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!

Toy Story 4 Birthday Party

As my daughter’s school class gets bigger every year (not to mention all of the other friends and family), I decided to take it easy and forego the huge birthday party this year that we normally do. She had one school friend over last week for a special extended play date, and they had a great time.

I still wanted to throw a party though, just on a smaller scale. We had a few friends and family over for a Toy Story 4 themed party at our house. The cute invite came from moolaparty on Etsy.

I couldn’t help but use cute little themed food labels to make it fun. The labels came from lunabirthdays on Etsy. Some of the label ideas were my own. Others I found on Pinterest.

The drink station idea came from Pinterest. I glued the googly eyes to make alien cups, and my daughter drew the mouths (so each one was unique).

To Infini-Tea and Beyond!

In addition to some Pizza Planet pizza, we had gumbo. I couldn’t relate gumbo to Toy Story until my brother came up with Gum-Bo Peep!

The cake was designed to look like Bo Peep’s outfit and was made by Les Amis Bake Shoppe.

We also had Forky cookie favors made by Cookie Rouge. She always does the best work!

We even played a game of Pin the Tail on Bullseye. This download came from itsacowsopinion on Etsy.

It may have been a small party, but I couldn’t help myself going crazy with the details. My little family also wore themed shirts.

It was a party success!

Seize the Day

Musical Theater.  It is the absolute best.  They take a story and tell it through song, and it goes from good to great.  I think it is because songs tap into a deep emotional side of us. Add in some drama and dance and you are good to go.

Last night, I went to see Theatre Baton Rouge’s production of Disney’s Newsies.  I had never seen Newsies before, neither on stage or the film. I know – I’m behind the times.  It was excellent, like every musical I’ve seen at TBR is. There is something extra special about community theatre.  Seeing all that amazing talent and knowing that these are the kids, doctors, teachers, etc. who reside and work right here in Baton Rouge.  

The singing, dancing, acting, and production were all great.  It is an inspirational tale of the Newsboys strike of 1899. If you haven’t seen it yet, they added two dates next week that still have tickets.  I guess I need to get around to watching the movie now.

I’m not a toy!

My daughter and I went to the first showing of Toy Story 4 this morning. Like everyone else, I’ve been a fan of Toy Story since the release of the first film 24 years ago. Each of the films has been great, including this one. I think that spacing them out this much really ups the nostalgia factor, but they are each great movies on their own. (The trailer for Frozen’s sequel, however, is looking a bit intense.)

The movie is funny and full of all of our old loveable favorite characters. Several new characters are also introduced, including Duke Kaboom and of course, the loveable Forky! I thought Forky was just going to be a funny side character, but he actually turns out to be a major part of the movie.

Ultimately, this movie is about Woody, Andy’s original favorite toy. If you are emotionally attached to Disney movies (as I am), the ending is bittersweet. You may even cry.

I was the only person in the theater who stayed all the way until the end of the credits for the final post-credit scene. The four teenage movie theater employees stood by and waited for me to leave so that they could start their clean-up of the theater. There are several different scenes during the credits. The one at the very end is cute, but not worth staying for if you’re not really into that sort of a thing. It’s just an extra joke. But I like to get the full experience.

Now to just save my money for a trip to Disney World, so that I can experience Toy Story Land!