The 5 Very Best Disneyland Restaurants

Updated: This post originally appeared in 2013 and I am updating it now, in October 2018.

I have had the pleasure of going to Disneyland 3 times, and all three times were for runDisney races. We stayed for 4 nights each time and had the opportunity to eat at some fabulous restaurants. I don’t want to make one post per restaurant or go into a ton of detail, but I wanted to share with you all my favorite five table service Disneyland area restaurants and why I loved them. I hope you find a new favorite from my very best Disneyland restaurants list!

best Disneyland restaurants

1.) Napa Rose: Hands down the best meal we have had at Disneyland Resort. It reminded me somewhat of Citrico’s in WDW which I love. The service was impeccable, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere was relaxing but sophisticated. We ate here the last night of our trip on two separate vacations, and it was a great way to cap off a wonderful time. Don’t miss this one! They had a great steak for this meat lover.

NapaRose

2.) Blue Bayou: This one wins the top prize for best theming. What a cool idea to have a ride (Pirates of the Carribean) pass by the guests eating at the restaurant. The theming is amazing, and it feels like you are outside under the stars, on the bayou eating dinner. We loved the ambiance and the food was good for this Cajun girl, too. We asked to be seated by the water, (you may have to wait a little longer but worth it!) and got to watch the boats full of riders float by into the ride.

BlueBayou

3.) Steakhouse 55: This restaurant is a fancy place at the Disneyland Hotel. It has a beautiful waiting area and the restaurant itself is quite swanky, reminiscent of old Hollywood. The food was top notch here, I would put it as second best in the food category food under Napa Rose.  The mac n’ cheese was amazing. order it. Seriously. Another reason to stay on property. We just walked over from the Grand Californian for dinner. So easy!

DisneylandHotel

4.) Café Orleans: Café Orleans is a quaint little place in the Orleans Square section of Disneyland park with an adorable outdoor eating area. I love that the weather in southern California is so mild that there is lots of outdoor seating at Disneyland. We sat outside and people watched and ate gumbo and other goodies under an umbrella. it was peaceful, and a perfect lunch spot. This says a lot coming from a New Orleans native who is usually very critical of places claiming to be “New Orleans-Y.” The Monte Cristo sandwich is to die for, but is very rich, so be warned!

CafeOrleans

5.) Storyteller’s Café: This was the first dinner we eat after arriving in Disneyland. It is at the Grand Californian where we typically stay and is a fun way to kick off the trip. Bobby loves a good buffet, and this one while not huge, had a lot of delicious food that we both love. It has a light and childlike atmosphere while still being beautiful! If you aren’t staying at the hotel this would be a great opportunity to check out the beautiful grounds.

DSC_0622

QOTD: Have you eaten at any of these places? Which one looks the more appealing to you? Do you have a different Disneyland favorite?

7 Weight Loss Tips for Faster Results

When you decide you want to lose weight, you don’t want to wait until next year or next month to do it. It’s hard to even think about having to wait a couple of weeks to start seeing results. While there is no magic pill to get to where you want to be, there ARE ways to make sure you are on the fastest path safely possible to reach your goals. Here are 7 weight loss tips for faster results:

7 weight loss tips for faster results

1.) Eat All the Veggies: Not only will veggies fill you up so you won’t want to eat junk food, but they are rich in vitamins and nutrients your body loves to stay healthy and happy. You will feel better, look better, and be on your way to weight loss in no time. Don’t like veggies? Search Pinterest for recipes that “hide” that veggie taste. People are so creative and have come up with amazing recipes!

2.) Drink at Least 8 Glasses of Water: Water is great for your skin, fills you up, and keeps your systems running smoothly. It’s such a simple thing but just doing this ONE action can jumpstart your weight loss.

3.) Move 10,000 steps each day, with 4 days involving getting your heart rate UP HIGH (even if only for 15 minutes): Get a step counter or Fitbit* and get to walking! You should be moving a MINIMUM of 10k steps a day, plus several days of higher intensity workouts. Keep in mind doing hours of cardio isn’t the answer. Short bursts are super effective too!

4.) Track Calorie Intake…For Awhile: I use My Fitness Pal when I feel like I need to get back on track after a vacation of several days of not eating properly. It’s free, and a great way to give you a visual of exactly how many calories you are consuming in a day. That in itself is eye-opening enough to help you lose weight.

5.) Don’t Drink Your Calories: I will always remember this phrase from back when I used to watch The Biggest Loser. Jillian Michaels used to tell the contestants to never drink your calories! They are empty, you will still be hungry after, and they add up quick. Just look at a Starbucks menu and you will see what I mean. So many drinks have MORE calories than an ENTIRE MEAL and people drink those drinks PLUS eat a meal and then wonder why they aren’t losing weight. Stick to water except for an OCCASIONAL treat and it will quickly make a difference!

6.) Find A Workout You Love: Not all workouts are for everyone. Some love running, some love stand up paddleboarding, and some love tennis. Experiment and find what you love because then you are way more likely to stick with it. I would much rather play a game of volleyball then run for an hour, and that’s ok!

7 weight loss tips for faster results

7.) Get More Sleep: Cramming too many things into your schedule makes you less likely to want to work out or eat properly, so right there you are sabotaging your efforts. On top of that, your body will be stressed and you are more likely to get sick, so then you won’t be able to work out either! Studies show that getting enough sleep can help aid in weight loss because only getting a little bit of sleep can mess with your metabolism.

I hope you enjoyed these 7 weight loss tips for faster results!

RELATED: 7 Fitness hacks for the unmotivated

*If you purchase through this link, I will get a small percentage in commission.

Photos by rawpixelSara Dubler, Arek Adeoye, Jennifer Burk on Unsplash

Real Life Tips for Disney’s Blizzard Beach

Disclosure: Disney provided me with park tickets and meal cards for the day, however, all opinions and tips for Disney’s Blizzard Beach are my own.

I see a lot of Disney tips posts floating around that have great information, but it’s either things that everyone already knows, or it’s not practical tips to help you make the best of your day at the water park. As a real-life mom with a very real life diva three-year-old, I need the “good stuff” when it comes to tips. With that being said, let’s get down to business:

Tips for Disney's Blizzard Beach

Tips for Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park

1.) Wear water shoes: Florida is hot (and water is wet, I know I know). While Disney does an amazing (seriously, amazing) job of having water sprayers spraying down the sidewalks in a lot of places at the water park, it’s impractical for every square inch of the sidewalk to be wet. This creates very hot pavement for a large portion of the year. Solution: water shoes. Not only will you be thankful for them when you see others frantically running from wet spot to wet spot, but they really come in handy if you or your kids prefer to “walk” in the lazy river.

For instance, my darling three-year-old did not want an intertube in the giant river MADE FOR INTERTUBES, no no, she just wanted to wear her puddle jumper and run along the bottom. Even when her smart mommy told her that she was going to make her feet raw, darling daughter paid no mind and well, you can guess who was crying on the way home (ok, so maybe that was both of us, because her screaming plus traffic on I-4 tends to make me a bit teary.)

Real Life Tip: When you have a 3-year-old, the lazy river isn’t super relaxing, so set the bar low. It IS a ton of fun though, but relaxing…not so much.

2.) Tikes Peak for small kids = a parents dream: When you come into the main area of the park, be sure to hang a right and head into Tike’s Peak if you have a toddler or preschool-aged child. You will thank me later. This adorable area is a scaled-down version of Mt. Gushmore, and not only is this space mostly contained (re: once they go up the top of the “mountain” the only way down is the way they just came walking up, or to go down a slide), but it’s also super adorably themed and has PLENTY for the little Mouseketeers to do. We honestly could have stayed in this area the entire day and never gone to any other parts of the park and my child would have been happy.

Real life tip #2: Keep an eye out for photopass photographers in this area. They tend to hang out in the wading pool area and will snap pics of your kids for you. They can link to your magic band or give you a card to link later. There are usually a lot people vying for these action shot pics, so you may have to wait a minute to grab the photographers attention, but it’s well worth it!

3.) Check all the food options: It’s tempting to think that Blizzard Beach will have standard water park fare on the menu, and while you will find your favorite comfort foods, there is also plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. I had the hot dog with bacon and mac and cheese, and check out some of these other options in my photos below. Doesn’t exactly look like your typical quick service meal, right?

Tips for Disney's Blizzard Beach

Real Life Tip #3: There are several food locations scattered through the park so be sure to check out all the menus beforehand. The lines can get a little long at high noon so eat a little earlier or a later to avoid the rush.

4.) Refillable drinks: If you are familiar with Disney resorts, you may know about rapid refillable mugs. Blizzard Beach has their own version that is good for the entire day for $11.99 on sodas and the like. (Sadly no alcohol.) You can also hang on to it and bring it back another day for a discounted price on your next day of refills. If you plan to stay all day I think this is a great deal. Best to stay hydrated in the sun!

Tips for Disney's Blizzard Beach

Real life tip #4: For those that like adult beverages, there are plenty of places to get them. My favorite is the bar right in front of Melt Away Bay (the wave pool) because it’s a great spot for people watching and has a nice view.

Related: Beyond the Parks Part 1

5.) Arrive before park opening or mid-afternoon: I know I know, this sounds contradictory. Allow me to explain. If you plan to stay all day or prefer the morning hours like we do, arrive early. Every time we have gone we have been allowed in the gates before the advertised opening. While there are PLENTY of chairs at the park, some of the more coveted areas and areas in the shade go more quickly, especially areas along the wave pool and in Tike’s Peak.

Tips for Disney's Blizzard Beach

Real Life Tip #5: Tike’s Peak chairs go super quickly because all the parents want to lounge in them and sit fruity drinks while they “watch” their children play. Or maybe that’s just me? Either way, head there first to put down your stuff if you are wanting to have a seat.

A lot of people leave after lunch or in the early afternoon after there wee ones have had enough (hand raise) so this opens up chairs and spots in line for those willing to come in the afternoon after the initial crowd has gone home.

Tips for Disney's Blizzard Beach

Tips for Disney’s Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach is an amazing place to visit while at the Walt Disney World resort. The lines are usually never super long, it boasts an almost mile long lazy river, and most of the slides are family friendly. In fact, only 3 slides have height requirements! Whether you are a local coming in for the day or in the middle of a week-long vacation, be sure not to skip out on this fun opportunity to make some “real life” memories with your family. Be sure to check out my recap video below of our fun-filled day in our happy place and thanks for reading my tips for Disney’s Blizzard Beach.

Summer Humming with Humm Kombucha

Disclosure: I’ve teamed up with Humm Kombucha for this sponsored post, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

It was about a year ago that I tried Kombucha for the first time. I had read great things about it, but y’all I’m picky. I’m all about overall health and wellness here on the blog, but I just wasn’t so sure. I am happy to report after a year I am still humming along drinking Humm Kombucha (my favorite flavor is coconut lime!) from Publix here in Tampa!

humm kombucha

I actually get a good amount of questions about this, so let’s back up a bit. First, what is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented tea with probiotics and antioxidants that help contribute to your overall digestive condition. Probiotics found in kombucha balance the good and bad bacteria in the body and the antioxidants positively impact multiple systems in our body. It’s also vegan, dairy and GMO free. Humm Kombucha, is live and raw kombucha, with 2 Billion Probiotic Cultures at bottling, and comes in 8 flavors, including Pomegranate Lemonade, Hopped Grapefruit, Lemon Ginger, and Coconut Lime. Not to mention, it tastes really good! Especially on a hot summer day.

Keep reading, I love a good story like this one:

Humm Kombucha was started by two women in Bend, Oregon, brewing a mother-in-law’s kombucha recipe in their kitchen during the recession. They then created a door-to-door delivery service (hello! sign me up please!) with folks leaving money under their mat for kombucha with the goal to help the local community feel better and do better. It hits all the feels right? Nine years later, they are now sold at major stores nationwide as well as in Canada and Sweden!

So now I have a question for you. Humm is asking me, and you, how you #HummAlong this summer. And no, you don’t have to know how to sing. Trust me it’s not one of my gifts. You don’t even have to know the song, just grab a kombucha, open it up, and Humm Along. You can Humm along as you go to work, go for a run, pick up your kids from camp, or enjoy a day at one of the beautiful local beaches around your area.

Humm’s #HummAlong campaign is inspiring people like you and me to join a collective humm, bringing more people together to feel better and do better in the world. Always a good goal, right?  While we are all on our own paths and journeys, it’s the attitude we take, in good times and bad, and the company we keep that shapes us. Remember, you are the only one that can change your attitude! So how about on one of these hot, sticky days you mosey on over to Publix, grab some Humm kombucha, and #HummAlong with us. (Search the hashtag on social! Use it yourself!)

Me? How do I #HummAlong? I have been enjoying the pool life here in Florida this summer. We were able to get away for a “staycation” this weekend and make some awesome family memories. Kids grow up so fast, so getting to spend time with the ones I love is my favorite way to #HummAlong. What about you? Share on social media!

humm

Be on the lookout on my Instagram for a giveaway later today!

Top 5 Carnival Horizon Food and Drink Options

Recently I had the opportunity to sail on the brand new and beautiful Carnival Horizon. I was able to feast on many of the different dining options while on board (I think my waistline is still recovering!) and I wanted to share my favorites. That’s one of the things I love…there are SO many options, even if one is not for you, that’s ok, there are tons of others! Even 24 hour pizza and ice cream my friends. While eating and drinking to your hearts content onboard, be sure you don’t miss these Carnival Horizon food and drink options:

Carnival Horizon Food and Drink

1.) Alchemy Bar: Those familiar with Carnival have (hopefully) already tasted in the sweet goodness of the Alchemy Bar. Hands down the best drinks I have had in my life (and I don’t say that lightly!) We loved the location too, it’s a great spot right in the middle of the ship for people watching. The bar is very popular so going at off times will help you to get a front row seat to the fun.

alchemy

alchemy

 

2.) Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse: This was the best meal we had on the ship. It’s elegant and classy but also modern and fun at the same time. They have a great menu and drink menu as well. Also, the chocolate dessert is delicious and rich. I had the fillet as well as salad and dessert and several pieces of amazing bread from their awesome selection. One of the things I loved that the Horizon changed up from the Vista is that the back wall of the steakhouse is open to the piano bar during the early hours of the evening so you can listen to the music. They then later close the wall off to keep the dining room more intimate and relaxing. If you want spectacular service, food and drinks and a quiet romantic evening, then this is the reservation you want to book. Your meal includes appetizer, salad, entree, side, and dessert.

 

3.) Bonsai (and Teppanyaki): Those familiar with Carnival probably have already visited Bonsai. It is situated across from the steakhouse and next to the Alchemy bar (another great people watching spot!) They have sushi, yes, but something that is new is the Teppanyaki element. They have two hibachi tables ready and waiting for you. So make sure to make a reservation, spots go quickly! Think of it as part meal and part show. They have options such as steak, shrimp, lobster, and tofu.

 

4.) Cucina Del Capitano: This cruise was my first time dining at Cucina, and it did not disappoint. Situated up high above the Lido deck buffet, you might miss the entrance if you aren’t looking for it. I loved the adorable Italian set up, and the fact that the servers did a cute little dance for everyone mid meal. I’m a carboholic, so all the bread and pasta was right up my alley. The chicken parmesan was very filling and cheesy, and Bobby and I both enjoyed the Arancini (sssoooo good!) They also had some tasty wines and the windows offer breathtaking views of the ocean.

 

5.) Guy’s Pig and Anchor BBQ Smokehouse/Brewhouse: This is “sort of” a new addition to the Carnival fleet. While you may recognize the name, it has slightly “morphed’ into even more BBQ goodness than ever before. There is still the counter service BBQ included with the price of your cruise that you can get out on the deck at lunch, but inside you can now dine at a themed (adorably by the way) smokehouse and brewhouse for a nominal fee for dinner. The dining room has plenty of space, and the drinks are incredibly popular (the trash can nachos are my favorite!) The exclusive line of Parched Pig craft brews are only served aboard Carnival Horizon, (a smoked porter, a farmhouse ale, a hoppy IPA and a toasted amber) and they are all brewed under the supervision of an in house pro brewmaster!

pig and anchor

The best part about all of this: It doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the options on board the ship. I could have made a list of ten, but decided to stop at five because…well, it’s making me hungry. Also, GREAT NEWS: You can now book dining reservations right from the Carnival Hub app! Be sure to download it (free) before you sail so that you don’t miss a thing while on vacation.

You can check out my cruise highlight post as well!

Disclosure: We sailed on the beautiful Horizon as a guest of Carnival, however all opinions are my own.

Carb Load at Harvest Bistro

Disclosure: I was provided a free meal at harvest Bistro, however all opinions are my own.

If you have been hanging around my blog long enough, you know how much I love runDisney races. A lot goes into how I “do” a race weekend, but one thing is for sure, I love to get a good meal full of carbs the night before I run. Lucky for us (and you hopefully!) Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek provides a special Carb load dinner at one of their restaurants, Harvest Bistro, every time there is a runDisney race weekend.

Carb load before your next runDisney race at Harvest Bistro at Hilton orlando Bonnet Creek hotel

I love how much they think of runners and their needs before their big race! It’s the little things, right?harvest bistro

When I ran the Star Wars challenge in April, I decided I needed to check out said menu and the chef was kind enough to make me miniature portions of all three so that I could test out all the flavors and tell you about them. (You can also order off the regular menu while you are there.)

harvest bistro

First we have the chicken meatball rigatoni. Pomodoro braised chicken meatballs with fresh basil. It was the most hearty of the three, and the chicken was delicious. The sauce and pasta were both very filling and I would definitely get this again!

harvest bistro

Next up was the fettucini carbonara. It contained sauteed pancetta with fresh green peas and roasted tomatoes. This is my favorite style of pasta, and the pancetta gave it really nice flavor. It was filling without being too heavy, and the peas gave it a nice touch as well. This was my favorite of all three!

 

harvest bistro

Lastly was the vegetarian option of whole wheat spaghetti. It was tossed with carrot walnut pesto and topped with lemon zest and parmesan. It was unique, but slightly too “herb” tasting for my liking, but that’s just a personal preference of course. I ate all three and would definitely come back!

harvest bistro

This restaurant is located downstairs, and has indoor and outdoor seating near the pool but still in a quiet and tucked away location.

harvest bistro

They open at 5:00, so you can get in plenty early and then get to bed for the race morning wake up call, fueled up and ready to run.

harvest bistro

Also, if you are looking for a place to stay during your runDisney weekend, check out this post as to why this is my hotel of choice!

harvest bistro

The meals are $18 per person, and if you want to lounge in your room and put your feet up while you eat, you can also order this special menu through in room dining!

 

4 Tips to Stay Sane and Healthy This Summer

Disclosure: This post was created by myself and sponsored by Personal Trainer Food. However all opinions are my own.

It’s that time of year again. Kids are getting out of school for summer, which would make you think things are slowing down, but often the opposite happens. Between camps and work and the pool and trying to keep our children busy, things can end up being more hectic than the school year, leaving little time for yourself, and more importantly your health. I have compiled four quick tips (you know, because you are already too busy for like, 17 tips) to help keep you sane and healthy this summer.

1.) Schedule “me” time into your day (learn to say no): We want our families to be happy, and a lot of times we equate that with busyness and activities. However, this can end up running us ragged and leaving no time for a little peace and quiet, or for a run or yoga class. Your health and well being are important, so don’t be afraid to say no to a social activity or pool play date every once in a while so that you can have some downtime yourself. I promise your kids won’t be scared for life!

4 tips for staying healthy this summer, including personal trainer food

2.) Get outside with your kids: Summertime is a great time to get outside and lead by example and show our kids the importance of being active. Thankfully in our day and age, there are some amazing ideas for fun outdoor activities on Pinterest. I have seen everything from outdoor Twister to water balloon fight ideas and more. Not only is this healthy, but can be a great bonding experience for your family.

4 tips for staying healthy this summer, including personal trainer food

3.) Wear sunscreen and sunglasses: After the bleakness of winter, if can be hard to flip the switch and remember that you are now wearing tank tops and shorts and not long sleeves and pants. Don’t skimp on the sunscreen and don’t forget to reapply, even on cloudy days. Also, be sure to protect your eyes with sunglasses or a hat, even for the kiddos. If you are in the water or sweating a lot, be sure to reapply more often than normal.

4.) Try Personal Trainer FoodEating properly is at the core of our health, and it can be so tempting to grab fast food or processed snacks when you are busy in the summer, but don’t be tempted! Especially to have a good start in the morning, you need a filling healthy breakfast to keep you going during the day. Enter Personal Trainer Food.

4 tips for staying healthy this summer, including personal trainer food

Talk about QUICK on the go meals, I can have a delicious (seriously tastes really good!) omelet and maple sausage cooked and ready to eat in 90 seconds! And I don’t even have to dirty up a pan or use the stove. It’s such a  time saver, but that’s not the only plus. These meals are proven to help aid in weight loss, as they are high in protein, have good carbs in them as well as healthy fats. They are flash frozen so they keep their natural flavor and freshness which is awesome.

4 tips for staying healthy this summer, including personal trainer food

Their meals also either contain very low or no gluten, and have no fillers or hidden sugars. They just show up at your doorstep, go in the freezer, and then I just grab one in the morning and throw it in the microwave. Worries about not liking some of the food? Don’t! There are seriously so. many. options. on their website, which makes it easy to mix up every week or keep the same favorites. Their prices are fair and there are no hidden fees.

Personal trainer food

A lot of times I end up staring at the fridge not feeling like or having time to cook for my family (hello that would involve going to the store, meal prepping, cook time, etc.) and now I don’t have to worry about it. I can use that extra time to go for a run, or play a game with my family so it’s a win win for everyone. They even have quick on the go snacks you can order like cheeses, nuts, and seeds. Now I have literally no excuse for eating healthy, even when I’m super busy. Give them a try this summer, and I have a feeling you will be using Personal Trainer Food even after the next school year starts!

Easy Blueberry Protein Smoothie

This post is sponsored by Wish Farms in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own.

Recently I had the opportunity to go just outside of Lakeland, Florida with Wish Farms to visit their organic blueberry farm, Misty Organics, and learn more about the process of growing blueberries. We also got to see a packing plant and exactly how they go from farm to table, which was SO cool. We also ate at some delicious local restaurants who all used Wish Farms blueberries in special meals made for our group. Everything was so delicious and fun! It really got me in the mood to do more meals with blueberries. Since it’s getting HOT here in Florida I decided to create my own Blueberry protein smoothie that I could have before or after a hard workout. It’s super simple and fast to make with just a handful of ingredients. Great for busy on the go parents (or your kids, too!)

healthy blueberry protein smoothie

But first let’s back up so you can see exactly where these delicious blueberries come from. We visited Misty Organics, Wish Farm’s organic blueberry farm, and got to see the cool way they pot the blueberry plants and use tunnels to control the temperature of the plants. healthy blueberry protein smoothie

We learned that blueberries like water but don’t like to “keep their feet wet”, so the pots drain to help keep that from happening. I also learned that there are so many different varieties of blueberries. I had NO idea there was more than one. We got to taste several different varieties, and I could definitely tell a difference.

healthy blueberry protein smoothie

We also learned that NOW is the time to buy Wish Farms southeast blueberries! This covers Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

healthy blueberry protein smoothie

After being treated to yogurt and blueberry parfaits (of course!) we headed over to the packaging plant to see how the berries go from farm to packages to the store.

healthy blueberry protein smoothie

It was so cool to see the blueberries go up on a huge conveyor belt, get sorted by machine and by hand, and then weighed and put into packages. It truly is a very efficient process and I could have watched all day!

healthy blueberry protein smoothie

It was a great, eye opening trip that made me want to support these farmers and make even MORE things with blueberries! As a busy mom on the go I don’t have time for elaborate recipes, so this super easy smoothie recipe is not only fast to make, but you can take your smoothie with you anywhere.

healthy blueberry protein smoothie

Ingredients:

-1/2 c vanilla greek yogurt

-1/2 c Wish Farms blueberries

-1 scoop of your favorite vanilla protein power (I use Lean one)

-1/2 c unsweetened almond milk

-1-2 tbsp honey for desired sweetness

-ice cubes for desired thickness

healthy blueberry protein smoothie

Directions:

Add all items to a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

For updates, be sure to follow Wish Farms, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube

 

5 Reasons to Visit the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

Disclosure: I attended a media event at EPCOT and was able to try out some of the delicious food and drinks, however I was not asked to write this post and all opinions are my own.

5 reasons to visit the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival this spring at Walt Disney World Resort

Every spring, Epcot is blanketed in gorgeous flowers, topiary figures and gardens, and is peppered with delicious food and drink booths. It’s one of my favorite times of year to visit Walt Disney World, and the weather is the best at this time of year, too. Every year EPCOT seems to outdo itself and this year’s festival is definitely one you won’t want to miss. I could go on and on about why, but I have condensed it down to the top five reasons to visit the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival this year. Check it out:

 

1.) Flowers: This one is kind of a given, but if you love nature and the beauty that surrounds us every day, you will love seeing EPCOT decked out in bursts of color and some of your favorite characters in plant and flower form. Emma Kate loved spotting her favorites like Daisy, and the clear blue sky gave us a beautiful backdrop. I love spring in Walt Disney World! These fun characters can be found all over the park as well as gorgeous gardens, even one with butterflies!

2) Merchandise: Who doesn’t love a good Disney souvenir am I right? Not only is there a ton of new merchandise out just for the festival, but you can even buy these adorable gift cards to put on your wrist as you walk around the “world” sampling food and drink, and purchasing that new garden statue or cute light up purple rose cup.

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

The mouse ears pictures below are sure to be a hit! I just love the detailing.

EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival

This is one of two magic bands available during the festival. Any collectors dream come true.

 

 

3.) Play area for kids: I have a very active three and a half year old, but happen to be a very tired mommy. I love the special play area for kids, not only because it keeps my child busy and exploring, but because it has chairs, and umbrellas, for tired walking feet. Double win for our family! This play are can be found on the right on your way into World Showcase.

 

4.) Garden Rocks concert series: Music lovers listen up! During the festival there will be over a dozen musical acts at 5:30, 6:45, and 8:00 pm on the Garden Rocks stage. There will be some old “familiar” faces as well as some new ones!

 

5.) Food: Not to be missed are the outdoor kitchens, which is my favorite part. There are over a dozen stops that open at 11:00 am daily. Check out the Disney Website for a list of all the kitchens and menu items. Below are some of my personal favorites.

 

  • Maple Popcorn Shake with Crown Royal Maple Whisky and
  • Griddled Maple Pound Cake with Warm Peach Compote and Sweet Corn Gelato

  • Beef Brisket Burnt Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider with Garlic Sausage, Chorizo, Cheddar Fondue and House-made Pickle

  • Toasted Pretzel Bread topped with Black Forest Ham and Melted Gruyère Cheese. (I had two of these!)

There were so many other delicious things to eat and drink but I just wanted to share my absolute MUST HAVES. I would love to know your favorites! So be sure to get to EPCOT as soon as you can. Don’t wait, because the festival will only be around until May 28th, 2018.

 

Occidental Grand Cozumel All Inclusive

Disclosure: We were given a discount on our day passes to Occidental Grand through Resort For A Day, however all opinions are my own.

Bobby and I have been to Cozumel numerous times while on cruise ships, and we wanted to go somewhere we had never gone before. I started doing some research on ResortForADay.com as we love a good all inclusive, and I stumbled on Occidental Grand, which is a resort, but the offer day passes for cruise ship passengers. It looked like the perfect place to spend the day. We purchased our passes quickly and easily on the website, brought our print out conformation with us on the ship, and waited for our day in Cozumel.

The resort is very private. We took a taxi there and it was about a ten minute ride. There is a guard at the gate, as well as lush tropical landscaping. The open air lobby was beautiful, (I wish we had more time to just wander around), and we checked in and were given directions to the beach and pools.

You have a to walk a little ways to get to the beach, but the walk is gorgeous and totally worth it. We passed different buildings that house guests, as well as sculptures, plants, and fountains.

We met several new friends along the way. I have no idea what these guys are but there were adorable and not skiddish.

We followed the Caribbean music and made it to a gorgeous pool and beach area where there were towels, clean bathrooms, plenty of chairs, and an open bar.

You could also get a beach cabana massage for an additional fee.

These cabana beds were first come first serve. They were up off the beach but we ended up in one in the afternoon where we snoozed for a few minutes before heading back to the ship.

Included in our day pass along with the open bar was a buffet lunch. It wasn’t spectacular food, but it was decent quality and there was plenty to go around with lots of variety, as well as soft serve ice cream which was a great way to end the meal.

The views at lunch did not suck.

occidental grand

We spent most of our day reading and lounging steps from the beautiful clear water, only getting up to go back to the bar!

While children are allowed at this resort, I only saw about four of them. They did have a staff member at the pool playing games with them which I thought was nice, but if coming for the day keep in mind it was mainly adults and there were no big water inflatable toys like at some of the other all inclusive beaches. We had the opportunity to speak to a couple of people who were staying at the resort and found out it was their fourth time they love the resort so much!

occidental grand

Hearing this made us want to come back and stay, as the grounds are beautiful and we found the beach area very quiet and serene. They also had an adults only pool but it is not on the beach. (below). The property was very well maintained and the staff was friendly. The only negative was the drinks were not super strong unless you specifically asked the bar tender to make it that way. My first drink was very bland and watered down, but the next one was good.

Check out this info from the Resort for a Day website:

The All Inclusive Experience: 
Your Cozumel Resort For a Day Pass includes lunch and snacks! Enjoy lunch from 12 pm – 4:30 at the Beach Club, which offers an international thematic buffet with a spectacular ocean views. Getting thirsty? Cool down with your drink of choice; unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included in this Cozumel shore excursion. Bars open at 10am. Resort For a Day cruise guests are welcome to arrive as early as 9:00am and stay up till 5:00pm. (These times are always local Cozumel times).
Getting There:
Transfers are not included, taxi service is readily available both at the cruise pier and at the resort for your return. We recommend heading back to the cruise ship 2 hours prior to your scheduled departure. Here are easy transfer tips based on your arrival pier:

  • Punta Langosta: 20 min tax ride, about US $18 for 1-4 guests.
  • International Pier: 8-10 min tax ride, about US $8 for 1-4 guests.
  • Puerta Maya: 8-10 min tax ride, about US $8 for 1-4 guests.

We would go back again on an adults only trip, I really enjoyed our day at the Occidental Grand!