40 Wonderful Things to Enjoy at Walt Disney World

40 Wonderful Things to Enjoy at Walt Disney WorldI’ve been a Disney fan ever since I was little. Watching a Disney movie Sunday night was one of the most exciting highlights of my week as a kid. When we went to Disneyland when I was in Grade 2, and Walt Disney World the following year, it was like walking into a movie.

In the past several years, my family and I have had the opportunity to visit Disney Parks several times and I have to say that my love for all things Disney has only grown. I’ve even done work-related training through the Disney Institute.

In this, my fortieth year, I thought that I might add a runDisney race to my agenda as part of my celebrations, but we’re saving up to potentially go to the Olympics in Rio next year, so a Disney trip isn’t in the budget.

Dreaming of Disney brings me joy, though, and with this year being all about happiness and joy, I am indulging my Disney side by writing about 40 wonderful things to enjoy at Walt Disney World. If you are already a Disney lover, it is my wish that my list of favourites brings up a few happy memories for you. If you’ve never been to Disney, I hope that my list can inspire you as you plan a trip to Walt Disney World. If you’ve found that you’re not a Disney lover, then you may just have to eye roll as you read my list. Ready?

Magical Experiences

  • Being there for rope-drop when the park opens. There’s something magical about being one of the first people in the park.
  • Fireworks! My favourite part of a day at Disney. I pretty much tear up every time I watch the show.
  • Going in the off-season. Fewer people, shorter lines, and a more leisurely pace mean the joy of Disney with more relaxation.
  • Walking down Main Street and looking up at the castle. It makes my heart expand in my chest.
  • The Halloween-themed parade. The Headless Horseman is my favourite part.
  • RunDisney races. The crowds have so much energy and running through the parks, even for just part of a race, is uplifting.
  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Disney + Halloween = True Love.
  • Planning to go. The anticipation of visiting the happiest place on Earth makes me feel like I’m 7 years old. In a good way. Except I’m paying the bill.
  • VIP Tour Services. My mom sprang for this the last time we went with her, and it was an amazing experience.
  • FastPasses. Having them is awesome. Standing in line – not so much.
  • The Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage. Awesome snacks, completely different view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks, kid-friendly entertainment. And you get to have your picture taken with Captain Hook. Arrgh!Pirates and Pals


  • Pirates of the Caribbean. My long-time favourite ride.
  • Jungle Cruise. Cheesy, yes, but it’s on my must-ride list, along with Pirates.
  • The Teacups (officially “Mad Tea Party”). Classic.
  • The Tower of Terror. Love the feeling of my stomach dropping.
  • The Haunted Mansion. Another of my childhood favourites.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Sure, you’re mostly going in a circle, but my entire family loves it.
  • Star Tours. I’m an unapologetic Star Wars fan. Becoming part of the Rebel Alliance is a good time.
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith. My daughter’s first big roller coaster, and now one of her favourite rides.
  • Expedition Everest. I love fast rides, and I love the Yeti story and theming.

Food and Dining

  • Fudge. It’s delicious. Enough said.
  • ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Resort. We love the character breakfast here. Go hungry, because there is so much food.
  • Dole Whip. Cold, tart, and delicious. Available in Adventureland and at the Polynesian.
  • The chocolate-covered Mickey-shaped crisped rice treats. A sweet and simple snack.
  • The Garden Grill character meal at Epcot. Again, so much food, but you get to see Chip ‘n’ Dale, Mickey, and Pluto.
  • Disney World now has Starbucks. Sometimes caffeine provides a welcome boost as part of a long day in the park.
  • The Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream. So much ice cream. So much whipped cream. It’s an experience to share with the whole family.Kitchen Sink

Disney Magic

  • The attention to detail. Hidden Mickeys, music appropriate to each attraction, the way the pavement changes to reflect the area of the park you’re in, the special touches that you often aren’t conscious of until someone points them out. You are immersed in Disney-ness.
  • It’s super clean. If you go to other theme parks, you really notice how Disney takes care of its environment.
  • There’s always something different to try: a new ride, a specialty drink, a different restaurant. No trip to Walt Disney World is ever exactly the same.
  • Seeing what’s off stage and what goes into the show. It’s pretty cool.
  • Customer service. It’s not always perfect, but cast members have provided us with some of our favourite Disney moments.

Staying On-Property

  • The Magical Express. It’s included in your resort stay, they worry about your luggage so you don’t have to, and it starts the magic right at the airport.
  • The Contemporary Resort. You can walk to Magic Kingdom. No waiting for a bus or a monorail.
  • The pool at the The Beach Club Resort. It’s huge and the kids have a blast.
  • Going back to the room in the middle of the day and chilling out. I love visiting the parks, but you can get burnt out.
  • The Polynesian Resort. It’s on the monorail, so there’s easy access to Magic Kingdom, and I love the South Pacific theming.

Polynesian ResortSharing the Love

  • Tucking my kids in after a long day at the parks. Those are some sweet dreams they’re about to have.
  • Having my kids tell me that I’m the best mom in the world for taking them to Disney World. Hey, I like having my ego stroked, too.Kid 2 sleeping

What’s your favourite part of Walt Disney World (or Disneyland)? What do you love about Disney? Or, if you’re not a Disney fan, why not?

10 Things Tuesday: All About Me

I promise I will eventually write about The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler, which I walked/ran at the beginning of October, but my photos are not handy, so I thought I’d quickly type up a different post while I had a bit of time at work.

Today’s post is all about me, because what’s easier than putting together a list?

1. I love Halloween. LOVE. I am also a big fan of the Christmas season.

2. I am an introvert, not stuck-up.

3. I have very few friends, but lots of acquaintances. I don’t find it easy to make friends, either (probably related to 2 above).

4. Starches and sweets are my eating downfall. I love chocolate and bread, and I’m a fantastic baker.

5. I’m a nerd and wish I could convince everyone to play board games with me (hmmm, this may also explain 3 above – haha). My favourite games right now are Settlers of Catan and Pandemic.

6. I love the way I feel after I workout, but have a terribly hard time motivating myself to workout.

7. My two favourite running songs are Hot Tottie by Usher and Kickstart My Heart by Motley Crue.

8. I love 80’s music. And 80’s movies.

9. I am a total makeup junkie and love colourful, sparkly eyeshadows, even though at 37 I should probably be sticking mostly to matte.

10. Traveling is one of my favourite things, but is also why my vehicle is 10 years old. I have a dream of taking a year off in about 5 years to travel around the world with my family.

Are you a Halloween lover?

Tower of Terror Training: Sucking Wind

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband and I signed up for the Tower of Terror 10-Miler October 5th. Now, I haven’t been doing much running lately, but I’m really looking forward to getting back to it. I’m going to try and keep things easy and not push myself too much, as I don’t want to end up injured. That being said, my cardiovascular system has been given a lot of slack over the past year and a half, so getting back into running is definitely challenging.

The Tower of Terror training plan that I’ll be following doesn’t officially start until June 4th, but I figured it would be good to get my feet and body moving beforehand. Yesterday was a beautiful, if windy, day here in Saskatoon and since I had an extended lunch due to a patient canceling, I threw on my running gear and headed out.

The training plan recommends a 13-15 minute warm-up and then a 30 minute run every Tuesday and Thursday, so that’s what I did. A few weeks ago, I went from running 1 min/walking 1 min to running 3 min/walking 3 min. I figured run/walking 2min/2min would be okay. Um…not so much. It was SO HARD! My heart rate through the running intervals was through the roof and there may have been excessive gasping, too. I’ve been here before, though, so I know that it will get better. My legs felt tired but okay afterward. Really, my heart and lungs seemed to take the brunt of the workout. I plan to run again tomorrow and I know that it will feel (at least a little bit) easier than yesterday’s run/walk.

I’ve also been contemplating whether or not to put together some sort of costume for this race. It is Disney, after all. If you have any suggestions, through them my way!


A Kick in the Pants: Tower of Terror 10-Miler

I haven’t been blogging much lately. I haven’t felt particularly inspired and have been focusing on other things, like decluttering my house (baby steps on that front), sleeping, and a fantastic Hawaiian vacation (to celebrate our 15th anniversary).

Not blogging is not necessarily reflective of how my life is going, though. My work schedule is steady and more manageable than it was when I first started working, the kids started a new school after the Easter Break and are doing really well, I’m getting home from work at a reasonable time most days, though I’m still pretty tired at the end of the day. For a while, my workout motivation was high and I was fitting strength training and cardio in. And then I went on vacation.

Strangely enough, I worked out almost everyday while we were in Hawaii. We often got up early to go for a walk/run (I’m still having left hip issues, but I think it’s more from sitting at work everyday than from running), went for a few hikes, and hit the gym a couple of times. After we got back from vacation, though, I had a hard time getting back into a routine, what with catching up with work, catching up on home stuff, and dealing with jet lag.

Enough is enough, though. I needed a kick in the pants, so I’ve signed up for a race: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler. In fact, with very little sweet-talking, my husband also decided to sign up, and my kids are both running the 1 mile kids’ race. The nice thing about Disney races is that they have  training plans on their website, so my husband and I will be following a plan for beginning runners that you can find here.  As long as you can maintain a 16 minute mile pace, you’re good to go. I figure that if I have any problems with my left hip/IT band, I can always walk it…and I’m pretty sure I could walk a 16 minute per mile pace if I went out and did it today, without training. My biggest concern is the potential heat and humidity, since I’m used to much cooler temps in October. Heck, the snow we received last October didn’t disappear until early this month. A whole lot different than Orlando’s weather, that’s for sure. Regardless of the weather, I’m sure it’ll still be a lot of fun.

Do you have any race plans for 2013?



Reverb 12: Day 7 (a day late)

Kat at Tenaciously Yours has posted information about “a prompt-a-day series for the month of December that is meant to give us all the chance to reflect on 2012 and the opportunity to write down our hopes and dreams for the coming year.” Her post and the details are here.

Feast: Hopefully you’ve had more than one spectacular meal in 2012, but what is the first that comes to mind?  Were you surrounded by family at the dining room table?  Sitting on a bench by the lake?  Bring us there.

I was having a hard time coming up with a memorable meal from the past year, which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy some good food – I’m just not really a foodie.

Recently, we’ve started having friends over for Sunday dinner every other week. To me, it feels old-fashioned-in-a-good-way and is helping my husband and me start to develop relationships that we’ve been too busy to grow while I was in school. As such, the first meal that popped into my mind was one that I made about a month ago. I used this Jaime Oliver recipe for roast chicken, this recipe for gravy, and then had some pretty traditional sides: mashed potatoes, carrots, and cranberry spinach salad with feta. For dessert, I roasted a pumpkin and made this cake. The meal was fantastic, and that’s saying quite a bit, because I tend to be fairly critical of the food that I cook.

When I thought a little more about, though, I thought back to what was not exactly a meal, but an eating experience, the Kitchen Sink Sundae at the Beaches and Cream at Disney World. (Google it if you want to know more).

Kitchen Sink Sundae

The amount of food that we consumed was RIDICULOUS, but it was so much fun trying to eat it all, and was definitely memorable. We will do it again when we go back to Disney. Family tradition in the making?

Do you have a favourite Disney experience or a go-to meal you make when guests come over?

A Month in Review: Disney, Convocation, and Getting My Life Back

Yes, it has been awhile.  What have I been up to?  Here’s a little summary:

  • Took my family to Orlando.  Got to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, drink butterbeer and pumpkin juice, get soaked on Ripsaw Falls, watch my daughter fall in love with E.T., hula in front of a crowd, hear my son beg to go on ride after ride after ride, experience the magic of Disney, watch my kids get to talk to Crush, watch fireworks, become a pirate, have family pictures taken at the Polynesian, ride the monorail, eat way too much, and get some sun.

  • (Finally) Convocated from university with my DMD.  Now get to put at “Dr.” in front of my name.  Weird.
  • Got my license to practice dentistry.
  • Signed an agreement to purchase a dental practice, which means I’ll be my own boss in about a month and a half.
  • Cleaned off my kitchen table.
  • Made a kick-ass Summer 2012 playlist that I will be listening to for the next few months.
  • Fell of the healthy eating wagon.  Again.  Vacation is a killer!
  • Cooked a Father’s Day dinner for 16 people.
  • Went on an overnight camping trip with my son’s class, where they got to wall climb, horseback ride, and go canoeing.  There was also a little beach volleyball, air hockey, basketball, skateboarding, s’mores, and a giant swing that my son probably rode 30 times and loved so much.
  • Read the first four books in the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin.  Love.
  • Read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
  • Re-read World War Z by Max Brooks.  Love this book so much.
  • Watched season 1 of the Games of Thrones.  Love this, too.
  • Started reading Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  It makes me feel better about myself.
  • Saw Snow White and the Huntsman.  It was okay.
  • Have started socializing with friends and neighbours again.
  • Have run my kids to school, hockey, and soccer as needed.
  • Have been catching up on sleep as much as possible.

Phew!  Now wonder I’ve been so tired.

Anyway, now that the purchase agreement for the dental clinic is signed and I don’t have to spend (as much of) my days talking to lawyers, accountants, insurance brokers, and bankers, I can move on to enjoying my summer before I take over the clinic August 8th.

There is so much I want to do over the next month and a half, and I know that I won’t get it all done, so what I’ve decided to start doing is making lists.  Not just a “To Do Summer 2012” list, but a “Big Picture/Life Goals/Bucket List/Favourite Things” list.  I’m hoping that that will help me narrow down what I actually undertake, while keeping in mind that I don’t have to get everything done at once because I’m 36, so I hope to have many years to keep enjoying life (*knock on wood*).

What’s on your bucket list?  Summer list?

Getting Back on Track

I haven’t blogged for nearly a month, and today I thought I’d better get back to it because I need to organize my thoughts about life and fitness.

Dental school is pretty much done.  Whew!  I have completed all the credits I need, passed my licensing exams, and presumably passed all of my finals (because I haven’t heard otherwise).  I’m seeing one last patient Thursday morning and I need to clean out my cubicle at school (doing that this afternoon) and then I should be completely finished.  Honestly, I thought I’d feel more relieved, but I think until I officially get a piece of paper in my hands saying that I’m done my DMD, I still feel like school is incomplete.

I’ve also been proceeding with the purchase of a dental practice, which is, well, stressful, because a) I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, b) I will be taking on a whole pile of debt, and c) I am a naturally anxious person who overthinks everything.  Met with the bank yesterday to see about borrowing a boatload of money, have been corresponding regularly with lawyers and my accountant, and have an appraisal of the practice I’m buying set up for Thursday evening (though I don’t have to be there).  Everything is supposed to be sorted out for June 1st – financing in place, appraisal done, etc. – and then the purchase is supposed to go through on June 15th, once I get my license on June 8th.

We last went to Disney World in 2009. My baby girl is a whole lot bigger now!

I have a few other things on the go, too.  I’m helping plan our graduation banquet, which is June 7th, following our convocation ceremony in the afternoon.  In addition, my family is going to Orlando for 12 days soon and so I’m planning, packing, shopping, and getting everything organized for that.  It’s going to be so much fun, and I’m having a blast with the planning.  We’re going to carry on our bags on the way there because we only have an hour layover in Minneapolis, in which we have to clear customs and get to our next flight, so I’m having to be fairly choosy in what I’m packing for myself and my kids.  (I don’t let my husband pack the kids’ stuff if I can avoid it, because he invariably leaves behind key pieces of clothing and the kids end up with 10 t-shirts, 2 pairs of shorts, no socks or underwear, and no bathing suits for the trip, and the clothes he packs usually don’t match each other.)

I’ve also started working out regularly again.  I’m not running right now, because my physiotherapist said not to, so I’ve been doing DVDs, stationary biking, and lifting weights in my basement.  I’ve been rotating between Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, Bob Harper’s Cardio Conditioning, and Jackie Warner’s Xtreme Timesaver Training.  I like them all, and really enjoy not having to think while I’m working out.  I totally miss having a personal trainer, though, and will have to get on finding one soon.

My eating has been much improved, although we have been eating out a lot lately, so that’s not so good.  I haven’t got back to meal planning yet, and with all the activities the kids are in right now (both in soccer, son in hockey and golf, too), planning ahead is really a necessity.  It’s only a few days until vacation, though, so I won’t do any formal meal planning until we get back.

I’m off to workout, then I have an appointment with my PT and an appointment at the spa for a body scrub.  I’ve also got a pedicure and a spray tan booked for tomorrow (I’m totally pasty and wanted to try out the whole spray tan experience).  So, while there are a thousand things on my to-do list, I am taking time for myself.