Friday, May 30, 2014

Luray Virginia & Washington DC

Over the Memorial Day Holiday weekend the Hubs and I decided to visit my cousins in Virginia and get lost in their part of the world. They live in Newport News, Va that's part of the Hampton Roads area. This is my second trip to Newport News and it's so calm and quiet here. No honking, no traffic, or road rage. Definitely the complete opposite of Miami for sure. Our first day in Virginia we went out and did a little shopping while my little cousins were in school. After school, we picked them up and took them to lunch at one of their favorite burger joints. They say that this place is always packed and they very rarely get to eat here, so we thought we'd check it out! Their menu was ahhhhmaaaazzziiiiinggg!!! They had a menu of 40 different milkshakes, how can I choose just one?!

  After lunch we continued shopping and then went home to rest and catch up. The next day we were off to Luray, VA to explore the Luray Caverns. This place is incredible! 
 The Luray Caverns was originally called Luray Cave. It is a large commercial cave just west of Luray, VA and has drawn in may visitor since it's discovery in 1878.  The temperature inside the caverns is about 54 °F (12 °C).

 The cavern is yellow, brown or red because of water, chemicals and minerals. The new stalactites growing from the old, and made of hard carbonates that had already once been used, are usually white as snow though often pink or amber-colored. Several stalactites exceed 5 feet (1.5 m) in length.

There is a spring of water called Dream Lake that has an almost mirror like appearance. Stalactites are reflected in the water making them appear to be stalagmites. This illusion is often so convincing that people are unable to see the real bottom. It looks quite deep, as the stalactites are higher above the water, but at its deepest point the water is only around 20 inches deep. The lake is connected to a spring that continues deeper into the caverns. 
Can you see the reflection in the water?
This place was by far one of the coolest things I've ever seen.

After the Caverns we walked over to Car & Carriage Caravan Museum. Here we went back in time and got to see some oldies. Here are a few of my favorites.

This place will take you back in history. There were cars, bikes, carriages, rolls royce, bugattis, cadillacs, way back from the 1700's. Lots of cool stuff to see.

Next Stop... The Garden Maze
 This was by far my favorite from this trip. As a kid and even now as an adult I remember reading or hearing about garden mazes, but somehow thought that they only existed in movies and books. And I got to experience it. As you go through the maze you have to find your way to each goal box. At each goal you stamp your card and receive a clue to your next goal.

Final Stop...Luray Valley Museum
At this museum you get to step back in time and discover the history of the Shenandoah Valley. At the log Stonyman building you will see items from the 1920s. Check out the Hamburg Regular School, the area's first school for African American children. 

 It's crazy to think that they used small chalkboards to write down their notes and lessons.
Other than that they're classrooms are very similar to the classrooms today.

Neon Shoe Lovers

This place had beautiful scenery of the mountains, and lots of green land.
This view is breathtaking.

We ended the day having dinner at Speakeasy Restaurant and Bar at the Mimslyn Inn
This laid back cozy bar/restaurant features pictures of Charlie Chaplin and other famous people, they play live music, and the food is reasonably priced.

If you're ever in Virginia a trip up to Luray Caverns and Attractions is a must see and do!
Best of all, all the attractions are included with your admission to the Caverns.

Day 3~ Exploring DC

We were so exhausted from our trip to the Caverns that we got a late start on our drive to DC the next day. By the time we got there we were only able to visit a few museums and monuments. The little that the Hubs did see he loved and can not wait to go back.  Here are a few of the pictures we were able to take while in DC.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Disney Theme Parks/ Places to Eat

Throughout the Disney Theme Parks you will find lots of little places to grab a bite to eat. 
Whether you have a small or large family, enjoy snacking, or on a budget, I got GREAT news for you... While visiting the Disney parks you are allowed to bring a backpack with snacks and drinks.  Keep in mind that before entering any park your bags will be checked at the gate. Coolers are not allowed.

If you're planning to eat at one of their restaurants, be sure you make reservations before your trip. For more dining information go here: Walt Disney World Dining

Disney also offers Dining Plan Packages available exclusively to Disney Resort Guests with Magic Your Way Vacation Packages. For more information Dining Packages go here: Disney Dining Plan

Below I've listed each park individually and the places you can eat and where they are located in the park.

Magic Kingdom (Reservations may be needed)
Table Service:
The Crystal Palace - Main Street, USA
The Plaza Restaurant- Main Street, USA
Tony's Town Square- Main Street, USA
Tommorrow Land Firework Dessert Party- Tomorrow Land
Cinderella's Royal Table- Fantasy Land
Liberty Tree Tavern- Liberty Square

Magic Kingdom
Quick Service:
Casey's Corner- Main Street, USA
Main Street Bakery- Main Street, USA
Plaza Icecream Parlor- Main Street, USA
Cool Ship- Tomorrow Land
Cosmic Ray's Starlite Cafe- Tomorrow Land
The Lunching Pad-Tomorrow Land
Tomorrow Land Terrace Restaurant- Tomorrow Land
Pinnochio's Village Haus- Fantasy Land
Cheshire Cafe- Fantasy Land
The Friar's Nook- Fantasy Land
Gaston's Tavern- Fantasy Land
Prince Eric's Village Market- Fantasy Land
Storybook Treats- Fantasy Land
Golden Oak Outpost- Frontier Land
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe- Frontier Land
Westward Ho- Frontier Land
Columbia Harbour House- Liberty Square
The Diamond Horseshoe- Liberty Square
Sleepy Hollow- Liberty Square
Sunshine Tree Terrace- Adventure Land
Tortuga Tavern- Adventure Land
Epcot is one of my favorite parks. While at Epcot you definitely should not miss trying the different cuisines available at the World Showcase. Each country offers a variety of their cuisines, drinks, and desserts. Yum! Below is a list of the different places to eat at each country. I recommend you check to see if advance reservations are needed and made before your trip.

Le Cellier Steakhouse

Nine Dragons Restaurant
Lotus Blossom Cafe
Joy of Tea
Les Chefs de France
Monsieur Paul
Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie
L' Artisan de Glaces

Future World:
Coral Reef Restaurant
Electric Umbrella
Fountain View
The Garden Grill
Sunshine Seasons
Test Track Cool Wash


Tutto Italia Restaurant
Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar
Via Napoli

 Katsura Grill
Teppan Edo
Tokyo Dining

La Hacienda de San Angel
La Cantina de San Angel
La Cava del Tequila

Tangierine Cafe
Moorish Cafe & Pastry Shop
The Restaurant Marrakesh


United Kingdom:
Yorkshire County Fish Shop
Rose & Crown Dinery Room

United States:
Fife & Drum
Liberty Inn
Funnel Cake Stand

Hollywood Studios:
Counter Service:
ABC Commissary- Commissary Lane
Backlot Express- Commisary Lane
Dinosaur Gertie's Icecream of Distinction- Echo Lake
Min & Bill's Dockside Diner- Echo Lake
Peevy's Frozen Concoctions- Echo Lake
Anaheim Produce Company- Sunset Blvd
Catalina Eddie's- Sunset Blvd
Hollywood Scoops- Sunset Blvd
Rosie's All-American Cafe- Sunset Blvd
Starring Rolls Cafe- Sunset & Hollywood
Studio Catering Co.- Streets of America
Toy Story Pizza Planet- Streets of America
Toluca Legs- Sunset Market Ranch
Tune-In Lounge- 50's Prime Time

Hollywood Studios:
Full Service:
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre- Commissary Lane
50's Prime Time Cafe- Echo Lake
Hollywood & Vine- Echo Lake
Hollywood Brown Derby- Hollywood Blvd
Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano- Backlot

Animal Kingdom:
Dawa Bar- Africa
Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery- Africa

Tamu Tamu Refreshments- Africa
Tusker House Restaurant- Africa
Upcountry- Asia
Yak & Yeti- Asia 
Restaurantosaurus- DinoLand, USA
Flame Tree Barbecue- Discovery Island
Gardens Kiosk- Discovery Island
Pizzafari- Discovery Island
Rainforest Cafe- Park's Main Entrance

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Disney World ~ Orlando, FL

As time goes by, you will learn that I'm an OBSESSED with Disney Freak or maybe just Mickey! Every year for my birthday I would go and celebrate another year of my life at Disney. After meeting the Hubs and converting him into a Disney Annual Pass holder (this is his second year as an annual pass holder) and we now go to Disney about 4-5 times a year.

When we first started our Disney Adventures we would attempt to do the entire park in the day. It is possible, however you're so exhausted at the end of the night, that half the time you forget what you saw. Therefore we came up with a game plan to make sure we don't miss a thing. We broke down each park by sections and explored every ride, show, store, restaurant, and have found that on every trip we always discover something new. Of course this is a bit easier for us as we are annual pass holders but if you are currently pass holders or plan to spend your next vacation with Mickey and the Gang, and you want to get in as much as possible, create a plan ahead of time.

Since there are 4 Disney Theme Parks I'm going to break down each park into different blog posts so if you're only going to visit a specific park you don't have to read through a whole bible to get to where you're going. 

Planning your trip:
If you're a planning NUT like me...Here are some tips to get you started.
Florida is ALWAYS HOT! I've tested out the weather different times of the year and have found that October-March is a lot cooler in the mornings to early evenings. However, make sure to bundle up in the evenings cause with a blink of an eye temperatures drop drastically. If you're not a huge fan of large crowds then I recommend you plan your trip for February to early April and the first 2 weeks in October. Keep in mind, the closer to the holidays the busier the parks get.

If you're traveling in the summer, get ready to sweat your tushy off, cause it gets HOT. Make sure to wear lots of sunscreen, bring a hat, sunglasses, dress to keep cool and stay hydrated.

If you're traveling in the colder months, I recommend you reserve a locker at the entrance of the park where you can leave your sweaters, jackets, coats, etc. In the colder months, during the day temperatures are really nice, usually in the low 70's to mid 60's however in the early evening temperatures will drop drastically and you're going to want to be able to dress warm for the parade and firework show which all happens at the entrance of the park.

Where to stay:
Disney World has more than handful of beautiful resorts you can choose from. Make sure you book a few months in advance to get better pricing. All Disney Resorts offer free shuttles to and from the park, I'd take advantage of this as parking per vehicle is approx $15 at each park. As Disney Resort guest you get to enjoy EXTRA MAGIC HOURS at selected theme parks. And any purchases you make, you can have delivered to your room. so you don't have to carry bags all day long.

Here's a list of the all Disney Resorts.

Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort
Disney's All Star Movies Resort
Disney's All Star Music Resort
Disney's All Star Sports Resort
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas- Jambo House
Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas- Kidani Village
Disney's Art of Animation Resort
Disney's Beach Club Resort
Disney's Beach Club Villas
Disney's Boardwalk Inn
Disney's Boardwalk Villas
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
Disney's Contemporary Resort
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort
Disney's Old Key West Resort
Disney's Polynesian Resort
Disney's Pop Century Resort
Disney's Port Orleans Resort
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Disney's Yacht Club Resort
The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
The Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
The Villas at Disney's Fort Wilderness Lodge
The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort
Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel
Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

There are also lots of other hotels not owned by Disney within the vicinity. I usually look to stay in the Downtown Disney Area as it's close to the parks, dining, entertainment, and shopping.

Parking is paid at each park you go to:
If you are a Disney Resort Guest, Parking is complimentary during the length of your stay.
If you're a Premium Annual Pass Holder or have an Annual Pass Parking is complimentary.
Otherwise here are the prices. Parking fee is paid at your arrival to every park. (ex: Visit 2 parks total for parking is $30)

*-Automobile, Taxi, Limo or Motorcycle: $15 USD
*-Camper, Trailer or RV: $16 USD
*-Bus or Tractor Trailer: $19 USD

 Single Day- Visit One Theme Park Ticket:
 1- Day Adult (10+)- $95.00
 1- Day Child (3-9)-  $89.00

Disney offers Multi Day/Multi Park Theme Park Tickets.
For more information on theme park tickets you can go here: Disney Theme Park Tickets
Be sure to SELECT whether or not you're a Florida Resident from the drop box menu.

 Although all Disney Theme Parks have free Guides and Maps I recommend that you download a copy prior to your trip, you'll want to do as much as you can in each section of the park rather than going back and forth to do different attractions. If you arrive by the time the park opens and leave at park's closing you'll have time to do just about everything including the parade and firework show.

Autograph books:

You'll definitely want to get one of these if it's your first time visiting the parks.
Disney has a selection of different types of autograph books. If you're not crafty I recommend you purchase the Autograph and Photograph book. There are Autograph books where your favorite Disney Characters will sign and above their signature you can insert the picture you've taken with them.

Character Greetings:
Throughout each theme park there are different ways to find all your favorite characters.
I will get into more detail on my theme park posts where you can find all your favorites.
In the meantime you'll find a symbol of Mickey's hand on all the theme park maps marking the locations where you can meet the characters.

Parades and Firework Shows:
Be sure to pick up a show time guide when you grab your map at the entrance of each park.

Magic Kingdom:
A Dream Come True Parade
Mickey's Electrical Parade
Spectro Magic Show
Wishes Firework Show

IllumiNations: Reflection of Earth Firework Show

Hollywood Studios:
Fantasmic Firework Show

Animal Kingdom:
Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade

Lines/Fast Pass