Christmas 2018 Travel Diary: Resort Hopping & Disney Springs

Hello friends! Merry belated Christmas.

If you haven’t been following along with my Instagram stories (shameless plug rn, follow me at @bookishbrunettegal) then you may not know that I’m currently away in Orlando on my annual Christmas family vacation! Our Christmas vacation is one of my favourite trips of the year. It’s full of festivities, and magic, and beautiful lights! So, I thought I’d bring you all along with me on my trip with some travel diaries! Starting off with our very first day on the trip, December 26.

IMG_5986.JPG

Our vacation was set in motion by one of my favourite new traditions, the Boxing Day brunch. For the past two years, we’ve had brunch on our first day at the Grand Floridian Cafe, which you probably know is my favourite brunch on Disney World property. This year, we got to sit out on the patio which probably because of how massively packed the restaurant was. Our reservation was at noon but still there were plenty of people waiting to be seated. Having our meal outside was sooo nice. The weather was absolutely lovely and we had such an amazing time. As usual, I ordered the traditional eggs benedict with a cup of coffee and it was delicious!!

5843ED73-8F69-40EB-8032-6EAAA65ECC09.jpeg
3ADE18C3-32C4-488F-A548-1307F79530B9.JPG

After brunch, we embarked on another one of our beloved Christmas traditions: the monorail resort hop. On Boxing Day, we love to go around to all the monorail resorts and check out their Christmas decorations, starting at the Grand Floridian. I already adore the Grand Floridian. But I love it even more at Christmas time. The decorations are so beautiful and delicate. They have a number of Christmas trees, including their massive showstopper on the main floor of the lobby, and of course, their famous Gingerbread House. This year, I actually remembered to buy a gingerbread shingle which you can actually buy at the counter inside the Gingerbread House. Unfortunately though, the line at the Grand Floridian was huge so I got my shingle at the Contemporary Resort later on in the hop - which is a good tip for anyone who doesn’t want to wait in a massive queue!

IMG_6066.JPG

Our next stop on the monorail journey was the Contemporary Resort. The Contemporary, unfortunately, isn’t a huge stop for decorations because of the monorail track through the middle of the resort. There is a huge tree outside of the resort by the road, but you basically have to stand in traffic to see it. So that’s not really an option. They do, however, have a really cute gingerbread set-up based on the Cinderella characters in the lobby. This is where you can buy a bunch of festive treats, like the gingerbread shingle!! Definitely a good alternative to the Grand Floridian shop in my opinion. You can also go through the number of gift shops at the Contemporary while you’re there which is always a fun time!

IMG_6067.JPG
IMG_6009.JPG

Lastly on our resort hop was the Polynesian Resort! I loooove the Polynesian. It’s so pretty and tropical, and like the Grand Floridian, has a ton of trees of different sizes throughout the lobby. Idk I just think the Polynesian looks extremely cute dressed up in her Christmas decor!! My mum also loves visiting the Polynesian because it means rooting about the gift shops for Lilo merchandise. Why is it that there’s always Stitch merch but never Lilo?! So disrespectful. A neat fact about the Polynesian is that it is one of the places on WDW property that sells Dole Whip!! If you’ve ever waited in line for Dole Whip in Magic Kingdom, you know how long it can take as so many people are always queued up at Aloha Isle. But at the Polynesian, there’s usually a minimal line! Just pop on over to the Pineapple Lanai. Enjoy your treat!!

IMG_6068.JPG

After we finished our grand tour of the monorail resorts, we headed on over to Disney Springs for a little bit of shopping. As I hadn’t been to the parks since October, I missed the opening of the new reimagined World of Disney shop so I was extremely excited to check that out! What did you guys think of the new World of Disney? Personally, I miss the old character-heavy design, but I think that the renovation has made it a lot more roomy and open, which makes it a lot more manageable during the heavy season (like Christmas time!). Luckily, I found the Christmas spirit jersey there which I was sooo happy about because I hadn’t seen it anywhere on our resort hop. We popped into a few other shops, namely Zara and my absolute fav, Uniqlo where I bought the most beautiful, cozy sweater EVER!!

Afterwards, we went home and ordered some pizza. It had been a long day, especially after a pretty gruesome travel on Christmas Day. So, that’s all for our first day! I’ll pop back in soon to share our other adventures in another travel diary post!

What did you guys get up to on Boxing Day?

Felicia x

Blogmas 2018 Day Five: My Favourite Disney World Holiday Traditions

I really do believe that no one does the holidays better than Disney does. Christmas is sososo beautiful in the parks. They drown everything in sparkly lights and there’s just a really cozy feeling in every inch of the parks and resorts. As my family visits Walt Disney World every year for Christmas, we’ve been lucky enough to do a bunch of different holiday-themed experiences. So today I thought I’d share my absolute faves with you guys! So without further ado, let’s get right on to it!

Blogmas Disney 3.jpeg

THE MONORAIL RESORT LOOP DECORATIONS

One of my all-time favourite holiday traditions in the parks is taking a trip around the monorail resort loop and seeing all the beautiful Christmas decorations!! I think this is probably one of the best free holiday activities in Disney World that I consider an absolute must-do every year. If you park at Magic Kingdom, you can hop on the resort monorail and visit all 3 resorts around the Seven Seas Lagoon. Every resort has it’s own unique decorations, complete with a giant Christmas tree themed to the resort. They’re all so beautiful and photogenic! In the past few years, my family has chosen to do brunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe and then we head around the loop which is a really chill and fun way to do it.

GRAND FLORIDIAN GINGERBREAD HOUSE

Although this is technically a part of the monorail resort loop, I think it’s worth mentioning separately. The Gingerbread House is phenomenal!! Boasting 5,089 gingerbread shingles, this is an absolute monstrosity made out of gingerbread and other sweets. Honestly, when else in your life are you going to be able to see a giant house made out of gingerbread? Probably never, right? Not only can you take adorable pics of this beauty, but you can also buy the edible shingles to take home and try for yourself which is really cool.

MAGIC KINGDOM PARADE

I completely and utterly love the Magic Kingdom Christmas parade so much!! I haven’t been able to see it every single year unfortunately but this year, I’ve specifically set aside time to go out and see it which I’m very excited about. It features all our favourite Disney characters in their festive winter garb along with a few Christmas favourites, like toy soldiers (my faves), reindeers and Santa Claus himself!!

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS DECORATIONS

Guys, there’s not much I love more in this world than Gertie in her Santa hat!!! Like how freaking cute? They’ve really put a lot of work into amping up the decorations in Hollywood Studios over the past few years and I’ve been absolutely loving it. Last year, we tried to take it all in but unfortunately it was absolutely FREEZING (I had to buy a sweater and a blanket to wear around the park lol). But this year, we’re going to go out and see them properly. They’ve also added some decorations to the new Toy Story Land so I’m excited to get my first look at those!

THE EPCOT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF THE HOLIDAYS

Y’all probably know by now how much I love my Epcot festivals. There are so many incredible experiences at Epcot during the holiday season. You can try a bunch of holiday food delights from different countries, hear how cultures celebrate during the holidays, and see the Candlelight Processional which is a really incredible experience that’s hosted by celebrities through the end of November and the month of December. I think that the cultural aspect of Epcot is one of my favourite aspects of the park, and Christmas time really reflects that.

What’s your favourite Walt Disney World holiday experience?

Felicia x

To view a list of all my Blogmas posts, click here.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party | 2018

IMG_4901-1.jpeg

It’s the mooost wonderful time of the yeaaaar!! That’s right, friends. It’s time for my annual write-up on Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! If you’ve been here for awhile, you’ll probably know that I’ve been to Not So Scary twice before - once in 2015 and again last year. I absolutely love the party and I love writing these posts, too. It’s sort of like reliving everything all over again to me honestly. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

If you’re interested, you can read my prior posts about Not So Scary from 2017 here.

IMG_4145.jpeg

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I love Halloween at the parks. I’m sure I’ve said it a dozen times before, and I’ll say it another dozen times in the future. Disney really does everything better, especially the holidays. And Halloween gives them an opportunity to bring out some of the less popular characters. They also decorate the parks to the nines, with giant pumpkins everywhere, and bales of straw and other harvest-themed decor at every turn. If you love a good Jack O’ Lantern, look no further than Main Street U.S.A.!

If you’ve never heard about Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, you’re not alone. Until I went in 2015, I hadn’t heard much about it either. In the past few years, it’s been gaining more attention and popularity, but back in the day it was this super mysterious exclusive party that I never really knew much about (especially because I didn’t visit Disney in the autumn). Basically it’s a ticketed event held at Magic Kingdom on select nights from late August to Halloween, where you can go in ‘after hours’ and experience a bunch of attractions, rides, and shows that are Halloween themed. There’s also a massive dress-up component, as tons of people (myself included!) dress in costumes. Where else do you really get to do costumes anymore when you’re an adult??

The event starts at 7pm, so we got there about 6:30pm. At that point, cast members were desperately trying to control the crowds, getting the non-party guests out of the park and the party guests into the park, without causing too much of a commotion. We entered the park with our Magicbands as usual and then immediately got our wristbands for the party put on. If you’re already in the park when the party starts, there are stations set up all over where you can get your wristbands, too. Once we had our bands, we went onto Main Street and got to pose with this super cute car before going ~backstage~ to make our way into the party.

Initially, my boyfriend and I had decided not to do costumes this year. All summer we tried to figure out what we wanted to dress-up as but couldn’t decide on anything and when we did, the costume idea fell through, so we just gave up entirely. But then, about a week into September, I got the idea to do a Mary Poppins and Bert couples costume. We completely (and somewhat frantically) DIY’d our costumes, searching the depths of the Internet for pieces to put together (I’ll do a post on our DIY later!). I’m sooo happy with how our costumes turned out!! We had a few tiny last minute glitches but in the end it all worked out and the costumes were actually super comfy throughout the night thank god.

Although we didn’t get to experience everything that Not So Scary has to offer, we did get to see and do so much. Of course, we took part in a little bit of trick-or-treating as usual. My family likes to go to as many trick-or-treat stations as possible, and then bring all our collected candy home to handout to kids on Halloween. Making the most out of the cost of our tickets haha. We also got to see a bunch of the shows that are what make the party so incredible, in my opinion.

IMG_4923.jpeg

One of my all-time fav parts of Halloween as a whole is Hocus Pocus. And luckily for me Hocus Pocus is a big part of Not So Scary! They put on a show at the stage in front of Cinderella’s Castle called Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular. It has the Sanderson sisters, as well as a bunch of other Disney villains. And, of course, the performance of I Put A Spell On You always completes all my childhood dreams!! Honestly, the Sanderson sisters are the queens of Halloween and you can’t tell me otherwise.

Also, please check out that picture of the Hocus Pocus fireworks from behind the castle that I took while walking. Ugh I love.

IMG_5019.jpeg

I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention my beloved HalloWishes fireworks! As you may know, the Wishes fireworks went away early last year which was devastating to all. But luckily, we still have a part of that old magic during the Halloween and Christmas holiday seasons! I absolutely love HalloWishes. I think that the different effects on the castle, the fireworks, and the music are all so incredible.

IMG_4936.jpeg

And, last but certainly not least, we got a chance to see my favourite Disney World attraction of all time: Mickey’s Boo To You Halloween Parade. I LOVE THIS PARADE!!! Absolute best parade of all time. There’s literally nothing about this parade I’m so-so on. I literally love every single part of this parade. The soundtrack is DIVINE. The whole Haunted Mansion part is sooo amazing. Especially because I absolutely love Haunted Mansion and everything related to it. I highly recommend carving out time to see this parade if you go to Not So Scary (it runs twice a night).

The only bummer of the party this year was that the Headless Horseman, who usually rides out in front of the first float, didn’t show up! Because of the rain, it wasn’t safe for the horse or the rider. So that was pretty disappointing however we totally understood that it just couldn’t happen. Hopefully next year we’ll see him again!!

Have you guys been to Not So Scary before? What’s your fav part!

Felicia x

5 Tips For Staying at a Disney Resort

D10245A4-6DC0-4D28-912E-C1EED14D557B-1000.jpg

Staying at a Disney resort is an incredible experience. Everything from the resort grounds to the restaurants to the hotel rooms, there is magic sprinkled everywhere. But with so much ground to cover, staying there for the first time can be a bit daunting. So today I thought I'd give a few tips I've learned from staying on-property over the years! 

Use Disney Transport

One of the best parts of staying on-property at Walt Disney World is that you have access to the Disney Transport. There are a ton of different ways you can get around the parks - buses, ferries, monorails, and even Minnie Vans. Using the buses to get from resort-to-park, or vice versa, is so so simple. We drove to the resort with our own car but decided against driving around and instead using the transport provided and it was so worth it. The buses are quite efficient as they know the quickest routes around property. An added bonus is that you get to bypass the Transportation and Ticket Centre which, if you've ever driven to Magic Kingdom, you'll know is a nightmare. 

Download the My Disney Experience App

You may already have the My Disney Experience app if you've been to the parks before, but if you haven't been in awhile (or ever), then here's the gist. The app lets you do basically anything you'd ever want - look at maps, check wait times, book FastPasses, make dinner reservations. It's extremely useful and the fact that you can pull it up whenever you want on your phone with the in-park WiFi is incredible. Sometimes I can't even remember the days of going to grab paper FastPasses from the ride queues - remember when only a few rides had FastPasses?! Crazy stuff.

Purchase a Refillable Mug

This might actually be crucial, especially if you're planning on spending a good amount of time on-property. The refillable mug costs $18.99 for the initial purchase and then you can use it however many times your little heart desires without extra cost. If you're on the Dining Plan, you can even get the mug included in your plan! It's perfect for grabbing a cup of coffee at breakfast, or a few drinks if you're going poolside. I filled mine up dozens of times during our six-day stay and it was well worth the cost. Definitely saves you from waiting in lines for drinks all day long!

Take Advantage of AP, Tables in Wonderland, or Disney Dining Plan

Staying in the parks, it's easy to rack up a pretty hefty bill from all the food and merchandise buying - especially if you're just charging everything to your room through your MagicBand. Using methods to get discounts makes a big difference! I bring my Annual Pass with me everywhere, just in case I want to buy something and get that 10-20% discount. If you have a Tables in Wonderland card or a Disney Dining Plan, those will also really help you with saving a buck or two throughout your trip, so you should look into those!

Bring Bug Spray

I cannot stress enough how important this is. Take it from someone who didn't bring bug spray - you need it!! Especially in heavily vegetated areas (which is 99% of Disney, let's be honest). In just one night of walking around Port Orleans, by the river, I got at least six mosquito bites. UGH. Make sure to pack some bug spray in your luggage and also, some After Bite juuuust in case. Better safe than sorry, am I right? 

What are your top Disney resort tips?

Felicia x

Walt Disney World Haul 2018

CDCB8C72-688A-4959-ADC3-43E44D1A33D5-1000.jpg

As you probably know if you've been following my Instagram or read my latest blog post, I recently spent time in Walt Disney World, celebrating my 20th birthday (which you can read about here). While I was there, I got completely pulled into the merchandise trap which is pretty much the least surprising thing ever haha. So I thought I'd share with you guys some of the things I picked up! 

6E3E8391-4CF7-4244-AE96-51247D9C66E7-1000.jpg

Pumpkin Antenna Topper - When I first arrived in Disney, they had just put out all the Halloween decorations and merchandise around the parks. On our first day there, we went to Disney Springs and I found myself in Halloween HEAVEN. The first thing I picked up was this adorable pumpkin Mickey antenna topper. Currently, I have a regular Minnie Mouse topper but I thought this would be a cute change for the fall season. On the back of this topper, it says 'Hey, Pumpkin' which is just the cutest thing ever!! I literally can't wait to pop this on my car. 

F1955704-003E-48C0-A92A-616C22C6AB73-1000.jpg

Mickey Ghost Mug - The other Halloween thing I bought while I was at the parks was this incredible Mickey mug. How cute is this?! It's a ghost Mickey and on the back it says 'Boo To You'. I already have wayyyyy too many mugs but honestly, this was a necessary addition to my collection. I love all things Halloween themed and they had an amazing variety this year. It's getting me so excited for the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in October! 

Journal - I hemmed and hawed a lot before deciding to buy this journal, but it was one of the best purchases I made. This beautiful hardcover journal is covered in retro-looking Walt Disney World logos and designs and has Mickey silhouettes on the pages. I picked this up after deciding that I wanted to keep a journal of all my Disney stays as a memory book. This was the perfect pick, in my opinion, and I can't wait to get writing!

Starbucks 'You Are Here' Hollywood Studios Mug - I'm sure you guys have seen the You Are Here mugs at Starbucks before, they're pretty popular and usually have a city/state/province on them with a cute lil design. Starbucks has a Disney World collection, as well as a Disneyland collection. I already have the Epcot and Magic Kingdom mugs, so I picked up the Hollywood Studios one this trip - and now I've only got the Animal Kingdom one left, and then I've got the entire set! 

C655AB8B-7A1F-4B8F-A9CF-AF590FBDD41D-1000.jpg

Rose Gold Phone Case - I fell in love with this the moment I saw it. Rose gold is my favourite and this is no exception. This bad boy has a little clasp on it and opens up to be a wallet with a few card slots as well as a window one, which makes it perfect for holding my Disney Annual Pass and my i.d. for getting discounts in the park. And, of course, it holds my phone. Hooray for multi-purposeful pretty merch!! 

New Fantasyland Mystery Pin Pack - On my birthday, I decided to treat myself to this adorable mystery pack. It comes with two Beauty and the Beast themed mystery pins, which are themed to the Beauty and the Beast area of the New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. I got the pin of Belle walking away from her house while reading (which I unfortunately already own) and the three Bimbettes sitting in Gaston's Tavern. They're super cute!! Can't wait to add them to my collection. 

2018 and Epcot pins - Following the pin trend, I bought two more! Shocker, lol. I bought a Walt Disney World 2018 pin with Minnie Mouse on it, as I used to collect yearly pins when I visited as a child but I stopped for a few years which I massively regret. So I'm back to collecting annual Disney pins! I also picked up this super cute Epcot pin, which features icons of the major rides (Spaceship Earth, Mission Space, Test Track, etc.) and has a super cute Mickey on it! I saw it once about a week ago and then it was sold out nearly everywhere I looked until I finally found this one - and it was the last one there! Phew haha

A059470F-4A25-46BF-A3CD-FD6AF6A80BAC-1000.jpg

Disney H20 Sea Salt Body Lotion - Because Disney H20 products are the cutest ever and remind me of the resorts, I took a few of the complimentary hand lotions home *shrugs*. I'm gonna have to pop one of these into my school bag so I can apply this in class and miss Disney and cry all semester lol

1513BBAC-7F71-4C39-9EAC-0A7D11D9046D-1000.jpg
A021960D-835F-4652-B783-BFBF255F101C-1000.jpg

Haunted Mansion & Halloween MagicBands - Last, but certainly not least, I picked up these two lovely MagicBands! The Haunted Mansion one has a Ghost Host uniform on one side and Ghost Hostess uniform on the other! The Halloween one is decorated in a few of the characters dressed for Halloween, some ghosts and candy, and an orange castle! 

I've only been back for a little while and I'm already ready to go back! Post-Disney depression is real :( 

Felicia x

What's In My Disney Theme Park Bag?

IMG_3983.jpeg

Packing a bag for a day at the Disney theme parks can be a pretty daunting task. But over the years, I've brought it down to a few simple things that I always have to have on me when I'm headed to parks! Today I thought I'd go through the staples of what I pack for a day at the parks, especially as I've got a WDW staycation coming up very very soon and I'm getting into the Disney spirit! 

Without further ado, here's what I pack in my Disney theme park bag...

IMG_3985.jpeg

Wallet

First and foremost, I always make sure to have my wallet on me. You always want to make sure to have your Credit/Debit cards and some US currency. I also will have my Disney annual pass for parking and discounts, and my Starbucks Rewards card for if I want to get a coffee while I'm at Disney!

Lipstick + Balm

I always keep lip balm on me no matter what, as I have dry and chapped lips. But if you know anything about me, you probably know I always have a lipstick on me too. At Disney, I usually carry my Revlon Ultra HD Matte Lip Colour in Seduction as it's a very neutral pink.

Sun + Eyeglasses

Because I have prescription glasses, I make sure to bring them along with me as I never know when I'll need those - for driving or for rides. I also ALWAYS bring along sunglasses because it is the Sunshine State after all. Protect your eyes y'all!

IMG_3987.jpeg

Sanitizer + Meds

As Disney is a theme park and many people pass through, I always have hand sanitizer on me and make sure to use it whenever I'm about to eat. I also bring an assortment of basic meds with me, like Aleve, Midol, and Pepcid for emergencies.

Keys

Of course, I always have to bring my keys with me to the parks. How else will I get home?! My keys fit in perfectly at the parks as they're very Disney-fied - I've got a Minnie keychain (my bf has the matching Mickey) and a rose gold Cinderella castle keychain!

IMG_3989.jpeg

Gum

Be warned: Disney World does NOT sell gum! This is a long-standing tradition, to deter people from leaving gum all over the ground and messing with the parks. If you always like to have gum, like me, bring your own and be courteous please!

IMG_3990.jpeg

Magicband

Although this isn't technically inside my park bag, I always bring a Magicband with me. It's become a total life saver for me these past few years. I always use it for park entrance and Fastpass returns.

Minnie Ears

Of course, I have to bring along my ears!! Where would I be without these bad boys? I have a whole collection of ears that I alternate between, but you can almost always guarantee that there's a pair in my bag or on my head!

IMG_3992.jpeg

Minnie Backpack

If I'm in the parks for a long time, like a full day, I'll use this Minnie Mouse backpack from Disney instead of my purse - it just disperses weight better on my back and shoulders, and is easier to tote around for long periods of time.

What do you pack in your Disney park bag?

Felicia x

Five Facts About Epcot's World Showcase

Welcome to Epcot, World Travellers! This park has had a very special place in my heart for many many years although it wasn't always that way. When I was a little girl, my parents and I only popped into Epcot for short visits to go to the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall for the princess breakfast and then leave. Can you believe it? Little did we know we were missing out on a whole 'world' of fun (pun intended haha). 

One of the best parts of Epcot, hands down, is the World Showcase. The World Showcase takes up about half the park's estate and is made up of eleven countries. It's educational but not boring in the least. There is so much to do! But did you know that the World Showcase has it's fair share of secrets? Here are five fun facts about the World Showcase!

ORDER UP!

The annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival is a huge event for foodies. With over 70 days and 35 marketplaces, there is definitely no shortage of opportunities for delicious food tasting. But the most shocking part of it all is the sheer size of the event. It's so huge, in fact, that during festival season, the park sells over 30,000 bottles of wine and over a million plates of food! That's a whole lotta food. You won't be leaving the park hungry, that's for sure.

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

Imagineers have been known to use forced perspective throughout the theme parks to make certain structures appear bigger to parkgoers, most notably Cinderella's Castle in the Magic Kingdom. But did you know that they also use it to make things look smaller? Imagineers wanted the American Adventure pavilion to be seen across the World Showcase lagoon, so they made the building a whopping 5 stories. However, to be historically accurate, they had to make it look 3 stories to coincide with the buildings in that era. So, everything is doubled in size - the windows are longer and the doors are taller!

RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

During the nighttime fireworks spectacular, IllumiNations, the pavilions light up the night as part of the spectacle. However, a keen eye may notice that Morocco doesn't light up. The reasoning behind their exception is that the main tower of the pavilion is made to replicate a prayer tower and lighting up the prayer tower would go against the Muslim beliefs of many Moroccan people. Disney didn't want to disrespect their culture and religion, so they chose to keep the pavilion dark during the show. 

LA TOUR EIFFEL

There are actually a couple interesting things to note about Epcot's Eiffel Tower replica. The Eiffel Tower in the France pavilion is one tenth of the real deal. It's also a different colour than the Eiffel Tower we know today. The Tower in Epcot is a pinkish shade and the reason is that's the shade it would have been when it was first created. The pavilion is meant to represent the late 1800s, an era known as 'La Belle Epoque', which is when the Eiffel Tower was first erected. 

TIME TRAVELLIN'

Take a closer look at the buildings in the United Kingdom pavilion next time you're at Epcot. You'll notice that as you pass by the shops, going further into the pavilion, you're actually 'walking through time', starting with the Tea Caddy which is meant to replicate the home of William Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway. From there, you pass onto two shops built in 18th and 19th century styles, respectively. It's just another one of those special details that Disney makes sure to include in the park's architecture!

Which of Epcot's little secrets is your favourite?

Felicia x

 

Disney Must-Do's: Hollywood Studios

IMG_3259.jpeg

I'm ready for my close-up! It's time for my Hollywood Studios must-do's. Although Hollywood Studios is in a bit of a transition period right now, there are still a bunch of fun things that you should see and do at this park. From walking the bustling streets of Hollywood to stepping into the exciting worlds of your favourite movies, there's adventure at every corner!

~*~

Take a million pictures. This may seem very basic, but trust me when I say that Hollywood Studios is one of the most aesthetically pleasing parks in Walt Disney World. With the Chinese Theatre facade, the Tower of Terror, and basically just Hollywood Boulevard in general, there is no limit to the photo ops in this park. Some of my personal favourite photos to take are of Tower of Terror and Echo Lake, especially if there's an incredible sunset above!

IMG_3262.jpeg

Go on a shopping spree. Hollywood Studios has arguably the best shopping of all the Disney World parks. On your next trip, I'd definitely recommend taking a stroll through the shops lining Hollywood Blvd and Sunset Blvd. They've got such a wide selection of Disney merch, including some Hollywood Studios specific merch and a ton of cute apparel. If you're looking for Pixar merchandise or an addition to your Dooney and Burke collection (a girl can dream, can't she?), then this is the place to be! It's also worth mentioning that the outsides of the shops are extremelyyy cute!

Step into Andy's backyard at Toy Story Land. Of course, I have to mention the newest addition to the Walt Disney World parks - Toy Story Land!! Coming off of the excitement of the Pandora opening last year, this land boasts two new rides, as well as a revamped Toy Story Mania. If you grew up in the 90s, you won't want to miss this. I recently gave a little review of my first impressions of the new land when I visited awhile back, which you can read here. The number one must-do here has to be the Slinky Dog Dash family coaster which looks incredibly fun and I cannot wait to give it a go when the lines aren't ridiculously long.

IMG_3315.jpeg

Have a meal at 50s Prime Time Cafe. Keep your elbows off the table! The 50s Prime Time Cafe is the perfect burst of nostalgia and a great diner for some family fun. The whole place is set up like a stereotypical family's home kitchen in the 1950s, decorated right down to the most specific details, and they are very strict on making sure you mind your manners! All in all, it's an interactive restaurant fun for the whole family. 

Watch Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks. Callin' all my Star Wars fans, this one is for you! The Star Wars fireworks at Hollywood Studios are sooo amazing. The way they incorporate fireworks, lasers, projections, and pyrotechnics is pretty phenomenal - plus they do a really good job of uniting the characters from the original trilogy, the prequels, and the recent films together seamlessly. And if you think Ewan McGregor is as perfect as I think he is (*swoon*) then you'll be thrilled to hear that he has quite a lot of face time in the show!! 

What are your Hollywood Studios must-do's?

Felicia x

Disney Must-Do's: Epcot

IMG_2768.jpeg

When I was younger, I was never really big on Epcot. It didn't really have a lot to offer for a six-year-old, so my family kind of just looked past it on the first few visits. But, as I got older, I started to realize the charm - and beauty - of Epcot and now it's become my favourite park in all of Walt Disney World. No visit to the parks is complete without a trip to Epcot. In fact, most trips, I visit Epcot more than once! I love all this park stands for and there is so much that it offers for guests. Here are my Epcot must-do's for a Disney vacation! 

~*~

Ride Spaceship Earth. This is unequivocally the number one must-do at Epcot for me. Spaceship Earth is easily my fav Disney World attraction (ever since they retired my beloved Great Movie Ride #rip). There's nothing I love more than plopping down in my backwards-and-forwards moving Time Machine and going for a spin through history with my bff Dame Judi Dench. This gem is quite literally located inside that beautiful geodesic sphere at centre stage in the park - it's what you probably know as the giant golf ball. My dad fondly refers to this as a 'good nap ride' but don't let that fool you! It's great. Trust me.

Have a bite to eat at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie in France pavilion. The France pavilion has many incredible places to eat. But my personal favourite quick-service meal in Epcot actually resides in the back of the France pavilion, at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie. This little bistro-style quick service is constantly packed with hungry parkgoers but never fear, the line is quick moving and WORTH. IT. I actually dream about the Croissant Jambon Fromage, which is ham, cheese, and bechamel inside a croissant. Yummmm!! 

Pop into Mouse GearsOh, look, a Disney shop. Are you surprised? Probably not. This is one of the bigger shops in the parks and it's got a ton of stuff to browse through. Along with the typical sections - adult apparel, children's apparel, toys, stationary, books, movies, candy, homeware, etc. - it also has a great Epcot-themed area where they've been selling Epcot 35th Anniversary merch for the past year. 90% of my Disney merch collection has been purchased at Mouse Gears. It's not a trip to Epcot unless I've spent 15 minutes standing in the homeware section of this shop, trying to convince my boyfriend that we need another Disney mug. 

Visit my home countryOf course, I have to visit the Canada pavilion whenever I take a trip out to Epcot. It's my duty as a Canadian! But no, in all seriousness, I always try to make a quick stop at the Canadian pavilion, as it's lovely to see what sort of merch they've got in there and it's always nice to have a chat with the cast members (all the cast members in each pavilion are native to that country). Once, we went in and spoke a CM who was from our old neighbourhood! They also have a book where you can sign your name and what province you come from. We've been doing it for years and it's always fun to see where the other visitors are traveling from!

IMG_2754.jpeg

Take a trip around the worldI think I'd be remiss if I didn't list taking a stroll around World Showcase as one of my must-do's. It's so cool to see all the different countries represented and to be able to experience some of what each of the countries has to offer. I love poking around in each of the pavilions just to see what's been recently added and also to admire the beautiful areas. There are some serious photo ops for any photography lovers, or just anyone looking for a good selfie spot! Some of my favourite places to take photos are Canada (that's where the picture above is from!), France, Morocco, and United Kingdom. I always like to look for the less-travelled path and see where it takes me - and what photos ops it offers! 

What are your Epcot must-do's?

Felicia x

How to Plan a Walt Disney World Vacation

IMG_2625.jpeg

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

global-warming.png

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!

img_1606.jpeg
img_1607.jpeg
img_1609.jpeg
img_1610.jpeg
img_1608.jpeg

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