The Road Back to My Life

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These are my thoughts on life, kids and Walt Disney World.

I realized I had lost me somewhere along the way the past several years. I have been the perfect Mommy, wife and volunteer anyone could ask for. What I was missing was being there for me. I am going to take this year to get back to the real me and these are my thoughts along the way.

So this is my story of life, kids and my quest to learn all I can about Walt Disney World (my laughing place!) and earn my Disney PhD!

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Yak & Yeti Food Cafe’

Yak & Yeti PlatedThis was our first counter service meal of the trip and our first visit to Yak & Yeti Food Cafe’.  I have been reading about this restaurant for years and have always planned on stopping to try it out but somehow we always end up at an opposite end of Animal Kingdom when it is time to eat.  This year I made sure to plan to be near Yak & Yeti Food Cafe’ around lunchtime.

Because we were on the Disney Dining Plan we choose to use 2 of our counter service meal credits. This would allow us to try two entrees, two desserts and two drinks.  We purchased two additional drinks for the children.

There is a fairly limited menu with 5 main entrees to choose from at the Yak & Yeti Food Cafe’. For our family of four, all of which are fairly hearty eaters, we choose to try the Beef Lo Mein ($10.99) and the Honey Chicken ($9.99).  For dessert our choices were Banana Pudding or Triple Chocolate Mousse ($3.59 each) we chose to try one of each.  Our meals came with two LARGE (vats) of soda.  Next time we will get two extra cups and split the drinks.

Yak & Yeti Honey ChickenThe entrees were served in large sized Chinese food take out containers.   Underneath the 7-8 pieces of chicken were a few pieces of broccoli and a cup or so of rice.  The sauce was sweet without being cloyingly sick.  It was on par with a decent Chinese food take-out restaurant.

Yak & Yeti Beef Lo MeinThe Beef Lo Mein was pretty good.  It definitely needed added soy sauce for my tastes but it had plenty of vegetables and a few slices of beef.

Ask for paper plates when you order at the counter if you would like to share.  The sauces and silverware are all located on a cart near the seating area.

Yak & Yeti DessertsMy favorite part of the meal though was the dessert.  The Triple Chocolate Mousse was good.  Reminded me of chocolate pudding and it was difficult for us to discern if there were any actual differences between the layers of chocolate.  But, the Banana Pudding?  Hands down the best thing we had.  I was not going to try it because I thought it was going to be that fake banana flavoring most “banana” flavored dishes have.  But this one was REAL bananas with chunks of added bananas in it.  It was yummy!  We all wished we had ordered two Banana Puddings instead of one of each.

We plan on trying some of the other entrees here on our next trip and of course getting more banana pudding!

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Day 2 – Fort Wilderness Cabins

Fort Wilderness Welcome CenterAfter swimming and checking out of Pop Century, Day 1,  we headed to the Fort Wilderness Cabins.  This was a surprise for our children.  They have always wanted to stay in the cabins and after receiving a last-minute PIN code from Walt Disney World we switched our reservation from All-Star Music to the Fort Wilderness Cabins.

Right from the moment we stopped at the gate to check-in we felt that this was going to be different from any hotel experience we have had at Walt Disney World.  The “Ranger” joked with the kids about us dropping them off at 6:00 am while the parents went to the parks for the day.  Work details would be assigned by age at that time.  Both kids laughed but looked at us with the slightly worried look.

We headed to the reception Outpost to check-in.  Despite it being fairly early our cabin was ready!

Fort Wilderness Lobby Welcome Center

The kids were happy at the Welcome Center and were disappointed that they couldn’t finish their checkers game.  When we let them know our cabin was ready they were happy to leave their game and we head out to our cabin.

Fort Wilderness Cabin

As we pulled into the parking space (right next to the cabin!) I was too excited to speak.  For those of us that drive to Disney World having a parking spot right next to where you are staying is a HUGE thrill.  We decided to head inside and check out our cabin before beginning to unpack.

Fort Wilderness Cabins Deck

The porch had a great picnic table and two entrance doors.  The one in the rear right of this picture enters into the bedroom and the other door enters into the kitchen.  Next time we want to bring Christmas lights to hang on our porch and camp chairs for the nights we sit outside and relax.

Fort Wilderness Cabins KitchenThe kitchen was small but it had everything we needed.  A full-sized refrigerator, a dishwasher, stove top and oven.  We were on the Dining Plan and did not intend on cooking much but the refrigerator was great for storing juices, water, breakfast foods and snacks.  If you need to purchase grocery items there is a very extensive list of items available for delivery in your cabin or like us we went to the local grocery store for a stock up trip.

Full KitchenThis is the kitchen viewed from the living room.

Fort Wilderness Cabins Living RoomOur little living room.  For our family of four this was heaven.  You can see in the picture the Murphy Bed was not completely up.  It pulls down from the wall and the wall becomes the base of the bed.  It is low on the ground and very “squishy” but it worked for us.

There was a large table with four chairs and a bench to the right of this picture.  We didn’t use it for meals but as staging for what we needed the next day.  It helped to have the space to lay out our clothes, Magic Bands and bags each day.

Dining Room TableAs you walk down the short hallway to the bedroom there is a full bathroom.  It kept with the rustic style but was adequate for our needs.

Bathroom

Top BunkThis is my son in the top bunk.  He was a bit tentative at first about climbing up but LOVED having his own space.

Bottom BunkThe bunk beds are sturdy but small.  This is my 5’9″ daughter on her bed.  Thankfully she likes to sleep in enclosed spaces and didn’t mind the bed.   There is also a full-sized bed in the room but my picture didn’t come out of that bed.  It is again the wall so if you have two people sleeping in it and one has to get up in the middle of the night there is some shuffling around.

Closet and Dresser area - BedroomThis is the bedroom area at the end of the beds.  The television, closet and dressers are close together and there is not much extra storage space for luggage, etc…  The kids were happy to have their own television at night, we don’t have television at home, while the parents could watch their television in the living room.

Overall, we really liked the Fort Wilderness Cabins.  There were a few things that were inconvenient for us.  All internal resort transportation has to be by bus, walking or golf carts.  You can’t drive your car to the pools or to eat dinner.  You can rent golf carts but we decided against that.  As we were at the resort during February we decided that our swimming time would be minimal and there were no really good options for quick service dining so we wouldn’t be using the facilities to their fullest potential and wouldn’t need a golf cart.

The free refillable mugs we got with our meal plan pretty much went unused on this trip.  There were two spots were we could refill our mugs but it seemed so difficult to get them filled with the limited hours of the food stand by the pool and the restaurant by the boat docks.

The only other big downside was the transportation to the parks if you did not have a car.  There are no buses that run to Magic Kingdom so you must take a boat all the rest have buses.  We were considering having our family reunion at Fort Wilderness Cabins next year but when we discovered this we decided against it.  We have a member of our party in a wheelchair and getting them on the internal bus, off the internal bus, down to the dock, on the boat, off the boat and into Magic Kingdom seemed far too difficult for the family.  Even if we used the bus system they would need to change buses from the internal transportation to the external transportation bus.

But, having pointed out the negatives the positives far outweighed the negatives.

The extra space for our family allowed us all to have a little breathing room away from one another if we needed it.  When the kids needed space from each other they could get into their beds and forget the other was nearby or go into the other room.  That alone brought a whole new level of peacefulness to our family vacation.  It is difficult for a family to be together all day, every day for two weeks.

Plus the resort was QUIET!  I mean like you really did not feel like you were in a Walt Disney World resort quiet.  Having stayed at the All-Stars and Pop Century many times we loved getting into the resort after a hectic day and walking into our cabin hearing nothing but crickets chirping.  There were no large groups screaming or cheering in the pool areas.

Overall, we were pleased with The Fort Wilderness Cabins and will be going back again for another stay in the cabins.

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Day 1 – Pop Century

Pop Century - 80s Walkman We never expected to be to Florida on Saturday.  We left Michigan Friday after school and made it as far as Louisville, Kentucky the first night.  We left about 8:00 am Saturday morning expecting to land somewhere in Northern Florida or Southern Georgia for the night.  But, we made it all the way to Walt Disney World!

When we called to reserve a room at Walt Disney World for the night the only room left in a moderate or value resort was at Pop Century.  We were happy to have a room on property so we took it.  There was a dance/cheer competition and the start of baseball training camp this weekend so rooms were scarce.

Computer Pool and 80's BuildingWe have stayed at Pop Century before so we were familiar with the rooms and the layout of the resort.  We were in the 80′s section.  It is easy to tell when you are in a value resort, bright colors, outdoor corridor and three-story iconic items dominate each stairwell.  The rooms are clean and simple.  It is still Disney.  Some look down on the value resorts but as Disney continues to raise the prices for a resort stay they are still on Disney property and allow you access to all the action.

Pop Century Room - Second BedThe rooms are comfortable and basic.  Two double beds with a night stand width in between the two beds.  A small cafe’ style table with two chairs sits against the wall across from the first bed in the room.  A curtain separates the dressing room from the rest of the bedroom.  Some people are bothered that the sink sits in the dressing room but we really don’t care.  It works for us for a night or two but now that we have two “larger” kids we definitely need more space to keep our sanity for ten days.

Pop Century RoomIf you are planning on using a fold up cot, rental, there is enough room near the window for it to rest but it is a tight squeeze.   If you try to place the cot anywhere else as you can see from the photo above floor space is limited and you may be hurting yourself tripping over something in the middle of the night.

Pop Century Towel ArtHere is one of the famous towels that was on our bed when we checked in.  It is just these little touches that surprise us when they happen at the Walt Disney World Resorts and we love them.  No, you may not get one everyday.  They are little magical surprises that you have to appreciate when they come along throughout your stay.

We spent the morning at the computer pool before checking-out to check-in to our next hotel.  There were two large cheer leading groups practicing nearby but our kids were the only two in the pool for about an hour.  Check-out was efficient and we were off to our next resort for the next ten days.

Pop Century - 80s Roger Rabbit

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Our Trip Report – Overview

Epcot at Night

This was our first “real” vacation in three years.  Our lives have pretty much been in turmoil since the end of 2011 when we found out the company my partner worked for was being sold.  So after weathering the sale of the company, looking for a new job, moving half-way across the country, starting our kids in new schools, living in a rental house, buying a new house and settling in we were finally really ready for this vacation.

It was tough at first.  We went from -20 degrees when we left home to the 88-89 degree record high temperatures with 90% humidity in Florida. Then everything was new to us on this trip so we couldn’t rely on our usual Disney way of life.  We were in a resort we had never been to before, new section in Magic Kingdom, new Magic bands, new Fast Pass system and my children are a tween and a teen now.  What they wanted to do in the parks every time we went before they now wanted to do different activities – Sorcerer’s, Rockin’ Roller Coaster and eating around the world in Epcot were high on their list of must dos.

But by the fourth or fifth day we had finally settled into the routine that worked for us.  Every family is different and every family has to find their rhythm for how and when to tour Walt Disney World.  For us the sleep in and tour early afternoon with a dinner between 8 pm and 9:30 pm really was the best for us.  We tried the early morning be at the park before opening the first two days and everyone ended up cranky and mad at each other by 10 am.  But, if we slept in until 9 am and did not go to the parks until noon and stayed until closing we were happy and had fun together.  It worked for us.  That is what you have to find.  What works for you and your family.

After 10 full days we were ready to return to the “real” world.  We have found that 10 days at Disney leaves us feeling that we have done everything we really wanted to and we are ready to leave knowing that we will be back again to have more fun.  And, of course we are ready to book our next trip and begin the planning all over again.

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Dining Reservation for Our Upcoming Trip

Cape May Cafe'

I am jump out of my skin excited that we will be leaving in just a few days for our trip to Walt Disney World.  Since it has been quite awhile since our last trip we decided to do a mix of old favorites and new restaurants for our dining reservations.

Our plan is to have a taste at every counter service around Epcot over the two days we are there.  We usually order one or two combo meals and split them among the four of us.  That way we all get a taste of each country but aren’t filling up on any one thing.

We are also planning on returning to ’50′s Prime Time Cafe, Crystal Palace, Cape May Cafe, Beirgarten and Citricos.   These were chosen by both children as some of their favorite places to eat.

I then chose new restaurants for us to try such as Be Our Guest (for my daughter’s 14th birthday), Tusker House Breakfast, 1900 Park Fare Breakfast and Whispering Canyon Cafe’.

We also have plans to hit as many counter service restaurants as we can in each park.  My kids, who are Disneyphiles just like their Mommy, have been talking about which food they want to try at each place and of course all the snacks!

I will be posting lots of new reviews and pictures in the coming weeks so be ready!

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With a Tape Measure and a Notebook…

Family Picture Framed

Wow!  My family sure has changed since this picture was taken in Disney Hollywood Studios.  My daughter is now as tall as I am and my son is about 9 inches taller too.  Can’t wait to get an updated picture on our trip next week.

Yes, we are headed back to Walt Disney World in less than a week.  I am picking up my tape measure and my little notebook and heading back.  I plan to update the sizes and seating for the new rides and attractions.  I know that most turnstiles are gone and are now open gates so that will make things easier entering the parks and certain rides for Pooh Sized or as I describe myself Ursala-esque people.  I am so excited to experience the changes!

I will be measuring chairs and tables at new restaurants and distances from chair back to chair back to check how far tables are spread apart.  I hate feeling like I can’t comfortably get up and down from my table without disturbing anyone behind me.  This was a huge problem 2 years ago at Boma.  I almost felt trapped the chairs were so close.

If there is anything you would like me to check out or measure let me know!  Can’t wait to come back and post all my findings.

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My Disney Side

Tigger Sweatshirt

Everyone is posting pictures of their Disney Side for the new Disney advertising campaign.

When I thought of the one thing that represented my Disney side I immediately thought of this sweatshirt.   I LOVE this sweatshirt.  I bought it almost 20 years ago on our honeymoon at Walt Disney World.

I those this shirt because it was a wildly expensive purchase for me then, I believe it was almost $30!  But this shirt has come to represent not only Disney to me but a huge chunk of my life.

I wore this shirt during the birth of both of my children.  The first pictures of me holding the children have Tigger right next to them.

I wore this sweatshirt while volunteering at the different schools my kids attended.  Children would stop and hug me saying, “I love Tigger.”   Most of these kids were not trusting of adults but Tigger always got a mention when I wore him.

I wore this sweatshirt as we packed up our house to move 550 miles across the country.

I am wearing it now as we get ready for our 15th trip back to Walt Disney World since I purchased Tigger.

I don’t wear Tigger much anymore because he is getting thin and frail.  But, every once in a while I need to pull him out when I need a smile.  On this snowy day as I am planning our trip “home” Tigger still makes me smile.

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