Why Disney Hollywood Studios is One of My Favorite Parks

From our newest contributor, Modern Boca DISNEY Mom!

Disney Hollywood Studios WM

When I was a young girl, and Disney Hollywood Studios was still MGM, it was my favorite park at Walt Disney World.

I know, weird, right?

It wasn’t the most exciting park, although The Tower of Terror will surely knock your socks off. But, there was something about the glamour and nostalgia of Old Hollywood, the magic of filmmaking, and the homage to a time when my grandparents were still youthful that appealed so much to me. The old black & white movies, 1920’s fashions, and fantasizing about what Sunset Blvd. was like during the Classic Hollywood era are the reasons why I moved to Hollywood after college to work in the Movies. Disney Hollywood Studios made that tangible, even if it was made of the same facade as the New York City Streets on any backlot.

There is something that happens when you work in the movie industry though. After a while, the sparkle goes away. You can’t help but think about the process, the behind the scenes, and the reality of the illusion, rather than get captured up in the bright lights and shimmer that makes the Magic. And, Disney is all about the Magic!

I guess you can say that I came home from California a little bit jaded.

And even years after leaving Hollywood, the dimmer was still on in those first few trips back to now, Hollywood Studios. It went from being my favorite of all the parks to my least favorite at Disney World. I didn’t think that way about the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, or Animal Kingdom. It was only Hollywood Studios that I found boring.

This was probably because we weren’t watching a ton of Disney Junior quite yet, and Sophia The First had just premiered (truth be told, I probably like Sophia as much as my daughter). The Tower of Terror and Rock’n’Roll Rollercoaster were too old for my infant and toddler. American Idol was not a draw for me. The kids didn’t have the attention span for MuppetVision. There just didn’t seem to be a lot of age-appropriate activities or interests for us to explore. And, walking down Sunset Blvd. or being on the backlot wasn’t exciting for me in the least, when the real thing was my reality every day for years.

Now, you might be inclined (or not) to say “Let It Go”, and I am happy to report that I have!

I am singing a different tune (just not the one above)! My kids are a bit older (ages 2 and 3) and it’s been many years since I lived in Los Angeles, and I might even go as far as to say I am nostalgic for the City of Angels from time to time. So, my eyes are opening up to the amount of sites that there are to see, for all ages, at Hollywood Studios.

Disney is making some really smart changes, capitalizing on the popularity of Frozen and Star Wars, ditching the American Idol attraction and Indiana Jones (for the record, I was always a fan of “Indie”). They are obviously making room for some new permanent attractions, and by next year I wouldn’t be surprised if MGM…I mean, Hollywood Studios, competes with being one of my favorites!

Family with Lighting and Mater

Our Current Favorite Attractions at Hollywood Studios:

  • New Wandering Oaken’s Frozen Snowground – Get all your Frozen needs at the Trading Post and then build a snow castle at the Snowground. For my Floridian children, playing in the snow is a super treat!
  • Honey, I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure – Classic! Kids can run around the play area as if they are the size of a bug. Run through giant blades of grass, slide on a film strip (would they even know what that is?), sit on a bumble bee and ant bigger than they are, and go through huge root tunnels. Awesome!
  • Beauty and The Beast – I just love the costumes and dancing of the live version from Belle and Beast in the faux Hollywood Bowl.
  • Disney Junior – Any little fans of Disney Junior will love seeing Mickey and the Gang up on stage with Jake and The Neverland PiratesSophia the First, and Doc McStuffins.
  • Hollywood & Vine Character Breakfast and Lunch with Disney Junior – Good food, and you get to dance with Jake, Doc, and Sophia.
  • Star Tours – A little too rough for the kids, but the galaxy fighting simulation is great fun for me and my husband.
  • Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights – If you are at Disney during the holidays, don’t miss the coordinating Holiday lights on the New York City streets of Hollywood Studios.


Attractions We Look Forward To:

  • Toy Story Mania – This 4D shooting game is probably the most popular ride at the park. You need to get to the park at opening and make a beeline for this ride or get a FastPass. I am going to prioritize this one the next time we go.
  • Fantasmic! – This firework and light show  are supposed to be…well…fantastic! We never stay at the park late enough to attend, but its on our list next trip. I think we will do a FastPass for this one. There is a Dining Package that you can book for priority seating options as well.

Rumor Has It:

  • Cars Land – My Kids would flip! They have seen video of Cars Land in Disneyland’s California Adventure and ask to go all the time. Too bad we live not the opposite Coast. There is a lot of inventory with the closing to The Backlot Tour, so it would just make sense to bring a Cars ride, let alone Land to Disney World.
  • More Star Wars – You know Star Wars fans would flock to Hollywood Studios with more Star Wars attractions, so why wouldn’t they expand the already popular Star Tours and Jedi Training Academy?
  • Frozen – I think it is safe to say that this summer’s Frozen themed ice skating rink and sing-along was a big draw for Hollywood Studios. I wouldn’t be surprised if Disney creates another Frozen attraction with all the changes being made at Hollywood Studios.

Regardless of what Disney has in the blueprints for Hollywood Studios, they are on point with the changes being made, and I am excited to see what they are building. With fresh rides and shows, we look forward to visiting Hollywood Studios a lot more in the future!

Casey has traveled to 47 out of the 50 States, and Disney World probably as many times. The mom of Irish Twins, she runs a blog called Hunting for Rubies that focuses on Family, Travel, and Adventure here in South Florida and beyond. Interested in travel tips and fun adventures to be had, follow Hunting for Rubies on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

MOMpreneur Monday: Cender Scholars Tutoring

MOMpreneur: n. defined as a female business owner who is actively balancing the role of mom and the role of entrepreneur.

Happy Monday Modern Boca Moms!  Welcome to our next installment of MOMpreneur Monday on MBMom, highlighting Florida businesses and brands that were founded by female entrepreneurs and fellow Mommas.

MOMpreneur Monday Cender Scholars Tutoring

Today’s South Florida MOMpreneur is Erica Cender, founder of Cender Scholars, a tutoring company with instructors who guide students to help develop organizational, study, sports and music skills, while helping them cultivate self‐discipline and self‐confidence about their academic abilities.

Cender Scholars Tutoring

Welcome Erica! I know when we spoke on the phone recently, you reminded me that although you’re an entrepreneur, you’re not a MOMpreneur quite yet…

I’m not a mommy yet, but I am proud aunt of a beautiful baby girl!

I do know that when the time comes and I do have a child of my own, I will jump through hoops to provide my baby with everything he or she needs as far as their education is concerned.

Cender Scholars Tutoring

Tell us MBMoms a little bit about your professional background?

I have been an educator for over 4 years now. I earned my Masters in Education from the University of Florida (Go Gators!). But, I immediately became a classroom teacher.  Well, after spending a year volunteering in Israel, of course.

Cender Scholars Tutoring

I moved back to Delray Beach where I became a full time 2nd grade school teacher in Boynton Beach. Now, I am happily married and looking to start a family soon, so…I started thinking to myself now would be a perfect time to create my tutoring company.

Cender Scholars Tutoring

My passion has always been teaching children. Seeing that spark in their eye when they discover something new is one of the greatest feelings.

What I love about being an educator is that you are able to see your students grow and learn. Each and every child has their own learning pace, style and study habits. Some are more advanced than others and some need additional help of a tutor.

With that hard work and dedication, I decided to make my dream a reality and start a tutoring company of my own, Cender Scholars tutoring.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

As you may know, teachers surely do not have the money trees flourishing in their backyards. During my exquisite summer vacation, I put the pedal to the metal and launched my company off the ground. 

My vision was to create a site for busy parents to quickly hop on and arrange their tutor in an instant. The PayPal shopping cart feature on the site makes it incredibly simple to book a tutor. You can arrange a session straight from your phone while you are in line at Starbucks or in between soccer games.

Then you will receive e-mail confirmations of your appointments, which you can also store as reminders in your Google calendar. 

Cender Scholars Tutoring

What sets Cender Scholars apart tutoring from other tutoring companies?

I believe the unique quality about the Cender Scholars tutoring service that we offer is the personalized touch that we guarantee for all of our students. As a classroom teacher, I am constantly in communication with parents and fellow teachers. I recognize the importance of keeping an open line of communication with teachers and parents.

Communication with students’ teachers and parents will ultimately help a child succeed.

Some parents may be led to a big tutoring company that guarantees a success rate for the children but I feel that a successful match for a child is based around an individualized, personalized educational plan. I encourage my tutors to develop a good rapport and working relationship with their students. I value educators who will make a connection with the students that they work with.

Cender Scholars Tutoring

What challenges have you faced as a new entrepreneur so far?

I will definitely say one challenge has just been the struggle to get the word spreading like wildfire. Patience is a virtue and I know all good things come to those who wait but I am eager to get my tutors up and running!  

Another challenge that I have come across while launching my business is the competition in this tutoring industry. I will say I have no doubt in my mind that we will set ourselves apart from the competition because as an educator myself, I see the value of keeping a close connection between the teachers and the parents.

Many learning centers work with kids either in a group setting or they have a set curriculum to work with for the children. In my eyes, an education is not ‘one size fits all’ and it must be carefully tailored to fit each child for their own set of goals and needs.

What exciting things are coming up for Cender Scholars tutoring?

An exciting new avenue for my business is adding a mental health & counseling professional to our company.  A very experienced and qualified counselor that many refer to as the “child whisperer” has joined our team, Ellie Boyarski.  As a classroom teacher, I see the value of counseling services for a variety of different reasons and I am elated to have this fantastic specialist as a part of Cender Scholars.

Now that you’ve launched your business, what would you say to your “younger self?”

Growing up, school came very easy to my brother but not me; I had to work a bit harder, homework took longer and I had to put forth my personal best day in and day out to make the grades.  I still remember the endless fights I had with my mom while working on homework as a student. 

Flash forward 20 years later and I am a 5th grade teacher who has just opened her own tutoring company.  Mom, look at me now! 😉

Cender Scholars Tutoring

Connect with Cender Scholars tutoring on Facebook and Twitter!

Learn more about this company at: www.cenderscholars.com.

IT’S OFFICIAL! Boca Children’s Museum Acquired by FFCDC

It’s official!

CM Update

Effective October 1, 2014 Florence Fuller Child Development Centers (FFCDC) acquired control of the Boca  Raton Children’s Museum, which will maintain its status as a separately recognized 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

FFCDC will oversee and coordinate the operations and activities of the Boca Raton Children’s Museum. Their discussions with the Museum began after several community leaders approached FFCDC about taking over its operations. The boards of both organizations subsequently approved the measure.

The Boca Children’s Museum has a 30-year history of providing enrichment programming to children and families in our community (which means I totally rocked out there as a kid myself).

Their mission to enhance the creative and critical thinking skills of children through the arts and humanities complements FFCDC’s work to use education to make a difference in the lives of families.

Both organizations are expected to reap significant benefits from their access to shared resources including:

 *     Enhanced programming

*     Greater reach into the community

*     Increased funding support for new and existing programs and operations

I’m personally thrilled and optimistic that the museum will grow and thrive under this new organized structure!

Check out an extended Q&A below…


 Where is the Boca Raton Children’s Museum located?

The Boca Raton Children’s Museum is located at 498 Crawford Blvd. in downtown Boca Raton. It has existed for 34 years.

 Why has Florence Fuller acquired control of the Boca Raton Children’s Museum?

Like many other small non-profit organizations facing funding issues in today’s economy, the Boca Raton Children’s Museum struggled to maintain the necessary support from its donors  and could no longer rely on shrinking governmental grants to fund shortfalls.  When community leaders realized that the Museum was at risk of closing due to its lack of resources, they approached Florence Fuller Child Development Centers to consider whether operational and educational synergies could come together to allow both organizations to flourish and expand.  After several months of meetings and discussions between both organizations, the Board of Directors of FFCDC was able to present the Museum’s Board with a plan whereby FFCDC could provide the Museum with the necessary staff and support in order to help the Museum continue to maintain and expand its mission.

How will this arrangement benefit both organizations?

The Boca Raton Children’s Museum’s mission has been, and will continue to be, to enhance the creative and critical thinking skills of children through the arts and humanities.  Florence Fuller Child Development Center’s mission is provide a comprehensive program of education and related child development services for children of low-income families in South Florida and to promote harmony and understanding among families of all races, creeds, ethnic groups and income levels.

 FFCDC sees the opportunity to work with the Museum as enhancing FFCDC’s core mission by allowing FFCDC to better help develop creative and critical thinking skills in the children FFCDC serves through the new ability to expose children to the arts and humanities integrated with history and science.   At the same time, FFCDC will benefit the Museum by bringing to the Museum the resources of its professional administrative, management and development staff..

 Will the Boca Raton Children’s Museum staff become employees of Florence Fuller?

No. Florence Fuller Child Development Centers and the Boca Raton Children’s Museum will remain separate legal entities and while FFCDC will provide the Museum access to FFCDC’s administrative, management and development staff, both organizations will have their own employees.

 Who will run the museum?

The Boca Raton Children’s Museum will retain its own 501(c)3 status and will have its own Board of Directors.  The Board of Directors for the Museum, however, will be selected by the FFCDC Board of Directors. The Museum’s Board of Directors will continue to be responsible for the Museum’s governance and operations and the Museum staff will continue to run the day-to-day programming under the supervision and assistance of FFCDC.

Will the museum operate as it has in the past?

While we hope to announce in the near future about enhanced programming and expanded exhibits at the Boca Raton Children’s Museum, for now the Museum will continue to operate as it has done in the past with a few minor changes in back office operations. The Boca Raton Children’s Museum has become an affiliate of Florence Fuller Child Development Centers. We intend to maintain the museum as a place for artistic programming for children and families.

What programs are currently offered at the Museum?

The Museum provides programming for children ages 0 to 18 years and their families, with a heavy emphasis on the young child. Current programs include Mommy and Me, toddler classes, permanent museum exhibits, literary events, art workshops and outreach programs. The Museum provides approximately 22 onsite educational programs a week and a “traveling museum” in which staff visit area schools and youth organizations to deliver programming.

The Alchemist Gastropub & Bar in West Palm Beach


The Alchemist Gastropub & Bar WM

Last week, Miss Diana (co-founder of Musikgarten by the Beach) and I desperately needed a little “MBMom’s Night Out.” In fact, you may have seen our cute commemorative photo on Instagram. 🙂

It feels like it’s getting harder and harder to set aside time these days for girl talk, business chats and other miscellaneous “catch ups” (right MBMoms?) but when you finally DO get a date on the calendar (VICTORY!), the night is made even nicer if your mommy date is over cocktails and delicious food.

So, a HUGE high five to the Alchemist Gastropub & Bar in West Palm Beach (right on Clematis Street across from Rocco’s Tacos) for inviting us to have our “date night” at their new restaurant. They treated us right.


Starting off with…COCKTAILS! (Obviously…)


Prickly Pear Martini


Bonum Fortuna

In between conversations, we managed to order a few tasty appetizers. I can never say no to lobster…


Spicy Lobster Poppers- MY FAV!


Lamb Lollipops


Our waiter’s recommendation (and amazing): Roasted Bone Marrow

Miss Diana was hungrier than she looked (just kidding), so we ordered a few entrees to sample:


Foie Burger (OMG…)


Carnitas Tacos


Woodfired Lobster Mac

It was all exemplary and we even had plenty of leftovers for #modernbocadad.

The Alchemist has indoor and outdoor seating and would even be a fun venue to hit for cocktails and appetizers! It’s a cool place, but not so stuffy that you couldn’t bring your kids to brunch or dinner there either.



But, a Modern Boca Mom meal would not be complete without indulging in dessert… Since our conversation veered towards holiday and Santa talk, we went with milkshakes & cookies. Too cute right?



The Alchemist Gastropub & Bar…where business meets casual, where classic meets cool, the perfect fusion of gastronomy, mixology and entertainment.

Hours of operation

Mon. through Thurs. 11:30am to 1:00am

Fri. & Sat 11:30 to 2:00am

Sunday 11:00 to 1:00am

Visit www.thealchemistgastropub.com for more information. LIKE them on Facebook here!

Sponsored: Modern Boca Mom was provided with a complimentary meal at The Alchemist Gastropub & Bar in exchange for a review of the restaurant. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and not influenced in any way by the sponsor.  Any statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclosure for more information. I have been compensated or given a product or service free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinion.

A Lifestyle Site for the Stylish & Modern South Florida Mommy