WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR PARK BAG?!

WHAT TO PACK IN YOUR PARK BAG?!

If you read last weeks blog post, 10 ROOKIE MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN VISITING WDW!, you saw that one of the rookie mistakes I mentioned is not bringing a backpack to the parks. Park days can be long and tiring, and it is best to be prepared. Today, I am going to list the things that I feel are most important to pack in your park bag!

First, let’s start with the necessities. These are things that I feel are items you need with you in the parks. Sure, you can purchase these items in the park if you need them, but it’s better if you have them readily available! Here’s a list of ten necessities to pack in your park bag:

  1. Bandaids. Walking over 10 miles a day, you or someone in your party is bound to get blisters. Do yourself a favor and come prepared with a few bandaids!
  2. Ziplock bags. These will be another life savor! I always carry at least one sandwich size and one gallon size ziplock bag in my backpack. If it rains or you choose to go on a ride where you may get wet, you can stick your phones, cameras, and other valuables in these to keep them safe and dry!
  3. Ponchos/Personal Umbrella. Weather can be unpredictable in central Florida. Come prepared with ponchos or an umbrella so you don’t have to find shelter during a downpour.
  4. Necessary medicines. Aside from any medication that are necessary for you to take throughout the day, it is always a good idea to carry Tylenol and Dramamine in case an emergency arises. I usually buy the travel tubes and throw them in my bag to keep handy at all times!
  5. Change of socks. If you wear tennis shoes to the park, always be sure to carry a spare pair of socks. If you get caught in a rainstorm or go on a water ride, your socks are likely to get wet and likely will need to be changed!
  6. Water/Reusable Water Bottle. Water is pretty pricey in the parks, so I am always sure to pack a reusable water bottle or a bottle of water if I have one handy. You can always refill your water bottles at water fountains around the parks, or ask for a cup of ice water from quick service locations.
  7. Snacks. Snacks are another factor that can be pretty expensive in the parks. Pack light snacks such as chips, fruit, or granola bars in your backpack to munch on in-between meals!
  8. Wireless charger. If you want to take photos throughout the day or utilize the My Disney Experience app, your phone is likely to die before the night is over. To avoid this, be sure to pack a pre-charged wireless charger!
  9. Deodorant. Central Florida does get very hot – and humid. You’ll need to freshen up halfway through a park day, and having deodorant in your backpack will be a lifesaver. Seriously, you’ll thank me later.
  10. Tissues. You never know when you’ll need a tissue! Be sure to carry a small travel pack in case of emergency!

Even with all of those items I’ve listed above, there are also a few other items I never head to the park without. Although they aren’t necessities, they are things that I utilize during every visit to the park! Here are a few extra fun items to consider packing in your park bag:

  • Autograph book and pen. I am always sure to bring my autograph book, as I love meeting characters in the parks! Character meet-and-greet’s are unique interactions, and they are best documented with a photo and an autograph.
  • Sunglasses. It’s central Florida, it’s sunny. Enough said!
  • Printed daily itinerary. After making my dining reservations and Fastpass+ selections, I always print my daily itinerary from Disney’s website online. In case my phone dies or something happens, I like having my reservation confirmation numbers with the times and locations on hand.
  • Permanent marker. During every Disney vacation, I would have my top favorite character sign my MagicBand as an extra souvenir. My fiancé does something similar, as he has Pluto sign his Pluto hat whenever we do a meet-and-greet with that character. This is when a permanent marker comes in handy!

There you have it, the items I feel are most important to pack in a park bag! As a side note, I would like to clarify that I am an adult without kids, so if you do have kids your packing list will look a bit different. These are just necessities I find that are useful during each trip I’ve taken to WDW!

I hope you enjoyed todays post! Let me know in the comments what some items are that you feel are necessary to pack in a park bag. Be sure to like this post, and subscribe to my blog to be notified of any new postings! Thanks for reading, I’ll see ya soon! 🙂

WALT DISNEY FROZEN AND BURIED IN PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN?!

WALT DISNEY FROZEN AND BURIED IN PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN?!

In honor of spooky szn, I thought it might be fun to kick off October with a fun Disney conspiracy theory! I have heard several, but this one takes the cake – is Walt Disney’s body frozen and buried in Disneyland’s Pirates of the Carribean?

The answer to this bizzare theory is obviously no, but it’s still a fun theory to talk about. How did this conspiracy get started? And, why the claim that his body is frozen? Let’s look at this story’s history below.

In 1966, Walt’s health was deteriorating at an accelerated rate when doctors found he had a walnut-sized tumor on his lung. Not even two weeks after his diagnosis, Walt passed away. Walt had very specific wishes regarding his funeral and plans for his body after death, which were a large part in where these theories stemmed from.

Walt specifically asked for an intimate ceremony, not a large funeral. Because of his wishes, everything after his passing remained tight-lipped and out of the public’s eye. This left fans around the world speculating what could have happened to his body – where did he wish to be buried? Did he want to be buried at all? Was his wish far more crazy than the usual funeral service?

Being that he died in the 60’s, the idea of being frozen after dying to preserve the body was large in the public eye in general. Fans thought that this idea wasn’t so far fetched for the dreamer himself and that if anyone could do it, it would definitely be Walt.

Once the speculating began, authors and the media ran wild with the idea and published it in books and magazines across the globe. While the idea of his body being buried under POTC was just invented along the way, the writers of these articles and books were so confident in their speculations that they were sure they were stating nothing but facts about Walt’s whereabouts.

Fast forward to present day, 2018. Although the idea of cryogenic freezing is a bit far more advanced than it was in the 60’s, we can all bet that there is no factual information behind this theory. In fact, it is recorded his official burial plot is located at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, not Disneyland or POTC.

Regardless of the truth or not, it’s still a fun little story to tell first time Disney fanatics, testing their gullibility and knowledge of Disney himself. Thanks for reading 🙂 I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Be sure to follow and like this blog. See you next time!

FOOD AND WINE 2018: FIRST IMPRESSIONS

FOOD AND WINE 2018: FIRST IMPRESSIONS

This Friday, I finally had the chance to head to Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival! Although I’ve been to this festival several times in the past, I feel as though I had a different experience this year. Below, I am going to dive into some of the aspects of the festival that left “first impressions” for this years festival. If you are unsure what this festival is, check out my blog post all about it hereA GUIDE TO EPCOT’S INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2018.

Crowd Level

This year, as I mentioned above, was the first year we visited the festival on a Friday night. Usually, we head to the festival during the week and midday. This choice we made definitely affected how we experienced the festival based on the higher crowd volume.

From the moment we pulled in to the parking lot, we waited almost 10 minutes in line to finally get in to a spot. We then waited over a half hour between bag check and the entrance. When waiting, I made a comment that they must have a pretty great entertainer for the night and that had to be the reason for the crowds – but I was wrong.

The park itself didn’t feel overly crowded until we got into World Showcase. WS definitely had to be over capacity because it was beyond packed. Literally, I couldn’t tell you how many times a stroller was rammed into my ankles and how many times people bumped into me. Lesson learned: not the best idea to head to the festival on a Friday night!

Du Jour Dance Party 

Heading to and from the World Showcase, we came across the new Du Jour Dance Party being offered at the festival this year. When we first arrived, it was still light out, so there were mostly kids taking advantage of the party. However, when we were leaving, there were all adults on the dance floor. It was fun to see both kids and adults enjoying this added bonus!

Photopass 

I was very unimpressed with the Photopass options at this festival. To begin, there was no Photopass cast member at the front of the park in front of the beautiful set-up for Food and Wine with Spaceship Earth in the background. This is a prime photo spot, and I was very sad there wasn’t someone there tending to guests to take advantage of this!

Next, we headed to an area behind the Du Jour Dance Party where there is another FAW set-up with a large pink cake for photos. We took a photo here last year and were excited to do it again. The Photopass cast member rushed us through our pictures (which seems to be happening more and more in the parks!), and then later we noticed she must have had her settings wrong because we ended up with the couples photo’s who went before us!

Lastly, WDW kept Snow White out to do a meet-and-greet during the festival which I thought was so fun, considering it was far past the usual time that characters are out. However, there was no Photopass person with her, so the character attendant had to take photo’s on my cell phone. They ended up poor quality because of the lighting in the area, and I’m sad we didn’t get better photos!

Hopefully, these instances aren’t something that happen continually at the festival!

Eat to the Beat 

The performer for the night was Living Colour. This is a group I’m not familiar with, but I know my parents are. My fiancé and I sat for about a minute to watch the performance, but quickly got bored and left. They’re great performers, just not the group for us!

Food and Drink Samplings 

Before heading to the festival, my fiancé and I chose to eat dinner before hand with the plan of grabbing a dessert or small snack in World Showcase along with a drink or two. We ended up each having two drinks, and I got a snack. The following is a short blurb about each item we tried:

  • Mariachi Loco: Beverage, Mexico: Margarita with Libelula Tequila Joven, Mango Purée and Chamoy – $9.00
    • My fiancé got this drink, but neither of us were impressed. It had a dried mango slice inside of the drink, and it seemed to leave a bad after taste. I wouldn’t recommend!
  • La Chancla: Beverage, Mexico: Red Wine Sangria mixed with Fruit Juice – $8.75
    • Just a basic sangria – good, but nothing too special about it. However, I would absolutely get it again!
  • Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon with Truffle Butter Sauce: Snack, Canada: $8.00
    • This is one of the most popular dishes at FAW, and I can see why. It was a small portion, which I expected, but so amazingly delicious. The sauce was exceptional, and the cut of meat was clearly a great quality and so tender. I will absolutely get this dish the next time I visit FAW, and highly recommend it!

Overall, I was very disappointed with our first visit to Food and Wine 2018 this year. I am hoping that my next visit is more enjoyable, which I am sure it will be! Nonetheless, Food and Wine is still my favorite festival at the parks and absolutely a must-do for guests. I’m already looking forward to my next visit!

Thanks for reading 🙂 Below are some pictures of the night! Be sure to like this post, and follow my blog!

BEST RIDES FOR FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS!

BEST RIDES FOR FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS!

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you are well aware that the wait times for popular attractions can be off-putting. For beloved attractions such as Peter Pan in Magic Kingdom, Soarin’ in Epcot, Avatar: Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, and Rockin’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios, you can expect to wait well over an hour in the stand-by queue. This is why Fastpass+ reservations are key when planning for your stay!

For those of you who are unaware, Fastpass+ is a reservation for a ride that you can book for you and your party. These reservations basically “hold” your place in line within an hour long window, and when you arrive for your reservation you basically walk right on to the attraction. The service itself is free, but is very limited.

The terms and conditions for this feature are as followed: 1. Each guest is allotted 3 Fastpass+ reservations per day within the same park. 2. These reservations can begin to be reserved 30 days in advance or 60 days in advance with a hotel reservation. 3. The reservations can be made within your My Disney Experience app or on Disney World’s website.

Since you are only able to book 3 Fastpass+ reservations in advance per day, it is important to be sure that you are choosing the rides that not only fit your interest, but that are worth wasting 1 of the 3 reservations on. Below, I am going to outline what I feel are the top three attractions worth reserving in each of the four theme parks, with a few honorable mentions. I would like to state that I am choosing based on crowd popularity as well as my own interests! Let’s get started:

Magic Kingdom

Luckily in MK, there aren’t any specifications on tiered rides (I will get into that in the later parks), so as long as you book as early in advance as you can, you will be able to book any attraction you’d like as long as it’s still available. In MK, I use my Fastpass+ reservations on:

  • Space Mountain (average wait time: 65 minutes)
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (average wait time: 110 minutes)
  • Peter Pan’s Flight (average wait time: 90 minutes)

Some honorable mentions that are also worth booking Fastpass+ reservations include: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Splash Mountain. Also, when the new Tron coaster opens, I am sure that will take one of my top three spots!

Epcot

Unlike MK, Epcot has tiered attractions. Tier 1 attractions are those that are most popular (such as Frozen Ever After, Soarin’, and Test Track), while tier 2 attractions are those which usually have less of a wait time. When using Fastpass+ in this park as well as the AK and HS, you are only able to book one tier 1 attraction with FP+, and the other two reservations can be utilized on tier 2. So, my choices for Epcot would be:

Tier 1: 

  • Soarin’ (average wait time: 75 minutes)

Tier 2: 

  • Mission Space
  • Spaceship Earth

Honorable mentions in the tier 1 category that I would choose if I were unable to book Soarin’ would be Frozen Ever After or Test Track. To be completely honest, I do not have any honorable mentions for tier 2 rides – I usually don’t even utilize all 3 FP+ reservations in Epcot, and instead just book my tier 1 choice!

Animal Kingdom

As I mentioned above, AK is also  on a tiered ride system. There are two attractions to choose from in the tier 1 category, and those are both of the attractions in Pandora. Other than that, all other attractions are tier 2 in AK and are able to be booked together. My AK choices for FP+ are:

Tier 1:

  • Avatar: Flight of Passage (average wait time: 120 minutes)

Tier 2:

  • Kilimanjaro Safari (average wait time: 80 minutes)
  • Expedition Everest (average wait time: 90 minutes)

As far as honorable mentions, I do not have one for tier 1 attractions. In tier 2, however, it would go to Dinosaur.

Hollywood Studios

HS is the third land using a tiered attraction system. Currently, all tier 1 attractions are the three located in Toy Story Land. However, this is something to expect to change when Galaxy’s Edge opens in 2019. My choices for HS are:

Tier 1:

  • Slinky Dog Dash (average wait time: 90 minutes)

Tier 2

  • Tower of Terror (average wait time: 45 minutes)
  • Rockin’ Rollercoaster (average wait time: 110 minutes)

I would have to say that any other attraction [that you can actually ride] in HS is worth an honorable mention. However, do not waste your FP+ reservations on shows in this theme park! You will be able to see and experience the shows regardless of having a FP+ reservation. Use FP+ to get more out of your day by cutting down your wait for attractions!

There you have it – the attractions I feel are well worth FP+ reservations. To wrap up, here are a few pro-tips when planning your FP+ reservations:

  • Take advantage of the open windows, and book as far in advance as possible! I was always booking my FP+ reservations first thing in the morning when the 60 day window opened and still struggled to get some of my favorite attractions.
  • Book your FP+ reservations early in the day. Once you use all three, you can start to book FP+ reservations using the app one at a time. This is the best way to get the most out of your day!
  • You can arrive five minutes earlier or five minutes later than your hour window and still go on the attraction. They give you a grace period both ways!

I hope you enjoyed today’s post! Be sure to like this post and subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already. Thanks for reading 🙂

7 REASONS TO VISIT WDW IN THE FALL

7 REASONS TO VISIT WDW IN THE FALL

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I love the fall season. Although I’m not a fan of pumpkin spice, I love the scents, the decorations, and the HOLIDAYS! No one does fall better, though, than Walt Disney World. That’s why today I am going to give you seven reasons why you should visit WDW during the fall season!

1. The Decorations. Walking down Main Street USA will give you that “fall feeling” even if it is 90+ degrees in central Florida. WDW does such an amazing job lining the roofs of the markets with pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns as well as putting Mickey-inspired pumpkin wreaths on each lamp post and hanging brown, orange, red and white banners all over. These touches really bring a small-town feeling to the park and create the perfect aesthetic for the season!

2. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. I already wrote a long, lengthy post about why MNSSHP is a must-do on your Disney vacation. Dressing up no matter what your age is and going Trick-or-Treating itself is fun, but to add every other aspect WDW does during the party creates a truly magical experience!

3. Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. Another event that I’ve created a lengthy blog post about, this event (which is free with admission to the park) is engaging no matter your age! I love the idea of trying food dishes and popular drinks from countries around the world. Although it isn’t a “fall” experience, it happens during the fall time, which is reason enough to visit!

4. The Treats. Fall time in the parks inspires chef’s to create endless fall themed treats – sweet and savory! Of course, you can expect your classic pumpkin spiced desserts, but also some fun treats inspired by your favorite Halloween and fall-holiday characters and movies! My favorites every year are the candy and caramel apples!

5. The Crowds. On non-MNSSHP nights as well as weekdays, you can expect the crowds to be lower than normal. This doesn’t mean, necessarily, that the park will be empty with no wait times on favorite attractions, but the wait times will be bearable. Being that fall is when children go back to school, most parents don’t want to pull their young kids out for a week to go on a family vacation. This was always a major deciding factor on when I would plan my WDW vacation!

6. The Weather. Although you can’t expect traditional fall weather in Orlando, it starts to cool down in October and the humidity isn’t as strong. The change in the weather makes it much more easier to do full park days, especially compared to the summer months.

7. Lower-Than-Normal Prices. Since fall isn’t as busy as other months, resort prices are usually a bit lower as well as the price of park tickets! The only time you will see “peak” season prices is the week of Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving. Other than that, expect to pay quite a bit less than that summer or Christmas vacation you’re looking in to!

So there you have it, 7 reasons why you should visit Walt Disney World Resort during the fall season! We love it here this time of year, and I am confident that you would too.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post 🙂 Leave a comment down below about when you think it’s the best time to visit the resort. Also, be sure to like this post and follow my blog. Have a great week!

MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY HAS BEGUN!!

MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY HAS BEGUN!!

It’s the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year – the holidays are near! Unlike most people, I consider “the holidays” and “the most wonderful time of the year” to start when Halloween season begins! Coming from Ohio, I just love everything about the fall season – the leaves, the weather, the clothing, the scents, the decorations, the traditions, and most importantly, Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Disney just started their hard ticketed Halloween celebration, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and people have mixed views on its early start. Some thing it’s waaaay too early to decorate and celebrate the fall holiday, while others, like myself, think it wasn’t soon enough! Regardless of your viewpoint, the party started yesterday (Friday, August 17) and there is plenty of fun to be had! Let’s talk about all of the party offerings this year. **This is going to be a long one, so buckle up!

First, as I mentioned above, this is a hard ticketed event. That means that on top of your annual pass or your normal park ticket, you must purchase a party ticket specifically for the night you choose to go. The party is select nights between August 17th through October 31, and tickets start at $70 a person. Although the party doesn’t start until 7:00 p.m., with your hard ticket you are able to enter the park at 4:00 p.m. and eat dinner, walk around, or go on a few attractions before the fun begins!

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has a lot of unique offerings for guests including special fireworks, trick-or-treating, a special parade, and fun shows on the castles stage. The party also includes treats unique to the party as well as special character meet-and-greets! Below, I will list and briefly talk about the unique offerings.

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Mickey’s Boo to You Halloween Parade

With two shows a night, this themed parade features haunted floats, your favorite characters dressed up in fun costumes, and well known villains! A highlight of the parade, in my opinion, is the Haunted Mansion float with the famous Hitchhiking Ghosts aboard!

Pro tip: Watch the later parade as it is less crowded, and more special to see with the floats and characters lit up in the dark night! Sets the tone perfectly for the spooky party.

Happy Hallowishes Fireworks

Although every Magic Kingdom fireworks show is a can’t-miss show, this is the best one of the year in my opinion! Join the ghosts from the Haunted Mansion to watch the castle light up the night highlighting Disney villains.

Pro tip: Try to find a spot between Casey’s Corner and the statue of Mickey and Walt. A spot too close to the castle or too far up Main Street will limit your view!

Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular 

My all time favorite event of the entire night because who just doesn’t love Hocus Pocus? Shown three times a night, watch The Sanderson Sisters take the castle stage to return to the world and take over the kindgdom on this hallow celebration. Joined by characters such as Oogie Boogie and Malificent, the sisters put on a show which includes singing songs from the movie!

Pro-tip: Unlike the fireworks, try to get a spot for this show closer to the stage – this way, you’ll be able to see and appreciate all of the little details!

Cadaver Dans 

A team of themed Dapper Dans can be found in Frontierland preforming special songs and shows throughout the night. At five different times during the party, you can catch the Dan’s performing well-known songs such as Cruella Devil, Grim Grinning Ghosts, and more!

Unique Character Meet and Greets

Ever wished to meet your favorite villains, or the characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas? This party is your chance! With over 30 unique meet and greet options, you can find characters such as Jack and Sally, Lots’-o-Huggin’ Bear, Cruella DeVil, Moana, and more!

Pro-tip: Most of the character meet and greet options during the party are those that normally aren’t in the park, so if they have your favorite character be sure to find where they are stationed!

Special Attraction Transformations

A first for Disney World’s Halloween celebrations, three attractions are being transformed for party nights. Space Mountain will include a new spooky soundtrack with special effects; The Mad Tea Party is filled with new lights and effects that can make your costume light up and dance while riding; and Pirates of the Carribean will have a live character in the attraction for a little added fun!

Pro-tip: If you want to experience these attractions with the special effects for the party, ride them after the party starts (so, not between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.).

Trick-or-Treating 

No matter your age, be sure to hit a few of the Trick or Treating stations around the park! During the check-in process for the event, you will be given a bag to use for all of the candy you collect – and it will be a lot! The spots where the Trick or Treat stations are can be found on the event map.

Pro-tip: At check-in, let the cast member know if you have any allergies. They will give you a special allergy friendly trick-or-treat bag, and this will let the stations know of your allergies as well! This way, you’ll be able to get treats that you can actually eat and enjoy.

One-of-a-Kind Treats

Disney does an amazing job at creating themed treats for their hard ticketed events, and the Halloween party doesn’t fall short! With dozens of items to choose from, you’ll be sure to find something you must try! A few of my favorites this year include:

  • Malificent Ice Cream: This spooky treat is made up of lime soft-serve ice cream in a black waffle cone, topped with chocolate Malificent horns and sprinkles!
  • Mickey’s Halloween Cinnamon Roll: A Mickey-shaped cinnamon roll topped with icing and a chocolate spider-web!
  • Haunted Mansion Ghost Dessert: A cream puff shaped like the Doom Buggy from the ride which includes spooky purple cream and a photo of the Hitchhiking Ghosts made of chocolate!

Party Merchandise

If you are a shopper like me, you will fall in love with all of the merchandise for the party! From unique popcorn buckets to limited-edition MagicBands and pins, to clothing and spooky ears, there is so much to choose from! The best part is – most of the items are available for purchase throughout the entirety of the season, not just on party nights! A few of my favorites include:

  • A Hocus Pocus inspired Spirit Jersey
  • Limited-edition Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party MagicBand (with only 4,000 made!)
  • Oogie Boogie popcorn bucket
  • Haunted Mansion inspired Minnie ears.

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Costume’s

Now that we have discussed the unique offerings, lets discuss costumes! Whether you want to go full out, or just wear Halloween-inspired clothing, be sure to get in the spirit and dress up for the occasion! Below are a few pro-tips when considering a costume for the event:

  1. Before becoming set on a costume, be sure to check out Disney’s costume guidelines. In a nutshell, these guidelines state that you cannot wear masks, you cannot bring weapons of any kind, the costume cannot be inappropriate and must be family friendly, and an adult may not impersonate a character in their costume (by taking photo’s with guests, etc.). The entirety of these guidelines can be found on Disney’s website.
  2. Dress light! Especially if you are attending the party in August or September, it will still be very hot and humid in Orlando. Be sure that your costume is breathable, isn’t heavy, and is comfortable for you to walk around in for a few hours.
  3. Be unique when considering your costumes! Everyone is dressed up, and it’s more fun when you create something that not everyone is going as that year.

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I could go on and on about this party, but I think I’m going to stop it here. I plan on attending the event in September and October, so be on the lookout for a full review/memory blog about the event around then! I know I’m very excited that it is here, and I can’t wait to dress up and head to the event!

Thanks for reading! Below are some photo’s of the event that I have attended the past two years! Leave a comment down below letting me know if you think the party is starting too early, or if it hasn’t started early enough! Be sure to subscribe and like this blog as well! 🙂

OUR FIRST DISNEY TRIP AS A COUPLE!

OUR FIRST DISNEY TRIP AS A COUPLE!

Going to Disney World with your family as a kid is a totally different experience compared to going to Disney World with your significant other as I am sure it is different compared to going with your kids, and so on. As I already talked about my first trip as a child, I thought I’d reminisce on my first trip to Disney World with Dee.

Our first trip to WDW together was only a few months into dating. We came down to Florida to visit my mom, with my brother and his girlfriend at the time, and we all decided we would head to Disney together! It was in May of 2016, and this is a “first time trip” that I remember every detail of. This was also my first trip as an adult, second trip ever to WDW, and I made a LOT of rookie mistakes that I will never make again!

On this trip, we did just a two-night stay at a Disney partner resort in the Disney Springs area. Since we were just staying two nights, we thought it would be best to just do one park day, and spend the other two days at the hotel or exploring Disney Springs. The hotel was a Wyndham resort, and it was nice. It had a character breakfast which was awesome (featuring Goofy and Pluto), a spacious pool, and a spacious and clean room. Personally, I’d prefer to stay in a Disney-owned resort on property, but this is a great option for those looking to save some money!

The first night we chose to go to Disney Springs, and this is where I made my biggest rookie mistake. This was my first trip as an adult, like I said above, and I hadn’t yet gotten into the world of The Dis podcasts or other Disney blogs, so I didn’t know what to expect. The area itself is GORGEOUS and I was taken aback with all of the shops and dining options. I fell in love with the World of Disney store, of course, and it was a great night. That is, until it was time to EAT. I didn’t have the My Disney Experience app, and most importantly, I didn’t know that you needed to make a reservation if you wanted to eat anywhere nice.

I’m not kidding when I say every restaurant we tried to get in to had over an hour wait, or no wait. It wasn’t even a super-crazy-busy time on property as a whole, but still there were no options for eating because I didn’t make a reservation. We ended up waiting over an hour to eat at T-Rex Cafe, and did not have a good experience. We felt rushed, they messed up both of our dishes, and the dishes as a whole were not pleasing. Lesson learned number one: Book reservations as early as possible. I never made that mistake again!

The next day we chose to make our park day. I had an annual pass and dee had a ticket with a park hopper, so we planned to do Animal Kingdom in the morning and Magic Kingdom at night. We woke up super early, got ready, met with the rest of my family, and got on the bus to head to the park. This was when I got sick…..

I’m not sure why, but I got extremely nauseated. My face was flushed, I had a fever, but I was determined to lot let it ruin my day – until we got into Animal Kingdom. I seriously could not walk more than 10 feet without having to sit down and just stop. It was only like 9:00 a.m. and it wasn’t super humid yet in Florida, so it wasn’t the heat, it was because I had come down with something. Dee got me a water and surprised me with silver sequence Minnie ears to try to make me feel better (I’m so lucky), we sat on a bench for about a half hour, and we decided to head back to the resort. By the time we got on the bus, it was like the flip of a switch and I was perfectly fine. Seriously, no idea what happened!

We decided to just head right to Magic Kingdom, so we sat once again and waited at the resort for a bus. While waiting, my shoe became untied so dee (once again, being perfect) knelt down to tie it. I wasn’t even paying attention until I felt him pulling my shoe strings, so I looked down and smiled and said thank you and he looked up and smiled and said your welcome. Well, there was a couple standing behind him and they thought that he was proposing and got VERY excited, but then disappointed when they realized that he wasn’t proposing. And this is where Dee got the lovely idea to propose to me every. single. Disney. vacation.

Anyways, we got to Magic Kingdom and had honestly one of the best park days we have ever had together. There’s just something about your first experience with someone at Disney World that makes it so special, and this was that experience. We rode all of our favorite rides, but we had to wait in long lines because I didn’t make any fast pass reservations (rookie mistake number 2!). We also only ate quick service because, of course, I didn’t have dining reservations (rookie mistake number 3!). But there were some really special highlights of this day as well.

The first highlight was Dee fake proposing to me for the first time during the fireworks. With a blue ring pop. Just to get attention from everyone else and laugh at me. And it worked, by the way. Who knew this trip would start a whole tradition! (Side note: this was when Wishes was still the nighttime spectacular at the park, and that in itself was so magical. I miss that show!)

The last highlight, which is honestly my favorite of the whole trip, was during our last ride of the night. The park was open until midnight, and it was about 11:30. The last ride we needed to go on was Pirates of the Caribbean. We entered the cue, walked all the way down, and got to the part where it splits into two for faster boarding purposes. The cast member at this part asked which side we wanted to go on, since there were not THAT many people in line, and I jokingly said “whichever one that lets us have our own boat!”. He then, literally, told the rest of the people to wait, escorted us over, and got us on our OWN BOAT for the ride. The people behind us in line did not look to happy, but we were ecstatic. There is nothing like riding in your own boat on Pirates for your last ride of the night – it was so beyond magical. This is a memory I will never forget and will always cherish. I wish I remembered this cast members name because he was just beyond amazing!

This also started another tradition – Dee getting me a light-up Mickey balloon before leaving the parks. He surprised me with it (again!) right before the fireworks when he snuck off to buy the ring pop, and I fell in love with it. Every WDW vacation after that he’s gotten me a light-up Mickey balloon on our last night. Now that we live here, he doesn’t get me one every time, but he sneaks one every once in a while 🙂

The next morning, we packed up and got ready to go after our character breakfast at the resort. We had a late checkout, so we decided to once again head to Disney Springs to walk around. Dee and I talked about how we didn’t want to leave and really contemplated on buying him another ticket and going to another park.

This was when our obsession began. There’s just something about Walt Disney World that just takes you to this magical, special place. Since then, it’s really become “our thing”, and I wouldn’t change that for the world! Like I said, my first trip to the resort with my family was a totally different expereience than my first trip to the resort with my fiance, and I’m sure it will be a totally different experience once again when we bring our children for their first trip – and I cannot wait for those memories!

Below are some pictures from that trip. Fair warning, they are NOT good quality – crazy how much iPhone camera’s have improved in two years! Thanks for reading 🙂

BEST VALUE RESORT ON PROPERTY?!

BEST VALUE RESORT ON PROPERTY?!

There are five value resorts on Disney World property: All Star Music, All Star Sports, All Star Music, Pop Century, and Art of Animation. The value resort category are the lowest tier priced resorts on property. Even as the “lowest tier”, these resorts are (in my opinion) the most Disney immersive on property and the most family friendly in terms of decor and appearance. I’m lucky to have had the chance to stay at all of these value resorts, and I think I have an answer for the best value resort on property.

Art of Animation! 

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Art of Animation is the newest resort on Disney property, made up of just under 1,990 rooms in total. The hotel does have single rooms, but is made mostly of family suites. The theme of the hotel is a kudos to Disney animation, and has four main themed areas: The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, and Cars.

Each of the “themed” areas are somewhat broken up into their own little hotel clusters. Other than the theming themselves, which I will get into a little later, there are some minor differences between the clusters. First off, The Little Mermaid area is the only area where you can find single rooms and no family suites. Also, The Lion King section is the only section without a pool, but has a playground themed to “the animal graveyard” in the movie. Lastly, the Finding Nemo section has the largest pool area, where you can hear the music playing under water with special speakers and sometimes even hear the characters talking! This area is also the only pool with a pool bar in the resort.

There are two very strong reasons why this value resort stands out from the rest: the immersive theming, the food court, and a pretty unique offering.

THEMING

You first get the impression of the theming of AoA as soon as you walk in to the main building. The first thing you see is a long wall to the left of sketches, based on the four movies featured at this resort. The sketches start from the “early” stages, then as the wall goes on, the sketches get more and more “finished” until the very back wall where you see colorful scenes from the movies themselves. There are chandeliers hanging from the ceiling decorated with sketches as well, and the wall behind reception is illuminated with bright colors with lights all the way down.

Although all of the value resorts have larger-than-life sized statues and props which are perfect for photo ops or even just to admire, AoA stands out from the rest. The statues are part of a larger scene within the sectioned areas, and you really feel like you’re a part of the story. For example, in the Lion King section of the resort, they have the elephant graveyard, there is a section of pride rock where Scar is laying and watching over the kingdom, and the scene where Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba are walking along the log singing Hakuna Matata is centered in the area, high above your head to admire. Another example is in the Cars area of the resort, where as soon as you enter that section you are completely immersed into Radiator Springs, where you walk along Route 66 to meet all of your favorite characters from the movie.

The theming also doesn’t stop outside of the building, but continues into the room. Each room, no matter if it is the single room or family suite, is deeply themed to the section you are staying in. Even down to the smallest of details such as the tiles in the shower, you truly get the feeling that you are staying in the world where you are immersed.

FOOD COURT

AoA is well known to have one of the best food courts out of all resorts on property. Named The Landscape of Flavors, the food court itself is broken up into different stations based on what you would like to eat, but in a circular fashion which makes it easy to navigate. The different stations include salad and cold sandwiches, an Italian foods station, a Mongolian foods station, and a hot sandwich station. There are also coolers which have drinks as well as fruit and vegetable options, sushi, yogurt, and more. You can also head over to the dessert area where there are many delicious dishes offered!

Breakfast is a whole different story. Breakfast is the only meal my fiance and I eat daily at the resort on property because, of course, we have to start of the day fueled up. This was the last resort we’ve ever stayed at, and up until staying at this resort, the breakfast options were pretty much the same across the board from the eggs to the potatoes to the other offerings. However, Landscape of Flavors puts their own twist on every dish, including the breakfast potatoes which are my favorite, that makes it unique.

You can just taste the high quality of food that is being utilized when you eat at any station or for any meal at this food court. I really can’t put into words why it stands out for the rest, you’ll just have to take my word for it and try it yourself!

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UNIQUE EXPERIENCE

The one thing that put this resort over the top for me was their unique (and free!) daily offering – illustration classes! Offered three times a day, you can head to the resort lobby to engage in an illustration class where you’ll learn how to draw a famous Disney character. What I love about this is that it isn’t just always Mickey Mouse, but instead they switch up the characters and focus mainly on the four intellectual properties showcased at the resort.

WDW used to offer something similar at Hollywood Studios, but removed it and relocated it to this location. I think it is a perfect fit, as the entire theme around the resort is animation. What I love the best, though, is that it is such a unique experience that you can do for free. It is a can’t-be-missed experience!

Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

Overall, this is a resort I suggest time and time again to people who ask me for advice, or ask me to help them, when planning their Walt Disney World vacation. This is a resort you don’t mind spending time at during the day, and honestly there isn’t a resort that is anything like it on property. If you are a lover of Disney animation, have children, or are just looking for an immersive experience on property, I highly suggest a stay at Art of Animation!

Thanks for reading 🙂 See you Wednesday!

OUR DISNEY WORLD ENGAGEMENT STORY

OUR DISNEY WORLD ENGAGEMENT STORY

Getting engaged at Disney World was always my dream. So much so, that I remember  in the beginning of our relationship jokingly telling Dee that I would say NO to his proposal if he didn’t do it in the Most Magical Place On Earth. On January 3, 2016, that dream became a reality. Here’s the story:

So I want to start off by saying that’s my fiance and I are both extremely awkward people by nature because this story definitely shows it. It was the first night of our WDW vacation, which we always start by dressing nicely and heading to Disney Springs for dinner and a little shopping. Even though the holidays had just passed, they still had the Christmas Tree walk, and after dinner Dee and I took a stroll through the attraction.

I remember how magical it felt because it was snowing. Being that I am from Ohio, I actually hate snow but there’s just something about “pretend” snow in central Florida that makes it so much different. All of the trees were lit up and shining because it was evening, and we were admiring all of the different theme decorated trees during the walk.

After the walk, being just so happy to be back in Disney and loving life, I guess my fiance decided that right then and there was that perfect moment to pop the question. He took me over to the main Christmas tree that greets guests at the entrance of Disney Springs and had me sit on a bench while he made a phone call. Usually he will make phone calls in front of me, so automatically I thought something was off. He ended up calling 3-4 people which I can only assume were his close family and/or friends, then eventually came back to the bench.

When he came back, he asked me to come with him and we walked about 10 feet to stand right in front of the tree. Then,  he told me to “stay here” and just left. At this point I knew something was up, but I wasn’t sure exactly what. All of a sudden, a family comes up in front of me looking at me and whispering, which automatically made me nervous and skeptical. I immediately started looking for Dee, and he popped up out of nowhere with a snarky grin.

Before he even got on his knee, I saw the mother of the family in front of me start to point her phone at me while the rest of the family was smiling and waiting. I knew then exactly what was about to happen and immediately I thought YES before he even had the chance to ask. Literally, by the time he got on his knee, my awkward self already had my hand out for him to put the ring on! LOL.

Obviously, he laughed at me as most would, asked the question while still giggling, I asked him “ARE YOU SERIOUS” about five times, and he slid the beautiful ring on my finger. By now a crowd had gathered around the tree, and there was an applause.

Later that night, he told me that his plan was to propose in front of the castle during the fireworks, but he didn’t want to wait. This itself is actually funny, because during every Disney World vacation we’ve taken together, he has FAKE proposed with ring pops, a promise ring, and even literally nothing during the fireworks and has actually faked people out (including Cast Members!). I think that where and how he proposed was absolutely perfect, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it for the world.

The rest of our vacation was filled with so much joy. Characters noticed we’d just gotten engaged and would work that into our interactions, we’d get free desserts from restaurants, and almost every cast member that saw our buttons congratulated us. Getting engaged on property just took an amazing, life changing event and made it even more magical than it already was.

This is a day that I will never forget – I still get butterflies and tear up just thinking about it. The parks were a special place to us already, but now our travels to WDW mean so much more than just a “vacation”. We will always associate the parks with where a new chapter in our lives began. Next up, the wedding!

DISNEY’S TYPHOON LAGOON WATER PARK: A REVIEW

DISNEY’S TYPHOON LAGOON WATER PARK: A REVIEW

Although I have been to WDW countless times, this past Wednesday was my first visit to a Disney water park. Based on reading comments and reviews of guests who have been to both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks, my fiancé and I decided to head to Typhoon Lagoon.

Typhoon Lagoon is themed tropical, in an area that has just been hit by a strong tropical storm. It is known to be the more family friendly water park of the two options based upon the variety of attractions. Although it has less “thrill” attractions, there are plenty of things to do in the park that would please a guest of any age.

Upon entering the park, you see statues of characters holding surf boards and decor themed to a tropical beach. I was shocked with how much detail was put into the park, and how beautiful they created the scenery. When you first enter and look over the park as a whole, there is greenery that covers where the walking areas and shops are, so all you see is the wave pool, a sanded area, and a mountain with a ship pierced on the top due to the “tropical storm”. Because the greenery is strategically placed, your first view of the park is breathtaking, truly looks like you are overlooking an actual beach, and sets the mood for the park day.

After getting deeper into the water park, I ran into a meet and greet with Lilo from Disney’s Lilo and Stitch! I thought this was a very cool thing to have in the water park because it was an unexpected but pleasant surprise. The only other place you can meet Lilo is if you head over to the Polynesian Resort for a character breakfast at Ohana, which makes this meet and greet an important stop in your day. When I was there, Stitch was not out with Lilo, but I know that he frequents the park as well.

The next thing I noticed, before even heading to an attraction, was how big the water park actually is. After finding a beach chair in the sand to set our things and heading into the wave pool for a bit, we decided to go tackle each attraction. The layout of the park is somewhat awkward, but strategically done. Going to the left from the wave pool, you run into the body slides which is the first attraction we went on. From there, the attractions are all within a loop, so you simply exit an attraction, turn left, and you will eventually run into the next one. We loved every attraction that we experienced, and we noticed that each varied in intensity and thrill.

  • Surf Pool. This attraction is a large wave pool. There is a designated area toward the edge for young children to experience the wave pool safely, but goes deeper than 6 feet. When the large waves aren’t being made, there are consistent smaller waves for people to enjoy. However, when the time comes for the large waves, they are no joke! I was standing in about 5 feet of water, and when the water was still my shoulders were above water. However, the waves are very large and powerful, and I was crashed under each time. This is a staple attraction, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who cannot swim or does not like going underwater.
  • Humunga Kowabunga. This attraction is made up of three body slides that start up on the mountain in the middle of the water park (Mount Mayday). This attraction was the most intense that we experienced in the park. You drop 5 stories down in the pitch black, exit the tunnel and get a nice view of the parks and get sprayed before hitting the finish line. Dee and I chose to “race” down the slides, and I won.
  • Storm Slides: Another body slide attraction in Typhoon Lagoon made up of three slides, this attraction is not as intense as Humunga Kowabunga. You are able to “race” on this ride as well, which makes it fun for a group of 2 or more on the ride. These slides aren’t enclosed, and drop 3 stories instead of 5. I would recommend this for people who aren’t into intense thrills.
  • Crush ‘n’ Gusher. A two person attraction, you share an inner-tube with a partner (or, you can ride solo) and embark down one of three large water slides. Disney considers this a “water coaster”, and I can see why. Although shorter than I would have liked it to be, the attraction is perfectly intense for kids and adults to enjoy and has beautiful scenic views.
  • Miss Adventure Falls. An attraction for up to four people, this is a family friendly “water coaster”. It is considered to be the longest attraction in both Disney water parks. This ride doesn’t come off as a thrill ride for me, so it is perfect for younger children that meet the height requirements. It does, however, take you through a few tunnels that are dark even though they use LED lights inside.
  • Castaway Creek. The lazy river attraction in Typhoon Lagoon, it is a calming and relaxing experience. You simply aboard an inner tube and float around the parks. On your journey you go under a few waterfalls, see a couple of ship wrecks from the “tropical storm”, encounter a foggy area, and can find a hidden Mickey. Definitely a must-do attraction at the water park.

There were a few attractions that we did not get experience. Some we chose not to experience because they were for children, and the rest we couldn’t get to due to storms rolling in. Note: both Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach are outdoor water parks, so be sure to keep an eye on the weather.

What I was most surprised about and loved was that it wasn’t crowded! There was no more than a 10 minute wait to get on to any attraction, and most of that time was walking up the steps to get to the top of the slides. Especially during such a busy season for the WDW Resort in general, I expected it to be over crowded like most of the parks. This made the experience much more enjoyable as a whole.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this water park. When coming for vacations, my fiancé and I always felt that we would rather spend days in one of the theme parks or at the resort instead of a day at the water park, and I still would agree if I were traveling to the parks and had limited days. However, if you are vacationing on property for a week, or if you live locally, I would completely recommend visiting the water park. I now can’t wait to visit Blizzard Beach!

Below are a few more photos from the day.  Let me know in the comments below – have you visited one of the two Disney Water Parks? What was your experience? Be sure to follow my blog or sign up for e-mail notifications so you’ll know when there is a new post. Thanks for reading!