Sunday, March 13, 2016

Epcot 2016

I cannot remember Epcot being more beautiful.  I have been in every season, but this late in the winter, I suppose they are gearing up for Flower and Garden 2016.  The flowers and topiary displays were gorgouse and imaginative and truly Disney-esque.  Our day at Epcot followed the Princess Half - Marathon and I was a little sore.  Since Epcot is our favorite park for eats and treats, it was the perfect day. ( #No guilt).








It was also our last day of vacation and I think everyone was determined it would be our best.  And it was!  The weather was most perfect.  It was sunny and 72 degrees. Epcot had fewer guests than I ever remember and we honestly waited for nothing.



We ate lunch in Japan - this one is a favorite of the other mouseketeers in the family.  They are huge hibachi fans.  It was a very good meal and the service here is fantastic.  I was biding my time, since I knew the best was yet to come.



Maybe just for a chance to sit, De and I watched the American Music Show in the good ole USA while John and Julia did the rides at the park's entrance.  One of John's favorites at Epcot is the funnel cake.  Now they are serving up pumpkin spice ones as well.

I think that is his Donald Duck Trump pout


De and I love to stroll around the world...





and we finished off our stroll back at Norway at what turned out to be the favorite meal of the trip for everyone.



Since Jules and I are admitted Disney Princess afficionados, this is the restaurant for us - cause they are all there!



Even though we said we would leave early to catch some zzzzz's before our oh so early flight back to Atlanta, we stayed through the fireworks and until the park closed.  We squeezeed every ounce of fun out of this trip and agreed we couldn't wait until the next one back...









Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Princess Half

Thursday morning, we were up at 4 for our 9 AM flight out of Atlanta.  Thursday, Friday and Saturday we hit the theme parks hard. so when the 3:50 AM alarm sounded Sunday morning for the Princess Half Marathon, I was a little groggy.  Like the Disney Marathon, it was worth the early start.  I enjoyed the race.  The crowd is fun, the costumes are terrific and the course is - well - predictable.  After the Disney Marathon, I was a little disappointed at how much of the course was interstate access roads. Then someone pointed out that 26 miles take up a lot of space and there is only so many times one can run through the parks - particularly after they are open.  The same can be said for even 13 miles, I guess.
image from runinfinity.com


Fireworks announce the start for your corral and away you go.  For my corral, the start is slow.  I'm not complaining.  That fits me perfectly.  This isn't a race desinged for personal bests.  The first four miles are probably more easily walked than run due to the crowd.  After that, people disperse and you can settle into your own pace.



If you look closely, you'll see Ana and Elsa waving the runners through the castle.


The course starts in Epcot and takes you through the Magic Kingdom and then around by the Grand Floridian, the Disney Wedding Pavilion and then into Epcot.



I was glad to see the finish line and De - who waited the entire time for the finish! After a quick shower, I bandaged some blisters on my feet and headed off to Epcot - my favorite!


Magic Kingdom

Saturday morning, bright and early, we were in the Magic Kingdom for our breakfast reservation at "Be our Guest", the new Disney dining hot spot.  Six months prior to our visit, the only reservations I could make were for breakfast as lunch and supper were full.  Obviously, I was pumped for a magical breakfast!  And it was good.  But not that good.....This is Disney's attempt at short order meets table service.  Drinks were self service as was seating.  I'm not excited about making reservations six months in advance only to have to jockey with other guests for a place to sit.  Not sure if that is the case with other meals, but it was with breakfast. The food was good and plentiful, but we felt that there are so many choices for dining at Disney that are wonderful, that this would be a back burner restaurant for us in the future.







The Magic Kingdom was great as always.  It was definitely the most crowded park that we visited, but trust me: February is the month to go. Even our longest waits were not long and the fast passes that we had were terrific. One of my favorites is the Haunted Mansion and obviously, everyone loves Space Mountain.  We did the Buzz Lightyear for old times' sake.  The Buzz ride was a favorite of John's when he was 3.  We probably did that ride 8 times on his first ever Disney visit.  (I suspect that he still loves it even as a highschool senior!)

We had a busy day in the Magic Kingdom, the going to Disney's Wide World of Sports to get my race packet and then to Olivia's for supper. Olivia's is located in the Old Key West Resort which is very near the hotel where we stayed.  And it was good.  Really good.  It came highly recommended at did not disappoint at all.  I had shrimp and grits and it was maybe the best I've ever eaten.  Then it was back to the hotel for my 4 AM alarm for the Princess 1/2 marathon.


Hello Mickey!

From a few of my previous posts, one can see that I pretend to be a runner.  I have had fewer opportunites in the last year to indulge this fantasy, but I made plans to run the Princess 1/2 Marathon at Disney none the less.  I am so glad I did!  We flew out of Atlanta on Thursday morning, flying into Orlando before lunch, rented a car and zipped to our hotel. We stayed at the Double Tree Suites on the Disney property.  It is a short walk from Disney Springs and turned out to be a great location for us.  While I love staying in the park, here's the thing: The moderate priced hotels inside the park seem to be designed for families with little children.  Or little families.  Or just little people.  Okay, we need room.  Lots of it. (Short people got no reason, short people got no reason....)

Image result for doubletree hotel lake buena vista florida

We really enjoyed the Disney Springs area.  This location was formerly known as Downtown Disney. We visited when the children were small, but back then, they just saw it as wasted time out of the park.  These days, the restaurants, shopping, movies, bowling and atmosphere made it a very cool place to be. Thankfully, it was within an easy walk from the hotel.



We had reservations for lunch at Raglan Road, an Irish restaurant at Disney Springs.  It turns out that reservations were not necessary, but we were there at lunch and in February when the crowds were minimal.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere at the restaurant was spectacular for these "celtophiles". We gave the restaurant 6 out of 5 shamrocks.


From mickeytips.com

Thursday night, we went back to Disney Springs for supper at Bongos Cuban Cafe.  Disney Springs at night is electric.  There is lots of live music, drinks and good fun and it was definitely more crowded than earlier in the day.  We had a great time, but not a great dinner.  We were disappointed in Bongos and would not go back or recommend it :-(


Friday was the day for Hollywood Studios.  This was our first time using magic bands for fast passes and tickets.  We loved them.  After a small glitch that Guest Relations handled with typical Disney magical customer service, we were good to go.





Another first for me was using the app, "My Disney Experience".  This was great as everyone in the family could download our itinerary for dining reservations and fast passes and know what was next. So... yeah... Disney is really high tech!


Cover art

We wasted no time hopping on our favorite, The Great Movie Ride and the it was on to our fast pass selections of Tower of Terror and the Rockin' Roller Coaster.  There is a new Toy Story ride in the park that we didn't try as I couldn't get a fast pass and the lines were incredibly long.  So next time....




De and I had a wonderful fried green tomato sandwich for lunch at Rosie's All American Cafe at Hollywood Studios.  I really liked it!  The line was long and the service slow, but the sandwich was tasty.  We staked out a table and enjoyed the food, the crowd and the 75 degrees and sunny weather.


Supper was in the Magic Kingdom (park hopper passes) at Tony's. (This is the Lady and the Tramp restaurant that is located just inside the gate in the Main Street area).  This was some e x p e n s i v e spaghetti.  We weren't thrilled with the meal or sadly, the service.

I love the Electric Parade and that cured the disappointment I felt in our restaurant choice.







Monday, January 18, 2016

ML5K

My favorite recurring January event is the ML5K.  My church is a sponsor of this terrific fundraiser for the Extra Special People organization in Athens and Oconee. I have run every year since its inception and honestly, each year is better than the last.  I really liked the new and improved course so much better this year. None of my peeps at home are runners.  "It's too...cold." and "It's too...running." were their answers, so I ran by myself.

Nevertheless, many of my friends - young and old run - so I have a blast!






Friday, January 15, 2016

Putting on The Ritz

It was a tough decision, but after some arm twisting, I decided to go. To the Ritz Carlton at Reynolds Plantation, that is.

 Last weekend, De had a few meetings there and it was a blast. De's buds from GHA are just so.much.fun.  We had s'mores on Friday night at the hotel and then.... The Long Sleep. Since De had early morning meetings, I slept until practically lunch. #teenager.  We moseyed around the hotel and grounds some and then had dinner at Linger Longer Steakhouse.  That's where I met my new BFF, Donna. Sometimes, God puts people in your path and you know that he's up there just smiling and saying, "You're welcome".

The Lodge there provides plenty of opportunities for fun.  Here is something that De is particularly very good at.






But he was not unequaled in this skill...


Everytime I have every been here, it has been winter. And dreary.  I am sure that you can tell how beautiful this must be when it isn't misting and 34 degrees.



The decor inside is lodge like, but there are plenty of light filled spots, too.


And beautiful flower arrangements are literally everywhere.  That was one of my favorite things.  Now why didn't I get more pictures of those flowers?


Saturday night, the fabulous John Donn Band was playing at the lodge.  I really liked them and of course I had to go meet them.  Turns out, they are from the Athens area and will soon be playing The Melting Point. 


We had so much fun and the weekend went by so fast.  Before we knew it, Monday was here and it was business as usual:

#working like a dog








Monday, January 04, 2016

Home Alone at the ASO

To combat the "Christmas is over letdown" I think my entire family has every year, I planned something fun for January 2.  With the help of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, it was a lot of fun for everybody.  Yes, really.  Everybody.


For close to forever, our family Christmas Eve tradition has been to watch Home Alone 2 on Christmas Eve.  We go to church, have a family dinner with Nanny and then watch the movie.  While we suspect she did like the movie the first 15 times she saw it, Nanny usually requests a new movie. (#deaf ears).  Last year, we retraced many of Kevin's steps in the movie when we went to New York for Christmas. Read about that here.


When I saw that the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra would be showing Home Alone (the first one) and accompanying it with the full orchestra, I was all in.  Nothing says "holidays" like, "Keep the change ya filthy animal".

Keep The Change You Filthy animal Home Alone T-shirt

Just to try something new, we went to Cafe Agora near the Margaret Mitchell house.  This restaurant has authentic Mediterranean food and was maybe a little too authentic for us.  Then we went to the Woodruff Arts Center for the movie.  I say that like we just ambled over.  The two are within walking distance.  We never just amble anywhere in Atlanta.  We have to be lost at least once.  This time, our wanderings led us to the entrance of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens where the absolute most beautiful lights were shining at the entrance.  So for next year....