Posted in My Travels

Walt Disney World April 23 and 24- Days 8 + 9

Day 8 

Disney Park: Magic Kingdom (open till 11PM)

Out of all the days we spent in Orlando, this was to be the yuckiest weather wise. The reports said it was to be thunderstorms from mid morning on. So we took our chances to spend our last morning in Disney walking the Saratoga Springs property to hang out down at the main pool. I am so glad we took this relaxing start. First, it was spotty with sunshine but no rain, so that was a win, and we all needed to enjoy some free time before the bustle of real life. With leaving tomorrow. ūüė¶

Ok, no dwelling on that!!

We had great fun hanging out at the main pool, there are two hot tubs-and they were bone melting hot. Yes!! We luckily got ourselves ready AND partially packed by the time we made it to the Magic Kingdom!  We wanted our last full day to be at the MK.

The park’s attendance didn’t seem as crazy as our other two days there before, so we were thrilled. We strolled through Main Street USA, without bumping into a soul.¬† We kept our first FP for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride at 1:40PM. The girls and I loved this ride from the first day, and were looking forward to riding it one last time.

The queue for the ride is so darn cute. I love those seven little guys!The only thing that stunk about our ride was as soon as the mine carts hit the outside the large drops of rain started to fall.¬† Not a terribly big deal, I had my sunglasses to stop the splatter of water in my eyes. And even if the ride had a few minor stops along the way that got us wet, we don’t know what happened, we still had fun. That wait outside the cottage at the end was a fun opportunity to teach everyone that they can rock the carts back and forth to the music.¬† So, we swayed to Snow White dancing!¬† It was actually a lot more fun than it sounds.

About the time we got off the ride, the rain seemed over. The park was prepping for their big parade, and we wanted to get to Thunder Mountain before it was too late. But, by the time we got over to Frontierland through the bridge and roped areas, the rain had started coming down harder.¬† Ponchos on, we ran to Pirates of the Caribbean, which had a ten minute wait listed. I was happy to keep my poncho on for that ride as well.¬† The canon went off right next to our boat…¬† I stayed dry. After POTC, the sun came gloriously out but thunder started so all the outside rides had to pause till it was over.

The girls really wanted to have a Dole whip, because each day resulted in some fail to get one, so we raced over to grab one.¬† Our oldest is a huge pineapple nut, so she wanted the dole whip swirl over the upside down pineapple cake and our youngest wanted a simple vanilla, no pineapple.¬† The vanilla was so good, and swirled with the pineapple was pretty great.¬† I am a fan and not a fan of the Dole whip.¬† The first time I had it I got the float, which was literally so much pineapple that I couldn’t taste anything else for three hours. But our oldest remembers her very first one, in 2012, and talks about it like it was an ancient precious relic. Haha

I like rum. Maybe next time I will try the rum ones?

Since the sun was still out, and no thunder rumbles for a while, we ran over to Big Thunder Mountain which had virtually no line!  We ended up riding it twice in a row, taking full advantage of people stuck somewhere else due to the thunder.

After this, we planned FP to split up because our oldest wanted to ride Space Mountain again with her dad, and our youngest wanted to go on The Haunted Mansion with me. My ghoulish gal. We had a lot of fun splitting up! We walked through the store first to cool off from the humidity, then made our way. We laughed a lot, and the ride had a quick pause where we got spooked pretty good by the creepy skeleton that pops up out of the tombstone!

We met up after these rides in Liberty Square. The rain started again, so we ducked into The Hall of Presidents. Without too much detail or ranting crazily about my dislike for Trump. All the Presidents creep me out. They always have. Especially, the little guy at the desk behind Pres. Washington. I flashed the 8 gang sign to Pres. Van Buren, always representing Seinfeld. Cheered seeing JFK, cuz Boston. The show is a good watch overall. Our country is spectacular and we have had do many different types of leaders. My kids liked the video beforehand followed by President Lincoln’s address. I always do. Which is probably the best part of the whole show.

And, Trump sucks even as an animatronic puppet reading from a script. Ugh sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

We left the show to find blue skies and SUNSHINE! Woo! We took a walk up the side of the castle then realized each time we walked by the castle this trip it was closed for a parade or show. We saw it was open and finally made our way in!

It’s not a terribly big walk through but it is worth stopping to look at all the Cinderella reliefs. The lighting is dark, but what you can see of the mosaics is spectacular when you think about how many man hours the artist put into them. She did an amazing job. I especially like the gold tiles, so sparkly in each relief.

As we strolled down the castle paths, we realized the time. We had a FP for The Speedway and then reservations for dinner following, at Be Our Guest.

The Speedway is one of those ‘ride your own’ rides that crack me up with the girls because they can’t drive to save their lives and are overwhelmed if they bump the inner track. My husband rode with our oldest, because our youngest wouldn’t allow me to go with her. Notice how she is always with me? She is starting to attach herself to my hip. Well, we had good fun driving, or trying to drive. She was so funny because she has a lead acceleration foot and a lead breaking foot. She kept freaking out, letting go of the wheel and smashing into the inner track.

Let’s hope this isn’t her driving future.

Finally! Dinner!

We had only eaten lunch at Be Our Guest in 2014, and had a good experience. Dinner service is way different than lunch.

First, you check in at the front kiosk where you are told to await a text to enter the gates. Within seconds we got the text. We then were let into the gates, then told to await our party’s name to be announced. Every few minutes a footman would come out of the side door calling names. Once our name was called the footman walked us in the castle through the main doors telling us that the prince was throwing a party. The lunch ordering kiosks to the right were covered in lush velvet curtains and we were taken straight through the ballroom where we had sat before to our table.

We were seated in what I called the Thunder and Lightning Room. It was one the left side of the ballroom; beautiful plum wall paper, dimly lit tables and it had a lot of theatrics. The ceiling had tapestries hung that the Beast had clawed through during a fit, there was also a crackling fireplace with a painting hung above. Every few minutes thunder and lightning lit up the space, and with each clap of thunder the painting above the fireplace would flicker between the painting of the Prince to an image of him as the Beast. Super glad no other children sat in this space because the thunder and lightning was sort of loud …and spooked me a little! Also, next to the fireplace-in the corner of the room, there was the enchanted rose under glass twirling. It was a beautiful space but I wish the rose was more realistic rather than holographic.

When we got seated the Beast made a dramatic entrance into our space to say a quick hello to the room before heading to his character meet spot inside the study, the ordering kiosks area at the front. Our waitress was super nice and the atmosphere was pretty fun, though at times I’d joke that we were at the Rainforest Cafe with the lightning and thunder.

Our waitress encouraged us to take a walk around the restaurant and to see the Beast. After we ordered drinks we took a minute to check out our room and the other rooms across the way. We decided to hold off on seeing the Beast until after we ate and ready to leave.

The whole table was dressed so perfectly in a rose theme. Each place-setting was adorned with rosette napkins and a giant candle in the middle of the table. The girls loved the napkins a lot; so now I have to learn how to make rose folded napkins to surprise them.

Our experience this meal was actually nothing like the horror stories we had read. We ended up enjoying it way more than we figured we would. My husband got the salmon. Our girls got the grilled shrimp and mac n cheese. I got the roasted chicken- because I never order chicken ever but during this trip I ordered it like everyday. Haha. My husband had a beer and I had a rose champagne. We had a great time together, even if the thunder got the best of me once in a while. Hah

We, of course, had to get the grey stuff. My only meh moment of the night was this grey stuff. I’m the only one who didn’t care for it, too. It was sort of bland and the crust was so hard to get through. I took a bite and forfeited it to the big man. Which I am glad I did because I got a second round of champagne instead :).

After dinner we met the Beast. Well, he is the reason I wanted to take the girls to this restaurant; well, I had never seen him in person. Just wow. What a costume. The whole character meet was so sweet. He kissed our hands, hugged us and we were enchanted.

Now that we were all floating on cloud nine, we made our way to Big Thunder Mountain to use our last FP.¬† As we ran over, we noticed the park was starting their nighttime show, so the ride had virtually no line anyways.¬† We got onto the ride, my husband and I alone in front of the girls, who got to sit in the last seat¬† (which is the best seat on the whole coaster).¬† We popped outside to find the fireworks just starting.¬† IT WAS AMAZEBALLS! I mean, the locations of each display is staggered to look together from Main Street USA but from the side they are spread out so our view was literally surrounded on the right side… it was the best thing I had ever experienced on BTM.

The fireworks show is pretty long, and they continued as we exited the ride… so the girls wanted to hop back on, and I decided to sit it out to watch the fireworks.¬† I got to sit on top of these boxes near the water bubbler by the exit to watch the show as they went on.¬† It was awesome.¬† The best part of this stint of the night was when my family exited the ride my husband sat out the next ride to sit with me on the boxes as the girls rode again.

Kissing during fireworks that close is pretty special.¬† ūüôā

As soon as the girls exited, the fireworks ended and the rain started!  BAH!! almost perfect, right?  Well we ended up getting the girls on the carousel as we took cover near by.  We had one last FP for the night, Peter Pan.  It may have been the best way to end the night.  The girls wanted to ride it together, which was sweet, and left us alone. I know I said this last time, but I just love this ride so much.  We jetted after this ride to the Confectionary on Main Street USA to grab some last minute souvenirs for everyone.  They were shooting photos for some photo shoot inside there, which was fun to see.

Sad to say, that this was our last full day in the parks, but a pretty great last night of the trip.¬† The girls were wiped during the bus ride home, but so was I.¬† When we got back to the resort, I jumped on finishing up the packing and setting up everyone for the next day.¬† ūüė¶

Our last day.

—————

Day 9

Disney Park: EPCOT

We woke up to beautiful sunshine!  Of course, we were leaving.  We dropped off our bags to bell service to hold, grabbed a bite to eat and a few more souvenirs.  I needed my Mickey waffle key chain!  Then headed right to EPCOT.  We had to be back to the resort by 2PM to grab the Magical Express back to the airport. Which by my calculations left us not a ton of time to play.  We had one FP this day, because of the time constraints, to Test Track.  We literally got to EPCOT, took a few pictures, rode Test Track then left.

Or at least it felt that fast!

—–

Well, there we have it, guys!

It was a fun nine days with the people I love most on this marble creating memories, just having fun.  BUT, I think we have had our Disney Parks fill for a bit.  Wink Wink.  I will explain my winks further on Instagram sometime soon!

Hope you all enjoyed reading along.  I miss not waking up in Disney, it really has been magical.

xoxoxo

Posted in My Travels

Walt Disney World April 21- Day 6

Day 6 

Disney Park: Animal Kingdom (open till 10:30PM)

This was our first morning at Saratoga Springs Resort.  When I finally got to see what our view looked like from the room I was giddy and woke up the whole room to rejoice with me.

So to recap, we arrived for our first stay during the night hours.¬† Everything lit by lamps, you can’t really see much.¬† We were given a room in the Paddock /building 65.¬† Unpacked a little bit, then got right to bed..of course, after an hour of watching the Disney World parks today station.¬† We just found that station on a three-hour loop on YouTube, which we played all morning Sunday for nostalgia. hah¬† I wish I was kidding.

The view… It was perfect.¬† It was peaceful. It was beautiful. IT WAS JUST SO WONDERFUL!!¬† I should mention, that we had pretty low expectations of this resort because whenever we drove by it or saw it in print we were like..”OK, it’s pretty but where is the big Disney wow factor?”.¬† Well, folks, the whole property is it.¬† We really felt transported during this part of our stay because of the resort.¬† There was a lot of grassy space.¬† Each building was painted a different classic color, ours was yellow but next to us was a light green and blue, so pretty.¬†There were not a ton of children, but there were a lot of kids, don’t get me wrong.¬† The walks to the two pools and to the main building gave us access to so many beautiful vistas of water and wildlife, and each pool are was different. The main pool had two hot tubs, a large swim area with a cool slide and a splash park, to the side there were table tennis tables and a thread hair wrapping station. The pool closer to our building had a hot tub, a main pool with slide and then a splash climbing park next to it.¬† ¬†They had surrey bike rentals if you wanted, which we all said if we go back we are renting them. The bus service was always on time, and there were multiple stops within the resort in case you wanted to catch it at another spot.¬† The property just had a real nice overall feel to it.¬† We didn’t regret any moment of this stay.

This day we planned to start off at the pool with breakfast and swimming, though the weather said the day would be cloudy with rain.  We took our chances! So glad we did, because as soon as we finished breakfast, the clouds broke with sun, a few sprinkles fell and that was it for the day!

We had a great experience at the hot tub, got to meet a slew of people from Massachusetts, which was a lot of fun.  We also got to hang out sunbathing in the graduated part of the pool together too.

AAhhrrg why do I live in Massachusetts!!?!?

After the pool, we all got dolled up and headed on to our second day at the Animal Kingdom.  We pre-reserved three FP for this day, but two of them we changed at the pool.  We kept our Avatar Flight of Passage.  We arrived to the park to find it was less crowded than our last visit, which was weird since it was a Saturday.  They had the Star Wars marathon happening this weekend, so maybe folks took off afterward?

We started off this trip with a fun leisure, semi-guided by me, walk over to Pandora.¬† haha¬† I just wanted to stay there all day! Plus we had our FP coming up.¬† That’s what I told everyone anyways.

So I love this ride to pieces.¬† It was even more exciting this day, maybe because I knew what to expect again but I just enjoyed every moment. And I kept my eyes open to my surroundings to see how it all worked out with us floating up to the screen.¬† SUPER COOL.¬† We exited the ride somewhat hungry, so we stopped in at the¬†Satu’li Canteen for these bao buns we saw before. I hung outside to reserve a table, while the big man ordered the food.¬† The best surprise was that he brought me a pretty blue drink to go with everything, a dreamwalker sangria. The drink was pretty.¬† That’s really all I can say about it.. I love blue?

From Pandora we went to Asia for the Maharaja Safari.¬† But first, as if my kids didn’t just eat they NEEDED a dole whip and ice cream.¬† SMH, with all this junk!!¬† ¬†We got to Tamu Tamu in Africa, but the dole whip machine was down, so our daughters opted for chocolate chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches and my husband grabbed a malva cake to share (it’s a spice cake). We found a great hideaway spot to eat with lots of shade and seats.¬† So, the kids’ ice cream sandwiches were the biggest things ever, so both my husband and I grabbed knives to cut off at least a quarter piece.¬† I was full from the piece that I had eaten that I couldn’t go near that malva cake… Oh, but, our oldest daughter could.¬† HOLY EATER! And she is so thin, I don’t know where she puts it all.¬† (She eats like a machine every day)

We got ourselves to the Maharaja Safari and had the most pleasant time walking around.¬† The girls were finishing up with their Wilderness Explorer books that they started on the first trip; collecting stickers, talking to all the guides and drawing.¬† Such a great idea to get people involved with their surroundings.¬† After this we swooped down into Asia for more WE stops, then made our way to It’s Tough to Be a Bug.¬† Something our youngest didn’t remember at all. So seeing her flip out over the 4D stuff was funny.¬† To me anyways.¬† haha

 

I forgot to mention that our kids had been pestering us all morning to get over to Dinoland to ride Primeval Whirl.¬† When I say pester I mean bother me till I explode! Which takes a lot.¬† So after the 4d fun, we made our way to Dinoland.¬† We had a FP to ride PW, we gave them ours so they could ride it twice in a row. They got three turns because the lines were super low.¬† Then they darted over to TriceraTops before we got to leave the park.¬† We were heading to Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ in Disney Springs for dinner.

Ok, so this was one of the few restaurants I booked that I was actually excited to try out.  From our experience being checked in by the cheerful staff, to our so friendly waiter, whom we talked like we were old friends with all night, we just had great vibes this place was going to be good. And, well, it did not disappoint!  What a fun night.

We all ordered some type of fried chicken dish; whether straight forward chicken or a sandwich, then the girls ordered ice cream and donuts for dessert.¬† My husband and I had great moonshine cocktails that we ordered in these funny restaurant 22oz sippy cups.¬†¬†So, no dessert for us, we decided to keep drinking our moonshine instead.¬†I got 2 moonshine margaritas and he mixed it up; first he had a single of a berry lavender.¬† Then, per our waiter’s recommendation, they mixed a concoction of one berry lavender and one blueberry bliss.¬† A big purple drink emerged.¬† Then his third, yes his third, he opted back to the original one.¬†The sippy cups can be refilled anytime during your stay there.¬†¬†Love moonshine, kids!¬† The kicker is that they have a bar set up outside so you can get those same moonshine refills while walking around all day and all night..for like $10-$12 a refill!

I know, let’s move to Disney Springs..or better yet, let’s get Art Smith to open a place up here!!

Our meals were delicious, not a thing left on a plate. I even ate some of my husband’s food!¬† YES, ME!¬† Everything was cooked perfectly and seasoned just right.¬† The donuts at the end may have been the best ever too.¬† Crisp and tasty.¬† Just like a warm hug of vanilla.

We ended up walking around after dinner, shopping for souvenirs and being silly. It had started to rain just as the stores were closing for the night.¬† We grabbed some souvenirs, and those that we couldn’t find we found on the app at the other parks we were visiting next.. So we decided it was time to pack it in and walk back to the resort.¬† Saratoga Springs, particularly our building within the resort, is literally a five-minute walk from Disney Springs.¬† Super convenient.

Well, there is day 6 out of 9.¬† ūüė¶ I really loved this night of our trip.¬† We felt like we were away yet at home with all the good food and walking around.

Also, my moonshine margarita was amazing.  Got a refill without ice to bring to the pool the next day, too!  :)~

Posted in My Travels

Walt Disney World April 19- Day 4

Day 4

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

ūüéā¬†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.¬† ūüôā 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.¬† ūüôā

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

Walt Disney World April 17- Day 2

Day 2First Full Day 

Disney Park: EPCOT (open till 11PM- Extra Magic Hours)

Featured Event: 2018 International Flower and Garden Festival

The Bay Lake Tower is a beautiful DVC resort. Very modern aesthetic. It isn’t decked out with as much Disney kitsch as the other locations, but it has enough. Mickey Mouse is its main feature throughout. Which I love, cuz I love Mickey the most.

We had stayed here during the first half of our last trip and fell in love. The location is key for Magic Kingdom, EPCOT or any monorail service areas. The dedicated pool area is the great with a decent water slide, a kiddie water slide and splash park, and full bar. My favorite part, aside from being a five minute walk to MK, is the scent in the air as you walk in every day. It is intoxicating; just so clean and fresh. Ahh, I love scents, and theirs I just like lots n lots

Ok so this day we gave ourselves a little time to sleep in; it was the first day of vacation after all! The view from our room was the lake view, which was different from our last stay, which was park view. I actually liked our view this time a lot. It was so peaceful in the morning out there, just the breezes, the balcony, me in my pjs and the trees lining the water. Just perfect.

I have certain rituals while on vacation, like first thing in the morning I like to hang out balcony side alone in thought while in my jamz. I don’t care where the balcony is, I am in my pajamas enjoying the morning light!!

We got all dolled up then headed straight for the parks for 10:30AM, before our first reserved FP for Soarin’ at 11:40AM.¬† Ok maybe I do remember some times…I am jk I am looking at the itinerary I printed for the girls.¬† heehee

We all love EPCOT a tremendous amount, so we were looking forward to our first full day there.¬† Plus, my husband and I have only been to the Flower and Garden event before they had all the outdoor kitchens that now accompany it.¬† So, we grabbed some coffees ..and frappuccinos.. and took off to ride Soarin’.¬† They have revamped this ride since our last visit four years ago, and even though we loved the original, we all really liked the new one.¬† Me especially.¬† I am a big world traveling nerd, so seeing all those landmarks and the castle, well, I left it wanting to actually take off to explore!¬† Plus, the grassy plains scent they implemented smells so good!!

Soarin’ was the only reserved FP we made, but we ended up walking on Test Track and Soarin’ right after we explored the World Showcase.¬†¬†Ok, so World Showcase was where we headed right after Soarin’.¬† Right before we arrived we saw a Cinderella and Belle character meet up being set up, so we took advantage of the short line to meet Cinderella. We love Belle, but we all had a pretty light breakfast on account that this day was reserved to binge eat all day, so we were starving!¬† Eating was kinda what we did this whole trip, #familygoals, but somehow I came back 4 lbs lighter than when we left… go figure? (It’s def from all the running around and walking)

After the meet up, we took the left side making our way towards Mexico.¬† We went inside the ruin to shop around then ride the Gran Fiesta with the Three Caballeros!¬† If you didn’t read that in the “The Three Caballeros” voices, that is just a shame.¬† Ok, anyways, we love this ride for so many reasons… it’s relaxing, it’s funny, it’s roomy, it’s cool inside, the fireworks at the end, but namely this is the ride our youngest daughter made us float on 8 times in one swoop since the lines were dead, I kid you not.¬† She is the same child who made us ride it’s a small world fifty times in 8 days, too.¬† She is so funny.¬† ¬†The ride is a good time, and we¬†noticed that they have added on the three animatronic singing Caballeros at the end. Cute!

From Mexico, we went on to Norway to grab some school bread, of course.  Our kids have been talking about School Bread for four years.  Since the Kringla Bakery was under construction we had to grab it from an outdoor kitchen they had set up.  It seemed different somehow, almost like the bread was denser and whole wheat.  It was still good, we end up eating it again later, but just seemed different.  From Norway we trekked through Germany for some more food and drinks, and for the girls to play their first round of Agent P.  While grabbing some German wine and potato sticks snack for my oldest, I saw a hometown friend with her family there; my husband and hers went to HS together.  Big surprise!  While I was in the WeinKeller talking, the girls went with my husband to get some caramel snacks, and came back with the largest chocolate caramel cookie.  It was so good.

From Germany, you guessed it, we hit up Italy.¬† We just walked through the shops, talked Italian to a few folks as I smelled some pretty perfumes. Then we perused our way through America into Japan.¬† Ok, so Sake Mists, one of the drinks I had been dying to try was at the Kabuki Cafe, the first little house on the left in Japan.¬† ¬†The girls got the non-alcoholic kakigori slush, one got rainbow the other blue raspberry.¬† My husband got the blackberry flavored sake mist and I got (of course, I am Sicilian) blood orange flavored.¬†It definitely did not disappoint, and was so much fun to …eat?¬† It was awesomely huge and you can’t order one thinking you will continue to walk around the showcase. Nahuh. No way.¬† You need a spoon, a straw, all hands on deck, and lots of napkins!¬† ¬†Right after we had our drinks, we did another Agent P while shopping around.

After this we walked through Morocco for a minute then landed in France.¬† Ok, I also have been dying to try the outdoor kitchen’s la vie en rose slushie from France.¬† I am a big St. Germain fan, elderflower or elderberry anything I just love. Plus it is pink, and so pretty.¬† ūüôā¬† It was listed on the menu to have¬†Grey Goose Vodka Orange, St. Germain liquor with White and Red Cranberry Juice, so it was on my radar.¬† We first got a Grand Marnier Orange slushie, walked over to the other spot and grabbed a la vie en rose slushie.. which I fell instantly in love with!¬† We grabbed a tomato tarte, too!

After France, we walked our way through the UK and Canada, then made our way to Test Track to walk on as single riders.¬† We love love Test Track, but I sorta liked the old way they had the track indoors.¬† I still don’t understand what the futuristic looking city made from shards of plastic is for.. anyone?¬† From Test Track we went to Mission: Space, then munched on a Mickey shaped pretzel walking towards the character meeting area.¬† We got real lucky because both Baymax and Joy and Sadness were less than a five-minute wait each!¬† We got to interact, and I got to hug everyone, I am a hugger.¬†We then walked around the park a little bit before heading back to Mexico for our dinner reservations.¬† We had seen the¬† butterfly garden they had set up before, so we decided to venture in.¬† The varieties of butterflies were beautiful, and a lot got out (must be native to the area) so as you walked along the park you’d see a dozen giant monarchs fluttering by.

We got ourselves to Mexico just in time for our reservations at La Hacienda de San Angel.¬† We ate here on our last trip, also the other restaurant in Mexico, but we liked this one a lot.¬† We had a super fun time talking to our waiter, and with each other. We munched on chips n salsa. Margaritas and cervezas showed up.¬† The girls got steak tacos. I got the carnitas and my husband got the shrimp tacos.¬† Everything was actually better than the last time we were there.¬† As soon as dinner was over we hit up the showcase, and made it to Japan by the time Illuminations was being announced.¬† We got to cuddle together along the rails and watch the show, it was beautiful as always.¬† Our youngest didn’t really remember it, or much of our last trips, so we got to see it through her eyes all over again new.

We left Illuminations right as it ended, only to be stopped at the drawbridge in the outpost to watch a boat towing the globe back to its hiding spot.  Which was a fun behind the scenes experience for us all that we actually saw on YouTube before leaving for this trip.  The girls were happy!

Since the park was open later, Magic Hours, we made a bee line back to Soarin’ then finally hit up The Land because we got a FP for it earlier that they couldn’t accept as the ride went down.¬† Then we decided it was time to make it to the entrance, and on our way out ride Spaceship Earth!

We left EPCOT super happy, and felt like we were finally on vacation after the week leading up to this trip that we all had.¬† You can kinda see it in my face and stuff, that I wasn’t right, but I wasn’t letting that stop me from enjoying my family and this time off!!

Ok, till next time when we go back to the Magic Kingdom for our first full day there! Yee!

Posted in Random Stuff

We Are Back!!

Hello WordPress friends!

We are back from…WALT DISNEY WORLD! Wooo! But, really, womp! We had such a great trip that we are all bummed about it being over and back to work and school. Ok, tears wiped, but yeah, Disney has definitely changed some since we were there last; which was four years ago, when our kids were 6yo & 8yo! And I was 3…7. Huh, not as cool to think about that. Haha. But. This trip was all kinds of awesome, as our past Disney trips have been, but Idk, I think this is our favorite Disney trip of them all.

A lot of why I am feeling like this has to do with our girls’ ages. They are at such a great age for all the parks, never missing a beat walking miles a day and still a great age for those family magical moments.

Another major part of this trip’s success was the weather! We left home Monday the 16th with chilly rain and arrived to Orlando to a stretch of 9 days of sunny, breezy, 84F-87F. WOOOTOTHEHOOOO!! I never felt happier to be in FL than this week. We couldn’t of been luckier. Actually, now that I think of it, we were lucky this whole trip together… We got to sleep in some, enjoy a lot of pool time, scored the best additional fast passes each day, Magic Hours were truly magical, the park/resort buses always showed up when we walked to the gate number, when it was supposed to rain we got clouds or a drizzle while we were inside/on a ride, the girls rode EVERYTHING without a fear…it all just really worked out!

Considering before we left how I was a wreck from a car accident. I didn’t really share this with many folks because it was just a lot for me to go through. But yeah, Thursday the 12th, 4 days before our trip, I went to treat myself to a coffee only to be struck by a speeding car that cut me off turning out of nowhere. (notice this one is heart shaped?)

He slammed right into me, so hard that he knocked me/my car a few hundred feet. Thankfully, my car didn’t hit anyone or anything as it was thrust into a parking lot (and I had no clue what had occurred till I felt glass in my mouth and smelled burned rubber). I walked away from the crash with some wild bruising and bruised ribs, a tiny scrape and aches from impact but ALIVE. A ton of wonderful people came to my rescue and defense, witnessing the other driver’s reckless behavior on the road. My car was deemed totaled so we grabbed a rental last night to take us home from the airport. This is depressing me because I didn’t need this, I mean, who does, but now I have the expense of finding a new car.

So ….I am taking a new car and how well this trip went as my guardian angel’s way of saying everything is ok. Brighter horizons ahead. Because every time we talked to either insurance company or I felt down because of all my noticeable bruises while in bathing suits, shorts or tank tops, I saw hearts. It’s a weird thing that happens to me, I literally see heart shapes, and in Disney it was kinda crazy how many we all saw. ūüôā

OK, so I am going to draft out my day to day posts and photos over the week between work and stuff. Keep an eye out!

Annnd, is that rain I hear outside!? Yup it is… welcome home.

Hope you all missed me! Hah oxox

Posted in My Travels

Disney Trip Countdown Calendar

Disney Trip Countdown Calendar

In 2012, when we went to Disney World, I had the girls use a conventional Disney themed calendar for the countdown. It was great fun, as they marked every day till the big trip.  The only problem was it became so messy on the calendar with both girls wanting to circle and cross off days, along with other events and celebrations written on it, that I just wanted to give a try on the countdown calendar myself.  I am not a big fan of messy calendars, especially when we had the calendar on the front of our fridge!

This trip’s countdown calendar is being added to my daughter’s big Disney Trip reveal on Christmas Day!¬† So excited!¬†¬†¬†Since the last countdown was so messy, I wanted this to be easy, clean and separate from our daily calendar. The drafted idea was for the girls to¬†pull off tabs from the calendar to count down the days, but where on some of the tabs they would find¬†movie nights¬†or special requests (uhm, like small chores)!¬†¬†I started researching online, aka Pinterest, and found some cute ideas, but most were just not my style, or too complicated for a full-time working mom!

The supplies I chose were¬†easy to get, or already on hand at my house; ¬†WalMart’s¬†Disney brand paint chips, a few sheets of white card stock, a Dollar Store white foamboard, craft glue, silver, pink pastel and blue pastel glitter, and high gloss black craft paint.¬† This project was so much fun to put together,¬†and it¬†came out real cute! Also, it was SUPER inexpensive. Which to quote a funny movie.. “Two words I like, Peppy and Cheap.”¬†–¬†Soapdish¬†(Gary Marshall)

To find the paint chips I wanted, the Mickey Mouse head shaped ones, was a bummer, cause they stopped making those about two years ago; when I wanted to snag them in the first place!  But, WalMart ended up having these cute ones anyway.  They are available in all colors, and have a silvery Mickey Mouse head on the bottom right hand corner.  I chose paint chips that were soft in color, and in similar color families. And who can complain when they are free?

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Disney paint chips-  They are separated by color family and then split out into seven days a week.  These are shown as is from store, but I cut them into 1.5inch squares for this project.

Then, a day after I got the paint chips at WalMart,¬†we got Disney¬†video club mail.¬† You know the ones¬†that come with those DVD cover stickers?¬† I got an idea to use those stickers¬†on each tab¬†for those¬†movie themed nights I wanted to make.¬† I love when ironic things happen like this..and they’re free! Score!

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These are those free Disney movie stickers you get with the video club mail. I cut out their favorite movies. I didn’t use all of them, but chose a few that we could scatter around for movie nights.

I had a few pieces of card stock in the house, and figured to use them to make backings to the paint chips.¬† I cut them into the same sized squares as the paint chips (1.5″), and wrote on them and glued the video stickers on the bottom.¬† Then on others, I had written sweet chores like ‘Hug Your Sister’.

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Here are the card stock squares (same size as I cut the paint chips) that will be glued to the backs of the chips .  Each square has a movie, a chore or cute thing for them to do.  Anything I can do to reinforce good behavior, I am all for it!
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Here they are together.
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Here they are all lined up ready to be glued. I also added in some memories for the girls on the last week of the countdown so they can scream and freak every morning when they flip a card. heh

To start the board.¬† Thought it would be sweet if I could mimic the theme I put together for their Christmas reveal, the giant Mickey Mouse Head/Ears.¬† I went online to find an image that I could use as a paint template. Printed it out¬†on an 8×11 sheet of copy paper, which fit for this perfectly.¬†¬†For the title, I had an issue with my Walt¬†Disney¬†font, so I went and found the Walt Disney World¬†logo¬†and used that as my other template for the title.¬† I created the words “countdown to” in a font I had on¬†Word that was close to the word “world” in the WDW logo.

My hand wasn’t so great at being steady for painting the font like it was for the Mickey Head, that I used¬†the printed paper¬†and painted over it.

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Here is foamboard shown with the draft I put together. I made templates of the ears so I could paint it on the bottom, and of the letters, too.
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Here is the start of the project. Painted Mickey Ears.

Once the paint dried on the titles and the Mickey Mouse head, I started on the snowflakes that I added on last-minute to tie in the season.

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Here are glue snowflakes that will be glittered. I found some snowflake images online and tried my best to copy them. Not too shabby!
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This is the snowflake covered in the glitter. If you haven’t used glitter before, you really need to cover the whole glue image for it to coat it well. I love GLITTER!
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This is what they look like when covered. Super cute! And shiny. ūüôā
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I scattered snowflakes and little dots of snow all over. Came out real cute. It is now ready for the paint chips squares to be put on it!

With the black craft paint, I painted the number of days left till the trip to each paint chip front- two coats. Once the paint is dry, they are ready to be adhered to the board.

To get the paint chips onto the board, and without wrecking the written card stock pieces that are attached, I thought to tape them on.  I ran a clear line of tape across foam board for each week (long enough for all seven squares in a week).  Then I made tiny rolled tape pieces and attached each square on as straight as I could.

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Here is the finished project! A Disney Trip Countdown Calendar perfect to be given at Christmas or in the Winter!!
Posted in My Travels

Back to Visit the Mouse!

Hey Everyone!

As we are wrapping up from the girls’ birthday bash, I am onto the next project phase in my life …packing up the four major rooms of my house, in their entirety!! ..the kitchen, bathroom, dining room and TV room! As you guessed it, the house renovations are around the corner and I started working on getting everything stored away yesterday, and will probably continue tonight into the weekend. My Mom and Sister will be swinging by at the end of the week to help me further, too. Thank GOD! It is a lot of work and I only got through two shelves of my dining room closet!! It is a huge closet, in my defense. ARG! —-> But I am not going to talk about that right now, cause I am also in the midst of planning our next trip to DISNEY WORLD! YAAAHHH!

We have done a ton of planning and prepping for this trip so far, and have a lot more to do, but let me start this category of my blog off with some back story.

My favorite part of this trip’s planning is that our two girls have no clue about this vacation yet, well technically; this will be their big gift from Santa this Christmas!

We had repeated this type of ‘secret’ before in 2011, some of you might remember it was for our first Disney family trip in 2012 that I photo posted back when I started this blog. We had convinced our oldest, who was at the magical age of 6 at the time, to ask Santa for a trip for the family to Disney World. Which she thought was the best idea she had ever come up with (hah). For some reason I had told my children, “When you are six, it is an even more magical age to interact with Santa, and he can give you any gift you really really would like. Like say…a trip to Disney World!”..power of persuasion people!

And that is what Santa gave the girls! A gift box was left in front of the Christmas tree, a humongous box!, filled with all the things they needed for a perfect Winter vacation in Disney. Whatever you can think of it was in that box. I went nuts, I mean, Santa was very generous!! The box was wrapped in candy cane striped paper that had giant black Mickey Mouse heads adorning every side at the center. The box’s lid was tricked out. When the girls removed the lid from the box, a massive amount of Mickey Mouse colored streamers with hanging Mickey Mouse cut outs spilled down. They thought that was the coolest thing! Everything in the box was in a Disney wrap theme of some sort. There were small toys of all types inside (a lot with blinking lights!), a 2012 Mickey calendar, some custom designed shirts with embroidered characters and names, store-bought clothes, handmade Mickey, Minnie and Disney Princess sculpted hairclips and hair bands, Cars 2 the Movie, airplane snacks for the flights there and back, homemade coloring books with Minnie Mouse themed crayons and coloring pencils, bubbles, Disney plushes, Mickey and Minnie silver necklaces and rings, faux park tickets, maps with itineraries, and on top of it all was a special letter from Mickey made out to the girls!

Now, our youngest just turned 6 a couple of weeks ago…. that magical age. Which means Santa has to be creative with the present again this year.

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They loved meeting Eeyore!

2012 Disney World- Magic Kingdom- Crystal Palace- They loved meeting Eeyore!

 

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We have booked flights, made dinner reservations and started some small projects so far, which I will touch upon in my next Disney related blog. Planning this trip further on here will be a perfect distraction as we get in the thick of construction. I created a Disney category tab on my homepage so you can share in the insanity of planning this trip! I love to share the things I do, because I hope it will spark others who are creative with ideas like it does for me, and, they can share their experiences and such back.

Have an awesome week guys!

Keep an eye open for the next trip planning installment!

xoxoxox