Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Top Five Disney Snacks

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Eating is a very important part of life and therefore, and important part of any Disney vacation. And what's a vacation without snacking? NO FUN is what I say to that!

Needless to say, I enjoy snacking when I'm on vacation at a Disney park. I walk a lot (nearly 9 miles per day in the Parks) and I get hungry. A sister's gotta take care of herself. And when the scent of delicious confections fill the air, it's really hard to say "no." So I don't! :)

Treats

5. Mickey Ice Cream Bars. Those Mickey Mouse shaped ice cream bars. So simple, and yet so pleasing. Sadly, I can never finish a whole one. That doesn't stop me from trying.

4. Dole Floats. Take pineapple juice, plopped in a swirl of pineapple soft serve, and you have a treat that is delectable. The lines for this thing are out control sometimes, but dang, is it good. And refreshing!

3. Mickey Cake Pops. I tried one of these babies on my most recent trip and OH MY GOODNESS. Best cake pops I have ever tasted. Ever. The ears are marshmallow, and the inside is this ooey-gooey rich chocolate heaven. I devoured the entire thing without even thinking twice, that's how good it was.

Treats

2. Churros. I LOVE churros. I don't even care if they're stupidly overpriced. They're a perfect snack. Not too big, not too small. Not to sweet, not too savory. Just right. I can always go for a churro.

1. Marshmallow Wands. Disney World used to have those chocolate-covered marshmallow wands that were covered in tiny Reese's Pieces candies. They have recently discontinued these delicious, amazing treats, much to my disappointment. However, they still have the ones covered in mini M&Ms, and while they're not as good as the Reese's Pieces, they do in a pinch. My favorite snack at the Disney parks HANDS DOWN. I just really hope they bring back the ones with the Reese's Pieces. Soon.

Honorable mention: These big ole cookies. My son loves them.

Mickey Cookies

Friday, December 5, 2014

All Hail Mickey Mouse!

Disney World 2014 Collage

Guess who recently returned from a really cool Disney vacation? If you guessed ME, you'd be right! :) I didn't post much about it here because well, it was such a random, sorta last minute thing. See, my brother-in-law Eli and his wife Melissa both work for the Disney company in California, so they get free tickets (four each!) and discounted accommodations for the parks. They also run marathons and crazy things like that. They came to Orlando to do the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and then to vacation a bit. Adam's family was joining them, along with Melissa's mom. That left one space for me! I just had to pay for my flight and contribute a bit to the room cost, which was VERY VERY reasonable, what they asked. And of course, buy my own food, etc.

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the gang!

The trip was from November 7-15. I had to be with Eli to get let into the park, and then I could do whatever I want the rest of the day. Sometimes I stuck with Adam's family (his mom, dad, sister, and niece), sometimes I hung with Melissa, Eli, and Vicky. Sometimes we were ALL together. A lot of times I went off by myself. I took a lot of selfies! Ha.

Back at Epcot!! ???? #Epcot #disneyworld #selfie #disney

The Magic started right away, when I went to check in and the guy at the desk gave me a pile of stickers and coloring books and crayons and buttons! And it just kept continuing, with people doing nice things, my friend Joe getting us into Garden Grill for dinner even though it had been booked for months, big hugs from Mickey Mouse and the gang, and so much more.

Here are the things I've learned the times that I was on my own at Disney World:

1. It's an interesting experience. I loved the freedom of doing what I wanted when I wanted. It was much faster and easier to weasel my way through crowds when I was by myself. I enjoyed just answering to myself. If I wanted to do something, I did it. I didn't have to get approval or wait for people, I could just go for it. And single rider lines for rides are the best. I pretty much walked right on to Test Track more than once. And there are some really warm and open people at Disney World. I talked to one wonderful woman about ten minutes and by the end of the conversation, she was embracing me. Little girls seemed to love me--so many would just stop and smile and/or say "hi" to me or just start talking to me. Little boys, too! And I got a free churro because I was at the Christmas Party by myself. If I wanted to sit and people watch, it was OK for me to do that. I didn't feel like I was putting people out when my tiny bladder made its needs known loudly and often. If people in the group were doing something I wasn't all that into, I liked being able to say "I'm going to do [some other thing] and I'll catch up with you later." I loved that.

2. Eating was so cheap when it was just me! Before I left for Disney, I purchased $150 in Disney gift cards from Target (using my RedCard so I'd save 5%), and I didn't use all of it. Granted, one meal was an expensive one and I paid for that NOT using the gift card, but the rest? Well, I came home with $20 left, and I'd even bought a souvenir with some of the gift card money. This was done with some extra help though: I had granola bars and Pop-Tarts in my room. I bought one bottle of water and kept refilling it, and I also bought a refillable drink mug (with a gift card!) to use when I was at the resort. Seeing as I was there so many nights, it was a good investment, especially on my resort day. I also have a small appetite, so many times, the kid's meal was adequate for me. I also forgot about my gift cards and got a couple of Food & Wine entries with cash. So, truthfully, I probably spent about $180 to feed myself at Disney World for nine days, including a refillable drink mug, a fancy sit down meal, and novelty snacks. I'd say $20 a day isn't bad.

3. During a long trip like this, a day in the middle to do NOTHING is a fantastic idea. I never knew the value of it until last week. I realized that I am absolutely capable of melting down like the toddlers at the end of the night (or morning or whenever) who have had ENOUGH. I was like that Monday night after the Christmas party. I was just DONE. Then I dropped my brand new phone INTO the Murphy bed that I was sleeping on (which was very comfortable by the way). I didn't sleep well. By Tuesday morning, I was a mess. I got on my computer while waiting for maintenance to come and help me get my phone out. I took my medication, and tried to calm down. It worked. Maintenance came and my phone was rescued and unharmed. The meds kicked in. I pulled on my bathing suit and decided to stick around the resort all day. I hung out at the pool and had a drink, and talked to my mom and Aidan on the phone. Then I took a nice, hot bath before heading to the food court for something yummy to eat. (Probably corn dogs, seeing as I can't seem to get enough of the things lately.) It was a nice, relaxing, much-needed day of downtime and self care. I highly recommend a resort/pool day for all long Disney trips.

Poolside drinksies!!!! #vacation #goodlife #disney #disneyworld #selfie ??????????

I got to spend time at Disney with a little kid, which doesn't happen often. I mean, there are kids THERE, but they're not with me, so yeah. Hanging out with Lola was great. To hear that little voice say "I want to sit with RONNI" was soooo fun!

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how cute is this?

And I had to admire how they kept her fed and happy with PB&J, fruit, cheese sticks, popcorn, etc. They didn't have to spend a lot of money on her nor worry about feeding her since she can be a picky little eater. And because she was in her stroller, they could just feed her just about anywhere. Chris and I didn't do that with Aidan! Not that he'd have eaten PB&J anyway....

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I got to do some new things this trip. I finally got to see Fantasmic! :) I'd been hearing about this fireworks show for years and years but it always seemed like a pain in a butt to get to. You had to line up a million years before to get a good seat or even a seat at all, blah blah blah. But FastPass+ made it possible for Cassidy and me to get front row center seats (now, we'd have normally never wasted a Fast Pass on a show but that's about all they had available by the time we made it to Hollywood Studios that evening), so there it was. And I LOVED it! It lived up to the hype for sure!

I sat at the Pinocchio restaurant and waved to people riding it's a small world. That was fun.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is so much fun! Such a cute coaster!

I saw Finding Nemo: The Musical. I liked it, but The Festival of the Lion King wins. I missed the Jammin' Jungle Parade. So sad it's gone. I heard it is coming back after all the work is done in Animal Kingdom. I hope so.

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Animal Kingdom in the dark! That was certainly new! It either closes so early or it stays dark so late that I've never see it at night. It's just as pretty.

And there was Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, where I got to meet these guys:

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And see Main Street look like this (complete with fake snow):

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The pictures do not do the castle justice, how pretty it is. It's incredible, and now they've incorporated Elsa and Anna and Olaf (from Frozen) into the castle lighting in a very clever way. I approve! :) Here's a video of the very ending, complete with a "wooo" from me.


And oh oh oh, I got to see the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights! It was sooooo cool. Definitely will put you in the holiday spirit, as long as you can handle the crowds!! Here's a snippet!


Honestly, I cannot even begin to put all the stuff I got to see and do. It was just a nice, long, awesome vacation. If you'd like to see more photos, click here! There's lots to see! :)

And I leave you with a photo of Mickey and me. Because yes.

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Till next time! :)

(crossposted to my personal blog)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Top Five Disney Coasters

Space Mountain

Disney has so much to offer, and their rides are no exception. Now, I grew up in Cleveland, OH, which was just a couple of hours from Cedar Point. Cedar Point is known for its record-breaking and unprecedented coasters, and I'd ridden almost all of them, until I moved from OH in 2008.

Because I'd been reared on riding the tallest, fastest, blah blah blah coasters, I just have to say that I've never been afraid of Disney coasters. That's not to say Disney coasters are for wimps or that they're no fun. They are loads of fun, because they're not just full of thrills. They're also amazingly themed and fit in well with Disney's brand.

Wow, did I just use the word brand?

Anyway, here are my favorite Disney coasters:

5. Space Mountain. A classic. The dark, the space, the whole 80s vibe makes Space Mountain truly magical. I have to say that I'm a bigger fan of the Disneyland version, though, with the music right in your car and being able to sit next to your companion. I love them both regardless.

4. Rockin' Roller Coaster. The blast off at the beginning is the BEST. It's the only coaster at Disney World that goes upside down and has corkscrews and let me tell you, they are amazing. The coaster is kind of jerky, which is hard when you have to keep your head smashed to the seat back for that blast off. But it's a lot of fun to ride and probably the most thrilling coaster in all of the Disney parks.

Rockin Rollercoaster!

3. 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. This new coaster is freaking adorable. Smoothest ride in the park, and the cars gently rock from side to side! The queue for this coaster is the best queue of any coaster, with fun activities and beautiful theming.

2. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This coaster has some of the best theming in the park. It's an old favorite--a runaway train in a mining town. There's something sweet about it and I love, love, love to ride it. Over and over and over.

1. Expedition Everest. OK, I lied when I said I wasn't afraid of Disney coasters. The first time I rode Expedition Everest, I was terrified. I didn't know why. Probably because I knew it was in the dark and it went backwards and there was a YETI inside. But I'm a brave soul. I rode it and LOVED it and it became my favorite. If I can, I ride it multiple times in a day. I love it just that much.

On Expedition Everest
my first time riding!

Honorable mention: I am not sure if it even counts as a coaster, but I freaking LOVE Test Track. It's just such a well-designed ride that is great for all ages. At first, I wasn't a fan of the redesign, but now I'm in love with it.

So, there you have it. My five favorite coasters at Disney Parks. I hope to make this a series, so keep coming back! :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ten Trips to Garden Grill

Garden Grill is my favorite restaurant at Disney World. It's a family-style all-you-can-eat place, with fresh vegetables, succulent meats, and the best character interaction in the parks. Instead of going to a buffet, they bring the food to you. And the restaurant rotates, so guests are looking over the ride "Living With the Land" for part of their meal. This restaurant also has the best character interaction in all of Epcot and possibly Disney World.

Dinner at Garden Grill

The menu changes ever so often, but they tend to keep a few favorites: turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy; some sort of beef; some variety of fish; and a type of cobbler for dessert. They're often accommodating when I ask if I can have some of the macaroni & cheese from the kid's menu. They used to use Stouffer's macaroni & cheese, but this year they seem to have come up with their own recipe.

Dinner at Garden Grill

I've been on ten trips to Disney World, and managed to eat at Garden Grill on every single one. Check out this picture history!

I Finally Met Mickey!
August 2001 - my first Disney trip and my first time ever meeting Mickey Mouse!

Me and Mickey!
May 2005

I Get a Kiss from Dale
September 2008 - on my DisneyMoon with Adam

Ronni and Chip
August 2009 - Chip and me.

Me & Mickey
January 2011

Us With the Boss!
June 2011

Me and Chip
Valentine's Day 2012.

Dancing with Pluto
February 2013

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June 2013

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November 2014

Interesting to note how the outfits have changed over the years! Mickey got a completely new makeover from when I first saw him. At one point, the chipmunks wore overalls. See?

Me & Chip!

Some things that have not changed though: amazing service, delicious food, and awesome characters. I will continue to go back to Garden Grill.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Jammin' In The Jungle

Animal Kingdom

previous posts:
epic disney world!!
a magical day.
two worlds.
a slow start for hollywood.

Our last day at Disney World took us to Animal Kingdom, which is painfully underrated in my opinion. Of course, there is the safari, and Dinosaur, and Expedition Everest, but it's just a beautiful park in itself. It's one of those parks I'd like to just go and hang out in and read or something, except there's too much to do and see to just sit! Ha.

We'd had mild weather all week, and this Friday was the first day we'd gotten to experience the true Florida summer sun. Even I wasn't prepared for it... but I still loved it.

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We didn't ride much at Animal Kingdom. Aidan and I rode Dinosaur. I was really impressed he wanted to ride it--it's kind of a scary ride! I still have to close my eyes at parts... but we still had fun.

We spent some time over at Rafiki's Planet Watch. I like to go over there because I get to do things like make Falandos hold a big pile of poop.

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All four of us did the safari, and there were lots of animals out. Our Fast Pass time was later than I'd normally have it, so I was worried. I needn't have.

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We finished the safari just in time to see the Jammin' Jungle Parade! YAY! Now that I know most of the dance steps, the parade dancers like to come over and dance with me. It's really cool!

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It's Sarah!
yay, sarah! she's one of my favorite disney performers.

This was our last day at Disney World. :( After finally making our way back to the park, it was a mad dash to meet our car (this time an Escalade!) and head to the airport. Where the travel snags started again.

Our flight was to leave at 7:45. Imagine our shock when we saw that our flight had been delayed until 11pm. And as we stood there, the numbers flipped until after MIDNIGHT. Well. We figured we'd just relax, shop, have dinner... except randomly, they gave us another flight, which left at 8:15. I was convinced we were going to miss our flight. It was 7:45 already. Security was taking FOREVER. Talk about stress... trying to make it our gate on time.... where they weren't even boarding. We made it home OK. Hungry, tired, and sad that the trip was over, but happy we had a few days together to talk about it and relive it through our pictures and stories.

So naturally, we'll be planning next year's trip soon....

That's all of the trip reports for this Disney vacation. If you want to see all the pictures, just click here! :)

Till next time!

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