Benny & Toby’s Hakuna Matata Summer Play Date!



This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

The last time I organized a large backyard play date for the boys was in 2016 (omg…how time flies!) I did it as a way to celebrate summer and bring all the little ones together to play, have fun and make childhood memories. This year, I hosted another big shindig, except this time, I was lucky to have partnered with Disney for a  #NowMoreThanEver Play date which was centered around the Lion King and a problem-free philosophy from the animated film’s famous song “Hakuna Matata!”



The phrase/hashtag serves to remind us all that we must make as many magical memories now more than ever both at home & when visiting Walt Disney World Parks. Did you know that for a limited time Disney’s Magic Kingdom is offering new experiences such as Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration? You can also Party with Disney Pixar Pals at Disney’s Hollywood Studios….annnnnd…you can catch the incredible Festival of the Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

My adorable niece Emma before getting soaked at our Summer Play Date!

My adorable niece Emma before getting soaked at our Summer Play Date!

The Party Decorations

When our #NowMoreThanEver Disney Play Date goodies from Disney arrived and we discovered an array of Lion King-themed decorations, we got super excited! The boys started running around the living room, like, in  A CIRCLE OF LIFE. LOL (true story)! We received table covers, plates, napkins, favors, a pull-string pinata and amazing party prizes like a large Disney doll and dress-up costume by #JakksPacific as well as a Minnie Mouse Pillow Pet.


A play date to remember—

In order to make our play date extra memorable, I had to get on super mommy planner mode. Check out this blog post to see how I prepared and all the details I created to make the play date come together nicely (let’s just say it involved a bit of creativity designing stuff on the computer, a nice portion of Michael Angelo’s veggie lasagna and a glass of wine while the kids were away at grandma’s).

We wanted to make sure all of our close friends and relatives got invited—which meant we had to plan for A LOT of people because we have a big family and a lot of friends! I made invitations, signs, banners, labels and thank you cards.


A Roarin’ Good Time!

Because we live in the San Fernando Valley and the weather here feels desert-like during summer (105 degrees at times), I knew two things: 1) We had to incorporate water games in my house that has no pool 2. We had to host the party in the late afternoon to let the temperature cool off a bit. With that in mind, I ordered pump & splash games for the kids and asked everyone to bring a change of clothes for their little ones. I also started the play date at 5:00pm, which gave everyone a great excuse to play & have dinner!


For Food & Snacks,

We offered a summer BBQ buffet with burgers, hot dogs and other favorites (beans, salad, BBQ chicken and grilled meat aka carne asada) thanks to the best grill master there ever was—Abuelo Pancho (my dad).

In order to make a heat-appropriate snack table, I had to keep things simple— fruit and veggie trays and iced drinks to keep the guests cool and hydrated.

We had cucumber slices organized in small cups decorated with Lion King stickers, watermelon slices, Timon fruit skewers and Jungle Juices for the kids (orange, lemonade and apple juice boxes and pouches). But the item that literally took the crown, was an impressive Lion-themed veggie tray prepared by my auntie Ana Hunt. Wow… Super cute, delicious and creative!


Dessert was Everyone’s Favorite Thing

We offered a full blown ice cream sundae bar with an opportunity to try a slice of Popped Passion popcorn cake! Popped Passion is the first company to offer customized popcorn cakes! Ours arrived with an adorable Mickey theme that incorporated Mickey ears sprinkles and gummy worms (which was perfect for our jungle theme play date).

The ice cream sundae bar featured scoops of vanilla ice cream in waffle cups with an array of toppings to choose from, including Mini M&Ms, Oreo crumbles, sprinkles, marshmallows, gummy bears and other yummy toppings.


A wonderful time with many happy moments.

I personally thanked friends and relatives for attending and every child left with a goody bag filled with Lion King & Lion Guard treats, including paper masks, candy and bubbles…yay!

My little niece Elisa was the lucky winner of a Disney Beauty & the Beast Belle Doll! Isn’t she a cutie?

My little niece Elisa was the lucky winner of a Disney Beauty & the Beast Belle Doll! Isn’t she a cutie?

Thanks Disney!

We love celebrating life and couldn’t agree any more that magical memories must be made #NowMoreThanEver

For more information about the limited time #NowMoreThanEver celebrations happening at the Walt Disney World Resort, click here.

If you’d like to learn more information about how I prepared for this play date, including vendors and party prep tips, click here.


Thanks for reading, friends.

Wishing you all a magical August!


-Anabel M.

Anabel Marquez