Tag Archives: Orlando

Day 5: The Animal Kingdom

 I had never been to Animal Kingdom, so I was looking forward to this day (and also dreading it because it was our last day).

This was the only day we had any type of bad weather. As soon as we got inside there was a downpour, but we huddled inside a store, the rain passed in about five minutes and cleared out the park for most of the morning, which was really nice!

We headed straight for the park’s only roller coaster, Expedition Everest. Because we were there as soon as the park opened and thanks to the iffy weather we managed to walk right through and get on the ride three times in a row. Watch our for the Yeti!


Seriously, so beautiful. It’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of Orlando from this view.

The park was still somewhat empty, so we strolled on over to Dinoland. Most of the Dino area was closed off and DINOSAUR was closed which limited the number of thrill rides for the day. There was no one in line for Primeval Whirl, which is a low-key roller coaster with spins that we LOVED. People probably thought we were on something because we laughed so hard during the whole ride!

Don’t tell him I posted this picture 😂

Here’s another picture of the cool scenery to balance the terrifying picture from above.

I tried to talk boyfriend out of the Kali River Rapids because I knew I’d get soaked, but he really wanted to ride it. Like the rest of the park, it had really cool dĂ©cor and atmosphere, and I definitely did get soaked. Other than having wet pants, it was an enjoyable ride and we had a blast laughing and chatting with the friendly Canadians in our raft.


Of all the shows at all the parks, Festival of the Lion King was our absolute favorite! I was too focused on enjoying the show to get good pictures, but the one above gives you an idea of the set-up. Everything about the show was INCREDIBLE (and the singers are so amazing)! Go see it!


After looking at several menus during my planning days, I kept getting drawn to Yak and Yeti, so I made our lunch reservations there. Disney’s site describes it as pan-Asian and you can check out the menu here. The food and drinks were delicious and filling, and the decor of the restaurant was beautiful. There’s also a fun little backstory about the restaurant here.

We started off with the Dim Sum Basket for Two. It contained pork pot stickers (my favorite!), shrimp sui mai, cha su bao (the two things that look like eggs), and pork sui mai. I don’t know what any of that means.

I had the Chicken Lo Mein (so much food!). I honestly don’t remember what boyfriend ordered…honey or sweet and sour chicken?

And you most certainly need a Yak Attack (a mango daiquiri with rum and mixed berry flavors). See? Look at how happy it made me!

We went on the Kilimanjaro Safari around 2:00 in the afternoon. Based on my research, this was one of the best times to see all the animals. All the suggestions were correct! We managed to spot every animal on the tour and even had to stop while an ostrich crossed the road in front of us (and just like the chicken, he too was just trying to get to the other side).



It’s Tough to be a Bug! is in the Tree of Life (below). I don’t like bugs, so this was actually a little traumatic for me. Boyfriend thought it was funny because of the different effects, but I will never do this again. I already live in fear of roaches; I don’t need to feel like they’re crawling on my back, thanks.

We then took the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to play with some animals!

Affection Section! So many goats! I keep trying to convince boyfriend to let me get some goats. I think he was hoping this would hold me over for awhile…

I was SO EXCITED when Rafiki was waiting inside! Whoever plays Rafiki must not get very much adult contact because s/he spent way too much time with us (and I think the mom in line behind us was getting annoyed #sorrnotsorry).

This was also the day NC State choked to Clemson, so the picture below is Rafiki giving boyfriend a really hard time about the game. This lasted an uncomfortably long time.

Once Rafiki got it together, we took the train back to the park and made it to our last show, Finding Nemo – the Musical. This was also a really well-done show, but I started getting sleepy. It was also kind of weird because there were a ton of songs, and you’ll be super confused if you’re expecting the show to mimic the plot of the movie.

Animal Kingdom closed around 5 that day, but we ended up leaving a little earlier. After a quick shower and clothes-change, we headed to Disney Springs (it used to be Downtown Disney) via the boat from our hotel.

Disney Springs was PACKED. It was a Saturday night, so we knew there would be a ton of people out, but by this time in the week my patience with people had run out. I don’t have a lot to begin with, but a week of screaming kids and rude adults had worn on me.

We had dinner and drinks at the bar at Paradiso 37. The atmosphere was a little too college-spring-break for me, but if you like really loud music and watching older men stare at women in teeny tiny flamenco “outfits,” it might be the place for you!

What are your favorite things to do at Animal Kingdom? Do you have a favorite restaurant or snack?

Animal Kingdom’s brand new area, Pandora – The World of Avatar opens next month! Let me know what you think if you’ll be visiting!

Be Our Guest! (Magic Kingdom, part 2)

Let’s be honest. Today was way more about Beauty and the Beast than Mickey Mouse (no offense, Mickey). The number one thing I wanted to do during our visit to Disney World was eat at Be Our Guest, the restaurant inside Beast’s castle. When I tried to make reservations on our Disney app, nothing was available, and I was an extremely pathetic and mopey 30-year old.

But apparently boyfriend has magical powers. He came in the next day with a reservation. How he did it, I have no idea, but I was so happy, and even happier when the evening finally arrived!

Sometimes people will overhype a restaurant. I hate that feeling because you end up with so much disappointment. I am not overselling Be Our Guest, trust me! The restaurant is so beautiful, and the food is absolutely amazing! It was by far our favorite meal.

The Grand Ballroom is gorgeous (my pictures are a little dark since it was 9pm), but we were taken to a table in the West Wing (yessss!). It’s gloomy, dark, and a lot of the decorations are ripped, but it was so incredible. The rose is in this room, and about every 20 minutes or so there would be a flash of lightning and thunder (not so loud that you jump and spill your food), and then the portrait of the prince on the wall would change into the Beast!

Our waiter was also incredible. He made us feel like we were the only couple in the restaurant, and I loved how into his character he was, constantly referring to the Beast as “master,” and giving us updates on when “master” would be making his rounds to the different rooms.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was also happening; I don’t usually deck myself out in glow necklaces and bracelets.

And without further ado, what you really want to hear about and see…the food!

I ordered the Grilled Strip Steak with Garlic-Herb Butter and Pommes Frites. Y’all, it was amazing. I was actually really sad when I ate my last bite. Even the fries were outstanding (and boyfriend kept reaching over to eat them. Unacceptable.).

At our waiter’s recommendation, boyfriend ordered the Roasted Lamb Chop. Personally, I thought mine was way better.

And of course I tried the Grey Stuff!!! And yes, it was delicious – and yes, I sang that part of the song ALL DAY leading up to this. Tonight’s Grey Stuff was over a chocolate brownie-like dessert. I’m not sure how to describe it – it was similar to a brownie, but didn’t have brownie consistency? Whatever it was, there wasn’t a crumb left.

Boyfriend went with a Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake (with a strawberry mousse filling).

And just when I thought dinner couldn’t get any better…it did.

We were definitely the oldest people in line for pictures with the Beast. I was certainly the most excited, though, and totally impressed him with a curtsy. Take that, little kids.

Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance, and for popular restaurants like this one, they usually get booked immediately. Dinner menu can be found at this link.

Have you eaten at Be Our Guest? What was your experience like? Do you have other favorite restaurants at Magic Kingdom?

Day 3: Magic Kingdom!

Mickey Mouse Day!

Thursday was our designated day for Magic Kingdom for a couple of really lucky reasons. That was the day boyfriend had managed to snag a coveted reservation at Be Our Guest, and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) was also scheduled for that night. I hesitated on buying tickets to the party because 1) it’s extra and kind of expensive, and 2) because I was worried it would be too kid-based.

It’s definitely worth the splurge at least once. The closer to Halloween you get, the more expensive the tickets are, so you might want to take that into consideration if you’re planning on being at Disney during those times. We would’ve had to leave the park at 7 if we hadn’t bought tickets to the party; party tickets kept us in the park until 1 a.m.

I had never been to Disney during the fall, but the park is decked out in its harvest colors and pumpkins are everywhere!

We arrived at the park before it officially opened, like good little Mouseketeers, and while everyone else was making a beeline for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we ran to Space Mountain. I was well into my teens before I actually rode Space Mountain (and would like to apologize to my parents for all the times I denied them the joy of riding this because I was too chicken). We were a few of the first people on the ride and should’ve ridden it again because when we went back that evening it was…you guessed it! Broken.

We skipped by the entire Storybrook Circus area. It’s mostly for small kids.

Our next stop was Ariel’s Grotto area which was new to us, and we hopped on Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. Boyfriend must have a thing for princesses because this was another ride he requested to do a second time later during the day. We didn’t have a wait, but there are some interesting activities in the queue if you are in a long line. I now can’t get “Under the Sea” out of my head.

After “oohing” and “ahhing” at Beast’s Castle, I dragged boyfriend to Enchanted Tales with Belle. This is a reenactment of the story, and we were BY FAR the oldest people there without children and being there was the only real time I felt kind of creepy. I still wanted a part in the play but got denied. Little kids will freak out over this, but unless you’re there with a bunch of adult friends, your time might be better spent elsewhere.

In Belle’s house waiting for Enchanted Tales

Like Gaston’s Tavern.

The “manliest of manly places” according to the Disney site.

We had only completed three activities and were already hungry. We kept seeing people with giant cinnamon rolls walk out of Gaston’s, so going inside for food seemed like the only logical thing to do. The next logical thing to do was order a giant cinnamon roll, a ham and cheese pretzel, and LeFou’s Brew (it’s frozen apple juice with a hint of toasted marshmallow, topped with passion fruit-mango foam). I know, I know. What a weirdo combo – but TRUST ME. Freaking amazing.

I want to go back just for LeFou’s Brew.

We got in a ton of rides before finding our parade spot and basically just worked our way from Gaston’s Tavern counterclockwise around the park. We had a FastPass for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (thank goodness!) – when we passed the ride around 10 there was already a 2+ hour wait. We got in “it’s a small world,” Peter Pan’s Flight, Splash Mountain, Haunted Mansion, the Country Bear Jamboree (so many sites say to skip this, but I think it’s hilarious and boyfriend had never seen it), and we rode the boat over to Tom Sawyer Island which I had never done (and won’t do again).

The only picture from the Festival of Fantasy Parade – clearly Beauty and the Beast is my favorite movie.

We had a perfect spot for the parade and it was nice to stand there and dry off from Splash Mountain.


After the parade we needed refueling; I had a plan. Boyfriend did not. Since we were super close to the Sleepy Hollow kiosk, I opted for a Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich which was pretty tasty! Boyfriend wanted something from the Pinocchio Village Haus, so I took my waffle there. There’s plastic glass on one side of the restaurant facing “it’s a small world,” so we entertained ourselves by watching the boats load.

After our lunch break we fit in most of our other rides: Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise (we waited forever in this line), and the Enchanted Tiki Room (my mother HATES this show; boyfriend had also never seen this one – one time every ten years might be enough, tbh). Then it was time for my first Dole Whip! It was a perfect late-afternoon treat to help us cool off (no pic because I ate it so fast).

After a show at Mickey’s PhilharMagic we came back to Adventureland for The Magic Carpets of Aladdin (totally a kids ride, but hey, I’m a kid at heart).

While we were riding the magic carpets I saw Aladdin and Abu! I wasn’t about to pass up a photo op! And again, the oldest people in line. No shame.

Pirates of the Caribbean lit up for Halloween

We found some prime space for the Boo-to-You Halloween Parade which usually takes place twice during the party. We opted for the later parade – everything I read said to avoid the early one because all the kids were there and left by the time the later parade happened. I loved this parade because it featured a lot of characters, especially villains, you can’t typically find around the parks (the hyenas from The Lion King, below, were hilarious), and the parade begins with the Headless Horseman riding through the streets. Warning: the song they sing throughout the parade WILL get stuck in your head forever.

Earlier in the day we had picked up our wristbands for the Halloween Party. When you get your wristband you also get a bag for trick-or-treating around the park (that already has candy in it!). We hesitated to actually go to the trick-or-treating stations, but nobody looked at us weird, other adults were doing it (and dressed up in super impressive costumes!), so we jumped right in! Who doesn’t like Disney + free candy!?

It was FINALLY time for our dinner reservations at Be Our Guest! (hear about that here!) We missed the Happy HalloWishes fireworks, but stay tuned to hear why we were ok with that…

Before the final show we hit up Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, a peaceful ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover where we could see a lot of the park lit up, and then a nighttime ride on Splash Mountain. I highly recommend riding Splash Mountain at night because the park is beautiful to see right before the big drop.

Cinderella’s Castle decked out in Halloween colors for the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular

And then at midnight we had the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular in front of Cinderella’s Castle featuring the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus and all their Disney villain friends! I highly recommend this show, especially if you like seeing the Disney villains!

The park was open for a couple more hours, but we were absolutely exhausted. I have no idea how some of those kids were making it. If you’re debating on whether or not to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, I highly recommend doing it at least once! Even if you’re adults without kids!

*Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was closed for refurbishments during our trip (so sad!).




Day 2, Part 2: Islands of Adventure

After getting off Hogwarts Express at Hogsmeade in the Islands of Adventure park, we were like two little kids – I just can’t get over how amazing The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is! 

After exploring some of the stores we hit all the rides in this section – Flight of the Hippogriff, Dragon Challenge, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey

Flight is a family-friendly coaster, so it ended up being a bit anti-climactic. The Forbidden Journey is AWESOME though. Boyfriend and I agreed that it was probably our favorite ride of the day. We had a lengthy wait, but like Gringotts, there’s so much to see and explore that having a wait is kind of a good thing. We even got snowed on in Hogwarts!

Boyfriend didn’t realize Dragon Challenge has two different coasters, so we ended up just riding the red coaster…on this trip 😉.

The Forbidden Journey is in Hogwarts! How impressive is this building?!?

After a frozen butterbeer break, we crossed over the bridge into the Jurassic Park area. We played around in the Jurassic Park Discovery Center and then jumped on board the Jurassic Park River Adventure. I didn’t get as wet as I expected, but I was still jealous of the little girl beside me in a poncho. 

I also apparently stopped taking pictures at this point. 

We passed by Kong because of the long line and ended up at Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls, which I wasn’t excited about (I hate walking around with wet pants!). We had a lengthy wait PLUS the ride broke down for a while (seriously, what the heck?), and yes, I ended up walking around in soggy shorts. Gross. 

I perked up after a 3-D ride on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, a low-key and calm ride as the oldest people on The Cat and the Hat ride, and then an adrenaline rush on The Incredible Hulk Coaster, which may have been second on my favorite ride list. The whole park probably heard me scream from that initial blast-off!

Before returning to Kong we grabbed dinner at the Three Broomsticks. I had my second frozen butterbeer and the chicken and ribs combo. The chicken was ok, but the ribs were pretty good! Boyfriend had the fish and chips. 

Frozen butterbeer is a must!

We finally made it to Skull Island: Reign of Kong. This was definitely our longest wait since the ride is new, which was fine until we entered the main waiting area. In this room there’s a tribal woman(?) who talks to/chants/threatens(?) everyone, and after hearing that at least five times, I was over it. But the ride was enjoyable, especially because it was dark and made the initial safari ride outside with the torches eery. 
What did we learn? 1) It might be better to stay at one of the Universal affiliated hotels that offer a free unlimited express pass with your stay. We were really hating on those people who were skipping to the head of the line. 2) Butterbeer should be a food group. 3) Even with my scheduled plans it wasn’t possible to do everything at both parks, but next time we have a better idea of rides we’re ok skipping. 

Where’d we go on day 3? Check back to find out!

Day 2, Part 1: Universal Studios

Based on my crowd calendar research, Wednesday was supposed to be a low-crowd day at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. That wasn’t quite accurate. October must be a prime vacation time for Europeans?

Anyway. It was crowded, and we had a blast nevertheless. During October, Universal has Halloween Horror Nights which looks terrifying. They actually just released the dates for 2017, so if you’re into that thing, you can start planning! American Horror Story will be one theme according to their website. Since that was going on while we were there, Universal was closing early which is why we chose to do that park first. We arrived right before the park opened and made a beeline for the Despicable Me ride since it’s at the front of the park. Boyfriend loved that one. 

Shrek wasn’t working, and we passed by it several times to check throughout the day with no luck. The Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit rollercoaster was supposed to be next; I wasn’t able to get up the nerve for that one and when I had finally decided to be brave, it was also having technical problems. This gal doesn’t get on things that fling her through the air if she knows it hasn’t been working, so we had to cross that off our list, too. I felt guilty but also super relieved! 

I made a quick pose with Bumblebee on our way to the Transformers ride (that line also went quickly). Boyfriend really likes Transformers but didn’t seem to enjoy the ride as much as I did. It’s been years since I’ve been to Universal; I loved how the rides now have a combo of 3-D with actual movement (the website describes them as 3-D/4-D experiences, but rather than being in a seat the car moves through the building to different screens – do I sound old being in awe of this?).

My favorite ride, other than Harry Potter, was Revenge of the Mummy. It’s a little intense (in an exciting way! – think fire and drops), and when our cart came back to the loading station there was an old woman in a wheelchair waiting in line (insert wide-eyed emoji). I’ll admit I was a little concerned…

Our next stop was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley! This area is hidden behind a brick wall, and if we hadn’t seen people walking through the narrow entry, we would’ve walked right on by. 

Despite being a book nerd, I resisted the Harry Potter mania when it first happened, but boyfriend made me watch all the movies before our trip (and I’m so glad I did!). Be sure to take some time to walk through the shops and find the hidden alleys…and definitely watch out for random spurts of water from people testing out their wizard wands. 

The Escape from Gringotts was such a fun ride! We didn’t have a terrible wait (30 minutes?), but the building/atmosphere is so amazingly impressive that waiting in line actually provides opportunities to take everything in and snap a few pictures! I was too busy looking to get pictures, but I can’t imagine that pictures do justice to actually being there. 

Lunchtime! I probably looked at the menus for every restaurant/food spot multiple times (this is no surprise to those who know me well). Unfortunately, I don’t think Universal has the same level of dining as Disney parks. We ended up splitting a burger and fries at Krusty Burger in The Simpsons area. It was fine, but I really can’t remember anything about it. 

HOWEVER, ya see that little building behind me in the picture above? Lard Lad Donuts is where the magic happens – the donut sundae (cue the angel choir).

You know that feeling when you find the Holy Grail of food and the crowd parts while everybody stares at you with admiration and jealousy? Yeah, that happened. You need a donut sundae. If you’re with somebody who doesn’t want a donut sundae, get one anyway (and maybe get rid of that person because who needs that kind of negativity??).

After our donut delight, we opted to separate for The Simpsons ride and both got in the single rider line to cut down our wait. If you don’t mind doing that you can get through some of the longer lines a little quicker. We followed that with Men In Black Alien Attack (I get super competitive at shooter rides) and ended up waiting at the end because the ride broke (that seemed to be a theme for the day?) and then E.T. Adventure, which is cute but extremely outdated. I’ll be anxious to see how much longer that one lasts. If you’re short on time and have rides that are high on your must-do list, I recommend leaving this one out. 

At this point we were ready to take the Hogwarts Express over to Islands of Adventure. The line for the train took quite a while, and it probably would’ve taken a lot less time to just walk, but we had to ride it at least once!

Although we missed/skipped a couple rides and didn’t go to any shows, it was a successful 1/2 day at Universal. Stay tuned for Part 2 at Islands of Adventure, ya muggles!