Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Celebrating in the Magic Kingdom

Welcome back, my darlings!

If you haven’t already read my first travel diary post, give that a read here first!

I truly believe that the most magical place to be at Christmas time is the Magic Kingdom. Everything is just so enchanting there during the holidays! Not a single piece of Main Street isn’t adorned with beautiful wreaths or garland, and there’s just a really homey feeling in Town Square. If I could live on Main Street throughout the month of December, I’d be the happiest gal out there!

So, it goes without saying that my favourite day of our Christmas trip is always the day that we go to check out the Magic Kingdom festivities!

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The very first thing we did when we arrived at the park was, of course, take in the beautiful sights. I got a million pictures of all the decorations, but I think my favourite is of the Fire Station! Everything is so beautiful at Christmas, I wish they could keep the decorations up year-round (except for at Halloween time, of course). We also took a little dip into the Main Street Emporium shop. They have sooo many new items in stock and I wanted to buy it all!! My dad ended up buying me the Mickey’s 90th Birthday ears which was extremely exciting because I didn’t expect them to still be available.

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Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime parade has always held a very special place in my heart and I’m so grateful that we got to see it this year!! There have been a couple years that we’ve had to miss it, so I made sure that we specifically planned to be at the park in time to see it go by this year. The parade is so fun and cute. My absolute favourite part is when the toy soldiers march by. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve just always loved seeing them go by in formation! It’s just so cool to me. And I especially love seeing Belle dressed up in her gorgeous Christmas dress! There’s not a year that goes by that I don’t wish I had that dress haha

“meet me under the mistletoe” shirt - shopdisney (old); christmas ears -  shopdisney

“meet me under the mistletoe” shirt - shopdisney (old); christmas ears - shopdisney

During Christmas time, the parks can get extremely busy. It’s one of the busiest times to visit, along with July 4th and Thanksgiving. For someone with anxiety, that can mean it gets pretty hectic, especially when waiting in queues upwards of 120 mins. So I prefer to just stroll around the Magic Kingdom, take my time in letting it all soak in, instead of rushing from ride to ride. We did get a couple of Fastpasses, including ones for Big Thunder Mountain and Haunted Mansion - two of my faves and pretty impressive scores considering their popularity! But aside from that, we just wandered and took in the sights. Personally, I found that much better than doing all the rides. As I have an annual pass, I can come at any time of the year and do rides. But during Christmas time, I’d prefer to see the decorations and relax.

If you haven’t ever been on Jungle Cruise during the holidays, then definitely add it to your bucket list because it is SO FUN! I already love Jungle Cruise enough on its own… But add a Christmas overlay to the ride and my love can only grow! The “Jingle Cruise” overlay adds a ton of festive decorations throughout the ride, as well as a bunch of Christmas-themed jokes told to you by the beloved Skippers. This classic ride is a must-do for me during the holiday season, so I always make sure to grab a Fastpass for this one as the queue can get quite long during the holidays (as do most ride queues during this time!).

Last, but certainly not least, we obviously had to see the Frozen Holiday Wish, where Elsa lights up Cinderella’s Castle with her magic ice powers!! The Dream Lights are the most beautiful thing in the park during the holidays. I’m always in awe whenever I see the castle lit up in shades of blue, pink, and white, no matter how many times I’ve seen it before. The show itself is also extremely cute, especially if you’re a Frozen fan like myself!

We decided to head out of the park shortly after the show (as my boyfriend was battling a cold) so it was the perfect way to end the perfect day!

Thanks so much for reading!

Felicia x

Travel Diary: Disney World August 2018

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Hello, everyone! Been awhile, huh? Sorry to have disappeared. If you've been following my Instagram stories, you probably saw that I mentioned I'd be taking a bit of a hiatus from the blog as I was on a week-long staycation at Walt Disney World. Crazy stuff, right!!

When I used to visit Walt Disney World as a kid, my family would always stay on-property. But when we bought our vacation home back in 2012, we didn't really have the need for staying in a resort anymore - that's what our vacation home was for, after all! But last year, all of that changed when my parents surprised me with a 2-night stay at Port Orleans French Quarter with my boyfriend as an early birthday gift. Needless to say, I caught the bug and we found ourselves back on-property this year! Today I thought I'd give you guys a bit of a run-down on what we got up to on our Disney trip this year...

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port orleans french quarter

port orleans french quarter

port orleans french quarter

THE RESORT

We stayed, once again, at the Port Orleans French Quarter resort. I've stayed at the French Quarter four times now and will keep coming back without a doubt. I absolutely love it. It's my favourite moderate-level resort by far. I love how small it is, how no matter where your room is located the lobby & restaurant are only a few steps away. The style of the resort is also amazing - the historic French Quarter style with cobblestone walkways, Mardi Gras decorations, and beautiful bursting colours is so pretty. And they even have horse-drawn carriages! How cute is that?! 

We stayed in two different rooms during our stay, because we extended our trip after we arrived and our first room wasn't available the entire length of our trip. But we were lucky enough to have both rooms in the 6th building, with a view of the man-made Sassagoula River. Although the rooms don't have balconies, the sights from the windows were GORGEOUS. I'd totally recommend trying to get a riverview room on your stay. It's not guaranteed you'll get one, but hey, it doesn't hurt to ask!

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grand floridian

eggs benedict at grand floridian cafe

eggs benedict at grand floridian cafe

THE FOOD

Because we were staying on-property, we took advantage of the restaurants that are available within Walt Disney World - safe to say we were by no means restricted! There are dozens (maybe hundreds?) of restaurants of all types around the World for you to try. We ate a few times at the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, which is the quick-service on French Quarter property. I actually really enjoyed it! They had quite a different menu than typical quick-services because some of it was Cajun inspired and it was delicious (try the beignets!! you won't regret it).

We also tried out for the first time the Mobile Ordering at D-Luxe Burger in Disney Springs. It was super efficient and so easy to use! All we had to do was place our order on the app beforehand, click a button to let them know we'd arrived, and grab a buzzer at the restaurant to place on our table. We took a seat on the back patio, listened to some live music while we waited, and within minutes, someone was bringing our food over! Sure beats waiting in the massive line to order and wait for food to be made. I'll definitely be using that feature again and I highly recommend trying it! 

And, of course, no trip to Disney would be complete without brunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe! If you know anything about me, you know how much I adore the Grand Floridian resort. I've decided I won't stay there until my wedding (dramatic af, I know) so I've got to get my fix somehow. And that's by having the delicious brunch at the Cafe. I always order the traditional eggs benedict and it's wonderful! 

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disney springs

MEMORIES

This trip was extremely special for me as we were there to celebrate my twentieth birthday! We spent the evening of my bday at the Magic Kingdom, where we did the Happily Ever After Fireworks Dessert Party. I did the Party last year for the first time with my bf and it was such an incredible experience that we decided to do it again for my bday. The Dessert Party is so much fun - there are a ton of sweets and goodies to try and best of all, you get prime viewing for the fireworks. We had a space of the hub grass to ourselves to just sit down, spread out, and relax while we waited for the fireworks - and even got to stay seated during the show. I'm spoiled forever and now standing during the show like a sardine in the crowds will never be the same!

Birthday outfit -- Top:  GREYLITTLEARROWS on ETSY ; SKIRT:  similiar - forever 21 ; EARS:  SHOPDISNEY

Birthday outfit -- Top: GREYLITTLEARROWS on ETSY; SKIRT: similiar - forever 21; EARS: SHOPDISNEY

Easily one of my favourite moments of the trip, however, was my date night with my boyfriend. The two of us went over to Epcot, as we had a dinner reservation at Les Chefs de France. If you've ever been to Epcot, you've probably walked right past this place. It's that beautiful brasserie at the edge of the France pavilion, with the expansive windows and glistening rooftop. We both ordered the boeuf bourguignon and it was TO DIE FOR!! I've tried this dish before at the International Food and Wine Festival but it was even better in the restaurant. We had a delicious meal with an incredible server (shoutout to Kevin!) and then ended our perfectly romantic evening off with a stroll around the park beneath the sunset! 

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yummmm

boeuf bourguignon at les chefs de france

boeuf bourguignon at les chefs de france

Sunset over world showcase

Sunset over world showcase

On our first trip to Port Orleans as a couple last year, my bf and I decided to do a little resort hopping to see what the other resorts had to offer. When else will you get the chance to do it? This time, we brought along my parents to join us! We checked out Port Orleans Riverside and my personal fav, Old Key West. Riverside was so so beautiful and I thought it was quite cool how they had two different areas (my bf loved the Alligator Bayou area) but honestly it was too big for me and I can't see myself choosing it over my one true love, French Quarter! Old Key West, on the other hand, is a dream stay of mine. I def want to stay there someday (next summer perhaps?) and think it's just the greatest. I've always had a soft spot for Key West, FL and I think this resort really nails it. 

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port orleans riverside

Old Key West

Old Key West

And just like that, I'm back to regular life! I can't believe how quickly a week in the parks went by... What will I do without my Must-Do Disney with Stacey?! The post-Disney depression is settling in. But luckily, now I get to look forward to next year's trip! Is a year in advance too early for starting to plan a Disney trip?? Asking for a friend...

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port orleans french quarter

Talk to you all very soon! x

Felicia 

How to Plan a Walt Disney World Vacation

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Hello everybody!

So as you probably already know by following my blog and Insta, I'm majorly into Disney. Shocker, right? I've been visiting the park for awhile now and I feel like I've gotten pretty comfortable with the whole planning process. In fact, a lot of people I know message me to ask for tips on booking their own trips to the parks. So, I thought it might be fun and helpful to post a how-to on the planning process. Fair warning: there's a lot to cover, so this post is going to be pretty meaty and lengthy. 

So, first things first...

Get familiar with the parks

The first thing you'll want to do before taking any steps in the planning process is become acquainted with all the Walt Disney World has to offer. I'll try my best to keep this short and sweet!

Walt Disney World is comprised of 4 major theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. With a base ticket (more on that later), you can enter any one of these four parks. This is where all the rides, characters, and general excitement is, so you'll definitely want to take time to explore each park!

They also have two on-site water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. These are not accessible with a base ticket, so be wary of that. Both are equipped with water slides (tame and thrilling), pools, and lazy rivers. 

Another key feature of WDW is their massive dining and entertainment complex, Disney Springs. Originally Downtown Disney, in the past few years, it's undergone a huge reimagining and has become one of my favourite places in the Walt Disney World resort. It's jam-packed with amazing restaurants, bars, stores, live entertainment, bowling, movie theatres, and so much more. You could never get bored there!

Disney also has a number of other entertainment features, such as mini-golf, golf, boating, horseback riding, water sports, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports. 

When to go

As you can probably imagine, Disney World can get hella busy. You've essentially got two options, as there are two "seasons": busy season and off-season. 

Busy Season

Busy season has the heavier crowds and primarily consists of the days or weeks that sit around major holidays. Columbus Day, U.S. Thanksgiving, Spring Break, Easter, Christmas, New Years' and July 4th are all extremely busy times to visit the parks. At these times, you can expect wait times from 50 to 100+ minutes, depending on the popularity of a ride. Also, the parks are generally more crowded. 

Off-season

Don't fret! There is also an off-season. Basically, in the off-season, you can expect less of a wait on rides (usually 20 to 50 minutes, sometimes higher) and it's far less crowded around the parks. The best times to go if you're looking for lighter crowds are the end of August to mid-September (as the kids will have gone back to school in Florida and most of the U.S.) and May.

You can easily find crowd charts for the parks in a quick Google search, but I'll link one down below as well!

It's also worth factoring in the weather when making a decision. Summer is the craziest time for weather; it is extremely hot (I'm talking 90-110 degrees F) and also the end of the summer is hurricane season, which makes for lots of rainy days. 

Special events

A bonus of attending the parks during busy season is that you have the chance to experience some really awesome special events that Disney hosts. There are two types of these events: free festivals and ticketed events. 

Free Festivals

The three major free festivals for parkgoers are held at Epcot annually. The first is the International Festival of the Arts (January - February), which is a newer festival that showcases the work of Disney artists around the park and also celebrates many famous paintings from different countries. The second is the International Flower and Garden Festival (February - May) which boasts a number of topiaries featuring classic Disney characters and it is utterly beautiful. They also feature many outdoor kitchens which offer delicious food and beverages! And last but not least is the International Food and Wine Festival (August - November) which is a celebration of different cultural dishes from around the world. The food is phenomenal and not to be missed. 

Ticketed Events

There are two major ticketed events held in Walt Disney World. Ticketed events require visitors to purchase an additional ticket outside of the park entrance ticket. These extra tickets allow you into the parks for these events which take place after regular park hours - they close the park early on select nights for the people partaking in the event. 

These two major ticketed events are Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Both are held at the Magic Kingdom on select nights throughout the holiday seasons. They're both really awesome, as they have their own special fireworks, parades, and nighttime shows. And the Not So Scary Halloween Party even has trick-or-treating! How cool is that??

Where to stay

This is a pretty big decision for anyone visiting the parks. I'll just run through some basic things to note when you're deciding on whether to stay on- or off-property. 

On-property

Staying on-property means staying in any one of the Walt Disney World resort hotels. These hotels are organized into three tiers: value, moderate, and deluxe (with value being the cheapest, and deluxe being the priciest). Staying on-property is inarguably the most convenient option, as the hotels are literally minutes away from the theme parks and they offer free transportation to all the on-property venues. Also, they offer free transportation to and from the Orlando International Airport, which is a huge bonus. You also get some extra magic by staying on-property, like having the option to add a Disney Dining Plan, attend park Extra Magic Hours, and book FastPasses 60 days in advance. Of course, all of that will cost you - it gets pretty pricey, especially adding on top of that the cost of flights and park tickets. 

Off-property

With off-property, you obviously lose the accessibility, but with that you shave off some of the cost as well. There are literally hundreds of hotel options in Central Florida with many different ranges in pricing, especially in the touristy International Drive area. If you're planning on doing a few days at Disney but also spending some time at the other attractions in Orlando, then staying on International Drive would be beneficial as it's right in the middle of it all. You can also stay in a vacation home rental which is great for big families and groups that want to stay together without paying the cost of a Disney suite or villa. However, you do still have to factor in travel time (it's a bit of a jaunt from Disney), car rental prices, and parking fees (at Disney alone, you'll be paying $22 to park per day). 

Purchasing tickets

The lowest level of park ticket you can purchase is the Magic Your Way Base ticket. It is literally a basic entrance ticket, meaning that you can enter one of the four theme parks at a time for the set number of days on the ticket. For example, if you visit Magic Kingdom on the first day of your trip, you can come and go as you please, but you cannot travel to another theme park on that same day. Just Magic Kingdom. This is the most inexpensive option, for that reason.

In order to visit another park on the same day, you'll need to purchase a Magic Your Way Park Hopper option. This is an add-on to the base ticket which allows you to go from one park to another in the same day. For instance, if you start your day off at Magic Kingdom and then decide midday to go to Epcot, you can do that. You can even visit all four parks in one day, if you're up for the challenge! But of course, it will cost you more. 

Additionally, you can add on the Water Parks Fun and More option, which also allows you to visit Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. This also use to include Disney Quest, but that no longer exists!

Lastly, you can purchase a Walt Disney World annual pass. There are two options, Disney Platinum Plus Pass and Disney Platinum Pass. The main difference is that the Plus allows you entrance to the golf course, the water parks, and the ESPN Wide World of Sports in addition to the four theme parks, whereas the regular pass only allows you to go to the theme parks. Both give you discounts on select dining and merch. 

How long to visit

If this is your first visit to WDW and you plan on only visit the Disney parks, I'd suggest staying for anywhere between five to seven days. It sounds like a very long time, but there is so much to see and do at Disney that you'll be grateful for it. Plus, it allows you to see everything at your own speed and eliminate that rushed feeling. It's also good for if you want to see things outside of the WDW resort, like Universal Studios Orlando or Cocoa Beach (which is about an hour out from Disney). 

Planning FastPasses

What is a FastPass, you might ask? Well, lemme tell you. (That was so cheesy haha). FastPasses are free tickets that you can get that essentially allow you to virtually reserve a place in line for rides. You just pick a ride and a time (they work in hour-long increments), then schedule it. When your time comes, you just pop over to the ride and jump into the FastPass line. For example, if you've booked a 5 o'clock FastPass for Jungle Cruise, you can get in the FastPass line for Jungle Cruise at any point between 5 and 6 o'clock. The FastPass lines are generally shorter and quicker than the standby lines. You're given three FastPass selections for the day BUT once you've used them up, or your last FastPass for the day has expired, you can book one at a time in that same day. Pretty cool, right? It makes getting on more popular rides like Flight of Passage so much easier. You can book these online or on the My Disney Experience app 30 or 60 days in advance (depending on whether you're staying on-property) or at the in-park kiosks. But FastPasses go quick, so make sure to do this asap!

My Disney Experience app + MagicBands

These are two fairly new additions to the parks in the last few years and they've become pretty much integral to the WDW experience, so I'll quickly explain them both.

MagicBands

MagicBands have become the new way of entering and getting around the Disney parks. Your pass is linked to this rubber wristband, which means you can enter the park by tapping your band to a reader and placing your finger on a fingerprint scanner. It's so much easier than fumbling with your wallet to get a card out. They also can be used to present your FastPass by tapping a reader at the rides, as it's linked to your My Disney Experience app. For on-property guests, you can also link your credit card to the MagicBand to make paying for dining and merch a breeze. 

My Disney Experience app

This is an app that you can download onto your phone and use in the parks with the free Disney World wifi connection. It has everything you could ever imagine on it - park maps, ride wait times, FastPasses, dining reservations, room check-ins, park passes, and more. It's like a tool kit for your stay in the parks. Personally, I'd highly recommend getting it before you travel to the parks as it'll make your life so much simpler. 

Helpful websites

Well, that's all for now! If you're still a bit lost or looking for more info, you can follow these useful links for more explanations. 

"So, you're overwhelmed, huh? See if this helps." (WDW Prep School) 

"The ideal Disney World planning timeline (and what to do if you're short on time)" (WDW Prep School)

"Orlando Crowd Calendar" (Undercover Tourist)

The Disney Parks Mom Panel

Walt Disney World Official Site

My Disney Experience

I hope you guys found this post helpful. Thanks for reading!

Felicia x

Items in Photo:
Millennial Pink MagicBand [x]
LIFE Inside the Disney Parks: The Happiest Places on Earth [x]
Millennial Pink Mouse Ears [available in-store only]

 

#THROWBACK: My First Disney Trip

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Hello my loves! Today I just realized, out of the blue, that I have been visiting Disney World now for fourteen whole years. Where has the time gone!? I cannot believe that Disney has been a part of my life for so long now. Over the years, it has not only become one of my favourite places in the world, but my second home. So I thought I'd share with you all some of my favourite photos and memories from my very first trip!

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My first ever trip was in 2004. Not long before we'd left, I'd actually had surgery to clip a piece of my upper gum that was attached to the inside of my lip. And the day before I left was my sixth birthday. Soooo this trip was a v big deal to me.

On our first trip, we stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is right next to - you guessed it - the Animal Kingdom park and has an amazing view of animals walking around just outside your hotel room! We also stayed there in 2006. We later stayed at Coronado Springs in 2008, and Port Orleans French Quarter in 2009, 2011, and more recently in 2017.

These pictures are some of my absolute faves from my trip. Unfortunately, as I was so young, I only remember certain things that happened on the trip. One of the things I remember so clearly though was when the picture of Belle and I was taken - they had cancelled a show at the castle so they brought the princesses out for photos. Belle has always been my favourite princess and I was SOOO flippin' excited to meet her. I seriously cannot wait to be able to watch my own kids meet their favourite characters and to see them be as excited as I once was!!

So many things have changed since 2004 - it's so weird to look back on all these pictures and see not only myself as a kid, but also a ton of attractions that are no longer at the parks! A lot of my beloved rides and shows have gone onto the great beyond and they'll be greatly missed by me and probs many others forever. #rip y'all

Have any of you guys been to Disney World? I'd love to hear about your first trip! 

Felicia x

Holiday Catch-Up

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Hello everyone! How are you all doing today? I'm currently writing to you from the comfort of my sofa in Florida, where it is drizzly and freezing outside - not the sort of weather I was hoping as my send off. I'm also feeling quite poorly, as I've got a sore throat and a wicked earache today. But since today is my last day of vacay, I thought it'd be a good opportunity to catch you all up on what I've been up to on my Christmas/New Year's break in a journal-style post.

My vacation started on Christmas Day. My family did our usual Christmas morning thing - waking up early, having egg sandwiches for breaky, then opening presents. Then we cleaned up quick and hustled on over Mississauga, where we spent an hour hanging out with some of Steven's family. It's always nice that we get to see them on Christmas, before we head off for the holidays.

Around noon-ish, we said our goodbyes and headed to Buffalo, New York to catch our flight. We normally fly out of Buffalo as it's a) cheaper and b) way easier than travelling from Pearson Airport. This year, we flew with Jet Blue which was a god sent cause they have those little tv screens on the back of the seats that play tv shows and films. I was thrilled to find out that they were playing The Santa Clause on Freeform as I hate flying (despite years of air travel experience) and it was a nice distraction for my anxiety.

When we got to Florida, we had our second part of our Christmas tradition - more prezzies and a screening of The Polar Express. A perfect ending to a wonderful Christmas.

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On Boxing Day, we headed over to Disney's Grand Floridian resort - aka my favourite Disney hotel - for brunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe. I absolutely love the Cafe. The eggs benedict is very yummmmm. I always love walking around the Grand Floridian and 'oohing' and 'awing' over the wedding pavilion! We spent the afternoon monorail resort hopping so we could see all of the Christmas decorations. I love to see all the trees and especially the Grand Floridian life-size gingerbread house.

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We also popped into Disney Springs to see the Christmas Tree Trail!

Of course, we made a trip to Magic Kingdom on our trip. It was the first chilly night of the trip, but still, it was bearable. Gave me an excuse to wear my favourite holiday Olaf sweatshirt, with my new Christmas Mickey ears. We got to ride Haunted Mansion and Jungle Cruise - which was Christmas decorated and they called it Jingle Cruise which was GREAT. And no Magic Kingdom trip is complete without watching the Happily Ever After fireworks on Main Street with a Starbucks coffee in hand!

Unfortunately, my anxiety popped in to visit on the night I was supposed to be going to Epcot - my favourite Disney park - and I had to have a stay-in night instead. Boo :(

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But the next day, I made it out to Hollywood Studios for the evening and we had a ton of fun despite freezing our asses off!!!! It was about 14 degrees Celsius which is super cold for Florida and I was wearing a t-shirt, a cardigan, and jeans - yet I was frozen. I ended up buying a super cute Stormtrooper sweater AND a Minnie & Mickey Mouse blanket which I wrapped around me. We pretty much just walked around, had some coffee, and then watched the Star Wars fireworks show - which was soooo cool. Every time I saw Leia, I pretty much cried.

New Year's Eve was spent the way it always is for my family. A big dinner at home, a round of Cards Against Humanity, and watching Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve when the ball dropped. Usually, we get to play Cards Against Humanity outside in our backyard but it was like 9 degrees out this year so we had to stay indoors which was kind of a bummer. But we made the best of it! On New Year's Day, my parents went out for dinner with their good friend who lives in Orlando, as they do every year. My boyfriend and I stayed in, ordered some pizza, and watched Riverdale in our pjs. The perfect night!

Now I'm at the end of my trip. Sad :( Today, I was lucky enough to get to pop out to go to Books A Million, where they were having a 'buy 2 get the third free' sale. I was in literal heaven. I was on a book buying break for all of December because of Christmas coming up. So now that I'm free of that, I'm ready to buy every book in sight! I purchased The Girls by Emma Cline, My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, and Paris for One & Other Stories by Jojo Moyes. I'm already forty pages into The Girls!

I hope everyone had an incredible holiday break! I'll be back to my regular scheduling of posts by next week.

Felicia x

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party | 2017

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I love Halloween. The decorations, the candy, the movies. What's not to love? And of course, having it blended with Disney World only makes the holiday better. For today's post I wanted to talk to you guys about one of my favourite Disney holiday experiences and that is the Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is an annual event held at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom from the end of August through to the start of November. On the select nights of Not-So-Scary, the park closes to the general public at 7pm, which means smaller crowds for those who have tickets to the party, which means lower wait times for rides. Score. There's also exclusive entertainment, rare character meet and greets, and even trick-or-treating. Without further ado, here are some of my favourite things about Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

HIGHLIGHTS

Dressing Up

One of my favourite parts about Not-So-Scary is dressing up in costume. Being nineteen years old and considered an "adult (*shivers*), I don't ever get a chance to dress up like this, so it's really cool to get to do this. The first year we came to Not-So-Scary in 2015, my boyfriend and I dressed up as Mickey and Minnie Mouse and I loved it. This year, we opted to go for Belle and the Beast (after he transforms into a prince) from my favourite Disney film Beauty and the Beast. I had the time of my life, no exaggeration. Belle has been my favourite Princess since I was a little girl, so being called "Princess Belle" all night was a dream come true haha.

MNSSHP 2017

MNSSHP 2017

Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-treating is something I haven't done since, like, middle school I think. But at Disney, everyone gets to be a kid again. And they hand out a lot of candy. I mean, a lot of candy. We ended up with about 20lbs of candy. Yes, you read that right! My dad and my boyfriend literally went to most Treat stands at least twice, if not three times. We got mini bars of Milky Way, Snickers, Dove, and much more, plus Starbursts and other kinds of sweet candies. At least now we have something to hand out to kids on Halloween!

Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular

Okaaayyy so this one is a big one for me. If you love Halloween, chances are you love Hocus Pocus. I for one am a huge Hocus Pocus fan, as I mentioned in my Favourite Autumnal Films post a few weeks ago. At Not-So-Scary, they put on a show on the stage in front of Cinderella's Castle that features the Sanderson sisters (!!!!) and other Disney villains. It's seriously so fun to watch. I mean, where else are you gonna be able to see a live performance of I Put A Spell on You, with Hades and Oogie Boogie dancing along?

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Decorations

Though the decorations aren't really particular to the event, I always love how Magic Kingdom is decorated for Halloween. They make everything so cute and photogenic. I love walking down Main Street and taking a billion photos of everything to post on Instagram or set as my phone background.

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Happy HalloWishes

If you ever visited Disney World between 2003 and the beginning of 2017, and you saw the fireworks at Magic Kingdom, chances are you saw Wishes or some variation of it. Wishes was the nightly fireworks show at MK until very recently (R.I.P Wishes) and for holidays, they show a special version of it. For Halloween, it's Happy HalloWishes. I love these fireworks. It's all about Disney villains and it's spectacular. I would recommend going to Not-So-Scary just for the fireworks (and the parade - we'll get to that in a sec).

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Mickey's Boo To You Halloween Parade

Last, but certainly not least, is the wonderful, the famous, the fabulous Mickey's Boo To You parade. Okay guys. This is hands-down, my FAVOURITE part of the night. The parade goes twice a night, at 9:15 and 11:15, and family waits for the later showing because we choose to end the night off right haha. I am sooooo in love with this parade I could gush about it forever but I'm going to keep this short and sweet, for the most part. One of the really cool things about the parade is that it shows characters that aren't usually in the parks. My favourite part is themed around the Haunted Mansion ride - it has a float of the Hitchhiking Ghosts, dancers that are supposed to be the ballroom ghosts, and best of all, the Gravediggers. Search up a video on YouTube of the gravediggers, it's SO worth it. They also have Villains, Wreck it Ralph characters, Mickey and his gang, and Captain Jack Sparrow with Captain Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean. Oh, and did I mention it starts off with the Headless Horseman riding down Main Street?!

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BONUS: PhotoPass Opportunities

If you've been to Disney World before, you've probably used PhotoPass services before or at least heard of them. But, if not, here's the gist: PhotoPass allows you to have photos taken by professional photographers around the parks, with special effects or characters, available for purchase on the My Disney Experience app. During Not-So-Scary, there are special opportunities for photos including a very popular Haunted Mansion one, plus they use Halloween-themed special effects on the cameras (i.e. they'll add characters or graphics to your photos using their *magic* technology). I was walking around the park when I stumbled across the coolest PhotoPass opportunity ever: TANGLED FLOATING LANTERNS!!! I love Tangled so much, so when I saw you could take a photo with a floating lantern, with the Tangled restrooms as a backdrop, I had to do it. So my boyfriend and I had our photo taken, and it's the greatest thing ever. Inserting now for your viewing pleasure (and also so I can cry about it again).

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Until next year, Not-So-Scary!

Felicia x

My Favourite Things: Paris, France

"I simply remember my favourite things, and then I don't feel so bad..." 

Welcome to the very first post of my new blog series, My Favourite Things! I always find that when things get tough, or you're generally feeling a bit down, it can be so helpful to reflect on some of the more positive things in your life. It can really put things into perspective. So, my aim with this series is to share with all of you some of my absolute favourite things to hopefully inject a little bit of positivity in your day!

Paris, France

The minute that I stepped off the train at the Gare du Nord station, I fell in love with Paris. It had always been my dream to visit France and the short 3-day trip to Paris gave me a taste of something I definitely want to see more of. Without further ado, here are my most favourite things about Paris...

The Eiffel Tower

Bienvenue à la Tour Eiffel, mon amis! (There are my eight years of learning French hard at work haha). I know, I know. This is a terribly typical way to start off a post about Paris, but I mean it when I say that the Eiffel Tower stole my heart. If you've ever visited Paris then you'll know that you can see this tower from most anywhere in the heart of the city. Keep that in mind when I say that every time I saw the tower, I took about a dozen photos. It's safe to say that choosing just two photos for this post was a challenge. Oh, and please enjoy this picture of a very little sixteen-year-old me haha.

The Eiffel Tower will always hold a special place in my heart because it's one of the obstacles I've overcome. I was so overwhelmed at the idea of going up the tower, due to my fear of heights, and the night before I outright refused to do it. My parents wouldn't let me waste the opportunity and forced me to go, which I am so glad they did because it was such an experience. The view was unbelievable! It was extremely nerve-wracking but it's something I'll always remember. I even made it all the way to the Summit, which is the highest peak you can visit. I was so proud of myself for making it and I got amazing pictures.

Versailles

Oh my god, I have so much to say about Versailles but I'll try my best to condense it all. I am a huge history buff, but I hadn't heard about the French Revolution or the Palace of Versailles until this trip to France. Now, because of visiting the palace, it's my favourite era of European history. The palace is absolutely gorgeous in person, not even a million photos could do it justice.

My family took the Fat Tire Bike Tour which took us first into town, where we bought baguettes and fromage, and then through the palace grounds to a lovely spot of grass along the Grand Canal where we had our delicious French food. The tour included a full self-guided walk through of the palace itself which was incredible. I am so glad that we did this tour, I would do it again without hesitation.

Pont des Arts

This is a bit of a sappy portion of the post but bear with me. For those who don't know, Pont Des Arts is a bridge in Paris that crosses over the River Seine, leading into the main square of the Louvre. The Pont Des Arts is famed, as it was once known as the Lovelock Bridge, which you may be familiar with. Visitors would write theirs and their loved one's initials on a lock, then throw away the key. Of course, being sixteen and in love, I was dying to do this. I put my lock on the bridge, got rid of one of the keys (there were two - I kept one) and then went on my way. Unfortunately, in 2015 it would appear that the area of the bridge in which I placed my lock collapsed, which was pretty devastating at the time. I still have the key though and I keep it in a memory box, so I will always remember the sentiment of the Lovelock Bridge in a less destruction-of-property kind of way. :)

Nighttime in the City

In my eyes, there isn't much better than a sunset. But a sunset over Paris? Wow. I was only in Paris for a few days but every evening when the sun came down, the city came to life. They don't call it the City of Light for nothing! It was so wonderful to walk around the city at night, especially with all the people sitting outside of bistros and restaurants at tables, sipping wine and eating amazing food. Speaking of food, French food? To die for. My diet consisted of baguettes, crepes and croissants - mostly baguettes. Seriously, I'm still dreaming of the food.

There are a hundred other things about Paris that I could list here, but then you'd be stuck with the lengthiest post known to man and no one needs that! I hope you've enjoyed reading about one of my favourite cities in the world and I hope that it brightened your day in some way. I can't wait to share more of my favourite things with all of you!

Felicia x

NYC: On-foot sightseeing, The Met + Broadway Musical

Welcome to the very last post of my New York City series, I hope you've enjoyed your stay!! For days 1 through 3, follow the links here, here, and here.

The last day we spent in New York City happened to be our most eventful, in terms of how much we covered in just one day. We wanted to get everything on our to-do list accomplished before we left, so once we were out the door, there was no stopping! The first thing we did was head to Times Square, where we waited at the TKTS booth to buy tickets to see Chicago, my all-time favourite Broadway musical. While my parents waited in line, my boyfriend and I sat on a concrete bench a few feet away and took a bunch of pictures, including the landscape of Times Square below. We were so incredibly lucky, as we ended up getting four tickets discounted at 50%, in the ninth row from the stage for the show at 8pm that night!

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After we had our tickets, we immediately set off on a long journey to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. To put it into perspective, the TKTS booth sits at 47th street and the Metropolitan Museum of Art sits between 80th and 84th streets. We had a lot of walking ahead of us. Fortunately, what we walked through happened to be my favourite area of NYC: the Upper East Side. We walked along the sidewalk for awhile on Fifth Avenue, and just took in the architecture I love so much. It also happened to be a beautiful day outside, which made the experience that much more enjoyable.

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For awhile, we dipped into the edge of Central Park, and I got some photos that I have been repeatedly looking back at since arriving home. It was such an amazing day to take a walk in Manhattan, and I wish I could go back to it now that I'm stuck in the rain at home haha!

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Almost immediately after finding ourselves back on Fifth Avenue, we came across the most wonderful sight that I have ever laid my eyes upon: a gigantic Strand kiosk. This book-filled kiosk covered both sides of the sidewalk, taking up quite some space with two sheltered step-in areas and a long foldable table. It was filled with books - old copies, rare editions, classics, fiction, contemporary, everything you could think of - and bookish items like bookmarks and little knickknacks. I was in book heaven! I went on a mad hunt for Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale - instead of diving into the new series, I am opting to read the novel first like a good English major - but was disappointed to find that the new shipment that came in that day had already disappeared. Instead, I picked up The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, as well as a cute button for my denim jacket.

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Finally, a long while afterwards, we came across the Metropolitan Museum of Art, alternatively known as the Met. The Met is a massive museum, consisting of a bit of everything, but primarily historical artwork and artifacts. Coincidentally enough, we visited the Met the day after the Met Gala occurred this year. Due to this, there was still some remnants of the cover over the stairs left behind, which obstructed the photos of the steps that I had dreamed of taking. Nonetheless, the Met is a beauty, inside and out. The architecture of the building is beyond comparison. As you can tell from the photos below, I was a huge fan of the interior, haha.

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After taking our time to view as much as we could of the museum's collections (which was seriously a task, considering it is two floors and almost 1/4-mile long), we headed back out to the streets to make our way back to the hotel to freshen up for Chicago. The walk was arguably worse on the way back, considering we had already walked it once, we were walking further (our hotel was further South than Times Square), and we had just walked the entirety of the Met. However, we made it back in one piece and rushed to get ready to go back out.

We had dinner at Chick-Fil-A, partially because it was easy, quick, and located just a five minute walk from our hotel, but also because it is my favourite fast-food restaurant and I did some begging. After a rushed meal, we walked up to Broadway to the Ambassador Theatre and there we saw the spectactular show that is Chicago. I've seen it once before, however it was so long ago that I couldn't remember a specific moment of the show, but I can now say with full certainty that it remains my favourite musical. I have always loved the film adaptation, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, and although the Broadway original is far different from the movie, it is absolutely incredible. If you find yourself in New York City, searching for a well-done musical on Broadway to see, I highly recommend you see Chicago. And with a cost of $70-something for ninth row seats, it was completely worth it.

Unfortunately, that marks the end of our trip. The next morning, we got up early, headed down to our breakfast place one last time, and then embarked on a seven-hour drive back to Canada (commencing in New York City rush hour, yippee) where I stayed at my boyfriend's house, as I didn't have a home to return to in my hometown!

Have any of you visited New York City? What's your favourite sight to see or thing to do in the Big Apple? 

A Caribbean Adventure

As my first week of university has now come and gone, I look behind me at the summer that's gone by and realise just how great the past months were. My two-month-long holiday - which started in the final days of June in Memphis, Tennessee - went by so quickly that it seems like a distant, albeit amazing memory. In all of the whirlwind months in the sun, I lost track of time and neglected this blog, despite making a promise to myself to get back to regularly uploading posts. But when it comes down to it, there is, in my opinion, no better way to refresh my blog than with a picture-post (and short video) documenting my favourite part of my summer: the two-week Caribbean cruise that wrapped up my travels.

I've been on around 15 cruises in the twelve years since I took my first one, but this one made a case for being my favourite. The Carnival Magic lived up to the name and was enchanting the entire fourteen days that my family and Steven's family were aboard her. It's a been quite some time since I have taken a two-week cruise and despite being a frequent (and long-time) cruiser, there were still some ports on the itinerary I had yet to visit which made it exciting for everyone in our group.

To add to the fun, I celebrated my eighteenth birthday mid-way through the two weeks. At the stroke of midnight the entire bar sang me "Happy Birthday", the chorus lead by the bartenders behind the counter. Then on the way back to the cabin, I was approached by the cruise director, Good Reverend Dr. E (whom my family has become close with over past cruises) who had remembered to wish me a happy birthday. Those are just two of the ways that Carnival crew members go above and beyond to make a cruise special for you, which is why my family keep coming back to the same cruise line over and over again after all these years. Carnival doesn't just treat you like guests; they treat you like family, which makes the line so beloved to my family.

Over the course of the two weeks, Steven and I worked together to collect as many videos of our memories as we could, using a GoPro for a large portion of it. Now that summer has come to an end, I've put little bits of our film footage into a short video for a keepsake of our travels to share with friends, family and all of you. It was a tremendously exciting and adventurous two weeks, and I hope to be able to cruise again soon!

https://youtu.be/bHXX-Gr3EIw

The Perfect Getaway

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Hello everyone! So, as you might have noticed, I have been AWOL for the last little while - and by while, I mean a month. Typically, I'm the type of person who would post no matter what but the past three weeks I took a bit of a vacation from my technology-obsessed life and I spent my time on a road trip to Florida with my mum, my best friend and my boyfriend.

Before this trip, I was a one-hundred-percent road trip virgin. The longest drive I'd ever taken was to Montreal (which is about six hours away) so a drive that takes up two days - with a break overnight in between - and is 12 hours each day was incredibly daunting to me. Luckily, thanks to my lovely fellow travellers and a body pillow my boyfriend's sister bought me, I managed to get through the trip without hassle. Woo!

During the trip, we did a million different things, so much so that I can hardly remember everything we did. We went to Disney World, Universal Studios, I celebrated my 17th birthday on the 20th of August, and in the middle of the trip we went on a surprise cruise. Well, it was a surprise to me, at least! The five-day cruise through the Caribbean was my birthday gift from my parents which was so amazing.

So, in lieu of my absent posts throughout the past few weeks, I decided to post my favourite photos from the trip. I hope you guys enjoy a little peek into my trip! Warning: the rest of this post is very photo heavy.

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Gorgeous sunset off the side of the ship out at sea

Professional photo of the boyfriend and I on board the ship

My favourite destination on our cruise: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

You can always find the calmest water in the CaribbeanYou can always find the calmest water in the Caribbean

At Madame Tussauds Orlando, I got to take a photo with (a wax figure of) my all-time celebrity crush, Mr. David Beckham

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Myself and my very good friend sitting on an ice cream bench in Bahamas

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