Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek

When I was in Florida for the Princess Half Marathon weekend, I had the opportunity to stay at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. I stayed here for one night in January, but we were so busy I did not have the chance to really look around, so I was excited to have another stay and see what it was all about.

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This hotel is tucked away on Disney property, and you have probably passed it 100 times and not even noticed. It is conveniently located to Disney Springs as well as the theme parks. Hilton Orlando bonnet creek

The rooms are spacious at 414 sq. feet, and the beds were very comfortable. There was a desk in the room as well as a television, coffee maker, safe, and refrigerator. We had a huge window with a great view of the pool! Off in the distance we could see the Swan and Dolphin as well as the Tower of Terror!

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The lobby is super inviting and fun, check out the ceiling!

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One of my favorite things was this little spot which was open 24 hours a day. They had snacks, coffee, pastries, candy, donuts, chips, among other things. It was great to go down at 3:00 in the morning and grab some coffee the morning of the 10k.

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The views out the windows in the lobby area were amazing, and there was even a screen porch and fire pit so you could enjoy the sunset.

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There is also a convention center at Hilton Bonnet Creek, and they do weddings as well!

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There are several restaurants, and Jen and I ate at two of them. The first night we ate at Harvest, and they even had a special menu for the runners.

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Downstairs by the pool and next to Harvest they had a table of different waters for the guests. The watermelon was so good.

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Even though we didn’t use it because we were doing enough running as it was, there was a really nice gym on the ground floor next to the pool area.

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Speaking of the pool area…WOW. I am saving some of my photos for another post, but yall, this was an oasis. A lazy river, zero entry, waterslide, hot tub, plenty of lounge chairs, and an amazing outdoor restaurant.

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We ate at Beech the night before the half marathon, and it had such a relaxing vibe, and the weather was perfect to eat outside poolside.

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Also, this hotel is right next to the Waldorf Astoria, where there is an amazing spa. There is also a golf course, shopping, and a kids club next door at Waldorf Astoria.

Jen and I kept talking about how much we loved this hotel, the food, the pool, and the options it provided us during our stay. Being on Disney property is just so magical, and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek allows you to be in the middle of it all without breaking the bank. I hope to stay here again soon. The pool is already calling my name!

QOTD: Do you like a good pool/lazy river? Have you stayed at Bonnet Creek?

runDisney Princess Expo 2016

After some last minute finagling, I was so excited to be attending the runDisney Princess half marathon weekend to run the Glass Slipper Challenge! I love the Princess expo and was ready to get excited for the race weekend ahead.

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I arrived on Friday at lunch, and my buddy Jen picked me up at the airport. She drove down from South Carolina, and it was SO NICE having a car the whole trip! We took zero busses!

Anyway, after grabbing lunch at Chick-fil-A in Celebration (priorities) we headed to the expo. The first thing I said (several times) was that I could NOT get over the amazing weather! It was sunny and in the low 70’s, and was supposed to be gorgeous all weekend. (Spoiler: it was!)

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The first thing we did was head over to pick up our bibs and shirts before going into the expo. I had heard horror stories of the insanity from the day before, so I was a little nervous. There were a couple of items I would have liked to have, but nothing I NEEDED (it’s just stuff, people) so we were just planning to go with the flow.

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So far so good, it was not busy at all. We even walked right up to where you take the adorable instagram photos with no line. I will say, I was a bit bummed by the Instagram pics this year. I LVOED the one where the prince is in it from last year..or maybe it was two years ago. Anyway, I was looking forward to seeing what tricks runDisney had up their sleeve and sadly the background was boring and our photographer was not great so the pic did not come out well at all. Oh well! Not that I’m complaining about a free pic, but they raised the bar with awesome ones in the past and this one was just “eh”. Anyone else agree?

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Moving on, it was down the red carpet into the expo!

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Princess fun!

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we decided to head to the official merchandise first then come back and look at the other booths/chat with friends etc.

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Get excited people, race weekend!

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I was a little bummed that the Glass Slipper wine glasses and tervis tumblers were sold out (if anyone sees them at an outlet let me know!) and that there were no cute baby clothes like in years past, but again it’s just stuff, so I got my “I did it shirt” and a regular runDisney wine glass and called it a day.

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I got to see several friends! Michelle from Running Skirts, and Bobbi and Megan at Raw Threads among others.

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We wandered around but I didn’t buy anything else, and after awhile we decided to go check into our hotel and grab an early dinner. We had the 10k the next day, and it was time to get off of our feet. Overall it was a good expo experience for me, and was great to see some friends again and get excited about the race.

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QOTD: Favorite thing about race expos? Do you ever buy anything?

Princess Here I Come

It’s here! It’s here! I leave for Louisiana TODAY, and fly out to Orlando from New Orleans first thing Friday morning. My loose plans involve the expo Friday afternoon, 10K Saturday morning, EPCOT Saturday afternoon, the half marathon Sunday morning, relaxing at the pool Sunday afternoon, and the Magic Kingdom on Monday before leaving Tuesday morning. I’m so excited but know that it is going to go by so fast, it always does!

Last year, Bobby came with me on this trip and we stayed for a week at Port Orleans Riverside. This year, it is a girls only trip, and shorter. Also this year I am participating in the Glass Slipper Challenge for the second time!

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Jen and I will be staying at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek for part of our stay before we move to a Disney hotel. I can’t wait to share more about Bonnet Creek itself when I get home from the trip! It’s a gorgeous resort, right in the middle of Disney.

Yesterday, I posted a printable packing list the for race, so check it out if you missed it. Also, I TENTATIVELY plan to be hanging out in front of the merchandise area at 4:30/4:45 before the half marathon on Sunday if anyone wants to say hello. Stay in touch via Twitter/Facebook/Instagram, because I will post updates there if something changes. Note the big red dot below:

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You can read some of my old race recaps here. You can also read LAST year’s half marathon recap here.

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A couple of fun story lines…

More than 37,000 runners from 26 countries are participating this weekend, including more than 16,500 in the half marathon. Also, Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell will be on hand to sing the National Anthem on Sunday morning before the race!

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Safe travels to everyone going to Disney, hopefully I will see some of you very soon!

QOTD: What is your favorite costume you have seen at a race?

Disney Fantasy Cruise 2016: Day 2

After my 12 hour sleep the night before, I was ready to enjoy our first full day on board the Disney Fantasy. It was a day at sea, as we sailed towards Cozumel. We got up, ate breakfast at the buffet at Cabanas, and headed to the adult pool area.

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I brought three novels to read, something I haven’t done in a LONG time, and I was really excited to just relax, read, and nap, and that’s exactly what we did, with a mimosa thrown in at some point. We were officially on vacation.

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We had lunch at Cabanas, and went right back out to our lounge chairs for more reading and napping. What an exciting day, huh? Check out our view. If you look closely, you can see land.

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Later in the afternoon we headed back to our room to shower and get ready for formal night. Let me just take a minute to say how happy I am that formal night is early on in the cruise, before we ate all the things and then had to fit into a nice dress.

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By the way the lighting in the cabins is terrible for picture taking! I didn’t think to go out on the balcony until later in the cruise. I blame the sun, or something like that.

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We had dinner in Animator’s Palate, and we were also recognized for our 9 year wedding anniversary a couple of days prior. Yummy dessert!

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After dinner, we changed clothes and walked around a bit before heading to the adult club for some fun and games. I want to say we also saw the show Aladdin in the theater this night.

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I was so excited when I say the lady in charge of the adults for the week was one we have had before, and she is HILARIOUS, and did not disappoint. We played a game Bobby and I both love called “The Quest”. If you have been on a DCL cruise, hopefully you have played. It’s a scavenger hunt game, where you are in teams with a number and you have to bring “your number, AND ____” to the front, and the people who do it fastest get the most points. Think things like a man wearing a bra, two men skipping holding hands, a girl in men’s shoes, etc. etc. So many laughs my stomach hurt, and thankfully this time I didn’t have to be the one to take off my bra in front of strangers.

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Anyway, our team ended up winning, which was even more fun! We were given Disney Cruise Line hats as a prize, because, it’s what all the cool kids wear.

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We were worn out after all the fun, so headed back to our room to discover this guy:

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The next day was Cozumel, and we had heard it was supposed to storm all day, so we crossed our fingers the weather would hold out, and went to bed.

QOTD: Have you ever played the Quest? Do you dress up for formal night on a cruise?

Marathon Weekends at Hilton Bonnet Creek

I had the privilege to stay somewhere new the night before the runDisney half marathon, somewhere I honestly never thought I would stay. I am a Disney loving “stay at a Disney hotel” kind of girl, so I was a little reluctant to try out Hilton Bonnet Creek, but I am So glad I did!

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I hope to have more info for you on the actual hotel and all the activities and food and things there at the end of February, but for now I want to specifically talk to you about Marathon Weekends.

Hilton Bonnet Creek has put together a special rate for those staying for runDisney race weekends, and it comes with some great extras that are not offered at Disney owned hotels. There was also a runner’s concierge in the lobby, and they could answer questions for us, get us signed up for the bus the morning of the race, and they also had a goodie bag for us. (Note that to ride the bus to the races you have to sign up ahead of time and are given a wristband as a “ticket” for the bus to and from the race.)

Hilton Bonnet Creek is actually inside the gates of Walt Disney World, so it is super close to the parks and other Disney activities. Check out the balloon at Disney Springs you could see out my room’s window!

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Those staying with the special marathon weekend rate are also given a card that saves you 10% on hotel food and beverages during your stay. They have so many restaurant options, and even special carb loading menu items for runners.

The real magic however came on race morning, where we were greeted in the lobby with signs and our own personal cheerleaders! The music was loud, the DJ was getting everyone pumped up, and it really helped to wake me up since it was, you know, 2:45 in the morning.

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They also provided a continental breakfast for the runners. It was nice to hang out in the warmth of the lobby, chatting with other runners (and using real bathrooms!) before heading to the race start.

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I ate a protein bar, a banana, and grabbed some water. (I had brought some food with me also since I wasn’t sure what I was going to feel like eating). I was told that the reasoning behind the certain food items was that they wanted to provide things that would be easy to eat in the corrals or walking to the corrals. Smart thinking!

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We took some photos out in front of the bus and were cheered on as we boarded. It was EARLY, yall, so it was such a nice touch!

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Oh, something else I didn’t mention, all runners staying for Marathon Weekends get a late 2:00 pm checkout, how cool is that?

Please note that at this time, there is no official transportation to the 5k and 10k races or expo which was a bummer, but the runner’s concierge can help you set something up if you would like. We grabbed a cab to come back from the expo and it was quick and easy. There is also  Mears shuttle you can take to and from the airport that cost approx. $21 each way when booked online.

They also had a runners reception at the pool with rum runners at noon after the half marathon, but sadly we had a boat to catch and were not able to stay. Next time!

I give Hilton Bonnet Creek Marathon Weekends a thumbs up, and would definitely stay here again for a race weekend!

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The enthusiasm, the little touches, the breakfast, and the proximity to other Disney activities really swayed me. I think they have a good thing going here, and I sadly just learned about it last year! If you have any questions about marathon weekends, let me know and I can get the answer for you.

QOTD: Did you know this existed? What do you think about the early morning cheerleaders? Who wants to stay here now?!?

Disclosure: I was provided a free stay to check out marathon weekends for myself, however all opinions are my own.

Disney Park Map Leggings Giveaway

Good morning my friends! I have a fun giveaway for you today! I was shopping around on Etsy like I tend to do (It’s a time suck!) and I stumbled across these AMAZING clothing pieces from Rainbow Rules. I knew I had to have the leggings, and I decided to try a tank top as well. I got my items in the mail, and they are seriously a Disney lovers dream. Any Disney lover can spot the oh so familiar park map design a mile away. So unique and fun for pants!

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First up I ordered the Magic Kingdom Park Map Capris (also come in full length, and also come in fleece lined). These capris are thin but very stretchy and so adorable. (Note, you can’t wear your leopard print under things, but they look just fine with a neutral color underneath.) I can’t wait to wear these bad boys to WDW. They are really comfy and stretchy, and I have been asked a million times already where I got them.

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Next up I decided to try one of the tank tops, and went with the Disneyland design. It is made of the same material as the capris, so it’s really light and soft/stretchy.

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Yall, this is just the beginning. She also sells, shower curtains, dresses, skirts, clutches, scarves, cosmetics cases, etc. all with different park maps! I have been eyeing up the pillow cushion and door mat, how adorable!

The best thing about this stuff is her prices are great. Please note, turnaround time is about three weeks, so if you are wanting some park map leggings to wear to the Princess half, you need to order NOW! Also, you are in luck, because I have a discount code for you to use that is good for 10% off orders over $25 through the end of February. Simply enter the code LOOKINGGLASS at checkout.

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Be sure to check out all the other cool items in her shop, too.

Now for the giveaway. One lucky reader will get their choice of park map leggings from Rainbow Rules. Please follow the directions in the rafflecoptor widget below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was given product to review, however all opinions are my own. 

runDisney Marathon Weekend Expo 2016

Hello friends! I am finally back home! I still have a lot of unpacking and catching up to do, but I wanted to let you guys know I am still alive, and I have a lot of fun recaps coming your way, plus a giveaway so hang in there. Today I thought I would tell you about the race expo, then I still have to recap the blogger meet up, an interview I did with some famous TV stars from Mexico, the race, the cool hotel experience I had, and of course the cruise!

We were actually only in Orlando for 24 hours, but a LOT happened in those hours. First after landing Friday I ran over to the Cigna blogger meet up with Megan, and then we went to the runDisney expo to get our packets for the half the next day. We had dinner at California Grill at 5:00 so sadly I didn’t get to spend near as much time at the expo as I would have liked, but I still got to soak up the runDisney magic and see some friends.

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First we picked up our race packets. It was weird “only” doing the half, since last time we participated in marathon weekend we ran dopey!

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Ready to run! or something like that (wait, we have to run? I haven’t really trained!)

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LOVE my new rundisney ears! They don’t give me terrible headaches like the ones from the parks. Maybe I just have a large noggin?

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We of course had to take the obligatory instagram photo before heading over to check out the merchandise. The guy asked how we wanted to pose and we said “something funny” and he just looked at us like we were crazy. No worries! We shall come up with something on our own!

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Hello expo floor, oh how I have missed you!

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A closer look at the shoes, and I dig them.

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I made my way to the Raw Threads booth (adorable stuff yall, go check them out!) and had a quick chat with my buddy Bobbi! Was great to see her again.

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I also ran over to my favorite running skirts brand and said hello to my former colleague and the sweetest girl in Minnie ears ever, Michelle!

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We literally flew through the official merchandise, I got an I did it shirt (I always get one) and a shirt for Emma Kate that says “future runner, catch me if you can” SO stinkin cute). and unfortunately we had to grab a cab back to the hotel so we could change for dinner.

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I wish I had gotten to spend some more time shopping and saying hello to other friends working expo booths, but there will always be other races, and hopefully for those I will be in town more than 24 hours!

QOTD: Is there an item you buy at every race expo?

Disney at Christmas

Visiting Walt Disney World at Christmastime is probably my favorite time of year to go (well, it barely edges out the food and wine festival!) There is just something extra magical about all the special touches Disney puts into the decorations, parades, parties, and other events that make it very memorable.

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Of course the Magic Kingdom/main street is decked out with beautiful festive decorations.

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But my favorite thing to do is go to the different resorts and see their décor. My favorite is the Grand Floridian because of the beautiful gingerbread house that doubles as a store where you can buy gingerbread! It’s so gorgeous (and smells so good) and must be seen in person to fully appreciate it’s coolness.

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Other resorts do a great job, especially those with nice big lobbies like Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge.

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One thing I am super sad about is that this is the last year for the Osborne lights at Hollywood Studios. It has always been a favorite of mine, and I’m bummed I won’t get to see them again.

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a lot of fun, with special fireworks and a parade.

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The best part of the Magic Kingdom decorations is hands down the castle. This is something you have to see in person because pictures just don’t do it justice. I can sit forever and stare at it as it changes colors, it truly is breathtaking.

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Cannot. get. enough.

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There are so many other things like the candlelight processional, and holiday storytellers, it is enough to keep you busy your entire trip! What is your favorite thing about Walt Disney World during the holidays? I would love to hear!

QOTD: What is your favorite thing about WDW during the holidays?

The WINNER of my spread cookie joy giveaway is Rachel Marie! (also displayed on the rafflecoptor widget on the original post). Thanks to all who entered!

Birthday Bash Day 4

Day four was our final day in Walt Disney World, and we still had a lot we wanted to do. Unfortunately we woke up to rain, but we didn’t let that stop us. We made it to the Magic Kingdom, and headed straight for Starbucks. Our late night on the Ferrytale Wishes cruise wore us out!

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I tried the special for Halloween “frapula” and I think I was the first to ask for it because it took them awhile to make it and they were all conversing with each other trying to figure it out.

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We had fastpasses for Pirates of the Caribbean so we headed that way first, and then to Enchanted Tales with Belle which I had seen but mom had not. SO cute. I can’t wait to take Emma Kate there!

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We did a little shopping and grabbed pizza for lunch.

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Mom and I really enjoy just walking around and looking at everything, so we just kind of “hung out” for awhile (Bobby would be so bored and never let’s me do that, so it was nice and relaxing!)

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The rain was getting harder, so he headed to the monorail and ran over to EPCOT to get a couple of things and then went back to the hotel. I was able to make us last minute dinner reservations at California Grill that night, too!

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Bye Magic Kingdom

I still had not done one thing I REALLY wanted to do, and that was get a Dole Whip at the Polynesian. So when we got back, we did just that, and it was delicious.

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We got ready for dinner, had some appetizers in the lounge, and then took the monorail to the Grand Floridian because we had some time to kill. We went upstairs and visited one of my favorite Cast Members, Vonnie, and chatted with her for a bit before heading over to the Contemporary. We were seated right away, and I will have to say this was the most delicious meal of the trip. I got a margarita and the filet, and both were amazing.

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They even gave mom a free birthday dessert, even though we were stuffed!

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We got back to the resort and changed clothes and headed for Trader Sams. This was another one of those “research” things I needed to do for work. SO many clients have asked me about it so I knew I needed to go. The drinks were good and the décor was super cool, but it was pretty pricey and if you aren’t into loud environments I would say skip this one. We were so tired and left after one drink, but it was cool to see, and say hello to a fellow runDisney runner/bartender we went to see!

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We went back to our room and called it a night. The next morning was very early and very sad. Departure day is always sad, but it was also rainy and dreary so it was even more depressing.

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Four days is just not long enough! We had a blast but there was so much we didn’t get to do, like Hollywood Studios and most of EPCOT. That just means we have to go back, right?

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I planned a lot for mom for her 60th, and I hope she enjoyed everything I put into the trip for her. It was so much fun and I will always remember it.

QOTD: Favorite Disney resort? Favorite drink in Disney?

Disney Ferrytale Wishes Cruise

During our recent Disney trip, I surprised my mom with a Disney Ferrytale Wishes cruise. This is something very new that had only been going on for about two weeks when we participated. I was very happy with this experience and would do it again for adults, but I don’t think it’s as worth it for kids. Here’s a quick recap of the fun!

Mom and I walked over from the Polynesian to the Transportation and Ticket center. Poor mom was clueless and had not idea what we were doing. I went over to the ferry dock and saw balloons and a sign that said “check in”, and even after we walked up she was confused, so I let the guy checking people in explain it to her.

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We were given a pin and a menu, and he led us down towards the boat where others were gathered.

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We were then given glow in the dark necklaces and a glowing champagne glass filled with cider and we were told to hang onto it. We waited around until 9:00 to board the ferry.

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Once onboard we were given a plate, and told to have fun! We found coffee, alcohol (beer, wine, vodka punch, prosecco), and lots of desserts.

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We watched the Electrical Water Parade and sailed around the Seven Seas Lagoon chowing down and watching the beautiful views.

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Later they had mickey bars and ice cream sandwiches as well as some fruit flavored popsicles.

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When it was time for Wishes at 10:00, the boat parked and everyone had a great view. The music was piped in and it was really beautiful with the reflection on the water.

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When Wishes was over, the boat sailed back to the dock and we got off. They were handing out extra ice cream bars as we got off so of course we took one…and they were giving out all the balloons, SURE! Why not?

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Oh, there was even a Photopass photographer onboard.

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The staff was so friendly, and everyone seemed to be having a really good time. We met some very nice people and chatted with a bunch of different folks as we went. There were maybe only 10 kids onboard (remember, we didn’t get ON the boat till 9:00). The reason I say it is worth it for adults but not kids is because it was $100 for adults and $69 for kids. Adults get all you can drink alcohol and a really cool experience but the kids seemed bored and that’s an expensive ticket for an hour and a half boat ride. I will be doing a more detailed review on another blog at the end of the month, I will be sure to post a link on Facebook when it’s live.

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

QOTD: Where have you seen your favorite fireworks show? Mickey bar or ice cream sandwich?