When I heard that the Columbus Museum of Art was going to have a Maurice Sendak exhibit, I knew that I wanted it to be an adventure date. We wanted to go during the week to avoid crowds, but Sundays ended up being our least busy days. So, we got free admission to the museum and only had to pay for the exhibit. This was both wonderful and also a little bit unfortunate. Wonderful to save money (you all saw my create date post, right?), but a little unfortunate that we were there on the most crowded day. Thankfully, the Wild Things Are Happening exhibit was not too crowded and we were able to enjoy that. We can always go back to see the rest of the exhibits (and I’m sure we will).
The exhibit was amazing, encompassing Sendak’s entire body of work and quite a bit about his personal process and life. Some of my favorite highlights follow, but there is so much more that I couldn’t capture or express in this blog post. I know that my favorite discovery was that Sendak would do a process he called Fantasy Sketches. He would put on a piece of classical music an draw a story before the music ended. Here are a couple of examples:
The first is a sketch based on Through the Looking Glass, and the second is called Boy in Ship and contains the very first Where the Wild Things Are sketches. We see the monster that likely became Moishe, the most famous of the Wild Things.
I also loved seeing Little Bear sketches and drawings, especially on the dramatic book cover wall paper.
I was also thrilled to learn that Sendak had designed shows for the stage – posters, sets, curtains. It was amazing (and a little bit scary in the case of the giant Goose of Cairo).
I also enjoyed seeing characters from Sendak’s life, including Really Rosie based on a neighborhood girl, Higglety Pigglety Pop! based on his dog Jennie, art he did based on his partner of 50 years, Dr. Eugene Glynn, and, of course, Mickey Mouse (they were born the same year).
Of course, the thing I enjoyed most was seeing the Where the Wild Things Are section. They had books in different languages, original artwork, movie memorabilia, an even a piece of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon’s eye. My favorite has always been the part where they swing from the trees, so I was really excited to see that. 🙂
All in all, I give this exhibit 5 stars and recommend that everyone goes to see it. At $10 per person admission, it is definitely one of the more affordable adventure dates we have had, and we learned a great deal about one of our favorite illustrators. If you have seen it, or if you end up going, be sure to leave your favorite part in the comments below.
A few days before Christmas, Keith and I found ourselves on our own for the evening. We decided to check out the Pandora Hike that was being hosted by Scioto Grove Metro Park. It was pretty cold, but we figured we would be moving, so as long as it wasn’t too far, we would be okay. We arrived at the nature center and were greeted by the rangers. They gave us a UV flashlight and sheet and marker to record the clues we found to spell a secret word. We set out from the nature center through some lovely scenery.
We found all 7 clues along the path near hanging lights. I was unable to get a photo, but the flashlight revealed a letter on each symbol.
In the end, it was not a super long walk, but it was fun. And we definitely solved the puzzle. I am not going to spoil it, though, in case another metro park decides to have a hike. Here is our completed clue sheet.
This would be an especially fun experience for families with young children. Older children will likely feel it is too easy, but will probably still like hiking and shining the light on the clues. I would definitely recommend it if you ever have the opportunity.
Have you done any special events at Columbus Metro Parks? Let me know which ones you love in the comments! 🙂
The last two years at Christmas, I have been aware of several friends and acquaintances touring a place called the Christmas Tree Home. After one friend in particular posted a link to a Facebook group, I joined in the hopes that we would be able to visit in the future. This year, I was alerted when they posted the sign up page, so I was able to snag us a time slot to visit. The home is only open 3 Saturdays and 3 Sundays each year, and the hours are quite limited. Probably because it is an actual house on a cul-de-sac and they are trying to be good neighbors.
When we arrived, we found a place to park and walked up to the house – as you can see, the weather cooperated to make the scene look quite wintery. The house was impressive even from the outside! The front porch reminded me of the department store window displays we used to go see when I was really young.
When we got inside, we were greeted with so. many. Christmas. trees. At last count, the owner, Barb, had 649 trees. They are all sizes and made from all materials. Barb also had a fun juke box where you could pick favorite Christmas songs to play. Oh, and also, there is a cat. My girls were very happy about that. 🙂 Here is just a small selection of her displays.
In addition, Barb offers everyone that visits a homemade cookie and what I hear is really amazing hot chocolate. You also have the opportunity to donate money to causes that help food insecure and homeless people in the Columbus area. Last I heard, they had raised over $2000, so that is fantastic.
While I don’t know that we will go every year, I do think this is worth at least one visit. It is impressive and Barb is a wonderful hostess. I definitely left with more Christmas spirit, and that’s never a bad thing.
Have you visited the Christmas Tree Home? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!
There are currently 3 locations that have Dreamscape AMC Theatres in the United States, and one of them happens to be 10 minutes from our house at Easton Town Center. So, because November was a little bit crazy in the Emigh household, we decided it would be the perfect month to try the Dreamscape experience. The website was a little hard to use to get our tickets – maybe it was getting a lot of traffic, or maybe it has some sort of internal problems, but that ended up being the most frustrating part of the experience for my husband. We bought our tickets the night before, but the people that did the experience with us bought them right before we started, so both options may work for you.
Dreamscape shows are VR experiences, so I was a little worried and took a Dramamine beforehand. When we arrived at the theatre, we had to choose our avatars and we got to enjoy the pre-show lounge which featured decorations from all of their current offerings and a digital schedule board that showed which shows were currently boarding. There was also some merch for sale if that is your jam.
The first thing we had to do was get our gear on. There were hand and foot sensors, a very heavy backpack, and VR headset. Please enjoy the blind selfie I took in gear – sorry it doesn’t show everything, but it shows the headset.
The Alien Zoo room was really cool and about 15 minutes long. We got to see lots of interesting creatures, interact with things, and “move” through the environment without having to do a lot of walking. It was really weird to look at Keith but see someone else – it was maybe the most discombobulating part of the whole thing. Two of the people with us were children, and I did have something taken from me during the experience because they saw I had it and couldn’t find their own. It really didn’t make a difference in the end, but if you are an adult that goes with kids, please be ready to help them to find the objects and buttons in the experience so that it doesn’t affect the experience for others.
Overall, we really liked the experience and will likely be back for another round in the near future. We saw that there might be a How to Train Your Dragon themed room, so if that ever heads to Columbus we will for sure want to try it. Have you ever done any VR? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 🙂
I don’t think I have every shared this here before, but I strongly dislike – maybe even hate – haunted houses. I do not like people scaring me, and I really do become a ninja of sorts when I feel startled by family members. But my daughter has been involved in a haunted house fundraiser at our high school for 2 years now, so I have been a guinea pig to give them ideas for improvement. Last year it was not as bad because there were lights throughout the haunted house, but this year there were definitely parts that were very dark. Regardless, we braved it. Here is a before shot of several parents ready to take on the Haunted Sewer.
Eventually we were allowed to enter the building. It was actually pretty cool because we got to go into a basement in the school that is usually not open to the public. It is pretty creepy on its own. The kids added their own spin to it to make it even creepier, of course. This is the make-up we were met with.
I did not go through again when there was make-up and complete darkness. But I will say that I think our kids did a fantastic job. And we raised quite a bit of money for the theatre program, so we were quite pleased. I don’t think I will be going through any more haunted houses – maybe the Haunted Mansion at Disney, but that’s definitely the only exception. 😉
Have you ever been to a haunted house? Do you love them? Hate them? Let us know in the comments!
This past weekend, three of us were able to get away to Hocking Hills for the day. Living only about an hour away from Hocking Hills has been so wonderful – we try to make it to the park at least a couple times each year. My favorite time to be in the woods is Fall with all the beautiful colors, followed closely by Winter when everything in white and frozen. It is still very much Summer, but we have to go when we have the time. I’m hoping for another trip this Fall, but we will have to wait and see.
We started out at Old Man’s Cave. The new Welcome Center has been standing for a few years now, but with COVID restrictions, it was never open when we were there. So, we were excited to check it out before hiking. We did not wander the whole place, but we did enjoy the upstairs space, and I am sure we will be back to check out the gift shop soon. It is a really beautiful building and I love the enormous map on the wall by the help desk.
We have been to Old Man’s Cave recently, but we’ve stuck to the upper falls area for the past several years. So, we decided the time had come to return to the lower part of the area. It was super crowded and there were so many people on the trail until it split – most people went to the actual cave part of the trail, so we decided very quickly to take the other way. We continued on down to the lower falls where it was actually not too hard to get photos without people for a change. It might be because it was a bit cooler (although still really humid), so no one was swimming under the falls. I know that I sound like an old “keep those kids off my lawn” stick in the mud, but I believe in following trail signs. If it says no wading or swimming, I stay out of the water. If it says stop, no hiking beyond this point, I stop. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun, but I also want these parks to be open to the public for everyone’s enjoyment for a long time to come.
After we had that hike under our belts, we headed to a completely new-to-us area of the park – the Rock Climbing and Rappelling Area. It is very near to Conkle’s Hollow – one of my favorite parts of the Hocking Hills Area. The area is not well marked, especially if you are coming from inside – the signs all point the other direction, so we ended up having to turn around and back track. Once we parked in the gravel lot, we did not cross the street to get to the actual Rock Climbing and Rappelling area, we instead followed the bridle trail located at the far end the parking lot. Being that it was a bridle trail, we had to constantly be watching where we stepped – the horses in Hocking Hills are apparently very well fed. Keith and Charlotte wished they had put on bug spray, but I did not have any problems. We did encounter A LOT of mud, and we had to do some creek crossings, so waterproof hiking boots are a must if you choose to do this hike. I did not take photos of the worst parts of the trail, but here are a few photos of the not so bad parts.
We followed the orange blazes and then the white blazes. Pretty soon, we saw a sign that said “No horses beyond this point.” I took that as a sign that we were supposed to take the trail up, but it turned out that it was a more difficult and roundabout way that would have led to a double waterfall if there was more water in the creeks. Keith has pretty much told me he will not hike this again (he hates mud and mess), so we will not be seeing the Twin Falls near Chapel Cave. We did eventually come to the cave, though. When we arrived there was a group of people on horseback in the cave, so we communicated with them about where we should be to make their horses feel safe. This cave is also called 21 Horse Cave because you could supposedly fit 21 horses in it, so it was kind of cool to get to see horses here.
After we explored the inside of the cave, it was time to head back. On the way back, we accidentally took a different path through one of the really, really muddy parts and Charlotte ended up stuck in pretty deep mud – not quite over her boots. I found a path around to help pull her out, and thankfully her boots stayed on her feet. She waded in the water a bit to clean off the mud, but then her socks and boots were pretty wet. So, we headed for the car as quick as we could to get her cleaned off a bit. Thankful for wet wipes and napkins and a stash of plastic bags in the back of the car! Obviously this put an end to our hiking for the day, but we were all pretty ready to go home and shower anyway.
Our reviews of this one were a little mixed. I loved the hike because it was challenging. Keith hated the mud and bugs. Charlotte loved the adventure and was happy until the wet boots at the end. I am going to give it an 8/10 just because I can see how it is not the perfect hike for everyone.
Have you ever been to Hocking Hills? What is your favorite area of the park? Have you been to Chapel Falls? Let us know in the comments! 🙂
When we decided to do the Disney trip, Keith told me he really wanted to surprise me with a fireworks dessert party on our anniversary, but he wasn’t sure he could. It turns out, I wasn’t sure we could get reservations until mid July – they did not release the seats for a long time. Perseverance pays off, however, and we were finally able to snag a table at the Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant for Disney Enchantment Treats and Seats Dessert Party. That is, of course, not how this story starts. This story starts with me, once again, waking up at 6:30 to get Genie + and get our first ride booked – Jungle Cruise after lunch. And also to make sure our daughter was up for school. Both pretty important goals. After we got up and around, we headed towards Magic Kingdom. Somehow there was a bus driver shift change at our resort while we were waiting – that’s right, if you are keeping track, that is 3 times. I am a little bit in awe of our luck there. This one was pretty quick, though, and they we were on our way to the Happiest Place on Earth. It makes me happy cry a little just thinking about it. 🙂
When we arrived, our plan was get breakfast and then to knock out some of the rides and attractions we skipped or that weren’t open during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. So, we headed back to Fantasyland to get cinnamon rolls at Gaston’s Tavern. It was enormous and pretty delicious. A little overwhelming, so I am glad we got one to split. We also decided that we would like a Big Thunder Mountain RR lightning lane for before lunch and we snagged Individual Lightning Lanes for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for that evening after the fireworks.
When we were finished with breakfast, we headed to one my favorite rides – It’s a Small World. I love the song – even had a Mickey watch that played it with world flags instead of numbers. I know that some people do not appreciate it as much as I do. Those people will be happy to know that the song seems to barely be in the queue or the ride anymore. I took so many photos, but I am going to leave you with the clock and two of the countries Keith and I have visited during our marriage – I don’t think there was a Canada section…
Our next stop was Mickey’s PhilharMagic. I don’t remember all of the old show – it has been about 10 years – but I love that there are newer movies represented now. Definitely a fun time. And we had to stop in the gift shop where we actually picked up 2 gifts and a photo of Mickey and Donald.
Feeling like we did everything we wanted to do in Fantasyland, we headed over to Liberty Square. On the way, we got some photos done with the castle. It was kind of crazy, while we were in line, there was a lady there with a toddler that gave the photographer her phone and then put her child down to get photos of just herself with the castle. And then said she would pay more for more photos and tried to just let one group in line go and then jump back up herself for more. I admit that I don’t know her story, but it must be very different from mine. I love the leaf magic shot that photographer did here. And yes, I know it is still summer. It was just nice to think about fall while we were sweating buckets in the 93 degree heat and humidity.
We decided the time had come to do Hall of Presidents. Partially because it was so hot and sunny outside, partially because we wanted to see the updated show. It was different that the presidents didn’t all talk with each other, but we thought the new movie part was good. And the Lincoln part was true to the origins of the attraction which was nice.
Our next stop was for something that we had never tried before – Dole Whip! I love that there are non-dairy options, and Keith enjoyed being able to mix fruit flavors with vanilla. He got the Fritz Freeze and I just got a Pineapple Dole Whip cup. So yummy and enjoyable on a hot day! After that, we headed into the Enchanted Tiki Room. I feel like I saw this attraction when I was there with my parents in elementary school, but Keith is certain he has never seen it before. So, another first. We enjoyed it, and it was the perfect length before our lightning lane at Big Thunder Mountain RR. While we were in line at Big Thunder Mountain RR, I was able to get a lightning lane for Space Mountain for after our Jungle Cruise lightning lane.
Our next stop was lunch. Our first day at Magic Kingdom together, all the way back at their 25th anniversary, we stumbled upon Liberty Tree Tavern as a place to eat. We loved the characters – especially when they used to have Meeko from Pocahontas – and the food and have been back every trip since. We were a little sad that the characters hadn’t returned, but I was able to surprise Keith with a Mickey cake for our anniversary, so that was wonderful. And they have fresh brewed unsweet tea, so that was a very welcome thing. The food was awesome, too. Nothing like Thanksgiving at Disney World. 🙂
After our lovely lunch, we headed to Adventureland to ride the Jungle Cruise. This is where Keith and I have a disagreement. I swear that we have ridden the ride together with Maddie. He swears he has never ridden it. I will definitely look through scrapbooks to discover the answer, but not quite yet. Either way, we rode it together this trip and it was just as campy as I remember. 🙂
We left Adventureland behind us to head to Space Mountain next. While in line there, we got a lightning lane for Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor right after, which was really perfect. While we waited there, I snagged a lightning lane for Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, thus completing our tour of Tomorrowland attractions for the day. We then headed back to Liberty Square for a lightning lane at Haunted Mansion to complete our pre-fireworks attractions. I’m telling you, we have been so spoiled by the Genie + system that I don’t think I will ever go back to waiting in stand-by lines all the time.
At this point, it was time to make our way to Tomorrowland Terrace for the Disney Enchantment Treats and Seats Dessert Party. We were seated in a fantastic spot right by the railing and we got some delicious wine and desserts. We were also pixie dusted by the cast members – they brought us a special plate of Happy Anniversary desserts from Mickey. In fact, two different cast members came and gave use a plate of Happy Anniversary desserts from Mickey. He must have thought we don’t like to share? Seriously, though, it was very sweet – figurative and literally. We enjoyed snacking and sipping and then the fireworks started. It was a great view and when Tinkerbell flew, she went right over our heads. Definitely a fun way to celebrate 23 years of wedded bliss. ❤
These pictures don’t do it justice – it was so beautiful and so nice to just sit and not be crowded. After the fireworks, we knew we wanted to see if they were doing lantern photos in Fantasyland by the Tangled bathrooms. We knew we had time before our individual lightning lanes at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and we have always love the lantern photos. We ended up being line in front of another couple from the UK and really enjoyed talking to them while we waited. We had a group in front of us and we honestly weren’t sure how big it was until they got the the front and everyone in their family arrived. They ended up taking forever with individual and group shots – 18 kids and adults. I’m not going to complain, though, because I think it was totally worth the wait – I love the photos!
After the photo line, we headed straight to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I really didn’t know much about it, but it was a super cute, pretty fun ride. I would definitely ride again. And then it was time to leave – always so sad. We got some beautiful shots of the castle as we walked out, though.
I know that we will be returning – we both had such a magical time. Here’s hoping it won’t be 10 more years.
Have you ever done a fireworks party at a Disney Park? Which one? Would you recommend it? Let me know in the comments. 🙂
Another really fortuitous thing about our trip is that they have stretched out the Epcot Food and Wine Festival for several months this year, so we were able to participate in some food/drink tasting. That was not our sole focus, however, as we had several rides we wanted to ride and a reservation on Teppan Edo for lunch. I had bought Genie + for the day on the way home from the Halloween Party the night before, so we were good to go with that when I woke up the next morning. I logged into the My Disney Experience App at 6:55 and opened the Virtual Queue section. I clicked Join Virtual Queue button and then at 6:59 I kept repeatedly refreshing the page until I got the button to join the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind. We ended up in Boarding Group 83 – that’s how quick it goes. I felt very lucky! I was then able to book us into an 11:45 lightning lane for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Then I tried to go back to sleep for a bit before ultimately just getting up and taking a shower. Keith took one the night before, so he was able to get up and get ready when I got out. I also applied our Magic Your Band skins to our magic bands – I had cute daisies and Keith had a Tron themed one. Both were glow-in-the-dark and so much fun. Also really easy to apply. Here’s what they looked like thanks to a very random thought by a PhotoPass photographer.
We arrived at the park before 9 and immediately went to get our Remy’s Hide and Squeak gameboards. Because we asked if they had all 4 cups available and the lady had to check the back for the Remy cups, she ended up signing our boards and giving us our cups then and there. We chose the Remy and Tiana cups as our “prizes.” Next, we headed to get some food. Although it was Food and Wine Festival, not much was open so early, so we ended up eating a Mickey Pretzel and a Fruit and Cheese tray as breakfast. It was actually pretty filling and tasty. We sat at tables in Sunshine Seasons and then decided to walk on Living With the Land as our first attraction of the day. We also caught Soarin’ Around the World while we were there. We really enjoyed both and we waited in line very little time, so it was a great start to the day.
Our next stop was Spaceship Earth – we were trying to do all of our front of the park things before heading to World Showcase, but that didn’t really work out. While we were in line, I snagged lightning lanes for Frozen Ever After for after lunch. Spaceship earth was great – I love the new narration by Dame Judy Dench and the new ending where you answer questions and then get some animations was pretty fun. Definitely would ride again every time we are at Epcot.
At this point, we were pretty thirsty, so we headed to World Showcase to try some Food and Wine Festival drinks on our way to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. I started with a Frozen Rose from The Alps and Keith got the Copperpoint Brewing Company Key Lime Kolsch from Refreshment Outpost. The Rose was refreshing and just a bit sweet – we both liked it. The Key Line Kolsch was a little bitter – it was nice to try, but being that I am not really a beer drinker and Keith prefers stout beers, it was not our favorite beverage. At that point, it was time for our Remy lightning lane, so we headed towards France. You can’t really get photos on the ride, but I thought the rat cars were super cute. 🙂
After we got off Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (which was the best new Disney Imagineering we have witnessed in quite a while – Wow!), we headed straight to the Japanese Pavilion and Teppan Edo. Somehow, both of us were expecting a fancy sit down restaurant, so when it was a hibachi restaurant we were momentarily unsure. But we were also hungry, and it ended up being the best hibachi show and the best food we have had from a hibachi grill. I quite frequently walk away from hibachi food feeling very full and slightly queasy, but this time we felt great! We did a bit of shopping while in the Japanese Pavilion and then headed back to the front of the park because our boarding group was called to come get in line for Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind.
The queue for Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind is all inside and it was nice to be out of the sun. We got to see some fun models of settlements and ships and there was a funny interview show happening that you could watch. Disney does a really good job of making sure you are never too bored when you have to wait in line. The ride was amazing! I absolutely loved it, and we got the Earth Wind and Fire song September which was perfect. We had so much fun dancing to the music while we rode and tried to understand the plot of what was happening. I admit, I was a bit lost, but it was still super fun! I did not, however, enjoy going up and down steps immediately after getting off the ride. Truth be told, I was quite dizzy for about 15 minutes afterwards, and really had to hold the hand rails and take another Dramamine. I would take the second Dramamine before the ride next time. Still, no regrets, 10/10 would do again!
After Cosmic Rewind, it was once again time to hit the World Showcase. We headed to Norway for our Frozen Ever After lightning lane. It was a pretty cute ride, but I am also glad we did not wait in a long line for it. Definitely gave us Maelstrom vibes, but we appreciated the updates. 🙂
Now that we were finished with our lightning lanes, we headed back to the Food and Wine Festival fare. We got an Italian Red Sangria to sip and it was so good we forgot to take a photo. Our next drink was the Hana Fuji Apple Sake from the Japanese Pavilion. This is our top pick from everything we tried – very smooth and refreshing. Probably dangerous because you want to keep drinking it. After we were finished sipping, we headed to France. We were really wanting to try crepes from La Creparie de Paris and we were also intrigued by the Strawberry Rose Mimosa from the France Booth. We decided to divide and conquer since both places had such long lines. We had separate adventures – I spotted lizards with the little girl in the stroller in front of me (that mom asked for straight champagne in her Mimosa, lol) while Keith made new friends with a bachelor party participant trying to win a bet. It was a fun time. Keith did get a free Merlot out of it, so that was something. We also got to try amazing crepes – Sugar and Red Berry – and sip Mimosa and Merlot whilst watching the Skyliner glide by – it was quite lovely actually. Made me feel almost like we were at a French cafe. 🙂
We could feel the weather brewing up a storm as we ate, so we decided our next stop would be shopping and then heading to the indoor Appleseed Orchard booth located in the Canada Pavilion. We decided to try the Apple Crumble Tart and the Frozen Apple Pie, thus making this the only Food and Wine booth where we ended up buying food. I’m as surprised as you are about that one. We really liked the tart but the drink was just okay – it was hard to drink with the crumbles on top and we ended up with apple pie filling sludge at the bottom which was not super enjoyable.
At this point, we donned our rain ponchos and tried to head out to Journey Into Imagination With Figment. It was closed due to technical difficulties, however, so we grabbed a lightning lane for Turtle Talk with Crush and headed into The Seas with Nemo & Friends. We basically walked from one to the other and it was an enjoyable way to spend time when it was raining. We especially liked Turtle Talk with Crush – our group had some really funny kids. ❤
When we emerged, we spent some time shopping and then split up for drinks. Keith got a Guinness Baileys Coffee Shake from the Ireland booth and I ended up getting a Starbucks Green Tea with no sweetener because I just needed an unsweet iced tea. It is my favorite and near impossible to find in Florida. We met up to watch the fireworks show, and then immediately decided that we did not want to stay and headed towards the front of the park. (I was struggling bad after 2 days of 12+ miles of walking with my heel spurs and several blisters. I am not happy that my feet were letting me down, but it’s the truth.) We were able to catch some great photos of Spaceship Earth and the fountain on our way out.
Now I must tell you a cautionary tale. Do not, under any circumstances, think that it will be faster to take a monorail to Magic Kingdom during fireworks and take a bus from there. This play is faulty because you have to change monorails at the TTC and that means you arrive at Magic Kingdom just as fireworks are ending. Also, there is a change of shift for bus drivers at around 10 – yes, we just have super luck. Do not be like us. Just get in line for the bus at Epcot. Trust me.
We made it back to our resort in time to get some beignets, so that was wonderful. Make sure you check your order before going all the way back to your room, though. We had to trek back down to the cafe to get the other half of our beignets. My feet were not pleased, but my tastebuds sure were. Yum! I personally liked the strawberry sauce, but Keith had the chocolate cherry sauce and it was also pretty good. In case you wondered, we also got kids meals from the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory to make it not quite dessert for dinner. 😉
If you have made it this far, thank you for reading! I am really enjoying sharing our trip with you. Have you ever been to Epcot Food and Wine Festival? What is your favorite thing from the booths? Let me know in the comments.
Shortly after we decided to book our Disney trip, the dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party were released. We attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 18 years ago when we took Maddie for her first trip (I was 6 months pregnant with Charlotte, so technically she was also there ;)), but the Halloween party was not offered this early in August the year we took both kids right before school started. I immediately started researching and joining Facebook groups to make sure we could make the most of our party time. Our priorities were rides, parade, fireworks, and some photos. We thought about getting in line for Jack and Sally since we do love that movie, but in the end decided that it wasn’t worth the time we would lose.
We spent the morning and early afternoon at Animal Kingdom, then caught a bus to Port Orleans French Quarter to pick up our luggage (it was transferred for us) and get checked into our room. We took quick showers to take off the first layer of sunscreen and sweat, got our party outfits on, and caught a bus to Magic Kingdom. It should be noted that bus drivers have a shift change between 2 and 3 (at least at Animal Kingdom) and if one doesn’t show up on time, it can definitely make the wait to get to your resort longer. I’m just sharing in case that planning info is helpful for others. It really didn’t impact our timeline too badly.
We got to Magic Kingdom without further incidence by a little after 4. There was a pretty big line to enter, but it moved pretty quickly. After that, we got our wristbands and were sent to the right to get our treat bags and first treat station – full size Crunchy Sugar Cookie M&Ms. After that, we rode a couple of rides that Keith had never been on before – Carousel of Progress and the People Mover. We also used our Genie+ to book lightning lanes for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and then Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
When we were in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the weather took a pretty drastic turn. We were in the queue and would have been on the second train to arrive when the ride shut down. It was raining sideways and there was quite a bit of lightning and thunder, so we understood. We ended up hanging out for about an hour until the storm lightened up a bit. The radar and weather app showed that it was supposed to continue storming through 10 pm, however, so we were concerned. We made the decision, which we somewhat regret in hindsight, to go and see if they were issuing refunds for weather. We stood in line for a bit and were helped by some very kind and patient people that encouraged us to give it a go and see if the weather held.
With our ponchos firmly over our clothing and backpacks, we headed back out determined to enjoy the evening. We headed back to Tomorrowland on our way to Fantasyland and the Mad Tea Party ride. I have had vertigo since about 2 months after we got married – not a fun surprise to wake up and think you have had a stroke, but I have developed strategies to avoid it flaring up. One strategy is to avoid spinning rides. But we wanted to experience the Halloween overlays on most of the rides (we had no interest in completely black Space Mountain). So, I took a second Dramamine pill and made Keith promise not to spin us. I am super glad to know that I can handle them as long as the others in my cup are kind. We were also treated to a fantastic sunset while in line for the Mad Tea Party – almost like the universe was apologizing for the weather. 🙂
Our next stop was Pirates of the Caribbean to experience the live actors. There were a couple that were interacting with people in line, and then a couple on one of the bridges inside the ride. It was a fun addition to the atmosphere and made the line seem to move faster. I believe that this was the longest line we waited in – about a half hour.
After Pirates, it was time to find a spot to watch the Parade and all pre-parade activities. We found a spot right behind a very kind family from the UK and spent all of our waiting time talking to them. That was lovely! While we waited, we got a couple of photos in front of the castle – including a party exclusive magic shot with Oogie Boogie. We were also very excited that the Headless Horseman was able to ride that night – even with the rain earlier – and we even got a glimpse of Max dressed as Powerline, although we were too far down Main Street USA to really have a good view. I walked down a bit to try to get closer, but it was pretty packed. We really enjoyed the parade itself, and I had an awesome interaction with Edna Mole – she pointed right at me! Definitely one of my favorite Disney Parades I have seen.
After the Boo to You Parade, we moved down the street a bit to have a good view of the castle. We did not try to get close enough to see Jack Skellington, but we probably could have. This was probably the most uncomfortable I was the whole time – people squeezed in around us giving us absolutely no personal space or room to move at all. The fireworks and projections were amazing, though. We thoroughly enjoyed it!
After fireworks, we went with a lot of the crowd around us to the Haunted Mansion. We basically walked straight into the stretch room – one of my favorite parts of the whole ride. I just love the trapeze girl! It was fun to ride at a Halloween party, but they live actors did not appear outside for us – maybe they had a parade to attend? Maybe the weather scared them off? Who’s to say?
After the Haunted Mansion, we made our way back to Fantasyland to knock out a lot of the movie-themed rides that generally have long lines. We rode Peter Pan’s Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid before deciding to call it a night and head back to our room. It was a very long, but very amazing day!
Have you ever attended a Disney after hours party? Which one? What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments – I think I enjoyed the short lines and the fireworks show the most. 🙂
This month we celebrated our 23rd anniversary, but we have actually been together for 26 years now. When we started talking about taking a trip to celebrate, we were drawn to Disney and their 50th anniversary celebration. You see, we were at Disney for a day during their 25th anniversary. We have photos (somewhere, safely packed away) of the giant pink birthday cake castle. In the end, we decided that Disney deserved redemption for that horrible design idea and we went about booking a whirlwind, adults only weekend at Disney World.
We knew our flight would be getting in pretty late, so our awesome travel agent suggested that we stay at the All Star Sports Resort just for that night and then transfer to our other resort for the rest of the stay. Since there is really only one hotel near the Orlando airport (actually, in the airport) and it is pretty expensive, this worked out really well. We arrived around midnight and then caught a Mears bus to our resort. We had to sit and wait for people for a half hour, but eventually we were on our way to the resort. While we waited, I bought our Genie + for our first day since it was after midnight. We know it is controversial to get it for every park, but we also knew we were headed into a sold out weekend, so we decided it was worth it.
We arrived and got ourselves into our room (checking in on the app and being able to go straight to the room is amazing!) and ready for bed by 2. At 6:30, I got up and around so I could get our first Lightning Lane booked at 7 (Na’vi River Journey) and also book Individual Lightning Lanes for Avatar Flight of Passage since we knew we were leaving the park around 2 and wouldn’t have a lot of time to stand in lines. We then dropped our luggage off to be transferred to our next resort and hopped on the bus to Animal Kingdom. There are no photos from our arrival – my contact solution takes 6 hours to neutralize, so I had to wait until 8 to put my contacts in. I ended up putting them in while we were in line for our first ride of the day, Kilimanjaro Safaris – not ideal, but my glasses are about 3 prescriptions behind and I really wanted to be able to see… The safari was excellent first thing – we saw a lot of the animals and even to got to hear the lions “talking” to each other. Here are some of my favorite photos.
After the safari, we headed to Avatar Flight of Passage to get in the Lightning Lane line. Oh my goodness! – it was amazing! I was really glad I took Dramamine that morning, but it was such a beautiful adventure – highly recommended! Here are photos from inside the ride just before they have you empty your pockets.
Here are photos from outside the ride for your viewing enjoyment – Disney does such an amazing job of setting the scene.
We also paid for the PhotoPass, so we got lots of pictures of us together – I would definitely do this every time just to get photos with our whole group in them. They can also add some fun effects, called magic shots. We really enjoyed discovering exactly why we made those faces for the photographer.
After Avatar Flight of Passage, we headed straight to Festival of the Lion King since we knew it was starting soon. We saw this when we visited almost 18 years ago, so we were really happy to see that it was fully back in time for our trip. While we waited for the show to start, I booked our next lightning lane. I wanted to get Expedition Everest, but it ended up being down for the whole day (and half of the next we later found out). So, I booked us to meet Mickey and Minnie at Adventurer’s Outpost as our final attraction before leaving the park that afternoon. We also scheduled a mobile order for Satu’li Canteen to be picked up after Na’vi River Journey. Here are some photos from Festival of the Lion King.
After enjoying Festival of the Lion King, we had time to get a few photos before heading to Na’vi River Journey at our designated time. It was a beautiful ride full of surprises and amazing scenery. Here are a few examples of what you will see – although photos do not do it justice.
We headed straight to Satu’li Canteen to pick up our mobile order and it was pretty easy to navigate. I had the Cheeseburger Pods and they were really good. Keith had a rice bowl which was also pretty tasty. Here are photos of our food and also shots from a boat cavalcade we saw while walking between attractions.
Our next stop was the Wildlife Express Train to Conservation Station. We did the Animation Experience, but that is a whole separate blog post as it was our Create Date for August. Look for it very soon!
When we finished at Conservation Station, we had some time to shop and get photos, and then it was our turn to meet Mickey and Minnie! It was wonderful – they were quite impressed with our pins that said Celebrating 23 Years. And they gave the best hugs!
After meeting our favorite mouse and his gal, we had to head back to get checked in at our resort – Port Orleans French Quarter – and get ready for our next adventure – Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. But that’s a separate post.
Have you ever been to Disney’s Animal Kingdom? What was your favorite attraction? What animals were you excited to see? Let us know in the comments below. 🙂