PLANNING OUR DISNEY FAIRYTALE WEDDING: PART II

PLANNING OUR DISNEY FAIRYTALE WEDDING: PART II

Welcome back to part two of this series! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out part 1 of Planning Our Disney Fairytale Wedding here: PLANNING OUR DISNEY FAIRYTALE WEDDING: PART I! I cannot believe our wedding is 68 short days away! Time is seriously flying by. My bridal shower is this upcoming Saturday, I have all of my hair, makeup, nail, etc appointments booked for the big day, and now we are just trying to get all of the small things together!

But anyway, you’re here to read about the next steps we’ve taken toward planning our dream wedding. A lot has happened within the month that I’ve written the first part of this series! We are now into planning all of the fine details and have had a few magical surprises along the way.


Part II: Planning our Fairytale Wedding 

Transitioning from Joe (sales representative) to our Coordinating Team

In the last blog, you saw that I worked hand-in-hand with Joe De Matei to learn more about the package we chose for our wedding as well as book our special day. After the Letter of Agreement was signed on all ends and completed, Joe introduced us to our new coordinating team. We were assigned an overall wedding coordinator as well as a room specialist and a photography specialist, which I will discuss in further detail down below.

The experience we had while working with Joe was exceptional. He was readily available whenever needed to answer any questions we had during the booking process. As his final gesture after introducing us to our team, we received a surprise package from him in the mail! In beautiful packaging, it included a card of well wishes, a Prince Charming coin charm, a Cinderella shoe bag, and a few cards with the items for ideas on how to incorporate the items into our special day.

Although I am positive this is something all sales rep’s send their couples after introducing them to their coordinating team, it was a surprise that brought me to tears of joy! Some pictures of the package can be found below ūüôā


The Planning Kit

A few days after Joe introduced us to our coordinating team, we received an e-mail from our Wedding Coordinator, Steffane Christian. She briefly introduced herself, and then outlined the next several steps we would be taking leading up to our big day. The first few steps were to review the planning resources she attached, and then complete a planning kit.

This planning kit was no joke! It is a 22 page kit which basically outlines in fine detail every detail for you to specify for your big day. You start by putting in your personal information (both the bride and groom), and from there outline every little detail. The details we had to choose and specify for our big day included:

  • Floral. There were several bouquet and boutonniere pairings for us to choose from. We were also able to choose the flower colors within the style that we chose! Those two things were included in the package already, and after choosing those we were given the option to choose additional add-on floral.
    • The add on’s included bridesmaids bouquets, boutonniere’s for the bridal party and father of the bride and groom, corsages for the mother of the bride and groom, and floral decorations for the ceremony space. For each additional add-on, there were several options and styles to choose from ranging in price.
  • Enhancements. These items are all things that are not included in the base price of the package. Items that you could add on for the ceremony include flower girl baskets and ring bearer pillows, a sand ceremony set, charms for bouquets, a unity candle set, and more.
  • Photography. As I mentioned in part 1, two hours worth of photography is included in the package. However, couples have the option of adding on additional hours of photography as well as additional albums and prints. Couples also have the option of adding an in-park or additional resort photo shoot, which can be chosen on this page as well.
  • Cake. There were about five different cake styles that we were able to choose from, with about 5 more “enhanced” cakes that we could also choose with an up charge. After choosing the style we wanted, we were able to choose the cake flavor and filling. There were a ton of options for this part and it was definitely hard to choose!
  • Beverages. With the package, two bottles of champagne are included. We had the option here to add on additional bottles of champagne, sparking cider for underage guests, and treats to give out as favors.
  • Transportation. A four-hour, 8 passenger limousine is included in our package for transportation to and from the ceremony space. At this part in the kit, we had to outline the first two stops and last two stops for the limo driver. We also had the option of upgrading our limousine to Cinderella’s Coach or a variety of other style vehicles.
  • Music and Entertainment. This was probably my favorite part of the entire kit. Here, we were able to outline every song choice we wanted for our ceremony including the wedding party entrance, the bride’s entrance, the sand ceremony song, the recessional, the cake cutting ceremony, and the first dance.
    • They do provide you with a list of songs to choose from. However, at no additional cost you are able to personally request any song as long as you provide your coordinator with the sheet music!
    • In your package, a violinist is included. In this section, however, you can choose to upgrade or add on additional musicians or even pay to have characters come to the ceremony.

I would say that this planning kit was really the only downfall of planning a Disney wedding, if you could even call it that. Part of a traditional wedding planning experience is to taste test cake, go to a florist and see the bouquets and flowers firsthand to design your wedding floral, and meet with a photographer in person. However, the planning kit does have photo’s of everything, but it’s all digital. I found myself quite often thinking “I wish I could see this/try this in person”.

On the other hand, this planning kit outlined literally everything and made all of the details a one-stop-shop. It was very simple to navigate and really takes the stress away from having to go to different vendors to plan it all yourself.

I did have to speak with Steffane a few times while going through the planning kit with various questions. We exchanged emails but also spoke over the phone. She was very informative and helpful, and always answered emails promptly.

After submitting the planning kit to Steffane, she informed us that she received it and would review it over the next several days. We were then told that we would be expecting a Banquet Event Order – Rough Draft in our email within the next two weeks!


Room Blocks and Photography

Aside from our wedding coordinator, our room specialist and photography specialist both reached out to us around the same time Steffane did.

  • Photography Specialist – Karen Chandler. Karen’s email started just like Steffane’s did, introducing herself and telling us what her role in our wedding would be. Basically, she provided us with a website where we could go see all of the Disney Wedding photographer’s personal albums. She told us to check all of them out, as they all have different styles, and recommended we choose a “top three” that fit our aesthetic. Karen told us to put their names in the Planning Kit (which we did) to let our coordinator know who we would prefer. We were informed that there was no guarantee we would be assigned one of the three we chose, but that they would try their best to accommodate!
  • Room Specialist – Janet Moore. Janet started her email introducing herself like the other members of her team did. She then gave us a timeline regarding the room block including when she recommended people book by, when the block would close, how many nights we can reduce out of the total we reserved, and more. Janet also provided me with a link to share with my guests so they can book rooms directly in the block. Lastly, we were provided with our own unique link to track our guests bookings and other additional information.

I really didn’t have to reach out to Karen during this stage in the process, as it was all self explanatory. However, I did have a few questions for Janet and she was very prompt in returning my call as well as extremely kind and easy to work with. She has been in this business for over 20 years and you can tell she still loves what she does!


Banquet Event Order

It took less than a week from the time I sent the completed planning kit to Steffane for her to send the first draft of our Banquet Event Order. This is basically a detailed receipt of all of the choices we made as well as any additional add-on’s we chose. She instructed us to print the BEO out and review it. If we have any changes, we simply mark them on the page and initial at the bottom of the page to confirm.

With the BEO, she gave us our estimated budget and the due-date. Steffane instructed us to send in the edited and complete BEO with the remaining balance no later than one month before our wedding so she can finalize all of the details.

About a week after sending the BEO, my fiance and I got another surprise package from Disney Fairytale Weddings in the mail, this time from Steffane! This package was in the same beautiful packaging as the other, and included a well wishes card, a Pixie Dust charm for my bouquet, and a set of Prince Charming collar stays/tie holders for Daron. They are absolutely beautiful, and of course brought tears to my eyes – again! Below are some pictures of this lovely package ūüôā


And, that brings us to the end of Part II of our Disney Fairytale Wedding series! Part III in our series will be all about the time period between submitting our BEO and final payment to our big day, so be on the look-out!

Thanks for reading! I hope you are enjoying this series! We are so excited for our special day, adn cannot wait to share it with all of you. Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified when we post next! Thanks for reading, see ya real soon ūüôā

PLANNING OUR DISNEY FAIRYTALE WEDDING: PART I

PLANNING OUR DISNEY FAIRYTALE WEDDING: PART I

In honor of my wedding being less than 100 days away (yay!), I thought it would be fun to create a series where I document the planning process of our Disney Fairytale wedding! In this series, I’ll take you along the planning process with me in anticipation of our big day.

But first, let’s backtrack a bit. Up until about January, we had an entire destination wedding planned. The wedding was set to be at Bilmar Beach Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida for all of our family and friends on May 25, 2019. We were looking at 150-200 guests, and it was going to be beautiful.

The closer and closer the wedding got the more stress that was added on. Our family and friends began stressing about getting time off of work and if they could afford it, it was hard finding vendors due to the wedding being Memorial Day weekend, and the list could go on and on. So, finally, my fiance and I decided we would cancel our “big” wedding and elope. That is what leads us to the start of Part I of our Disney Fairytale Wedding series…

Part I: Booking our Fairytale Wedding 

Choosing Our Package

When considering and brainstorming places to elope, one of the major factors we were considering was what would be easily accessible while still fitting into our lifestyle. We didn’t want to just head to a courthouse – we wanted something that would compliment who we were. I started googling “Places to elope in Orlando, Florida”, and Disney Fairytale weddings popped up. We knew then that we would be having a Disney Fairytale wedding.

There are three tiers to choose from for a Disney wedding, and this is where the planning began. The three options are:

  • Wishes: Starting at $12,000 with a minimum of 18 guests.
  • Escape: Starting at $7,000 with a maximum of 18 guests.
  • Memories: Starting at $3,500 with a maximum of 4 guests.

Initially, we thought that the Memories package would fit best for us since we wanted to do a simple elopement. However, the more we discussed the idea of our “special day”, we couldn’t picture saying I Do without our parents and siblings with us. We decided that the Escape package was the best fit for us, and this is where the fun began.

Disney’s Escape Wedding Package

Now that we chose which package would best fit our vision and our guest list, we then contacted a Sales Representative to get further information on how the package works and what is included. Our representative, Joe De Matei, was outstanding and a big help in this first stage of the planning process! During about an hour-long consultation on the phone, I was given the following information on what would be included in our special day:

  • A one-hour ceremony. Within this hour-long time frame, we would have the traditional wedding ceremony including a processional and a recessional. The hour also includes champagne toasts, a cake cutting ceremony, and a first dance.
    • There were several venues to choose from, which I will get more into a little later.
  • A two-tier cake and two bottles of champagne. These two items, as part of the ceremony, are included in the package cost.
  • A solo violinist. The violinist is included for the ceremony, and the song choices for the sand ceremony, processional, recessional, first dance, cake cutting, and more would be decided upon by my fiance and I. We were informed that they have pre-set songs we could choose from, or we could make special  requests ahead of time!
  • A bouquet and boutonniere. For the bride and groom only. There are several options to choose from!
  • A four-hour limousine charter. This can be used for our bridal party or any special guests.
  • 2-hour service of a Disney photographer. The photographer would be there to capture all moments during the ceremony, as well as photos of the bridal party and family after the ceremony has ended.
    • Included with the photographer is a 20-photo personalized album as well as a USB of all photo’s taken on the special day with printing rights.
  • An on-site wedding coordinator, room specialist, and photography coordinator. This team is assigned to you after booking the package.

A few other things that I took note of in regard to the package are…

  • There are several enhancement options that can be added on to customize the special day including floral decor for the ceremony space, additional hours for photography, videography, floral for the bridal party, and more.
  • We were able to set up a room block with special rates for rooms and tickets for our guests. If our guests reserve 10 room nights in total, we are provided with a complimentary nights stay at the resort of our choice.
  • We are required to have a four-night stay booked as the couple, and the reservation has to be linked to our package.

Lastly, some things that are necessary (or, that I found necessary) for our special day and are not included in the package are:

  • An officiant. We are provided with a list to choose from, but the officiant must be paid for and booked seperately.
  • Floral for our bridal party. We have the option of ordering floral through the Disney floral department or bringing in our own.
  • A reserved space to get ready for the bridal party. This one is fine, as we are able to get ready in our hotel rooms and be escorted in the limo to the ceremony space.

After speaking with Joe, we decided that this package was perfect for our elopement and fit our dream very nicely. This moves us into the next part of the process, which is deciding on a venue and putting a “soft hold” on our package!

Choosing our Venue

With the Escape package, we had five different venues to choose from:

  • Disney’s Wedding Pavilion at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
  • Canada Terrace at the Canada Pavilion in EPCOT
  • Sea Breeze Point at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort
  • Wedding Gazebo at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort 
  • Luau Pointe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Our first choice was the Canada Terrace in EPCOT. We love that park, and the backdrop of the ceremony space is the waterfall in the back of the Canada pavilion. However, even though the date we wanted was open (May 24), the only time slot available was 9:00am, as they only do ceremonies before park opening which – to us – was entirely too early!

Our second choice was Luau Pointe. We absolutely love the Polynesian, and this ceremony space is beautiful. It’s very tropical and surrounded by beautiful greenery with the backdrop being Seven Seas Lagoon. Since we initially were supposed to get married on the beach, we figured this was perfect! After deciding on this ceremony spot, we were informed that the 1:00pm slot was already reserved, but a 9:00am and an 11:00am ceremony was open and available. As I mentioned above, 9:00am was too early for our taste, so we decided on the 11:00 slot!

Soft-Hold of our Date and Venue

The next and final step of the booking experience was to put a “soft hold” on our ceremony venue, date, and time. What this basically meant was that everything was reserved in our name for about a month’s time span while the Letter of Agreement was being drawn up and until the deposit was set.

To draw up the Letter of Agreement, I had about two weeks to fill out a form from Joe. On the form, I had to choose up to three resorts for our our room block (one value, one moderate, and one deluxe) as well as a resort for our complimentary room. I also had to provide him with basic information including our contact information and our parents’. Since it was easy information, that part of the process only took about three days.

After sending in that information, it took about another two weeks for Joe and his team to draw up a Letter of Agreement. I had to review that all of the information was correct, and my fiance and I had to sign the document. We then had about two more weeks to get the deposit of $1,000 over to them. Once everything was signed and they received the deposit, Joe and his team took about another week to sign the document on their end as well as assign us our wedding coordinator team.

And, that brings us to the end of Part I of our Disney Fairytale Wedding series! Part II in our series will be information on how we planned every detail of our wedding with our coordinating team, so be on the look-out!

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy this series! We are so excited for our special day, adn cannot wait to share it with all of you! Below are some photo’s of the venue we chose (Luau Pointe)! Be sure to subscribe to our blog so you’re notified when we post next! See ya real soon ūüėČ

VALENTINES DAY IN DISNEY?!

VALENTINES DAY IN DISNEY?!

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, and what better place to spend it than in the Most Magical Place on Earth? Although WDW is viewed as a family friendly vacation destination, there are plenty of things adults can do for a romantic date night. I thought it might be fun today to list a few fun and romantic date ideas for couples this Valentine’s Day!

  1. Spend the evening in Disney Springs. Disney Springs is one of my favorite places to just go visit. Grab a bite to eat, go watch a movie, see a live band or performer, do some shopping – the possibilities there are endless. On vacations, or even now, this  is a place my fiance and I love to get dressed up and go to for a night of fun!
  2. Have dinner at the Sci-Fi Diner in Hollywood Studios. Although it may not seem like it, I think this restaurant can be extremely romantic! There’s just something about sitting in a “car” under the “stars” watching a movie with your loved one that brings major date vibes!
  3. Watch a fireworks show. This is, in my opinion, as romantic as it can get in WDW. Especially if you’re watching Happily Ever After in MK. Between the story told through the projections and the fireworks themselves, this makes for a perfect ending to a romantic night.
  4. Buy a nice gift. This is a tradition my fiance and I have held since we’d come visit for vacations – we’d buy each other “surprises”. It’s almost as if it’s a contest on who can get the better gift. We’d pick a store, set a price point, and split up to find each other the perfect gift/surprise/momento of our day and our vacation. This tradition is still one of our favorites. Some other things we’ve (he’s) done include sneaking to the “bathroom” – aka Pandora or a store – and surprising me with jewelry, balloons, ice cream, etc. It always makes him feel good to surprise me and make me happy, and I love that he’d always think of me and get excited to do so! Definitely something I’d suggest on a romantic date night to WDW!
  5. Go on a few dark rides. Whether it’s Peter Pan’s Flight, Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh, or even Haunted Mansion, these rides have potential to be super romantic. Simply just by sitting in your own private ride vehicle and getting to admire the beauty of the ride is something that makes for a romantic time.
  6. Catch a show. One of our favorites to catch when we need a little romance added into our day is Beauty and the Beast in Hollywood Studios. Nothing like seeing a classing and favorite fairy tale come to life right before your eyes!
  7. Play putt-putt at Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course. Mini golf always makes for a fun date with your significant other. Adding the Disney touch to it just makes it that much better of a time!
  8. Simply walking around Magic Kingdom holding hands. There is nothing more simple, and more romantic, than walking hand-in-hand down Main Street USA. You just feel the magic all around you, and if you’re truly in the moment it can make for an unforgettable experience. Just head to MK without a plan and see where the night takes you!

I absolutely could  have went on and on with this list.  As I mentioned above, there’s just something about the magic and the “Disney touch” that can make any experience a romantic one. So, if you’re headed to the parks this Valentine’s Day, keep a few of these ideas in mind to create an unforgettable experience!

Thanks for reading! Do you have any magical and romantic date ideas for WDW that I didn’t mention?  Leave them in a comment down below! Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to be notified when we post next. Happy Valentine’s Day, I’ll see ya real soon ūüėČ

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS “FLURRY OF FUN”

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS “FLURRY OF FUN”

The holiday celebrations in WDW have officially begun! The parks, the resorts, and even Disney Springs are all dressed in beautiful holiday decorations, each with unique offerings in their own way. Later in the month, I am going to have a blog post discussing¬†all of the holiday offerings found on property, but today I want to focus on one of my person favorites –¬†Flurry of Fun in Hollywood Studios.

Although I’ve visited the parks countless times over the past few years, I’ve never visited WDW during the holiday season, so all of these new experiences are beyond magical to me.¬†Yesterday, my fianc√© and I decided to check out the holiday experiences at Hollywood Studios and we were not disappointed!

From the decorations to the snow falling on Sunset Blvd to the tree lighting ceremony in the middle of Echo lake, Flurry of Fun absolutely put me in the Christmas spirit. It has been a while since we have been able to experience something new (to us) on property, and these offerings completely took my breath away!

Below, I am going to list all of the events that are offered nightly in Hollywood Studios as part of the Flurry of Fun celebration. Unfortunately, we were not able to experience every single event, but I am determined to head back to this park soon and check some more boxes off my list!

Echo Lake Decorations 

WDW imagineers transformed Echo Lake into a winter wonderland. The larger-than-life Christmas tree is placed right in the middle of the lake, surrounded by giant Christmas ornament bulbs and other decorations. The Echo Lake dinosaur, Gertie, was even dressed for the occasion with a Santa hat!

Around Echo lake there are plenty of Photopass cast members to take your picture in front of the festive set up. And, at dusk, they do a nightly tree-lighting ceremony that is definitely something worth seeing!

Sunset Blvd Seasons Greetings 

There is so much to talk about that imagineers have done to Sunset Blvd in celebration of the holidays. To start, one of the most exciting things that happens is the transformation of¬†The Hollywood Tower of Terror.¬†Using the same projection mapping technology that is used for Cinderella’s Castle shows, watch the “hotel” come alive with projections of various holiday-themed scenes aligned with classic Christmas songs. Laser effects are also used throughout the show to create that special “Hollywood” feeling.

My favorite part, however, is the SNOW that falls periodically throughout the night. It may not snow in Hollywood, California, but that added magical touch is the icing on the cake to this fun entertainment experience.

Meet Santa Claus and other Character Meet-and-Greets 

What is a holiday celebration without meeting the big man in red? Up until December 24, Santa is stationed in the Once Upon a Time building on Sunset Blvd from park open to close. Also throughout the park, you can find the Fab 5 dressed in their holiday for photo ops, including Goofy dressed as Santa Claus!

One of the best places to meet the characters in holiday outfits, however, is at¬†Hollywood & Vine for¬†Minnie’s Holiday Dine. You can find Goofy in his Santa outfit at a few different spots throughout the park at various times of the day, but a dinner at this table-service restaurant will ensure you get to see the entire gang in their holiday best.

Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!

About a half hour after park closing, guests can gather around the Chinese Theater to experience this holiday themed nighttime spectacular. Projection mapping is also used on the theater and is joined by fireworks, holiday music, and more to create a merry holiday show!

Toy Story Land Holiday Overlay 

If you have gotten the chance to visit Toy Story Land, you are well aware that year-round it is kind of decorated for Christmas, as you can see the characters stringing Christmas lights above your heads as decoration. However, WDW imagineers took it one step further to add a total holiday overlay in the park and it is spectacular.

The overlay includes larger-than-life Christmas cookies scattered as decorations around the park and characters dressed in holiday-themed outfits and/or accessories. There are also some fun ride overlays as well, including holiday music and special projections in Alien Swirling Saucers and the sound of jingling bells on Slinky Dog Dash as he races across the track.

I truly feel as though this blog doesn’t even do¬†Flurry of Fun¬†at Hollywood Studios justice. Imagineers and the cast members truly went above and beyond to create a completely magical holiday experience. It’s so tough to feel in the holiday spirit when you live in Florida (because it still feels like summertime), but one short night in this park did that for me.¬†Below are a few extra pictures of the park!

But, there you have it! A short guide to Hollywood Studios Flurry of Fun. I absolutely recommend checking this event out if you are on (or near) WDW property from now until December 31. You will not be disappointed!

Thanks for reading ūüôā Be sure to like this post and subscribe to my blog so you can be notified when I post next! See ya soon ūüôā

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 ūüôā 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!

TOY STORY LAND: A REVIEW

TOY STORY LAND: A REVIEW

Toy Story Land is a new addition to Hollywood Studios that opened June 30th. My fiancé and I also moved from Ohio to Orlando, Florida on June 30th, and have been lucky to experience it several times this summer!

Toy Story Land is, obviously, based on the Toy Story movie franchise. The story is that Andy has created an amusement park in his back yard for all of his toys, and when you enter the park you “shrink down” to the size of a green army man. Toy Story Land consists of three rides, one quick service restaurant, and two meet-and-greet areas. If you’d like to know my honest opinion about the land itself as well as each experience within it, read below! Also, be sure to hang out until the end of the bog for some pictures of TSL!

Toy Story Land – Size

As a Toy Story fanatic, I was hoping to be immersed into this huge land – which was not the case. In planning, TSL itself was intended to be much larger and have more to it, but for budgetary reasons, a lot was cut. The land size itself is okay for what it is, but I was just hoping for more.

Toy Story Land РTheming 

Unlike how I feel about the size of TSL, the theming of this land is so immersive and perfect for what it is meant to be! Following the story, it really feels as though you’ve stepped into an amusement park put together by a kid. From popsicle stick walls, to benches made of dominoes, to Christmas lights being held up by characters, pencils, and straws. The list could go on and on – the theming related to the story is just incredible. The best time to see it, however, is at night when it’s lit up!

Slinky Dog Dash

After budgetary cuts to the roller coaster, making it shorter, and initially being compared to Barnstormer, I had very low expectations for this attraction. However, it is now one of my favorite rides in WDW! Although it is a “family” coaster, it doesn’t go too slowly or too fast, which makes it just fun and enjoyable for children of all ages. What I love about the ride is that it still isn’t too short (which I was nervous about!), and that it has two launches. Definitely a must-do attraction in Hollywood Studios!

Side note: I rode this coaster for the first time at night during the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular nighttime show and it was magical. If you can time it up just right, I would highly recommend!

Alien Swirling Saucers 

Much like Slinky Dog, I didn’t have high hopes for this attraction. However, I was also pleasantly surprised with this as well! On this attraction, you are in a cart driven by an alien from Pizza Planet while you spin around and around. ¬†Much like¬†Mad Hatters Tea Party in MK, the ride just makes you happy – I found myself and Dee laughing the entire ride. If the line is under 20 minutes, I would highly recommend! Like Slinky Dog and the ride itself, the best time to go on this attraction is at night – the lighting and effects make the attraction even more enjoyable!

Toy Story Midway Mania

I’m not really going to go into much detail on this attraction, as it has been a part of Hollywood Studios for several years now and is a fun experience. I think it, obviously, fits very well into the theming of the land and is always a popular attraction in HS.

Andy’s Lunchbox¬†

The only eatery in TSL, Andy’s Lunchbox is a quick-service outdoor location that offers sandwiches, snacks, and beverages – basically what you’d expect in a lunchbox! The land itself is sponsored by Bellvita cheese, and that sponsorship shows A LOT in this area – there is a huge Bellvita cheese wheel at the top of the ordering window, and some of the chairs are made of the Bellvita casings. The sandwiches itself are unique and pleasing, and this location offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The only thing that is disappointing is that there is a very small sitting area, which is almost always full, and no indoor seating space.

Character Meet and Greets 

There are two areas you can meet characters in TSL: by the entrance of¬†Toy Story Midway Mania, and near the entrance of the land itself. You can meet Woody near the entrance, while Buzz and Jesse are together near Midway Mania.¬†The character meet and greets are as you’d expect for WDW, but I miss the air conditioned and themed queue with the designated photo area for Woody and Buzz in Pixar Place!

They’ve also incorporated army men – and women – in TSL to walk around for photo ops, hula hoop competitions, and more. The army men – and women – are a lot more interactive in TSL than they were in Pixar Place, which is a major bonus.

Miscellaneous 

  1. Shade. The major issue that I’ve read on other blog reviews about the land and completely agree with is the lack of shaded areas in TSL. To be more specific – unless you go to where the restrooms are, there is NO shade in TSL. Being that we are in central Florida, I’m not sure how this was overlooked by imagineers. Especially being that all of the queue’s for the attractions, 2 of the 3 attractions themselves, and the quick service location in the ride are all outdoors. The ONLY place to get air conditioning and to get out of the heat is to ride¬†Midway Mania or use the restroom. Hopefully trees, umbrella’s, or some other solution will be added by next summer!
  2. Photo spots. There are so many great photo spots available in TSL! Some crowd favorites are: Woody at the entrance of the park, the popsicle wall, and the alien near¬†Alien Swirling Saucers.¬†With all of the “toys” that were used to create this land, the photo opportunities are endless!
  3. Lack of merchandise spots. Although there is plenty of Toy Story Land merchandise to be found around Hollywood Studios, what this land lacks the most is a shop! There is an outdoor cart that has some merchandise, but I do not feel this is enough for what is supposed to be a popular area. It was rumored that an Al’s Toy Barn was supposed to be in TSL for a merchandise shop before budgetary cuts, and I think this would have been a great addition to this area that is sadly missed! Not only would they probably have sold¬†more¬†TSL merchandise to spur-of-the-moment buyers, it would have been a shaded and air conditioned spot that would have perfectly fit the theme of the land.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I absolutely love this land! Although it is on the smaller side, it truly brings that nostalgic feeling of my childhood back and makes me really feel as though I am in Andy’s back yard. I am disappointed of all that was cut from the land, but I am satisfied with what has still been included. This is a must-do for first time WDW vacation families as well as Toy Story lovers, and I’d highly recommend!

Thanks for reading! If you’ve been to TSL this summer, leave a comment down below letting me know your thoughts! Also, if you enjoyed this blog, be sure to subscribe and like it down below ūüôā

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A GUIDE TO EPCOT’S INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2018

A GUIDE TO EPCOT’S INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2018

This Thursday, August 30th, 2018, one of the best festivals Epcot has to offer begins – Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival! The event will run daily from the 30th to November 12th, offering many special food and beverage options for guests to try as well as a few special events. The festival itself is free with park admission with hundreds of food and beverage options available for guests to sample throughout World Showcase.

As a general overview, the International Food and Wine Festival includes over 30 international booths all around World Showcase themed to different countries including The Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, Greece, Thailand, and more. Each booth will offer about three different snack-sized dishes (usually two savory and one dessert) that are popular in that country as well as at least three different alcoholic beverages.

Prices for the food and beverage items usually range on average between $3 – $8 each. To purchase, each booth will take cash, credit or debit cards, MagicBands, Disney gift cards, and Disney Reward Dollars. The best part about this festival, in my opinion, is that many of the food items can be bought using¬†snack credits¬†if you have a Disney Dining Plan! For me, this is a big thing because when we have the dining plan, we normally don’t use even half of our snack credits (you’re allotted 2 a day, per person), so this is a great perk! However, if you are an Annual Passholder like myself, don’t expect to use your Passholder discount as they do not accept them at the booths.

This event is a very popular event both for tourists and local residents of the parks. There are many adults and older couples that take yearly vacations to the resort specifically for this event, and local residents attend the event regularly. Because of it’s popularity, Disney seems to run it longer and longer every year (but no one is complaining!). Don’t expect light crowds, but do expect tons of fun – and to be hooked!

Now that we’ve discussed the basic information of the festival, let’s dive deeper into the fun and unique offerings of the event! If I were to list¬†every event offered, this blog would be never ending. However, below I am going to list some of the most popular and interesting events that I feel are worth highlighting!

Party for the Senses  

Party for the Senses is probably the most popular event during the festival, loved by many regulars as well as new guests. This is a pre-reserved and pre-paid experience where a special host will lead festivities for guests catered around eating, drinking, and fun. During the event, you will be offered several favorite dishes and beverages from the festival, and will be entertained by a live performer. The event is pretty pricey (starting at $229!), and is only offered on select weekend nights during the festival, but it is something worth doing if you’d like to try multiple offerings from the FAW!

Sunday Brunch with the Chef 

On nine select days during the festival, guests can purchase tickets for a two-hour brunch event with a special guest celebrity chef! Some well known chefs that will be hosting brunches include Alex Gaurnaschelli and Chef Art Smith. The brunch will offer a breakfast buffet, a wine toast, a Q&A with the celebrity chef, and a photo op! This event is also pricy at $129 a person, but is something well worth doing if there’s a celebrity chef on the list you’d love to see!

Make It, Mix It, Celebrate It Hands-On Workshops 

Offered every Wednesday and Thursday during the festival, guests can reserve a space in this event to learn various culinary tips and tricks from well known and experienced chefs. Some of the classes may teach you how to bake a cake or make unique cocktails! The event costs $39 a person, but is something that is well worth doing if you’d like to impress your friends and family back home!

Eat to the Beat Concert Series

Eat to the Beat¬†is an event that most festival goers are most excited for every year! You can reserve your spot at this event by making a dining reservation at various restaurants around the World Showcase on the nights that it is being offered. Itself,¬†Eat to the Beat is a concert series with well known musical acts on select nights including performances by Tiffany, 98 Degrees, Plain White Tee’s, and more!

Disney Du Jour Dance Party 

A character dance party for kids and adults alike, this experience is a new kid-friendly offering to the festival. Held on weekend nights, guests can join several characters ranging from Remmy (Ratatouille), Lilo and Stitch, Chip and Dale, or more friends to engage in interactive dances and activities. There will also be special appearances by Radio Disney stars! What’s best about this event is that it is¬†free for all guests with park admission.

Remmy’s Hide and Squeek¬†

Another kid-friendly (and free) option for the festival, guests can go on a scavenger hunt to find the 15 Remmy statues hidden around World Showcase. Ask a cast member in the park for a Hide and Squeek guide map and be on your way!

Junior Chef Kitchen 

Something that I am most excited about and will be attending even though I am 25 years old is the Junior Chef Kitchen offering! The event is free, however guests must register for the event the day-of at the festival center. Once the event begins, junior chefs will be guided through creating some unique dishes including candy sushi! The event will be offered every Sunday with limited availability.

For a detailed guide including the 30+ booth with menu options as well as details about the other festival offerings, go check out the Food and Wine guide on WDW Info, or at this link: http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-world/epcot/food-wine-festival.htm.

For myself, I know that I am very excited for this festival to begin! This, along with MNNSHP, is a must-do event during the Fall season. Every year, I am blown away by each food option or beverage that I try, and look forward to trying some new things this year!

Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments below what you’re most excited for during the¬†International Food and Wine Festival. Also, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you’re notified whenever I post! ūüôā

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!