Disney Wonder Cruise 2018: Part 3

In case you missed part 1 and 2, catch up before reading this one!

The next morning we woke up and were almost to Key West. We also had an early princess meet and greet in the lobby, so we headed there before breakfast. This is a ticketed event, but also free (we snagged tickets when we got onboard on day 1). It’s a great way to meet a bunch of princesses at one time. Emma Kate loved it!

After the meet and greet we went to breakfast. I told EK she could have a donut if she ate all her food. Thankfully after she was sufficiently sugared up we took her to the pool to burn some energy. The weather forecast for the rest of the week was iffy, so we knew we needed to take advantage of the sunshine while we could (even if it was a tad chilly!)

A huge thanks to SwimZip for sending us these adorable swimsuits! We got so many compliments and the rash guard was perfect for Emma Kate since it was a little chilly. I love that these suits help protect against the suns harmful rays!

We let Emma Kate swim and go down the slide as we docked in the port. There was hardly anyone in the pool so we were able to get great seats and the little one went down the slide a bunch of times.

I took advantage of the warmth of the sun and got a dole whip with rum in it that I had heard so much about. I was warned in advance that the consistency was more slushie like that creamy ice cream, but I still wanted to try it…and the verdict…it was not my favorite. I LOVE Dole whip floats and I love rum, but this combo was not something I would get again. I am however glad I tried it!

We decided to just grab lunch at the pool because Emma Kate was having such a blast we didn’t want to pull her out to go change and go to the buffet. Bobby went and got his own food from Cabanas and ate at the pool chairs, and I got Emma Kate and I some chicken tenders and fries, so it worked out perfectly. After lunch, we all got changed and we brought Emma Kate to the kids club so Bobby and I could go watch the Saints game at the pub. I was surprised, we were the ONLY ONES IN THERE! Where did all the football fans go?!?

We were able to watch the game, but the sound was for a different game which made it kind of confusing, but we were just happy to get to watch anyway. We grabbed some snacks and relaxed on a sofa and cheered for our team as they beat the Tampa Bay Bucs. We had a nice view out the window, too.

As the game was coming to an end, we went and grabbed EK out of the kid’s club and decided to get off the ship for a few minutes and just walk around on dry land for a bit. Why not? It has been a minute since we have been to Key West, but I love how quaint it is, and we feel super safe there just walking around. Emma Kate LOVED chasing the animals.

After about 30 minutes we made our way back to the ship to get ready for dinner. We realized we walked right into the beginning of a little show where SANTA shows up on the ship for the first time! It was cute. There were lots of characters, and even snow!

Dinner that night was in Triton’s, but we took some family photos before we went in.

This one is my favorite haha

At dinner, EK decided to eat a lime, which was hysterical.

After dinner it was back to the kids club (she was SO antsy at Dinner I took her before we even ordered dessert.) and Bobby and I walked around on the deck and went back to Cove Cafe again. In the room that night we had a sweet gift from Disney, Emma Kate was pumped.

We were taking her to see her first movie in the theater the next day, so she was so excited we had snacks! And she loved the doll because it matched the dress she had on the night before. <3

After calming her down which took awhile, it was time for bed, and watching Elf again, before finally falling asleep.

I would love to help you with Disney Cruise questions! Email me at heather@travelwiththemagic.com

Disney Wonder Cruise 2018: Part 2

In case you missed part 1, catch up here before reading below!

We woke up the next morning ready for an awesome day at sea. First up, we had the Disney Jr. character breakfast.

Pro tip: Spots for this free but ticketed event fill up fast. However, they hold back some spots, so go to guest services as soon as you get on board to try to snag tickets.

Breakfast was in Animator’s, and we were seated right away and promptly given napkin hats.

I will say the breakfast portions were on the smaller side, so if you like a big breakfast I suggest ordering multiple items like Bobby did. However, the characters were fun! This was the first time we let Emma Kate use an autograph book, and she had a blast with it.

She was so excited to see Vamparina!

After breakfast, we saw Minnie Mouse was taking photos so we did that. The line was really short!

We also took a few pictures in the lobby and Emma Kate and I danced on “stage”.

Emma Kate was asking to go to the kids club, so off she went and Bobby and I walked around the ship taking some photos. The sun is deceptive, it was windy and pretty chilly!

The rest of the afternoon was pretty lazy. We got EK out of the club for lunch (we knew she wouldn’t eat enough or at all if we didn’t make her) and then brought her back. Bobby and I went to the gym and i’m pretty sure we all took a nap that day (the ONLY day she napped!) and then it was off to dinner for formal night. Emma Kate wore her Rapunzel dress, and we stopped for a quick dance party at Preludes before heading to Tiana’s Place.

I LOVED Tiana’s place. I know I am biased being a New Orleans native and all, but it was so fun with the music and dancing and had such an adorable atmosphere. Kudos on this one Disney!

We got to get up and dance, watch awesome musicians, and eat delicious food!

After dinner, Emma Kate was begging to go play in the club again (ok ok if you twist my arm, kid) so we dropped her off and Bobby and I walked around on the pool deck and started what would be our nightly tradition of hanging out in Cove Cafe and getting a snack.

Pro tip: In the evenings they had delicious cheese and crackers (like the kind from Palo) for free. So we would get a snack and sit in the quiet and relax.

They also had some seasonal coffee drinks for an extra charge.

We picked Emma Kate up around 9:00, watched Elf on TV for the 14th time so far, and went to sleep. More coming up soon!

If you would like help booking your next Disney cruise, let me know! heather@travelwiththemagic.com

Emma Kate’s First Cruise

Happy Tuesday! If you follow me on Instagram you already know this, but we decided to take Emma Kate on her first cruise as our big family Christmas gift this year! We will be sailing for 7 nights on the Disney Wonder, which was the very first Disney ship I ever sailed on. We have an oceanview room, and will be making stops at Key West, Castaway Cay, and Nassau.

Bobby and I have cruised with Disney several, times, but never with a child. There are so many things I can’t wait to show her, and I know she is going to love the kids club, too!

In honor of the cruise (we leave the end of this week), I thought I would share some of my favorite cruise photos with you.

PS: I would love to help you book your next Disney cruise! Email heather@travelwiththemagic.com for details. It’s free for me to help you!

Packing for the runDisney Dopey Challenge

A few years ago, I wrote a post about packing for runDisney’s marathon weekend. I even included a fun video to help be your guide, and I thought packing for TWO races (Goofy) would be the most I would ever pack for. Check out that link if you want a super extensive packing list! But today we are talking about the runDisney Dopey Challenge.

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Fast forward to 2014 when I ran the inaugural Dopey Challenge. I felt pretty prepared going in but learned a few tricks that may help you pack and be prepared for 48.6 miles. When running the runDisney Dopey Challenge, remember you will need FOUR of most things. This can get quite confusing when you may also need park clothes, nice clothes for dinners, etc. Here are my best tips for packing for the runDisney Dopey Challenge itself.

1.) Ziploc Bags:  You will need four sports bras, four pairs of socks, four outfits, etc., and it can get confusing as to which you want to wear for what race. To minimize confusion (and a messy suitcase) pack the items you need for each race in a ziplock bag or two, and label the bag with a sharpie. Be flexible. The year I ran one race ended up being way hotter than another, so I ended up switching up what days I wore what costume because one was cooler than the other.

2.) Carry on your shoes: If you are flying, be sure to carry on or wear your running shoes. Most other items are replaceable, but you don’t want to run (especially four races!) in new shoes if your bags get lost! I also carried on my costumes, but feel I would have been ok had I not had them now that I have done the challenge.

3.) Extra running shoes: I brought three pairs and rotated them out for the races. This helped me not get blisters badly on the early days, which would have made the full miserable on day 4. Also, in case one pair gets soaking wet, muddy, etc. you will want to have a backup pair for the other races, or for going to the parks.

4.) Lots of fuel: I take fuel/GU every 4ish miles, so between my husband and I we consumed a lot! (They also sell GU etc. at the expo but don’t try anything new for the race!) Also, keep in mind your hydration. I think runDisney does a great job of providing liquids on course so I have never brought my own water bottles, but you do you if that’s what you are used to doing!

5.) Recovery aids: In between each race there are certain things you can do to minimize stiffness and aches for the next race. I brought my traveling stick/foam roller, ibuprofen (do not take ibuprofen before a race, take Tylenol if you must!) compression socks and pants, and Biofreeze. You can also bring extra Ziploc bags for ice at your hotel or just take an ice bath.

6.) Gear for multiple weather scenarios: It’s Florida in January. You literally never know what it will be. I have run in 17 degrees and snow flurries, and ran an 85-degree marathon, all the same weekend in January a few years apart! Bring throw away gear just in case, as well as rain gear (related: tips for running in the rain.) and make sure you have layers especially if you have certain costumes you are wearing. Don’t plan a costume that only looks good with long pants in case it’s hot, and vise versa, don’t only plan one with tank tops or you may freeze! have options just in case.

I hope everyone has a wonderful race experience in January at the runDisney Dopey Challenge!

For information on runDisney events, registration, and dates be sure to check out runDisney.com

7 Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday in Walt Disney World

When my mom was about to turn 60, her one wish was to have a fun girls trip in Walt Disney World. Since her birthday falls on Christmas day, she has NEVER gotten a lot of ”hoopla” for her birthday. Sure we know better than to wrap her birthday gifts in Christmas paper, and not get her a red and green cake, but let’s face it, everyone is so busy with the holidays it’s hard to focus on a birthday other than that of baby Jesus!

Celebrate Your Birthday in Walt Disney World

When she told me she really wanted a quick girls trip to Disney to celebrate her birthday, I sprang into action to plan for the most FUN birthday bash ever. After all, she totally deserves it as the most selfless giving person ever. When I started making our October plans and doing some research, I got frustrated trying to think of things and having to hop all over the internet to find different things, so I thought I would come up with a list of fun birthday things to do in Walt Disney World for adults (kids at heart, right?) Hopefully this list will be helpful to some people looking for fun ways to celebrate!

 

7 Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday in Walt Disney World:

1.) Mark your reservations: Be sure when you book your vacation that you mention there is a celebration going on. That way, it can be marked on your resort reservation and your dining reservations. There is no guarantee, but resorts and restaurants have been known to sprinkle a little pixie dust for birthday guests. When I check in I also make sure it was noted properly on the reservation. We have gotten balloons and cards in our room, chocolate, cupcakes at lunch, free dessert at dinner, and more. (Please please remember this is NOT something Disney has to do, it’s just “extra” so try not to expect it so you won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.)

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2.) Birthday button (and hat, shirt, etc): Grab a birthday button at your resort or at the theme parks. Wear it with pride and watch the magic happen! Cast members and guests alike will tell you happy birthday and make you feel extra special. The button is a freebie, but if you want to pay for a little something extra, you can purchase a birthday ear hat or have a shirt made at Downtown Disney letting everyone know it is your birthday.

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3.) Cake: Let me tell you, Disney makes some AMAZING cakes. You can call the cake hotline and have a customized cake made and delivered to your resort or at certain restaurants around the property. I have been lucky enough to be the recipient of several cakes throughout the years. Thanks to my fellow cake fiend Jen, and they are so worth it, and such a fun surprise!

 

4.) Spa treatment: There is a spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort, and also at Saratoga Springs resort. Jen and I actually had pedicures done on my birthday one year, and it was so fun! They have a full spa menu if you are looking for some extra pampering with friends or family.

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5.) Fireworks dessert party: Disney knows how to light up the night sky, and they have been wise enough to pair their amazing fireworks with dessert parties, fireworks cruises, and the most recent addition, the Ferrytale Fireworks dessert cruise during the nightly fireworks. So many fun things to choose from (book well in advance for these events!)

6.) Guided Tour: There are a plethora of tours around Disney property, ranging from a behind the scenes Magic Kingdom tour, to a wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I think most people would be plenty excited to get to take part in a special tour on their special day.

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7.) Recreation: A lot of people don’t realize there is so much more to do at Walt Disney World than go to the parks. A birthday is a perfect occasion to do something special. Some examples are: play a round of golf, rent a boat at one of the many marinas, parasail, rent a surrey bike, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Thanks for reading my tips on how to celebrate your birthday in Walt Disney World

QOTD: Have you ever celebrated your birthday in Walt Disney World? What did you do?

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.

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

5 Tips for Running When you Travel

Update: This post on 5 Tips for Running When you Travel first appeared in 2015, and I have now updated it, in October of 2018. 

If you are anything like me, you might make excuses when you are traveling for why you can’t go for a run. I have used every logic possible to talk myself out of a run, but in the end, I always regret not running when I travel. When I’m traveling, no matter if it’s by car or air, I always tend to eat more unhealthy than I do at home, and I’m sitting more than I do at home, so if there was ever a time I needed to run, traveling is when it is! So below I have compiled 5 Tips for running when you travel. Enjoy!

5 Tips for Running When you Travel

1.) Research the area: It’s not wise to just take off running from your hotel without knowing a bit about the area. Maybe you could even try to connect with local runners on social media and ask them their favorite routes. Traveling is a great time for exploring a new place! Maybe find a route that has a convenience store you can stop at along the way for a bottle of water, or a park with a scenic trail. Remember, knowledge is power!

2.) Pack well: I know there are a million thoughts going in and out of your head when trying to pack for a trip, and thinking about running gear may be the last thing on your mind. However, if you have everything you need all together in one bag you may be more likely to actually go for a run when you reach your destination. I bring a drawstring bag with my GPS watch, headbands, GU, body glide, sunglasses*, etc. whenever I travel so there is no excuse and no rummaging around in my suitcase. Then it’s just a matter of throwing in a couple running outfits and my shoes!

3.) Be safe: Always tell someone where you plan to run and what time you will be back, even if it’s a text to a friend or a front desk worker at the hotel. Be mindful of your surroundings! If you listen to music, make sure you can still hear your surroundings. You need to be on the lookout, especially in a bigger city where you may be crossing streets or around a lot more cars.

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Stopped at a crosswalk on a group run in Boston at the Healthy Living Summit.

4.) Make time: This is a big one for me! Travel wears me out y’all. The last thing I want to do after a long day of driving or flying is lace up my running shoes! It is important to look at your schedule and pencil in a time to hit the hotel gym or run the roads, or it may not actually happen. Sometimes the only available time is late at night, but it’s a good excuse to get out of your boring hotel room.

5.) Call the hotel: Hotel workers are your friend! Usually, they are super knowledgeable of the area, and can hopefully tell you areas you should probably avoid, or a place where runners go on the weekend to log some longer miles. They may even be able to give you the number of a local running store you can call for help as well. It never hurts to ask!

Thanks for checking out my 5 Tips for Running When you Travel.

QOTD: What is your best tip for running in a new place? To you venture outside or stick to the hotel gym?

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase through my link I receive a small commission.

Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay 5K

Update: This post about the Disney Cruise Line Castaway Cay 5k was originally published in 2013, but I have since updated it and am republishing it now, in October of 2018.

Disney Cruise Line has a private island in the Bahamas called Castaway Cay. They also have a FREE 5k race you can run with a real medal given to you at the finish line. I have written other Castaway Cay 5k posts, you can search for them after reading this one, which is Everything You Need to Know About Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay 5K including a walkthrough of how the morning goes. (If you want the short, bullet point tips version scroll down to the bolded wording)

Castaway Cay is Disney’s private island that most of their cruises sail to at the end of the voyage. The Castaway Cay 5k is considered a runDisney run. It is a free fun run and is a 5k distance that has a race clock so you can see your time at the end.

The process of the 5k has changed over the years, but as of January 2018 when I last ran, below is the process:

-You sign up at the shore excursion desk and are given “tickets” telling you where to be and when.

-There will also be information in your navigator on where/how to sign up and where to be the morning of the race.

-We met in the main nightclub area which will be different depending on the ship you are on.

-They won’t let you in to “sign in” until a certain time, and the line outside gets quite long.

-BRING YOUR ID AND SHIP CARD. They will sign you in, and give you a race bib and safety pins

-Take a seat and hang out and meet new people until they come on stage explaining the debarking process and race map to you.

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Typically, you walk off the ship together and to the starting point by the bike rentals. Please note it’s a pretty long walk, so be prepared.

At 9:30 when we were cleared to go ashore onto Castaway Cay (time changes depending on sailing). We walked together off the gangway as a large group and onto the island. A cast member led the way.

PRO TIP: Grab some towels to put into your backpack. Backpack? What backpack? That leads to my most important pro tip. Bring all your stuff for the day with you! They have a large box to store belongings in at the start/finish line. Trust me, you don’t want to walk aallll the way back to the ship after to shower and change then come aallll the way back. That will waste an hour of your day on this beautiful island. Instead, we pack a bag with our swimsuits, shower wipes, deodorant, sunscreen, and anything else we will need for the day post-race. Then after we run, we shower off outside the bathrooms, then go in to change, wipe off, and get ready for the day.

Ok so where was I. The starting line is also the finish line, and there are directional arrows on the course. The biggest problem people have is that they don’t listen. You have to make TWO TOTAL LOOPS at one point in the race and for some reason, this is confusing for people.

castaway Cay 5k

There will be cast members there to help get everyone lined up and ready.

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Just like any race, it’s harder to move at first then it thins out pretty quickly.

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Soon after you start you will see your first directional sign in red (below). As long as you aren’t in first place just follow the people in front of you ha!

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You will then see a cast member standing by a water stop directing you into the bike loop.

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The loop is my least favorite because you have to run it twice and it’s just tree after tree.

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After you exit the loop, you head down the airstrip to Serenity Bay.

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Once you get to the end you are supposed to loop it like a cul de sac and come back the other way then head into the loop again. Some people cut this turn short and cheat but I feel that only cheats yourself so just run the whole thing. 🙂

You then head back down the airstrip and this would be a great time to grab water before heading back into the loop if you need it.  After you make it out of the bike loop you head back towards the finish line which was the way you first came/also the start line. The finish feels great, and be sure to watch the clock as you cross so you can see what your time is.

Castaway Cay 5k

There are water coolers at the finish line, plus your medal! There was a photographer as well who was taking pictures. If you buy a photo package they have adorable little race decals at the bottom!

There are bathrooms near the finish (which is where we change) and there is also a shop that sells 5k merchandise. Be mindful that they have been known to run out, so don’t wait until the end of the day if you want a cute shirt.

We then grab our bags out of the box and change, then head to the tram stop which happens to be right by the finish line. We then head out to Serenity Bay, and hit the beach for an amazing and relaxing day on Castaway Cay!

Here are my best tips summed up that I have learned after doing the Castaway Cay 5k 10 times that may be useful.

1.) Bring your beach clothes and things with you in a bag or backpack so you don’t have to go back to the ship. You will waste a good 45 minutes to an hour walking back, showering, and coming back out when you can change and shower at the beach. They have a large bin you can keep your things in at the start line.

2.) Get towels when you get off the ship. I am so glad we did because they did NOT have towels at Serenity Bay and we would have had to go back and get some.

3.) Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat. It’s HOT and there isn’t a lot of shade on the course, especially on the airstrip.

4.) Hydrate! They set up a water stop at the bike loop, but you can also take advantage of the water stops in the bike loop and at the Serenity Bay tram stop.

5.) SOMETIMES they have a Disney character waiting at the finish line (didn’t this time but did last time) so bring a camera or phone to capture the moment!

6.) If you want to see the island but don’t want to run, there is an “island power walk” that leaves just a few minutes after the 5k that you can join in with, or you can always rent bikes.

7.) Be sure to look at your finishing time as you cross, it’s on your left up high in a brown box

8.) At the souvenir shop right by the finish, they sell 5k finishers shirts. I wouldn’t wait until late in the day to get one in case they run out of your size. I snagged mine right after I finished the race and they had plenty.

9.) Bring your ID and ship card or you can’t check in for the race or get off the ship!

10.) Have fun! Just remember, you burned extra calories so now you can enjoy an extra Konk Cooler on the island!

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(This photo is taken from the start. When you are coming into the finish, the clock is facing the other way so you can see your time.)

Special note: Apaprently this happens VERY RARELY but it does happen and unfortunately it happened to us. We were unable to dock on Castaway Cay on one of our cruises, but we still had the 5k on the ship! We had to run around a certain number of times (9 maybe?) and they had a water stop set up and we got our medals. Not ideal, but it was nice to still get to run the race anyway! Read more about that Castaway Cay 5k experience here.

I have loved running the Castaway Cay 5k on the beautiful island, it’s a great way to start your day and you get a fun souvenir, too. Slow or fast, it doesn’t matter, be sure to give this a try on your next cruise!

Visit Travelwiththemagic.com for Disney Cruise Line information.

Walt Disney World Recap Video September 2018 Part 2

You may have seen part one of my Walt Disney World Recap Video September 2018.

Well, I am back with part two of our trip! Check out the video below for all the Disney fun, and be sure to hit “subscribe” so you don’t miss any videos on my channel. I would venture to say that Emma Kate had the time of her life.

 

 

We love Disney in the fall, the Halloween Party, Food and Wine Festival, and decorations are all amazing. Now we can’t wait for the Christmas decorations! (Ok, maybe we can wait until after Halloween!) What is your favorite time of year to visit Walt Disney World?

Walt Disney World Recap Video September 2018

Hola friends! Some of you may have seen the video recap of our media event with Disney. After the event was over, we extended our trip by a few days. I had a friend in town that let us stay with her for a bit, then we got a room at Port Orleans Riverside for a couple of days to make it an almost week-long trip. We ate at some of our favorites and really enjoyed just being together and taking our time. Check out some of the fun in the video below.

Don’t forget to hit “subscribe” so you don’t miss any future videos!

Thanks for watching y’all!