Posted in Random Stuff

Walt Disney World April 20- Day 5

I am pretty sad this is already at day 5, I have been having such a fun time going over all the details and pictures!!

Day 5

Disney Park: Hollywood Studios (open till 9PM)

This day we started off by packing so Bell Services could transfer our luggages to a new resort!   The first part of this trip has been at the Bay Lake Tower resort and we were moving to the Saratoga Springs Resort.  We, ourselves, were going to eat some breakfast at the quick service inside the Contemporary Resort then head straight over to Hollywood Studios.

Before leaving on this trip, we had planned to meet up with a local family we heard was also going to be in Disney during the same week. We tried to make a FP together or two. Then more plans were made when we landed in Orlando with an old high school friend,too!  Great day ahead. 🙂

We ended up having some spectacular weather this trip, and today was no exception.  It was 84F, but it was dry and breezy.  A perfect day, truly.  When we got to the park we had good fun talking with the Disney photographer on Sunset Blvd, who was a retiree from Maine, and a sweet sweet man.  I loved his ‘dad jokes’, like not knowing how to use iPhones so when he gave me mine back he told me that most of the guests he deals with go home with selfies of him.  hahah None on my phone though, I kinda wish I did!!

From the entrance, we contacted our hometown friends to let them know we made it to the park, and we made plans to meet up after they got off Toy Story Mania..which was at an hour wait at that moment. So we got ourselves to our first FP for Star Tours at 11:35AM.  I am not sure if you guys are noticing, I didn’t make one FP for before 10:30AM, not a one!  We enjoy not having to run out extremely early on our days off.  Our every day is getting up before 6AM, so when we go away we try not to do that much unless it’s absolutely necessary.

From Star Tours we took a quick jump to Muppet Vision, which is always a good time in the AC!  I grew up watching The Muppets, and I can’t ever skip this attraction.. like ever.  At about this time, our friends messaged us saying they were outside of Ariel to meet up, so we quickly made our way there.  We had such a great time greeting one another, these friends have been over for parties, they are just so funny and a nice group of people.  Their youngest daughter is besties with our oldest daughter, so they were so excited to finally see each other since they text all day as they don’t go to the same Middle School.  They try to hang out as much as possible after school, but without being at the same school it’s just not the same.  This crew was super hot by this time so we took a walk onto Star Wars Launch Bay to watch a quick video.  Then we parted ways so they could eat lunch at their reservations and hit up their FP, we made plans to meet up for our last FP for Tower of Terror at 4:50PM that we booked together.  So we went to get in line to meet Chewbacca as they went on their way to eat.

Well, we stood there for a quick minute then changed minds. The girls really wanted an ice cream, so we decided to break from the line to go get an ice cream.   While we were eating the ice cream, we made our plans before meeting up with our friends again.  We got back to meeting Chewbacca since the line was at under 10 minutes.  What a fun character meet up.  This costume was super impressive, and the CM in there did a top notch job interacting with my family.  We laughed a lot… and he loved my Starbucks pin in my ears. 🙂  I only shared one photo cause my bruises in the other family photos were kind of sickeningly gross, even for me who had them! haha

Our next FP was for Indiana Jones, which our girls had never experienced last time we visited four years ago as it was under renovation. I forgot about how well choreographed this show was, and all the fire and action!  The girls really enjoyed the show, and the tricks of all the stuntmen/women.  And the Mickey Mouse face shaped pretzel they ate during the show, as well.

Once we hit the sunshine, we took our chances at waiting for Toy Story Mania.  They weren’t processing FP for this ride while it’s been under construction, and the time for Stand By was 50 minutes.  First, on the way, the girls wanted to check out the Walt Presents museum; so we decided to make a quick trip of it before we got in line for TSM.  Glad to say that we didn’t wait more than 49 minutes.  hahaha  I am jk, it was more like 35 minutes, the longest we have waited in a line on any trip!, but we spent the time in line playing games, snapping and just enjoying the breezes.

The entrance was sweet. All the new graphics, and imagery.  Since we are all big Pixar fans, we enjoyed the revamp going up to Andy’s room. From Toy Story Mania we got ourselves up Sunset Blvd for our meet up with our friends to ride Tower of Terror.  They were leaving this day so basically after Tower of Terror they had a short time to make it to the airport.  The best part of this was that both moms of the families opted out of the ride, which gave the kids an extra FP each to ride it again…and for us, margaritas and sunshine.  Which was a perfect way to spend time.  The people watching in Disney is absolutely entertaining and not to be missed.  The things I had seen this trip, like the bald man sitting in front of us during the Star Wars Launch Bay film with HIS full face – mustache and sunglasses- tattooed on the back of his head, were memorable.  That must’ve hurt, that’s all I am saying about it.

Ok, so sadly, after Tower of Terror, we walked towards our dinner reservations and had to say goodbye to our friends. 😦  We all had a fun time together, but sad it had to be cut short… I am looking forward to our hang out this Saturday though!

Our dinner reservations were to a place we had taken our kids last trip, and they DID remember, 50’s Prime Time.  Why did my kids remember this place?  Well, it was the first restaurant we let them have a milk shake with dinner and there was a TV at the table. (We don’t have TV in the kitchen, cause I don’t allow it.  I don’t allow it many parts of the house actually. Especially NOT their bedrooms. I grew up with one in my room, and well, I don’t want that for them.)  This restaurant is such a fun experience for all of us.   We had a crazy waitress, who cracked us up the entire meal with her indifference and jokes.  She would call the girls to the kitchen entrance to grab things, which confused them, and threw straws at them when they got drinks, which sounds horrible but it was funny.

We sat at a cute corner dinette set with a vintage TV just like the 1950’s.  My husband and I both got the fried chicken, and the girls meatloaf. They, of course, got milkshakes, my husband a cocktail that lit up and I got a glass of NZ sauvignon blanc.  My fav wine.  I can’t believe it, but I ate my entire dish of chicken.  Something I rarely do!

I think my favorite part of the meal was, aside from the insanely good fried chicken, was talking about our family during this time. Because my parents didn’t grow up in America during the 50s, my stories of my parents past during the 50’s are totally different than what my in-laws had experienced. That quintessential modern era Americana.  So we got to talk to the girls in good detail all about the fun things my husband learned from Grammy and Grampy about this era and what we know of it.  They were so into the conversation with so many questions and comments.

I LOVE THESE TWO KIDS!  They are so inquisitive and smart, and beautiful.  That’s a bonus.  🙂

While finishing dinner, I got a message from my friends from our second meet up of the day! Our plan was to get together after dinner to see Fantasmic and maybe the Star Wars show.  Before getting to the arena, we grabbed a cider and wine, and set up the girls with their light up garb.  Our friends got to the seats first, saved us a bench.  We were about 8 rows from the show, and my kids were really excited.  We had met up with these friends a few times during our trips to Orlando before, last was in 2016 when we took a trip to Universal after a Caribbean cruise out of Ft Lauderdale.  They have a young daughter, but she was so little last time that she basically stayed in her carriage. My kids didn’t get to play with her much, plus another two sets of friends were with us at that time too, which both had children their age keeping them busy, it was a lot of people.

It also meant that I got reacquainted with her this night, too.  From the second the word hello fell from my lips, she was enchanted. (little girls seem to like me, idk why. haha)  And when I told her that my baby girl had the same name as she did, well, that was it, they were besties all night. I gave her some light up necklaces to match my kids, and well, she was all into being my bestie, too. She sat on my lap then my daughter’s, stood next to me, next to her, narrated the show, told me who her favorite characters are and cracked us all up dancing and singing.

We followed Fantasmic with watching the Star Wars fireworks show, Galactic Nights, together.  We stood to the right within the plaza.  We really enjoyed the theatrics and pyrotechnics of the show, it was quite thrilling actually.  The feel of the fire shots that they let out towards the end was blasting us all with so much heat, I felt happy (on the account that I love hot weather!).

We said our goodbyes then hopped on the bus to go over to our new resort..Saratoga Springs!  We were all excited to check it out, and sleep!  Ok, I was excited to sleep, I was wiped!

We checked in, grabbed our luggage and were driven to our room.  All in the dark, so we had no clue what anything looked like. We were in building 65 on the second floor.  The room was way bigger than at the Bay Lake Tower.  The layout was different, too. Like, the bathroom sink was unattached, and bonus they had a large entrance to the room.  We had a pretty great day at Hollywood Studios, loved seeing all our friends!

Posted in My Travels

Walt Disney World April 19- Day 4

Day 4

Disney Park: Animal Kingdom (open till 9:30PM)

🎂 This day was my eldest sister’s birthday, the one who lives overseas in Sicily. Our daughters wanted to make her a birthday video from the pool first thing to make her day bright.  Something we seem to make offsite for her annually as her birthday always falls during our school vacation weeks.

Like I just mentioned, we got to the pool before hitting the park today; we had a FP starting at 11:55AM for the safari. It was a perfect 80F start with the sun shining and the pool glimmering… and oh look, friends from home!  Yup, we saw more friends from my husband’s hometown at the pool.

Apparently, Bay Lake is the place to be during April vacation.

Because the weather was spectacular, we were willing to sacrifice the first FP for pool time since we had another FP for the safari another day at night.  This day we also reserved FP for Primeval Whirl, for the girls to ride it for the first time, and then Avatar Flight of Passage, for all of us to ride it together.

Going to the Animal Kingdom this day was our first shot at the bus system since our last visit. The buses for Bay Lake arrive at a station on the Contemporary side of the house.  We arrived to the Animal Kingdom only to be greeted by a handsome stranger approaching me.  He was fast talking with his family while holding a paper ticket, basically, asking if we wanted it. It was a free pass to ride Avatar Flight of Passage any time that day (kid swap).   So yea, I took it and thanked him, it was a great start to our day already!

On top of this we were hungry. We went to grab a quick bite to eat at the Flame Tree BBQ (one of the first spots where I had ever eaten at Disney World in 2002); so for nostalgia and love of BBQ’d meat, we have to eat there first each time.  The girls split the mac n cheese topped with pulled pork, my husband the pulled pork sandwich with a beer and me the BBQ chicken salad with a vodka drink!   So, just a heads up that portions of food at this location are crazy out of whack. Like, way too big. My kids split a KIDS MEAL and my husband had eaten some of it too.  I ended up splitting my dish with my husband, and leaving some behind.  As you may be understanding by now, my husband is an eating machine.  haha  He is a pretty big guy, and always ends up eating my food.  Sometimes I feel bad but he doesn’t seem to mind.  🙂 And I love sharing my food and everything with him anyways.

We flew to our first FP, the Kilimanjaro safari! They changed this experience a little. It no longer used the radios or anything that had to do with the chase of finding poachers along the route, which was actually pretty ok. I mean, the last time we rode it there was a little confusion on the ride because the driver didn’t set up the chase quite well and we had to explain it to a family the whole time.

Our next FP was the Primeval Whirl.  A ride the girls were too little to get on during the past two trips to AK.  We all got on it together, which was fun.  I had never ridden it either!  Another ride we didn’t make it on ever in my Disney life, shock and awe.

Is it horrible to say that I didn’t care much for this ride?  I liked the theme and it was silly fun and all, but the jerkiness of the turns at the end of each corner was bothersome.  I felt like an arcade pinball getting whacked around and spun. The girls loved it! Which is all I can ask for because they have been talking about this ride for months! We walked around Dinoland a bit after the ride, but I was pretty excited to get to our next FP… Avatar Flight of Passage!! So I basically forced everyone to get going!!

C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!!

Arriving at Pandora is pretty surreal as you are walking over the bridge.  Especially if you are a fan of the movie, which we all are.  The transformation from Discoveryland to Pandora is done in the most subtle way, then bam right after the river you are engulfed in this new world; so different from the others in AK.  The floating mountains in the valley of Mo’ara looked just like the movie, I wanted to fly up and touch them.  We all couldn’t believe it. The sounds of the animals, and the lush surroundings, all seemed so real.  Disney created such an amazing land, so beautiful.  We walked all around the space before our FP; from the leafy reaches of the Na’vi River Journey to the stone drums to the hidden stores.

Then we got on the Avatar Flight of Passage ride.  AFOP is probably the best ride I have ever been on in my life.  And I am a super scaredy cat of the unknown fast, high swooping rides and stuff, but this ride was so well done that I couldn’t get enough. The seats were super cool. The views were intense, and the 3D was the best I had ever experienced. That smell of the ocean was refreshing and I can still smell it, but my favorite part of the ride, though, was how I could feel the banshee breathing between my legs.  It was a whole lot of amazing details after another.

Never had I been so disappointed for a ride to end than that one.

After we rode the AFOP, we grabbed some fun drinks from Pongu Pongu.  We got a Rum Blossom, which had Passion fruit boba mixed in with two sized straws, for good reason! The drink was yummy and refreshing. Those boba balls were so good!

With drinks in hand, we went over to Discoveryland to grab the girls some Mickey bars (and a frozen margarita for me!) but within minutes we ended up going back to Pandora to ride AFOP again, using that pass from the kind stranger. After riding that twice, and the hour, we decided it was a great time to start making our way over to Asia because we had to be at our dinner reservations within the half hour.  We had made reservations for Yak & Yeti!

OK, I AM NOT COMPLAINING IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH BY ANY MEANS…

But our experience at Yak & Yeti was ….  meh.  The place itself was pretty.  I loved the Asian aesthetic.  And I am only saying our experience was ok because our oldest daughter has an all nuts allergy (which the place was fine for her) but my husband has a sesame seed/oil allergy.  Both cases are pretty clear. They go into anaphylaxis if they eat the actual food, but cross contamination isn’t usually a problem.  Our youngest got the chicken fingers with corn and jasmine rice, our oldest got tuna nachos, my husband got the blackened tuna and I got the tuna salad.  Simple tuna dishes for the most part, right? Well, for some reason it was terribly complicated for the chef to understand not just for my husband but also our dishes, as we stated, treat the entire table as if we have a sesame allergy.. So what happened?  He treated the appetizer, lettuce cups, as a gluten allergy, though it didn’t have sesame..weird, but ok, safe. THEN.  My dish and our oldest daughter’s dish came out riddled with sesame seeds.  SMH.  It was fine, we don’t have any issues, but sucked cause I know he wanted to try those nachos. My husband said his dish was fine in the end, blackened tuna with double jasmine rice, but also that it was not terribly exciting, and that the blackening seasoning was kind of burnt or smokey tasting…which I know he isn’t fond of. We grabbed a few drinks there.. beer, yak attack, a margarita and a sangria, they were nice.

While at dinner, we made a few more FP for the night.  We forfeited our River of Light FP to split up our time because my husband and oldest daughter wanted to ride Everest, but our youngest did not.  So I took her to Dinoland to ride whatever she wanted… TriceraTops and Primeval Whirl. So glad we did this, because as soon as we got off TriceraTops the other arrived and the kids rode Primeval Whirl two times on their own.

I had this great idea to paint everyone’s faces with UV glow body paint before heading back to Pandora for night-time. It was fun to draw the designs on. Though the paint from the bottle was messy, I also used a plastic fork, and the paint wasn’t as brightly lit up as I wanted it to be, everyone looked cute when it dimly glowed or when we got into regular light. Eh. Just goes to showya. Some ideas aren’t worth the cost or time… this was one!!

With faces painted, we went back to Pandora to close out the night.  At this point, the River of Light was just starting so we got a good tip to hit up the Na’vi River Journey, which would have shorter wait times. We couldn’t get FP to this ride at any point before our trip, and wanted to get on it at least once during our two days at the AK this trip.  So. We kept an eye on the app right from dinner, the lines were so long, but we saw the numbers drop little by little.  When we made it to Pandora, we raced right there.  It stated 45 minutes, so we took the leap of faith.

THERE WAS NO WAIT AT ALL!   We were all so glad to get on the ride because it ended up being the last moment to ride it for the night!

We left the Animal Kingdom super tired, but happy.  We did get on the bus to take us home, but someone got an ill tummy, me, and we got off at the Wilderness Lodge.

The best part of our night was actually this stop. Funny enough.

We remembered that the resort had a ferry service to the Contemporary Resort.  We walked to the dock out back to find the ferry-boat just arriving to pick up riders.  The night was perfect, the boat was basically empty.  First stop the boat went to was Fort Wilderness, which was actually pretty cool from this view-point.  It looked like a quaint camp site set on the water, set up in the middle of nowhere. Then we ferried right to the Contemporary, which was about 10 minutes.  It was beautiful.  The warmth.  The breeze.  The view of the resorts from the darkness.  The girls sat arm and arm, and, we did, too.  Well, with my shoulder on his, as well.  I was sleepy.  🙂

Also, this could also be funny for others, but, the driver of the boat was, to say the least, amusing. He was sort of dressed like a boat captain but messy. He was lanky with a 5 o’clock shadow, and spoke slowly, almost like a bit of a Scooby Doo creepy character. We docked at the Contemporary at the same time as another ferry.  The ferry captain of that other boat came over to ours and looked like The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island.  With all these old school show references I had a ball. (I love the TV shows I grew up on!)

Our full day at the Animal Kingdom was a lot of fun.  We loved Pandora, the kids loved all the fun foods and getting on Primeval Whirl, and despite some minor set backs, we ended the night on such a magical note.

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.)