Thursday, March 25, 2021

Disney 2021: Magic Kingdom & Disney Springs (Again!)

The random renewal of our annual passes meant we had the potential for an "extra" park day prior to the arrival of our friends. The third day of our trip was Wednesday and our originally planned arrival day. So, Jason checked the park reservation system and when he saw a Magic Kingdom day available, he snagged it! We were so excited and planned to let Brayden guide us on his wishes!

We attempted to get out of our resort room early and to the bus stop but we definitely did not beat the MK crowd. Although the line seemed long, everyone was social distanced and in reality, it was basically the amount of people they used to shove on one bus! :) 

It took four buses before we were on and seated, but they were very prompt and came one right after the other. I LOVED the efficiency! 

Bonus: We landed the Wanda Vision bus!!

We'd hoped to arrive inside the park early and with enough time to skip a long wait for 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. Although we arrived just at park opening, the line was already at 60 minutes and we decided to skip it. We later discovered that they are actually opening the parks a bit earlier than the posted park opening time, so we remembered this fact and used it to our benefit later in the trip!

Instead of Mine Train, Brayden spotted the Mad Tea Party and told us he wanted it to be the first ride of the trip!

We also practiced our line standing skills while waiting for the Tomorrowland Speedway!

Can you smell this photo? :)

Dumbo was next followed by Pooh! We literally spanned all of these rides in the course of maybe an hour! It was awesome!!

The Carousel is always a favorite, too!

For breakfast, we walked over to Sleepy Hollow for the nutella waffle since it's been on my "to try" list. Well, we got in line around 10:30 a.m. and although we were in line before 11 a.m., we were told that the menu would switch over to the "lunch" menu at 11, no matter if we were already in line before then or not. I'll admit I was a little disappointed but I've also wanted to try the chicken and waffle, so we stayed in line anyway. 

I'm not kidding when I say that my disappointment faded away when I tasted this beauty! Y'all, this thing is so good! If you haven't tried this before, you need to!! I'll definitely be going back. I also knew we had two additional MK days, so I would have another chance to try the breakfast waffle on another day. Problem solved!

Right as we finished eating, we heard the music change and I knew that meant a cavalcade was about to pass by. So, I positioned Brayden and I where we could see the characters. Look at what this little turkey did when Tink passed by! 

He covered his eyes! I thought he was just being shy but no...he then informed me that he "only waves at Mickey and Minnie"!, y'all! They are hilarious!

On the other hand, I didn't care who was passing by, I waved away!

Before leaving MK for the day, we met up with Jason's cousin and her husband who were randomly in the Magic Kingdom that day. Isn't it funny how we weren't even supposed to be there yet but all ended up in the same park on the same day?! Crazy how stuff like that happens some times!

Back to our friends who were traveling that day - we kept tabs on them all morning, from their arrival to the airport, to the crazy security lines, getting on the plane, and actually taking off! I could NOT believe the ice and snow thawed out enough for them to fly and they actually MADE it on time as planned!

YAY they are here!!

Our original plan for the day was to hang out at Disney Springs with an early afternoon/late lunch reservation at Homecomin'. This was my first experience here and I was curious to see what all the hype was about!

I also loved reading about Chef Art Smith's "Disney story"! It's located along the wall on the way to the restrooms and it was neat to read how his early days at Disney began!

We ordered Deviled Eggs to share and I ordered the fried chicken, biscuit, and fries. Brayden had their mac and cheese and YUM! The mac and cheese was amazing!

I'm going to have an incredibly unpopular opinion here, so please don't hate me....

I wasn't a huge fan. The fried chicken tasted funny and to be honest, I've had better fried chicken back home. I was kind of bummed too because I've heard such amazing things about their food! The deviled eggs were good but they were just ok to us (we both agreed that Jason's grandmother's deviled eggs are the best we've ever had). Honestly the best thing I ate there was the biscuit and the mac and cheese. Whomp whomp.... Oh well. I'd be willing to give it another shot and order something different next time!

After lunch, we shopped around for a while and enjoyed catching up with our friends!

Brayden also kept asking for a balloon and I told him he had to "earn" it. He was so good at dinner and we decided that was it! Yay for his first Disney balloon!!

For dessert, I wanted to try Everglazed. The line wasn't long and we really enjoyed being able to watch the donut making process through the window!

I had the Reeses Nitro which was a Peanut Butter Explosion donut on top of a Nitro cold brew with peanut butter and vanilla syrups. 

This. Was. By. Far. The. Best. Thing. I. Had. The. Entire. Trip.

So I still dream about this combo? Yes, yes I do. Do I plan to return to Everlgazed on our next trip? Yep...and if I have the chance to return multiple times, I will! 

Y'all....this is seriously what dreams are made of!!

Another very unpopular opinion - I liked Everglazed better than Gideons! Also, the peanut butter cold brew at Everlgazed was much better than the one at Gideon's. 

I'm just unpopular opinioning it up here! :)

To end the evening, we decided to take a bus from Springs over to Riviera since our friends hadn't visited the resort yet. With staying at Pop, we were able to take the Skyliner back to our resort and it all worked out perfectly in the end! It was truly a fabulous way to end our evening! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Disney 2021: An Extra Day at Disney Springs

Our first full day (and "extra" day) at Disney World was a beautiful one! It also happened to be Fat Tuesday for those of us down south who celebrate Mardi Gras, so we had to wear our Mardi Gras colors to represent!

We also checked our cameras back home and were slightly surprised to still see so much snow and ice on the ground. Our area stayed like this for almost an entire week with power and water outages as well. The whole thing blew my mind and made me grateful we made the decision to leave early and extend our trip by a few days at the beginning!

So, since we had an "extra" day without park tickets and were staying at Pop Century, we decided to ride the Skyliner to the Caribbean Beach hub for a little Joffreys coffee before hitting up Disney Springs!

The line for the Skyliner kind of blew our minds because we hadn't experienced a Skyliner line like this in the past. I'm glad to say that it moved incredibly quickly due to social distancing. I wasn't complaining! Let me say, the "flow" at the Skyliner main hub is quite the process and requires a lot of organization on the cast member's parts, but they have got it going on!!

Brayden's first ride on the Skyliner this trip and he LOVED it! The Skyliner is always his favorite!

Speaking of favorites, the Toffee Flight is always a must-do for me! So delicious! Jason also ordered the same thing.

As for my little dude, he remembered the giant donut from our Disney Cruise trip back in 2019 and had to get another. This time though, he decided on chocolate! (Seriously though, he was only 3 years old does he remember some of these things?!)

After breakfast in our room, I headed over to the front desk to have my magic band reset. My magic band was the only one that wouldn't work on our room door and I was told that I had too many on my profile. For reference, these dated back even to the OG magic bands...Whoops! With a little change, they were able to get it all working again just fine! For future notes, deactivate some of those old magic bands you never use because they will mess with your current ones!

While in line for the front desk, I ran into Kimberly! It was so much fun to see her!! We also made plans for dinner later on that evening.

Our next stop for the day was at Disney Springs. Upon our arrival, we headed straight for the Gideon's virtual queue as I had to find out what the cookie hype was all about!

This was a Tuesday and we arrived at Springs around noon. The virtual queue line for Gideon's was an hour and twenty minutes. I was ok with that because we just started our day and had plenty to see/do before leaving so it worked out. If you are interested in trying Gideon's cookies, I would plan to get in the virtual queue when you first arrive at Springs that way you can shop/eat while waiting!

We were on a mission to check out a few of the new things at Springs and one of those included the M&M store! It was so much fun inside!

Brayden's favorite was the wall of flavors!!

We also walked through World of Disney for a little while and purchased a few things. While shopping, Jason had a bright idea to ask about our Annual Passes at Guest Relations. They expired in 2020 and we heard if the expiration date was within a certain window, Disney was allowing for renewal. While waiting for Guest Relations, my phone popped up with a message about our return time for Gideon's. Since I just knew the answer to Jason's AP question would be a "no", I left him there and walked over to Gideon's for my return time. 

We'd decided ahead of time on four different flavors to try - Eternal Flame (February Special), OG Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, and Pistachio Toffee. As an added bonus, I purchased the Peanut Butter Cold Brew to try. We also planned on sharing the cookies with our friends once the arrived the following day. 

I waited about 20 minutes to get inside but this line also went relatively quick without any issues.

The cake slices looked tempting, but I figured I'd save those for a later trip!

While waiting in line to order cookies, I received a text from Jason, asking for my ID information! WHAT! I was so shocked to discover that our ticket expiration window did indeed fall in Disney's time frame and he was allowed to renew our AP's! Cue the hallelujah chorus!!

The Peanut Butter Cold Brew was different and Jason agreed with me - our first reactions were on the lines of "what in the world is this?" followed by "ok wait...that's kind of good!" It really was the oddest thing!

For a late afternoon lunch, we had Earl of Sandwich. We'd received a promo the day before about a 2 for $10 Tuesday combo and much to our surprise, we ended up at Springs on a Tuesday (unexpectedly)! Worked for us!

For those of you asking from instagram...yes, my child does still nap...and in his stroller at Disney! He's usually curled up a little more than this, but it works and he likes it! We purchased this stroller specifically because it gave him a little bit of room to stretch out and nap.

At dinner time that evening, we met up with Kimberly and rode the Skyliner over to Riviera for dinner at Primo Piatta. We love this restaurant and the menu has so many delicious options!

I ordered the Croque Monsieur with a side of tomato soup and it was very good!

I was so glad Kimberly was able to join us for dinner! It was so nice to chat and catch up with her!

After dinner, Brayden wanted too...swim! Surprise! Haha! Even though the main pool at Pop was out of commission due to upgrades, we were able to swim in the 50's pool which was located right outside of our building.

We cut into our Gideon's cookies that evening and we each had different favorites! Mine was the Pistachio Toffee, Jason's was the Eternal Flame, and Brayden's was the OG Chocolate Chip. Our overall thoughts on these cookies...well, we personally felt like they were overhyped. Were they good? Yes. Were they the BEST cookies I've ever had? No. Would I wait an hour and 20 minutes plus 20 additional minutes for them again? Maybe...but I would not go out of my way to do so. I have a very unpopular opinion and I do realize this but that's ok - our opinions are what make us all unique and different, right? :) 

Up next: An "extra" day at the Magic Kingdom! Stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Disney 2021: Ice Storm, Traveling, and Pop Century

Our most recent February Walt Disney World vacation had an interesting start to say the least! With a ridiculous ice storm set to cross our area, we had to make a last minute decision that included several changes. In the end, my idea of adding a little extra magic to the beginning of our trip was the option that topped the rest and I wasn't even mad about it! 

Our original plans included: Flying out of Houston, TX on Wednesday (day 3 of the ice storm), staying 3 nights at Pop and 3 nights at Copper Creek, then flying back home the following Tuesday. 

We were also traveling with a few friends and had a couple of options. We reviewed all of the dates/times to possibly change our flights at the last minute and there was no way anything would work with our tight schedule. Jason worked that Sunday and we had a very small window to work with since the ice storm was set to hit that Monday.

Ultimately, our friends decided to keep their flights, drive up to Houston on Sunday evening (prior to the ice storm), stay three nights at a hotel near the airport, then chance their flight on Wednesday. We debated this option but I knew being cooped up in a hotel with a 4 year old for three days likely wouldn't be the best option. I also didn't like the idea of driving towards the ice storm because I had a feeling we would get stuck. (Not to mention the fact that I would be a nervous wreck the ENTIRE time!)

After a bit of arm twisting, I finally convinced Jason that our best option was to cancel our flights to take the flight credit for a future trip, then leave Sunday night after he got home from work and begin the drive to Florida. It's about a 12-13 hour drive without stops and I knew we could do it. The instagram poll I put out there also had an overwhelming response to drive, so that's what we decided to do!

Despite the chaos, we still took a little bit of time to celebrate Valentines Day ahead of our departure. 

A Valentines Day tradition of ours is chocolate covered strawberries. We've had these every Valentines Day since we began dating so I knew it had to happen this year, too! (circa 2006)

We packed all day Saturday and Saturday evening and on Sunday morning, Brayden and I went to church before returning home to pack some more!

I despise last minute anything, but we got it done! 

One perk to driving was the fact that we could bring our own food and not have to worry about a click-list or insta-cart once we arrived!

Thankfully, my parents were able to keep our dogs for a few days at their house. With the roads projected to be non-drivable, I was worried my dogs would be home alone for days (and they would have been if not for my parents)!

With pipes wrapped and faucets dripping, we crossed our fingers, hoped for the best, and began our drive to Florida.

Since Jason worked all day on Sunday and didn't get home until 7 p.m., we got a late start and decided to stop at a hotel in Pensacola on our way. Pensacola is half way and this plan worked out perfectly for us!

That Monday morning, we woke up and checked our cameras back at home. What's all of that white stuff? It's not supposed to be there! 

If you guys remember, just 6 months ago, we were hard hit with two hurricanes and now this ice storm. My heart went out to those living in campers while fixing up their homes. Our area had power outages and water outages and we couldn't treat our patients for an entire week. Needless to say, it sounded like a hot mess.

Back in Florida, we made it to Walt Disney World around 6 p.m. that evening. I added two nights on at Pop Century and stopped by the front desk to make sure we could keep the same room for the entire 5 nights we would be at Pop. Thankfully, someone behind the scenes had already made it happen! 

Our room was ready upon arrival and we were on the second floor which meant Brayden got to ride the elevators! He was thrilled!!

We absolutely love these renovated rooms at Pop! You also can't beat the Skyliner!

Brayden's favorite part was "his" Pluto bed!

So fun!

After getting settled, Jason and Brayden hit up the pool while I attempted to find dinner. Several friends back at home asked why I wasn't sending pictures and I felt bad about sending pictures of us in the beautiful Florida sunshine while they were freezing away at home!

For dinner, we chose the pizza combo from the Pop food court and it was delicious! It also came with a salad and breadsticks. With no dining plan, we ate on this thing for a couple of days and it was perfect!

The following day was Fat Tuesday and a "play day" for us since we weren't originally planning on being at Disney that early anyway! I love extra and unexpected relaxing days at Disney so I was all for it! 

Up next: Disney Springs and a little surprise!

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