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?

Disney Trip Itinerary

As I have mentioned here before, we are taking a family trip to WDW at the end of October. My parents recently bought DVC, and the contract finally went through in the spring, so we planned our first trip for when the weather cools off just a touch. Having never been to Disney with a toddler, I am very aware that my “plans” may not end up happening, but I still wanted to (loosely) plan things so we at least have some sort of structure. As far as rides etc. at the parks, there is nothing that I just HAVE to do, except for the new Frozen ride and Soarin. This trip is about Emma Kate and what she wants to do. With that being said, here are our tentative plans.

Tuesday Oct. 25:

Depart Louisiana at nap time/after lunch/ Drive halfway, stop for the night in Tallahassee.

Wednesday Oct 26:

Drive the other four or so hours to Disney, arrive at Saratoga Springs around lunch. Check into 2 bedroom villa. Either go to the pool or Disney Springs after nap. Dinner at Rainforest Café at Disney Springs.

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Thursday Oct 27:

Magic Kingdom in the morning. Back to Saratoga for lunch and nap. Back to the Magic Kingdom in the afternoon for early Crystal Palace dinner (3:30 was the only reservation open). We will stay until around 6:30, then back to the resort for bedtime.

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Friday Oct 28:

Hollywood Studios in the morning. Animal Kingdom in the afternoon after nap. Mom and dad go to dinner alone at Narcoossees, Bobby and I watch Emma Kate. Not sure yet what we are going to do. Maybe Disney Springs to play in the water fountains and eat at Earl of Sandwich.

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Saturday Oct 29:

Magic Kingdom in the morning. After nap, come back to that area for Chef Mickey’s brunch, then more Magic Kingdom in the afternoon if Emma Kate is hanging in there. Bobby and I go to dinner alone that night, and my mom and dad watch Emma Kate. We will probably just go to EPCOT and eat around the Food and Wine festival.

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Sunday Oct 30:

EPCOT in the morning, nap at the resort then pool/grill/playground in the afternoon. We have some local friends coming over to BBQ. Disney Springs in the evening for ice cream.

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Monday Oct 31:

Get up and drive back to Louisiana. womp womp.

Thoughts on my plan? A lot of the afternoons are kind of open planning. We may end up back at parks certain days, and others we may not. We will just have to see what EK ends up enjoying the most. I am getting excited! We can make out fastpass+ reservations at the end of he month!

QOTD: Thoughts on my plan? What am I leaving out?

Disney’ Saratoga Springs Resort

I am dubbing today travel Thursday! I leave for Disney for my mom’s 60th birthday extravaganza in EIGHT DAYS. We won’t technically be in Disney for nine days, but I’m still totally excited.

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So today I wanted to share about one of Disney’s Vacation Club resorts, Saratoga Springs. A lot of people get confused and think that you can only stay here if you are a member of the Disney Vacation Club. Not true! Anyone can stay here!

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There are several reasons we love this resort, but I am just going to name a few.

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First of all, it’s really pretty. It is centered amongst a golf course, and has some great views from the rooms. It is also next to Disney Springs (formally Downtown Disney), and a lucky few will get a room with a view of the Disney Springs skyline.

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When I was able to stay in this resort with my family, we had a two bedroom villa, and I was really impressed with just how spacious it was. It had a master bedroom and bathroom,

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Kitchen,

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Dining area,

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living room,

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second bedroom,

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second bathroom,

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balcony

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and a peaceful view.

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I love the concept of the villa, especially for a family with a young child. After having Emma Kate, I totally see the major pluses for being able to put her to bed at night and still be able to go into another room to hang out without having to be super quiet or go to bed yourself at 7:00.

Our room also had a washer and dryer which really came in handy. There are several pools at this property, as well as a playground and a place to grill. We brought some of our own food and BBQ’ed one night which was a lot of fun!

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We also really enjoyed sitting in the rocking chairs in the evening overlooking Disney Springs.

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The walk to Disney Springs is peaceful and picturesque. One night we walked over just for some ice cream. I loved the proximity!

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Another great thing about Saratoga Springs is they have a SPA! Senses spa to be exact. I got to tour it right before they opened a couple of years ago, and it was really nice.

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It is a very large resort, so there are multiple bus stops which takes a little more time, which is why we drove when we stayed here. However, the largeness of the resort makes for a great spot to run! You can wind your way all along this place, to Disney Springs and back, and put in a good bit of mileage.

I hope I get the chance to stay at this property again, I really enjoyed it!

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

QOTD: What is your favorite DVC resort? Do you ever BBQ on vacation?

Senses Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs

It is a special day in Walt Disney World. The newly reimagined Senses Spa at Saratoga Springs Resort opens TODAY!

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I jumped at the chance to check out the redesign. I was lucky to get to visit and get a massage at the spa at the Grand Floridian in February, so I was curious to see the differences between the two spas. While they may share the bulk of the same spa menu, one thing they do not share is the same theming and décor. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I was blown away!

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Dark woods, stone, and Native American influences are sprinkled throughout the large space. We saw lots of cool touches like Italian mosaics, hummingbirds, and even hidden Mickeys. The idea here is to look like a 19th century wellness retreat in New York.

I am not going to go into the spa menu as much since I already covered the basics in my last spa post, but I did want to share with you the beauty of this location.

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There is a mani/pedi room with the same amazing massage chairs you will find at the Grand Floridian spa.

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There are several types of treatment rooms available, all with gorgeous lighting and great touches like hot bar racks to keep your robe warm.

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Couples treatment room

The walls have a beautiful texture to them, and I just loved these outdoorsy light fixtures in the hallways.

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Can you spot the hummingbird in the relaxation room? This is where you relax and wait before your treatment begins. By the way, these lounge chairs are so soft. I didn’t lay down because I knew I would never get back up!

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The men’s and women’s locker rooms have these plunge pools, as well as my favorite heated tiled chairs, just like on the Disney Cruise ships. Unfortunately, they weren’t turned on or I would have been taking a quick nap. What a great treat after participating in a runDisney race, huh my fellow runners? Something to think about!

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The tiles on the wall were imported from Italy. Check out that hummingbird! Also, can you find the hidden Mickey?

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We took a peek into the locker room which resembles the one at the Grand Floridian, and they offer all the same amenities at both locations.

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The bathrooms have blow dryers, straighteners, and other items you may need to primp after a relaxing massage or an invigorating facial.

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During the tour, I was told about special seasonal offerings that sound so amazing. I really want a pumpkin enzyme facial! Sounds amazing, right?

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Be sure to check out their website for details and to make an appointment!

QOTD: What is your favorite spa treatment? Have you been to one of Disney’s spas?