60 Facts About the Disneyland Resort

We just got back from an extra magical trip to the Disneyland Resort! Disneyland is celebrating its 60th year this year, and the Diamond Anniversary celebrations kicked off last week with premieres of 3 new nighttime entertainment spectaculars and the 24-Hour park event. We had so much fun!  I could probably write 60 different posts about our experiences, but for now, enjoy these 60 Fun Facts that Disneyland News came up with to commemorate its 60th year (and check out some of the new parade videos I've uploaded!)

The Disneyland Resort: By the Numbers

1. Since opening day in 1955, the Disneyland Resort has welcomed more than 700 million guests to The Happiest Place on Earth. That number includes guests from approximately 200 nations, nearly every country in the world today.

2. Through the years, hundreds of famous individuals have visited the Disneyland Resort, including U.S. presidents (dating to Harry S. Truman), heads of state and countless athletes, artists, authors and celebrities. The guest list is a virtual “Who’s Who” of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

3. The Disneyland Resort now employs some 28,000 cast members, making it the largest single-site employer in Orange County, California.

4. Thirty-eight different languages are spoken among Disneyland Resort cast members.

5. More than 50 scuba divers work year-round to maintain Disneyland Resort attractions, including “World of Color” at Disney California Adventure Park and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland Park.

6. More than 800 species of plants indigenous to 40 nations grow at the Disneyland Resort, making it one of the most extensive and diverse botanical locales in the western United States. The landscape includes colorful flowers, 22 topiary animals and characters, and approximately 18,000 trees.

7. Mickey Mouse ear hats are the most popular Disneyland Resort souvenirs of all time, with more than 84 million “ears” sold since 1955. New “crystal” ears and other creative designs will debut during the Diamond Celebration.

8. The Disneyland Resort generates $4.7 billion annually for the Southern California economy.

New Fun at Disneyland

9. Debuting for the Diamond Celebration, “Paint the Night” will sparkle with more than 1.5 million individually controlled lights. Nearly all of those are energy-efficient, LED lights.

10. In addition to the LED lights on “Paint the Night” floats, each costume in the parade features its own sophisticated individual system of lighting controls.

11. “Paint the Night” features some subtle tributes to the classic “Main Street Electrical Parade,” including hints of that parade’s musical theme, a new “drum float” to lead the parade and, at the tip of Tinker Bell’s magic wand, a light from the original “Electrical Parade.”

12. In the new “Disneyland Forever” fireworks show, guests will enjoy pyrotechnics above them and immersive projections all around them: on Main Street, U.S.A., the mist screens on Rivers of America, the façade of “it’s a small world” and the Matterhorn. The largest use of projection mapping technology in any Disney Park will transform park locations into a magical canvas, transporting guests into Disney stories, from flying high above the London skyline with Peter Pan, dancing with King Louie of “The Jungle Book,” and seeing Nemo fly through the sky to Mount Wannahockaloogie.

13. “Kiss Goodnight,” the inspiring closing song of “Disneyland Forever,” was written by Disney Legend Richard M. Sherman. Richard also was the co-writer, with his brother Robert B. Sherman, of “it’s a small world” and the award-winning songs for the classic Disney film “Mary Poppins.” Adding another “practically perfect” touch to “Disneyland Forever” is the singer of “Kiss Goodnight” – Ashley Brown, star of the Broadway production of “Mary Poppins.”

14. A new show at Fantasy Faire in Disneyland tells the story of “Frozen,” Disney’s animated blockbuster film. The Royal Theatre’s resident storytellers, Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones, tell the tale of Anna and Elsa in their own unique, wacky style.

More Fun at Disney California Adventure

15. In the Diamond Anniversary “World of Color – Celebrate!” nighttime spectacular, award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris will appear in multiple film sequences with Mickey Mouse. They will host the show, with the help of some amazing special effects.

16. Part of the recent expansion of Disney California Adventure, “World of Color” uses a submersible platform that’s bigger than a football field, with more than 20,000 points of control and revolutionary lighting that infuses nearly 1,200 fountains with color — making it one of the largest show systems ever built.

17. “Anna and Elsa’s Royal Welcome” offers guests a special place to greet the popular sisters from “Frozen.” It opened in January, 2015, at the Disney Animation building.

18. The iconic Carthay Circle Theatre Restaurant and Lounge opened in 2012 on Buena Vista Street. It stands 79 feet 6 inches tall, to the top of its cupola spire, and it is approximately ¾ scale to the original Carthay Circle Theatre, the site where Walt Disney’s animated classic, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” premiered in 1937. By way of contrast, Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland stands 77 feet high and is designed to appear taller, due to forced perspective, when viewed from the other end of Main Street, U.S.A.

19. For the Diamond Celebration, Carthay Circle Theatre and Sleeping Beauty Castle will glisten and gleam as never before with brilliant diamond enhancements. On Carthay Circle Theatre, the large “Diamond D” marquee was inspired by the 1930s Art Deco movement. On Sleeping Beauty Castle, more than 100,000 blue, glass crystals will shimmer on the rooftops.

20. Cars Land is home to Radiator Springs Racers, the popular attraction that opened in 2012 at Disney California Adventure. After dark, the colorful and nostalgic appearance of the town of Radiator Springs features 16 neon signs in bright, luminous colors.

21. The cars of the Red Car Trolley attraction on Buena Vista Street are reminiscent of the historic cars of the Pacific Electric Railway system, which operated in Southern California from 1901 through 1961.

Sixty Years of Magic

22. Disneyland Park opened July 17, 1955, with 18 ticketed attractions and five free attractions/exhibits. Opening Day highlights included the Jungle Cruise, Autopia, Mad Tea Party and Mark Twain Riverboat. Several other classic Disneyland attractions opened later in the year: TWA Rocket to the Moon on July 22, Casey Jr. Circus Train on July 31, and Dumbo Flying Elephants on Aug. 16.

23. During construction of the park, and occasionally until he passed away in 1966, Walt Disney would stay overnight in a small apartment above the Main Street Fire Dept., next to Disneyland City Hall. Today, a lamp shines continuously in the apartment window in tribute to the spirit of Walt Disney.

24. When Disneyland opened there were no A, B, C, D and E tickets. Guests paid for park admission and purchased attraction tickets inside. The first ticket books (A, B and C tickets) appeared on Oct. 11, 1955. The first E tickets appeared in 1959 and were used for newly opened attractions, Matterhorn Bobsleds and Submarine Voyage.

25. The skilled artists in the Silhouette Studio on Main Street, U.S.A., can create a silhouette portrait in 60 seconds or less.

26. The names and titles of the second-story shop windows along Main Street, U.S.A., pay tribute to cast members and others who contributed to the creation and development of Disneyland. Most of the shop names feature whimsical references to the professional specialties or hobbies of the individuals honored.

27. In contrast to the Main Street, U.S.A. windows, the second-story windows in Mickey’s Toontown are a treasure trove of trivia for Disney animation fans. They reference characters such as Scrooge McDuck and Jiminy Cricket, along with relatively obscure early-era Disney characters such as Clara Cluck and Toby Tortoise.

28. The Matterhorn Bobsleds was the first tubular steel roller coaster in the world when it opened in 1959. It set the standard for modern-day roller-coaster design.

29. Disneyland created the first daily operating monorail in the Western Hemisphere. opened June 14, 1959. Since then, the Disneyland Monorail has traveled approximately 780 million miles, enough for eight round trips to the planet Mars. The current Disneyland Monorail vehicles, the Mark VII models, debuted in 2008 and are the fifth generation at Disneyland Resort. Two other models, Mark IV and Mark VI, have been featured at Walt Disney World in Florida.

30. The Apollo moon landing in 1969 was shown live on television to Disneyland guests at the Tomorrowland Stage.

31. Having been outdone by NASA in 1969, the Tomorrowland Rocket to the Moon/Flight to the Moon attraction became Mission to Mars in March, 1975. The rocket took its final flight in 1992 and the location eventually transformed to Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port.

32. The adventures of Snow White, Peter Pan and Mr. Toad have been on display as Fantasyland “dark rides” since opening day at Disneyland. Alice in Wonderland joined this lineup in summer 1958. Pinocchio appeared in 1983 as part of the extensively enhanced “New Fantasyland.” Adding “new magic” to these classics, Imagineers recently used projections to enhance scenes in Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.

33. The books in the library of Toad Hall in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride have nonsense versions of famous titles, including: “For Whom the Toads Croak” and “A Tadpole Grows in Brooklyn.”

34. The guest-favorite Pirates of the Caribbean attraction in New Orleans Square features more than 120 Audio-Animatronics figures, and guests often sing along with that catchy refrain: “Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate’s life for me.”

35. The charming, New Orleans-themed Blue Bayou Restaurant is located inside Pirates of the Caribbean, where dining guests can watch the attraction boats glide past. The Blue Bayou is sometimes cited as the inspiration for the many “themed restaurants” around the country today.

36. The first version of the “Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade” appeared in 1972 and went on hiatus after summer 1974. A second-generation “Main Street Electrical Parade” premiered in 1977 and ran for 20 years, retiring in 1996. It reappeared, as “Disney’s Electrical Parade” in Disney California Adventure Park from 2001 to 2010.

37. Beginning in 1997, Disneyland started celebrating the holidays with the seasonal re-theming of “it’s a small world” as “it’s a small world” Holiday. This was followed by Haunted Mansion Holiday for the Halloween and Christmas seasons beginning in 2001, Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy starting in the 2009 Halloween season, and Jingle Cruise for the 2013 holiday season.

38. The “it’s a small world” attraction remains very popular with guests, more than 50 years after debuting at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Guest research shows that one in four Disneyland guests – families with children and those who grew up riding the attraction – consider “it’s a small world” a tradition. They plan a voyage whenever they visit the park.

39. Of the five engines on the Disneyland Railroad, four are named for founders or executives of the Santa Fe Railroad. (The attraction was originally known as the Santa Fe & Disneyland Railroad.) The fifth engine, the “Ward Kimball,” is named for Disney Legend, animator and train enthusiast Ward Kimball (1914-2002).

40. The trains of the Disneyland Railroad have accrued enough mileage during the past 60 years to travel to the moon and back more than 250 times.

41. The troop transport vehicle at the entrance to the Indiana Jones Adventure attraction is the actual vehicle that dragged and almost ran over Indiana Jones in one of the thrilling sequences from the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

42. In the early days of Tom Sawyer Island, the surrounding Rivers of America were stocked with catfish and fishing was allowed off the island’s docks.

43. The King Arthur Carrousel in Fantasyland was assembled from parts of several genuine 19th century carousels. The horses, ridden by hundreds of guests every day, are more than 100 years old. They are fully restored, one row at a time, every year.

Disneyland Resort Food and Beverage

44.Guests will find more than 140 food and beverage locations at the Disneyland Resort, including 26 full-service restaurants and themed lounges such as Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel.

45. Disneyland Resort serves more than 6,700 food items, including citrus-marinated turkey breast at Flo’s V8 Café (Disney California Adventure), Hacienda Chicken Caesar Salad at Rancho del Zocalo (Disneyland) and Fire Cracker Duck Wings at Carthay Circle Restaurant and Lounge (Disney California Adventure).

46. Popular snack items at the resort include gluten-free Dole Whips (2,000 consumed each day) and Mickey-shaped soft pretzels (2,000 consumed per day).

47. During the Diamond Celebration, special anniversary cupcakes will be offered at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café in Disneyland (lemon flavor) and the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café in Disney California Adventure (orange flavor).

48. Fresh fruits and healthful options are available throughout the parks, and guests may look for the Mickey Check () on menus in both quick service and table service restaurants to find options that meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines.

49. The number of bananas consumed by Disneyland Resort guests in a year could feed Abu (Aladdin’s monkey friend) 20 bananas a day for 62 years.

50. Napa Rose, the award-winning restaurant at the Grand Californian Hotel, has a 17,000-bottle wine cellar with more than 1,000 different labels and 80 wines available by the glass. The wine service ranks among the best in the country, with more than 30 certified sommeliers, including five who are certified at advanced level.

Disneyland Resort Hotels and Downtown Disney District

51. The Disneyland Hotel opened in October 1955 with 100 rooms. Today it offers guests 975 rooms, themed swimming pools, two towering water slides and five Signature Suites – including the Mickey Mouse Penthouse and Adventureland Suite.

52. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which opened in 2001, was the first Disney hotel built “inside” a theme park, with an exclusive guest entrance into Disney California Adventure. It now includes Disney Vacation Club villas.

53. Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel features seaside-inspired rooms and the sensational California Streamin’ water slide into the rooftop pool. All three resort hotels offer guests early admission to Disneyland or Disney California Adventure with Extra Magic Hour.

54. Build-A-Bear Workshop is the only location in the Build-A-Bear chain to carry exclusive Disney branded merchandise and animals. The location plans to create exclusive accessories for their bears featuring the Diamond Celebration. On average, more than 3,000 new “friends” are built in the store each week.

55. RideMakerz proudly displays an original company branded NASCAR vehicle hanging from the ceiling. The car actually raced during the 2008 Daytona 500.

56. The aquarium tanks at Rainforest Café contain more than 500 fish and approximately 60 different species, including a four-foot-long honeycomb moray eel.

57. AMC Theatres recently opened an IMAX theatre and features hearing and sight-impaired equipment in their location for disabled guests.

58. LEGO Store features three Disney character-inspired statues made of LEGO bricks. The Beauty and the Beast model was built with 649,350 bricks; the Buzz & Woody are made of 675,000 bricks and the Sleeping Beauty Dragon required 2,785,950 bricks.

59. The House of Blues Anaheim venue was recently ranked seventh on Billboard Magazine’s “Top 25 Most Popular Music Clubs” in the United States. The location will feature a souvenir guitar pick and specialty cocktail for the Diamond Celebration.

60. ESPN Zone boasts more than 120 televisions, including individual screens in all of the restrooms. The location features a 10,000-square-foot arcade as well as the unique ability to host and broadcast radio and television programing from inside the venue.

Disclosure: I attended a press event at the invitation of the Disneyland Resort. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Have fun with Reading at Chuck E. Cheese's

Chuck E. Cheese's has always been a place where kids can enjoy some active entertainment, and now kids will get the opportunity to exercise the most important muscle in their bodies: their brains.  Chuck E. Cheese's is partnering with HarperCollins Publishers, the second largest book publisher in the world, for weekly "I Can Read: Reading With CHuck E." events at all Chuck E. Cheese's locations in May and June!  Chuck E. Cheese and a cast member will lead the reading of the selected book every Tuesday at 11a.m. and 6p.m. Here are the books being read:

  • May: Danny and the Dinosaur, the story of a boy who meets a prehistoric playmate in a museum.
  • June: A Green Green Garden, where Little Critter and his family plant and grow their own fruits and vegetables for dinner.

How cool is that? I'll be attending tomorrow's storytime event at our local Chuck E. Cheese, so stay tuned for photos!

In addition, Chuck E. Cheese's is starting a summer reading program which awards young readers with 5 free tokens!   Just download the Reading Rewards Calendar at chuckecheese.com/activities, log reading activities on the calendar, and take it in to the store to redeem the tokens.

Disclosure: I received a gift card to Chuck E. Cheese's to facilitate this post.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Everything You Need To Know About the Disneyland Diamond Celebration

May is always a special month for me, because Mother's Day and my birthday are in May. This year I've got an extra reason to celebrate, because I'm going to the Disneyland Resort to celebrate Disneyland's 60th anniversary on my birthday! The Diamond Anniversary celebrations will kick off with a 24 hour party starting 6:00am on Friday May 22!  The fun continues nonstop till 6:00am on Saturday May 23.

There are so many special things going on during those 24 hours, the time will just fly by! Guests will enjoy, and you may have read about some of them.... but the Disney folks have been releasing them in dribs and drabs over the past few months.  So I've compiled all of the fun and magic (and links!) into one single post. Here is the full list of all the magical opportunities for families to enjoy the Diamond Celebration.

First off, here is everything guests will enjoy at the 24-Hour event on May 22:

Debut of Paint the Night parade

Disneyland Park will light up the night with a new nighttime parade called Paint the Night. With over 1.5 million LED lights flashing and glowing, it's like the old Electrical Parade meets 21st century technology! Even the dancers and props will light up. All-new parade stars include a 54-feet long Mack Truck from Cars, plus Anna and Elsa!

Debut of new World of Color show

World of Color show has a new theme: Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney. Neil Patrick Harris will join Mickey Mouse in reliving Walt Disney's story, featuring music, fountains, lasers, plus animation and live action film projected onto a watery canvas.

Debut of new Fireworks spectacular

Disneyland's new fireworks show, Disneyland Forever, is going to be like no other fireworks show. Projection mapping technology will immerse viewers in dozens of Disney movie worlds, from The Lion King to Finding Nemo to Mary Poppins. The show will be viewable not only from Main Street USA, but also from It's a Small World, the Matterhorn, and the Rivers of America, with a different view from each location.

24-Hour Event Food

Guests can enjoy special treats only available during the 24-hour event, such as a Mocha Chip Funnel Cake at the Stage Door Cafe, Creamy Corn Chowder at French Market Restaurant, and Bananas Foster French Toast at Cafe Orleans. I'm definitely going for the Barbecued Pulled Pork & Slaw Cone at the Cozy Cone Motel!

24-Hour Event Merchandise

If you're going to the 24-Hour event on May 22, make sure you stop by a souvenir shop and check out the special 24-Hour tshirts and pins, because they'll only be on sale during the 24-Hour event!  In fact, they might even sell out before the 24 hours are over!

Don't worry, if you can't make the 24-Hour event, you haven't missed the party. The celebrations for Disneyland's Diamond Anniversary will continue throughout the summer and beyond.  Guests will have many opportunities to enjoy the new nighttime entertainment -- Paint the Night, Disneyland Forever and Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney -- as well as the special offerings below:

New interactive entertainment

Throughout the Diamond Celebration year, performers will invite park guests to become part of the show at several places throughout the parks. Guests can march along with the Disneyland Band at a daily Diamond March-Along up Main Street USA, sing along with the Dapper Dans quartet, dream along with the Red Car News Boys on Buena Vista Street, dance along with Five & Dime, and party in Wonderland at the all-new Mad T Party.

Diamond Celebration Treats

It wouldn't be a celebration without treats! Guests will be able to indulge in special Diamond Celebration Cupcakes, special drinks, Rice Treats, Caramel Corn, and Cotton Candy. I'm definitely saving space in my belly for a cupcake -- and I'm washing it down with the special mango, pineapple and passion fruit Lucky Fortune Tea! And don't forget the special popcorn buckets!

Diamond Celebration Merchandise

More than 500 merchandise items will be available to purchase during the Diamond Anniversary Celebration. Think blinged-out ears, hats, shirts, jackets, Vinylmation, pins, bags, mugs.... I can't wait to go shopping! Disneyland only turns 60 once, so every single item in the Diamond Anniversary merchandise is sure to become a collector's item!

Diamond Celebration Decor

Have your photos taken in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle and the Carthay Circle Theater, because they've been blinged up for the Diamond Celebration! And don't forget to check out the newly decorated store windows on Main Street USA, which have been specially done for the occasion.

Updated and refurbished attractions

Many of the attractions that you've been waiting for have returned, and they've been bedazzled! The Matterhorn Bobsleds, Peter Pan's Flight, and Soarin Over California have been given new special effects. There's a new ghost in town over at the Haunter Mansion -- watch out for the Hatbox Ghost at the opening of the cemetery scene! Finally, the remodeled and expanded Grizzly Peak is reopening to the public.

Diamond Days Sweepstakes

The Diamond Days Sweepstakes begins on May 22, and guests to the Disneyland Resort can win daily prizes such as VIP tours and dining experiences.  There are even more spectacular weekly prizes to be won, including real Disney Diamonds, a Cinderella glass slipper, a private party in Fantasyland, and a stay in the Disneyland Dream Suite.

photo credits: Disneyland News

Disclosure: I am attending the Diamond Celebration press event at the invitation of the Disneyland Resort. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Rinse, Recycle, Reimagine for a Bright Future

Unilever #ReimagineThat

We celebrated Earth Day last week, but really, we should be celebrating Earth Day Every Day.  We can't afford to think about saving the earth just one day a year -- it should be a conscious daily effort, and we should be teaching our kids to build good habits that lessen our impact on the earth.  Even small things can make a big difference.

For instance, did you know that 600 million bathroom products could end up in landfills each year? Most plastic bottles that we use for our bath and beauty product can be recycled, but just 34% of Americans actually recycle them!

Think of all the landfill space that we could be freeing up, just by taking our used shampoo bottles, soap dispensers, and facial cream tubs downstairs to the recycling bin instead of tossing them in the trash!  It's a shame, because recycled plastic can be turned into so many things -- bags, hairbrushes,dinnerware, carpeting, countertops, even flooring for playgrounds and running tracks!

Unilever – the maker of products including Dove®, Suave®, St. Ives®, Caress® and more – did a bit of research about bathroom recycling habits, and here's what they found:

  • Beware the product hoarders: 1 in 5 Americans (20%) have more than 10 bathroom products in plastic bottles in their bathroom at a given time.
  • What gets Americans moving: Americans are more likely to go the distance to get a drink when thirsty, charge their phone, or answer a phone call than walk an empty plastic bottle from the bathroom to the recycle bin.
  • Battle of the sexes: More men (80%) reported recycling their empty bathroom bottles than women (74%). 
Unilever can’t do this alone, and so the company has introduced the Unilever BrightFuture initiative. What began as Project Sunlight in 2013 has evolved into a larger movement designed to bring Unilever’s purpose to life and inspire Americans to take small actions that add up to a big difference – whether that’s wasting less, sharing more, turning off the tap, turning on community activism or, simply, recycling – because everyone has a role to play in creating a brighter future.

Unilever #ReimagineThat

How you can help:
  • Make an effort to recycle your used bath and beauty bottles.  Put a small recycling bin in your bathrooms, or take your used bath and beauty bottles downstairs to your household recycling bin.
  • Spread the word!Share a photo of your bathroom empties being recycled on Twitter and Instagram using #ReimagineThat. You can even add #Sweeps and tag @UnileverUSA to your post to be entered for a chance to win recycled, reimagined prizes.
  • Watch famous Internet Illusionist Zach King and others reimagine recycling and share their videos across your social channels.
  • Visit BrightFuture.Unilever.us to learn how you can help bridge the gap in bathroom recycling.
Here are a couple of images I created using my own bath product empties... now let's see yours!
Unilever #ReimagineThat

Unilever #ReimagineThat

More information about the Sweepstakes:
· Timing: April 29 – June 9
· Daily prizes (42 in total) and a grand prize (1 for a $500 gift card)
· Users must include #ReimagineThat and #Sweeps and tag @UnileverUSA in order to qualify

Disclosure: This is a compensated post.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Sing Along with Chiquita Banana, and you could win $5000!

Who doesn't love Chiquita Bananas?  That distinctive blue sticker is as much a part of a grocery store banana as the yellow peel!  And who can forget the adorable Chiquita Banana jingle? This year marks the 70th anniversary of the jingle -- Miss Chiquita Banana first debuted on the airwaves in 1944 -- and to celebrate, Chiquita is looking for the next Chiquita star to it!

You can star in your very own Chiquita Banana jingle.  To star in your very own Chiquita Banana video, all you have to do is head to http://www.chiquitabananas.com/singoff/, upload a video, and share it! If you're a bit camera shy, no worries – you can upload your own music video, record yourself in a sing-a-long, or you can upload your photo into a fun banana video – choose the one that best fits you! You can even scope out other top banana entries on the Chiquita website for inspiration. And speaking of inspiration, you could win up to $5,000 for your Chiquita video! Check out my video below, and head on over to create yours!

Disclosure: I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Celebrate Earth Day and Live Green with Mickey Mouse and GO GREEN

Today is Earth Day!  It's not just a day to celebrate the earth, but to make a commitment to cherishing and preserving it. What measures are you and your family taking to live a more sustainable lifestyle? Here are just a few ways my family tries to reduce our carbon footprint:

We eat meat just 1-2 times per week.
We use water bottles and sandwich containers instead of plastic bags and disposable wrappers.
We take 5-minute showers.
We wash clothes with cold water.
We use energy-efficient light bulbs.
We recycle.

This year, everyone can join Mickey and Friends in living greener with DISNEY GO GREEN: A Family Guide To A Sustainable Lifestyle. The book explains the importance of sustainability in a simple, understandable way. It includes interesting facts and tips, and has lots of fun activities for children to try.

The purpose of the activities is to show children how to be artistic using items found in nature or how to reuse things they already have. There are also recipes for using locally grown ingredients. All of this helps reduce our ecological footprint and impact on the planet.

Some suggestions for projects include:
· turn an orange juice carton into a bird feeder
· use different tube-shaped materials to make a marble run
· notch old paper towel and toilet paper rolls to make Lincoln log structures

What I like about DISNEY GO GREEN is that it's not just a "save the earth" book or a "recycled crafts" activity book, it's really a lifestyle book that goes much further than recycling and walking to school and making bird feeders.  It's all of that and more! It talks about living a minimalist lifestyle, being kind to one another (if you care about others, you care about how they live and what kind of planet everyone is living in!), having responsibilities and setting goals. There is so much food for though, it's the perfect book to read to your kids in bits and pieces. Read a page before dinner and spend your dinner hour talking about it, or read another page on a car trip and talk about it during the trip.

Disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. . The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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A Beginner's Guide to Monster Jam

Monster Jam

Tomorrow is the Big -- and I do mean BIG -- Day! We are excited to be watching Monster Jam at Santa Clara's new Levi's Stadium, home to the San Francisco 49ers. It will be our second Monster Jam show, and now that I know what to expect, I am looking forward to gasping in disbelief and excitement along with everyone else! Monster Jam is really a fun show, but if you haven't been to a Monster Jam show yet, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. For all you Monster Jam newbies, here is a primer on what to expect at Monster Jam:

What are Monster Jam trucks?
Approximately 12’ tall and about 12’ wide, Monster Jam® trucks are custom-designed machines that sit atop 66 inch tires. Built for short, high-powered bursts of speed, Monster Jam trucks have 1,500 horsepower and are capable of speeds up to 80 miles per hour. Monster Jam trucks can jump more than 30’ high and travel a distance of about 130’ flying through the air. That’s longer than 14 cars lined up side by side!

Monster Jam

What happens at Monster Jam live events?
At most live events, Monster Jam trucks face off in two different forms of competition — side-by-side racing and freestyle. Racing is traditional bracket racing, where the first truck to cross the finish line with the least number of penalties is the winner. The freestyle competition allows drivers a limited amount of time on an open floor to show off their skills as they finesse the huge machines in a jaw-dropping display of punishing stunts and amazing tricks that make these high-horsepower beasts appear to dance gracefully across the track.

Where do they get the cars to crush?
Cars, as well as vans, buses, motor homes, airplanes and ambulances, are obtained from local recycling centers and returned after each event. Full-size steel body cars are the vehicles typically crushed during an event. More than 3,000 cars are crushed at Monster Jam events each and every year.

Who are the stars of the show?
Here's a list of trucks appearing at tomorrow's show:
  • Monster Jam® Trucks: Grave Digger® driven by Dennis Anderson
  • Max-D℠ driven by Tom Meents
  • FOX Sports 1 Cleatus driven by Frank Krmel
  • Monster Mutt® driven by Dustin Brow
  • Lucas Oil Crusader® driven by Linsey Weenk
  • Monster Energy driven by Damon Bradshaw
  • Captain's Curse® driven by Alex Blackwell
  • Doom's Day, Team Hot Wheels® Firestorm® driven by Scott Buetow
  • Metal Mulisha driven by Todd LeDuc
  • Mohawk Warrior℠ driven by George Balhan
  • Scooby-Doo™ driven by Nicole Johnson
  • El Toro Loco® driven by Dan Rodoni
  • The Patriot driven by Andrew Peckham
  • Titan driven by Donald Epidendio
  • Avenger® driven by Jim Koehler
  • Wrecking Crew™ driven by Steve Koehler
Why should I attend a Monster Jam event?
Monster Jam combines the best of a stunt show, a freestyle competition, and a racing competition! You'll find yourself amazed at how the drivers can do all the things they do, and you'll find yourself holding your breath whenever they make their trucks spin, jump, and flip.  Monster Jam is affordable for the whole family, and unlike traditional sporting events or family shows, you can actually meet the stars of the show at the pre-show Pit Party and post-show autograph sessions!

Monster Jam

Buy tickets for Monster Jam at Levi's Stadium online!  If you live outside the SF Bay Area, go to Monster Jam online for an event near you.

Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Show information (in italics) is provided by Feld Entertainment.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Giveaway: Limited Edition Spongebob containers from GladWare

For a little while, my boys were the cool kids on the lunch tables with their GladWare Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle containers.  Then, of course, lots of boys got them, and they became par for the course.  Once again, thanks to Glad, 3Po and Jammy are lunchtime trendsetters with the new limited-edition Spongebob Squarepants  Mini Round containers!  These are even cooler, because Spongebob is huge with kids, girls and boys, from preschoolers to high schoolers.  There's just something about Spongebob's innocent goofiness that makes everyone smile.

Banish boring lunches and snacks to Davy Jones’ Locker with the limited-edition GladWare® series featuring the stars of the smash-hit SpongeBob SquarePants™ film, on shelves exclusively at Target now! Those packed snacks and lunches will seem much cooler served from these fun new containers skinned with everyone’s favorite underwater BFFs: SpongeBob and Patrick Star! As a bonus for parents, not only will the GladWare help keep kids’ snacks fresher longer so that you can avoid having to toss food into the bin and ending up as food waste, the containers are safe for the microwave, freezer and dishwasher, too.

I love the fact that the containers are the exact same size and shape as the regular Mini Rounds by GladWare, so I can mix and match the lids and bottoms, and I can store them easily by stacking them up (very important when you have a small kitchen!).  We use them to pack blueberries,strawberries, nuts, cereal, trail mix, cupcakes, olives, raisins, tomatoes, carrots, hummus, yogurt, maple syrup, and so much more!  By using these Mini Rounds, I don't have to buy individually packaged snacks and I don't have to buy plastic sandwich bags, which saves money and saves the environment.  It's a win-win for everyone!

Win a Glad prize pack

One lucky Bonggamom Finds reader will receive the following:
· 1 set of SpongeBob SquarePants Mini Round Containers
· 1 set of SpongeBob SquarePants Snack Size Containers
· 1 pack Glad Press’n Seal
· 1 pack Glad ClingWrap
· One #SaveItSunday tote bag (learn more about our #SaveItSunday program)

Enter via Rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends 11:59 PST on April 16, 2015. I will draw a winner after that date and post their name once the winner has been confirmed and verified.  Continental US residents only. For more giveaway rules, click here.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. Product information (in italics) is provided by GladWare. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Tips for a Stress-Free Spring Break (and a stress-free shower!)

Spring Break is almost here!  While I'm looking forward to a more relaxed schedule, having the kids at home for a week (we're not going anywhere) can drive stay-at-home parents crazy!  Here are some tips I have for stay-at-home parents for keeping yourself sane during Spring Break:

1) Playdates, playdates, playdates.  Find other families that are enjoying staycations during spring break and trade off playdates so you get a few hours of peace and quiet.

2) Spring break camps. Many places offer spring break camps that last 1, 3, or 5 days.

3)  Day trips. Break the monotony by doing something fun. You can go on a mini road trip for the day, or stay close to home -- go to a museum, an amusement park, a movie.

4) Relax your schedule. It's okay to occasionally let your kids veg out in front of the tv or video game console for hours!

5) Make time for yourself.  On a day when it's just you and the kids at home, schedule a few hours dedicated to playing with the kids, and during that time, be there -- don't spend it checking your phone!  Then schedule a few hours for yourself.  Curl up with a book while they're watching tv, or take a long, hot shower. Don't forget the luxurious body wash!  Personally, just inhaling the fragrance of a good body wash relaxes me every time.  Check out the Softsoap Fresh & Glow body wash line, with great fragrances and moisturizers. They're great for my skin and amazing for my state of mind!
Softsoap® BRAND Fresh & Glow Hydrating Shower Cream
Made with 100% real extracts sourced from milk, coconuts and almonds.
The unique formula is proven to lock-in long-lasting moisture to hydrate skin leaving it soft and radiant.

Softsoap® BRAND Fresh & Glow Exfoliating Fruit Polish
Made with a 100% real extract sourced from kiwi and orange.
The unique formula is packed with apricot seeds that exfoliate, giving you smooth healthy-looking skin.

Disclosure:I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. Product information (in italics) is provided by Softsoap. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Why every Disney fan needs a Disney Visa Card

How is it possible that it took me this long to become aware of the Disney Visa Card?  I guess I've always known that Disney does have a branded credit card, but I didn't realize that it was such a great deal for people who like to visit Disney parks. You can actually earn money to spend at Disney and help offset the cost of your Disney vacation!  I'm going to add the Disney Visa Card to my list of tips for saving money at a Disney park! I recently applied for (and received) a Disney Visa Card; here's a list of reasons you should apply for one too:

Fabulous introductory offers
The offer that finally convinced me to get a Disney Visa card was the $200 gift card offer -- charge at least $500 to your Disney Visa card in your first 3 months and you get a $200 Disney gift card!  How easy is that?  I use my credit cards for everything, so I can rack up $500 in a week!  I've also seen introductory offers for a $100 Disney gift card and a $50 Disney gift card, which are still pretty sweet deals. Obviously the $200 gift card is the best offer, but I can't guarantee you'll get the same offer when you apply.

Earn Disney Dollars for every purchase
Every purchase made with the Disney Visa earns you 1% in Disney Dollars.  You can start redeeming your Disney Dollars in the form of a Disney gift card when you've made at least $2,000 in purchases (and accumulated at least $20 in Disney Dollars).  You'll be surprised how quickly you can earn Disney Dollars that you can spend at the Disney Store or in Disney Parks!  I've been using my card for less than a month, and I've already earned about $50 (like I said, I charge everything to my card).

Get Disney discounts and perks
Disney Visa Cardmembers get a LOT of special perks year-round, including:
  • discounts on select merchandise at the Disney Store
  • discounts on restaurants at the Disney locations
  • discounts on park guided tours
  • 0% financing on Disney Vacations and special financing rates on Disney Vacation Club
  • Disney Cruise shipboard credits, 
  • character meet-and-greets
... and more.  For a full list of perks (plus terms and limitations), go to the Disney Visa Rewards website

Special character meet-and-greet sessions
This perk is so cool, it deserves its own paragraph! Disney Visa Cardmembers get a special meet-and-greet character session AND a free 5x8 souvenir photo.  You can do this once per day. Per day!! The Disneyland Visa meet-and-greet is located in DCA's Hollywood Land, and it is open between 10:30am and 1:30pm.

When I was there, the characters alternated between Daisy, Stitch, and Minnie, changing every 20 minutes.  I highly recommend getting there early, because the wait can get long. Yes, only Cardmembers can line up, but Cast Members let them spend more time with the character so it's a more personal (but time-consuming) experience.

Limited time perks
In addition to the year-round perks, Cardmembers get special limited time perks such as special ticket packages for Aladdin on Broadway, discounts with the Disney Movie Club, and limited edition trading pins just for Cardmembers. I couldn't resist taking advantage of the trading pin offer, and bought a 2015 Disney Visa exclusive Captain Hook's Treasure Chest pin.  The pin features Hook and Smee, and it has flashy jewels and "Visa Cards from Chase" printed on the pirate flag.  It's so cool, and I can't wait to see the 2016 version!

Adorable credit card designs
You love Mickey on your shirts, mugs, hats, bags... why not on your credit card! I went with a classic Mickey design, but there are other cute card designs featuring Minnie, Cars, Toy Story, Tinkerbell, Nemo, the Fab Five, and more.

No Annual Fee
You get all these benefits, with no annual fee!

If you like Disney, and especially if you like going on Disney vacations, the Disney Visa card is a no-brainer.  The only question is whether you should get the Classic (no annual fee) Visa card or the Premier Visa card, which has a $50 annual fee, but earns you 2% for purchases made at restaurants, gas stations, groceries, and Disney locations. The Premier Visa also lets you redeem your reward points for airline travel.  Using a Disney Visa Card to help offset the cost of your Disney vacation is a great money saving tip, and it's one that I intend to add to any list of tips I offer for ways to save money on a Disney vacation!

Disclosure: I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post. . The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Spread on the flavor with Mezzetta Everything Spread

Garlic bread is easy to make -- but any recipe that calls for minced garlic can be a real pain. Peeling and mincing garlic is not one of my favorite tasks (not to mention cleaning my hands and utensils afterwards), so I often rely on pre-minced garlic.  Now, Mezzetta Foods, best known for their jarred olives and pickled peppers and specialty Italian jarred foods, has come up with something even better: a Savory Garlic Spread!

It's all part of their new Everything Spreads line, which features savory ingredients blended into a ready-to-use spread.  These spreads are great to add to your favorite recipes (or just a slice of bread!) to give it a burst of flavor.  There are four varieties:  Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil, Red Hot Chili Pepper, Olive Parmesan & Garlic, and Savory Garlic.  We received samples of Mezzetta Everything Spreads and we can't wait to try them all!

First up: the Savory Garlic spread.  We used it to make the easiest, most delicious garlic bread ever!  Just spread butter on a baguette, then spread some Savory Garlic on top, then broil. Served it with a caprese salad, it makes a wonderful meal.

The taste explosion doesn't end with garlic bread.  Mezetta's website, www.mezzetta.com, has lots of recipes and ideas for using Everything Spreads.  Here are 5 suggestions they have for using Mezzetta Savory Garlic Everything Spread:

• Make ballpark garlic fries.
• Add to mashed potatoes.
• Toss with pasta.
• Spoon over garden vegetables.
• Make garlic butter for steak.

Savory Garlic is such a versatile spread, I had no problem coming up with 5 suggestions of my own!

• Add to hummus.
• Use to make garlic fried rice.
• Brush onto grilled and buttered corn.
• Brush onto grilled chicken.
• Brush on top of homemade bread rolls or biscuits before baking.

Basically, you can use the Savory Garlic spread on everything you would use minced garlic -- without all the fuss of mincing your own garlic.  Imagine the possibilities when you have all four flavors in your pantry!

You can find Mezzetta Everything Spread at West Coast Safeway stores, Kroger and Raley's stores, and H.E.B. in Texas for about $3.49.  Happy cooking (and eating!)!

Disclosure:I received product samples for review.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Springtime Roundup at Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch

Springtime Roundup at Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch

There's always something blooming at the Disneyland Resort!  They are celebrating springtime and Easter in a big way down at Big Thunder Ranch with the Springtime Roundup event, running from March 20 till April 12.  I was at the Disneyland Resort on March 20, and I stopped by Big Thunder Ranch to take a peek and share in all the hoppyness and excitement. Here's a rundown of all the best things to enjoy at this year's Springtime Roundup:

The main area still retains its down-home country feel, but there's a springtime feel, with touches of pastel in the flowers and the decor.
Springtime Roundup at Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch

Guests can take part in special Easter themed crafts like decorating your own Easter eggs.
Springtime Roundup at Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch

There are crayons and coloring crafts strewn around the tables for kids to enjoy.
Springtime Roundup at Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch

There's a hoedown with musicians and dancers (love the pastel-checkered outfits!) teaching kids the bunny hop and other country dances.
Springtime Roundup at Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch

Character meet-and-greets at the Springtime Roundup include Rabbit from Winnie-the-Pooh, Roger Rabbit, the Easter Bunny, Thumper (see the bunny theme?), Pluto (with bunny ears!), Jessie from Toy Story, and of course Minnie and Mickey in their springtime cowboy outfits.  Even though it was the very first day, the lines to meet the characters did not seem to long, probably because Big Thunder Ranch is out of the way.
Springtime Roundup at Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch

Of course, it wouldn't be Big Thunder Ranch without the petting zoo and donkey pens!  The Springtime Roundup ends April 12, so grab yer pardners and mosey on down to Big Thunder Ranch and join in the fun.
Springtime Roundup at Disneyland's Big Thunder Ranch

Disclosure: I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Ten Ways to enjoy Nonni's Biscotti

I was first introduced to Nonni's Biscotti in 2012, and I've been hooked ever since.  Every time I see Nonni's on a grocery shelf, I just have to grab a box!  Everyone in my family loves the just-right sweetness and the light, crispy texture.  Even better are the little add-ons like bits or caramel or
chocolate that melts in your mouth when dipped into a hot drink!

My favorite flavors are Salted Caramel and Turtle Pecan, but there's a flavor for every taste: traditional "plain" almond, plain with toffee bits and almonds dipped in chocolate, plain with cherries and almonds dipped in chocolate, lemon, chocolate almond dipped in chocolate, chocolate almond with chocolate chunks dipped in chocolate.  Yum!

Each piece of Nonni's Biscotti is individually wrapped, so it's easy to pack into lunchboxes for the kids. Any time is a good time to enjoy Nonni's Biscotti -- as a snack or a dessert -- and it's perfect for any occasion, whether it's Easter tea or a morning coffee party or cocktail party dessert tray or birthday snack or holiday dinner. There are so many ways to enjoy Nonni's Biscotti!  Here are 10 of them:

Dip Nonni's Biscotti into Vin Santo (I've heard this is the authentic way to enjoy biscotti!)
Dip Nonni's Biscotti into milk
Dip Nonni's Biscotti into tea
Dip Nonni's Biscotti into coffee, capuccino, or espresso
Dip Nonni's Biscotti into hot chocolate
Dip Nonni's Biscotti into a milk shake
Sprinkle chunks of Nonni's Biscotti over yogurt and fruit
Sprinkle chunks of Nonni's Biscotti over ice cream
Spread chocolate-hazelnut spread over Nonni's Biscotti and top with sliced strawberries
Soak Nonni's Biscotti in milk overnight and use to make bread pudding

Of course, we also love eating Nonni's Biscotti right out of the box!  How do YOU like eating your Nonni's Biscotti?

Disclosure: I received samples for review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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