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.

ESPN WWOS Media FAM Day 3 Part 2

Disclosure: I was invited to a 3-night media event by Walt Disney World, however, all opinions are my own.

(Check out day 1, 2, and 3 before reading this one!)

We left off on day three after our time at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Disney then provided us with Minnie Vans to go wherever we needed to go! It was so much fun to use this awesome new(ish) service. Since Bobby and Emma Kate were at Animal Kingdom, that’s where I headed in my van to meet up with them.

It. was. hot. We only stayed a little while and Bobby did Flights of Passage while Emma Kate and I did the Navi River Journey.

Our plan was to head back to the Boardwalk and then go to the pool, but it started storming as soon as we got back. So we decided to just take a rest and Bobby would take her later while I was at the final event for the trip.

I met up with the group and we rode over to EPCOT. We were having dinner out on the patio of Spice Road Table. I was excited because I had only ever had drinks here and not a meal. Meanwhile, EK and Bobby hung out on the Boardwalk and went to the pool.

The drinks at Spice Road Table are delicious and we had an amazing view of the water.

I had the filet and it was delicious. (The restaurant also did a great job accommodating allergies in our group!)

We had a great time eating and chatting, and then took a leisurely walk over to our Illuminations dessert party. Due to the threat of rain, they set up the party inside, and then after we had dessert we walked out to our special spot for the fireworks.

The show was great, but then sadly it was time to say goodbye to the new friends I had made on the trip. I learned so much about the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, and can’t wait until EK is old enough to play there herself.

Don’t go away just yet, the next day we headed to Toy Story Land before going home, and I will do one more post all about it. A huge thanks to Disney for hosting us!

ESPN WWOS Media FAM Day 3 Part 1

Disclosure: I was invited to a 3-night media event by Walt Disney World, however, all opinions are my own.

In case you missed day one and two, go back and read those first!

Day three of the media event was the “big day” where we were busy all day long at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. I went into a lot of details of the events, etc on this post, but I will add in a few more as I talk about this day.

We began the day bright and early at the complex. Thankfully they had breakfast and coffee for us. It was cool to see some of the healthy food options you can purchase for your sports team. In my box was an avocado bagel, apple, orange juice, and yogurt. It hit the spot and is definitely something I would be happy for my child to eat as opposed to sugary on the go cereals or pop tarts.

After breakfast, we toured the entire complex, which took a while but was so much fun! (This place is huge, so we did some touring via golf cart.) After seeing the new arena and all the courts it has, we got to hang out with Goofy and Nick Anderson of Orlando Magic fame. He was so nice and spent a ton of time talking to us (check out my Instagram TV channel to see some of what he said.

He even gave me some pointers on my follow through (I haven’t touched a basketball in about 10 years yall) and it was so great to be on the court again.

We sadly left the arena after hanging out with Nick and Goofy, and made our way over to the VISA Center where we learned about the on the spot tee shirt printing services that are offered. It’s so cool that you can get your name, number, team name, and much more printed on a shirt. We even got our own shirts!

Next we got to see the real live working studio where sports reporting is done. It was so much fun to sit behind the desk and pretend like I was important haha! What’s cool is that they can change the colors of the studio (like the yellow and blue in the below photo) depending on what they are covering. How cool!

Next, we headed into the production studio which was SO COOL. I wrote more about it on the link I posted at the top of this page so won’t go into a ton of detail, but it’s so cool how much video footage these guys have on all the events that go on at the complex. It seems so intricate and detailed.

After learning all about the production side, we hopped on some golf carts and headed out to the soccer fields to catch some of the tournament action. I loved seeing people everywhere anad so many games going on at once.
Next, we headed back inside to take a look at the game day photo options. You can get your picture taken holding your favorite sporting equipment and have it put on balls, blankets, Christmas ornaments, and more. You can even hire a photographer to take action shots of your child during their game so you can just focus on cheering. I love this option!

We all had our pictures taken and happened to be put on the cover of ESPN magazine. 🙂 It was soon time for lunch, and we had a delicious spread and ate while listening to more wonderful cast members talking about the complex and then my favorite…runDisney!

At the end of the day we were surprised with an amazing gift…a race entry into the runDisney Walt Disney World marathon weekend! I was of course super pumped because I was not planning on signing up for any of the races. It was so generous of them, and I can’t wait for you all to follow along in my journey on race weekend.

This post is getting long so I’m going to break this day up into two posts, so stay tuned for more!

ESPN WWOS Media FAM Day 2

On Sunday morning we hung out at the hotel for a little bit and then drove over to Disney Springs for our welcome brunch at Splitsville. It also just so happened to be the day of the World Cup soccer final! We were able to bowl, eat, and watch the game after hearing a few words from Faron Kelley and Darrell Fry about the media event, the ESPN WWOS Complex, and more.

Emma Kate had never bowled before and she had a blast!

I had plenty of delicious food and plenty of mimosas. It was also a lot of fun to be there for the game because lots of other soccer teams were at Splitsville and they were all so into the game. What a cool experience to be in Walt Disney World for a soccer tournament AND getting to watch the World Cup while there.

After brunch we headed to EPCOT for a couple of hours and Emma Kate rode Soarin’ for the first time (she was not a fan haha). It was so incredibly warm so we walked back (so nice to not have to take a bus or car!) to the room because I had another event to attend.

Bobby and EK went to dinner and the pool, and I headed to the Sports Complex to watch the opening ceremonies of the two soccer tournaments I talked about in this post. Thankfully we watched from an air conditioned suite, but it was so cool to see the dedication and love the parents and family members showed to the youth athletes by being at the ceremonies.

Each team had the opportunity to march across the field and sit in the stands with everyone else. Some of these teams came from FAR AWAY. I’m talking Bermuda, Kenya, Europe. What a cool experience. Minnie and Mickey even made an appearance in their adorable soccer outfits.

Meanwhile these two were having their own fun!

After the ceremonies we went back to the resort to change for dinner. We ate at Flying Fish Cafe, which is on the Boardwalk. Again, another perk of staying here is there are so many places to walk. Dinner was amazing and we had a nice private room so we could all get to know each other. I was even surprised with a special birthday treat and song, which was totally unexpected!

It was a late night, so I headed to bed because the next day we would be at the Sports Complex all day, and I couldn’t wait to see some of the new additions and see the soccer tournaments in action.

ESPN WWOS Media FAM Day 1

Disclosure: In case you missed my post about youth sports and ESPN Wide World of Sports, you can check it out here. I was provided with a free trip to WDW for this FAM, however all opinions are my own.

Recently my family and I attended a media FAM at Walt Disney World, and we arrived on Saturday although the FAM trip didn’t start until Sunday. We checked into our hotel, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, mid morning, and were pumped that our room was ready! We went ahead and unloaded the car and then headed to Magic Kingdom.

The refurbished (I think last year?) rooms are so nice and clean looking. Two thumbs up.

Thanks to our fastpasses from the event, we were able to do attractions like Peter Pan, Enchanted Tales with Bell, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Aladdin’s Magic Carpets. We also may have done the People Mover–twice. We also ate lunch at Peco’s Bills and watched the show in front of the castle (which EK lloovveesss).

Emma Kate got to be in the show as Belle’s horse and had a great time.

We even managed to get a family picture at the purple wall! Check out that hand on her hip. She truly is a blogger’s child.

We stayed all day and even watched the parade. In the late afternoon (it was so hot yall) we hopped on a boat and headed to Ft. Wilderness. My birthday was the day before, and I wanted to have a Disney birthday dinner at Trail’s End, our favorite Disney buffet. Dinner was delicious, and our server sang a special happy birthday to me (yee haw!) in true southern style.

After dinner we let Emma Kate play on the playground where she managed to walk behind a swing and get smashed into the ground and covered with dirt. After a long walk in hysterics to the bathroom getting her cleaned up, we decided it was time to call it a night, and got on the boat back to the Magic Kingdom…so we could take the monorail back to the TTC, then the tram to our car and our car to the resort. WHEW. When we got back we decided to walk around the Boardwalk for a few minutes. I LOVE the Boardwalk at night, and we people watched, got ice cream samples, and watched a magic show.

It was so nice to just be able to walk right back up to our room and get ready for bed. We had a big day the next day and needed to get some sleep. Stay tuned for day two and the media FAM!

Youth Sports Events to Remember at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Disclosure: For this media trip I was hosted by Disney and visited the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, however all opinions are my own.

When I was growing up, I played on several different youth sports teams. I played recreational soccer in my town, and I played basketball, volleyball, and ran track at my school. I still remember how excited I became when it was time to “travel” to tournaments. I’m fairly certain the farthest we ever traveled was a couple of hours away, but to me it was a very special experience.

That being said, after learning about all of the amazing youth sports opportunities at the “Florida Picturesque” designed Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, I know that grade school Heather would have been jumping  out of her skin with excitement. Let me help you understand what I’m talking about.

Let’s say your youth baseball team is coming to play in a tournament at the complex. Just a few of the options available to you and your team/family include:

-Team meals: You can place orders in advance for fast and healthy meals, snacks, and beverages. The meals are delivered right to your competition venue so parents and coaches don’t have to stress.

-Equipment drop: For certain events, teams are able to drop their equipment off at a special drop zone to be transported to their field instead of lugging it all around the large complex. So fancy!

-Gameday photography: I love this one. For teams and parents who would like professional photos of their child playing in their game, you can schedule a photographer to take hi-resolution pictures for you so that you can sit back and enjoy watching. There are many packages available, as well as posed photos in front of a green screen. Then you can have your child’s picture put on a blanket, ball, or many other fun options. (Great Christmas gifts for grandparents!)

 

-Print-on-Demand Custom Tees: You can have a shirt printed on the spot to commemorate your game, tournament, first place win, and more. Customize with your name, team name, number, and sport. We had the privilege of having shirts made and they are so fun!

-Welcome Center: Here you can find cast members to help you find your way around the complex, help with theme park information, reservations assistance, and more.

Also, while I was visiting the complex, two huge soccer tournaments were just starting for the week, and we had the privilege of attending the opening ceremonies. These young athletes were treated like olympians with their own “parade of nations” of sorts.

As each country was announced, the teams marched onto the field singing, waving flags, and grinning from ear to ear as their fans and parents cheered from the stands. There was also a closing ceremony at the conclusion of the tournament to honor and acknowledge the players one last time. Talk about the royal treatment! Of course, Minnie and Mickey were on hand to celebrate.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Some of the events that happen at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex include:

-International Championships Cup Futures Tournament

-Jr. NBA World Championship

-runDisney race weekend expos

-Disney Cup international

-AAU National Basketball Championships

-NFL Pro Bowl Week

-National High School Cheerleading Championship

-Atlanta Braves Spring Training

-AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships

-Pop Warner Super Bowl

 

Now for a little information about the complex itself, because y’all, it’s massive.

There’s Champion Stadium, The Arena, HP Field House, Visa Athletic Center, Track and field Complex, Production center, as well as baseball, softball, and tennis areas and more. The parking lot has over 5,000 spaces, and there is even a grill so you can sit down and eat after a long and fun day out on the fields or courts. (They were using 30 fields for the soccer tournaments!) Also the fields are totally versatile and can be flipped to a different sport in as little as 24 hours if need be.

The production center is pretty spectacular. It’s a 3,200 square foot facility with two control rooms including three jumbo screens. They are now using 8k camera systems and have 24 channels of replay. They save and store so much footage, over 1,100 hours so far in 2018 to be exact.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Of course while heading to Walt Disney World for your child’s sporting event, if only makes sense to stay for a few extra days and hang out at the parks right? There is so much to explore including the all new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as Avatar, the World of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Make it a trip for the whole extended family and I’m sure your little athlete will never forget any of it.

Did you know all of this existed right on Disney property? Have your kids participated in an event at ESPN WWOS? Stay tuned for more of a play by play post of what I did during the Disney sports FAM.

What is SummerBlast at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek

Disclosure: I was provided with a stay at HBC plus some meals and the Mermaid Academy. However, all opinions are my own.

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed the amazing weekend my family had at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. It went by so fast but we had the best time enjoying the resort and just hanging out together. Thankfully there is so. much. to. do. during SummerBlast, we literally only left for a couple of hours the whole weekend!

SummerBlast is going on now through September 2nd, so I wanted to share with you the different elements of SummerBlast, and the top 5 reasons why you should stay here this summer. There are many more reasons to stay at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek not listed like Disney transportation, deluxe accommodations, golf and the spa at neighboring Waldorf Astoria, awesome restaurants and a caring staff, but that would be a REALLY long blog post, so I stuck to my favorite five, which you can check out below.

1.) Free ice cream: In the lobby on Friday afternoons upon check in (around 4:30) you can get free ice cream with tons of toppings! Think of it as a warm welcome to your weekend. Emma Kate loved picking out her toppings (sprinkles and oreos) and it was the perfect snack for satisfying our sweet tooth after the drive over from Tampa.

2.) Pool party fun: Every day at the pool, the resort team is ready and waiting for you, and hosts fun activities like hula hoop contests, pool relay games, line dancing, and marco polo. The activities start around lunch time so don’t miss it! There may even be some prizes involved. Did I mention Emma Kate is obsessed with the pool at HBC? There is a zero entry, a great waterslide (must be 40 inches, and between 40″ and 48″ must wear a life jacket) and a HUGE lazy river that we must have gone around 100 times. The kid was in heaven.

SummerBlast

3.) Mermaid Academy: The Mermaid Academy is an extra charge for boys and girls of all ages. It is hosted on Wednesdays and Saturdays weather permitting, and there are different packages available for purchase. (Boys can also wear a shark fin instead of a mermaid tail!) Kids learn “tricks” like swimming through hula hoops and landing properly in the water like a true mermaid. You can also buy a package that includes underwater photos of your little fish. (Note: While any age can participate, it’s more “immersive” if your child can swim. EK can (barely) swim so while she had a blast, I would probably wait one more summer if we were paying for it ourselves.)

4.) Dive-in Movie nights: Pull up a lounge chair or an inner tube for floating in the water and enjoy a family movie at the pool on Friday and Saturday nights. What a great way to end a perfect summer day. Moana was playing while we were staying at the hotel.

5.) Special FL resident rates: Obviously this only applies to my FL readers, but HBC has some great summer rates and deals going on through Sept. 2nd. This hotel is perfect for a staycation with it’s awesome amenities and proximity to Disney springs…and it’s a great chance to go check out the all new Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

  • Up to 12% off Best Available Rate for Honors members and 10% off Best Available Rate for non-
    Honors members.
  • Complimentary luxury motor coach transportation to Disney them
    e parks
  • Deluxe accommodations
  • Kids Meal Deals* – Kids eat dinner free; 50% discount on breakfast buffet (as part of daily resort charge)

If you have any additional questions about SummerBlast or Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek itself, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

 

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.

Carnival Horizon Bermuda Cruise Recap

I’m back from an amazing voyage on board the newly built Carnival Horizon. I have so much to share, but also wanted to write things out while they are fresh, so I decided to do a recap post highlighting the whole cruise, then go back and do some individual posts diving deeper into our experience. Keep reading for our Carnival Horizon Bermuda cruise recap:

Carnival Horizon Bermuda

On Thursday, the 21st, we flew out of Tampa and into New York. Bobby had never been to NYC before, and I was bummed we wouldn’t have time to wander around, but at least he got to see it out the window as we drove to the port! We had priority boarding so we got on the ship very quickly. Something to note, they used new mobile embarkation technology that speeds up the boarding process and checks guests in with 30% less time than before. This is great because, hello, more time on vacation, less time waiting to board. It definitely seemed speedy for us.

Once onboard we headed straight to the Lido deck to eat. We hadn’t had any food yet that day, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a delicious burger from Guys. Bobby may have had two burgers. After eating and relaxing on the adults only serenity deck for awhile, we got some pictures of the Freedom Tower and Statue of Liberty as we set sail.

That night, our press group had a cocktail reception in the beautiful Havana bar, and then dinner in the main dining room. This was my first time getting to check out the exclusive Havana pool area, and it was so nice and relaxing! We were also treated to a gorgeous sunset before heading to dinner.

Carnival Horizon Bermuda

The next day was a sea day, so Bobby and I slept in (it was glorious to wake up at 6:00 and then roll over and go back to sleep with no alarm or child that acts like an alarm!) We went to the sea day brunch, and while Bobby went to the gym, I read a book and took a nap. It was a super low key day but that’s why I loved it. We spent time exploring the ship and taking photos and videos that afternoon. We had dinner that night with the press group at Cucina Del Capitano, the speciality Italian restaurant, and then hit the hay.

The next day was Bermuda! Yall. I am not really sure what my expectations were for this port, but I fell in LOVE. The people, the water, the views, the houses, everything was beautiful and we truly had such an amazing day.

Carnival Horizon Bermuda

We were on the first shuttle out to Horseshoe Bay, and we walked and walked for an hour getting amazing photos along the way before it got crowded. The water was cool, and the temperature outside was only 83 degrees, so it was awesome.

We took the shuttle back so we could eat lunch on the ship and then we had a 1:00 excursion on a catamaran which I enjoyed way more than I thought I would. They took us to a very calm and quiet bay where we anchored and played in the water for a couple of hours. The water was so clear, and Bobby even did some cliff jumping (while I relaxed on the roof of the boat, no jumping for this girl.) We all enjoyed rum swizzles on the way back to the Horizon, and I couldn’t stop smiling because it was such a perfect day.

That night we had no plans with the group so we had an early dinner in the main dining room. I also did more reading, and we went to bed much earlier that night. We may or may not have also enjoyed that the pizza window is open 24 hours a day!

On our last sea day, I woke up at 6:20 (wwhhyyy) and went up to the Serenity deck to snag us a lounge/bed to relax in for the morning. I did more reading and enjoying the day before Bobby joined me around 9:00. We had lunch at Guy’s and the buffet before the rain started. The water got a little bit rougher, and I took a nap while Bobby went to the IMAX theatre to see the new Star Wars movie. The sun came back out later so I did some reading on the balcony as well.

 

We had drinks at the Alchemy Bar (which is amazing! Seriously don’t miss this) before dinner with our press group at the steakhouse, Fahrenheit 555, and it was delicious. A great way to round out our trip. Sadly we got off early the next morning to head back to reality. We had such a great time exploring this new ship and I can’t wait to share more detail with you soon.

If you would like to see all the videos/Instagram stories I took over the course of the cruise, go to my profile and click the highlight title “Carnival Horizon” and you can see everything!

 

Disclosure: We attended this cruise as guests of Carnival, however all opinions are my own.

 

 

Top 10 Vacation Tips To Save Money in Walt Disney World

If you have been hanging around here more than one second, you know that I love all things Disney, and this of course includes vacationing in Walt Disney World. However, it can be very expensive to vacation there especially if you have kids. Over the years I have learned a thing or two to help cut costs while still having a ton of fun. Some things just don’t matter as much if it means you get to still go to your happy place, right? Check out my top 10 10 vacation tips to save money in Walt Disney World:

Save Money in Walt Disney World

1.) Bring food from home or order groceries: All WDW hotels have mini fridges, and all DVC (disney vacation club) rooms have microwaves, and 1, 2, and 3 bedroom DVC villas have full kitchens. If you are driving to WDW, bring food with you or stop when you get to Orlando for groceries. If you are flying, take advantage of grocery delivery services like Garden Grocer. One of my favorite Disney memories is staying at a DVC resort and grilling burgers and eating outside with the family at picnic tables. (Yes all villa resorts have grills!) We aren’t big breakfast eaters so have brought milk, cereal, and protein bars for breakfast, and even made sandwiches for lunch. It saves a ton of money because let’s face it, Disney food is pricey.

2.) Purchase base tickets: Choose a base ticket instead of a park hopper to save money. Remember, with a base ticket you can only go into one park per day, but you can go in and out of that park as many times as you want. If you have little ones, consider going to a park in the morning, then going back to your resort for a nap and swim, then head back to the park in the early evening.

Save Money in Walt Disney World

3.) Target gift cards: If you have a Target red card, you already (hopefully) know you save 5% on all purchases. Did you know this includes Disney gift cards? Pick up a couple everytime you shop at Target then save them for your trip. You can even pay off your hotel or package balance with them.

 

4.) Souvenirs from home: Disney shirts, toys, and the like are SO expensive. Like it’s painful. Thankfully, I have a Disney Store outlet near my house with great prices. I have bought toys and clothes for Emma Kate there and then given them to her when we are at Disney. We have even surprised her in the morning and said “Mickey or Tinkerbell left her a present overnight”. This way we can stay out of the stores and save some money. You can literally find a lot of the same toys from the parks at the outlet (there is even one in Orlando near Disney!) or online when the Disney Stores has sales.

5.) Bring your own water:  We always bring out own water from home by the case, but you can also bring a refillable water bottle, or ask for free ice water in a cup at any counter service location. A bottle of water at WDW is $3+, and I can get a whole case for that much. Save your money for other things!

6.) Choose where you stay wisely: There are tons of on site WDW hotels, and if you go at certain times of the year and are flexible with your dates, you can go when prices are lowest and snag a resort of package discount, maybe even free dining. However, don’t be afraid to look outside Disney property. There are several great hotels near Disney Springs as well that can save you a lot of money. Remember, holidays and summer are the most expensive and most crowded.

Save Money in Walt Disney World

 7.) Chase Disney Visa: We have a Chase Disney Visa credit card that we use for everyday purchases (please note, we pay it off in full every month!) and we earn points that translate into Disney dollars. (holla!) We use the cards for everything from gas to daycare bills to groceries and money adds up fast! I have a friend who paid for 3/4 of a Disney cruise with her points, so it is like getting free money! They also offer merchandise discounts as well around the parks.

8.) Share meals: At the sit down restaurants (not the fancy ones) we have found that portion sizes are quite large, and Emma Kate and I can easily split a meal. You can always get a mickey bar or popsicle later if you are still hungry, which is actually what I prefer anyway. 🙂

9.) Have an “off” day: Disney Springs has been revamped over the past couple of years and now it’s a destination in and of itself. The best thing? It’s free! (well, unless you have a shopping problem.) Free parking, free wifi, free live music, and chocolate samples. You can also play with Legos and there is a splash pad area that has kept Emma Kate entertained many times while we eat outside at Earl of Sandwich. Take a day “off” from the parks in the middle of your trip and hit up Disney Springs for a half day, then spend a half day at the pool, or ride the monorail around and look at some of the gorgeous hotel lobbies.

10.) Bring your own stroller: Lastly, if you have small kids, bring your own stroller. This will save you from renting from an outside company or renting one of the uncomfortable hard plastic ones from the parks, which by the way you cannot take back to your hotel. It may not be a huge savings but every little bit counts when you want to have the vacation of your dreams!

Save Money in Walt Disney World

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