Monday, April 3, 2023

Day 5: Animal Kingdom

For our fifth and final day at the park we headed to Animal Kingdom. We started off the day booking our first Lightning Lane for Expedition Everest from 9:15-10:15 and purchased our Lightning Lane for Avatar Flight of Passage for 1:25-2:25. Once again, we made good time in the morning, especially considering this was the earliest day, getting to the park just at the end of early entry. Once we arrived we headed straight to Na'vi River Journey which was a walk on. Even walking through the line there was a couple who sensed we were in a hurry and let us go ahead. At the front, our family was the only one on our boat since there was no one there.

From there we walked over to Kilimanjaro Safaris. We were on the ride around 8:30, thirty minutes after park opening. Once finished we walked through the Gorilla Fall Exploration Trail, specifically so we could see the hippos there for my daughter. After that it was time for our Everest Lighingt Lane, so we we went to find the yeti. Afterwards we backtracked a bit to walk through the Maharaja Jungle Trek so my son could see the Tigers.

We decided to go to see Feathered Friends in Flight, which was just as fun as I had heard. While waiting for the show to start we mobile ordered Flame Tree Barbecue, so that was waiting to us once the show ended. I had the 1/2 Chicken (Marinated Slow-smoked Chicken served with Signature Baked Beans and Coleslaw), my husband the Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich, daughter the Pulled Pork Platter, and son the All-Beef Hot Dog. This was another meal that we all really enjoyed and were impressed with.

After lunch we went to watch Finding Nemo: The Big Blue... and Beyond, I believe at the 11:30 show. We finished and had a bit of time before our next two Lightning Lanes (Dinosaur from 1:10-2:10 and Flight of Passage from 1:25-2:25.) We figured we'd kill a bit of time and let the kids run off some energy playing in The Boneyard. Except each time just before our lighting lane opened, the ride shut down. So instead of playing for 15-20 mintues or so, we were in there around an hour. (I did use this time to book our next Lightning Lane, this time at Epcot to ride Soarin' Around the World for a second time this trip.)

Finally around 2 or so, Flight of Passage opened back up. We walked there as quickly as we could, but the line was already out the entrance by the time we arrived. Thankfully it moved fairly quickly. Dinosaur was open by the time we got off, but we were ready to leave at that point and figured it was one we could skip. We did buy a churro on our way out of the park, and then took the bus over to Epcot. (I bought park hoppers for our entire trip, but this was the only time we used it. Looking back we really didn't need it, but I still think I'd do it again, just because you never know how things will go.)
2022-12-21 - Epcot - Epcot Entrance (5)
While on the bus I booked a Lightning Lane for Spaceship Earth between 4:05-5:05 since we didn't have a chance to ride it on our Epcot day. While waiting for our Lightning Lane to open we took picutres with Spaceship Earth as well as Goofy.
2022-12-21 - Epcot - Epcot (5)
I had my first ride ever on Spaceship Earth, then we headed over to the Seas. (Another area we had missed and that I had never been.) We walked onto The Seas with Nemo & Friends, looked into some of the acquariums, and then went to a show of Turtle Talk with Crush.

From there we headed over to Soarin' for our last ride of the trip. As we were getting ready to ride we ran into one of Bear's friends from school. Since of course, sometime it feels like you can't go on a trip anywhere without running into someone you know from home.

Finally we headed over to France for our last dinner at Chefs de Fance. This was probably the meal I was most excited about, except it was probably the most disappointing of the trip. It wasn't bad, but wasn't as good as I expected, nor was it as good as most other meals we ate. I had the Boeuf Bourguignon with linguine (Braised beef in Cabernet, baby onions, carrots, pasta). The beef itself was good, but the pasta was plain pasta without enough juice to flavor it. The carrots were good, but there were no baby onions, which I really like. I'm pretty sure the boy had the same. I think Bear had their hamburger and Elley their grilled chicken. (The chicken was probably the best part of the meal.)

From there we headed back to the hotel. We flying home the next day, but since the flight wasn't till early evening still had time for a bit of fun for the morning. Till that final post, here's our Insta posts for the day!

Monday, March 6, 2023

Day 4: Hollywood Studios

Our next day at the parks was at Hollywood Studios. Out of all the days, the waits were by far the worst this day. Even with a strong plan, we wound up missing out on a couple of things we likely would have enjoyed. Things started out strong bookling an Individual Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance from 10:30-11:20 and a Lightning Lane for Slinky Dog Dash from 11:20-12:20. We were then at the park right around Early Entry and went right to Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway. The line was longer, but moved pretty quickly.

For park opening we made it to Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, which already had a wait of about 20 minutes. We were off around 9 am. At this point the park had been open for 30 mintues and the lines were all already so long. And we had over an hour till we could book a Lightning Lane or till we could use our next one. So for likely one of the worst decisions of the trip, opted to wait in a 40 minute line for Alien Swirling Saucers. (Honestly what felt like the longest wait of the trip.)

We were off right around 10:20, which ment the park had been open for less than 2 hours, and we had been on a total of 3 rides. Looking back that's about the same amount of rides we did in the first two hours as the other day, but it felt so much longer this time. We walked back to Galaxy's Edge for Smugglers Run. Of course, our next Lighting Lane opened while we were in the pre-board area. I tried to book Tower of Terror, but it sold out immeadiately. (They were only operating one side during our visit and the posted wait was around 2 hours the majority of the day. This was the one ride I really wish we could have rode. Yes, we've technically rode in California, except it's not quite the same with the Guardians retheme.) So instead, I booked a Lightning Lane for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster from 2:35-3:35, which was the only ride my son wasn't quite tall enough for.
2022-12-20 - Disneys Hollywood Studios - Slinky Dog Dash
We did ride Rise of the Resistance, which I do think lived up to all the hype. (Unlike Smugglers run, which I wouldn't necessarily see us prioritizing again.) We wandered a bit in Galaxy's Edge then went back to Toy Story Land for our Lightning Lane for Skliny Dog. (A fun little roller coaster!) While in line I mobile ordered our lunch at Docking Bay 7, back in Galaxy's edge.

I had the Batuuan Beef and Crispy Topato Stir-fry (Smoky Braised Beef glazed in Tamarind Sauce. Served with Stir Fried Mushrooms and Vegetables, Crispy Herb Yucca, Pickled Onions, and Cilantro), the boy had the Smoked Kaadu Pork Ribs, Elley had the Ithorian Pasta Rings, and Bear the Fried Chicken Tip Yip Youngling Meal. This was another really strong quick service meal.

From here all the waits were so long (most were an hour if not more!), and our next Lightning Lane was about 2 hours away, so we planned to see some shows. First we went to see Muppet*Vision 3D, something I hadn't made it to on our last Disney World trip. (As it was ending I booked our next Lightning Lane for Star Tours for 3:15-4:15.) Then went to see the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacualar. (Something else I had never seen, unless you count the Full House episode when they watched it which is strong in my memories) Then to the Disney Junior Play and Dance! (Something I had done before, but at California Adventures.)
2022-12-20 - Disneys Hollywood Studios - Rock n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
At this point our Lightning Lane or Rock 'n' Roller Coaster finally opened, so we Walked That Way. I origonally thought The Boy and Bear could go to Lightning McQueen's Racing Academy while we were riding, but of course it closed as we were walking over. So instead they had a snack while we were on (a churro and a Sprite, which resulted in a bit of a meltdown from the one who didn't receive a churro once she found out.)

From there it was time for our last Lightning Lane for Star Tours. By the time we had been availible to book another, there weren't great options. After we got off the ride we still had a couple of hours before dinner, and could have seen some different shows. (Frozen or Beauty and the Beast were likely options.) Instead though we opted to head back to the hotel and rest for a bit.

For dinner that night we had reservations at Sanaa at 6:45. While at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, it was at the other section, so we took a shuttle to Kidani Village. We wer actually meeting a friend of mine and her husband for dinner that night since they lived in the area. Of course we split the bread service, because how could you go there and not order it. I then had Potjie Inspired with Butter Chicken and Rajma Masala. I think my husband had the same, but with Lentil Daal. Then my daughter also had the Butter Chicken and I think my son may have had a cheeseburger. Then since there was someone else to split desserts with me we had the Serradura (Butterscotch Pudding, Almond Coffee Streusel, Pineapple, Mango, and Breton Shortbread) and African Triple Chocolate Mousse (Dark Chocolate from Ghana, Milk Chocolate from Madagascar, Blonde Chocolate, Chocolate Almond Biscuit, and Strawberries).

Both kids were basically ready to fall asleep at the table at this point so we called it a night, taking a shuttle back to our hotel, and doing Hanuakkah where each received a new pair of PJs. (I was really intentional about having a lot of their gifts with things we were packing anyway.) From here we have only one more full day, so soon, I'll be back talking about our last day at Animal Kingdom. Till then, here's the Instagram post from our day at the Studios!

Monday, February 27, 2023

Day 3: Away from the Parks

Our third day was our day away from the Parks. I guess you could say it was a day off, although we still did quite a bit. First we had breakfast reservations at 'Ohana for the Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch. I had planned out our transportation plan, so we took a bus to Magic Kingdom n to monorail there, so we could use all the funs ways of travel. Except when we went to board they told us the monorail would be temporarily closed, and they weren't sure when it would be back. Luckily there is a boat from the Magic Kingdom to the Polynesian so it wasn't too difficult of a change.

Breaksfast wound up being really good, and a lot of fun. It's a family style meal, so nothing unquie to share about what we ate, although we did go through a lot of waffles. Elley was wearing a Lusisa dress from Only Little Once, and she loved how all the characters kept noting on how strong she must be. Lilo was especailly adorable and pointed to herself and Elley to note that they both were strong. Along with Lilo and Stitch, Pluto was there too.

After breakfast we took the bus to Disney Springs. This was partly to go back and buy souvenirs, but also one of the easier ways to get back to our hotel. Elley wound up buying a mini stuffed Tianna with a clothing and backpack accessory (both Rainbow Pride themed). Bear wound up buying a stuffed Bolt (which is his absolulte favorite movie, so I was really excited to hear from someone else they might have Bolts, and to find him), a lightsaber, and a Hawkeye bow and arrow set. We were able to go into the Lego store this time (last time there had been a long line to get in). And I also was able to sneak to the Christmas store to buy them each a Christmas ornament.

From there we went back to the hotel. The boy actually went to the hotel gym to work out and I took the kids for a swim at the pool. It really wasn't that warm, so we weren't there that long, but both did have a couple of tries on the slide.

We had an early dinner reservation (which made sense since we didn't really have lunch) at 4:30 for Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White. Being at the Wilderness Lodge we again went to Magic Kingdom and this time took an intentional boat ride to get there. This was one of the best meals of the trip. (Although The Boy would say likely not worth the $300 we paid for it!) The meal starts with a set of shared appetizers and then each person picks their main dish. I had the A Stroll through Nature (Asparagus, Leeks, Arugula, Gnocchi, Sage, Parmesan). The Boy had the Royal Prime Rib Roast and Elley also had the kids Prime Rib (which wasn't as good as the adult portion since it was quite well done). Bear had their grilled chicken. There was a shared dessert too where we each had 4 diffferent small bites.
2022-12-19 - Disneys Wilderness Lodge - Disneys Wilderness Lodge (13)
Snow White, Grumpy, and Dopey all walked to the table. Sometimes the Evil Queen is there, but she wasn't that night. Instead the area where she'd normally met was set up for a photo session.
2022-12-19 - Disneys Wilderness Lodge - Disneys Wilderness Lodge (8)
So that was our day off, which you can see, wasn't really a day off. After dinner we went back to the hotel for Hanukkah where each kid recieved a Hanukkah themed book and since it was somewhat of an earlier night, we had time to read both.

Up next is our day at Hollywood Studios, where we had some of the worst waits of the trip, but first, here's the Instagram photos from the day!

Monday, February 6, 2023

Day 2: Epcot

Our second day we headed to Epcot. To back up though, one thing I didn't note in my first post is how little my kids really cared about meeting characters. They would much rather spend their time rading rides. There were a couple of instances where I'd ask, especially at Magic Kingdom, if I should book our next Lighting Lane for a character or a ride, and it was always a ride. I somewhat suspected this, which is part of why I didn't book Bippity Boppity Boutique. Although I thought she'd notice and comment on the makeovers, but never once did. I do think if we had taken the trip on either of the earlier times, that would have been different. But this time they were completely focused on rides.

Back to the day at hand, starting at 7, I first went to book our Virtual Queue for Guardians... but it was already sold out. I couldn't quite beleive it and tried refreashing a couple more times in case it was a glitch. But no, completely gone. I was still able to book our Lightning Lane for Remy's (at 3:40) and then caved and bought Individual Lightning Lanes for Guardians. I thought about waiting to chance the afternoon virtual queue, but I couldn't do it. I asked the Boy for his opinion, and he told me it was a waste of money. So I only bought for the three of us (at 12:25), saving that little bit of money.
2022-12-18 - Epcot - Frozen Ever After
We didn't make as great time this day, and was in the park around 8:45 with 8:30 as the start of early entry. We rope dropped Frozen Ever After, and were on the ride just at 9am. From there we walked over to Soarin', where waits were already starting to build. From Soarin' to Living with the Land, which was all decked out for the holidays. Then we walked over to Journey Into Imagination with Figment.

Our visit was shortly after they gave the abilty to edit currently booked Lightning Lanes. While while in line for Figment I was able to update our Remy time to 12:45, so we could ride a lot sooner! Of course, it hit 11 while we were on Figment, and there's nothing like booking your next Lightning Lane while on a ride. I was able to book Test Track at 8:15, which I later was able to edit up to 1:20. After riding Figment we played for a bit in the Play pavillion. Both kids met Venelope from Wreck-It Ralph, but only my son wanted to meet Joy from Inside Out. It was right around 11:30 then so we decided to break for lunch stopping in Mexico for tacos at La Cantina de San Angel. I had the Tacos de Barbocoa (shredded beef), both kids had Chicken Tacos, and I believe my husband had Tacos de Pollo.
2022-12-18 - Epcot - Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind
After lunch it was time for our Lightning Lane for Guardians, so we walkted that way. (The start of multiple long walks bak and forth through the entire park). The ride wound up being so awesome, unlike any ride I'd been on before. Far worth paying for a ride in my opinion. That is me in the front row, hiding behind my hair. Just by my hair you can tell how quickly we were moving. We were off at around 1, so I figured I'd try entering the virtual queue and made it! The estimated wait was 8 hours, so I wasn't sure if we'd stay that late. But we had one just in case. (I even booked my husband this time, so he could experience it as well!)

I didn't book another Lightning Lane at this point. There just wasn't anything else we really wanted to do. We could have done Mission Space, but the Boy is still upset that I made him ride the spinning version with me a decade ago. Instead the thought was we'd wait till we were leaving and book Spaceship Earth on our way out.
2022-12-18 - Epcot - Test Track
Our Lighting Lane for Remy's Ratatouille Adventure went till 1:45, so we walked clear to the other side of the park to ride it. Then our Lightning Lane for Test Track went from 1:20-2:20, so we walked completely back to ride that one. A lot of walking and not what I'd recommend. I'll also add at this point, I decided for no strollers this trip. It might sound silly, but I know how many people are pro-stoller at Disney World. Honestly they did really well. Yes some complaining, especially this day when we walked back and forth the largest part multiple times, but overall I was pretty proud of how they did.
2022-12-18 - Epcot - Epcot (2)
Our plan for the rest of the afternoon was to wander through the countries in Epcot, till our dinner reservation in Canada. We started in Mexico, to walk our way towards dinner. While in Mexico we rode Gran Fiesta Tour which had a surprisingly long line. Most would say it isn't a ride worth a wait, but since we were already there, we stuck it out. While in Norway, Elley stopped for a mini-photoshoot. It was at the exit of the Anna and Elsa meet, which based on how I started this post, we opted not to wait for.
2022-12-18 - Epcot - Epcot
Our dinner reservation was at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada at 4:10. It honestly felt really early when I booked it, but we were so exhausted, the timing was fine. I actually was really unsure about this meal, and considered canceling it several times. But stuck with it, which wound up being a good thing, because it was one of our favorites. I started by splitting the French Onion Soup with Elley. Then split the Rib-Eye Steak with The Boy (Herbed Gruyere-Yukon Gold Potatoes, Onion Cognac Gravy, Crispy Onions). I think both kids had the Strip Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Risotto. (They loved their mashed potatoes!) Then for dessert I had Maple Creme Brulee (Maple Whipped Cream, Shortbread Maple Leaf Cookie).
2022-12-18 - Epcot - Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind (1)
As we were finishing up I realized it was about to be time for the last Hanukkah show that night, which I wanted to see since, coincidentally, it was the first night of Hanukkah, so we made our way to the America Pavillion. After that we walked back to the France Pavilion for a couple of desserts from the Patisserie. Right about this time, our virtual queue for Guardians opened, so we ended the night by one final ride on our way out.
Again, it was the first night of Hanukkah, so we celebrated once we got back to the hotel room. It was nothing crazy. I had bought a travel cloth menorah to light, and they each opened a present which were Hanukkah PJs to wear. But that was our second day at the parks. The next day we weren't going to a park, so things would be a little calmer. First though, theses are my Instagram posts from this day. The first, the majority of the day, and the second below ending with Hanukkah.
I'll plan to be back soon to make it through the rest!

Monday, January 23, 2023

Day 2: Magic Kingdon

I'll just start off this post by saying that I splurged on a lot for this trip. So yes, that meant I paid for individual lighting lanes each day. After all, who knew when we'd be back in Disney World. When we bought our tickets we were able to add Genie+, so we already had that as part of our tickets for each day. So for our first day, I paid for a lighting lane for Snow White Mine Train for 11:30-12:30. Then for my first Genie+ selection, I had Peter Pan at 10:30-11:30. (At all the times we've done Disneyland trips, we've never made a point to ride that one since the waits are always so long.)

One thing we didn't spurlge on though was breakfast. Each day we ate in our room, with a mix of cereal, instant grits, or oatmeal. We also bought reusable mugs, so each day I'd run downn for some coffee to drink in the morning. Overall we made good time and were on the bus before 8, with an early rope drop for 8:30. We were in line for Space Mountain almost exactly at 8:30, but noticed there was no time listed nor was the line moving... and it was 8:35 at this point. Employees came out to say the ride was closed, and they weren't sure when it was open. So we turned around, and were one of the first from the line to get to Astro Oriber. Then a ride on Buzz's Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin.
2022-12-17 - Magic Kingdom Park - Splash Mountain
At this point it was 9, and the park opened to non-hotel guests. We decided to head over to Splash Mountain, since I wasn't sure how quickly waits would build there, especially since it was closing so soon. (I will say as much as I love the ride, I like the idea of a Princess and the Frog retheme. I think it especially makes sense since the Br'er Rabbit tales were first written down in Louisiana.) So we were able to get one last ride one. Although, I'm hopeful it will still be open at Disneyland when we're there this spring, since I like their version better.

I'd also add that by deciding on Splash, we were opting out of Jingle Cruise. It's one we have been on at Disneyland (even holiday themed), and I was really trying to prioritize rides that are exclusive to Disney World. Also, with waits as long as they were, and not wanting to spend a Genie+ selection on it, there were better options for us to take.

After Splash we then waited for Pirates of the Caribbean, still which probably had only a 15 or 20 minute wait. I'm not positive, but I believe we walked over to Journey of the Little Mermaid at this point, to wait to get further into our time for Peter Pan. This was right around when we could book our next Genie+, so I booked one for Space Mountain for 3:50-4:50 so we could try again. We rode Peter Pan, and then rode Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, again waiting on our window, this time for Mine Train.
2022-12-17 - Magic Kingdom Park - Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
We stopped for lunch at this point, which I mobile ordered at Pinocchio Village Haus. This was probably the most "Theme Park-esque" meal we had the entire trip, and it really wasn't bad. I had the Margherira Flatbread (Flatbread with Tomato Suace, Shredded Mozzarella, Fresh Tomatoes, Mozzarellas Pearls, and a drizzle of Balsamic Glaze.) The boy had a Perpperoni Flatbread, and both kids had the Cheese Flatbread.

After lunch, we went to ride The Barnstomer. At this point it was 1pm, 2 hours after my last Genie+ selection, so I choose the Tomorrowland Speedway, with a pretty close window of 2-3pm. (Sidenote, why is it not called Autopia in Disney World? Anyone know???) While waiting the next hour, we first went on Mad Tea Party (better know as the Tea Cups). Then over to Tomorrowland where we went on Carousel of Progress and the People Mover. (Neither of which I ever remember riding since they closed so long ago at Disneyland.) Once we swiped into the Speedway, I booked our next Genie+ for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. (Origonally started at 5:45. Thankfully shortly before our visit they added the ability to modify selections, and were able to move it earlier to 4:05. Far more convienent with our 5:30 dinner reservation!)
2022-12-17 - Magic Kingdom Park - Plaza Garden East (5)
At this point I insisted we walk over to the castle so we could take our family picture together. It was 2:45 now and the parade started at 3, so we stayed to watch that.
2022-12-17 - Magic Kingdom Park - Main Street USA (1)
After the parade we walked over the Space Mountain to wait for our Genie+ window to open. We walked over and were about to swipe in, when the ride shut down. So for the second time, we didn't get to ride it that day. There were some tears, but thankfully our Big Thunder window was close, so we were able to walk that way to use our Genie+ selection there.

After we swiped in I booked a selection for Haunted Mansion, but not till 8. It wound up being late enough where we didn't ride it. Again, it's a ride that's in Disenyland, so while it would have been fun, no big loss.

Just before 4:30, we managed to take the last raft over to Tom Sawyer Island. While this is something that is at Disneyland, it's been years since I've been over, and the kids never had. They had a blast running around, and we only left as they were closing the island down. At this point, it was about 30 minutes before our dinner reservation at Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen. We walked over to see if they could take us early. In a way they could, but I think we had to wait about 20 minutes for a table.

Now this wound up being one of our favorite meals. I had the Baa Baa Lamb Chops (Spice-rubbed Lamb Chops, Chermoula, Cauliflower, Potatoes, Cipollini Onions, and Harissa Sauce, garnished with Preserved Lemons and Herbs.) I think The Boy had "Hardy Har Char" Siu Pork and asked for them to serve it with broccoli. The kids each had Macaroni and Cheese, which Elley proclaimed to be the best Macaroni and Cheese she'd ever had. We then walked over the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe for an order of Churro Nuggets (with a chocolate dipping sauce), apparently the only place in the park that served churros. (So differently from Disneyland which has carts everyway.)
2022-12-17 - Magic Kingdom Park - Space Mountain
I tried not to jinx things, but at this point Space Mountain had reopened, so for the third time that day walked over to ride. Third time was the charm, because we were finally able to ride it! From there we walked over to the castle to find a spot for fireworks. We watched and then made our way back to the hotel, since the next day was another early one, heading over to Epcot!
I shared all my official Disney photos throughout, but here's a look at my Instagram post from that day. There's some overlap, but several others if you want to scroll through. Even of course a look at my dinner!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

I'm here! With a Tale from Disney World!

This past December we took a family vacaction to Disney World. It's a trip I'd been planning for years, technically the third time trip we'd planned on taking over the last 6 years, but this time it actually happened!

We had first planned this trip for December 2016, but then I was pregnant. We'd decided a trip with a 1 month old baby wasn't the type of trip we wanted, for a variety of reasons, and rescheduled with plans to go in a couple of years.

We then planned again for Decemeber 2020, but COVID occured. Now the parks had reopened by December 2020, so technically we could have gone, but it wasn't the trip we wanted, so we canceled again.

Finally though we were able to make the trip happen for December 2022. Until it actually happened I kept thinking something would come up and we'd have to cancel again, but the days got closer and closer and nothing came up. Even on the other side, I'm still a bit in disbelieve we actually pulled it off!

While this trip was the first trip to Disney World for either kid, both had been to Disneyland a couple of times. (I even have a post from Elley's first trip and while Bear may not have a full post, I did at least share a picture of it.) I've been to Disney World myself once, which was as an adult, so those posts are here too!

Even feeling like I grew up at Disneyland, I wanted to be prepared for Disney World so I started to read EasyWDW from Josh Humphrey all the time. Back in March 2020, I bought and read his book, getting excited for our trip before everything shut down. I loved reading his posts to see all his numbers, share all his strategies, read all his reviews. I occasionally read the boards, and even posted my own trip report outlining a day we spent a Disneyland during one of our California visits. So even though I never met Josh and never got to use his strategies in person, his death in 2022 still hits me hard.

The loss of Josh is part of the reason I'm here, writing on my blog which has basically disappeared, to share about our trip. In an alternate universe I might have posted this on his forums, but given that they don't exist, that's not an option. But part of it is defininitely so Josh can continue on in the world, so other can still discover him and his humor and love for Disney even if he's no longer alive.

So now that I've written a post about why I'm posting, I might actually share about the trip some. I will add that the majority of my photos are still on my phone (and I still write these posts on a computer, which is honestly a lot of why they're so nonexistent.) But I do have some of the Instagram posts I'll share, plus the Disney photopass ones, so they'll be some pictures within.

To start with, our flight was really early out of New Orleans, 6:45am on Friday 12/16. Considering we live about an hour from that airport, it was an early morning. But we woke up, loaded the car, brought the kids downstairs still in their pjs and were off.

It was our first time flying out of the newest terminal in New Orleans which was really nice. (It only opened in early 2020, so still hasn't had a ton of use.) It was a little confusing figuring out which parking lot to use, but no issues whatsoever. (Thankfully we weren't flying a week later.) We had a quick layover in Atlanta and arrived at MCO around noon.

We did get a little turned around in the Orlando airport trying to find our bus, but made it there eventually. We took the Mears shuttle, which is basically the same as the old Disney Express, except no longer free and no longer Disney themed. On the drive to the hotel we got our text with our room number, so once we arrived (at the Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House), we were able to walk right there.

Given how early we woke up the boy and I attemped naps while the kids watched tv. (Definitely a perk of the Disney hotels, they have all the various Disney channels availible to watch!) With how excited I was, at around 3, I started encouraging everyone to get ready to head to Disney Springs (we had a dinner reservation at 6:30). Honestly looking back, we should have slept a little longer. O well... We did take a couple of pictures out on the balcony with the animals (definitely something I was really excited about and splurged on!) before we walked out to the bus.

We spent time going to the various stores, with a plan that we weren't going to buy anything. More if there were things we saw to remember and we'd be back later. We honesltly didn't go into many (the main Disney store, the Christmas store, a Star Wars store, a pin area). We didn't actually make it into the LEGO store since the line was so long. At this point though everyone was exhausted. We still had about two hours till our dinner reservation, but figured we'd try to see if they'd take us early, which thankfully they were able to accomadate.

This was a dinner I was really looking forward to. It was at Morimoto Asia, the restaurant of the Iron Chef. Maybe because we were all so tired, it was just kind of okay. Not bad, but I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to eat there again. We started the meal off with shared edamame. Both kids had a chicken ramen bowl. I had their duck ramen. The boy had their special, which was a beef hamburger-esque patte with a fried egg on top, with broth and mushrooms. The mushrooms were really good. Honestly, the food wasn't bad eand everyone ate a lot, but it was a long day. So with that we went back to our hotel so we could wake up early for our visit to the Magic Kingdom.
So there's our first day. I even have the pictures I posted on Instagram from it all to share! I'll stop now and be back (maybe? hopefully?) continuing the trip starting with our first day at Magic Kingdom!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Top Books of 2022

I thought about not posting my favorite books of the year here. After all, I've already posted on Insta, and I'm far more active there... but I just can't quite let this little corner of the Internet die.
So I'm here, including more details about why these are my favorite and sharing the reviews I wrote on Insta earlier this year. So without further ado, here's my top 12 books of 2022 (shared in the order I read them)!
1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
I wouldn't be surprised if every Rainbow Rowell book made my favorite list the year I read it. I'm really late to this one, reading it 10 years after it was first published, and I know so many have already read it. What's really stayed with me are the characters, their relationships and what they went through. Also, how well the feeling of being a teenager is captured. I had actually forgotten it takes place in the 80s till I sat down to write this, but my review mentions appreciating that as well.
2. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
I love how this book blended romance, science, and grad school. (Also how I was able to include my mug from my college year-end chemistry banquet in the photo for it! Although they're biologists in the book, but still close.) So much of it resonated with me and my past experiences.
3. One True Loves by Elise Bryant
Another one that's here because of my past experiences. The author of this book lives in Long Beach where I grew up and sets all her books there. So much of her books remind me of high school and my childhood. A lot of this does take place on a European cruise, but even aspects of that reminded me of when I went to Italy in high school. Yes, I loved the love stories and the characters, but so much of why this is here is because of the setting.
4. The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
Another one that had all the nostalgia for me (clearly that's a theme here!). My best friend bought me this as a present knowing my obsession with Nick Carter, and it 100% gave me all those feels. I do think even not being a boy band fan, the love story is easy to fall for. But for me, this felt like fan fiction at its best.
5. Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird
Finally one that breaks the trend and is on here not because of how familar it felt, but because of how different it felt. This one takes place during the Great Depression and tells about dance marathons. It also has pieces about vaudeville, burlesque, and mobsters. Also LGBTQ+ themes too. This is one that I've seen so little about, but keep sharing it in hopes someone else will discover it. Honestly, I never would have known about it if I hadn't won a copy in a Goodreads Giveaway, so I'm very thankful for that!
6. A More Perfect Union by Tammye Huf
Another one I likely wouldn't have discovered on my own, but grateful it showed up in my Book Drop subscribtion. This story feels so unbelievable that it should be fake, except that it's the story of the author's great-great grandparents, who were an Irish immigrant and enslaved women that fell in love. It's a bit like star-crossed lovers, with a happy ending. Again not one I've seen a lot reading, but hopeful that more do.
7. True Bizby Sara Nović
One that's been on so many others' Best-of lists, but I likely wouldn't have read it myself if I hadn't won it in a Goodreads giveaway. I learned so much about deaf culture reading this. Honestly a book where I can enjoy myself and learn about another's experience is so much of what I love reading for.
8.Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter
The last of the Goodreads wins on the list! This one was just so much fun! It was a cute little romace... if a romace with this amount of steam can be considered cute. But I thought the bingo angle was a lot of fun. But also appriciated the depth of it too, dicusing race and anxiety. There's just a lot packed into a book that seems so simple from a surface level.
9.The Moment I Met You by Debbie Johnson
This was another book from my Book Drop subscribtion, which will be much of the theme for books to come. Again, a book that seems simple on a surface level, but is so much more. In it the main character is on vacation with her boyfriend when a devestating earthquake hits and this is the aftermath. It's hard to describe without giving to much away, but its another one that had a lot of depth to it.
10. Swimming Back to Trout River by Linda Rui Feng
Another Book Drop selection, and another I know I won't be able to summarize in a couple of sentances. It takes place in China going back and forth between the 1960s and the 1980s. There's a lot focused on the Cultural Revolution, but there are a lot of intersecting timelines and interesting characters. It's just really unique overall.
11. Mr. Perfect on Paper by Jean Meltzer
You've probably noticed a theme by now.... these are all books so different from my experience where I learn so much, or instead ones that hit so close to home that feel tailored to me. Given that this is focused on the Jewish High Holidays, it's one that hits close to home. There aren't many books that talk about a modern Jewish experience, and I love that this one does. Yes, the romance, characters, setting and the rest are enjoyable, but how it feels reading about Judaism lik this gives me all the feels.
12. A Dress of Violet Taffeta by Tessa Arlen

Ending things with one final Book Drop selection. This was historical fiction about Lady Duff Gordon. Going into it I would have expected the parts on the Titatic would be my favorite. And while yes, I enjoyed them, it was more of her earlier life, that shows how she became a fashion designer that I apprecitated so much more.

So that it is! My top 12 books of 2022. I'd love to say I'd be back here soon with more updates, but who knows. There's still so much I love about blogging and still read blogs of those of you that still write, even if I don't always comment. So it's always possible I come back more regularily here! (Also, how is there no spell check on blogger? I'm so used to it automatically on my phone. I know there must be so many typos in this posts, and even more over the past years.... so sorry for always having to put up with that!)

To see my favorite books from years' past go here: