Rainy Day in Epcot

I don’t have a ton of Epcot pictures from this most recent trip. It was our last day and rainy, so we didn’t do everything. But we still had a good time.

We rope dropped Soarin’ which is one of my favorite rides. While in the Land, we got breakfast and rode Living with the Land. It’s cool to see all of the plants. I wish I had more success growing food.

We were trapped in the play area that you exit to from Spaceship Earth for awhile due to a torrential downpour, so my daughter and I played some of the games in there. We put the parts of the body together and powered a city with all kinds of energy!

In the World Showcase, I really liked the Anna and Elsa meet and greet set-up. The queue was full of cute and fun details.

We had some tasty fish and chips from Yorkshire County Fish Shop in Great Britain.

Even the squirrels agreed that the food there is top notch.

The Ralph and Vanellope meet and greet was cool because the characters come out of the “link” to meet you, just like in Ralph Breaks the Internet.

Of course, I have always had a soft spot for Journey Into Imagination and Figment. I visited Disney World as a baby and fell in love with “Bink” as I called him.

Overall, a fun trip to Disney World. I can’t wait until next time!

Animal Kingdom and Polynesian Luau

Our third day at Walt Disney World took us to the Animal Kingdom park and to the luau at the Polynesian resort. On our last trip to Disney World, we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and spent a lot of time at this park, so we did a shorter day there on this trip.

Dinoland is a great area of the park for young kids.

My daughter especially loves playing in the Boneyard play area.

I was super excited to catch sight of Kevin from Up more than once throughout the day!

The safari is always interesting and fun. Thankfully, we had a Fastpass, so we could fit it in on this busy park day.

I’ve still never been on Flight of Passage in Avatar since I don’t wait in 3 hour lines. Maybe one day we’ll get a fast pass. We did ride Na’vi River Journey again.

My daughter’s favorite ride is Kali River Rapids. We wore our ponchos, which we needed for the next day, anyway.

My daughter also got her face painted and a caricature drawn in the afternoon.

After we left the Animal Kingdom, we drove to the Polynesian Resort to attend the Spirit of Aloha luau. The luau is always a fun time. We didn’t make it to the end, because my daughter was falling asleep. It was a long day.

The food is delicious, although I didn’t take pictures of the tasty meat.

I had to go up with my daughter to learn the hula because she was being uncharacteristically shy.

Overall, another great day in the magical world of Disney.

Toy Story, Star Wars, and Mickey, Oh My!

Our second day on our recent Disney World trip was spent in Hollywood Studios. Due to the extreme popularity of the new Star Wars land – Galaxy’s Edge, we knew this would be our most crowded day. The park opened at 7am, and we had to be there early to be sure that we were in the park already when it opened so that we could get a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance. The new ride is so popular that the only way to ride is get a boarding group at park opening. I’m pretty sure all of the rides for the day were sold out in only a couple minutes on the day we were there.

In the dark, waiting for the park to officially open to get that boarding pass!

Rise of the Resistance is more than just a ride. It is an immersive experience that takes about twenty minutes. You are ushered to different areas to follow along with the story. The walk takes you inside and outside. You are on a special mission, and then eventually get captured by Kylo Ren and the Stormtroopers. It was a cool ride, even for those not as familiar with Star Wars.

Part of the experience is even being ordered around by the Imperial officers and the Stormtroopers.

Getting our boarding passes right at 7:00 on the dot, our boarding group was called around lunchtime. This was convenient, and we did not have to stay in the park all day to make sure we didn’t miss our chance to ride.

We decided not to wait in line for the other new ride in Galaxy’s Edge, Millennium Falcon – Smuggler’s Run. Maybe next time! We did do Star Tours, however, and explore the land.

We even got breakfast at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo with all of its themed food. We had Mustafarian cinnamon rolls and Bright Suns breakfast platters. It was all tasty.

While my husband was excited to visit Galaxy’s Edge, I was most excited to see Toy Story Land! We skipped Hollywood Studios on our last Disney World trip, because so much of it was under construction for the two new lands. Toy Story Land opened a couple of months after our last visit to WDW.

The whole area is themed with bright colors and toys! It is very fun. I also loved how they had added some Christmas decorations in for the holidays.

We rode both of the new rides in Toy Story Land. Alien Swirling Saucers was our first ride of the day, so we didn’t have to wait long.

I also rode Slinky Dog Dash (even though I had my eyes closed). I am not a roller coaster person, and in all of my trips to Disney World I have never ridden on any of the mountains (Splash, Space, Big Thunder)! I know, I know, I’m a baby. I was excited about Slinky Dog though, because of the cute theme. It’s also cool because it goes all around the land.

We left the crowded park at mid-day to go back to the hotel and relax and swim. We returned in the evening to do a few attractions and see Fantasmic. I bought us tickets to the Fantasmic dessert VIP package so that we could have great seats without waiting in line. We sat front and center.

When you purchase the dessert package, you get a whole tray of desserts, a light up necklace, and a light up glass (with margarita inside)! Look at all of the tasty treats!

To me, the dessert package was worth it. We got more food than we could even eat, drinks, and great seats. This was the cheapest nighttime dessert package that I saw out of all the parks.

The show was awesome. It is full of fireworks, special effects, water, story, and characters!

And of course the light up cups were quite useful for a hotel disco dance party the next day!

Happy New Year in Magic Kingdom

We started this new year and new decade off right, at Walt Disney World!

We went to the park first thing in the morning so that we could rope drop Seven Dwarves Mine Train. Crowds were heavy, but not too too bad, probably because so many people had stayed up late the night before.

I have never been to Disney World during the holidays before, so I was happy to see that many of the Christmas decorations were still up. I would love to come back before Christmas one year and attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party.

Since it was New Year’s Day, we all wore matching Mickey Happy New Year’s shirts.

Since it was a busy day (and my husband is not a morning until night GoGoGoer like me), we did not get to do everything. That’s okay though since we are fortunate enough to be able to make it to Disneyworld once every couple years. We still managed to ride a few of my favorites.

Of course, some of the fun of Disney goes beyond the attractions to the little details and fun things lurking around every corner.

We didn’t stake out front row seats to the afternoon Festival of Fantasy parade, but were able to watch it from a distance in the green space at the end of Main street. The floats are fun to see.

And what better to enjoy while watching the parade then a special treat from Plaza Ice Cream Parlor!

What a way to usher in the New Year!

Disneybounding!

On my most recent trip to Walt Disney World was the first time I participated in the trend of disneybounding. Disneybound is a term coined by Leslie Kay, who runs the website and instagram account. Disneybounding is the putting together of an outfit inspired by a Disney character. Adults are not allowed to wear costumes in the Disney parks. Disneybounding is a fun way to dress up as your favorite character using clothes that you already have in your closet or found at the mall.

I have wanted to Disneybound ever since my good friend introduced me to the concept. I have followed the Instagram account and love seeing all the cute outfits that people come up with. For my first attempt at Disneybounding, I wanted to make sure that I stuck with characters that would be easily recognizable, as I think that makes it more fun. Serious Disneybounders attempt outfits inspired by even the more obscure characters.

On our recent trip, we were in the parks for four days (one day in each park). Our first day was New Year’s day in Magic Kingdom. My mother-in-law bought us matching Mickey Happy New Year’s shirts that we wore for the occasion. That left three Disneybounds for me to put together.

Our second park was Hollywood Studios. This was my first visit to Hollywood Studios since both Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land opened. I have been so excited to visit Toy Story Land, so I chose Woody as my Disneybound character.

I found the perfect yellow plaid shirt at Old Navy, which I paired with my regular jeans and brown boots. I bought a cute bandana headband from Claire’s and even ordered a cow print scrunchie to wear on my wrist from Amazon. It was perfect, and I was easily recognizable as Woody.

I bought my daughter this adorable Buzz Lightyear dress from Presley Couture. As a pair, we got a lot of attention as we walked through the busy park.

The best part, of course, was meeting with the characters. Both Buzz and Jessie were super excited to see us in our outfits.

We even got attention from the other performers and characters. The Citizens of Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard asked me if I had ANDY written on the bottom of my boot. (Sadly, I did not).

Vampirina wanted to fly like Buzz with my daughter.

And Fancy Nancy was jealous of her stormtrooper tattoo. She was begging her castmember to allow her to get a tattoo, and even wrote on her wrist with her pen (much to the castmember’s chagrin)!

Our next park day was Animal Kingdom. I decided to Disneybound as Minnie Mouse. I already had the red and white polka dot Keds (that I wear on every Disney trip) and the Minnie Mouse ears. I ordered the polka dot skirt from Amazon and paired it with a black shirt.

I got a lot of compliments from parkgoers on this cute ensemble also. My daughter wore a Minnie Mouse shirt. Later in the day, her Nonna bought her some cute Minnie ear barrettes to add to her look.

Our final park day was Epcot. Norway has always been my favorite country in the World Showcase, even long before it added the Frozen touches. I disneybounded as Anna, while my daughter dressed as Elsa.

For this outfit, I was able to wear all clothes that I had in my closet already, except for the two sets of Presley Couture ears and my daughter’s Presley Couture dress. The ears really made the outfit pop though! I work blue tights, black boots, a black top, magenta sweater and brown belt. It looked perfect. I wore my hair in pigtails with some Anna barrettes and even added the detail of a snowflake necklace.

Again the other characters were excited to see my daughter dressed as Elsa. Joy was overjoyed, as were Wreck-it-Ralph and Vanellope!

Of course, the day would not be complete without meeting Elsa and Anna themselves. They were wearing their new outfits from Frozen II, which was super exciting, even though we didn’t match!

Overall, I had so much fun Disneybounding and cannot wait to do it again on future Disney trips!

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

I spent the past three days in New Orleans attending a conference. Yesterday, I had some extra time between sessions during my lunch break and decided to walk into the French Quarter to visit the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, since I had never been there.

It is the perfect size museum for a short, lunch break visit. It is located on two floors, so not accessible to those who can’t climb a big flight of stairs. There are lots of interesting exhibits and plenty of fascinating information.

There were many tools used by both pharmacists and doctors, illustrating the evolution of medicine.

It was interesting to read about the use of certain substances for medicinal purposes that are now considered illicit or still being studied, such as marijuana and heroin. It was especially interesting reading about the problems with prescription opiod addiction in the 19th century, in light of the current crisis our nation is facing.

There was an even an exhibit on alcohol and spirits used medicinally. Pictured below is a prescription for alcohol written during prohibition.

The shelves were filled with all different sorts of medicines, arranged by the type of ailments they treated.

Here is a leech jar. Thankfully, there were no leeches in the museum. I have always had quite the irrational fear of leeches.

Pharmacies also used to be soda fountains.

The museum is full of interesting facts and history.

There was even a section on voodoo medicine, which of course has a strong history in New Orleans.

The topics covered in the small museum are quite thorough.

I feel like I learned a lot with all of the exhibits.

There is even a nice little courtyard located at the back of the museum.

If you are visiting the French Quarter, I definitely think it is an interesting place to spend an hour or so, if you like museums. It costs only $5 for general admission, which is worth it for all the cool things you get to see.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

I was fortunate enough to spend a week recently in Hot Springs, Arkansas. My aunt and uncle rented a house on the lake and were kind enough to invite me along. We had a great family trip and my daughter got to hang out with some of her cousins.

The house we stayed in had a pool, hot tub, kayaks, and a canoe.

Hot Springs National Park is unique because it includes downtown and Bathhouse Row. The old bathhouses all still stand, although most have been transformed into something else. Across from Bathhouse Row are shops and restaurants and such. The green spaces of the park are located directly behind Bathhouse Row.

Buckstaff Baths is the only traditional bathhouse still in operation. My aunt and I went and had the traditional experience, including a soak in the tub that was filled with mineral water straight from the springs. After that we were covered in hot towels, which was a bit intense. Then I sat in a steam closet, had a sitz bath, and a needle shower. It was an interesting experience.

The Fordyce Bathhouse has been turned into a museum about the history of the bathhouses in Hot Springs.

One day, we took the children to the Mid-America Science Museum, which I highly recommend. There was lots of hands-on fun inside and a dinosaur trail and skywalk outside.

Another day we visited Garvan Woodland Gardens, which was fun and pretty, but very hot! There were free strollers available, and my five year old had me pushing her uphill through the gravel! The botanical gardens are part of the University of Arkansas. There was a tree house and lots of other places to hang out and play.

Hot Springs was a nice, laid back little place. It was a fun place for a family visit.

Dining in Montreal

My final post about Montreal concerns my favorite topic, food! I love to eat. When I travel, I love to try different restaurants and different types of food. Montreal is an international city with lots of different types of food. We didn’t get to try it all, but here are the restaurants that we did get to visit.

Our first meal of the trip was at Brit and Chips. We ordered some fish and chips, specifically the maple battered haddock. I figured since we’re in Montreal, I should order anything with maple syrup! We also ordered our first poutine of the trip. Poutine is the most famous Quebecois dish, consisting of french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy. The restaurant was casual, quick, affordable, and tasty!

At Maison Christian Faure Patisserie, we stopped in and got three different fancy desserts. They were delicious!

Occasionally, when traveling with a 5 year old, one is required to stop at McDonald’s for some poulet mccroquettes.

One of our dinners was at La Maison du Magret, a restaurant completely devoted to duck! As a complimentary appetizer, we were given some duck rillettes and bread. We ordered duck confit and duck poutine. It was all tasty.

It’s always important to get ice cream while on vacation.

One of the mornings, we got breakfast at Allo! Mon Coco, a chain in Quebec. The food was good although service was slow. I had a strawberry flambee on crepes bretonne!

After the first big crepe of the trip, we went to two more creperies! My daughter had spaghetti and meat sauce and garlic bread at both. First, we went to Chez Suzette in Old Montreal. All of the crepes were delicious! We had dinner crepes and a dessert crepe.

We ended up at our second creperie the next day after our intended destination ended up being too crowded. It was a family restaurant in the Mont Royal area of town, called Creperie Bretonne Ty-Breiz. I ordered a smoked salmon crepe.

I also ordered escargot and took a picture of my daughter’s face when I told her that I was eating snails. Yum!

Our hotel was connected to the World Trade Center, so a few mornings I grabbed a quick breakfast at La Fabrique de Bagel. Montreal is famous for their bagels, which are thinner and crunchier than the New York bagels you may be used to. There is nothing better than smoked salmon on a bagel!

One night, we went to C’Chocolat for dinner. A chocolate restaurant for a well-rounded dinner. They actually have sandwiches and salads and such, but we just ordered dessert. We had hot chocolate with marshmallows, a liege waffle, and their signature dessert – the c’wow. It was a chocolate dome which was melted tableside by hot caramel revealing the yummy stuff inside, which included waffle, brownie, gelato, crumble, berries, and pecans.

One of our lunches was at Reuben’s Deli and Steakhouse, downtown. They are famous for their smoked meat sandwiches. The coleslaw was particularly tasty.

For our last meal of the trip, we decided to walk to Chinatown. We ate at Chez Chili, and it was very tasty. We had some pork ribs, dumplings, fried rice, and fried bananas!

I hope you have enjoyed my series of posts about our trip to Montreal. We had a great time there, and like always, I enjoyed trying all the food!

Notre Dame de Bon Secours and Chateau Ramezay

For our last afternoon in Montreal, I explored Vieux Montreal on my own, while my husband and daughter went back to the hotel for a swim. My first stop was Chapelle Notre Dame de Bon Secours. This church was built by Marguerite Bourgeoys. The chapel became a favorite place of prayer for sailors and has some model boats hanging from the ceiling.

In the chapel, I also visited the Marguerite Bourgeoys museum. She was a French nun who founded the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal. She developed a convent and a school for girls, the poor, and First Nations children. It was an uncloistered community. There were exhibits on her life and little miniature scenes of her whole life.

Next, a tour guide took me down into the archaelogical site below the chapel. Recently, they have found the remains of the original chapel, constructed in 1675, that was destroyed by a fire.

Back upstairs, there was also a temporary exhibit full of the paper sculptures of artist, Claude Lafortune.

Next, I climbed up the top of the tower, which has the highest view of Old Montreal.

Next, I walked to Chateau Ramezay, a residence built in the 18th century. Its exhibits cover over 500 years of Montreal history.

There was a really interesting temporary exhibit called War Flowers. It told several stories from World War I through the senses, including pressed flowers. At each exhibit, you could press a button a smell the associated scent. It was a touching exhibit.

Redpath Museum and Barbie Expo

We visited the Redpath Museum on the campus of McGill University in Montreal. As listed on their website, “its mandate is to foster understanding and appreciation of the diversity of our biological, geological, and cultural heritage through scientific research, collections-based study, and education.”

There were many animal specimens.

There were also lots of historical artifacts, including mummies, and lots of shells and gems.

Overall, it was an interesting little museum, but smaller than I expected. The building was not air conditioned and is not handicap accessible. If one is in the area, I suggest a visit, but it was not a must see. There is no cost to enter, but there is a suggested donation.

Next, we walked to the Barbie Expo, which is a free exhibit located in Les Cours Mont Royal, an upscale mall. I was entirely too excited about walking around and looking at all of the Barbies!

Many of the Barbies had outfits designed by different designers.

There were also many Barbies designed to be famous people or famous characters.

I took pictures of almost every Barbie. But I will not post them all for you, just a few highlights. There were hundreds of Barbies!

There were Barbies representing different countries around the world.

My daughter and I even transformed into Barbies for a short moment.

It was a fun visit if you like Barbies and are in the area.