My Disney Experience and Magic Bands FREE E-Course

In the past few years, Walt Disney World has grown leaps and bounds as far as technology goes. What once was a card used to swipe into your room, turned into what we now know as “Magic Bands.” Some called it big brother-ish, some called it amazing, but what we do know about these bands and it’s other component called My Disney Experience, is that they are here to stay.

 

As someone who dislikes change, I understand not wanting to try something different or take the time to learn the new technology, but trust me when I say it will be WORTH IT when it comes to time (and sanity) saved on your Disney vacation if you know how to efficiently use My Disney experience and understand how the Magic bands work!T1CjCNKhhvIS8VNw0MpiMB6ClWHNTiRO07xTUBRFIJYpX92IB

This is exactly why I created a FREE E-course for you. I want you to have a stress free vacation. There is no need to be overwhelmed by the technology and the process if you just have someone to explain it to you, piece by piece…and that is precisely what I do in my free course.

 

In this course, you will learn all about Magic Bands, making Fastpass+ reservations, dining reservations, and how to use Memory maker. I also show you how to set up an account, manage your family and friends list, and research different resort and dining options. This is in a video format, so you don’t have to sit and read for endless hours to get it done. The course is broken down into sections, so you can go through as much or as little as you want to at a time. All in all it should take you no more than two hours to get through this free course. I’m so excited for you to feel confident about your knowledge in this area, and have a great vacation because of it!

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So what are you waiting for? Stop wondering what Magic Bands and My Disney Experience are all about, and get to dreaming up the perfect vacation for you and your family. (PS: When you click the link to go to the course page, it mentions a coming soon course not yet available, but if you click the button, you will be taken to sign up for my FREE e-course, so don’t let it confuse you!)

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QOTD: Thoughts on Disney’s new technologies? Love it or loathe it?

Trattoria al Forno Bon Voyage Character Breakfast

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to snag a reservation for the new Bon Voyage character breakfast at Trattoria al Forno. The reservation was early, 7:30, but I was not going to pass up the chance to check out a new dining experience that just opened a few days prior!

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This breakfast location is on the Boardwalk. I have eaten dinner at Trattoria al Forno before (which is NOT a character meal), but it has been awhile since  have been there. I was very happy to see another character meal that had some male characters. The characters you have the opportunity to meet are: Rapunzel, Ariel, Flynn Rider, and Prince Eric. There is also a song that plays and kids are encouraged to wave their napkins and dance/follow along with Ariel, which is super cute. My toddler is REALLY into the Tangled characters right now, so I couldn’t wait to see how she responded in particular to Rapunzel and Flynn.

We arrived late to our reservation because there was a mix up at our hotel with our bill, but there was not a problem and we were able to check in easily. We were told to park our stroller outside, and we waited to be seated. Music from Tangled was playing, and there was a cart selling Rapunzel and Ariel dresses and merchandise.

Very quickly, our name was called and we were led to our table. There was an autograph card, cute brochure, and our silverware and napkins as well as some small plates in the center of the table.

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Our server greeted us promptly, orange juice in hand, but we were told we could have something different to drink. Bobby opted for the OJ and I got a coke since I was in serious need of caffeine but dislike Disney coffee. Emma Kate got some milk, and then we were given pastries for the table to share.

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I love that the pastries told a “story”. Of course we have the sun from Tangled, the “braided” bread for Rapunzel’s hair, the clam shell cherry pastry from the Little mermaid, and then vanilla and blueberry muffins. They were of course, all served in a frying pan. My take on the pastries: They were VERY sweet. A little too sweet for 7:30 in the morning. I was going to get the pancakes, but changed my mind after eating all that bread and sugar.

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Emma Kate and I got the yogurt parfait, and Bobby got the fruit salad. They are pretty small portions, but I had to remind myself more food was coming. Bobby then decided to get the “Shipwreck al Forno”, which was a calzone with scrambled eggs, soppressata, bacon, sausage, and a blend of cheeses and Sunday gravy. I opted for the  “Tangled Eggs” which was tomato & basil scrambled eggs, fresh mozzarella, Sunday gravy and roasted Potatoes. Emma Kate loves eggs, so my thought was she would eat most of that, I would eat the bacon and potatoes and her waffles.

We ordered the “Mickey Waffle” with fruit and bacon for Emma Kate. The timing was great, because once we ordered and were snacking on our pastries, the characters started to come around, and we also got to dance to the song with Ariel.

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Flynn Rider was up first, and Emma Kate LOVED him. He spent a ton of time with us, talking about Maximus and apples, and even offered to do “the smolder” for us for a photo. Emma Kate just stared at him and he gave her a big hug and looked right at her when he spoke to her.

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Next up was Rapunzel. She spent the least time with us out of all the characters, but it was still a good interaction. I even asked where Pascal was.

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Soon after our appetizers arrived, as did Prince Eric. He was so good with Emma Kate, and she was in heaven. We asked him where Max was, and he said out for a walk.

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Ariel was last, and she got down on the floor with Emma Kate and they talked about hair bows and the fact that Ariel was on Emma Kate’s shirt. It was super sweet and EK was just fascinated.

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Here are some shots of our appetizers. Previous review posts showed glitter on the crab and crown, but that was not the case with our meal. The fruit was good, the yogurt was just ok, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the granola.

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After all four characters came by, our food came out. Poor Emma Kate wanted to see them again and had no interest in eating. She did eat her strawberries, but I had her waffles. I was a little confused because the menu says “mickey waffle” but these definitely were not Mickey. Don’t get me wrong they were super cute, but the menu was just misleading.

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Bobby’s Calzone came with King Tritons spear (which he apparently cut out of the photo). They take the triton away after they set your food down though.

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The calzone was really filling and basically tasted just like pizza.  I had the tangled eggs, which I KNOW I took a photo of, but it seems to have gotten deleted. This was just ok, and the potatoes were a little peppery. I will say the bacon was very good. If you have eaten at Disney restaurants before, you typically get this really thin as we like to call it “Disney bacon” that isn’t very good, however mine and EK’s meals both came with “real” bacon and it was thick and juicy!

Here are my pros and cons for the meal:

PROS:

Great character interactions with hard to see characters (in some instances). They spent a lot of time with us and posed for several photos. It was nice to do something different and also not have to have a park ticket. Having a plated meal was something different as opposed to the typical character buffet, but I’m not a huge breakfast person so I was underwhelmed with the options. Bobby’s calzone was good and filling. I loved the fun touches like Tangled music playing and the frying pan of themed pastries, even though they were a bit too sugary. The service was great, it felt very relaxed, and everyone was very friendly. The restaurant was only about 3/4 full despite me having a hard time getting a reservation. I’m guessing it was since it was the first week of operation and they wanted to ease everyone in. I imagine it will be a bit more of a madhouse when they fill all those tables.

CONS:

This restaurant is very dark and has dark wood furnishings. I felt like I needed a flashlight! (I brightened up my photos/edited them so they look way brighter than they originally came out.) This of course made it really hard to get good photos, too. Brightening up the place for the meal wouldn’t be the worst thing. Also, the tables are really close together. When the characters came by, there wasn’t really anywhere to “go” to get photos/have an interaction, so for most I ended up standing Emma Kate up in her booster seat, because there were servers constantly going behind our tables and there was no other option of a place to stand. My food was just “eh” as were the appetizers. One of the reasons we like the buffets is because Bobby can eat a ton with a  lot of variety and we feel like we got our money’s worth. With a plated meal, it made us feel the price was even more steep. We have a tables in wonderland car d(which is a 20% discount but also ads in 18% gratuity) and our bill was just under $71, which is hard to stomach for two people.  It was definitely an “experience” and I am glad we did it,  but not something we will be doing again for the price (especially after EK turns 3 and we have to pay for it!)

Final verdict: If your child loves these characters, definitely DO IT one time for the character experience. If you are going “just for the food”, I would skip out on this one due to the price.The price for this meal is $34 for adults and $20 for kids. They also accept Tables in Wonderland and the Disney Dining plan.

*RELATED: Confused by My Disney Experience, fastpass+ and Magic Bands?  Sign up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: Thoughts on the Bon Voyage character breakfast? Would you go? Do you love these characters?

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Race Recap 2017

A couple of weeks ago I have the privilege of running in my 6th runDisney Princess half marathon. I ran the Glass Slipper Challenge last year and in 2014, but this year my friend Jen and I decided to save some money (and some sleep!) and just run the half marathon. (Pssst. There is a video at the end of the post so hang tight to watch a recap from my Instagram Stories!)

Every year we dress up, and this year was a bit crazy for both of us and we didn’t have time to create elaborate matching costumes like we have done in the past. However, we still dressed up and per usual kept our costumes a secret until the night before the race. We went to bed early, and my 2:45 am alarm came way too soon.

We got dressed, put on our traditional fake eyelashes like we do every year (you would THINK we would be better at this by now!) and headed to the bus.

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(Coming soon: A tutorial on how I created my costume, the easy/I’m terrible at sewing kind of tutorial!)

We got to the bus stop in front of the Yacht Club, and were the last people loaded before we left. What was interesting was we were on a park bus, not a regular greyhound which was a first for me with runDisney. There was a lot of traffic, but we made it to EPCOT by about 4:15 and walked to the family reunion area where we met up with a friend before checking Jen’s bag. It was chillier than I expected, and I was thankful for my throw away sweatshirt I remembered to bring.

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We had never gotten to the corrals this early before, and they were pretty empty! runDisney got smart and put a row of port-o-potties close to the front corrals so we were able to go to the bathroom with no line and then jump in D corral. Karen was also in our corral, so she hung out with us and started the race with us, too. Our plan was to just have fun and take walk breaks. I was super undertrained and this was just a “for fun” race.

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The race started a few minutes late because the traffic was so bad, but finally we made it up to the start line with the rest of our corral.

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After a quick hi to Rudy and Carissa, we were off on our 13.1 mile journey!

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The first couple of miles are always so uneventful. It’s dark, there is nothing to look at, and you start thinking about all the miles ahead! Thankfully we just all chatted together until around mile 2 when Karen decided to stop for a character photo that we decided to skip (lines were already so long! I can’t imagine how bad they were for the corrals behind us.) We made it to the Magic Kingdom gates and I was excited we were getting closer to the more exciting parts of the course.

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After a quick stop at the med tent for body glide, we were on our way towards the TTC. I have to admit, I was a little bummed at the low crows at this spot. Traditionally this is my second favorite spot in the race because of all the energy from wall to wall people screaming and cheering, but this year there was hardly anyone and it made me sad. Did anyone else notice this? It wasn’t very cold outside so I’m not sure what the deal was. We passed my favorite drummers and kept going towards the big hill.

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When we made the turn to get to the Magic Kingdom, we thought it was odd that the 5 mile marker wasn’t in it’s usual place. (The things you notice when you have run this course over a dozen times!) We would later find out the course through the Magic Kingdom was slightly altered which is why the markers were in a different place.

We made the turn onto Main Street, my favorite part, and again it just didn’t have the same crowd and energy I am used to seeing, but it’s still my favorite part.

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We stopped and found a girl by herself trying to take a photo and we took turns getting pics for each other. I love runners!

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Next stop was the bathroom in Tomorrowland. We used to stop at the ones at the TTC, but a couple years ago they started locking those for us for some reason, which means even more princesses waiting in line in Tomorrowland. We had a several minute delay, and then were on our way again.

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We made it out of the Magic Kingdom (sad times) and made another bathroom stop at the next water station (too much coffee!) We arrived at the long stretch of single lane road, and Jen and I can’t figure out why its always so COLD on this part of the course! Any ideas? Before long we were at mile seven by the Grand Floridian. I took a picture with Snow White, since the line for her in the Magic Kingdom was dozens of people long. This is as close as I was going to get.

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The next few miles were uneventful again, just running out on the road. We saw the race going the other way towards the Magic Kingdom around mile 2.5 I guess, and I saw the balloon ladies! I yelled for the princesses to run faster! We grabbed a CLIF shot at the free station around mile nine, and took a walk break to eat those (I am not coordinated enough to run and eat at the same time). Next we were making the turn on the loop of death at mile 10 (it KILLS my IT bands) and had a 5k to go. At this point we had gotten to the length of my longest and one and only really long run from this training cycle of 10 miles, and I was getting tight even though we weren’t running fast at all. My right thigh/quad up near my hip flexor started to hurt, but we only had a couple miles to go so I just pushed through.

Soon we hit mile 11, and looped around and up the overpass and down into EPCOT and mile 12. A photographer caught me doing an Insta story on my phone. Oops. But seriously, if this doesn’t sum up my life I don’t know what does.

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We looped around the small part of the course that goes through the park, and then I could hear the gospel choir singing! Miles 13 came and went, and we were in the home stretch of the finish line.

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Can I just say that I love getting race pictures free as an annual passholder?!?

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We made it! After crossing the finish line in 2:32, we had to get pixie dusted of course.

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We got our medals, and headed over to the Media/VIP tent for some much deserved food and of course, mimosas.

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Now I was able to do my favorite thing, cheer other runners on as they came through the finish. I LOVE seeing runners tearing up, holding hands with loved ones, and just getting to experience the looks on their faces as they are mere steps from the finish line. There is just nothing like it, and it makes me so happy.

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Mimosas make me happy, too.

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So does this guy. Always takes time to talk to runners and makes us all feel so special. Jeff Galloway is the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carissa came into the tent for some food and we were able to say hello for a minute and grab a picture.

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We hung out and ate some more, met with a couple of people, and then headed back to the resort. I am so thankful to have a friend like Jen who gifted me with the opportunity to run in another Princess half marathon. I also love our little tradition of running the Princess half!

If you want to see a video I took during the race as a recap, and also see what Jen and I did for the rest of the day after the race, be sure to check out the video below. Please note this video is my Instagram story from the day, and apparently it doesn’t like when you have still shots mixed in with your videos, so there are about 5 times during the video where you will see it “Freeze up” for a couple of seconds. These are the places where I had still shots that won’t come up, so just ignore it, it will keep playing!

 

For more race recaps and general runDisney information, photos, and posts, check out my runDisney page!

Top 5 Overlooked Disney World Restaurants

Disney dining is a hot topic among vacationers. Sought after reservations are planned months in advance, menus are scoured, and pictures are researched. In a lot of searches, you will see the same restaurants mentioned over and over. Not only are (some) of these Disney World restaurants over rated, but a lot are near impossible to get into, especially for a last minute trip.

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In my experience, resort dining is often overlooked, but is some of the best food on Disney property. Also, these places have been known to take last minute reservations and walk ups. Check out my list below of five of my favorite hidden gem restaurants at Walt Disney World:

Name: Trails End Buffet

Location: Fort Wilderness Campground

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This buffet truly is “hidden” in the woods on Disney property. You cannot park directly at the restaurant, and instead must either park at check in and take an internal bus, or take a boat. The best way to describe this place is “comfort food”. As a born and raised southerner, I consider myself an expert on sweet tea. So far, Trail’s End has hands down, the best sweet tea, on Disney property. Also, since it’s not a character buffet, the price is very reasonable for an all you can eat. It’s usually pretty quiet, and we love sitting on the porch in the rocking chairs before or after our meal just soaking in vacation. If you want to relax, this is a great place to go!

Name: Kona Cafe

Location: Polynesian Village Resort

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Kona Café is right next door to the ever popular Ohana. On several occasions, I have been able to walk up without a reservation to Kona, even at prime dinner time. On the second floor of the lobby, Kona has a fun colorful open atmosphere, with a great menu. Since it’s on the monorail loop, you could even leave the Magic Kingdom, go eat, then go back to the part without wasting a lot of time.

Name: Grand Floridian Café

Location: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

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This is another place I consider quiet and relaxing. We love getting a table by the window for breakfast or lunch, and enjoy the bright light that comes in through the tall windows of the restaurant. Off by itself in the back of the lobby, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of check in, and 1900 Park Fare. You can easily hop on the monorail or a boat to the Magic Kingdom, so it’s prime location is a huge draw in my opinion.

Name: Splitsville

Location: Disney Springs

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There are several reasons I love Splitsville, one being the birthday cake martini. Another great plus to this place is that it has a HUGE menu, so I’m certain you will find something for everyone here. Also, you can eat WHILE you bowl, which is pretty awesome and unique. My favorite is to ask to eat outside on the upstairs balcony. It has great views of Disney Springs, especially at sunset. Not to mention, since there is no admission to get into Disney Springs, you don’t have to have a park ticket to eat here. I have also walked up and been seated immediately many times.

Name: The Wave

Location: Contemporary Resort

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Another restaurant I picked in part to it’s great location. Just one stop after leaving the Magic Kingdom, this cool place off the lobby of the Contemporary has a very chill vibe. The drink menu is fun, and the options are plentiful. After you eat, simply walk the path back to the Magic Kingdom, or hop on the monorail to the TTC and go to EPCOT or back to the Magic Kingdom. So many options!

RELATED: Sign Up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: What is your favorite often overlooked Disney restaurant?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 5

Today is my last installment of our trip, check it out:

This was our last full day at Walt Disney World (see what we did in part 4 here), and we were headed to EPCOT. Emma Kate had been saying she wanted to meet Ana and Elsa for WEEKS, so our plan was to arrive early, do the standby line for the meet and greet, and then do our fastpass for the Frozen Ever After ride later that afternoon.

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Emma Kate just so happened to wake up REALLY early, so we played on the playground at Saratoga Springs for a bit and then just decided to go ahead and drive over to EPCOT. We had NO idea they were letting people in early, so we got lucky with a short standby line for Ana and Elsa.

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We got closer and closer in line, and I started to hype Emma Kate up and get her ready to meet her favorite princesses. She said she was going to give them big hugs and smile pretty. Aaaannnddd this is what we got:

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She was TERRIFIED of Elsa and would not hug her. EK’s face just cracks me up! We moved on to Ana, and she warmed up enough to hug her, but she made it clear she was NOT happy about it.

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Bless it. Look at the side eye poor Ana is getting.

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I die. Of course when we left she said she wanted to go hug Elsa…too late kid. We will try again when we go back in April and see if it’s any different. I think Emma Kate was just a bit overwhelmed.

After the princess photos, we headed over to ride the Nemo ride, and then check out the aquarium.

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EK was going through a hardcore Nemo phase so she loved this ride.

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After this, we rode Living with the Land. This is always a favorite of mine. I’m a total nerd and love seeing how they grow their fruit and veggies.

We walked around the world showcase and got some food and wine offerings. My dad tried sushi in Japan, and we all got food in Italy, and I had a glass of alcohol. Emma Kate was starting to get tired from her early wakeup, but it was time for our Frozen Ever After fastpasses. Our plan was to ride the ride, then let her nap in the stroller while we ate some more food and walked around.

We got in the fastpass line, and right as we got up to the front to get on a boat (we were literally the next ones to get on)…the ride broke down. I kid you not. We were in the loading area, so we just stood there for awhile, me holding Emma Kate. They turned all the lights on, evacuated people off the ride, and people began leaving. About this time, poor EK started to fall asleep in my arms. I decided to sit down against the wall with my dad and just let her sleep. We had nothing else to do, so may as well hold our front of the line spot and wait.

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Because we were right where you board and no longer in the actual que, we had plenty of space and started talking to a cast member from Norway who had been here for a few months. He was a super nice guy with zero accent, and he said he had worked very hard on his English. We talked about the differences in our countries, etc. all while waiting for the ride to come back up. Finally, about 45 minutes later, they started letting people board. Emma Kate woke up and was very confused, but she got to see the ride.

We were all pretty tired by this point, but we had to make one more stop for my favorite drink.

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I couldn’t hold my huge toddler and drink my drink, so I put her in the stroller and she was NOT happy about it. She cried the whole way to the parking lot, which was super fun for everyone. Poor thing needed a longer nap.

We watched some football, took Emma Kate to the playground, and got ready to have friends over. A few years ago when we were staying club level at the Grand Floridian, my parents struck up a conversation with a nice couple and they have kept in touch. When we stayed at Saratoga four years ago, they come over one night and we BBQ’ed out by the playground and had a great time, so we did it again this trip!

Saratoga has a really nice covered pavilion with fans and picnic tables right next to the playground, we we all hung out while my dad cooked and Emma Kate could play. After dinner, they went home and Emma Kate went to bed. my mom watched her while my dad and I walked to Disney Springs (have I mentioned I LOVE the proximity of this resort to Disney Springs?)

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We walked through some of the shops and watched a show up on the stage. Then we decided to get ice cream from Ghirardelli and not tell my mom. However, my dad made a huge mistake and paid with his credit card, and my mom saw the bill when it came in so we were busted! Anyway, it was delicious, and a nice relaxing way to end out trip.

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The next morning, I got up early and went for a quick run before we left.  I had not had the chance to run the whole trip since I was with Emma Kate 95% of the time, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance to run somewhere different. I went out while it was still dark, and it was so nice and peaceful.

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After I got back and showered, we loaded up the car and started our long (long long) drive home. With it being my first time to take a toddler to Disney, I learned a lot.

It was Halloween, and we decided to stop and spend the night in Destin to break up the trip. We went to the beach that afternoon and Emma Kate was not a fan of the sand.

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I found out that there was trick or treating at the outlet mall, so that’s exactly what we did!

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The next morning we went back to the beach and Emma Kate hated it even more than the day before and wouldn’t step foot on it and wanted to go “bye bye”.

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We stayed out all of 15 minutes and then I took her to the pool while my mom and dad stayed at the beach. Confession: I will admit I was a little frustrated. I had so been looking forward to spending the morning on the beautiful Destin beach, and here I was, finally there, and I got to see it for ten minutes. Then I was stuck at the freezing pool (the hotel building cast a shadow on the pool) by myself just me and Emma Kate, cold and pretty miserable for over an hour, just being frustrated I wasn’t in the sun on the sand and had no idea when I would be back. I had my little pity party then got over it and we played until my parents came. We stayed for a bit longer, then headed up to the room to pack up and drive home.

We made a bunch of mistakes, and will know better for next time. While Bobby and I have only taken her on day trips to Disney since we’ve moved to Tampa, we have made adjustments and Emma Kate has done a lot better overall than she did in October. We will be taking her back in April for a few nights and I know we will have a great time!

QOTD: Have you been to Destin? Have you ever trick or treated at a mall?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 4

We left off part 3 with the family heading to the Contemporary to eat brunch at Chef Mickeys. Since we had a little bit of a typical two year old behavioral issue at Crystal Palace, I was really hoping Chef Mickeys would be better, and not as new or overwhelming as her first character meal.

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Donald was the first to come around and she was pretty shy. She didn’t want to sit in a high chair or regular chair, so she was in our laps for most of the meal. She let Donald take a picture with her, but she wouldn’t hug him or stand by him.

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She did however get to watch the characters get closer and closer so I think that helped her to “warm up” a little bit. She LOVED Minnie mouse and got down on the floor to hug her. Minnie did a great job getting down to Emma Kate’s level which was appreciated.

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She really loved Pluto and his nose and “big tongue” the best though. She got antsy towards the end of the meal and wanted to run around, but overall she did way better than the Crystal Palace meal.

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After the meal, we walked around the back of the Contemporary out by the pool. I love that there is a little selfie station so everyone could get in the picture.

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When we got back to the resort, Emma Kate wanted to go to the pool (shocker), so my dad and I took her while my mom went shopping, since my mom had her the whole day before while I was house hunting with my dad. We may or may not have brought wine to the pool in Styrofoam cups. Hey, it’s 5:00 somewhere, right?

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I couldn’t believe the amazing weather we were having. It wasn’t hot at all for October in central Florida.

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We eventually moved over to the big pool.

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I honestly can’t remember what we did for dinner that night it’s been so long now, but I know we didn’t go anywhere. Brunch was so late we were probably too full! It was early to bed again, because we were going to Epcot the next day to finally meet Ana and Elsa, the one thing Emma Kate had been talking about for weeks. Stay tuned to see how that went!

QOTD: Have you ever been to Chef Mickey’s? Do you usually do character meals in Disney?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 3

I left off part 2 with us going to bed Thursday night. Friday morning, my dad and I drove to Tampa to look at homes with the realtor while my mom stayed behind with Emma Kate. They went to Disney Springs for the morning while we were gone, and then the playground after nap.

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Dad and I also looked at a couple daycares and found one I loved. I found a house that we ended up putting in an offer on that evening, and after stopping at the grocery store in Celebration and then picking up pizza, we headed to the pool and met up with my mom and EK.. Eating pizza at the splash pad area while EK played was a nice relaxing time, especially after a crazy day house hunting. (there may have been wine involved, too. Ssshhh)

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On Saturday we got up early and headed to Animal Kingdom. EK loves animals, so I was excited to take her on the safari ride in particular. We had fastpasses and headed there first thing. It was a cool morning so the animals were all out and about and active. We even got to hear the male lion roar which I had never heard before.

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After that we walked through some of the zoo like areas, and then headed to the boneyard playground where we stayed for over an hour. I loved that it was closed in so I didn’t have to worry about Emma Kate running off.

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Girlfriend must have gone down the slides 100 times.

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We waited for lunch at Flame Tree BBQ and ate down by the water. We also rode triceratop spin and I really can’t remember what else.

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Emma Kate was getting super tired and so we decided to head back to the resort after lunch so she could get in a good nap.

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During nap my dad and I walked around the resort and even went to the hot tub for a little while.

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We had chef Mickey’s brunch reservations at 2:30, so we loaded up and headed to the contemporary for a late lunch/early dinner. I was so curious to see how Emma Kate would do with the fab five after doing just so-so with the Winnie the Pooh characters.

Stay tuned for next time to see how brunch went with Mickey and the gang!

QOTD: Favorite thing to do at Animal Kingdom?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 2

I left off with us going to bed after a bit of stressful arrival day. The next day, we woke up ready to go to the Magic Kingdom. I couldn’t wait to show Emma Kate the castle and my favorite park. We decided to take things slow and let Emma Kate lead the way. I had a couple of fastpasses scheduled, but other than that there was nothing we just “had” to do.

We got to the park right after it opened, and after showing her the castle, headed to Fantasyland.

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We walked right on to Winnie the Pooh (she was so fascinated and slightly overwhelmed!) Then we did the little Mermaid, Dumbo, and Peter Pan.

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Then we had a fastpass for Enchanted Tales with Belle. My mom and I had done it before, but my dad (and of course EK) had not so I was excited for them to see.

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We sat on the front row and watched the little play, and Emma Kate got to get up and meet Belle and get a bookmark. She was really hesitant and didn’t smile, but she also didn’t cry. I call it a win!

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I was so happy Emma Kate’s first princess meeting was with my personal favorite!

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After seeing Belle, we decided to take a little break and get a snack. Emma Kate and I sat down and hung out in the grassy area in front of the castle while my mom and dad went to Starbucks to get us coffee and and a snack. Emma Kate enjoyed running around this little area that was away from the hustle and bustle.

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We sat in the grass and all took a little breather and ate (Emma Kate was again wanting to walk and not hold my hand or sit in the stroller so we had a few meltdowns all before 11:00.)

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After our little break, we decided to ride the train and see if Emma Kate would take a nap. She loves Thomas the train and enjoyed being on it, but it stops so much and for such long periods of time we quickly realized this was not going to work. We got off after a couple of stops, and decided to ride the people mover. After this, she was getting super cranky so I told mom and dad to go take a break and I would walk her around in the stroller and see if she would take a nap (she was so tired but fighting it at this point). I headed off from tomorrowland towards fantasyland by way of the walkway near space mountain, and Emma Kate pretty much fell asleep instantly, so I just kept walking. I made it all the way around the park, then stopped at a quiet corner in Liberty square behind the Christmas shop. I sat down on the ground while she slept. aaahhh.

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After awhile, my mom texted and said she would come meet me and we could switch spots, that dad was getting a snack in Tomorrowland and I could meet up with him there. So I walked back across the park after she arrived and had some fries with my dad. Soon after I got there, EK was awake so we met with my mom and did Buzz Lightyear. We got stuck on the ride for about ten minutes though! After that we decided to take another break in the grass until the 3:00 parade. This time we sat on the other side of the castle.

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Check out Emma Kate putting sunscreen on my dads knees Smile Bless it.

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We made it across the street for the parade and my parents ran into friends from high school! How crazy is that! They ended up chatting during the whole parade and I held Emma Kate up to see. Thankfully I lift weights because holding up a 31 pound child for the whole parade was pretty difficult! But she loved the parade and loved waving to the characters, especially when they waved back!

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We had a 3:30 reservation at Crystal Palace, so as soon as the parade was over we checked in. I was so curious to see how EK would do with the characters. To sum it up, it took her a little while to warm up to them but then she did really well. Tigger was her favorite.

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The issue here was that my super active child was over sitting still in her high chair after about seven minutes and wanted to run around the restaurant, which I wouldn’t allow. She ended up on the floor of Crystal Palace throwing a complete fit and I immediately picked her up and took her outside. I was really frustrated but tried to remind myself she is two, and is really overwhelmed and probably still wasn’t feeling great. I was just tired from chasing her around all day and dealing with the terrible twos. My mom finished eating and came outside to swap with me so I could go eat, but I still didn’t get as much as I wanted because I knew she was being difficult outside for my mom and I wanted to hurry up.

After we finished eating, we decided to leave, which Emma Kate did not want to do, so I apologize to anyone who was on Main street when I strapped my child in the stroller and power walked to the front of the park as she screamed. It was super fun for everyone I’m sure.

When we got back, we took EK to the playground right outside out building. We were on the first floor so it was nice to just walk right outside.

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The playground is near the water and has a great view of Disney Springs.

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I can’t remember exactly what we did that evening but I’m guessing just hung out in the room. Our original plan was to go to Hollywood Studios the next day, but since we got a contract on our house the day we left for Disney, we decided it would be best of my dad and I drove to Tampa to meet with my realtor and look at homes because we needed to make on offer on one quickly for all the closing dates to line up. My poor mom would be left with EK by herself, but I am thankful she volunteered so that I could get this handled since we were so close to Tampa!

More on that adventure in the next installment. Smile

QOTD: Did your/do your kids like the characters at Disney?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 1

I finally have some time to sit down and write out a recap out Emma Kate’s first Disney trip. Fair warning, it was a doozy. Poor EK was sick most of the trip and this made her cranky and miserable and everyone else cranky and miserable. I’m still so glad we got to go and experience it for the first time with her grandparents, but it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Read on anyway!

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Like I said EK had been sick with some sort of virus but her doctor put her on some medication just in case it was bacterial since we were going out of town. I picked her up after lunch from school, and we drove to my parents. Poor girl slept most of the way down. We hung out at my parents house that afternoon, and went to bed early. Emma Kate ended up having a rough night and neither of us got much sleep.

The next day, my dad and I had fun trying to pack all of our stuff and Emma Kate’s stroller in their car. We were able to get it all in, and we left for Florida around 10:00. We stopped in Biloxi and ate lunch, and soon realized it was going to be a long drive. Emma Kate slept about an hour but then fussed the whole rest of the way to Tallahassee where we were stopping for the night. After having trouble finding our hotel, we were all ready for a break so my mom and dad went to grab us some dinner and I stayed at the hotel with the sick one. It was yet again a night of little sleep for everyone (she did not want to sleep in the pack n play so ended up in bed with me, and the child does not lay still). We were optimistic though, and the next morning we hopped back in the car and headed for Orlando. EK slept about two of the four and a half hours, and cried the rest of the time which made for an interesting ride. Finally, we made it to my happy place, and pulled in to Saratoga Springs.

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Our room wasn’t ready yet, but that was ok so we decided to grab lunch in the food court and then take Emma Kate to the pool. Unfortunately, EK was tired of sitting so she lasted in the high chair all of 27 seconds before I had to take her outside. I ate about three bites of lunch (which would come to be a theme of the trip!) We walked around and played in the splash pad while my mom and dad ate lunch, then we all drove over to the super nice pool at the Paddock and changed there.

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I was really impressed with the play area. It was totally fenced in and had tables and chairs for the parents. There were two slides and it was zero entry all the way around. Emma Kate LOVED it and went down the slide about 50 times.

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After our rough start, I was so glad to see her having fun.

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Since we had a two bedroom villa, our original plan was to let my mom stay with Emma Kate while my dad and I went to the grocery store to get food for the trip. However, because our room wasn’t ready, we had to call an audible and just stay at the pool. We were all getting a little tired of waiting and finally at 4:00 our room was ready. We hurried over and unloaded, and then put Emma Kate in the stroller and walked to Disney Springs to activate our Annual Passes before heading to dinner at Whispering Canyon Café.

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Apparently all the running around at the pool wasn’t enough to tired her out, so EK wanted OUT of the stroller. This was a problem because there were people everywhere and she wanted to walk all on her own (another foreshadowing of the trip). We finally made it over to guest services, and ended up there for over an hour. They couldn’t get my parents Annual Passes to work for some reason, and so we just had to keep waiting. Meanwhile, Emma Kate had meltdown after meltdown because she wanted to go. We took turns going outside with her but she wanted me and only me so it made things difficult. We ended up missing our dinner reservations because we were there so long. EK was acting up so much that I was kind of glad. We ended up going to Earl of Sandwich and eating outside so EK could play in the splash pad and we could watch her.

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She had a LOT of fun with that (the kid loves water!) and made friends while she played. But, she had another meltdown when it was time to go. We walked back to Saratoga Springs ready for a good nights sleep before heading to the Magic Kingdom the next day.

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My dad and I ended up going to the grocery store after Emma Kate went to bed, and I was so tired I just wanted to hurry and get back and go to sleep, which is exactly what I did. We had gotten off to a bumpy start, but we were hopeful that in the light of the next day things would be magical!

QOTD: Have you ever had a Disney trip start off as not so magical?

Frozen Birthday Party

On Saturday, we had Emma Kate’s second birthday at our yogurt shop, Orange Leaf. I was not nearly as creative as last year, and everything was kind of last minute, but we still had a great time! I feel like having a party at our house last year was a “rookie new mom mistake”. It was super stressful not only getting things ready for the party, but deep cleaning the house and then cleaning up after. Having it at another location is the way to go!

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We had a little bit of food like donut holes, fruit, chex mix, and deviled eggs (and of course cake and frozen yogurt!) We kept it simple with bottled water and kool-aid in a cooler under the table. The Frozen decorations were bought at Wal-Mart, and the utensils, tablecloth, balloon holders, and a couple of the plastic trays I got at the Dollar Tree. We had a helium tank from Wal-Mart leftover from last year’s party, too.

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The birthday girl was way too busy to smile for pictures.

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Except when it comes to her daddy. She always smiles for him! her shirt is from Etsy, and her skirt is from Wal-Mart.

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Emma Kate was so good and sat in her chair and ate fruit, froyo, and cake the whole time!

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We had a lot of special friends and family attend, and the shop was a great place to let the kids run around and go nuts.DSC_0009

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My mom made Emma Kate’s cake. After paying $45 for a cake last year, we decided on the homemade route and it came out great! We did a boxed mix but used homemade icing which was amazing. I will forever use this icing when I make anything! (It may or may not have had 4 sticks of butter in it!)

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Lately, Emma Kate has been all about singing the happy birthday song, so she was mesmerized when everyone started singing it to her.

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She wasn’t so sure about blowing out the candles, and to avoid a spit on cake, Bobby blew them out for her. We used food coloring for two of the layers of the cake, and I think it came out great! The Frozen characters on top are from Amazon, and the banner on the cake is from Etsy.

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This pictures cracks me up. Unfortunately I didn’t think to do a photo with all the kids and a bunch of them had already left, but we rounded up who was still there and tried to get a photo. The parents were all jumping around trying to get the kids to look. It was awesome.

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The little boy, Emma Kate, and the little girl on the right were all born within a week of each other! So fun to watch them grow over the past two years.

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We had a great time celebrating our girl and can’t believe she will be two in a couple of weeks. I really loved the low stress party we did this year. We just have so many other things going around, I honestly didn’t have any more energy to put into it than what I did. I still think she had a great time. I know I did.

QOTD: Favorite party theme or location? Do you prefer a party at your house or somewhere else?