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December 3, 2013

Disney World's Limited Time Magic allows guests to donate Duffy bears to Toys For Tots

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When the winter holiday season arrives, many parents look for concrete ways to demonstrate to their children the importance of giving to those who are less fortunate. For some, that mission is accomplished through their places of worship. For others, it is through community groups and charities.

One donation method, though, that is easy for children of all ages to grasp is the nationwide Toys For Tots program. Participants donate new, unwrapped toys during the months of October, November and the first part of December, and then the gifts are distributed during the second half of December. Toys For Toys, which is run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, aims to inspire hope in youngsters "that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens."

Local campaigns are conducted in more than 700 communities in all 50 states, including Orlando. And for this week, Walt Disney World is offering a special Limited Time Magic deal to benefit Toys For Tots. For each $5 donation from a guest, Walt Disney World will give a 17-inch Duffy the Disney Bear to Toys for Tots.

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I really love this promotion for so many reasons. Most importantly, these donations will put new "friends" in the hands of many children who really need them. Time and again, parents watch their children bond with special stuffed animals -- teddy bears or other loveys -- and the animals provide a sense of security and comfort. Imagine what they could do for children in families where futures are uncertain.

For families who can afford extras, like vacations at Walt Disney World, this offer gives them an easy way to share some of the Disney magic with those who are less fortunate. It's easy to make a simple donation and show children how it can help others. It's also a great teachable moment to ask your child to spend $5 of their own souvenir money to help other kids have a better Christmas and learn an easy lesson about personal sacrifice. Or, if children are too young to have their own money, parents can explain that instead of mom and dad enjoying a particular treat in the theme parks that day, they are donating the Duffy the Disney Bear instead.

The 17-inch Duffy the Disney Bear retails for $30, so guests can feel good about the value of their donations, too.

And, as teachable moments go, don't forget to note a historical aspect of the program either. Point to the Toys For Tots train logo at the collection site and ask the kids if they know where it was created. Then tell them how, in 1948, the logo actually was created by Disney animators as Walt Disney Studios joined with other Hollywood filmmakers to support this worthy program. That Disney-created artwork has been used ever since.

Donations for the Duffy bears are being accepted at Once Upon a Toy or World of Disney at Downtown Disney Marketplace though Dec. 8. In addition to subsidizing the plush bears, Walt Disney World is donating $200,000 to Toys for Tots this holiday season.



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July 26, 2012

Finding the magic for kids at Downtown Disney's Marketplace

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If you're looking for some Disney magic without going into the Orlando theme parks, why not spend part of a day at Downtown Disney's Marketplace?

When my children were younger, one of their playgroups actually met at the open-air shopping district because there were so many free and low-cost fun things for the kids to do. And, although some aspects have changed, there still are plenty of activities to entertain the younger set.

First, be sure to bring a swimsuit, towel and sunscreen (or at least a change of clothes) for the kids because there are two areas with jumping water fountains. The larger one is located between Once Upon A Toy and Earl of Sandwich, and the smaller water feature is adjacent to the back entrance to Disney's Days of Christmas. There are benches around the fountains for parents, and bathrooms are nearby so changing afterward is easy.

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Little ones are sure to enjoy the train ride and a small carousel. Each costs $2 per ride per child, but parents are free. My children always sought out the lone "teacup" on the carousel because they thought that made the ride a little more special. All that spinning made me happy I was the one taking photos!

Nearby, Once Upon a Toy has play areas set up among the unique Disney-themed toys. Younger kids are likely to be interested in the tables set up to build Mr. Potato Head figures with the theme-park pieces, while the older kids will gravitate to the middle of the store where Nintendo DS, Wii and Playstation Station systems allow them to test the newest Disney video games.

Kids who are into Disney pin-trading can make a stop at the pin-trading center to see what cast members have to barter for their collections. (For tips on pin-trading with kids, please see my blog post.)

Ridemakerz, the custom remote-control car shop, is located inside Team Mickey. And while these cars can be expensive to purchase, there is an area bordered by bumpers that allows guests to test their new cars or other demo cars. Taking these souped-up cars for a spin can be entertaining.

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World of Disney, the largest store to carry Disney merchandise, also is home to one of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique locations. At these salons, Fairy Godmothers in Training transform little girls into Disney princesses. These experiences typically require reservations and can be pricey. But the Fairy Godmothers in Training often are circulating in the store or standing outside the entrances, and they will offer kids a sprinkle of pixie dust for free. It's a small thing, but my almost-8-year-old daughter still loves to get the glitter in her hair.

Next door is the expanded Lego Imagination Center, where kids will find tubs of LEGOs to build creations and a raised slope to race them outside. Inside, the main room features a hub of computers where kids can design LEGO structures and play games. Parents also will find another play table filled with LEGOs tucked inside a separate room.

Don't forget to stop for lunch amidst all the fun! There are several places for a light bite, plus the always-fun Rainforest Cafe or T-Rex restaurants. If you're not familiar with the concept, these two restaurants transform while guests are dining. At Rainforest Cafe, a thunderstorm shakes the jungle and animals and a meteor shower descends on T-Rex. Afterward, pop into the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop, where a cast member is always handing out seasonal samples.

Our last activity is usually to ride the water taxi from The Marketplace to West Side and back. It's free and the kids consider it an attraction, not just transportation.

I hope these ideas will be useful for guests with kids who want to dive into the Disney magic on a day they may not be going into the Disney theme parks. For my family, Downtown Disney is a fun way to get our Disney fix when the blockout dates are in effect for seasonal passes.

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About Once Upon a Toy

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Once Upon a Toy category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Levy Restaurants cooking school is the previous category.

Phineas & Ferb and YOU: A Brand New Reality is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.