Lovely Family of 11 at Disney Springs

Lovely Family of 11 at Disney Springs

Imagine what it would look like for eleven people, four generations, spanning two continents to come together in the most magical place on Earth… that’s exactly what this is!

These grandparents were incredibly sweet and loving. From snuggles to treats, they had the grandparent gig all figured out. Everyone had so much fun.  Don’t worry – Great Grandpa got a treat!

This family has a special place in their hearts for Disney Springs as they’ve spent a lot of time there together. It also made a perfect spot for their session because after they were done playing and having fun during our session, they got to have a fun-filled family evening there.

The Venardos Circus: Family Fun in Horizon West

The Venardos Circus: Family Fun in Horizon West

Thank you to The Venardos Circus for hosting my family for this fun, local circus!

The Venardos Circus is an animal-free, Broadway-style circus. That’s right, composed of all people, you’ll find some singing, some jokes and a lot of very talented people in this show. If you love watching shows that showcase talent, you’ll love this show! It’s a family-friendly event that everyone can enjoy. There’s an inspirational part to their story, about following your dreams.  I loved that part. You can feel the passion and drive that the performers put into this show and that makes it even more special.

They started with one small tent and a big dream and now they have turned this international circus performance into a year long tour! Y

The Venardos Circus happens to be in Winter Garden / Horizon West right now until November 24, 2019. The tent is located on the corner of Hamlin Groves Trail and New Independence Parkway.  We hope they will return to this area again next year so be sure to tell them how much you enjoyed their show.

The Ring Master Who Shared His Dream with Us

A few tips to help you have the best experience:

1. Arrive early for the pre-show.  The pre-show starts an hour before the show officially starts. Kids can go up on the stage and play with scarves and interact with the performers.  This was my daughter’s favorite part so I wouldn’t miss it! Also, it gives you the opportunity to get better seats.

2. Prepare for the weather and bugs.  On the night we went it was a little warm and I did see one mosquito. You may want to have bug spray. If you have a very young one, consider a stroller fan and/or layers. Although it’s in a tent, it’s like being outside.

3. The seats are not tiered so it may be harder for younger children to see if sitting in their own seat.  A closer seat, an end seat or sitting on a parent’s lap may help.

Pre-Show Party on the Stage

A Family Circus – Including Families Performing Together

And don’t forget the snacks… We had some lemonade and it was delicious!

Also, did you know that ALL of the snacks are plant based / vegan?  That’s right! The popcorn, cotton candy, pretzels and even the cheese are all vegan. This circus is both fun and compassionate and I couldn’t love that more!

See some video clips and more over on my pinned stories on Instagram here.

Have you been to The Venardos Circus? Tell me what you thought about it in the comments here.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: Tips for the Family!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party: Tips for the Family!

I want to thank Walt Disney World and my friend, Priscila at Social Parenting, for inviting me to experience my very first time at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!

A few of my favorite things in life are my family, Disney and the holidays.  So getting to experience all of these things at once was incredibly magical for me! I’m happy to help you by sharing some tips and photos so you know what to expect when you go.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP) is a special ticketed event at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom during the winter holiday season. This party will run through December 22, 2019. For more information on dates and tickets, see Disney’s website here.

As a local Annual Passholder and a parent of a toddler, I’m bringing you some special tips to get the most out of your experience as well as share a few of my favorite parts.

General Tips:

  1. You can arrive at 4 PM on your party night with your party ticket even without a regular admission ticket.  Four to seven PM on party nights tends to be a quieter time, so you may experience lower than normal wait times.  If you also have regular admission tickets, you may schedule Fast Passes during that time. There are no Fast Passes after the party starts but waits for rides tend to be reasonable.
  2. Plan your dinner sometime between 4 and 7 PM too. Whether you are eating at home, a resort or in the parks, it’s a good idea to make sure you have had a solid meal before the party starts so you’re prepared to have some treats once the party begins.
  3. Make a priority list and a general itinerary.
  4. Be sure to grab a map / brochure immediately.  This will have the time guides and locations of special “party only” things like treats and rides. Even if you’re familiar with the park, this will still be immensely helpful for you.
  5. Two things to make sure you get right away are your Sorcerer’s Card (available by the fire station on the left side of the entrance) and your first cookie (on the right side of the entrance).
  6. Make sure you take plenty of pictures.  If you have a ticket that includes Memory Maker / PhotoPass, you can take advantage of the magic shots available throughout the party.  If you don’t have it, they do have a special one night Memory Maker price available.
  7. Plan your outfit! You can wear Christmas Jammies or Ugly Christmas Sweaters or some festive Minnie Ears. Many people are dressed for the holidays and it’s a lot of fun!
  8. Do not miss walking through Main Street!  At the beginning of the party, during each parade and at the end of the night, it SNOWS on Main Street and it is simply magical.
  9. There are treat stations throughout the park and you can get treats by going through those lines. If you have a food allergy, you can request an allergy cookie which is the Enjoy Life chocolate chip mini cookies (they are not available at every station). There are cookies, snowman pretzels and drinks such as hot cocoa and cider.  What is available and where to get it is listed on the map/brochure.

Tips as an Annual Passholder (AP):

  1. Arriving around 6 PM will give you enough time to get your first cookie, a few photos and get in line for the first thing on your itinerary.  You can arrive before 6 PM but as an AP, there are not many advantages to arriving much earlier.  This gives you time to make sure you are rested and ready for the rest of the evening.
  2. You can save money by signing into your account and buying your tickets with your Annual Passholder discount in advance – around $10 savings per ticket.
  3. If your AP includes PhotoPass photos, be sure to take advantage of the many photographers. There are Magic Shots and photographers everywhere throughout the party.

Tips for Families with Young Children:

  1. This party was seriously MAGICAL overall and my daughter LOVED it. The snow on Main Street and all of the magic around every corner was just so special. Prepare for your heart to melt with love and joy sharing these fun holiday traditions with your little ones.
  2. Consider how late your child will stay up. My two-year-old surprised me by staying up the whole time for the Halloween Party but she was clearly done around 10 PM when she took her shoes off and she didn’t want to leave the stroller again after that. I made the first half of the night heavier on activities she would like to be up and doing. For this party, I only had her stay with me for the first hour so that I could have some much appreciated alone time.  We plan on going back as a family in the near future.
  3. Create a child-centric itinerary but also do some of the things you want to do. Balance your itinerary with things that will keep everyone happy.
  4. Consider bringing a stroller and/or baby carrier, depening on what your child prefers.  We always prefer to have both.
  5. Rider Swap is available for rides like Space Mountain.  Rider Swap is a program available to families with young children so that parents only wait once while the other parent stays with the young child(ren) and then the parents swap places and the other parent rides.
  6. Be flexible.  Flexibility is always the key to happiness with young children.  You may think one plan may work, but they may have other plans and you just have to roll with it.
  7. Plan for a longer nap before the party and a slow morning/day the day after the party. We were all tired the next day were all in bed early the next night!

Plant Based Eating

If you eat vegan and/or gluten-free, there are Enjoy Life Cookies available during the party.  They are vegan. gluten free and allergy friendly.  They are only available at the first stop and a few locations like Pinnochio House and the Launching Pad.  They are not available at every location. The apple cider (more like apple juice but still good) is also available at The Launching Pad. The Snowman pretzel is vegan (but not gluten free).

I chose to pay for my own hot chocolate which is vegan and gluten free when ordered with plant milk at the Starbucks on Main Street. You could also choose to bring one from home and bring it in a stay warm mug. There are few vegan and gluten free options included during the party so I do think purchasing this extra is worth it.

Vegan & Gluten Free Cookies, Complimentary During the Party

Snowman Pretzels, Vegan, Complimentary During the Party

Very Merry Specials

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show, Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade are shows you cannot miss! I chose to stay by the castle from about 9:45 PM until 11:30 PM to catch them all in a row. If you do this, it’s the Fireworks at 10 PM, Merriest Celebration (castle stage show) at 10:30 PM and then the Parade at 11 PM. Here are some photos of these merriest specials.

Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks Show was every bit as special and magical as I wished for.  Tinkerbell does fly during the show, too!

Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration is a sweet show about inviting all of your friends to join in celebrating the holidays with you. My favorite part was when the prancing reindeer brought in Clarabelle. It was so fun, you’ll just have to see it… There’s even an appearance from Santa Mickey!

I don’t think I could pick an absolute favorite part of my night but seeing Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade directly in front of the castle was certainly in my top favorite Disney memories to date. There was something special about the music, the cheer and seeing all my favorite friends with the castle lit up in the background. With so many of our Disney friends waving right at us, it was just a perfect time! Who is your favorite Disney friend to see? I loved seeing the Prancing Reindeer because my sister and I loved them growing up and it’s a special memory for me.

For more snippets of my night at the party, head over to my Instagram and check out my pinned stories. Be sure to follow me while you’re there to stay up with our latest adventures.

Tell me in the comments – what’s your favorite part of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party?!

For me, it was seeing the magic in my daughter’s eyes as she experienced the snow and tree on Main Street.

I hope you have a wonderful, pixie dusted holiday with your family! – Jess

Gorgeous Family of Six in Winter Garden

Gorgeous Family of Six in Winter Garden

I absolutely love big families because the joy and love just multiplies exponentially. With four young children, I’m sure it can feel busy, or even a little wild. However, as you can see in these photos, the comfort in knowing you have the love and support of each other makes it all worth it.

I know that this mom was hoping for genuine smiles during this session… These kids delivered!

are you interested in booking a session?
Email me at theartofadventures@gmail.com for more information.

Family Session in Windermere: Dinos Included!

Family Session in Windermere: Dinos Included!

Family Session in Windermere Florida

When you meet two young men in a family sessions, it’s pretty likely that there will be playing, dinosaurs and sticks included and these guys didn’t disappoint!

Family Session in Windermere Florida

Family Session in Windermere Florida

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What I didn’t expect was for these two guys to start planning their own shots by the end of the session and having a blast doing it!

Family Session in Windermere Florida \Family Session in Windermere Florida

Family Session in Windermere Florida

This session was a family session done in the morning in Windermere, Florida. Mom said they were going for breakfast after. This seemed like a really ideal morning for this family – we had fun playing and exploring at this park and then they enjoyed a family meal after. Perfect!

Family Session in Windermere Florida
Family Session in Windermere Florida

Family Session in Windermere Florida

Are you interested in booking a session with me? Please email me at theartofadventures@gmail.com! Thank you!

Family Session on Their Farm

Family Session on Their Farm

When this family contacted me about a family session, they asked if I would be open to coming to their farm. My immediate answer was yes and from now on whenever anyone asks me if I can come to their farm, it will always be yes!

Farms are just the perfect place for photos. And this family’s farm with their sweet animals and beautiful evening light was the PERFECT spot to capture this family just as they are.

Family on their central florida farm

Here are a few with their beloved animals.  They have pigs, goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks and more! I loved seeing how responsible these two guys were with the animals and how loving the animals were.  I’d imagine getting goat kisses is absolutely as sweet as it looks. And some of these animals were actually posing! They must love the camera!

boy with goat on central florida farm

boys with goat on central florida farm

boy with chicken on farm

boy with chicken on farm

parents with goat on central florida farm

One of the best parts about this session being on this family’s large farm was the variety of places we could take photos.  We also got the opportunity to just let everyone play while I captured their normal family life.

I even caught a few snuggles on one of their quilts.

A few photos by the pond on their property rounded out this perfect session!

Family on their central florida farm

Who else is ready to buy a farm in Central Florida after seeing these gorgeous photos of this beautiful family on their farm?! I know I’m tempted!

If you’re interested in booking a photography session with me in Central Florida, please email me at theartofadventures@gmail.com.  Thank you!

30 Minutes in October: My Location Scouting Buddy

30 Minutes in October: My Location Scouting Buddy

It doesn’t get any more real than this. This is an accurate portrayal of our truest every day life. A good amount of our time is spent at Magic Kingdom meeting princesses and eating Mickey snacks, that’s true too.

But this is what working mom life of a toddler looks like.

This cutie patootie will only wear a few dresses right now. And they’re all princess dresses. Her most said words are twirl, shoes and bow. So she’s dressed her part in these photos.

Today, my work led me to checking out a new location. October and November are to a photographer what March and April are to an accountant. It’s busy season! And we are feeling it. I made a commitment to document 30 minutes of our ordinary life each month along side some other wonderful photographers. This month I didn’t get to it until the last minute and that’s another part that just makes this even more real for us.

When people book with me, they can expect me to go above and beyond to make sure they have a good session where they have both a good experience and love their photos. I help with ideas for everything – location, outfits, announcements and more – to help make the session perfect.

So here we are. My cutie patootie running around in her mismatched Disney Princess outfit, helping me location scout. And my husband in the background making sure she didn’t run into water and trying to grab her attention, even if for a few seconds.

toddler girl on bridge

My Cutie

Toddler girl running on bridge

Running and Playing

Running

Like a Princess

Windermere FL Photography Location

Beautiful Skies and Reflection of Trees

Windermere FL Photography Location

Sunsets Make for Perfect Light

Windermere FL Photography Location

And I’m Always Chasing the Light!

Windermere FL Photography Location

She Says, “Catch Me if You Can!”

Windermere FL Photography Location

Really Loving Being Mommy’s Model

Windermere FL Photography Location

Mostly Because Daddy’s Being Silly!

Windermere FL Photography Location

These Curls – Wild Like Her

Windermere FL Photography Location

We Found Lots of Greenery

Windermere FL Photography Location

And Some Classic Spanish Moss

Windermere FL Photography Location

And Even the Smallest Amount of Florida Fall Colors Count, Right? Happy Fall, Y’all!

The woman who asked me about this location was looking for authentic Florida with greenery, palm trees and some water. She loves the bridge and the beauty of the location. I agree with her!

What do you think? Do you love this location too? Let me know in the comments.

This is a circle blog, so please feel free to join me in checking out the other wonderful photographer’s in this group starting with Janet from Janet Crouch Photography and her amazing blog this month.

If you’re interested in booking a photography session here at this Windermere location or another Central Florida location, please email me at theartofadventures@gmail.com.

Magical Fairy Sessions

Magical Fairy Sessions

I am so excited to share with you a few photos from each of the Fairy Sessions. These sessions were to raise money for an amazingly magical organization, Give Kids the World. To learn more about Give Kids the World Village, visit my post here. Or to make a donation that goes directly to helping families with critically children have a fun week long magical vacation, go here. Even a small donation helps and goes directly to helping bring magic to families when they need it most.

Thank you to the families who helped me contribute to spreading the magic. Our team is currently at over $800 in donations!  So much magic!

Here is a little girl who was just precious playing in these fairy fields.

Little Child playing with magic fairy

Little Child playing with magic fairy

Little Child playing with magic fairy

This brother and sister also had a lot of fun trying to find fairies.  Can you believe how many they found?

Little Child playing with magic fairy

Little Child playing with magic fairy

Little Child playing with magic fairy

This little girl enjoyed running around exploring the fairy forest and playing hide and seek with the fairies.

Little Child playing with magic fairy

Little Child playing with magic fairy

Little Child playing with magic fairy

This little girl celebrated her first birthday by searching for fairies in the fields and flowers.  Big brother helped her find some of the magical little fairies too!

Little Child playing with magic fairy

Little Child playing with magic fairy

Little Child playing with magic fairy

Little Child playing with magic fairy

Thank you again to everyone who booked a Magical Fairy Session to help me give to Give Kids the World Village.  Also, thank you to my friend Mia who helped me coordinate these sessions!

If you’re interested in booking a photo session with me, please email theartofadventures@gmail.com.

Give Kids the World Village

Give Kids the World Village

Give Kids the World Village offers an immersive week long all-expenses-paid family vacation for families with a child who has a critical illness.  If I had a wish, I would wish away any illness and discomfort these children and their families experience. The next best thing is the memory of a lifetime provided by Give Kids the World.

As a foster parent, I lived the medical mom life. I spent a lot of time in children’s hospitals and doctors’ offices. It can be extremely difficult and exhausting. It can be a little lonely too, even with good support. One thing I found effective for myself was to plan fun things to do as a family and take a lot of photos. I displayed these photos on our TV through a screen saver as a reminder that our entire life wasn’t just medical appointments. And another helpful thing for me was to find other families in similar positions who could relate to us. So I really see the value in an experience like this where they find support and receive amazing memories. For some families, this could possibly their last family vacation together. Can you imagine the value in the memories and photos? Priceless.

Knowing that Give Kids the World Village offers this priceless gift to families, I wanted to know more. So recently I took a tour of their village in Kissimmee so that I could bring you some more information about all of the magic they provide. Thank you to Jessica for showing me around the 84 acre property and telling me all about the amazing things they do for children and their families.

Join me in this short photo tour of their property and learn a little more about the joy and magic provided by Give Kids the World Village.

The behind the scenes work begins months before a child ever arrives in Florida. Any critically child who makes a wish for a trip to Disney or Orlando theme parks through any wish granting organization like Make-a-Wish is directed to Give Kids the World.

Founded in 1986, Give Kids the World aims to quickly and efficiently bring critically children’s wishes and dreams to life. The usual process takes just a few months to coordinate but can be coordinated in as little as one day if needed. Every family receives donated theme park tickets to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World and more, a stay in an accessible villa, all transportation, meals and a lot of magic!

Each family is welcomed directly in their villa so they can learn about all of their amazing offerings. Each villa includes a kitchen, washer and dryer and several bedrooms which can accommodate even larger families.

Give Kids the World Villa

Give Kids the World Villa Where Families Stay

Then families can choose whether to explore the theme parks or explore the property.  There are volunteers who can help coordinate the plans as much or as little as a family desires.

While in Kids in the World Village families feel welcomed immediately.  Flags from each of the countries families are visiting from hang to say, “hello and welcome!”

amberville at give kids the world

Amberville Play Area and Welcome Flags

The movie theater on the property plays movies that are currently in the theaters and includes delicious snacks!

Give Kids the World Village Movie Theater

Movie Theater

Families can play miniature golf in Marc’s Dino Putt which has a unique story. Marc’s wishes were to be a dinosaur, get a million dollars and live forever. When Marc met a Dinosaur at Universal, everyone fell in love with him.  Later when he passed away, Universal spent a million dollars building Marc’s Dino Putt making all of his wishes come true! And bringing magic to all the families who visited Give Kids the World Village after him.

Marc's Dino Putt

Marc’s Dino Putt

Families can also enjoy many other activities such as bowling, video games, skee-ball, arcade games and more throughout Amberville.

Dillons Bowling

Dillon’s Den Bowling Alley

Send a Letter to God

Send a Letter to God in Tyler’s Mailbox

Train Set

Train Set

There are several amusement rides right on the property which families can ride as many times as they wish, with no wait! All are fully accessible so that even people in wheelchairs can ride.

Kellys Sunny Swing

Kelly’s Sunny Swing

Kellys Sunny Swing

A Fully Accessible Swing Ride

ride

Fully Accessible Ride

A train will even take families around the property!

train ride

Train Ride Around the Property

Mayor Clayton is a bunny, the Give Kids the World mascot.  Mayor and Mrs. Clayton live in this little house and magically grow bigger to come out and meet the kids.  They can play in their house and garden too!

Claytons House

Mayor Clayton’s House

Children and their families can get a makeover or a glitter tattoo in the Rocking Spa.  Anything the child gets, any member of the family can get so siblings get the same magical experiences.  If one child gets a toy, all children get toys! If one child gets a makeover, they can all get one!

Rockin Spa

Rockin Spa

All meals at Give Kids the World Village are provided.  They also have ice cream available all the time.  Children who are critically ill hear “no” a lot and their time at Give Kids the World Village is a time to relax, enjoy and hear “yes!” I know the importance of this too.  When we had to say goodbye to the children we were foster parents for, I never regretted saying yes and one yes I often said was, “Yes, you can have ice cream for breakfast.”  So I absolutely love and support Give Kids the World for saying yes to ice cream all day!

Give Kids the World Village

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Here!

Give Kids the World Village Scoops Starlight

Starlite Scoops Provides Ice Cream All Day

Year round, Give Kids the World celebrates holidays in a week rotation.  So no matter when a family arrives, they’ll celebrate the whole year’s holidays.  They will celebrate things like Halloween and Christmas.  On the night we went, they were celebrating Halloween.  They could make masks and trick-or-treat.  On the Christmas celebration day, they have a Winter Wonderland including gifts and toys!

Give Kids the World Village

The Hoppening Place

Each Wish Child receives a star.  This is the only thing that only they receive.  They can decorate it and put their name on it.  Then they give it to a fairy who magically places it on the ceiling.  Seeing all of the stars is truly humbling.  Look at all of the magic spread over all of the years.

Wish Stars

Wish Stars

Wish Stars

Wish Stars

Wish Stars

Wish Stars in the New Tower

Even the new tower is already full of stars! They will be making more room for more stars, based on the support of donations like yours.

What do you think? With only an 8% administrative rate and mostly run by volunteers and ALL OF THE MAGIC provided to families, this is a charity that I can get behind supporting 100%.  I hope you’ll join me in supporting them.

So how can you support Give Kids the World Village?

  1. You can follow The Art of Adventures Photography Facebook Page to see when my next Magical Fairy Sessions will be.
  2. You can join our Challenge for Hope Team as an in person or virtual participant here.
  3. Simply donate to our team! All of the money goes directly to Give Kids the World.
  4. Volunteer! You do not need to live in Central Florida to volunteer either.  You can take some time out of your vacation and even volunteer with older children. Learn more on the Give Kids the World Village website.
Family Session at Lake Louisa State Park

Family Session at Lake Louisa State Park

 

This beautiful family chose to have their session at Lake Louisa State Park after talking about a few different locations. This is one of my personal favorite locations as well!

Lake Louisa is a Florida State Park located in Clermont, Florida. There is a few dollar entrance fee per car per day or you can get a Annual State Park Pass, which I highly recommend. There are plenty of State Parks to explore and it’s a great way to explore the natural and pure Florida life.

Please check out some of these photos of this gorgeous family of five.