Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Because I am woefully behind on blogging – a few randoms from September (because nothing from October has made it’s way off my memory card yet!)

cousin bathtime!

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Lunch with a kindergartener

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Farm tour!

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My favorite niece turned 2!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Disney 2014–Magic Kingdom part one

If you’re going to Disney World, especially with kids, Magic Kingdom is the place to spend your time. It’s where the true magic happens, if you ask me! It’s not a place to rush through and we try to spend at least 2 full days here.

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This trip we spent our 2nd and 3rd days this trip here but they each warrant their own reviews.

Elsa and Ariel left the girls a little something special to wear to the park this day and both girls were excited!

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We had later morning breakfast reservations so we were able to take our time getting ready.We had breakfast at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian resort. So we took the resort bus to the Magic Kingdom and jumped on the monorail to get to the resort/restaurant. (I love that you don’t need to fold up strollers on the monorail!) We ate dinner here last time and breakfast did not disappoint. This is a breakfast buffet but the food is REALLY good. They have mickey waffles (natch!) and yummy stuff for the picky eaters, make your own omelet stations and so much more.

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The characters were Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter, Pooh, Tigger, Mary Poppins. It’s pretty clear which ones Aleesia preferred. Gianna loved them all, of course!8.13  (53)8.13  (49)8.13  (52)8.13  (67)8.13  (57)

After breakfast we headed for the park!

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Our first stop was the carousel.

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And a little exploring of the new Fantasyland setup to look for Pascal….

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Our first fastpass was Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid which was really cute. Gianna was being a stinker so she would tell you it wasn’t very fun, but Aleesia liked it!

We stumbled across some of our favorite characters with no waiting in the Storybook Circus area at Pete’s Silly Sideshow – Aleesia was thrilled to meet “mimmie!”. The line is inside, so it was also a nice place to beat the heat for a few minutes.

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Also right in this area is the splashpad – it was HOT this day and we brought the girls swim suits (and a change of clothes) so they/we could spend some time cooling off!

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My tiny sidekick and I hung out while the big kids rode Splash Mountain (fastpass #2 – I could have scheduled my own fastpass to do something with Aleesia at the same time, but decided not too.)

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(G declared the ride fun but on the “I’m never doing that again” list!)

We ended up heading back to the hotel to rest for a bit after this ride, the girls were tired and we had a few hours to kill until it was time to head back to the park for our last FastPass. We all needed to eat and rest our feet, so this worked out perfectly.

Eventually it was time for what Gianna had been waiting “all my life” for – to meet Anna and Elsa! 8.13  (226)

This was THE BEST use of a FastPass ever. The standby line was really long, 100+ minutes all day.

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Gianna rode Dumbo with Mike and Aleesia (who was supposed to be sleeping) and I hung out some more. The line area is super kid friendly and because of this, in my opinion, not worth getting a fastpass for this ride. They are too busy playing to bug you about waiting! (and the wait when we were there was less than 20 minutes)

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We grabbed ice cream and stumbled upon an Incredibles dance party and Gianna Mike rode space mountain while the girls and I danced.

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It was getting late but the girls were doing great, so we stayed for (my personal favorite) the light parade. The girls LOVED it – it was pretty impossible to capture their faces, but they were mesmerized by the lights and waved to all the characters as they came by.

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We discovered last year that if you sit at the end of Main Street by the entrance, you can get great seats (just behind the rope) with little crowding and a perfect view.

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The girls both hate fireworks so we didn’t stay for that and headed out to the resort buses. We actually caught the electric boat parade as we walked out which was a fun surprise!

It was a fantastic day – our fastpasses worked perfectly, the girls loved every minute of it and we were all excited to head back the next day!

FYI - Hollywood Studios recap here

Thursday, October 16, 2014

#cascadeshiningreviews Winner!

I finally got around to pulling the winner of the 2nd Cascade Shining Reviews giveaway – so sorry for the delay my friends!


Comment #8 is Jen! I want the butternut squash and bacon mac & cheese recipe too!

Thanks for playing along, friends!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Disney 2014–Hollywood Studios and Frozen Summer

As I talked about, we surprised the girls with this Disney trip which was so exciting. Disney surprised us with the opening of Frozen Summer at Hollywood Studios – it was a great surprise for Gianna (and Aleesia, of course!).

After we changed from spending our morning at the pool, we grabbed a snack and headed over to Hollywood Studios for the rest of our first day. It was a Tuesday, we had planned to be there between 12 and 1 and Mike had a fast pass scheduled for Star Tours.

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We are not so much Star anything people, but she and Mike both enjoyed the ride and Aleesia enjoyed an opportunity to nap for a bit.


We did a little exploring, which of course included visiting Oakin’s Trading Post (Gianna was so excited to get the Anna/Elsa flip doll!) and the Frozen Summer activities and reserving our spot for the Frozen Sing a Long. We got stuck in the rain, naturally, because we ALWAYS get stuck in the rain at Hollywood Studios!

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one of them was totally excited to build a snowman. one, was not!PhotoPass_Visiting_Studios_7058011935

We then headed to Toy Story Mania (love this ride!) and both girls enjoyed it.

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Our late lunch reservations were for Hollywood and Vine so we could dine with the Disney Jr. characters. We were the last lunch time available. The main benefit here: we got a lot of time with the characters. But honestly, the food was less than great. The lobster mac & cheese was good, the girls liked the tater tots, and the dessert station was (as always) a hit but overall the food was just blah. It honestly made me thankful we were using the dining plan and not paying out of pocket because I would have been quite disappointed. This was also the longest wait we had from reservation time to the time we sat down at the table. There was a big patio so the girls could run around and they had free ice water, which was nice as well.

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After we got our fill of Sophia and Doc we actually headed over to Disney Jr. Live – we were early, so we snuck in to see Wreck it Ralph and Vanillope Von Sweet first in the animation courtyard. We didn’t have a ton of time to spend here this time but it is a great place for kids to explore with lots of character meet & greets (Mickey, the Incredibles, Jake, Sofia) and different art stations to explore and play with.

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Aleesia LOVE LOVE LOVED Disney Jr. Live!! She and G danced and sang together and were just generally adorable! This is a big favorite of ours.

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And after that we went to a Frozen dance party which both girls LOVED.

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And finally, Frozen sing a long time – I was sure Gianna was going to jump out of her skin when it started, she participated fully in the songs and cracked me up the whole time. It was way too dark to get any pictures of her, but it was great. Funny, great songs, not too long, and a place to sit down for a  little while!

The girls were pretty much beat by that point, we walked around a bit more but ultimately headed back to our hotel early and skipped the fireworks and Fantasmic. (Gianna and Aleesia are both scared of fireworks, so this wasn’t a big deal to us) And as I mentioned previously, we actually were able to watch the Frozen fireworks from our resort as we walked to our room so we still got to see them without the loud booms.

Overall for a  5 and 1 year old, this was not an all day park for us this time. We would have liked to been able to also fit in Beauty and the Beast and the parade, but we just didn’t get there early enough nor did we have time with the way our fast pass and meal reservations were timed. For the parents, they serve beer and there are some roller coasters (Tower of Terror! Rockin’ roller coaster) that are great. It was a more laid back day for us, which worked well since we got there later. There are plenty of character greetings (we did not do them all, obviously) and both kids were equally entertained for the entire day. The Disney Jr. and Frozen attractions made this a can’t miss park for us!