Exploring New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World

Wednesday December 26, 2012 at 9:09 AM | 2 Comments

new Fantasyland

Exploring new Fantasyland at Walt Disney World.

The largest expansion in Magic Kingdom history was unveiled to the public on December 6, 2012, and if you plan to visit the Central Florida area, it’s definitely worth checking out.  While two of the attractions – the Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride and the Princess Fairytale Hall – are opening in 2014 and 2013 respectively, the rest of New Fantasyland is open.

Here are the highlights of New Fantasyland:

Storybook Circus

Storybook Circus includes the relocated Barnstormer roller coaster and two Dumbos (upgraded with a fun, interactive queue as well as the FastPass system).  Gone are the days of needing to wait in line in the sun for a spin on Dumbo – now kids can play in the indoor play area while you wait with a pager.  Once it’s your turn to ride Dumbo, the pager goes off.  My kids actually enjoyed the play area just as much as they enjoyed the Dumbo ride.  You’ll also find a small splash area, an interactive character spot, and the Fantasyland station (for the WDW Railroad).

Enchanted Tales with Belle

I didn’t get the chance to experience this new interactive attraction, but it’s rumored to be one of the best attractions at the Magic Kingdom.  Get here early, because the lines get longer throughout the day.

Be Our Guest

Be Our Guest is the newest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.  While you’ll need reservations to get in for dinner, lunch is counter service.  We had dinner here a few weeks ago, and really enjoyed it.  It’s also the only place in the Magic Kingdom that serves alcohol (beer and wine).

Under the Sea With the Little Mermaid

This ride is great for kids of all ages – you board a ride car and travel throughout the most popular scenes of the movie.  My kids especially enjoyed the Under the Sea scene which is both colorful and cheerful.

If you go:

Make sure you arrive early – because of all of the interest in New Fantasyland, the lines for all of the attractions are long.  We walked right on to Under the Sea with the Little Mermaid at 9:15am, but saw a 2-hour wait after lunch.

Disclosure: My visit to New Fantasyland was covered by Disney as part of the New Fantasyland press event.  All opinions are my own.

This is a guest post by Jodi Grundig of Family Travel Magazine. Photo courtesy Jodi Grundig.


Auberge du Lac Taureau Lake Resort, Quebec, Canada

Friday December 21, 2012 at 5:05 AM | 3 Comments

View of the Auberge du Lac Taureau

The Lanaudière region is like a fine wine, it should be sipped and savored over time. I recently had the pleasure of visiting Auberge du Lac Taureau in Saint-Michel-des-Saints.

The 100 room, four-star, family-friendly resort offers hotel rooms with forest and lake views. If I were traveling with my family, I would recommend a classic condo rental, complete with kitchen and lounge area.

My room, #1221, rented for $409, which included breakfast and a four-course gourmet dinner for two persons. The room featured a queen bed, a view of Lake Taureau with outdoor balcony, fireplace, television and a ceramic shower in the bathroom.

The pool at Auberge du Lac Taureau

Indoor and outdoor activities at Auberge du Lac Taureau

Summers in Quebec are meant to be spent on the lake. At Auberge du Lac Taureau, there are plenty of activities to keep adults and children entertained; from kayaking, canoeing, and bear viewing, to taking a hydro plane ride over the Saint-Michel-des-Saints region.

Winter time activities include dog sled rides, snow mobiles, ice fishing, winter hiking, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing and ice skating on the Auberge pond.

For year round relaxation enjoy the indoor swimming pool or schedule yourself a spa treatment. I tried the Maple Exfoliation & Scrub ($75. for one hour spa treament) and my skin felt as smooth as a silk sheet. Check the website for current pricing and details.

Gourmet dining at Auberge du La Taureau

Fall had arrived during my early October visit and the menu reflected the seasonal change. From cream of mushroom soup, to local Quebec cheese and elk sirloin, the menu shouted hunter/gatherer, but in a good way. Of course, vegetarian and seafood options were also available at the restaurant.

"Classic Condo"

Auberge du Lac Taureau Classic Condo #1221

In addition to trying the regional specialties, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to taste Domaine Le France, and ice cider after dinner drink. Magnifique!

The breakfast buffet is served daily from 7 – 10 a.m.








Auberge du Lac Taureau massage teepee

Insider tips 


Have you ever wanted to have a massage over the water, in a teepee? You can in the summer time at Auberge du Lac Taureau Resort in Quebec, Canada.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow Auberge du Lac Taureau Resort on Twitter.

Check in: 4:00 p.m.

Check out: 11:00 a.m.

What are your favorite things to do in the regions of Lanaudiere and Mauricie, Quebec, Canada?


If You Go:

Auberge du Lac Taureau 450-833-1919 or 1-877-822-2623

1200, chemin Baie du Milieu
Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Quebec

Article written by and photos courtesy of  Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Auberge du Lac Taureau  and Tourism Quebec.

Related Posts:

Auberge de la Montagne Coupee

Things to do in Lanaudiere and Mauricie, Quebec, Canada

Botanical gardens and nature inspired trains bring holiday cheer

Thursday December 20, 2012 at 7:07 AM | 3 Comments

"Krohn Conservatory"

Cincinnati’s Krohn Conservatory made from nature

One of my favorite places to go each December is Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati. There, Paul Busse and his crew of creators–that now include his grown son Brian, fashion a train display of wonder each holiday season. Like Santa and his elves who make appearances in several places at the same time, Busse is also responsible for the fanciful holiday garden train displays at New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx and the United States Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C.

A Cincinnati train scene

And, if you happen to be in Columbus, Ohio, pop into Franklin Park Conservatory or the main branch of the public library where you’ll find Busse’s garden trains. Each display is unique to the others. The Huntington Holiday Train at the library loops through a winter scene reminiscent of Bernkastel and Rottenberg, Germany. Complete with a castle, waterfall, and buildings that match these two towns’ landmarks, this display has been part of Columbus’ holiday traditions for more than a decade.

First housed at the Huntington Bank downtown, it’s now at the main library where the display is more accessible to the public.

A Manhattan train scene

As a person who has followed Paul Busse’s work for years, I always anticipate being dazzled. Each display reflects the city where it’s located, thus at Krohn Conservatory, Cincinnati’s beloved buildings are set among twinkling lights, poinsettias and other seasonal blooms.

There’s a replica of Krohn Conservatory, Union Terminal, and the Music Hall, for example, as well as train trestles and bridges that evoke Cincinnati’s cityscape. There’s even an incline. Even though Cincinnati’s incline trolley car no longer exists, Busse keeps its memory alive every December.

The U.S. Capitol

Visitors to New York City Botanical Garden and the United States Botanical Garden can enjoy those cities’ attractions in miniature. Along with discovering which buildings are which, figuring out how each was made is pure pleasure.

For Busse, nature is his palate. Seeds, seed pods, leaves, bark, gourds, moss and nuts are changed into building parts and adornment. In addition to the buildings, Busse designs the trains pathways to ensure visitors are enchanted by the movement of the trains as they wind through each garden.

If you aren’t able to see one of Busse’s displays this season, there’s always next year. Plus, Busse’s garden trains are frequent features at the Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia, the Chicago Botanical Garden and elsewhere.

For more information about Paul Busse and his company Applied Imagination, check out the Applied Imagination website.

Post courtesy of Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Writers Association

Cincinnati pictures, courtesy of Jamie Rhein; the other photos courtesy of Applied Imagination