

1| Food & Wine

Need I say more? There are so many ways to enjoy the cuisine and beverages available during the Food & Wine Festival. For those of us that have food allergies or restrictions, they also offer gluten-free and vegetarian at many locations! I heard there is a Mimosa Flight and I am all about that life. Peruse the park, eat, drink and be merry. Very merry. :) 

2| Festival Marketplaces

There are over a dozen marketplaces open daily that will offer complementing cuisine to the Festival-inspired menus throughout the theme park's restaurants and eateries. We have picky eaters & food allergies in our house, so knowing the amount of options available to all of my kids (and me) is important.

 Image © Disney

Image © Disney

3| "In the Kitchen" with Celebrity Chefs (Saturdays)

So many amazing celebrity chefs have been scheduled to appear since opening on March 10th!

Here's the lineup for the last two weekends. Visit Disneyland.com/foodandwine to purchase your tickets!

Saturday, April 8 – 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Cat Cora
Cat Cora’s Kitchen

Saturday, April 15 – 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Jet Tila
Chopped and Cutthroat Kitchen

Event Location and Price
Festival Showplace, Stage 17 in Hollywood Land
$99.00 per person, plus tax and gratuities for servers
 Image © Disney

Image © Disney

4| The Signature Events

You know Disney does it big, so they have an amazing schedule of activities and opportunities for pretty much everyone in your group. 

Sweet Sundays sound like an amazing way to spend a lazy Sunday - learning how to make sweet treats, and then eating them! This is a 90-minute culinary demonstration that includes a light breakfast and sparkling toast!

Winemaster & Brewmaster Dinners (Thursdays) offer a four-course meal, paired with either wine or beer. Courses are created by the Disney Executive Chef Team and you'll have an opportunity to hear from the winemakers and brewmasters about the pairings! 

*Signature Events require separate ticketed admission to enter Disney California Adventure Park. 

 Image © Disney

Image © Disney

5| Junior Chef experience

Who wouldn't want to cook with Chef Goofy?! I seriously wish this was around when I was young! Kids ages 3 to 11 are invited to get their cooking groove on with Chef Goofy and the Jammin' Chefs, and you can't forget sous chefs, Chip 'n Dale. Get hands on cooking experience and go home with a yummy treat! This musical program will happen daily in Paradise Park, near Golden Zephyr. Space is limited and is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Don't miss out on a chance to hang with some of Disney's celebrities!

Alright, magic makers, if you've got the time and the budget agrees, clear your calendar for a day to enjoy the Disney Food & Wine Festival, it would be a wonderful time spent, especially if your family is getting ready to relax for spring break! Feeling extra spontaneous? Make it a weekend and book a trip with my travel partner - Get Away Today. Use my code "SPARKS" to get $10 off a 2 night package.

Happy spring!

So, what do you say? Will you be making your way to experience Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival?
 

Magic Makers: A Coffee Chat with Auli'i Cravalho #MoanaBluRay

Disney, Entertainment, ThoughtsCamilleComment
 

I've been toying with the idea of interviews for the blog, focusing on people that are movers and shakers - ultimately, they are Magic Makers in my book, inspiring to many. I see it fitting to begin my first article with a well-known name and face, a young lady is who is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside: Auli'i Cravalho

I was invited to participate in the Moana PR Tour for the Blu-Ray & DVD release, and would be interviewing Auli'i Cravalho, the voice actress for the character "Moana." I had never attended a press junket before, and I went in with way too many assumptions. Long story short, I was prepared to maybe ask one question because I honestly assumed there would be a lot of journalists asking much more intriguing questions, and I probably wouldn't get a word in otherwise.

I arrived at the gorgeous Fairmont San Francisco a couple of hours early so I could scope out where I'd be going before Jeff & MeiLani left me (I tend to get lost). They ended up coming with me upstairs since it was only going to be 30 minutes of interview time so they were right outside the room.

I met two other freelancers, and we found out that this truly was a big press day & event, but it was not a big press room or a bunch of crazy journalists, like you'd see on Scandal in the White House Press Room. We were going to have some quality time with Auli'i, just the four of us. 

H E L L O. 

My excitement levels jumped a few notches because I really had no idea it would be such a close encounter. My inner child was freaking out, and then I literally thought "shit, I should have brought more questions." However, what happened next was an insightful, candid, and sweet conversation that I will never forget...

Thoughts from Auli'i

AuliiCravalho-Moana-Sparks of Magic

I will start first on how this sixteen year old has an amazing heart, is down to earth, wise, curious, humble and has a bubbly spirit. I knew the minute she walked in, that we'd have a fun time. She is truly an old, sweet soul sprinkled with the heart of a child, and it was an honor to spend some time with her talking about life, the movie, and her future.

Fun Facts:

  • Auli'i has music flowing in her blood, through her rich Puerto Rican, Portuguese & Hawaiian heritage.
  • She's pretty sure her strong vocals come from screaming as a child
  • She never had music or voice lessons until she became Moana
  • She has no intentions of watching her performance on the Oscars
  • She loves history, science & butterflies :)
  • She is a Junior in high school & would love to visit colleges in SF

On Moana

When asked what she appreciates the most about the character, Moana, or what resonates most with her, she mentioned the strength of Moana and being the heroine of her own story. Since Moana has no love interest in the film, it truly is about finding out who she is on her own, above anything else. I appreciate the direction that Disney took with this film, to encourage and empower our youth (kids and adults, too) to look inward first. 

As for similarities, Auli'i shared that she had a lot in common with Moana, growing up on the island of Hawai'i, with pigs and chickens - you know, like Pua and Hei Hei! She also paddled as part of her all-Hawaiian school's canoe club, and has a loving family. 

Auli'i appreciates the journey that Moana takes to figure out who she is. Moana's strength and resilience, and curiosity to find out who she is will always be inspiring. 

On Empowering Others

The next burning question began, "Did you ever in a million years think ..." to which Auli'i quickly interjected "Noooo..." and caused us all to roar with laughter. Her demeanor in that moment reminded us that she has not lost that sixteen year old spark!

Auli'i was only fourteen (14), when she landed the role of Moana. When asked if she ready for that? In a sense of - being ready to be a role model to people everywhere, of all ages? She said to a certain degree, yes. She knew the importance of the film, because of how important Moana was to her. However, she had no idea just how much this would empower people of all ages. She had us chuckling though, as she expressed her disdain for dishes and chores, which isn't surprising because who likes that? Although now I tell my kids, "See, even Auli'i has to do chores." LOL.

On Life, Hopes & Dreams

I asked Auli'i, courtesy of my daughter KaiLeia (14), what the theme song of her life is/would be. She smiled, and pondered for a moment. Then replied, "Moon River." She loves Audrey Hepburn and said that the song is full of hope and talks about dreams and while they might not happen quickly, it is about that journey. If you haven't heard "Moon River," and listened to the lyrics. Heck, if you haven't seen Breakfast at Tiffany's, you should add it to your "must watch" list. 

One of my favorite parts of our conversation focused on hopes and dreams, and the idea of truly knowing who you are. We began chatting about if she ever envisioned her life, how it is today - singing live at the Oscars, preparing for a new show, empowering so many, and she shared that while she is a role model, she is not perfect or complete. Her journey always continues. She will never be complete.

Aulii-Quote-Moana-SparksofMagic

So, how do we get to the point where we "just know" that we are complete? We don't. There are no absolutes and "we are not a complete person ever & we are never to stop growing." What we can do is explore and take a journey for ourselves, which Auli'i says "doesn't have to be across a vast ocean like Moana." It is merely listening to the voice you have inside, to be brave enough to see what else is out there and available to you. Finding who you are might be about leaving everything you know, but "the person you become is worth it." 

What's Next?

Auli'i will be starring in an NBC Pilot called Drama High, and will be playing the role of Lilette. She shared that this project is about youth coming together from all walks of life to express themselves through theater. 

We can only imagine the amounts of singing, and other talent that will be involved with this theatrical production. According to Deadline, the show, brought to us by Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights) and Jeffrey Sellers (Hamilton), is based on the true story of high school drama teacher, Lou Volpes – as told via the book Drama High, written by one of Mr. Volpe's former students, Michael Sokolove.  

For the rest of her visit in SF, Auli'i had her heart set on a bread bowl full of San Francisco's clam chowder and exploring museums, enjoying the city, and perhaps visiting some college campuses. Compared to Hawai'i and New York, she said SF has just enough hustle & bustle for her, plus the weather is colder so she can wear jackets, scarves, and mittens!

Auli'i shared that her family would be traveling from Hawai'i to visit her this weekend in San Francisco before heading to New York to film for three weeks. I hope she gets a nice relaxing family time and special moments before her travels. She has a great support system, and I hope that as she continues to thrive in the entertainment industry her family bond just keeps getting stronger!

Aulii Cravalho - MeiLani - Sparks of Magic
Aulii Cravalho - MeiLani - Sparks of Magic 2

Speaking of family, mine waited outside for me! After our interview, Auli'i made a quick surprise stop in the hall to say "hi" to my eldest, MeiLani - who is also 16, and they took some pictures. While she said adults are fun and all, she was pretty excited to see another teenager! I know that MeiLani will remember that moment for a lifetime.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to chat with Auli'i and share laughter, happy tears and hugs. Our family looks forward to watching her in Drama High and follow this bright star as she continues to spread her magic in the world!

You can follow Auli'i on her adventures via her Instagram – @auliicravalho!

MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD +Digital HD

5669101_sa.jpg;maxHeight=1000;maxWidth=1000.jpeg

Make sure to catch more fun outtakes and features exclusive to the MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD, including more interviews with the cast of characters, musicians, writers and directors. We digitally downloaded the film on iTunes early, and our kids (ages 10-16) have watched it already a dozen times! 

MOANA Blu-Ray/DVD will be available in stores beginning Tuesday, March 7, 2017! Start planning that movie night!! 

Well, Mahalo for reading my experience, I had a blast & hope you enjoyed it, too!

As Maui would say, You're welcome. :) 

Like MOANA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/disneymoana

Follow MOANA on Twitter: https://twitter.com/disneymoana

Follow Disney Animation on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/disneyanimation/

Visit Disney Animation on Tumblr: http://disneyanimation.tumblr.com/

Visit the official MOANA website here: http://movies.disney.com/moana

 

Star Wars Movie Night Fun!

Disney, EntertainmentCamilleComment
 
Welcome to this month's Blogorail Teal loop. Today we are sharing fun ideas for a Star Wars themed movie night.

The Star Wars franchise is a pretty popular thing at our house. We geek out together over Star Wars and have themed parties, movie nights, and infuse the Force into pretty much any and everything we can. If you saw our Christmas picture a couple years ago, you know that we like to have fun together. 

In order to stay away from re-inventing any wheels, because honestly who has time for that?! I'll share a few fun activities and food ideas that we have created over the years that would make for a whole lot of fun for your next Star Wars themed movie night or event!

1| pick a MOVIE

First things, first. Which movie are you going to watch? I am going to focus only on the live-action films, not any animated features or shows. There are seven main films that are available for purchase and/or download today:

  • Episode I - The Phantom Menace
  • Episode II - Attack of the Clones
  • Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
  • Episode IV - A New Hope
  • Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
  • Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
  • Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Soon, we will be able to add Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to the mix (set in between Episodes III & IV. But, for now, we have Episodes I-VII).

Being the nut that I am, when presented with this opportunity to write about a Star Wars themed movie night, I wanted to write about the made for TV film, Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. Why? Because they are cuddly and cute, feisty and fearless. Also, it has been ages since I've seen it (released in 1985) and I thought it would be fun to introduce the kids to the world of the Wookies.

 Photo © Lucasfilm

Photo © Lucasfilm

Sadly, after a ton of searching, we found that both Ewoks films (Caravan of Courage and The Battle for Endor) were removed from the Star Wars Canon and now the only places you can watch them are on sketchy online sites or youtube... unless you have a VHS player and score one at a thrift store. You can also order a copy of the films from Amazon for the price of a really cute handbag. I happened to see a combo release DVD on Amazon, new for $189. Say what?! Well, my grand idea was somewhat thwarted, but I will admit that I found a YouTube link for Battle for Endor. It was not great quality, but it did the job.

Wicket is probably my favorite creature ever. If I didn't already have a name for my future French bulldog puppy, I'd name it Wicket. LOL. 

So, first things first, pick a movie that everyone agrees on, or make it a marathon and watch them all! From there, you can choose to cater your party food, activities and decor to that specific show.

2| Food & Drinks

Disclaimer, I am not a food blogger, but you knew that. I am an "ooooh that recipe pin on Pinterest looks amazing" or, "those cupcakes might be do-able," type of person. I also have numerous Pinterest fails, but you will never see them because I ate them and forgot to post the pictures. C'est la vie.

 When Daddy is a photographer and designer plus a Star Wars fanatic, you have to make epic birthday invitations. :) 

When Daddy is a photographer and designer plus a Star Wars fanatic, you have to make epic birthday invitations. :) 

Here is an example of some delicious treats that I made for our son's "Episode X" Star Wars themed Dark Side party.

Pick easy and quick foods, nothing too crazy, because you don't want to be so exhausted from cooking in the kitchen that you fall asleep watching the movie!

The chocolate dipped pretzel light sabers and Chewbacca chow were quick, easy and just enough salty and sweet! Here are the recipes!

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

  • Pretzel Rods
  • CandiQuik White Chocolate
  • Food Coloring
  • Wax paper

Depending on how many light saber options, you know, dark or light side, will determine how many bowls of coloring that you need.

  1. Melt the chocolate according to the package instructions
  2. Add food coloring to create the hue you want
  3. dip your pretzel rods and lay flat on wax paper to dry

Chewbacca Chow (aka muddy buddies or puppy chow by chex)

Easy-peasy, right? That's how I like it. 

You're going to need to wash down all of the delicious treats, so one of our family favorite beverages is Boba Fett Soda. Coffee mate no longer sells the Star Wars themed bottles, but you can still use the Italian Crème Soda flavor!

3| Dress like the Force

Grab your favorite Star Wars pajamas. You can find them almost anywhere nowadays. For our family Christmas picture we bought pjs from Kohl's and Target. 

And there you have it! A fairly quick and easy way to add the Force to your next Star Wars themed movie or party night! 


For Star Wars movie night ideas, check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

Here is the map of Magical Blogorail Teal | Movie Night | Star Wars Loop:
 

Return of The Main Street Electrical Parade

Entertainment, DisneyCamilleComment
 
 Photo © Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

Photo © Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

 Photo © Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

Photo © Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

I grew up watching the Main Street Electrical Parade and cried when it left Disneyland Park in 1996. Then, I rejoiced when it came back for a run at Disney California Adventure in 2001, just in time for our first daughter to experience the magic. Then, it left again in 2010.

Guys – I am crying again because it just came back to Disneyland Park and it will run through Sunday,  June 18, 2017.

I happened to watch the parade with Sarah last weekend, we had a long day and got to Disneyland late, but managed to squeeze into a spot near Pixie Hollow for the viewing. It wasn't a terrible view, I felt the surrounding of trees framed some of my photos well. However, next trip we are going to try out  one of the Dining Packages (Blue Bayou (sit down) or Aladdin's Oasis (grab-n-go)). I'm pretty sure I need that gluten free Monte Cristo, but we shall see what the hubby says about that. LOL.

 Photo © Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

Photo © Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

The Blue Fairy and Casey Jr. Train floats are not part of this parade (sad face, Blue Fairy was my favorite), but they've added Tinkerbell and some Pixie Hollow fairies. However, they did have the original introduction train with Goofy at the wheel, pulling a giant drum that lights up, "Disneyland Presents...The Main Street Electrical Parade."

Check out Disney Parks' YouTube channel for videos on attractions and upcoming events! 

Annual Passholders

Are you an Annual Passholder? Disneyland is running its AP Days at Disneyland Park event now through March 9, 2017; Visit daily from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM (AP Welcome Center at Tomorrowland Starcade). Historical video screenings will be at 5:00 PM, 6:30 PM and 8:00 PM daily (Main Street Opera House). 

Side Note: Passholders must present a valid Annual Passport to receive benefits.

Guests begin to line up along Main Street U.S.A. a couple of hours before in order to catch a glimpse of the electric lights, so be prepared. It should also be noted that the parade may be cancelled due to weather, so check the forecast before your visit!

 Photo © Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

Photo © Scott Brinegar/Disneyland

Sweet Treats

Not only is the parade magical, but the themed food is, too! Grab some hot chocolate and a treat.

Here are some adorable caramel and chocolate dipped caterpillar marshmallow sticks and snail cake pops!! 

Are you excited about the return of this Disneyland classic?
 

Lunar New Year at Disneyland Resort

Disney, EntertainmentSarahComment
 

It's the year of the Rooster! Happy Chinese New Year! Disneyland Resort has been celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year from January 20th - February 5th!

 Photo: Sarah Brow

Photo: Sarah Brow

Here's a quick guide to what you'll find in the various areas:

Paradise Park

  • “Hurry Home New Year's Celebration”
  • Acrobats of China
  • Performance Corridor
  • Mulan’s New Year Procession
  • Face Painting
  • Kids Crafts

Market Places

  • Korea
  • China
  • Vietnam

Paradise Gardens

  • Paradise Garden Bandstand
  • Disney Characters in their Lunar New year attire
  • Artisans
  • Lucky Wishing Wall
  • Annual Pass Area

Paradise Park

 Photo: Sarah Brow

At Paradise Park you will find entertainment for the Lunar New Year Celebration, including the "Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration!" 

This special World of Color nighttime spectacular, features Academy Award-winning composer, Tan Dun (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”). 

Here's a look behind-the-scenes:

Performance Corridor

FullSizeRender.jpg

Within Paradise Park, you will also find the Performance Corridor, where kids get complimentary face-painting, make fun crafts, and can watch various acts, like the Acrobats of China and even Mulan's New Year Procession. 

market places

Enjoy bites and sips from the various cultures of China, Korea, and Vietnam. 

Paradise Gardens

In Paradise Gardens you can find some of your favorite Disney characters dressed in their Lunar New Year attire! Isn't Minnie gorgeous?!

Wishing wall and calligraphy

Here you can leave your New Year's wishes on the Wishing Wall and watch as the calligraphy artists draw your name.

Chinese Zodiac animal sign

Not sure what your Chinese zodiac animal sign is? No worries, look for the year you were born, to find out which animal you are. I am the Year of the Dragon and Camille is the Year of the Rooster!

disneyland AP (Annual Pass) Area

Are you a Disneyland Resort Annual Pass Holder? The AP area is open daily from 11:00am - 7:00pm.

The AP section is located in the back of Paradise gardens; show your annual pass to gain exclusive access to this area.

Ap Exclusives include:

  • Take your picture in front of the AP photo wall
  • Hang your wish on the wish wall
  • Receive a map of Lunar New Year events
  • AP sticker
  • Enter to win a trip to China!

Wishing you all the best Lunar New Year!

See ya real soon!
xo, Sarah
 

Holiday Traditions at Winter Fest 2016!

Entertainment, TravelCamilleComment

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Growing up in Southern California, winters were always fairly warm and we had to travel to get to snow, which was always a treat! Even though I am now a Northern California resident, I can often be found in Los Angeles and Orange County throughout the year, and holiday time is no different. There's something about seeing Christmas lights in palm trees that make me smile. :) I don't know if you can tell, but holiday season has always been my favorite time of year. I love everything about the holidays - the music, food (mostly the sweet treats), decorations, and LIGHTS!

 Image Courtesy of Winter Fest

Image Courtesy of Winter Fest

Our eldest daughter (MeiLani) will be turning sixteen around Christmastime (where has time gone?!). In light of this milestone, one of my best friends and I will pack up my daughter and her bestie to take an early girls' road trip to celebrate and partake in some fun. Mei has been a traveling girl since she was a baby, so she always up for an adventure. Southern California is one of her favorite destinations and she requested a special trip for her birthday and Christmas combined, so I am excited to share more memories with her at Winter Fest 2016. 

experiences

This will be our first time attending a Winter Fest event, so everything will be new! However, if you've attended before, you'll be happy to know that there are some experiences back by popular demand, along with many new experiences. After perusing the website, here are some that I am MOST excited to experience (to see all available experiences and shows click here):

  • Tree Lighting Ceremony - Nightly, on the dot at 5:30, the lights begin glowing on a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree. Christmas trees are my favorite.
  • Snowflake Summit - A 130 ft, 6 lane ice tubing slide and get this, UNLIMITED tubing is included with every admission ticket to Winter Fest. I am afraid of heights, and tall slides. However, I am excited to try this one out because I love tubing!
  • Meet & Greet with Santa - You can't experience a winter event without Jolly Old St. Nick! Let's hope I was good enough this year, I might need to slip him a candy cane to check my name! You'll be able to take pics with Santa, so have your cameras ready!
  • Candy Cane Carnival - Enjoy over a dozen holiday carnival rides, including a Holiday Ferris Wheel, Carousel, and try your hand at carnival games! 
  • Mistletoe Lounge - Enjoy holiday cocktails, craft brews or indulge in specialty coffees or try the popular Winter Fest hot chocolate (it wouldn't be a holiday event without hot chocolate)
  • Festival of Lights - Grab some hot chocolate or a speciality coffee from Mistletoe Lounge and stroll down a pathway illuminated with 2 million lights with your family and friends, to experience 10 holiday themed lands. One of our favorite family traditions is to look at Christmas lights with our kids, so this is right up our alley!
  • Snow Play - This area is free for everyone enjoy. I've already been told that I will be hit with a snowball, thanks to the real snow that will be blown in for the event. It's been a while since I made a snowman, hopefully someone will want to play with me.

With the awesome lineup of activities, like ice skating, snow play, ice tubing, and strolling through the Festival of Lights, I can guarantee that my birthday girl is going to have a lot of fun with her best friend. She's a big kid at heart, and already asked if I thought they'd let her in the bounce house, ha ha! I'm not quite sure about that, but we will definitely have a race around the outdoor ice skating rink.

Details

If you're looking for a fun date night, or special night to hang out with your teens (or kids of any age), take them to WinterFest 2016 in Orange County. The event is held at the OC Fair & Event Center, and will only be open from December 16, 2016 - January 1, 2017. Admission begins at $10 per child, $15 per adult and you can purchase tickets and wristbands on the Winter Fest website.

With over 20 different experiences, there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy, throughout the day. If you have younger children there are live action mini shows during the day, and a special place for snow tubing in the snow play area. If you want an extra special experience, you can reserve a Private VIP Cabana that can accommodate up to 10 guests.

I can't tell you how excited I am to experience Winter Fest 2016 and perhaps start a new road trippin' tradition for my entire family!

What are your favorite family holiday traditions?

This is a sponsored conversation, all images are via Winter Fest, and as always, the magic and opinions are 100% mine.

Holidays at Disneyland Park 2016

Entertainment, Travel, DisneyCamilleComment

It's here, it's here! 

 
  Image © Paul Hiffmeyer/  Disneyland Resort

Image © Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

 

It's the merriest time of year at Disneyland Resort. From now until January 8, 2017, you can enjoy the holiday season at the Happiest Place on Earth!

Holidays are my favorite, and holidays at Disney Parks with my family and/or friends are the best. Here's what you can expect to see and experience at Disneyland Resort this holiday season.

"it's a small world" celebrates its 20th holiday presentation

 
 Image © Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Image © Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

 

If you know me at all, you know that "it's a small world" is my favorite attraction. I honestly love the song, as annoying as it may be to most people.  The holiday version intertwines "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls," adding the right amount of Christmas magic. Get ready to set sail on "The Merriest Attraction on Earth!"

 
 Here we are for the #Disneyland60 holiday fun!

Here we are for the #Disneyland60 holiday fun!

 

Since the attraction is celebrating its 20th holiday season, you might notice "Hidden 20s" sprinkled throughout. This will give my competitive kids some extra motivation to ride with me this season - whoever finds the most hidden 20s will get a churro! :) 

Fun facts:

  • It took nearly three dozen cast members 35 days to install the exterior and 18 days for the interior decor
  • There are over 400,000 lights that illuminate the plaza from the exterior to the trees, shops, and topiaries
  • The happy clock in the front dons a Santa hat and every quarter hour, there is a 3D-projection show presented by Siemens
  • Inside, your senses will awaken to whiffs of peppermint and fresh pine

Jack's back - haunted mansion holiday

 Image © Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Image © Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

 
 Image © Paul Brinegar/Disneyland Resort

Image © Paul Brinegar/Disneyland Resort

 

What's this?! Jack Skellington and his friends have taken over the Haunted Mansion. In traditional holiday fashion, we watch the Nightmare Before Christmas right after Halloween to usher in the holiday. Half of the fun is looking at all of the intricate details within the ride, and who doesn't love seeing Zero flying around!

"believe...in holiday magic" fireworks

 
  Image © Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Image © Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

 

Cozy up on Main Street, U.S.A., with a cup of hot chocolate to see the fireworks light up the night over Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle. This is my favorite way to end the night, and not to mention one of the best things is the snowfall finale. I believe in Holiday magic... do you?

Hop onto the Jingle Cruise

 
  Image © Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

Image © Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort

 

If you thought sailing on the Jungle Cruise was fun, wait until you see it spruced up for the holiday season. The Skipper is still full of jokes, and the ambience is merry and bright!

what are you waiting for?

If you're like me and like to plan last minute trips, make sure to check out Get Away Today (affiliate link) and save on an awesome vacation package to the Merriest Place on Earth! I am so excited to spend some time at Disneyland Resort this Holiday Season with some of my favorite people on earth!

Which attraction or experience are you looking forward to the most?

Guardians of the Galaxy Will Return!

EntertainmentCamilleComment
 Image © Courtesy Disney/MARVEL

Image © Courtesy Disney/MARVEL

Remember that E P I C film - Guardians of the Galaxy? Well MARVEL Studios is back at it, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 arrives next spring. I would seriously be lying if I said I wasn't excited, because I am...

I have so many questions. What has that adorable Baby Groot has been up to, where will Star Lord and Gamora be heading next (any updates on their romance!) and are Drax and Racoon BFF's? There is so much to find out. I'm looking forward to more awesome tunes, kick ass scenes, dance moves, and humor with the occasional moments where I pretend I'm not crying. LOL.

Here's a look at the first poster release and sneak peek trailer. Make sure to check out the film May 5, 2017! 

Stay up-to-date and follow GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 online!

Mark your calendars because GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 is in theaters May 5, 2017! 

A Whirlwind Day at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration | On the Road at Disneyland Resort

Disney, EntertainmentCamilleComment
 

August 24th was an exceptional and magical whirlwind. I was invited to attend a special one day event: Disney Social Media Moms Celebration: On the Road at Disneyland Resort (you can check out the event using #DisneySMMCDLR). Just in time to experience the final weeks of Disneyland Resort's 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration. 

I love to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and Disney events bring all kinds of magic to the party, too! We enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast, were gifted with lots of fun, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park admission, Disneyland 60th swag; but most importantly to me, I left with my heart absolutely overflowing, and my mind blown by the Disney team, and surprise guests, who both inspired and empowered us to keep moving forward as moms and entrepreneurs.

NEW! and Coming Soon to Disney Parks

One of my favorite experiences about Disney influencer events is all of the magic that we get to hear about behind the scenes. There is so much to say about each, but I will just touch on the highlights. Thank you to Michele Himmelberg, Director of Public Relations - Disneyland Resort, for sharing all of the upcoming fun. Let's start with the holiday season that is almost upon us!

In case you missed it, Disneyland is currently undergoing spook-tacular Halloween season enhancements! The Haunted Mansion is currently closed, as Sandy Claws does his annual decorating. Don't fret though, because doors will open for the ghoulish attraction with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme on September 9th.

 Image © Disney

Image © Disney

This will also be the FINAL Halloween at Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. For me, it is bittersweet. I will always love TOT, but I am looking forward to the new attraction in 2017. I highly suggest that you visit before TOT becomes Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission Breakout! The attraction will close its doors in January 2017.

GUYS - We were given complimentary FAST PASS tickets to experience the new enhancements of one of our family's favorite attractions, which is now Soarin' Around the World. Personally, I loved the new version and it gave me the travel bug! I've never been outside of the US, so flying over the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France might have gotten me a little teary eyed. It's beautiful. All of imagery coupled with the different scents :) within the attraction are pretty awesome! My girls rated it 5 stars! I will be honest, I was sad that I did not get to see Frozen - Live at the Hyperion, but it is on my "to-do" for my next trip!

 Image © Disney

Image © Disney

Disney's Frozen – November ushers in my favorite holiday of all time - Christmas! In time for winter season, you will find Disney's Frozen - Live at the Hyperion at Disney California Adventure Park. If you're on the East coast, Frozen Ever After is the new attraction at Walt Disney World, and if you're setting sail, Frozen - A Musical Spectacular will be featured this fall on Disney Cruise Line's Disney Wonder.

 Image © Disney

Image © Disney

Disney's MOANA – If you know me, you also know that our family has a serious love for the islands of the Pacific. We loved Disney's Lilo & Stitch franchise, and honestly I think MOANA will be one of my favorite princesses. The film will be released 11/23/16, the weekend of my 35th birthday!

We were treated to exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, and it was AMAZING. We were not able to take any photos or have our technology out, otherwise a very kind security guard would kindly remind and potentially remove us. All I can share with you, is that this is a MUST SEE film. I'm not talking about just a film for 2016, but a must-see for a lifetime. The themes of empowerment, following your heart, learning about who your ancestors were and who you are meant to be, are extremely strong in the film. 

We heard from Amy Smeed, the first female co-head of animation on a feature film and was interesting to hear how the animation process and story is developed. The amounts of research that the Studios put in to really capture the essence of the cultures presented is more than commendable. I am so happy that Auli'i Cravalho was cast as Moana. A native to Hawai'i, she truly embodies the Aloha spirit and she brings so much life and vibrance to her character. 

 Image © Disney

Image © Disney

Disney Cruise Line – I've not had the pleasure to set sail with DCL yet, but we found out that the fleet will be adding two new cruise ships soon: one in 2021; another in 2023. They will also return to Galveston, Texas in 2017, with sailings to the Caribbean and the Bahamas. For West coast cruisers, the Disney Wonder will return to San Diego in September and October 2017 for sailings to Baja and the Mexican Riviera.

 Image © Disney

Image © Disney

PandoraThe World of AVATAR – Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom is preparing for the opening of a new, beautiful world based on James Cameron's AVATAR, in 2017. It has been amazing to watch the ideas for this magical place take shape over the last few years. I had my first peek at Pandora's arrival when I explored Disney23 Expo in 2013. Then, when I worked the D23 Expo in 2015 with Imagineering, I was in even more awe as we walked through the exhibit and saw the creations and mini replicas of what was to come. The concept art is breathtaking. I can't wait to ride down the Na'vi River.

Social Media Tips

Disneyland60 Swag.png

What's a social media conference without touching on social media?! As always, Disney "does it better" and offered us insider tips on how they manage their conversations and content for the public, and gave insight on putting that into action for our own brands and blogs. The theme for me was really to work towards adding more video content to my blog and social media platforms. Before we get into the tips, make sure you bookmark: Disney Parks Blog - it is the ultimate site for Disney Parks news and events! The team is active on social media as well, so stay connected!

Here are highlights from our speakers and Disney team members:

Erin Glover (Social Media Director, Disneyland) is always fun to learn from. She is engaging, witty, and extremely knowledgeable. I had the pleasure of learning the basics about the process a couple of years ago, and I was excited to learn more. This time around, I really honed in on her tips for syndicating and sharing content. Many times, I write and then that's it. When I was doing work for other companies on social media, I ended up neglecting my own social media channels. Did you know that there are over 100 authors for the Disney Parks Blog?! That's a lot of writing! My ultimate takeaway: Syndicate, Integrate and Share. Ask myself, "how can I optimize my content to work well for each specific channel?"

Victoria Lim (Managing Editor, Disney Parks) shared on maximizing digital content through apps. I'm not a huge fan of being in front of the camera, but I do see the value and importance of it with my content. This was the first time I'd heard Victoria share, in real life (I've followed her presentations via social media)  and I was happy to hear her tips and tricks on video. My daughters are obsessed with video, and will be helping me get my booty in gear with producing for my blog. Some of the apps that Victoria talked about were Magisto, Videolicious, Quik, and WeVideo. My ultimate takeaway: Be ready to film content. Don't go TMZ style [when videotaping]. Have a steady shot. 

Surprise Guests

Drumroll, please... we were treated to chat with Tiffani Thiessen, (aka Kelly Kapowski - for you Saved by the Bell fans) and Ginger Zee (ABC News & Good Morning America). Listening to Tiffani and Ginger speak on motherhood, working outside (and inside) the home, balancing their passions and everything else was awe-inspiring. It was an honor to hear their stories and I left empowered as a mom with many hats. 

SparksofMagic DisneySMMCDLR Guests.png

As moms, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to have everything "just right." Honestly, when is it ever up to our standards and/or expectations? I'm contemplating these statements more and more since being home from this event, and I am excited to share my thoughts on them soon.

 Thank you to my friend Jindy of   FlowersCroon.com   for the awesome picture!

Thank you to my friend Jindy of FlowersCroon.com for the awesome picture!

The entire day was such a treat. I was exhausted, inspired and bursting at the seams with excitement. I was blessed to not only be invited, but to have the ability to take the day off and make the 300+ mile drive down with my husband and two of our girls! We all had a fantastic time. I always look forward to participating in Disney events as opportunities arise. I hope there are many more in my future! Thank you to the Disney events team for including me!

I was hosted at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration On the Road at Disneyland Resort and my family received complimentary park admission and a swag bag. I paid for all travel costs incurred. All thoughts expressed are my own and I'd like to think they are pretty magical. Follow the fun on social media to see the many bloggers that experienced #DisneySMMCDLR! 

 

Finding Where You Belong - Disney's Queen of Katwe

Disney, EntertainmentCamilleComment
 Image © Disney

Image © Disney

When Lupita Nyong'o takes the screen, she is absolutely mesmerizing. Whether in human form or in CG form (like in Star Wars: The Force Awakens), her characters have depth, insight, and wisdom. Even though she is not the focal character of this film, I know I can count on her role having a lasting impression. Nyong'o plays Harriet, the mother of Phiona. The film introduces Madina Nalwanga as Phiona, and also stars David Oyelowo.

Disney's biopic - QUEEN OF KATWE, is a story that tells of the triumphs and trials of a young girl, as she navigates her way through adolescence in Kampala, Uganda. Her family sells vegetables to make ends meet, and she eventually becomes mentored by a man that teaches her the strategic game of chess.

I get really caught up in these heartfelt type of films, I am drawn into the stories and tend to find something relatable that I hold onto. With QUEEN OF KATWE, I was moved by the theme of "finding where you belong," as Phiona works towards understanding her place in the world, gains the support of family and community, and explores the world, thanks to her newfound love - chess. 

It's not an easy thing, to find where you belong. For many of us, it takes many years to realize their purpose and plan in life. I always encourage people to hold on to what makes them happy, and find things that they enjoy. We only live life once, and when opportunity knocks, or gives us some options to explore what we love and what we are good at, we should feel some sort of obligation to follow our hearts.

Seriously, grab some tissues before you even watch the trailer.

Disney's Queen of Katwe will be released September 23, 2016.

Like QUEEN OF KATWE on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QueenOfKatwe/   

Follow QUEEN OF KATWE on Twitter: https://twitter.com/queenofkatwe 

Magic Moments: Travel Planning Fun with Get Away Today!

Travel, Family, EntertainmentCamilleComment

I'm extremely excited to announce that I am a partner with Get Away Today travel! When Jeff and I only had 2 girls, we booked vacations through Get Away Today, and as our family grew, family travel took the back burner. It is unfortunate, as traveling is really fun, especially with kids! Thankfully we've hit the road quite a few times since, and are looking to expand our travel borders in the near future.

I used to want to be a travel agent, my mom worked for a travel agency when I was younger, and it was always fun to go visit her at her office and see all the images of tropical locations and scenery on the walls. I never really paid attention to what she actually did, it was just fun to visit and dream of being in one of those exotic places as I waited for her to get off work.

Fast forward to today, Jeff and I have five kids of our own and we are learning that "organized travel" is extremely important. When I say "organized" I mean, planned, and plotted, making sure we stretch every dollar and get bang for our bucks. We used to lean towards spontaneous, as in "let's go next month" type of travel, and that can get expensive and is somewhat stressful. As our income has always fluctuated, it has been challenging to really save for anything, let alone a full blown family trip with bells and whistles! When doing spontaneous travel, a family vacation was never long enough, lasting only 2 -3 days in southern CA with the kids to visit family and sometimes Disneyland (our happy place). 

About Get Away Today

Get Away Today takes the guesswork out of booking a full vacation package. They have awesome benefits, like a layaway plan and Peace of Mind travel insurance, which is a plus when you're really saving towards a family vacation. The downpayment for travel is $125, which includes a nonrefundable $50 layaway fee. The trip needs to be paid in full within two weeks of travel (many other sites require it from 30-45 days prior). 

When I became a partner with Get Away Today, I was so excited to finally get back to booking and saving. Our family will get to experience more travel in the near future, especially as I am have embarked on a new journey in my career, so saving is a little easier. Work hard, play hard, right?!

 Hurry, this offer ends 6/26/16 for travel through December 31, 2016.

Hurry, this offer ends 6/26/16 for travel through December 31, 2016.

Book with Get Away Today

So what does this mean for you, my readers, family and friends? Well, if you choose to book through Get Away Today Vacations, you will receive a $10 credit towards any 2 night stay (use code "SPARKS" when booking) and I will earn a small commission for referring you. Stay tuned for special offers throughout the year, like Adults pay Kids Price at Disneyland, which is going on until June 26, 2016. I'll keep you updated and look forward to hearing your travel stories, too!

We just booked our Fall vacation and cannot wait to share our experience with you!

Magic Moments: Games and Learning with Kids - Scrabble x Disney

Family, Disney, EntertainmentCamilleComment

Naturally, we love Disney games at our house. I purchased the Scrabble "Disney Theme Park Edition" game last year, but I never made the time to sit and play with the kids. I know, that's terrible, but that's the facts. My intention is to change the fact that moments with the kids are few, at least when it comes to organized games or activities. Half the time I'm lucky my dinner table is cleared of "life" so we can sit down and enjoy dinner together, let alone a board game!

One of the kids' favorite games to play with my parents is Scrabble. When I saw that Disney had their own version (of course), I had to pick it up. The game is just as magical as you would think it to be, with a twist of pixie dust added. You get extra points for using Disney words and/or phrases, which is perfect for us Disney-loving people.

Playing board games can be a fun treat at home, or on-the-go! Consider packing one or two for your next road trip or family vacation. You'll be making memories on vacation, even in your "down time."

Learning: Scrabble is a fun word game that really is perfect for kids, regardless of age! When we first started playing with my parents a few years ago, the kids usually teamed up with an adult. Today, they play on their own and they're increasing their vocabulary as we have them look up words in the dictionary and thesaurus. Granted, when playing with younger kids, each turn takes a little longer than if we played with all adults, but it really is a fun game to play together as a family. The kids learn to be resourceful with a dictionary, and we all have a fun time learning new words and realizing how big our imaginations can be when we accidentally create words. The game gives us all practice in patience, teamwork, comprehension, and exercising our creative brain muscles.

In the box: This special Disney edition comes with some fun pixie dust! Aside from the board, 4 wooden tile holder and 100 tiles, you receive a cute little pouch with the castle graphic & fireworks. The bag has a velcro closure, which is great since it lays flat in the box. The tiles are imprinted with the letters and point value in blue. Unlike classic Scrabble, there are also 26 Magic cards that come with it, fully decked out with Disney graphics, and special instructions enhancing game play. I think it's a pretty awesome game to have in our collection, and one that we will play for years to come. We also have monopoly, but let's be honest that game takes days to end. This is perfect for a family game night before or after a Disney movie, of course!

Where to buy it: I honestly can't remember where I purchased my version, but after looking at Amazon, it's slim pickings. The only ones are available for a minimum of $100 for the Disney Theme Park Edition. If you're a mega Disney fan, it might be something you'd consider. For me, I know I didn't pay that much, so I'm thinking in the range of $50 max. You might be able to get it in store at Target or Walmart. Sometimes your local hallmark will have special edition board games.

I'm sure you know by now, that we will try anything that is Disney themed at least once, and I'm happy to report that this game will be one we will be taking on road trips to play in the hotel!

Do you have a favorite Disney themed or classic board game?

Back at it Again!

Travel, Family, EntertainmentCamilleComment

Well, it's the second quarter of 2016, and it has been an eventful year, thus far. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you might have seen what I've been up to outside of work and family (surprisingly not too much, especially in the writing area). The past three months have been extremely busy and unfortunately, Sparks of Magic was put on the back burner as I worked, at one point 3 jobs, and maintained my sanity on the home front as mama, wife, and everything in between.

I'm relieved and so excited to say that I am pretty much settled into one full time job and our little business is doing great with my hubby taking the reigns on that! 

Here's a fairly quick recap of our family's last three months:

December:

image.jpg

Christmas!! We made an epic Christmas card (That I never sent out, aside from social media) dedicated to our family's favorite franchise: Star Wars. The holiday season was great to us. We were blessed with extra family time and I transitioned out of working multiple jobs. to just one. Yay! And as you can see below, my degree came in the mail! I finished my Bachelors program at the end of November. 

January:

I honestly can't remember January, aside from celebrating my mom's birthday, working, and staying afloat! This month almost everyone got the flu, it's kind of all a haze. :)

February:

Big changes, the hubby had a job change mid-month, and we began to officially plan our spring break excursion to Southern CA to see family, and our favorite Mouse. :)

March:

Spring Break finally rolled around, and the happenings included visits with family and friends in Los Angeles, a whirlwind day at Disneyland Resort, and, unfortunately, the hospital. Thankfully our daughter is doing well, and back at living life 110% full of energy and sass. :) Jeff and the kids that were in good health, spent a night at the beach with the in-laws. We had a blast, but think we need a "do-over" at the Happiest Place on Earth with no wheelchairs or ice packs involved!

So, what's up for the future?

Sparks of Magic: A lot of fun! In addition to picking up momentum here, I'll be linking to my writing that can be found on other fabulous sites like Disney Moms of Color, DisneyExaminer, Entertainment New Media Network, and The Blogorail!

I will be attending at least two conferences this year (ConnectHER and ENMN) that I can't wait to update you on and some ambassadorships/partnerships will be revealed soon! While I will continue to partner with brands that compliment my site and offer value to my readers, my writing will remain transparent and I plan on writing more from my heart. I'm excited for what is in store.

HAN Creative Co: We are thrilled to dive into offering workshops and expand some of our photography and event services. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, you can visit our business site: www.hancreativeco.com. We are currently taking a few design/small business clients over the next month, you can subscribe to our newsletter that will launch this quarter.

The Walls: For our family, we are putting it into the universe to spend more time together and travel as a family more. Whether it is a day trip or weekend getaway, we want to see the world - together. Bits and pieces of our documentation will be found both here on Sparks and on our business site. We are encouraging the kids to write more, and are setting up a place for them to do some of their own blogging and journaling of their lives and experiences on family trips. All in good time. :)

I want to thank those of you that have checked in with me to make sure I'm A-OK since my quarter-long blog hiatus. I appreciate all of you and cannot wait to be back in the groove of things again. I hope your 2016 is treating you fabulously! 

A Very Mickey Christmas

Family, Disney, EntertainmentCamilleComment

Welcome to this month's Blogorail Yellow Loop! Today we are sharing our Favorite Holiday Movies and TV Specials.

I have an affinity for all things Disney and Christmastime is no different. Even prior to getting married and having a family, my husband and I grew up with Disney and holidays coinciding. Naturally, when the time came, we introduced Disney magic and our kids have also grown to love the cherished stories of Mickey and Friends, too!

 This was a few years ago, I haven't gotten a picture of them all sitting still together with their hot cocoa since! :) 

This was a few years ago, I haven't gotten a picture of them all sitting still together with their hot cocoa since! :) 

One of our favorite pastimes includes family movie nights that leave us with peppermint hot chocolate hangovers and sweet dreams full of magic and the Christmas spirit! In fact, we just recently had one of those nights and it was so fun being home to snuggle with my favorite people and enjoy a Disney holiday fix.

Our first holiday movie that we watched this season was Its A Wonderful Life. It's my husband's favorite non-Disney holiday film, and I pretty much cried most of it. It's a great film, but my favorites are Disney so we decided to start out with Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas!

 Image © The Walt Disney Company

Image © The Walt Disney Company

We love Disney's holiday films, especially when they feature more than one story. Mickey's Once Upon A Christmas includes three stories, each special with a unique lesson teaching the spirit of Christmas, giving, friendship, family, and love. This special film anthology was released in 1999, and has been a favorite of mine ever since!

  Image © The Walt Disney Company

Image © The Walt Disney Company

Donald Duck: Stuck on Christmas is a hilarious holiday take starring Donald’s nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, as they are wishing to have Christmas every day and then realizing that Christmas is more than just presents and yummy food, but about cherishing time with loved ones and appreciating the season to spread joy and love with others.

  Image © The Walt Disney Company

Image © The Walt Disney Company

The next film, A Very Goofy Christmas, is probably our children’s least favorite film in the series, because they have never really been huge fans of Goofy’s son, Max. They often chatter about Max’s bad attitude and disrespect towards his dad, Goofy. Max does tend to have an attitude of entitlement (assuming it is because of his teenage years) and the kids recognize this as something we’ve really worked on teaching them - the importance of gratefulness and positivity. However, that being said, this specific film is always a good reminder for them to be grateful and have a good attitude even if things don’t go their way. We laugh together as we watch Goofy spread Christmas cheer and blessings to others in the film. Max eventually realizes the spirit of Christmas is about believing and sharing the joy and cheer with others.

  Image © The Walt Disney Company

Image © The Walt Disney Company

The final story is one of selflessness and love. This one is Mickey and Minnie’s Gift of Magi, a retelling of the classic story where a man gives the love of his life a special treasure by selling his most prized possession. Ironically, this woman gives up her most prized possession to compliment the man’s item. While their gifts end up being "useless" it is the idea of the priceless time and thought, and act of love by giving up what they love for the person they love.

I really appreciate that the films touch on topics that we can discuss with our kids, it is far more than entertainment and with everything that we watch, we attempt to share what we learned or took away from the stories. 

In this day and age, it is important to have these discussions with our kids, in order to foster a home environment that has open communication and is founded on love, learning and growing together.

If you have yet to see Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmas, I highly suggest it! We will definitely be watching it again, in addition to the sequel, Mickey’s Twice Upon A Christmas, this weekend!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Yellow | Favorite Holiday Movies + TV Specials Loop:

Meet MOANA – Disney's Newest Princess

Disney, EntertainmentCamilleComment

Aloooooha! I'm thrilled to announce that Walt Disney Animation Studios has finally cast its newest animated princess, MOANA! 

 photo courtesy © Walt Disney Animation Studios

photo courtesy © Walt Disney Animation Studios

The voice of Disney's MOANA will be voiced by Hawaiian native and newcomer, Auli'i Cravalho! Auli'i is a 14-year-old from the island of O'ahu, and after three auditions, she landed the title role.

Here's a fun little clip of Auli'i, being told that she was going to be cast as Moana:

About MOANA

Moana is a 16-year-old, fearless princess that wants to take on the seas of the South Pacific, amongst the islands of her home – Oceania. Three thousand years ago sailors from all over the world voyaged across the South Pacific, but then a millennium went by and unbeknownst to anyone, the voyages stopped. So what is Moana's dream? To become a master wayfinder, like her ancestors, but this time complete their unfinished quest. 

Along the way, she meets demi-god, Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), and together they embark on an action-packed journey filled with impossible odds that become the voyage of a lifetime.

I am looking forward to this creation from the filmmaking team of Directors, Ron Clements and John Musker; they've created three of my favorite Disney animated films (amongst many others), "The Little Mermaid," "Aladdin," and "The Princess and The Frog!" With such strong female protagonists in their films, I know that Moana will be a sure hit and I'm looking forward to sharing traits that make her a good role model. The film is produced by Osnat Shurer, who has produced or executive produced Pixar® short films.

Ready to see what the sea holds for Moana and Maui? I know I am!


Don't forget to like MOANA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/disneymoana
Keep up with Disney Animation on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/disneyanimation
and Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/disneyanimation

Remember, MOANA sails into theaters on November 23rd 2016!

Knott's Spooky Farm Debut!

EntertainmentCamilleComment

Growing up as a native to Southern CA, we lived in amusement park heaven. With three major theme parks (Disneyland, Knott's and Six Flags), there were never-ending options for thrills and fun. My mom is a huge Peanuts fan, so naturally, Knott's Berry Farm was one of our family spots! I remember eating the amazing fried chicken, hanging out at Camp Snoopy, and bringing home lots of yummy jam! 

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 photo courtesy © Knott's Berry Farm

photo courtesy © Knott's Berry Farm

I'm so excited to share that Knott's will be debuting Spooky Farm®, their new park-wide daytime, scary-free celebration for kids, generally ages 3-11, but fun for the whole family! Let me tell you, I am easily scared, so you will not catch me after dark at haunted-theme park events or scary pumpkin mazes. So, this sounds like an event that I will totally enjoy! :) 

The spooky fun for the kiddos will run through the weekends only in October, beginning October 3rd through Halloween day! And yes, Knott's Spooky Farm® is included in your regular park admission, which is AWESOME. 

 photo courtesy © Knott's Berry Farm

photo courtesy © Knott's Berry Farm

Here's what you can expect at Knott's Spooky Farm® (besides loads of fun):

  • Trick-or-Treat – On Ghost Town's Main Street, kids will be able to trick-or-treat through the town, and hang out with Drac the Undertaker, The GhostRider Sheriff, The Werewolf Barber. If they're feeling extra adventurous, take them to Creepy Crawler Cabin in the Poy Express Rangers Station to touch and hold (or not) some fun loving bugs. Eek!
  • Spooky Hollow Maze – Head to Fiesta Village to tackle the maze through a spooky forest, have an spook-free encounter with the Headless Horsemen, and then kids can top off the fun while letting their imaginations run wild and paint their own pumpkin head (nominal fee). 
  • Monster Masquerade Ball – Down on the Boardwalk, kids and adults can get their ghostly groove on, decorate their own masquerade mask and enjoy some KARAOKE. Did you get that? KARAOKE. Who doesn't love karaoke?! Heck, I'll be the first in line. 
  • Camp Snoopy – participate in a spooky and delightful costume contest and then head to Camp Spooky Theatre to watch our friends, the Peanuts Gang, in The Monsters Are Coming, Charlie Brown! Our family LOVES the Peanuts Gang and watching the different Peanuts holiday films are our absolute favorite tradition.
 photo courtesy © Knott's Berry Farm

photo courtesy © Knott's Berry Farm

Make sure to follow along with the hashtag #KnottsSpookyFarm and see all of the spooktacular entertainment happening throughout October! Gather your little goblins and ghosts, and make it a fun family day! You won't want to miss celebrating Halloween with the Peanuts Gang!

For more information, visit Knott's Berry Farm online at knotts.com

Success and Leadership Lessons Learned from The Wisdom of Walt {Book Review}

Reviews, EntertainmentCamilleComment

I was given a copy of The Wisdom of Walt by the author in exchange for an honest review. No further compensation was made and all opinions are 100% mine. This post contains affiliate links.

 Cover image © Jeffrey Barnes /   TheWisdomofWalt.com

Cover image © Jeffrey Barnes / TheWisdomofWalt.com

It is often heard that "it was all started by a Mouse." I slightly beg to differ, because the drive, passion and perseverance of moving forward (not to mention the Mouse himself), was started by a man – Walter Elias Disney.

Disney was born with the great ability to dream and take action. These are just a few of his traits that I admire most. When I first heard of this book, I knew I needed to read it and share it with all of you. I have a propensity to gravitate towards all things about Walt Disney, so I'm very grateful to have received a copy of this book, and it even arrived with a note from the author.

This book was written by, Jeffrey Barnes, also known as Dr. Disneyland. He teaches a college course: The History of Disneyland, at Cal Baptist in Riverside, CA. I will tell you now that Barnes' story of survival alone is one that will inspire you, and he shares it within the page of his book. You'll need to get his book to hear how his failures led to success. Oh! One fun fact for my extreme Disney fans is that the foreword was written by Garner Holt and Bill Butler, as in Garner Holt Productions (think audio-animatronics). The foreword definitely set the tone for the awesome experience that I had waiting for me.

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The Wisdom of Walt: Leadership Lessons from the Happiest Place on Earth is a book that will keep you inspired, motivated, and seeking more from life. It pushed me to write my goals for success onto paper, to think of necessary actions to execute my vision, and made me realize that there is a lot of wisdom to gain when we look at what Walt experienced, and how he became successful. 

WisdomOfWalt-Vision.png

When I first started the book, I was so anxious to take notes, but initially I didn't want to write within the pages. I mean, this is a really high-quality book with a hardcover, and gorgeous jacket. Eventually, I couldn't help it and by the middle of chapter one, I was already highlighting, starring, and taking notes within the pages. 

Let me share a few sentiments from the book, but then I highly encourage you to pick up your own copy!l


"Vision is the extension of the ability to dream."
– Jeffrey Barnes, 
The Wisdom of Walt


This was my first little nugget of wisdom found. I think that as dreamers we aren't always taken seriously. I mean, look at Walt. With Disneyland, his grandest dream of all, he could not find anyone to back his vision. Look at Disneyland today. If Walt didn't create a vision from his dream of a place for his daughters and so many other children and families to have, the world would be a little less bright. However, even with hearing the doubters, we must press on. We create the vision and we make them believe. Another relevant sentiment about dreams and vision that Jeff shares, is that we must treat our dreams like we treat our children, because they don't raise themselves. Isn't that so true?


Master the four C's: Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy


With anything in life, those four C's can be relevant. But with the mindset of leadership and progress, they are crucial. 

Curiosity should never end. We should be curious about everything, we should push boundaries to understand things and that helps others to do the same. Being curious might seem ridiculous for grown adults, but I tell you it is not. I feel that the example of my curiosity paves the way for my kids to be curious themselves. 

Confidence – It goes without saying, but how will you bring your dreams and visions to fruition if you are too scared? Don't be afraid to fail. Be confident in your skill set and ability to keep learning and growing to get better. Be confident in knowing that "beyond a shadow of a doubt, that regardless of how your risk turns out, you will, in fact, be okay."

Courage is not always easy and no one ever said it would be. Being courageous must be a conscious choice. It's moving forward, moving past the stuff that wants to keep you paralyzed in fear. When there is a lot at risk, it's hard to convince others to believe in you and your dreams. And sometimes, the hardest person you have to convince is yourself. But be consciously courageous, because you and miss out on the thrills of success.

Constancy – As the book states, "Excellence is a habit." We know this from Aristotle, we know it from Disney, we can see it with Disneyland. There's a reason that businesses from all over the world take tidbits of magic from Disney's examples on leadership, guest service, and entertainment. "Disneyland always shows up." If anything, this should be a shining example on how to lead - we must show up, whether we want to or not.


"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we are curious – and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
– Walt Disney


 Look who I ran into at D23 Expo 2015! 

Look who I ran into at D23 Expo 2015! 

Well, this is a book that will remain in my library and one that I'll share with the future employees of my own empire (see what I did there? I, too, have a vision). My favorite parts were the Souvenir Stops at the end of each chapter, they really get you thinking and planning. There's so much more packed into this book than I could ever completely write about, but know it's 18 chapters and reads easily, you'll laugh, dream and plan. You can choose to read a chapter a day or a few a day. But make sure to do the Souvenir Stop because that's where you'll apply the lessons to your own life.

What are you waiting for? Take action, and go make your dreams a reality.


"Deciding to do something is not the same as actually doing it." 
– Jeffrey Barnes, The Wisdom of Walt


You can order the Kindle version for $5.99 from Amazon or $24.95 (plus shipping) for the gorgeous hardcover book, directly from TheWisdomofWalt.com through Paypal!

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Thank you again, Jeff, for adding such magic to my library. I wish you continued success!