Disney World in the Fall

I just don’t have it in me to do several blog posts for our Disney World trip last month like I normally do. But I would like to share a few of my pictures. This trip was a lot of firsts for me. First of all, we were there at the very start of the 50th anniversary celebration.

There were special decorations, treats, shows, and more. One of my favorite things to find were the 50 golden statues spread around the parks.

It was also my first time to ever attend Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. I love trying new foods and you can try so much more when they come in small portions!

This was also my first time to Disney World during the Halloween season. We attended the Boo Bash, which is a special after hours event in Magic Kingdom. Not only were their fun character calvacades and spooky decorations, but it was an excellent way to go on rides without waiting in line.

Included in the ticket price is unlimited drinks, popcorn, and ice cream.

Halloween parties are also the only time that adults are allowed to wear costumes, and we saw some really great ones. We did not go all out, however. Just wore some dalmatian accessories to match our little Cruella.

I also rode several rides for the first time ever on this trip, some new and some old.

This trip was the first time that I ever got to ride the Avatar ride, Flight of Passage, even though we have been to Disney World a few times since it has opened. I never got a fast pass for it, however, and this was the first time it didn’t have a 3 hour wait for us. It is truly an amazing ride.

I also rode Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for the first time ever. I know, I know. Why? Because I’m scared of roller coasters, even the smaller ones. But I decided that I had better visit Splash Mountain before it was re-imagined into a Princess and the Frog ride, since it is such an iconic Disney attraction. It wasn’t even bad. I had just built it up in my head. Here is me with my eyes closed on the drop.

Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure had just opened when we arrived.

I’ll share some pictures from each park. We spent two days in Hollywood Studios. We accomplished a lot in the first day of our trip. By the last day (our 2nd HS day), it was too crowded to do much, as it was the start of the Columbus day weekend.

Walt Disney Presents is an interesting museum all about Walt himself.

We went to the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater for the first time. It is a truly unique dining experience, eating in the cars and watching the movies. Food is good too!

Some pictures from our day in Animal Kingdom

We did the Animation Experience at Conservation Station. We drew Ed the hyena from Lion King.

We spent two half days in Epcot.

We visited Magic Kingdom twice. Once during the Boo Bash and one other day. It was more crowded on our full day in the park, so I was glad that we had the opportunity to ride a bunch during the party.

We had a great trip. We even had a bit of swim time at our off-property resort.

Cruella

This is my review of the new Disney film, Cruella. I love Disney. I enjoy watching all of the live-action remakes or retellings. Villian origin stories are particularly compelling, because I love the idea of hearing the stories we know and love from a different point of view. It is also important to remember, that unlike in the movies, people are not all good or all bad. We all fluctuate on the same continuum.

My absolute favorite recent live action Disney film is Maleficent. Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of a different kind of fairy who’s story is much more complicated than Sleeping Beauty would you have you believe is captivating.

Although I love a good villian origin story, I was a little leery of Cruella. How are they going to make someone who desires to kill puppies sympathetic? I absolutely hate movies with any type of animal cruelty. Thankfully, Cruella focuses very little on the dogs. It’s a much more human story with dogs as the side story. A 101 Dalmatians purist may not like that, but for me it made the story much more palatable. Although, this entire movie takes place prior to the story line we see in 101 Dalmatians, so who knows where it could go if they make a second movie.

The movie was really fun. It was full of drama and fashion and fun characters and revenge. I highly recommend it to all Disney movie fans. I enjoyed it more than I expected to and give it a full 5 stars!

The option to see the movie in a theater or through premier access through Disney Plus is great for large groups. It was much cheaper to purchase the Premier Access and watch it with my whole family. We were staying in a cabin in the mountains near Pigeon Forge. Our cabin had a movie room (with old movie seats, not the fancy recliners of today’s theaters and a projector. The perfect way to feel like we were at the movies, while still being able to pause the movie for bathroom breaks or more popcorn!

Pixar’s Soul

We watched the new Pixar movie Soul bright and early this morning after playing with Santa’s gifts for a bit. It is the perfect “looking on the bright side” film for this blog.

Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey star as Joe Gardner and 22 as they journey to find their sparks and soul’s purpose.

It is funny. It is heartwarming. It is jazzy. It is about appreciating the small things in life. It is about staying connected to the important things.

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!

My Christmas Tree

Tonight, my daughter and I decorated our Christmas tree. We are not the kind of family with super posh and coordinated holiday decorations. But I loooove my Christmas tree.

My husband pulls the fake tree out of the closet. I turn on the Hanson Christmas albums. And we start decorating.

As I place each ornament on the tree, I smile and reflect on a special memory. You see, while my ornaments may not all match, each and every one is part of my story. I love to travel. On every trip I take, I carefully select an ornament to add to my collection. Each year, as I decorate the tree, I get to think about all of the places I have been.

These are the ornaments that I collected just this past year in 2019!

I have so many favorite ornaments that I cannot share them all. Here are a few.

Of course, we also have lots of Disney ornaments, so I get something different each visit.

Not all of our Christmas ornaments are from travel. Many are special because they were handmade by my grandmother. She has given me many homemade ornaments over the years. These are just a couple.

She made these elephants for my baby shower.
These even have a special tag on the back to show that she made them.

Some ornaments don’t represent my travels, but rather my home!

St. Charles streetcar and a Mignon Faget oyster shell.

Other ornaments represent important life events. The church plaque pictured below is where my husband and I got married. The long thin Santa shell was bought on our honeymoon. The angel shell is from my daughter’s baptism.

And of course, like any good tree, there are the Christmas ornaments made by the hands of a small child at school or elsewhere.

My tree is eclectic. But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Tonight, the Maleficent sequel came out and my family was there to see it. The first Maleficent film was the first movie I went to see in theaters after my daughter was born. If you have not seen it, it is amazing! It is probably my favorite live action Disney film.

It is a villain back story that shows good vs. evil is not always black and white. In that way, it is like the Broadway musical, Wicked, which is also excellent if you have not seen it. I am actually surprised that Disney has not put out more villain back story movies, as they seem to be cranking out live action films so regularly.

When I first saw the previews for the sequel, I was a bit put off as the previews all focused on Maleficent as evil. It annoyed me, because that was in direct contrast to the first film’s premise. One can tell in the preview that Michelle Pfeiffer’s character would probably end up being the actual bad guy (which is true), but it only showed Maleficent getting angry.

Of course, the preview does not tell the whole story. This was a film about war vs peace. Acceptance over intolerance. The film is stunningly beautiful. The visuals are enchanting.

The movie may be a bit dark for many young children, although my daughter loves both of them. Angelina Jolie is perfect as Maleficent.

We love Maleficent in my family. My daughter just recently did a Maleficent themed photo shoot. I can’t wait to see all of the pictures. She was gorgeous and is a great model. I also ordered a headpiece so that I can be Maleficent for Halloween this year. My daughter is going as Mal from the Descendants, so my husband and I will be her parents (Maleficent and Hades).

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a beautiful fantasy film with a great message. I love it!