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.  🙂  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 My Travels

Walt Disney World April 16- Day 1

Day 1 Arrival

Hotel: Bay Lake Tower in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Disney Park: Magic Kingdom (open till 10PM)

We exchanged rainy and chilly Boston for the blue skies and sunshine of Orlando!  We arrived to the MK at 2:30PM, with fast passes ready to start at 3:50PM. This is the only time I will reference the times because I don’t remember any other day!  haha

We walked from our resort to the park to find the Disney Festival of Fantasy parade being set up, so we decided to beat the crowds by walking through our favorite Main Street USA shop, the Confectionary.  It is just a pretty shop set up to look like the 1920’s, with all the candy and treats set up perfectly, and the smells.  It’s super sweet.  Within five minutes of walking in we encounter Sheila working behind the glass production area assembling white chocolate covered Mickey Mouse apples.  She spotted us, smiled, reached into her drawer, walked around the case to hand us each a white chocolate and cinnamon graham cracker crumb covered marshmallows.  (WHICH WERE SO YUMMY!)

Soon after that we walked over to get some iced coffees and frappuccinos, which I promised the girls they could get a few on this trip (which is something I DO NOT DO OFTEN!).  They were so happy to be sipping their Starbucks on Main Street as we watched the parade.  There was this humongous crude metal constructed dragon that breathes fire you could feel up to yards away; it was so cool to watch go by.

Once the parade passed, we raced over to get a bite to eat before the first fast pass.  What did the girls want? FUNNEL CAKE  hahah  So of course, we ventured to Sleepy Hollow to get some spicy chicken and waffles…and funnel cake.  The chicken and waffles was so spicy good, and big enough for three people!  Holy huge!. Of course, the girls had their funnel cake happily sitting by Cinderella’s castle with their drinks.

Ok, so we caffeinated and ate, and were off to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride. OH MY HOW MUCH FUN IS THAT COASTER!?!?! I had only seen it being built the last time we were at MK, which was a lot of fun seeing the construction crews walking along the top of the mountain.  Before coming on this trip, we watched some videos on YouTube so I wasn’t blindsided with large dips or twirls. Also, I was real nervous with how banged up I was from the car accident, that I was a tiny bit preoccupied with how I would feel. We had such a great time laughing and screaming our bums off, and rocking the whole seat dancing with Snow White.  No issues for anyone on that ride.  We all loved it so much and were glad we made it our first ride of the trip!!

Then we hit up Mickey’s PhilharMagic to cool off and before heading to our next fast pass Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  I love BTM more than any other ride in MK, like, I could go on it all day and just laugh crazily thinking I am going to bump my head on that swooping hill.  haha  I swear one of these times I will.  After this we grabbed some food at Peco’s Bill because our kids love that place, and my husband does too.  We had a great experience with the Mobile Ordering, which we used about three or four times on this trip..even for Dole Whip our last MK day!

After that quick service bite to eat we headed to Adventureland to check out the Tiki Room.  Weird that I had never seen this show, right?  I mean, in all the times I have been to the MK, it has either been closed for refurbishment or something was wrong with it.  Well, this visit we all got to experience this for the first time, and we thought the bird cast was funny..but especially loved the doorway tiki.

After that show, we raced to get on to our last pre reserved FP, the Haunted Mansion.  Ok, so I am the ‘gothy’ one in my family.  I have always LOVED the idea of gloomy, vintage estates, where you are transported into a spooky time where things take humor in death.  So, this whole ride does it right.  From the waiting queue to the entrance into the ride to the CMs acting ghoulish, you are just immersed into this great scene. And, the costumes of the CMs are literally the best in any of the parks, it’s just all kinds of good.

After this we grabbed some Mickey Ice Cream Sandwiches/Bars for the girls, then grabbed a few more fast passes, starting with it’s a small world.  We reminisced on this ride about how many times our youngest made us ride it on our first trip.  Like fifty!  haha.

Then we headed towards the Mad Tea Party since it was still light out; where the girls rode it a few times on their own. THIS IS HUGE GUYS!  They opted to ride a lot of rides, including Big Thunder Mountain, ALONE!!  Leaving me with my Mickey to ride alone, too.  Yes, I actually call my husband Mickey..not because of the Mouse, but because I loved my very sweet Australian friend calling him that when he came to visit us for the first time when we were newlyweds. He traveled with his best friend Michael, who he called Mick, as well as my husband. So, I just started calling him that as a “remember Pat calling you Mick, too?”, that it became a thing for us.

After the tea cups, we ran back to BTM, but first The Muppets in Great Moments in American History was starting so we stopped to watch.  SOooOOoo here is another weird fact about me, I had a huge crush on Fozzie Bear, Rowlf and Animal as a kid.  Yup..  hahah  Just putting that right there.  So anyways, we watched this show briefly, as we were on our way to BTM.  We got onto the ride, and able to get on it a couple of times because wait times were so low.

While walking from BTM, we heard Happily Ever After starting and ran down to catch it anywhere we could.   It was a beautiful display with the castle projections, we all really loved it standing together in a big group hug.  But as we were watching it I said, “who’s with me to split to BTM again?!”, which was all of us!  And the best idea.  We got there with less than a minute wait, letting the kids experience the ride at night. We got to sit in the back which was amazingly fun.  Man, was it a blast.  You could hear our kids laughing and screaming, it was so much fun.  Oh and me too.  I am a laugher.

The night wasn’t over!  The castle had another projections show, Once Upon a Time, which we caught as we were making our way to Main Street USA from Frontierland.  Another beautiful display, and music, which we sang along to.  Then we walked to our resort, which was a cool five minutes from the MK.

We had such a fun start to our trip, our first day out of three at MK.

 

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

Our Disney Favorites at EPCOT 2014

During this trip we spent three full days at EPCOT.

Ride: Soarin’! Followed closely by Test Track! We love high-flying, speedy rides! As I am typing this, my oldest is screaming about how much she loved Agent P’s showcase adventure (formerly Kimpossible). She played this through Mexico, Germany, Japan, and France)

Restaurant: La Hacienda for the taco apps! This was highly influenced by our view at the table!

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Snack: School Bread from Kringle Bakery, Norway
A rich, creamy dessert bread that we dived into a few times!

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Non Alcoholic Drink non-fat latte from Starbucks! Of course!

Alcoholic Drink a crisp cider in Germany

Character Meet Well, since the meet n greet was insanely long for Elsa and Anna, the only characters our girls were dying to see…and we refused to wait for, we would have to say the Storybook Princesses at the Akershus dinner. This trip the whole experience was pretty fun, and our girls left with some memorable photos and autographs.

No, guys, the wait for Frozen was never less than two hours long! Even on the chilly nights…and it was four hours one morning!! Four!! Who are these people waiting in a line for that long!? 

Place to Chill Out all points in Japan. The views were beautiful and through the arch; it was magical. Though not for Illuminations, where we got stuck there for our kids. Heh They thought it would be fun to stay there..and it was..but not for the view!

Posted in My Travels

Our Disney Favorites at Hollywood Studios 2014

Ride Star Tours!, but for an attraction we loved Lights! Camera! Action! We got picked to sit in the VIP area, and even throughout the rain, the show was awesome. i always forget how great it is.

Restaurant: 50’s Prime Time
We had a blast going back in time drinking and munching at our vintage table.

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Snack: popcorn!

Non Alcoholic Drink: chocolate milk shake from 50’s Prime Time

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Alcoholic Drink: margaritas on the rocks…no salt!

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Character Meet: we have two! Vanellope and Wreck it Ralph! And an impromptu meet of Chip n Dale, Goofy and Pluto in the center of the park!

Place to Chill Out: the benches right outside the Greatest Movie ride theater. It is prime real estate for people watching!! ☺️

Posted in My Travels

Our Disney Favorites Other 2014

Restaurant The Polynesian Resort restaurant O’hana
We had a great first dinner and first impression during our dinner at O’Hana. We hula’d. We drank. We ate. We danced. And.. We sang. It was a great time had by all, and it was a fun way to kickstart our trip.

Our first dinner of this trip was at O'Hana.

Snack Pretzels from Wetzels! In Downtown Disney
We noshed on cinnamon and plain pretzels, and thought they were amazingly delicious!

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Place to Chill Out: Downtown Disney!

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