Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Epcot!

This is the 2nd post of my Disney World trip report. To start from the beginning, click here!

We got up bright and early the next day to head off to Epcot. Emily was especially excited because this was her first ever visit to Epcot. We actually got on the bus early enough that we made it through bag check and the entrance gate before the park actually opened.

After a brisk walk, we made it to the Norway pavilion which is home to the new Frozen ride. Even though we made it there right about the time the park was opened, we still had about a 20 minute wait. That was ok because the queue area was very cool and it went by quickly.

Right now, Frozen Ever After is the most popular ride at Disney World. It was a great ride and of course, Emily loved it. As I would check wait times throughout the day, I noticed that for this ride the wait times went up and up and up. It was close to an hour wait when we got off the ride. I honestly wouldn't want to wait more than a 1/2 hour to ride it.

After we looked in the gift shop, we headed over to the line for the Anna and Elsa meet and greet. The queue for that was really cool as well, we were in their Summerhaus and it looked like a real house! Emily was thrilled to meet both Anna and Elsa for the first time. They were both lovely and Anna loved that Emily was dressed in an Anna costume.

We did some more shopping after that. Emily still had money on her gift card and it was burning a hole in her pocket. She got herself, among other things, an Elsa doll. She had to go and get Anna later that day.

After a snack we headed off for our fastpass for the Seas with Nemo and Friends. Emily loved the ride and she really enjoyed looking at the tanks once we were in the aquarium itself. What she loved most was watching a dolphin swimming around and around. I think if I had let her, she would have stayed and watched that dolphin all day!

At this point it was nearing lunchtime, so we headed back to our resort. After having some food and taking a relaxing dip in the pool we headed back to Epcot a few hours later. Our first stop was to see Baymax, whose line was really short. The line for Joy and Sadness, on the other hand was very long, so we didn't get a chance to meet them.

We had a fastpass for the other side of the Epcot Character Spot, so we used that to meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie. From there, we headed off to World Showcase.  We had a little time before our dining reservation in China, so we went to go shopping in Japan.

The store in the Japanese Pavilion is amazing! Emily loved it because the first thing we saw when we walked in was Pokemon stuff. She got a stuffed Pokemon and some Pokemon cards. Then we went to get Japanese candy! Some pocky, some gummies and a few other things.

By this time, we were cutting it a little close so we hurried to China which was on the other end of the World Showcase. Our dinner at Nine Dragons was ok, but I don't think we'll be going there again anytime soon.

After dinner, we had some time before our Test Track fastpass so we went  did some things in World Showcase. We went back to Norway to get her Anna doll and she also went to the Kidcot station to color a Duffy which was on a stick. She also got a stamp on it.

Next we went to Mexico where she did the Kidcot station there and then we went on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros ride. Emily loved this ride and I loved that it had no wait. Even though she wanted to ride it again and see Donald Duck's exploits through Mexico it was time for Test Track.

This was the ride Emily was most looking forward to. On the Disney planning DVD, it shows that you get to build your own car in the ride. We had fastpasses and we were quickly to the screens to build our custom car. It was basically Emily's car because she designed it without a lot of help from me.

The first part of the ride was doing tests and seeing whose car did the best. Emily and I's car did get number 1 for something. I don't remember what. I do know that our car was not environmentally friendly at all. Emily had a need for speed.

Once the tests were done, our car sped outside for the thrilling finale around the track. Emily wasn't scared at all and loved the thrill of it. Afterwards she declared that Test Track was her favorite ride ever!

Now we have gotten to the part of the day where I really screwed up. Emily really wanted to ride the Imagination Ride with Figment. I had checked the park
schedule earlier and didn't see that this ride closed at 7 pm. Which I didn't find out until we were walking to the ride.

I felt really bad for Emily because it was my fault. She has pretty much spent all of her money at this point, but had really wanted a Marie stuffed animal. So to make up for missing out on Figment, I bought her that toy. It cheered her up.

After that, we got in line to ride Spaceship Earth. I hadn't rode it since I was a kid because it was down for rehab when Todd and I went on our honeymoon. It was really awesome and Emily liked it so much that we went right back on. We had time to kill before our Soarin' fastpass and there was no line at that time for Spaceship Earth.

Our last ride of the night was Soarin'. Emily wasn't too sure about it but I really wanted to ride because it was the new Soarin' Around The World. Emily screamed a few times but said afterwards that she really enjoyed it.

Even though it was time for fireworks, Emily was tuckered out so we went back to our resort. Emily loved Epcot a lot!

Up Next - Hollywood Studios!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Traveling and 45th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom

 It's been nearly a week since Emily and I returned from our girl's only Disney World trip. It was very interesting, in part because of Hurricane Matthew. I'll take you through each day of our trip through this trip report!

Though this first post is going to to include two days. Because I have never made the drive down to Disney without Todd, I opted to take two days to make the trip. I'm not a great driver and being in the car makes me sleepy. Plus we left on Friday, September 30th, and I wanted to make sure Emily was in school for the majority of that day.

I packed up the car in the morning, and then worked for a few hours. I picked Emily up from school a half hour early, mostly so I wouldn't have to deal with the car rider line of doom.

I had made reservations at a Ramada Inn in GA that was about 6 hours into the trip for that night. By the time we got there, I was pooped. The guy at the front desk was nice, but he kept telling me that there were other
hotels close by that were better. It was odd because he kept putting down his place of work which is a huge no-no usually.

I opted to stay there because I was pooped. The room was a bit musty but it was fine. Emily passed out right away and I got a decent amount of sleep. We were only there about 8 hours, just to sleep, because I had wanted to get on the road early.

Emily woke up around 6 am and her waking up woke me up. We were on the road again before 7 am. The reminder of the drive was easy and I was happy that we didn't run into a ton of traffic once we got to Orlando.

Like last trip, we stayed at the new Art of Animation resort. Since it was just me and Emily this time, we stayed in the Little Mermaid section which is the only part of the resort that has regular rooms instead of suites. We checked in and even though it was before noon, our room was ready! I'm really glad it was - that way we unloaded
the car before we headed to the park.

We had a great room. It was on the top floor of the Ursula building and we had a pool view! The room was nice. Not huge, but plenty of room because it was just the two of us. It made for a nice home for the week.

Emily had requested that we ride the monorail this trip so I decided that we would spend a little time at the Magic Kingdom before we used the monorail to go to dinner. 

It was also the exact date of Magic Kingdom's 45th anniversary. It seemed fitting that we go there. We got a free button for the 45th anniversary which was a cool souvenir. Since we weren't there for the park opening we didn't see anything else that was specific for the anniversary.

We used a fastpass to do Enchanted Tales with Belle. This was one of Emily's favorite things from last trip. It's not really a ride or a character meet - it's an experience. You are transported to the day that Belle and Beast fell in love. We meet up with Belle before she has dinner with the Beast and people are picked to act out Belle's story (to that point). After that, the actors get their picture with Belle, but no autographs.

Emily got picked to be Belle's father, Maurice. She was thrilled to have a part more than a dish. I didn't have a part but I just sat in the back taking pictures. There was a family there who got really
upset with the cast member who was working the show when they were told that Belle doesn't sign autographs here. They actually stormed out in the middle of it with their small kid in tow.

After that, we found a spot to see the new Festival of Fantasy Parade which was amazing! We had to leave after that, though we got stuck on Main Street by the parade before we could exit the park and use the monorail to head to the Polynesian Resort.

We had dinner at Ohana, which is my favorite table service restaurant in Disney World. We had a castle view, and I'm pretty sure we were seated pretty close to where Todd and I were 9 years ago on our honeymoon.

The food was delicious as always, and the bread pudding for dessert was so excellent I may have stuffed myself too much. We waddled our way back to Magic Kingdom where we rode
"It's A Small World.".

Our original plan was to stay in the Magic Kingdom to see the Main Street Electrical Parade, but after we got done with Small World the sky opened up and it started pouring! I had forgotten to put my umbrella in my bag so we got soaked. We made our way up Main Street, to our Fastpass with Talking Mickey.

Meeting Mickey and talking with him was magical but it was still pouring when we got done so we opted to head back to the resort for the night. I have no idea if the parade went on that night but I was soaked and I just wanted to take a hot shower. Plus we had an early day the next day.

Up next - Epcot!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dragon Con 2016 - Sunday

Click to read about Friday and Saturday at Dragon Con!

Usually Sunday is our longest day at Dragon Con but we also tend not to get to the con super early. I wanted to see the panel with two of the members of N'Sync so we actually got down to the con before 10 am.

I got a pretty good seat for the panel and I even got to sit next to my friend Sandy! And her wife, Kathleen, got into the panel too so I got to see her too. Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone seemingly had a very good time at Dragon Con and their panel was quite funny.

Once that let out, I headed to the America's Mart to see some of my friend, Mikey Mason's concourse show. It was great but I headed out early because I wanted to get to the Legends of Tomorrow panel.

It was a really great panel that had four of the actors from the show. I laughed a lot as they told stories and hinted about things to come in the next season. Since I was already in the Hyatt, I stopped by the con suite to get some food. Todd attempted to find the con suite but failed, so I ended up going to meet him at the food court.

It was about this time that Todd started to not feel so good. So we opted to head back to my aunt and uncle's early. In fact, we decided to head back for home on Sunday to give ourselves all of Monday to recover.
The ride home was uneventful and it was really nice to sleep in our own beds. Thankfully Todd felt better after a day of rest. All in all, Dragon Con 2016 was pretty fun!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Dragon Con 2016 - Saturday

This is the second post of my Dragon Con 2016 recap - you can read the previous post here!

We got up bright and early on Saturday to head down to the con. I was going to march in the parade and Todd was going to the Walk of Fame once it opened. I had realized that I completely forgot to bring my parasol for my Tightrope Girl costume, but decided to wear it anyway.

I, sadly, didn't double side tape the ribbon on my left foot as well as my right one. So once I got to the staging area, I was fighting against my stupid ribbon. It didn't stay up for the parade but hopefully it didn't look too dumb.

The parade itself was fine. It was a little different because it was being broadcast on the local CW channel. We got to a point where it said "Keep Walking!" so we did. The Disney
group got pretty spread out.

Once we got done, I headed to the food court to get something to eat. Todd was still in the Walk of Fame, waiting in line to get an autograph. Once he met up with me, we left the con for the day. It was already starting to become way too crowded.

We did what we have done the last few years and headed to a really cool mall that is near to my aunt and uncle's house. We walked around the mall a bit and of course, went into the Disney Store. We got Emily a toy set and some Star Wars pants - both were on clearance. And I got to geek out with the cashier about my upcoming Disney trip.

After that, we went and saw Suicide Squad in IMax. We had both seen it before but there wasn't anything else out that we really wanted to see. It was really good in IMax and it's been a while since I've seen anything in IMax.

From there, we did a little more shopping. There was a store called "Fandom" which was really cool. We got Emily some blind boxes there. And after, we got some food at the mall's food court.

We got back to my aunt and uncle's house pretty early. In fact, no-one was home when we got there. After a while, they came home. My aunt and uncle had taken Emily swimming and my cousin and his daughter had gone too. Emily did a lot of swimming over the course of the weekend.

At 8 pm, we all sat down and watched the parade on TV. Emily really wanted to see me on there. The broadcast of the parade got annoying from the beginning. There was five or six commercial breaks during the one hour broadcast. And if that wasn't bad enough, the same few commercials were shown over and over again.

I did get shown on TV briefly but the rest of the Disney group didn't because of commercials. It was sad because there were some really great costumes in the group. From the Jack costume whose picture is at the beginning of this post, to a whole group of Little Mermaid cosplayers.

Later I read that whole groups didn't make it on the broadcast. Also the live stream started late (and I know the parade didn't start late) and the 8 o'clock broadcast was suppose to show more of the parade. Instead, it was just what they had done earlier in the day.

But it was the first year it was live on the CW so it wasn't going to be perfect. And my kid was geeked out to see me on TV so that was good!

All in all, it was a good Saturday of Dragon Con!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dragon Con 2016 - Friday

Like last year, we didn't get down to the con until Friday. We actually got to my aunt and uncle's house pretty late on Thursday, but thankfully we hadn't intended on going downtown on Thursday.

First thing we did was, of course, go get our badges. The streamlining for badge pickup is still working great so it only took a few minutes. We had gotten down to the con earlier than regular years so we went and got some food.

From there, we went back to the Sheraton for the Tarot Reading panel. Sadly, the room was packed and they didn't have enough people to do readings. So we ended up leaving early when it became clear we weren't going to get a reading.

We went to the Marriott to wait for the Walk of Fame to open. The line seemed shorter than it had been last year, and we did people watching while we waited. Once the Walk of Fame was open, we met a few people from Legends of Tomorrow.

At this point, I decided to head off to the dealer's room by myself. I did end up getting some pictures of cosplayers in the Marriott and even got a green screen picture of me thanks to the Xfinity booth that was set up there. It was very cool.

My first stop in the dealer's room was the BPAL booth because I was picking up some of the Peach scents for people who couldn't come to Dragon Con. Beth, who is the genius who creates BPAL's wonderful scents, and I had an interesting conversation for a while. I love getting to see friends who I only see at the con!

I wandered around the dealer's room, looking for blind boxes for Emily. Todd had headed to the dealer's room not long after I had and he told me that there were blind boxes on the 3rd floor of the Americas Mart.

I found some more friends when I got to the 3rd floor and then found my husband, who showed me the blind boxes he had found. He had already bought some for Emily but I bought one box for her and one box for me.

We split up again and I went to the Hyatt. First I went to the con suite for some food, and then I went to the bowels of the Hyatt for my friend Mikey Mason's concert. He did a whole set of non-comedy songs and it was heavy. It was a great show and I did get teary eyed a bit.

I met up with Todd again and we finished out our day by going to Aiden Sinclair's paranormal magic show. It was great as usual, though we did notice that even though he tells a different story every year some of the tricks he does are the same as year's past.

From there, we headed back to my aunt and uncle's house. Emily was very excited about the stuff we had gotten her. But it was time for bed because we had to be up early the next day for the parade!

To read about Saturday at Dragon Con, click here!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Stamina and Dragon Con

The last few years, I've done one post about the negative things I'd experienced during that year's Dragon Con. I didn't really have anything negative happen so I thought I'd talk about something different this year.

In November of 2014, I had a bunch of seizures and ended up in the hospital for ten days. It was horrible and when I got home, it took a long time to recover. I spent several months really weak and groggy until my neurologist got my meds sorted out.

I spent most of last year trying to get my strength and stamina back. I couldn't walk on our treadmill for more than five minutes without getting winded. I had some balance issues and overall was just really run down.

At the start of 2016, the first day in fact, Todd and I joined the Y. At first, I would just go swimming and use the walking track. It was hard because my body was so out of shape, but I kept at it. After a few months, I also started weight training.

I've only lost a few pounds but my stamina seemed to have come back for the most part. But it wasn't until this past weekend at Dragon Con that I realized how much my stamina had returned.

Dragon Con, for those who don't know, is a huge geek convention held in five hotels in the middle of downtown Atlanta. Most of the hotels are close together but there is always a ton of walking that happens.

Last year's Dragon Con was rough. I didn't have a lot of strength and the constant walking made my legs very sore. I tried not to push it too much but I ended up feeling very sick by the time the con was over.

This year was a different story. We got down to the con fairly early on Friday and even with a ton of walking during a very full day, my legs weren't sore at all. They got a little sore over the next few days, but nothing like years past. All that working out is paying off!

Not being sore and tired really helped me enjoy this year's Dragon Con that much more! And hopefully next year, I'll have even more stamina and strength.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The End of Summer

Even though it's still very hot out, the signs that summer is coming to an end are all around. My daughter starts school on Monday and a lot of kids are already back to school. Labor Day Weekend (aka Dragon Con) is next weekend and of course, September is only a few hours away.

This summer wasn't very exciting for us. We went to a few birthday parties and went swimming several times. We watched Star Wars in the park and went camping. But a lot of our summer was inside because of the heat and the thunderstorms.

I'm not a huge fan of summer. I'm either roasting or freezing. The weather has been crazy this year with a lot more extreme storms than usual. So I'm glad to see summer going away.

Of course, that's partly because we have a lot of exciting stuff coming up in the fall. Disney World mostly, but also Emily's birthday. We are also going to go to the Eliada Corn Maze with the Girl Scouts and of course, there is Halloween.

Even though it probably won't feel like Fall for a while, I'll be decking my halls with Halloween things as soon as we get home from Dragon Con. Mostly because I love my Halloween stuff but that means I can have it up longer since we'll be at Disney the first week in October.

I hope you all had a wonderful summer and have an equally great autumn season!