Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs

Disclosure: I was offered a free weekend stay at this property for a review. However, all opinions are my own.

Fall is one of my favorite times of year to visit Walt Disney World, and my husband and I were in need of a quick weekend getaway. So, when the opportunity came up to stay at the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs, which is an official hotel of Walt Disney World® on Walt Disney World Resort® property, I jumped at the chance!

I had read that this resort was very close to Disney Springs, and I LOVE Disney Springs so I was really excited about that…however what I was NOT expecting was for it to be literally across the street. I could see it from the parking lot of the hotel, it was that close. Now that Disney Springs has added on so many new shops and restaurants (more than 150 total!), it makes this hotel a prime location for people who love visiting there.

Before arrival, we had requested a king room, and our request was granted. We were on the third floor with a lovely view of the gardens/courtyard with the pool int he distance. The third floor was also the floor the lobby was on, so it was super convenient to go to the gym, grab a cup of coffee, or walk over to guest services with questions. Our room was spacious and I loved how homey it felt with the coffee table and sofa.

We had a flat screen television, and there was plenty of lighting but natural and with lamps.

There was a door you could slide shut to close off the sink area of the bathroom, and the the shower area had a door to close as well. This is great if you are an early riser and don’t want to wake up the rest of the family while getting ready in the morning. Speaking of not waking anyone up, the bed and pillows were super comfortable. I’m not sure if it was the bed or the fact I wasn’t listening for a baby monitor, but I slept SO WELL but nights we were there!

Our room was to the left of the below photo behind the tree, so we looked out over this beautiful garden, which had concrete flooring in the shape of a Mickey head!

After checking in we walked down to the huge pool area. They have a cute little restaurant called the Oasis Bar and Grill (left in the below photo) as well as a really cool looking kids play area, rock formation/waterfall and a hot tub. There was plenty of room for everyone and it looked so refreshing.

We then headed over to the lobby to check it out, and we found this little marketplace and coffee shop. They had a lot of food food offerings, and my only qualm was the price. They had one of those larger bottles of water for $5.50 which I thought was pretty steep, and the sandwiches were pricey as well, but in a pinch, you have to do what you have to do! The Joffrey’s coffee did look delicious though.

The lobby was really big and welcoming, with tons of seating, and hallways leading to different meetings and conference rooms.

Of course, there was a Disney gift store to pick up those last minute gifts to bring back home.

One of my favorite features was this kids play area near guest check in. It had a TV as well as lots of books and pint-sized furniture to entertain the little ones while you check in or grab some coffee.

Bobby spotted the fitness center first, and we used our key card to get in. They had towels and water, as well as some machines, free weights, and cardio equipment.

I was very surprised to see that on certain days you can even attend a character breakfast at the hotel. Good to know in case you can’t get into any character meals in the Disney parks. Be sure to call for availability and pricing.

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Want more fun details about this property? They offer shuttle service to all four Walt Disney World theme parks. YES! Huge plus! They also have lighted tennis courts, a sand volleyball court, and a basketball court. They have self and valet parking, as well as a car rental desk on site, bellman services, and guest services.

They also over over 25,00 square feet of meeting spaces accommodating groups from 12 to 1,200. They do everything from weddings to family reunions to corporate conferences. How convenient to stay and play right in the middle of the action, so that you have easy access to the fun as soon as the conference is over. I would definitely attend a conference there.

My overall experience was very positive and I would stay at the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs again. The prices are great to be so close to Walt Disney World, and the amenities are worthwhile for you next family vacation.

Cabot Fit Team Weekend Part 2 + Giveaway

Disclosure: A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to go to Narragansett, Rhode Island with Cabot Cheese and their fit team. We did a lot of fun fun like run a 10k, visit a farm, and have a cheese tasting. This trip was sponsored by Cabot, however all thoughts are my own. 

*If you missed part one, be sure to check it out here.

We left off in my last post with our tour of EMMA Acres farm. After the tour, we drove over to a historical site, the Towers, and had lunch during a super fun trolley tour of Narragansett. There is so much history in the town so it was fun to hear all about it.

How adorable is our trolley bus?

This is one of my favorite homes we passed along the ocean:

After the tour we walked around inside the Towers and saw them setting up for a gorgeous wedding!

We briefly walked out onto the balcony before the storm hit. See the beach in this picture? That’s where the 10k would end the next day.

back to the Inn as it started to rain. This was the perfect opportunity to dig into my bag of snacks from Cabot and take a nap. Rainy days are perfect for that!

Soon it was time to walk to dinner (Have I mentioned how much I LOVED being able to walk everywhere?!?) at Trio. It was delicious, and a great pre-race meal at that.

After dinner we called it an early night since we were running the Ocean Road 10k in the morning! (You can read that recap here.)

After the race, we walked back to the Inn, grabbed showers then walked down to this cute little outdoor restaurant. It happened to be it’s last day of operation until spring. It was so wild to me that so many places “close up” for the winter, when it’s currently still in the 90’s in Florida.

The weather was absolutely perfect and we all enjoyed a light lunch and some girl talk before walking out onto some rocks for an impromptu photo shoot.

Then you guessed it, time to WALK (I love it!) again to a bed and breakfast where Cabot was hosting a cheese tasting for us. Yall. This place was gorgeous, and also for sale!

It was the perfect day to enjoy the tasting in the beautifully manicured backyard.

Although I have to say my favorite part of the house was the screened in porch. I could sit out there for hours!

We learned a little about the different cheeses and the aging process before trying everything ourselves. I learned a lot, I had no idea some of the processes were so long, and also how many different varieties there were–not to mention all the different pairings!

That evening we walked to dinner at the Coast Guard House for our farewell meal. It was right on the water and had gorgeous views.

It was a great way to recap the weekend and enjoy each other’s company before we would say farewell the next day.

Clockwise from bottom left: Sara and Caisil from Cabot, Christy, Brittany and Diahnn, Nellie, Sandra, me, Aggie, and Amee.

It’s amazing to me how quickly I got to know these sweet girls, and how hard it was to say goodbye after only knowing them for a couple of days. I hope to see them again soon. I learned a lot about Cabot, and have a new respect for the farmers, families, and workers that make my dairy eating experience so effortless and amazing! I also fell in love with Narragansett, although this southern girl wouldn’t want to be there in the winter!

A huge thanks to Cabot for their generosity, knowledge, and love. It won’t be forgotten. Now for the giveaway! One reader will win:

$25 Cabot Gift Box
1 Dopper Water Bottle
1 Guac-Lock
1 Cabot Beewax Wrap
Badger Products

$100 value give-a-way

Please follow the directions in the Rafflecoptor widget to enter. Winner will be announced next Friday. Giveaway open until Thursday night at midnight.

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Cabot Fit Team Weekend Part 1

Disclosure: A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to go to Narragansett, Rhode Island with Cabot Cheese and their fit team. We did a lot of fun fun like run a 10k, visit a farm, and have a cheese tasting. This trip was sponsored by Cabot, however all thoughts are my own. 

I arrived in Rhode Island on Friday afternoon after a long morning of flying with a layover in D.C. I was so happy to finally be there! Another fit team member, Aggie, and I shared a cab to the Ocean Rose Inn where we were staying, and were pleasantly surprised to see it was right on the water!

We checked in, and got settled into our rooms. Mine was in the building behind the Inn and had been refurbished. I loved the simple clean vibe, and had a great view of the ocean.

Check out the retro refrigerator and phone!

The bathroom sink area was adorable as well.

I had a couple of hours until dinner….so I took a nap. It was glorious. Nowhere to be, perfect weather outside, the ocean, it was bliss for this tired mama. Soon enough we met up with everyone in the lobby and had drinks and dinner at Turtle soup, which is the restaurant at the inn. It. was. delicious.

We called it an early night because we had a big day on Saturday, we were going to visit EMMA Acres farm! Unfortunately we woke up to cold, wind and rain, but that didn’t stop us. We grabbed our rain jackets, and headed out.

So for those that don’t know, Cabot is a co-op owned by farm families in New York and New England (more on Co-ops here). I loved getting to talk with the family that owns EMMA Acres and learn the process of milking the cows and all that goes along with it. These people work SO HARD every day, rain or shine. We even learned about birthing cows and got to see some adorable babies!

We even got to see the milk tank and where they do the milking, which happens twice a day. Very early in the morning and at night. The cows know exactly where to go and are such creatures of habit!

Did you know a cow gets stressed in heat over 70 degrees? They had fans in the room where they are milked for the summertime! (I don’t think they would do well at my house in Tampa!)

This farm is a smaller farm, but equally important to Cabot (and as consumers, should be to us, too!) A huge thank you to them for spending part of their busy day educating us and letting us love on their cows!

 

 

 

A Fun Filled Fall

Hey guys! I feel like it’s been awhile since I’m done a post just kind of updating things going on in my world, and what i have coming up. I know I share bits and pieces on social media and especially on Instagram Stories, but I haven’t written out what’s going on in awhile so here goes!

We have quite the busy fall planned, and I realized the other day we aren’t going to be home on the weekend from Labor Day through Columbus Day! So what will we be up to?

Labor Day weekend: Disney invited me and my family to attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party on Friday night. We decided to make a weekend out of it and are staying two night at Saratoga Springs with my parents for a fun little getaway. Emma Kate and my dad have never been to the party, so I can’t wait to show them everything.

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The two weekends after that: Bobby and I leave for our cruise with Carnival on September 9th. I am stoked to have this opportunity and can’t wait to visit some new to me ports and explore the beautiful Carnival Vista.

The weekend of the 23/24th of September is Emma Kate’s third birthday (CRAZY TALK!) and we are spending one night in Disney to celebrate as a family. We are staying at Port Orleans Riverside and have a character dinner. I’m not ashamed to say we are taking advantage of her being free one last time!

The last weekend in September I will be traveling to Rhode Island to run the Ocean Road 10k as part of the Cabot Fit Team. I’m so honored and pumped to be in some cooler weather for the weekend and run a 10k. It’s been awhile on both accounts!

Then Columbus Day weekend Bobby and I will be guests of both Medieval Times and the Wyndham Garden Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs. We can’t wait to dive into Disney’s Food and Wine Festival which Bobby hasn’t been to in four years. (We may or may not have a three year old tag along, we aren’t sure yet.)

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Not to mention, my e-course, Social Side Hustle, will launch right after we get back from the cruise.

It will be hectic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I absolutely love to travel, and now that Emma Kate is getting a little older I am hoping to do it even more. I love that I live in an area where we can take weekend trips to fun places and not go far (although I love the far away places, too!) I am so grateful for the opportunities I have gotten and can’t wait to bring you along for the ride. be sure you are following me on Instagram, because that is where I will post the most and also on Instagram Stories. Here we go!

QOTD: Are you traveling anywhere this fall? Any races or vacations? 

I’m Cruising With Carnival!

Disclosure: Our cruise fare is being covered by Carnival, however all thoughts, posts, and opinions are my own.

The other day in my Instagram story, I eluded to a surprise I was sharing today. Well, today has come and I’m excited to tell you Bobby and I are going on a cruise! We will be going on an eight night Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Vista this September.

The Carnival Vista departs Crete, Greece. The largest and most innovative cruise vessel in Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet, Carnival Vista measures 133,500 tons, 1,055 feet long and has a guest capacity of almost 4,000 passengers. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line

Bobby and I haven’t been alone on vacation together since January of 2016 (another cruise) so we are excited to have some time away just the two of us. Emma Kate isn’t quite potty trained yet (almost!) and we would hate for her to get upset that she couldn’t use the pool, so she is going to have to sit this one out.

WaterWorks aboard the Carnival Vista features a number of slides and other water attractions. 

Anyway, I have so many exciting things to share with you, and I can’t wait to invite you on our trip with us via the blog and social media. The Vista is Carnival’s newest ship, and it looks so amazing. First of all it’s huge, it has tons of dining options, entertainment galore, and we will be stopping at some new to us ports, check it out:

We leave from Miami, have 3 sea days, and 4 port days in San Juan, Grand Turk, St. Kitts, and St. Marteen. Has anyone been to these ports? I would love suggestions. There are so many great things about the Vista I can’t wait to share with you, like SkyRide (pictured below), specialty dinners, the Serenity adults only area, and the fitness center.

Guests onboard Carnival Vista participate in SkyRide, an opportunity to pedal hanging recumbent-like bikes around an 800-foot-long suspended track some 150 feet above the sea. 

I can’t wait to share with you how you can have an amazing cruise on an awesome ship for a lot less money than you think. I will post more as we get closer, but I just wanted to let you in on my surprise.

QOTD: Any tips for what to do in our four ports? 

Tampa Tuesdays: Carnival Goes to Cuba

Last week, Megan and I were invited to a special celebration aboard the Carnival Paradise at the port of Tampa. This celebration was marking the first of twelve special voyages to Havana, Cuba over the next year.

La Nacional Hotel, Havana, Cuba

The celebration on board the ship was as colorful as Cuba itself, with the largest Cuban Sandwich at sea,

delicious drinks,

 

Cuban food,

and a big check donated to the Ybor city museum!

We danced with Senior Cruise Director John Heald, and got super excited for everyone onboard sailing off to Cuba that afternoon.

Sadly, we had to disembark the ship, but I saw some wonderful photos already from the first voyage! (Search #CCL2Cuba or #CarnivaltoCuba for great shots on Instagram!)

Each cruise is four or five days in length, and includes an overnight stay in port, giving travelers a rare glimpse into Havana at night. Also, some of the itineraries include a stop in either Key West or Cozumel. What is there to do in Havana you ask? So much! Carnival can help connect you with local guides familiar with the food, music, and history of Cuba. With 16 shore excursions, I’m sure you will find something to do for the whole family.

On top of visiting Havana, you will be on board the Carnival Paradise. A Fantasy class ship holding 2,052 passengers (the largest to ever sail to Cuba) with fun on board activities like a water slide, Seuss at Sea kids activities, Spa Carnival, and the Serenity adults only area.

Sailing dates are July 13, Aug. 14, 24 and 28, Sept. 7, 21 and 25, Oct. 5, 9 and 19, 2017, as well as May 3, 2018. Be sure to find a sailing that fits into your schedule before they are gone. What a great opportunity!

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QOTD: Would you be interested in sailing to Cuba? 

Disclosure: I was invited to this special day by Carnival, however all opinions are my own. 

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?

Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive

Disclosure: I was hosted by Wyndham for my stay in their resort. However, all opinions are my own.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Bobby and I decided we wanted to take Emma Kate to her very first water park in Orlando. When Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive invited us to stay as their guests, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity.

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The best thing about this resort is that you can stay where you play. It is the official resort of I-Drive 360, and there is so much to see and do, many things within walking distance (Like the Orlando eye). It’s also only twelve miles from the airport, so you are literally close to everything. The resort also offers a complimentary shuttle to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, and SeaWorld.

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I loved all the greenery and tropical plants surrounding the walkways and the pool areas. There are also plenty of dining options including a bar in the lobby and at the pool. The resort is also home to Gatorville, he poolside grill and bar.

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The rooms all have pillowtop mattresses, 40” flat screen tv’s and mini refrigerators. We were in a king room/family suite that included a separate area with bunk beds and another TV for the kids.

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I really love the idea of the bunk beds, I just wish there was a door or partition to close off this area from the rest of the room. Emma Kate LOVED the bunks though and hung out on the top one all evening.

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Another thing I liked is there is complimentary wifi at the resort. I was given a password upon check in and logging on was super easy.

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Also, there are TWO outdoor pools as well as a heated spa, and a renovated fitness center. The lounge chairs at the pool looked so nice and relaxing!

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This resort also boasts over 60,000 square feet of meeting space. There are two grand ballrooms, and a catering team ready to meet your wedding, party, or business needs.

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I wish we had more time to explore the area, as there were so many things within walking distance we could have done! There is the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, the 7D Dark ride adventure, and great restaurants and shopping like Tervis, Buffalo Wild Wings, and the Sugar Factory.

Probably the best thing about this resort is the price. Rates start at just $79 per night, so it’s perfect for a quick getaway, girls weekend, or business trip.

QOTD: Have you ever stayed here? What do you look for in a resort?

Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas

Disclosure: I attended an expenses paid trip to Walt Disney World for a media event. However, all opinions are my own.

If you read my recent post about all of the amazing and fun things to do on Disney’s Boardwalk, then you may be thinking “gosh, it would be really nice to stay here and be right in the middle of the action!” Well, you would be absolutely right…it IS really nice! Being able to experience all the Boardwalk has to offer, and then simply walk back to your room at night. No buses, no driving—Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas is perfect if you ask me.

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I wanted to tell you a little bit about this resort because sometimes people get confused when it comes to places with “regular” rooms and villas.

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1.) You do NOT have to be a Disney vacation club owner to stay in a villa.

2.) The “Inn” is the portion on the right side when you walk in the lobby, and the villas are on the left side. Check in for both is at the same place.

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3.) A deluxe studio is very similar to a regular hotel room, except instead of two queen beds, there is one queen bed and a sofa sleeper. There is also the addition of a kitchenette. While both rooms have a refrigerator, only the villa side has a microwave. Photo below is of a deluxe studio.

Boardwalk Villas (2)

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4.) If you are staying at the Inn or in the villas, you still have access to all the pools at the Boardwalk. The feature pool/Luna park is on the villa side, but Inn guests simply walk over and can join in the water fun.

Boardwalk Pool Area (2)

For our stay, we had the opportunity to try out the one bedroom villas, which I had never stayed in before. The master had a king sized bed which felt like sleeping on a cloud.

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The TV’s in the villas were huge (55”), and there was a lot of natural light in the master, as well as plenty of space for storage in the closet in the bathroom.

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We were on the first floor, and had a beautiful view of the water and lush landscaping that Disney does so well. Our balcony had doors in the living room, and off the master suite.

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Speaking of the master, the bathroom was huge! The vanity had plenty of space to spread out, as well as cabinets and drawers for your things.

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I loved how you could open the room up above the large jetted tub.

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The bathroom was kind of “two in one” if you will. There was another door leading to a second sink, as well as the shower and toilet. This way, guests sleeping on the sofa sleeper could use the bathroom at night without having to go into the master bedroom. Genius! (I explain this more in the video at the end if you don’t quite know what I mean).

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The kitchen was small but cute. I loved the wood floors and the bask splash. It still felt vintage but with a modern twist. Our kitchen was fully stocked with dishes, gadgets, a stove, oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher. It was so nice knowing we didn’t have to bring any of these things with us!

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The kitchen was open into the living room where there was a table, and also a dainty little bar with two chairs. See the white door to the left in the below picture? The stacked washer and dryer were tucked away in this space.DSC_0077

One thing I would have changed is that I felt it was kind of dark over in the far corner by the TV. Maybe the addition of a standing lamp behind the chair in the corner would have made it easier to see at night.

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The mirrors behind the table made the room look huge!

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Check out the adorable print above the sofa. I loved the Disney touches throughout this space.

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There was plenty of seating for a larger family wanting to spread out, but also be together for family time in one location.

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I was in love with this light!

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I really enjoyed the updated villas, and hope to bring my family back to stay in them sometime. The proximity to the “action” was amazing. You can walk to and from Hollywood Studios AND Epcot, or take a boat. Not only do you have access to the amenities at the resort, but you can walk across to the Beach and Yacht club to dine at any of their restaurants. So much to choose from!

On top of these amazing reasons for staying at the Boardwalk Inn and Villas, you can experience extra magic hours. That’s right, guests of any WDW resort get to enter a park one hour early or stay up to three hours later than everyone else each day (check disneyworld.com for park hours info). This added time while the park is less crowded really helps to get in those extra attractions during the day. Also, don’t forget that if you are staying on property, you have access to free Disney transportation during your stay, free parking, and a free airport shuttle called Disney’s Magical Express.

Disney's boardwalk inn

I love all the extra perks for staying on Disney property, it’s so much more fun to actually stay inside the magic for your whole trip, not just while you are at the parks during the day. The cast members go above and beyond to make you feel special, and you will forever be spoiled! I hope you will consider staying at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas for your next stay, so you never have to leave the magic, or step foot off Disney property.

Please enjoy this vide tour I took of our one bedroom villa:

 

QOTD: Have you stayed at the Boardwalk? Favorite thing about it?

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!

pandora

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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?