5 Reasons to Stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Disclosure: I attended an expenses paid media trip with Walt Disney World. All opinions are my own.

When you stay on Disney property, you have so many choices on where to rest your head at night. That’s one thing I love about Disney—there is something for everyone. There is also something for every price range, which makes my heart happy because as if having a child wasn’t expensive enough, now I have to take her to Disney? HA! I’m getting off track. I had the privilege of touring Disney’s Art of Animation resort a few weeks ago on a press trip, and I kept saying to myself over and over “Emma Kate (my two year old) would LOVE this!” That being said, I wanted to give you five reasons to stay at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort with your family on your next vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.) Price: Art of Animation is considered a value resort by Disney categories, but it is what is called a “value plus” resort as it seems a bit of a step up from the other values in several ways (some which are bullet points in this post!) The grounds are spacious and beautiful with great Disney detail I have come to know and love, there are interior hallways, a great gift shop, food court, and more.

You can stay in a “family suite” (I know, the word suite makes me think of thousands of dollars a night!) for a decent price for a larger family. You still get all the perks of staying onsite like access to the Disney bus system, free magic bands, and access to daily extra magic hours, but for a fraction of the cost of some of the deluxe resorts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.) Space options: Family suites were designed with larger families in mind that can’t fit in a regular value resort room (which sleeps 4). These babies sleep six, and there are three themes: Cars, Finding Nemo, and the Lion King. I’m fairly certain my two year old would flip out over any of these themes! There is a bedroom/bath combo with a queen bed, as well as a living room with fold out sofa bed, a table that turns into a bed, a kitchenette, and a second bathroom (HUGE plus!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.) Great food court: If I’m being honest, the food courts at the other value resorts don’t thrill me. However the food court at Art of Animation (called Landscape of Flavors), has taken things up a notch with delicious options like gelato, create your own pasta bowl, and many others. Not to mention it’s really beautiful inside!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.) Great pools: At value resorts, pools are pretty basic, but not here! Not only are there multiple ones to choose from, but the Finding Nemo pool has a splash pad area, and you can even hear music underwater! Be sure to stop by the bar, adorably named the drop off, for your favorite adult beverage to sip poolside, or grab a first come first serve cabana at the Cozy Cone Cars themed pool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.) Life Size characters: Every little kid (ok and big kid, too) loves life sized Disney characters. Thankfully, there is no shortage of them at Art of Animation! Each themed area is scattered with your favorites like Mufasa, Tow Mater, and Prince Eric. (PS: there are standard sized resort rooms in the Little Mermaid section if you don’t want to stay in a family suite).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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No matter your reason for staying, there is a lot to do and see at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. Be sure to take a look at the options there on your next Disney vacation!

QOTD: Have you stayed at Art of Animation? What is your favorite Disney resort?

FRiYay Lessons with Disney Junior

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Disney Junior, however all opinions are my own.

In case you are new to my blog, I think it’s important for you to know that Disney is a HUGE part of our household. We live in Tampa, so fortunately we get to visit Disney World a lot. However, during times we can’t visit, we do the next best thing, which is watch Disney Junior show on TV! More specifically, we are loving the FRiYAY all NEW episodes that come on every Friday morning on Disney Channel!

Right now Emma Kate is really into Mickey and the Roadster Racers. She has always been a fan of the mouse, and I think her competitive nature is starting to come out (just like mom and dad!) so she really likes the racing aspect of the show. Me? I’m more of a princess girl but I know we have plenty of time for that!

Since my husband and I are both competitive and (admittedly) like to win, we connect with Mickey and the gang and their racing ways. It’s a fun show for both boys and girls who love Disney! We decided it would be fun to have some racing and games of our own at home, and thought up some fun outdoor activities for Emma Kate. However, daily rain in the forecast changed our plans so we had to get creative with indoor games. Fortunately it didn’t matter to Emma Kate, and she had a blast!

First we played a game to see who could throw the most balls into the basket.

 

Then we decided to see who could build the tallest tower out of blocks.

Lastly, we played a racing game, which was Emma Kate’s favorite. I gave her and her daddy a school bus and told them they had to push their bus down the hall and see who could get theirs to go the furthest.

 

She kept wanting to play again and again, and kept saying “I win” or “I lost”, so we explained to her that winning isn’t everything, that it’s about having fun, too and being with people you care about, just like in Mickey and the Roadster Racers when Goofy got to compete against his movie hero but ended up losing the competition. However, Goofy ends up gaining respect form the other racers and even the sponsor who has a special surprise for Goofy.

Want to know how you can watch these new episodes with your family? There are two places to look! First of all, The Disney Channel:  During the morning block (usually 6-10am), Disney Junior shows will air first on Disney Channel.  Usually new episodes will air here FIRST so tune in to catch the premiere! Check out the schedule below:

FRiYAY, 6/16 – Mickey and the Roadster Racers @ 8:30am followed by an all-new Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 6/23 – Puppy Dog Pals @ 9a
FRiYAY, 6/30 – Sofia the First @ 9am followed by an all-new Elena of Avalor
FRiYAY, 7/7 – Back to back Lion Guard starting @ 8am followed by an all-new Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 7/14– Lion Guard starting @ 8am followed by all-new Mickey & The Roadster Racers and Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 7/21 – Lion Guard @ 8am followed by all-new Sofia The First and Elena of Avalor

FRiYAY, 7/28- Mickey & The Roadster Racers @8:30am followed by an all-new Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY,  8/4 – Sofia the First @ 9am
FRiYAY, 8/11 – Lion Guard @ 8am followed by all-new Mickey and the Roadster Racers  and Puppy Dog Pals
FRiYAY, 8/18 – Sofia The First @ 9am followed by an all-new Elena of Avalor

I hope you tune in on FRiYAY mornings on Disney Channel this summer and can catch the premiers of some of these great shows!

QOTD: In what ways do you teach your kids that winning isn’t everything? What is your favorite Disney Junior show?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Disney Junior.

5 Things Friday XXV

Hey guys! I haven’t done one of these in awhile so I thought it would be fun for this Memorial Day weekend Friday.

1.) Me, Bobby, and Emma Kate are headed to Orlando on Sunday and will be hitting the Disney Waterparks (her first time at a water park!) We will be going to Blizzard Beach because I hear that is the most kid friendly of the two. I can’t wait! I haven’t been to a Disney Waterpark in YEARS.

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2.) While we are in Orlando we will be staying at the Wyndham I-Drive, which is the official hotel for International drive. I will be posting pictures and Insta stories on Sunday and Monday, so stay tuned!

3.) I attended a Carnival Cruise Lines event yesterday at Port Canaveral, and will be posting a blog post about it soon. We were on the Carnival Liberty for a couple of hours, eating hamburgers!

4.) You may have noticed I am finally back to running! I haven’t done anything over three miles, but my leg is feeling better and better. I still have to foam roll and stretch really well, and don’t have 100% range of motion when I squat or lunge, but I have no knee pain!

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5.) Recently we tried out FitLife foods, which has locations here in Tampa, and delivers meals right to your door. You get to pick what meals you want and when you want them delivered, and they just show up! Some of them tasted pretty good, and some were honestly pretty bland and needed some serious salt and pepper. I enjoyed not having to think/worry about what I was going to eat for dinner as a busy working mom, which was the main/huge draw for me. I just knew we had meals in the refrigerator, and so that stress hanging over my head was gone, plus I didn’t have to go to the store as much. But, the one downside for us/Bobby is that the portion sizes were too small for him. He eats a lot and works out a lot and would need 2-3 “meals” for one meal, and that gets expensive quickly.  I may give them another go the next time he is out of town and it’s just me and Emma Kate, because I truly enjoyed the convenience! If you haven’t tried it out I say give it a go one time!

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Pandora: World of Avatar Overview

Disclosure: I attend an all expenses paid media trip to Walt Disney World and part of that trip was a sneak peek tour of Pandora. All opinions are my own.

When I first saw the itinerary for the media event I was going to be attending with Walt Disney World, I may have squealed a little when I saw we were to be spending time in Pandora before it was open to the public. A new space? With hardly any people in it? Heck yes!

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Something to keep in mind as your tour this area, is that it is supposed to take place many years after the movie, and now humans are allowed to come to Pandora. Look carefully for nods to the movie, it’s fun to pick things out!

Our tour was on a Monday morning, and we were running a little late so we were ushered straight to the Flights of Passage Ride.

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But not before getting a couple of quick photos as we crossed the bridge and went into the World of Pandora. This guy behind me was really fun. If you touched him in the spot right above my head, he started to steam and make noise. So interactive and fun!

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I didn’t have a ton of time to stop and explore the que since the ride was only going to be available for a few more minutes, but all I can say is details, details, details! There is just SO much to see!

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Flights of passage is awesome in a word. I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect, and it far exceeded my expectations. We went into a series of rooms where we were given instructions and backstory via cast members and video screen, and one part was interactive and fun!

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You are given a number to stand on, and it lines up with the banshee you will be riding in the last room. There is a space to store purses, backpacks, etc. and then you get on the ride. A back restraint and leg restraints come up, and then the four and a half minute journey begins. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is breathtaking, vivid, and intense all at the same time. Please note if you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to be careful with this one. I had to shut my eyes a couple of times for a brief moment as to not get sick, but then I was ok. Totally worth it by the way.

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After Flights of Passage we rode the Na’vi River Journey, which is fun for the whole family. It’s a leisurely boat ride down the “river”, and there are beautiful things to look at on all sides. I will say after going right off of Flights of Passage this ride was way less thrilling, but I’m glad Disney decided to put in something mild that little kids and those that don’t like intense rides can enjoy.

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The Shaman at the end was very impressive, but the rest of the ride didn’t wow me.

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Before getting off the boat at the end of the River Journey.

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After you ride this ride, you are let out into the gift shop called Windtraders. Something I noticed right away was that there are no signs of Mickey Mouse anywhere. This shop is totally Pandora themed, with no sign of autograph books or Donald Duck hats anywhere, which I loved. You could bead a necklace, buy some Avatar ears, or even adopt a Banshee which is a super cute process you go through at the store.

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I showed lots of restraint and didn’t buy anything at the store, but I loved this floating mountains mug. anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for Disney mugs.

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Outside of the store, I did more looking/staring in awe at the gorgeous landscaping and floating mountains. I just couldn’t get enough!

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I wandered over to the counter service location which has a nice covered outdoor seating area. The menu looks really good and I’m dying to get back and try it.

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Right outside of the gift shop and next to the counter service location you will find a cute little stand called Pongu Pongu where you can order drinks or a snack. It was a little too early for alcohol, but the Night Blossom (non alcoholic) looked pretty and I just had to try it.

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The drink comes with passion fruit bobas on top, but I asked for half and half with strawberry so I could try them out as well.

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Verdict on the drink: it was very refreshing, but also really sweet and tart. I couldn’t finish mine, but can definitely see the advantage of having one on a hot Florida day. Plus, who am I kidding, bobas are fun to eat.

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There is an overlook area that is higher than the rest of Pandora, and you can get some great panoramic shots. (Be sure to look for the photopass photographers in this area) Also, watch out for “things” that may spit water on you in this area!

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I did my best to just try and soak everything in, because I knew I would never see Pandora this empty again. I was there for over an hour and a half, and I know I still didn’t see everything there is to see!

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Oh, another cool thing, be sure to talk with some cast members. They stay in character and will tell you about how they came to Pandora form earth. Be sure to check out their name tags, too. Seriously, Disney thought of everything.

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I really enjoyed my brief time in this new land, and can’t wait to go back with my family when it’s open to the public. Even if the movie wasn’t your thing and you don’t like rides, it’s totally worth it to take a walk through this area and see the amazing things Disney created for it’s guests. No detail was spared, and they really have upped their game as far as creating a truly immersive experience as a part of your vacation. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

QOTD: Thoughts on Pandora? Do you plan to visit?

My Disney Experience and Magic Bands FREE E-Course

In the past few years, Walt Disney World has grown leaps and bounds as far as technology goes. What once was a card used to swipe into your room, turned into what we now know as “Magic Bands.” Some called it big brother-ish, some called it amazing, but what we do know about these bands and it’s other component called My Disney Experience, is that they are here to stay.

 

As someone who dislikes change, I understand not wanting to try something different or take the time to learn the new technology, but trust me when I say it will be WORTH IT when it comes to time (and sanity) saved on your Disney vacation if you know how to efficiently use My Disney experience and understand how the Magic bands work!T1CjCNKhhvIS8VNw0MpiMB6ClWHNTiRO07xTUBRFIJYpX92IB

This is exactly why I created a FREE E-course for you. I want you to have a stress free vacation. There is no need to be overwhelmed by the technology and the process if you just have someone to explain it to you, piece by piece…and that is precisely what I do in my free course.

 

In this course, you will learn all about Magic Bands, making Fastpass+ reservations, dining reservations, and how to use Memory maker. I also show you how to set up an account, manage your family and friends list, and research different resort and dining options. This is in a video format, so you don’t have to sit and read for endless hours to get it done. The course is broken down into sections, so you can go through as much or as little as you want to at a time. All in all it should take you no more than two hours to get through this free course. I’m so excited for you to feel confident about your knowledge in this area, and have a great vacation because of it!

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So what are you waiting for? Stop wondering what Magic Bands and My Disney Experience are all about, and get to dreaming up the perfect vacation for you and your family. (PS: When you click the link to go to the course page, it mentions a coming soon course not yet available, but if you click the button, you will be taken to sign up for my FREE e-course, so don’t let it confuse you!)

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QOTD: Thoughts on Disney’s new technologies? Love it or loathe it?

Trattoria al Forno Bon Voyage Character Breakfast

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to snag a reservation for the new Bon Voyage character breakfast at Trattoria al Forno. The reservation was early, 7:30, but I was not going to pass up the chance to check out a new dining experience that just opened a few days prior!

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This breakfast location is on the Boardwalk. I have eaten dinner at Trattoria al Forno before (which is NOT a character meal), but it has been awhile since  have been there. I was very happy to see another character meal that had some male characters. The characters you have the opportunity to meet are: Rapunzel, Ariel, Flynn Rider, and Prince Eric. There is also a song that plays and kids are encouraged to wave their napkins and dance/follow along with Ariel, which is super cute. My toddler is REALLY into the Tangled characters right now, so I couldn’t wait to see how she responded in particular to Rapunzel and Flynn.

We arrived late to our reservation because there was a mix up at our hotel with our bill, but there was not a problem and we were able to check in easily. We were told to park our stroller outside, and we waited to be seated. Music from Tangled was playing, and there was a cart selling Rapunzel and Ariel dresses and merchandise.

Very quickly, our name was called and we were led to our table. There was an autograph card, cute brochure, and our silverware and napkins as well as some small plates in the center of the table.

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Our server greeted us promptly, orange juice in hand, but we were told we could have something different to drink. Bobby opted for the OJ and I got a coke since I was in serious need of caffeine but dislike Disney coffee. Emma Kate got some milk, and then we were given pastries for the table to share.

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I love that the pastries told a “story”. Of course we have the sun from Tangled, the “braided” bread for Rapunzel’s hair, the clam shell cherry pastry from the Little mermaid, and then vanilla and blueberry muffins. They were of course, all served in a frying pan. My take on the pastries: They were VERY sweet. A little too sweet for 7:30 in the morning. I was going to get the pancakes, but changed my mind after eating all that bread and sugar.

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Emma Kate and I got the yogurt parfait, and Bobby got the fruit salad. They are pretty small portions, but I had to remind myself more food was coming. Bobby then decided to get the “Shipwreck al Forno”, which was a calzone with scrambled eggs, soppressata, bacon, sausage, and a blend of cheeses and Sunday gravy. I opted for the  “Tangled Eggs” which was tomato & basil scrambled eggs, fresh mozzarella, Sunday gravy and roasted Potatoes. Emma Kate loves eggs, so my thought was she would eat most of that, I would eat the bacon and potatoes and her waffles.

We ordered the “Mickey Waffle” with fruit and bacon for Emma Kate. The timing was great, because once we ordered and were snacking on our pastries, the characters started to come around, and we also got to dance to the song with Ariel.

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Flynn Rider was up first, and Emma Kate LOVED him. He spent a ton of time with us, talking about Maximus and apples, and even offered to do “the smolder” for us for a photo. Emma Kate just stared at him and he gave her a big hug and looked right at her when he spoke to her.

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Next up was Rapunzel. She spent the least time with us out of all the characters, but it was still a good interaction. I even asked where Pascal was.

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Soon after our appetizers arrived, as did Prince Eric. He was so good with Emma Kate, and she was in heaven. We asked him where Max was, and he said out for a walk.

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Ariel was last, and she got down on the floor with Emma Kate and they talked about hair bows and the fact that Ariel was on Emma Kate’s shirt. It was super sweet and EK was just fascinated.

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Here are some shots of our appetizers. Previous review posts showed glitter on the crab and crown, but that was not the case with our meal. The fruit was good, the yogurt was just ok, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the granola.

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After all four characters came by, our food came out. Poor Emma Kate wanted to see them again and had no interest in eating. She did eat her strawberries, but I had her waffles. I was a little confused because the menu says “mickey waffle” but these definitely were not Mickey. Don’t get me wrong they were super cute, but the menu was just misleading.

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Bobby’s Calzone came with King Tritons spear (which he apparently cut out of the photo). They take the triton away after they set your food down though.

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The calzone was really filling and basically tasted just like pizza.  I had the tangled eggs, which I KNOW I took a photo of, but it seems to have gotten deleted. This was just ok, and the potatoes were a little peppery. I will say the bacon was very good. If you have eaten at Disney restaurants before, you typically get this really thin as we like to call it “Disney bacon” that isn’t very good, however mine and EK’s meals both came with “real” bacon and it was thick and juicy!

Here are my pros and cons for the meal:

PROS:

Great character interactions with hard to see characters (in some instances). They spent a lot of time with us and posed for several photos. It was nice to do something different and also not have to have a park ticket. Having a plated meal was something different as opposed to the typical character buffet, but I’m not a huge breakfast person so I was underwhelmed with the options. Bobby’s calzone was good and filling. I loved the fun touches like Tangled music playing and the frying pan of themed pastries, even though they were a bit too sugary. The service was great, it felt very relaxed, and everyone was very friendly. The restaurant was only about 3/4 full despite me having a hard time getting a reservation. I’m guessing it was since it was the first week of operation and they wanted to ease everyone in. I imagine it will be a bit more of a madhouse when they fill all those tables.

CONS:

This restaurant is very dark and has dark wood furnishings. I felt like I needed a flashlight! (I brightened up my photos/edited them so they look way brighter than they originally came out.) This of course made it really hard to get good photos, too. Brightening up the place for the meal wouldn’t be the worst thing. Also, the tables are really close together. When the characters came by, there wasn’t really anywhere to “go” to get photos/have an interaction, so for most I ended up standing Emma Kate up in her booster seat, because there were servers constantly going behind our tables and there was no other option of a place to stand. My food was just “eh” as were the appetizers. One of the reasons we like the buffets is because Bobby can eat a ton with a  lot of variety and we feel like we got our money’s worth. With a plated meal, it made us feel the price was even more steep. We have a tables in wonderland car d(which is a 20% discount but also ads in 18% gratuity) and our bill was just under $71, which is hard to stomach for two people.  It was definitely an “experience” and I am glad we did it,  but not something we will be doing again for the price (especially after EK turns 3 and we have to pay for it!)

Final verdict: If your child loves these characters, definitely DO IT one time for the character experience. If you are going “just for the food”, I would skip out on this one due to the price.The price for this meal is $34 for adults and $20 for kids. They also accept Tables in Wonderland and the Disney Dining plan.

*RELATED: Confused by My Disney Experience, fastpass+ and Magic Bands?  Sign up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: Thoughts on the Bon Voyage character breakfast? Would you go? Do you love these characters?

runDisney Princess Half Marathon Race Recap 2017

A couple of weeks ago I have the privilege of running in my 6th runDisney Princess half marathon. I ran the Glass Slipper Challenge last year and in 2014, but this year my friend Jen and I decided to save some money (and some sleep!) and just run the half marathon. (Pssst. There is a video at the end of the post so hang tight to watch a recap from my Instagram Stories!)

Every year we dress up, and this year was a bit crazy for both of us and we didn’t have time to create elaborate matching costumes like we have done in the past. However, we still dressed up and per usual kept our costumes a secret until the night before the race. We went to bed early, and my 2:45 am alarm came way too soon.

We got dressed, put on our traditional fake eyelashes like we do every year (you would THINK we would be better at this by now!) and headed to the bus.

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(Coming soon: A tutorial on how I created my costume, the easy/I’m terrible at sewing kind of tutorial!)

We got to the bus stop in front of the Yacht Club, and were the last people loaded before we left. What was interesting was we were on a park bus, not a regular greyhound which was a first for me with runDisney. There was a lot of traffic, but we made it to EPCOT by about 4:15 and walked to the family reunion area where we met up with a friend before checking Jen’s bag. It was chillier than I expected, and I was thankful for my throw away sweatshirt I remembered to bring.

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We had never gotten to the corrals this early before, and they were pretty empty! runDisney got smart and put a row of port-o-potties close to the front corrals so we were able to go to the bathroom with no line and then jump in D corral. Karen was also in our corral, so she hung out with us and started the race with us, too. Our plan was to just have fun and take walk breaks. I was super undertrained and this was just a “for fun” race.

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The race started a few minutes late because the traffic was so bad, but finally we made it up to the start line with the rest of our corral.

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After a quick hi to Rudy and Carissa, we were off on our 13.1 mile journey!

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The first couple of miles are always so uneventful. It’s dark, there is nothing to look at, and you start thinking about all the miles ahead! Thankfully we just all chatted together until around mile 2 when Karen decided to stop for a character photo that we decided to skip (lines were already so long! I can’t imagine how bad they were for the corrals behind us.) We made it to the Magic Kingdom gates and I was excited we were getting closer to the more exciting parts of the course.

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After a quick stop at the med tent for body glide, we were on our way towards the TTC. I have to admit, I was a little bummed at the low crows at this spot. Traditionally this is my second favorite spot in the race because of all the energy from wall to wall people screaming and cheering, but this year there was hardly anyone and it made me sad. Did anyone else notice this? It wasn’t very cold outside so I’m not sure what the deal was. We passed my favorite drummers and kept going towards the big hill.

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When we made the turn to get to the Magic Kingdom, we thought it was odd that the 5 mile marker wasn’t in it’s usual place. (The things you notice when you have run this course over a dozen times!) We would later find out the course through the Magic Kingdom was slightly altered which is why the markers were in a different place.

We made the turn onto Main Street, my favorite part, and again it just didn’t have the same crowd and energy I am used to seeing, but it’s still my favorite part.

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We stopped and found a girl by herself trying to take a photo and we took turns getting pics for each other. I love runners!

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Next stop was the bathroom in Tomorrowland. We used to stop at the ones at the TTC, but a couple years ago they started locking those for us for some reason, which means even more princesses waiting in line in Tomorrowland. We had a several minute delay, and then were on our way again.

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We made it out of the Magic Kingdom (sad times) and made another bathroom stop at the next water station (too much coffee!) We arrived at the long stretch of single lane road, and Jen and I can’t figure out why its always so COLD on this part of the course! Any ideas? Before long we were at mile seven by the Grand Floridian. I took a picture with Snow White, since the line for her in the Magic Kingdom was dozens of people long. This is as close as I was going to get.

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The next few miles were uneventful again, just running out on the road. We saw the race going the other way towards the Magic Kingdom around mile 2.5 I guess, and I saw the balloon ladies! I yelled for the princesses to run faster! We grabbed a CLIF shot at the free station around mile nine, and took a walk break to eat those (I am not coordinated enough to run and eat at the same time). Next we were making the turn on the loop of death at mile 10 (it KILLS my IT bands) and had a 5k to go. At this point we had gotten to the length of my longest and one and only really long run from this training cycle of 10 miles, and I was getting tight even though we weren’t running fast at all. My right thigh/quad up near my hip flexor started to hurt, but we only had a couple miles to go so I just pushed through.

Soon we hit mile 11, and looped around and up the overpass and down into EPCOT and mile 12. A photographer caught me doing an Insta story on my phone. Oops. But seriously, if this doesn’t sum up my life I don’t know what does.

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We looped around the small part of the course that goes through the park, and then I could hear the gospel choir singing! Miles 13 came and went, and we were in the home stretch of the finish line.

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Can I just say that I love getting race pictures free as an annual passholder?!?

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We made it! After crossing the finish line in 2:32, we had to get pixie dusted of course.

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We got our medals, and headed over to the Media/VIP tent for some much deserved food and of course, mimosas.

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Now I was able to do my favorite thing, cheer other runners on as they came through the finish. I LOVE seeing runners tearing up, holding hands with loved ones, and just getting to experience the looks on their faces as they are mere steps from the finish line. There is just nothing like it, and it makes me so happy.

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Mimosas make me happy, too.

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So does this guy. Always takes time to talk to runners and makes us all feel so special. Jeff Galloway is the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carissa came into the tent for some food and we were able to say hello for a minute and grab a picture.

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We hung out and ate some more, met with a couple of people, and then headed back to the resort. I am so thankful to have a friend like Jen who gifted me with the opportunity to run in another Princess half marathon. I also love our little tradition of running the Princess half!

If you want to see a video I took during the race as a recap, and also see what Jen and I did for the rest of the day after the race, be sure to check out the video below. Please note this video is my Instagram story from the day, and apparently it doesn’t like when you have still shots mixed in with your videos, so there are about 5 times during the video where you will see it “Freeze up” for a couple of seconds. These are the places where I had still shots that won’t come up, so just ignore it, it will keep playing!

 

For more race recaps and general runDisney information, photos, and posts, check out my runDisney page!

Top 5 Overlooked Disney World Restaurants

Disney dining is a hot topic among vacationers. Sought after reservations are planned months in advance, menus are scoured, and pictures are researched. In a lot of searches, you will see the same restaurants mentioned over and over. Not only are (some) of these Disney World restaurants over rated, but a lot are near impossible to get into, especially for a last minute trip.

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In my experience, resort dining is often overlooked, but is some of the best food on Disney property. Also, these places have been known to take last minute reservations and walk ups. Check out my list below of five of my favorite hidden gem restaurants at Walt Disney World:

Name: Trails End Buffet

Location: Fort Wilderness Campground

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This buffet truly is “hidden” in the woods on Disney property. You cannot park directly at the restaurant, and instead must either park at check in and take an internal bus, or take a boat. The best way to describe this place is “comfort food”. As a born and raised southerner, I consider myself an expert on sweet tea. So far, Trail’s End has hands down, the best sweet tea, on Disney property. Also, since it’s not a character buffet, the price is very reasonable for an all you can eat. It’s usually pretty quiet, and we love sitting on the porch in the rocking chairs before or after our meal just soaking in vacation. If you want to relax, this is a great place to go!

Name: Kona Cafe

Location: Polynesian Village Resort

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Kona Café is right next door to the ever popular Ohana. On several occasions, I have been able to walk up without a reservation to Kona, even at prime dinner time. On the second floor of the lobby, Kona has a fun colorful open atmosphere, with a great menu. Since it’s on the monorail loop, you could even leave the Magic Kingdom, go eat, then go back to the part without wasting a lot of time.

Name: Grand Floridian Café

Location: Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

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This is another place I consider quiet and relaxing. We love getting a table by the window for breakfast or lunch, and enjoy the bright light that comes in through the tall windows of the restaurant. Off by itself in the back of the lobby, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of check in, and 1900 Park Fare. You can easily hop on the monorail or a boat to the Magic Kingdom, so it’s prime location is a huge draw in my opinion.

Name: Splitsville

Location: Disney Springs

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There are several reasons I love Splitsville, one being the birthday cake martini. Another great plus to this place is that it has a HUGE menu, so I’m certain you will find something for everyone here. Also, you can eat WHILE you bowl, which is pretty awesome and unique. My favorite is to ask to eat outside on the upstairs balcony. It has great views of Disney Springs, especially at sunset. Not to mention, since there is no admission to get into Disney Springs, you don’t have to have a park ticket to eat here. I have also walked up and been seated immediately many times.

Name: The Wave

Location: Contemporary Resort

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Another restaurant I picked in part to it’s great location. Just one stop after leaving the Magic Kingdom, this cool place off the lobby of the Contemporary has a very chill vibe. The drink menu is fun, and the options are plentiful. After you eat, simply walk the path back to the Magic Kingdom, or hop on the monorail to the TTC and go to EPCOT or back to the Magic Kingdom. So many options!

RELATED: Sign Up for my FREE My Disney Experience and Magic Bands E-Course!

QOTD: What is your favorite often overlooked Disney restaurant?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 5

Today is my last installment of our trip, check it out:

This was our last full day at Walt Disney World (see what we did in part 4 here), and we were headed to EPCOT. Emma Kate had been saying she wanted to meet Ana and Elsa for WEEKS, so our plan was to arrive early, do the standby line for the meet and greet, and then do our fastpass for the Frozen Ever After ride later that afternoon.

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Emma Kate just so happened to wake up REALLY early, so we played on the playground at Saratoga Springs for a bit and then just decided to go ahead and drive over to EPCOT. We had NO idea they were letting people in early, so we got lucky with a short standby line for Ana and Elsa.

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We got closer and closer in line, and I started to hype Emma Kate up and get her ready to meet her favorite princesses. She said she was going to give them big hugs and smile pretty. Aaaannnddd this is what we got:

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She was TERRIFIED of Elsa and would not hug her. EK’s face just cracks me up! We moved on to Ana, and she warmed up enough to hug her, but she made it clear she was NOT happy about it.

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Bless it. Look at the side eye poor Ana is getting.

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I die. Of course when we left she said she wanted to go hug Elsa…too late kid. We will try again when we go back in April and see if it’s any different. I think Emma Kate was just a bit overwhelmed.

After the princess photos, we headed over to ride the Nemo ride, and then check out the aquarium.

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EK was going through a hardcore Nemo phase so she loved this ride.

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After this, we rode Living with the Land. This is always a favorite of mine. I’m a total nerd and love seeing how they grow their fruit and veggies.

We walked around the world showcase and got some food and wine offerings. My dad tried sushi in Japan, and we all got food in Italy, and I had a glass of alcohol. Emma Kate was starting to get tired from her early wakeup, but it was time for our Frozen Ever After fastpasses. Our plan was to ride the ride, then let her nap in the stroller while we ate some more food and walked around.

We got in the fastpass line, and right as we got up to the front to get on a boat (we were literally the next ones to get on)…the ride broke down. I kid you not. We were in the loading area, so we just stood there for awhile, me holding Emma Kate. They turned all the lights on, evacuated people off the ride, and people began leaving. About this time, poor EK started to fall asleep in my arms. I decided to sit down against the wall with my dad and just let her sleep. We had nothing else to do, so may as well hold our front of the line spot and wait.

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Because we were right where you board and no longer in the actual que, we had plenty of space and started talking to a cast member from Norway who had been here for a few months. He was a super nice guy with zero accent, and he said he had worked very hard on his English. We talked about the differences in our countries, etc. all while waiting for the ride to come back up. Finally, about 45 minutes later, they started letting people board. Emma Kate woke up and was very confused, but she got to see the ride.

We were all pretty tired by this point, but we had to make one more stop for my favorite drink.

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I couldn’t hold my huge toddler and drink my drink, so I put her in the stroller and she was NOT happy about it. She cried the whole way to the parking lot, which was super fun for everyone. Poor thing needed a longer nap.

We watched some football, took Emma Kate to the playground, and got ready to have friends over. A few years ago when we were staying club level at the Grand Floridian, my parents struck up a conversation with a nice couple and they have kept in touch. When we stayed at Saratoga four years ago, they come over one night and we BBQ’ed out by the playground and had a great time, so we did it again this trip!

Saratoga has a really nice covered pavilion with fans and picnic tables right next to the playground, we we all hung out while my dad cooked and Emma Kate could play. After dinner, they went home and Emma Kate went to bed. my mom watched her while my dad and I walked to Disney Springs (have I mentioned I LOVE the proximity of this resort to Disney Springs?)

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We walked through some of the shops and watched a show up on the stage. Then we decided to get ice cream from Ghirardelli and not tell my mom. However, my dad made a huge mistake and paid with his credit card, and my mom saw the bill when it came in so we were busted! Anyway, it was delicious, and a nice relaxing way to end out trip.

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The next morning, I got up early and went for a quick run before we left.  I had not had the chance to run the whole trip since I was with Emma Kate 95% of the time, but I didn’t want to pass up a chance to run somewhere different. I went out while it was still dark, and it was so nice and peaceful.

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After I got back and showered, we loaded up the car and started our long (long long) drive home. With it being my first time to take a toddler to Disney, I learned a lot.

It was Halloween, and we decided to stop and spend the night in Destin to break up the trip. We went to the beach that afternoon and Emma Kate was not a fan of the sand.

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I found out that there was trick or treating at the outlet mall, so that’s exactly what we did!

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The next morning we went back to the beach and Emma Kate hated it even more than the day before and wouldn’t step foot on it and wanted to go “bye bye”.

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We stayed out all of 15 minutes and then I took her to the pool while my mom and dad stayed at the beach. Confession: I will admit I was a little frustrated. I had so been looking forward to spending the morning on the beautiful Destin beach, and here I was, finally there, and I got to see it for ten minutes. Then I was stuck at the freezing pool (the hotel building cast a shadow on the pool) by myself just me and Emma Kate, cold and pretty miserable for over an hour, just being frustrated I wasn’t in the sun on the sand and had no idea when I would be back. I had my little pity party then got over it and we played until my parents came. We stayed for a bit longer, then headed up to the room to pack up and drive home.

We made a bunch of mistakes, and will know better for next time. While Bobby and I have only taken her on day trips to Disney since we’ve moved to Tampa, we have made adjustments and Emma Kate has done a lot better overall than she did in October. We will be taking her back in April for a few nights and I know we will have a great time!

QOTD: Have you been to Destin? Have you ever trick or treated at a mall?

Emma Kate Does Disney: Part 4

We left off part 3 with the family heading to the Contemporary to eat brunch at Chef Mickeys. Since we had a little bit of a typical two year old behavioral issue at Crystal Palace, I was really hoping Chef Mickeys would be better, and not as new or overwhelming as her first character meal.

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Donald was the first to come around and she was pretty shy. She didn’t want to sit in a high chair or regular chair, so she was in our laps for most of the meal. She let Donald take a picture with her, but she wouldn’t hug him or stand by him.

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She did however get to watch the characters get closer and closer so I think that helped her to “warm up” a little bit. She LOVED Minnie mouse and got down on the floor to hug her. Minnie did a great job getting down to Emma Kate’s level which was appreciated.

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She really loved Pluto and his nose and “big tongue” the best though. She got antsy towards the end of the meal and wanted to run around, but overall she did way better than the Crystal Palace meal.

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After the meal, we walked around the back of the Contemporary out by the pool. I love that there is a little selfie station so everyone could get in the picture.

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When we got back to the resort, Emma Kate wanted to go to the pool (shocker), so my dad and I took her while my mom went shopping, since my mom had her the whole day before while I was house hunting with my dad. We may or may not have brought wine to the pool in Styrofoam cups. Hey, it’s 5:00 somewhere, right?

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I couldn’t believe the amazing weather we were having. It wasn’t hot at all for October in central Florida.

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We eventually moved over to the big pool.

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I honestly can’t remember what we did for dinner that night it’s been so long now, but I know we didn’t go anywhere. Brunch was so late we were probably too full! It was early to bed again, because we were going to Epcot the next day to finally meet Ana and Elsa, the one thing Emma Kate had been talking about for weeks. Stay tuned to see how that went!

QOTD: Have you ever been to Chef Mickey’s? Do you usually do character meals in Disney?