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: