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?

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?



Beach Reads

In less than a month, my husband and I will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary, which seems…completely crazy to me, because surely I’m not old enough to have been married for 15 years. (I’m also sure I’m not old enough to have a son turning 9 and my own dental clinic.) In any case, we’re celebrating our anniversary by going to Hawaii – specifically, Oahu – and I’m lining up some books to read on the plane over and on the beach, naturally. So far, I’ve come up with the following list, which has mostly been put together by googling “best beach reads” and “best beach reads hawaii.” I was not wanting anything too heavy, because I don’t want to think too much.

I’m still narrowing down my list, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport
  • House of Many Gods: A Novel by Kiana Davenport
  • Haole Wood by Dee DeTarsioChocolate Easter Rabbit
  • Murder in Waikiki by Fred Zackel
  • The Last Aloha by Gaellen Quinn
  • Honolulu by Alan Brennert
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel by Maria Semple
  • Wife 22: A Novel by Melanie Gideon
  • The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

FYI – The first 6 novels listed are based in Hawaii.

With the beach vacay looming, I’ve been feeling motivated to workout again. It’s been a week-and-a-half since I’ve really started getting back into it and I’ve been lifting weights, stationary biking, and doing yoga. I feel great that I’m getting my workouts in and I’ve already seen strength gains. I bought The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises by Adam Campbell and have been following The Get Your Body Back Workout (Phase 1). It’s basic, doable, and covers the important stuff.

Healthy eating is still going pretty well, even with it being Easter this past weekend. I restricted my chocolate ingestion to Sunday only, so I’m feeling pretty impressed with myself.

Back to Working Out

Hockey is officially over for the season and I’ve taken advantage of the room in my schedule to get some great workouts in this week. Did yoga a few times, lifted weights a few times, and rode my stationary bike a few times. In addition to my suddenly lighter schedule, the weather is finally improving and we got above freezing late this week, which has really helped to boost my mood. It’s totally sloppy outside, though, since we got the most snow we’ve had in years this winter, so my workouts are still restricted to my basement, but it’s sure easier to feel happy when it’s not snowing – again – and it’s light out before 8:30am.

On the eating front, I’ve been using the Lose It app for a few weeks now and have lost about 4 lbs. My fruit and veggie consumption is much improved and treats have been few. I feel pretty good about my eating, though I know there’s still room for improvement. This weekend is challenging, what with the Easter Bunny leaving treats tomorrow and visiting my parents for a couple of days, where I tend to want to snack on whatever happens to be lying around and end up consuming way too much. So far, though, I’ve been doing quite well avoiding the cheese and crackers and ice cream. Tomorrow will be trickier, with it being Easter and my mom planning a big meal, but I’m allowing myself 2 treats tomorrow and will be tracking my food. Food journaling helps keep me honest.

Adding to the motivation is the fact that my husband and I are celebrating our 15th anniversary in a month and we’re heading to Hawaii (thanks to reward points from our credit cards) for a week. Nothing like knowing you’re going to be in a bathing suit to give yourself a little kick in the butt to workout harder and eat better.

I’ve never been to Hawaii before. Have you? We’re going to Oahu, which is totally not my vacation style – I usually like more laidback. Any recommendations on things to see and do? Pearl Harbour is definitely on our list, but we don’t really have anything planned beyond that.

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?

Derailment, and Pictures from London 2012

Wow, things went off the rails at work this week.  Spectacularly.  I wasn’t supposed to be seeing patients this week (I’m focusing on administrative stuff), but then the dentist who works for me called in sick Tuesday and Wednesday, went home sick Thursday afternoon, and took Friday morning off short notice.  Had a few other issues with him as well and ended up addressing my concerns with him Thursday.  On Friday morning he gave me notice, and we agreed to waive the 60 day notice period, so, assuming he signs the document my lawyer has drafted, he’ll be done Tuesday.  Definitely not according to The Plan.

My dental assistant also gave notice.  She’s trained as a dental hygienist, which pays more, and got a full-time job doing that.  Good for her, but not so good for me.  Trying to hire someone for next week.  We’ll see how that goes.

Decided I have to upgrade my practice management software, install digital radiography (x-rays), and install a panoramic x-ray machine.  Let’s just say my budget has changed significantly.

As you can imagine, my free time got highjacked as the week progressed.  I got a few workouts in earlier this week, but that’s it.  I have an appointment with a personal trainer/tri coach this week coming up though, as well as with a registered dietitian (although I’ll probably have to reschedule due to the stuff that’ll be going down at my office on Tuesday, with it being the other dentist’s last day).

Stressed? Check. Having trouble sleeping through the night? Check. Actually finding the whole experience challenging? Check.  Feeling empowered by taking care of business? Check. Even with what’s been going on, I’m still not even remotely as stressed as in my 3rd and 4th years of dental school, so I’m feeling pretty good about my ability to get through this stuff.

Enough of the work talk.  Here are a few pictures from the Olympics. Enjoy!

Usain Bolt at the starting blocks for the 100m prelims August 4th

Bolt around 55m mark. He won his heat, of course, and made it look easy.

Oscar Pistorius in the prelims

In the lead is Brianne Theisen, my husband’s cousin. She won her heat for the 800 and came in 3rd overall for that event.

My husband and me at Olympic Stadium. We were seated in the second row the morning of August 4th, around the 55m mark. Amazing seats.

All of the athletes competing in heptathlon take part in the victory lap. Jessica Ennis, who won the gold medal, is out front.

Canadian heptathletes Brianne Theisen and Jessica Zelinka

Will and Kate at Olympic Stadium the evening of August 4, 2012

Waiting for the women’s marathon runners to go by. Positioned on Westminster Bridge, about a block and a half from our hotel.

Americans Kara Goucher (red uniform, red cap) and Shalane Flanagan (red uniform, black cap) running by around the 6:30 mark.

Just a Quick Update: Spent Today at Olympic Park!

It’s currently 11pm here and we just got back to the hotel from Olympic Park.  I’ve been up since 6am, since we had to head to the Athletics events fairly early this morning and weren’t sure how long it would take.  We have some amazing pictures that I want to share, but I have to shower and get to bed since we have to be back at Olympic Park tomorrow morning, so that will have to wait.

My husband’s cousin Brianne competed in heptathlon today, with two events in the morning session and two in the evening session.  As of right now, she’s sitting in 15th.  Another Canadian, Jessica Zelinka, is currently in 3rd place, which is also very exciting.

The morning session begins again at 10am, so I must be off to bed so that I can enjoy the full day.  I should be able to get some pictures up sometime Sunday, as we don’t currently have tickets for any events and only have plans to catch part of the women’s marathon.

Here’s one picture, though, until I can get some more uploaded…

Inside Olympic Stadium