Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

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Spring Has Sprung! Epcot’s annual International Flower and Garden Festival begins TODAY, so I thought I would do a little post about how much I am completely in love with this event!

Last spring if I wasn’t scheduled at work, there was a really good chance that I was at Epcot! Looking back, I can definitely say that Flower and Garden was one of my most favorite events I got to experience during my College Program (the other being Awaken Summer at Animal Kingdom). No matter how many times I visited Epcot during this time (which was a lot since Epcot is the closest park to where I worked at Disney Springs), it never seemed to get old! There was always more to see, more to eat, and more fun to be had!

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“Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today!”

The festival has multiple components, so I was glad I had a lot of time to soak it all in. Between The Festival Center, shopping for super cute merchandise, the Garden Rocks concerts, the amazing flowers and character topiary displays, Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House, and the Outdoor Kitchens; there is just SO MUCH to experience. This year’s festival runs from March 1st through May 29th giving Guests 90 days to enjoy everything the festival has to offer 🙂 In 2017, the festival will also see the addition of several new topiaries as well as two new Outdoor Kitchens!

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If any of you know me at all, you won’t be surprised to hear that the Outdoor Kitchens were my favorite part of the festival, and the main reason I visited Epcot so frequently last spring. In 2016, there were a total of 13 Outdoor Kitchens, and I challenged myself to eat at least one thing from each of them. I am proud to say that I succeeded in accomplishing that goal 🙂  I also had a lot of fun keeping track of everything I tried with a Flower and Garden Festival Passport. 

Below are some of my favorite dishes I sampled during the festival! (5th place is tied; I couldn’t make up my mind)

Top 5:

  1. Macaron Chocolat Framboise (Fleur de Lys)
  2. Beef Teriyaki Udon (Hanami)
  3. Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade (Pineapple Promenade)
  4. Watermelon Cucumber Slush (Florida Fresh)
  5. Pulled Pig Slider (The Smokehouse) & Jamaican-braised Beef (La Isla Fresca)

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If any of you are planning to visit Epcot during Flower and Garden, I hope you love it as much as I do! ❤

See ya real soon,

Ryan

 

PROTIP: It is worth noting that Eggstravaganza also occurs during this time (as supplies last), so you can have a little Easter fun in addition to Flower and Garden. Trust me when I say, this egg hunt is not just for kids!

PROTIP: I would suggest trying to avoid visiting the festival on the weekends as many local Annual Passholders tend to attend Fridays-Sundays which can make the park quite crowded.

 

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2016 Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Recap

HAPPY HALLOWEEN Y’ALL!! (I had fully intended for this to be up by Halloween, oops…)

In September, I attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom for the very first time so I though I would share about how the night went!

When attending a Halloween party you of course have to dress up, and this was no exception! I REALLY wanted to go as Boo from Monsters, Inc. and after some convincing, Caitlyn and Devan agreed to go as Mike and Sully. I love any excuse to craft, so after multiple trips to Michaels/Walmart and sufficiently covering Devan’s living room in glitter, our costumes were complete! The costumes turned out super cute and I’m really glad we decided to do a group costume. We received tons of compliments on them (even though half of those people thought I was Randall) and Disney Style even asked to include our costumes in one of their articles which is super cool!img_6738We arrived at Magic Kingdom around 4:30, got our party wristbands and treat bags, then immediately headed off to take pictures of our costumes while we still had the sun and before it started raining.

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September Favorites!

Hello to all, and Happy Fall!

I thought I would do a little post about some of the things I that I loved last month because, why not?

 

Wild World- Bastille

I’ve known about Bastille for over 5 years now and they are probably my favorite band of all time! I was a huge fan of their music before they ever got signed to a label in the UK and before they got popular here in the U.S., so I feel like I have a lot of “proud mama moments” when it comes to them (I was literally jumping up and down the first time they played on Jimmy Fallon). Wild World is their second studio album and was released at the beginning of September. When I first heard about the album’s release, I was super excited but also a little nervous. I was worried that they were going to change their sound and that I would be hugely disappointed with the new album like I had experienced with other bands (I’m looking at you, Mumford & Sons). I didn’t want this to happen to my beloved Bastille and luckily I’M IN LOVE WITH WILD WORLD AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT! I have been listening to the album all month and I currently have it playing on my Spotify as I am writing this post. I have yet to purchase the physical CD of the album and they just released tour tickets that I am itching to buy, but I have a birthday/Christmas coming up 🙂 *hint, hint*

 

Bullet Journaling

Okay so I bit the bullet (haha) and decided to give bullet journaling a try! If you have no idea what bullet journaling is, it is kind of hard to explain so please let me know if you would like for me to do an entire post about how I use mine. Basically, it is a “catchall” for your calendar/planner, to-do lists, meal planning, goals, ideas, memories, sketches, etc. You can fill it up with whatever you want, organize it however you like, and use it as much or as little as you like. In my opinion, there are almost not enough “rules” so starting out, it took me a couple of weeks to figure out how to best organize my pages so that they work well for me and that I actually want to use the thing. So far, I really like it, but the journal I have been using has already started to fall apart and I’ve only used like 20 pages of it…. We shall see how long it holds up, but I might just have to abandon it before it is even close to being full in order to get a journal with a better binding. Continue reading

PROTIP: Listen to our protips

Three weeks ago my friend Kristen came to visit and we had the absolute best time together! We spent one day at Universal Studios and three days at Walt Disney World. Despite higher crowds than predicted (thanks a lot Playlist Live and Cheerleading Worlds), we still got to do pretty much everything we had wanted to do! Kristen and I thought it would be funny to do a post about all of our PROTIPS, so listen up friends! (UPDATED: 10/21/16) Kristen helped me come up with this list and if you ever want to check out her blog you can do so here.

PROTIP: Bring a poncho if there is rain in the forecast! It is also handy for keeping your bags dry on water rides.

PROTIP: If it does rain, the majority of people will most likely end up leaving the park and this can be a great time to take some awesome pictures and encounter shorter wait times for attractions.

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NO LINE for Escape from Gringotts

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PROTIP: When utilizing the free lockers at Universal Studios, try your best to get one at the end of a row. The locker area can get super crowded and it’s a waste of time to have to push through a mob of people to get to your locker and then back out again.

PROTIP: Bring an extra pair of clothes if you plan on riding any of the water rides at Universal Studios. If you don’t have Chacos, bring a pair of flip flops to change into for these attractions! Shoes are required on all rides and you don’t want your tennies to get soaked. Also, at any merchandise location you can ask for a plastic bag to put your wet things in afterwards.

PROTIP: Make sure to delete as many pictures off of your camera and phone as possible before your trip so you can take a ton of pictures. We took almost 600 photos!!

PROTIP: Get comfortable with asking PhotoPass photographers and random strangers to take your photos!! Yes it’s awkward and uncomfortable, but you’ll be thankful in the long run.

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DCP Bucket List

So today officially marks the halfway point of my program which is bittersweet. I feel like I just got here but at the same time I feel so at home and like I’ve been here for ages. I haven’t posted in a while so I thought I would post my bucket list of everything I still want to do before August. Now I know this list looks long, but you’d be surprised at how much I’ve already done off my list that I didn’t include below. I’ll try to keep the list up to date and cross things off as I do them 🙂 (last update: 08/04/16)

General Disney

  • Pick up a shift in every park
  • Start an autograph book
  • Mickey’s Retreat
  • All FOUR parks in one day
  • Meet every character
  • Read a book in the park
  • Backstage tour of some kind
  • Cast Preview of a new attraction or show
  • VoluntEar
  • Ride every ride with an outdoor component at night
  • Watch fireworks from a ride
  • Get my named stitched on my Mickey ears
  • Blizzard Beach
  • Typhoon Lagoon
  • Fantasia Gardens (putt putt)
  • Winter Summerland (putt putt)
  • College Program Service Celebration

 

On Disney Property

  • Explore every resort
  • The Wave…Of American Flavors
  • Beaches & Cream
  • Boma
  • Grand Floridian Cafe-Lunch
  • Kona Cafe-Dinner
  • Artist Point
  • Roaring Fork
  • Crew’s Cup Lounge
  • The Boathouse
  • Raglan Road
  • Morimoto Asia
  • T-Rex
  • Boatwright’s Dining Hall
  • Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

 

Magic Kingdom

  • Astro Orbitor
  • Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin
  • Main Street Vehicles
  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
  • A Pirate’s Adventure- Treasures of the Seven Seas
  • Sorceror’s of Magic Kingdom
  • Stitch’s Great Escape
  • Tomorrowland Speedway
  • Tom Sawyer Island
  • Dapper Dans
  • Hoedown Happening
  • Main Street Trolley Show
  • Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
  • Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen
  • Liberty Tree Tavern
  • Be Our Guest- Breakfast
  • Be Our Guest- Dinner
  • Electric Water Pageant
  • 4th of July Fireworks
  • Citrus Swirl

 

Hollywood Studios

  • Ride Tower of Terror on Friday, May 13th
  • New additions to Star Wars Fireworks

 

Animal Kingdom

  • Kali River Rapids
  • Wildlife Express Train
  • Wilderness Explorers
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Flights of Wonder
  • Rivers of Light (IF it ever opens)
  • The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic
  • Nighttime Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Tree of Life Awakening
  • Discovery Island Carnivale
  • Tusker House
  • Tiffins
  • Yak & Yeti

 

Epcot

  • Eat at every Flower & Garden booth
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Soarin’ Over California
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure
  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival
  • Impressions de France
  • O Canada!
  • Via Napoli
  • Restaurant Marrakesh

 

Outside Disney

  • Go to the beach
  • Explore Celebration
  • Take a dance class at a nearby studio
  • Take a salsa/bachata class

 

Wish me luck!

Ryan

Sanaa-Lunch Review

I thought I would start a bit of a “series” on some of my favorite restaurants I’ve gotten to try since I’ve been here in at Walt Disney World. First up, Sanaa!

Sanaa is located on the bottom floor of Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge. The restaurant looks out onto the Sunset Savannah and it was SO cool to eat lunch while there were giraffes and zebras literally right outside the window! I had heard really great things about this restaurant on the internet and as Cast Members we get a good discount at this dining location, so I was very eager to try it out. Sanaa apparently means “Work of Art” in Swahili and there is certainly nothing boring or bland about their Eastern African and Indian cuisine!IMG_5531IMG_5525I was most excited to try the Indian-style Bread Service. We opted to get all five breads and all nine sauces to share! The breads included Traditional Naan, Garlic-Ginger Naan, Spiced Naan, Onion Kucha and Paneer Paratha accompanied by Cucumber Raita, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, Mango Chutney, Tomato-Date Jam, Tamarind Chutney, Coriander Chutney, Garlic Pickle, Red Chile Sambal, and Spicy Jalapeño-Lime Pickle.

We ended up loving every bit of it! Honestly, the five breads didn’t taste all that different from each other to me, but each of the sauces were distinct and delicious my favorites being the spicier ones.IMG_5523For my entree, I ordered the Pojite Inspired Butter Chicken and Braised Beef with the Five-Grain Rice Pilaf. The meat was super tender and flavorful and I loved every bite! Caitlyn ordered the same thing as me while Parker ordered the Tandoori Chicken, Rachel opted for the fish, and Amber got the Grilled Beef Sirloin Steak. Some of the girls also shared a Kenyan Press Pot Coffee which they were extremely impressed by and compare all other coffee to till this day.
IMG_5526IMG_5528.JPGIMG_5530I hope to go back to Sanaa at some point because all of the desserts looked amazing and we unfortunately were too full to order any after having both the bread service and entrees. Overall, we all enjoyed our meal and I can’t wait to return to one of the most unique and delicious restaurants on Disney property!

Kwaheri

Ryan

Easter!

Since Easter was this past weekend, I thought I’d share a little bit of all the Easter fun that’s been going on here at Walt Disney World.

First up, Epcot’s Eggstravaganza! Trust me when I say this egg hunt is not just for kids! I barely finished it in two hours, and some of the eggs were so difficult to find that I started following other people around in hopes that they would find it…. For a small fee, you get the map and the sticker sheet with all the egg stickers on it. You have to find the egg in each country and put the correct, corresponding sticker on that country on the map. Can you spot all the eggs in my pictures?IMG_5575

When you finish (and even if you don’t), you can redeem your map for a prize. The prize is your choice of Easter egg that looks like a Disney character. There were a couple of options, but I chose Woody!IMAG0499-001 Continue reading

Earning My Ears

Hello again!!! This post is going to be about training, earning my ears, and my first week with access to the parks! I will try to be as concise as possible, but not promises 🙂

On Saturday, February 13th I woke up super early to get to the bus by 6:45 am for my 8:00 am Traditions Class! Traditions is the first part of all new Cast Members’ training where you learn about the Four Keys (which would be drilled into our heads throughout the week), the heritage of the Walt Disney Company, and how we create happiness everyday for our Guests. Parker, Caitlyn, and I all got put in the same classroom and it was nice to have some friendly faces there for this special day.  The class was quite long but it didn’t seem like it since it was broken up with fun videos and a quick field trip to Magic Kingdom! We got to walk through the utilidors underneath the park and then pop up on Main Street. Since I won’t be working at the Magic Kingdom, it was nice to get to have that experience at least once!

IMG_5429At the end of the class, we were presented with our name tags, Cast ID cards, and a pair of Mickey Ears!

Of course the first thing we did after we received our ID’s was go home and change clothes, so we could head to the park for our first time as Cast Members!! We didn’t feel like waiting in any super long lines (we’ll have 6 months to ride everything) so we ended up riding a couple of things with low wait times, meeting Baymax, grabbing some dinner in France, and taking a stroll around World Showcase.

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I didn’t even end up getting dessert, but they were all so pretty that I had to take a picture

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Back to the Beginning

Long time no blog, friends. It’s crazy to think that I have been here over a month already! I’ve been having a great time and I will tell you all about it, but first we need to go back to the very beginning.

Tuesday, February 9th was the day I had been anxiously waiting for! That morning I packed everything back into my car, left the hotel, and drove to Check-In! Once I arrived, I met up with some girls I had met on Facebook that I was hoping to room with. We checked in and found out that we weren’t going to be all together or even in the same apartment complex, but three of us were placed together in Chatham Square and the other three were placed together in Patterson Court. We were a little bummed that we weren’t going to be closer together, but we’ve all been hanging out a ton anyway so it’s fine.

12705432_10209048471075379_6591822078247070578_n - CopyEmily, Caitlyn, and I were put in a one bedroom apartment (yes, we have a bunk-bed) that is actually plenty roomy for three people. Our carpet is SUPER ugly and our floor-plan is a little funky (you have to go through the bathroom to get to the closet), but it’s starting to feel like home.

At check-in we got our apartment keys, our ID card for our housing complex, and we also found out where we would be working! I am working Merchandise and was placed at Once Upon A Toy in Disney Springs. Emily and Caitlyn are also working Merchandise and one is at Magic Kingdom and the other is at the Boardwalk.

My parents came and helped me move my stuff into my apartment before they had to go to the airport to fly home 😦 Later that day around 1:00 pm, I got on the bus to go to my appointment at Casting!

At Casting we just did some new-hire paperwork, got fingerprinted for our background checks, and got our schedules for training that would start the next week. In true Disney fashion, the building was decorated with some of its beloved characters.

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A Day in London Town

Hello again friends! I’ve been so busy working and playing that I haven’t had much time to keep you updated on my adventures! We had initially planned to spend the last day before my program at Hollywood Studios with some family that were in town, but they were unable to make it so we decided to go to Universal Studios instead! My awesome parents bought my park ticket so we all could experience the newest portion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter together. After doing a couple of rides at the front of the park, we traveled through New York and San Francisco to spend the next part of the day in London Town! I had a great time chatting with the shrunken head at the Knight Bus. I always enjoy a good pun 🙂IMG_0285

Just like in the books and films, Diagon Alley is hidden within London. The exterior portion looks just like London (I’m told. I’ve never actually been…) and also does a great job of hiding the magic within. Diagon Alley looks EXACTLY like how it does in the movies and really does a great job of capturing the whimsy of the Wizarding World. Everywhere you look there are crazy colors, lopsided buildings, and moving parts! Continue reading