Posted in My Travels

Annnnnnd…. We Are Back!

We had a magical time …and made amazing memories! I still cannot believe it is over! 😦

AND, I cannot believe today is Valentine’s Day!  Where’d the time go 2014!!?!?  Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone!

We did have an amazing trip, which was so needed.  We started off on February 1, and from the second we landed till the moment we got back to Boston we had a blast.  Initially, the thought of 11 days seemed like too much to me, but it ended up being the perfect amount of time for us to really get into vacation mode.  Usually, when we go away it feels like right when I am really relaxing (around day 7) forgetting the world I have to get packing!!  So, this time, the extra three days left us enough time to run around at the parks and to relax poolside or in the resorts.

Weather..  The sunshine over the first handful of days was amazing. It felt so great to be in the sun again, and my skin was so happy.  😛  We kicked off our trip in the 80’s!  Yes, the 80’s! It wasn’t all peachy, though, because we got stuck with three days in a row where the weather wasn’t my personal favorite and we had to wear jackets and hoodies. It was in the mid to low 60’s, with a light rain at times, and even one night it got into the 50’s.. bah. This doesn’t sound so bad to most people, and my husband and children loved it..but this sunny heat seeker was not so pleased.  Thankfully we packed for the weather accordingly and never skipped a beat having fun!

Resorts.. The resorts we chose were a lot of fun. One we were familiar with and one which was new to us. We stayed at The Bay Lake Tower at The Contemporary for the first half. The BLT was just wonderful, and we had park view from our room. The view of the park was amazing! And, the view of the park at night..during Wishes (fireworks) was insane.  We were so close to the Magic Kingdom that we walked twice! The monorail system out of there was super convenient, too!

Then we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for the second half. That resort is so beautiful, and we had savannah view again this route.  The attention to detail is just spot on throughout the resort.   We stayed there two years ago, but it wasn’t enough time. The resort is so special for us, and we definitely made use of it this time around. The amenities for the kids were the best part, and we loved the sights, sounds and smells of burning wood.  Agh, I love that smell.

Wait Times at the Park…  We ended up being at the parks during their off-peak time.  But, while there the HS cheerleaders across the country had a competition.  So, there were some great wait times and not so great.  But, we didn’t have much issue as we got lucky with most wait times.  So we didn’t experience a huge disturbance in our fun. Also, being at the parks for the amount of time we were, we weren’t in a rush to wait long for something since we would be back a couple more times in the week…and some of the time that day at Extra Magic Hours!  The worst consistent wait times were for some of the character meets (like Cinderella, or, Elsa and Anna!) and Peter Pan (why?? idk!), Test Track or Soarin. But we used our FP when we could and skipped out on stuff if it wasn’t a terrible big deal for the girls to go the next time.

MagicBands and FP+…We had no issues with the magicbands or FP+.  The bands were a lot of fun to use and more convenient than I had ever thought.  Having the kids using them was a little bit of a daunting thought… I don’t know why, but my mind was just nervous about them with their own access everywhere…like the kids would just go around using them without asking, or they would fall off one of their wrists during the trip, but they were sturdy and a HUGE convenience.  Especially, when they wanted to run ahead to our rooms.  And, the sound of the magicband when you entered into the parks or rides was so sweet, too!  We had heard a lot of chatter before our trip about the FP+, and everyone having their bitch sessions about it.. but other than being restricted to make 3 FP reservations a day, we had zero issue. We did use our My Disney Experience app a ton to switch out the FP+ reservations, as we were spending days at the parks, to flip things around or change them for the kids; which was über convenient. Phew!

My one observation, that I found odd, was the insane lines for the FP+ kiosks/areas to talk to or change-up FP reservations.  I saw a line wrapped for a while placed inside the corral where they usually have Aladdin and Jasmine set up in Adventureland!! CRAZZZY! 

——Now we are to the review of our time at the World.  My girls thought it would be fun to add-on a section here called:

OUR DISNEY WORLD REVIEWS!

We sat together at the end of each stint at the parks discussing the places and things we liked the best. I think this was my favorite part of our time together, snuggling in the big bed talking about our days.  We spent varied days at the Parks: Magic Kingdom (3 days), EPCOT (3 days), Animal Kingdom (1), Hollywood Studios (2 days). And, at the resorts: Bay Lake Towers at The Contemporary (4 nights) and The Animal Kingdom Lodge (6 nights).

Here are our reviews of what we liked on this trip!

OUR DISNEY RESORTS

The Bay Lake Tower at The Contemporary Resorts
The Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House

THE DISNEY PARKS

The Magic Kingdom
EPCOT
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Other

 – Around Disney

If you haven’t been to Disney World, you just have to ..at least one time in your life.  There really is no place else like it around.  The parks. The rides. The resorts. The people. The attention to detail. It is all, well, so Disney!

AND….one more thing!

A Daily Photo Recap of Our Trip!

I couldn’t let a trip go by without smothering you guys with my photos, now, could I? 

Day 1   Day 2   Day 3   Day 4   Day 5   Day 6  Day 7  Day 8   Day 9   Day 10  Day 11

ALSO!

As for my fears about the party girl in me coming out to eat and drink everything in sight.. Well, for the most part, I kept myself in check daily. I did make room for an occasional Mickey Bar, a super yummy, slushy booze (and wine, lots of wine), fries, or funnel cake. I mean, I was on vacation..so I hadta have some fun stuffing my fat face!!!

I did weigh in on the morning of the 12th.  Yes, stupidly, one day after coming back home, but I was dying to see!  To my surprise, and delight.. I gained 1 lb.   This is such a MAJOR relief.. I did a jig cheering on the scale when I finally had the courage to look at the number!  PHEW.  I already started my family on a detox eating only my home cooking! Lots of vegetables and unprocessed foods!

I am hoping to shed this pound before the end of this week, and get my head back in to the dizzying reality that is …la vita mia!

xoxoxoxo

Happy Valentine’s Day, again!

Posted in My Travels

Disney World Resorts and Flights Booked!

Hey Everyone!

I’ve got the Disney bug pretty fierce this go around! -no, it’s really bad. Every free chance I get I am researching and pinning Disney related ideas trying to figuring out how to trump the Christmas present presentation from last time. Also, with life so hectically disrupted over the past month or more, I think it’s compounding my desire to escape into this trip!

… Or maybe it’s cause plainly put…I NEED A VACATION! Either way.

Just seeing my children’s expressions when they realize we are going again will be amazing. Oh, I cannot wait!

Trip Details thus far: As the title of this post states the flights and resorts have been booked..and I’d like to say and PAID FOR! YES!

We booked our flights along with the resorts a month ago, and paid them off immediately.  JetBlue had great direct flight times, and the price was just right! Last week, we booked and paid for a town car to pick up/drop off each way!  The girls are going to be so excited! And we will be too, well relieved. Our biggest concern using a service is the car seats for the kids. We contacted this company who offered, without us asking, to use our girls’ car seats to the airport, they’ll store them for us during the trip, and set them up for the way back home.  Pheeew!

We are going for 11 days to really enjoy ourselves, and just as last time, we are splitting our time in half at two very different resorts.  The first is The Contemporary’s Bay Lake Towers (Park View) and the other is the Animal Kingdom Lodge (Jumbo House Savanna View).  Last Disney trip we split our time at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Port Orleans, French Quarter. Very different resorts, but we enjoyed them both for what they were.

The Animal Kingdom Lodge: Back during the Christmas holidays of 2003, my husband and I took a trip to Disney World where we stayed off property and rented a car. Since we had the car, he decided on our last day in Disney to venture and check out the newer resorts on Disney property. It was fun to see all the specific themed holiday decorations. I loved it. He took me to the Wilderness Lodge and then the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Both amazingly beautiful resorts, but when I walked in to the AKL I didn’t want to leave! The theme was executed perfectly, the attention to detail at these resorts is amazing.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Safari Look Out

Girls loved being part of the parade at night--anything to delay bedtime!
Girls loved being part of the parade at night–anything to delay bedtime!
My favorite photo of the girls at the AKL
My favorite photo of the girls at the AKL

When we planned our first family trip, I requested the AKL. Thank goodness I did, because it ended up a great resort for my family. Which led me to requesting it this time around for a longer stay. It is logical, the resort was such a treat for all of us, why not go back for longer?

The Jumbo House side restaurant, Boma, is a lot of fun. They set up buffet style, but there are a lot of foods that I never heard of (and a lot of staple foods too) that were delicious, AND they carry the wines I like-some South African white wines. We dined there for our first dinner at Disney.  The experience was great, and it was the same during that whole trip.  I am part of a family with two family members that have food allergies, my husband and oldest daughter, and even though while making the dining reservations we marked the reservations with allergies and so on, naturally, I was really apprehensive on how eating around Disney was going to go. No matter how many stories or things people tell you, the experience you have first hand is the experience.  But it was all amazing. Of course, it’s Disney!  The wait staff immediately talked to us about what dining in Disney with allergies is about, then within seconds the executive chef paid us a visit at our table to discuss the allergens and then took us on a tour of everything they were serving telling us what is safe or not.  Surprisingly enough, every restaurant we went to had the same mode of operation, and each chef was happy to talk with us and made us feel secure.  I mean, that is incredible right?  They must talk to at least 20 families a day or MORE, but yet, I still felt they were attentive and cared about our situation.  🙂

Back to the hotel. The hotel was just beautiful, and had a lot of places inside the hotel and outside for viewing animals. Plus, we had a great view from our hotel room too, and the grounds were so pretty during the day and lit up at night.  They have a fire pit set up outside with rocking chairs, and at night under the stars, it was so peaceful. They have another fireplace set up inside, which was great when it got chilly outside! They had night viewing safari which we all had a lot of fun with. My kids had a blast no matter what there, which surprised me cause it’s not as Disneyesque as the other themed resorts, but they had a lot of fun activities for them.

Port Orleans, French Quarter: After a lot of research, and recommendations, my husband and I ended up booking the second half of our trip here. We found the staff super nice and hilarious, and were at times a highlight of our mornings. Especially the older gentlemen opening our door. My daughters loved him, maybe cause for a high-five he would give them colored beads and coins? Maybe 😛

We had a wonderful time at this resort, a lot of memories were made. The girls loved skipping down the streets because they were themed after the ones you’d find in New Orleans..small, with the cast iron horse ties. They also loved the pool area, it has a giant reptile slide, where they mustered up their courage to slide down it alone. We loved the grounds, too, as we had a garden view, and could easily walk to the bus, resort’s dining area and the pool. On our last day we discovered we were also near the river. But, the resort was under renovations at the time, so some amenities were not accessible, which was sort of a bummer, but aside from that, it was a nice resort.  But even if they had the renovations going on, we didn’t spend all that much time at the resort because we just were out from morning till late night, just going to the resort to sleep and maybe swim in the morning. So, it was definitely ok.

POFQ Lobby
POFQ Lobby
View from the balcony corner of the pool
View from the balcony corner of the pool
They love to swim! and loved those cups!
They love to swim! and loved those cups!
View of pool
View of pool
The gentleman that made us laugh every day
The gentleman that made us laugh every day
They climbed every pole and ran everywhere
They climbed every pole and ran everywhere

The girls, also, loved both resorts, which was great; and I am crossing my fingers they think this for the Contemporary, too, because it is least themed resort. Not that they need a theme, but themed resorts are fun. Also, this resort was a choice of my husband’s that I couldn’t deny. He stayed there as a child, and feels nostalgic to go back; and, also because he wanted to be able to use the monorail more on this trip.

I’ve never been thrilled walking through the Contemporary, so I am slightly bummed- VERY SLIGHLTY. I think it’s beautiful, and am not opposed to seeing what it is all about because I have heard good things so far. It does have some great amenities for us, like one of our character meals will be there, then with the accessibility of the monorail, the walking distance to the Magic Kingdom, if we wanted to walk…and with the fireworks visible from our room. I am excited for that, especially the very first night after we land and have dinner, we can end it snuggled together on our balcony watching the show!

It’s all about making memories!

And boy, am I going to try to bat a thousand with them this time around!

Monsters Inc!
Monsters Inc!

Stay tuned for more info on our trip!

XOXOXO!

*****Oh, one more thing!! I missed good PORTABLE coffee on our last trip. YES, another reason why I am slightly more excited with this trip than before is, and, of course some of you knew I was going to bring this up. Starbucks is open at the Disney Parks! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS…espresso every morning like normal! (Did you hear that Chris?? STARBUCKS, not DD! Not even Disney wants to run on Dunkin’s! Yup, you lost this coffee wars officially.)