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Presidents Day at Hollywood Studios

Storm Troopers

After two straight days of rain, the sun finally came out for our last day at Disney World. As it was the only park we hadn’t visited yet, we planned to spend the morning at Disney Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios has always been my least favorite park at Disney World, but my opinion changed about it during our trip in 2021. After recently riding Rise of the Resistance at Disneyland, I wasn’t as eager to return to Hollywood Studios (partly because it was forecast to be 10/10 for crowds due to the Holiday) as I expected after our last visit. After going back and forth about it for a while, I finally decided that we would start the day at Hollywood Studios and then utilize our Park Hopper to head back to one of the other parks after lunch.

We got up early on our final day to head to the Studios, but first, we made our only Individual Lightning Lane purchase of the trip for another ride on Guardians of the Galaxy – Cosmic Rewind at Epcot. We headed to the Studios for early park entry and got right in line for Rise of the Resistance (top). After riding it multiple times, the theming and immersion of that attraction and the whole Galaxy’s Edge area are amazing, but the cast member interaction was noticeably less than on my first ride.

After our first ride of the day, wait times were already high. We headed to Toy Story Midway Mania, which is always enjoyable. After that, we waited in a long line for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, because I was not too fond of it on our last visit to the Studios and I was hoping it would redeem itself with another ride through but it did not. This is a controversial opinion within the Disney Fan Community, but I prefer Remy’s Rattatoi Adventure at Epcot for the same ride system. Runaway Railway is very jerky and I just do not like it. It’s safe to say that I will skip it the next time I’m in the Studios like I did in Disneyland. Finally, we went to Muppet Vision 3D (which needs an update, if you ask me), and by that point, it was 45 minutes before our lunch reservation and all of the waits were higher than that so we ended up sitting on a bench outside 50’s Prime Time Cafe just waiting to be able to check-in.

This was my second time dining at 50’s Prime Time, the last one being when I was about 10 years old and the waiter yelling at you schtick gave me anxiety so I have avoided it since. People online love 50’s so I figured we would give it a chance. I considered telling our server that we were not interested in getting yelled at, but instead, we just followed all of their rules and were able to eat our food in peace. The food at 50’s Prime Time is old-school classics, as the name implies. I had the Chicken Pot Pie and Chris had a sampler with meatloaf, pot roast, and fried chicken and the food was all good, but it was honestly boring compared to the other places we had eaten earlier in the trip. If you have picky eaters in your family, or you want your children to get yelled at on vacation, 50’s is a great choice, but in the future, I will probably skip it for more adventurous cuisine.

Journey of Water inspired by Moana

After lunch, we hopped on one of  Friendship Boats for a leisurely ride to Epcot. It was the final day of the Festival of the Arts so we spent some time wandering around appreciating the art that was mostly covered up during our Epcot day because of the rain. We also walked through the new Journey of Water inspired by Moana. It is a walkthrough attraction and it will be an enjoyable way to cool off in the hot Florida summers. It was a beautiful illustration of the water cycle and had some great photo ops as well. In my opinion, this was a great addition to Epcot’s World Nature neighborhood.

Livin' with the Land

We rode a few of our favorites including Livin’ with the Land and Spaceship Earth again and then it was time for our Lightning Lane. Once again, Guardians of the Galaxy – Cosmic Rewind was so much fun! After that, it was time for us to head back to Pop Century, grab our bags, and make our way to the airport. At the time, I was disappointed by the crowds and the high wait times of visiting Disney World during a holiday weekend, but looking back on it, with the exception of Monday, we were able to ride pretty much everything we had wanted to. We said we were going to take a couple of years before heading to Disney World again, but Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (R.I.P. Splash Mountain) opens next month, so we will see how long we can stay away!

Thanks for stopping by! Check out our NEW Go See Do Explore Podcast, available wherever you listen to podcasts. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

A Rainy Day at Animal Kingdom

Pandora at Animal Kingdom

Our third day at Disney World started bright and early with Early Entry to Animal Kingdom at 7:30 am and the rain was still coming down. We had not been to Animal Kingdom since our trip in 2015, so the whole Pandora section of the park was new to us. We headed to Flight of Passage for rope drop and the line was already pretty long by the time they let us in despite the early hour and the weather.

Flight of Passage is a Soarin’-like attraction where you ride on a Banshee over Pandora. The ride vehicle is more complex in that it appears to breathe underneath you, which is interesting. It is also in 3D which really affected my motion sickness. I had a headache for the rest of the day. If you get motion sickness from screen-based rides, you may want to consider skipping this one. Chris enjoyed it, though, and probably would have gone on it again if the line went down.

Pandora at Animal Kingdom

After getting off Flight of Passage, we noticed the wait for Expedition Everest was short so we headed over there for a wet roller coaster experience. We love that ride so much that when we got off, we went right to the single-rider line and rode it again.

At that point, Kilimanjaro Safari opened and had a ridiculously short wait so we ran over there and had probably the best safari experience that I had ever had at Animal Kingdom. Because it was early in the day and it wasn’t hot, all the animals were very active. The lion even roared at us as we drove by.

After our safari, we headed back to Pandora to ride Na’vi River Journey, which was the final new attraction for us on this trip. Na’vi River Journey is a calm boat ride through Pandora’s bioluminescent rainforest and the Na’vi Shaman of Songs sings as you float by. The wait was long but at this point, we were just glad to get a break from the rain. While we were waiting, the ride broke down so we ended up waiting for much longer than anticipated, but the other rides also had long lines at this point so we decided not to leave. Maybe the long wait affected our anticipation for this ride or maybe it was the fact that we had just experienced true bioluminescence in Puerto Rico, but I was not impressed with Na’vi River Journey. While the attractions in Pandora aren’t my thing, I have to appreciate the immersive storytelling in Pandora. I wish we had time to explore more of the land when I wasn’t getting soaked to the bone.

Acrobatic Monkeys at Festival of the Lion King

After leaving the Na’vi River, we headed to the Festival of the Lion King. In general, we are not big show people in Disney, but on our last trip to Animal Kingdom, I lost my glasses and we went to the Festival of the Lion King, but I really couldn’t see anything. I was glad we made a point to go back because it was visually spectacular and I really did enjoy it!

After the show, we had pretty much seen everything we wanted to see in Animal Kingdom so we stopped for lunch back in Pandora, at what may be my new favorite counter service restaurant, Satu’li Canteen. Their menu is inventive and has lots of healthier options. We picked one of the less healthy, the cheeseburger bao buns and they were really good!

After lunch, we utilized our park hopper and went back to Magic Kingdom to ride a couple of attractions that we didn’t get to on Friday. Due to the rain, the wait for Big Thunder Mountain was short so we headed there and rode it a couple of times until we were too soaked for comfort. Then, we hit Space Mountain again, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Peoplemover and we were getting cold. We had a dinner reservation at Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village so we headed there early and hung out in the warm, dry lobby until our table was ready.

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Sanaa specializes in African food with Indian flavors and their food is not something we can find easily where we live. They have an extensive wine list featuring African wines and I was most excited to try their bread service. The bread service was wonderful and so much food! For my entree, I had the pork shank and Chris had the Potjie Inspired with the Goan Seafood Curry, Pork Vindaloo, and Lentil Daal. While we had many delicious meals on this trip, this one is at the top and it has inspired us to use some Indian flavors in the kitchen at home.

While I had originally planned to go back to the parks after dinner, we were tired and wet. We headed back to the resort, dried off, did some laundry, and watched Harry Potter on TV to prepare for our final day of Disney madness before heading home.

Thanks for stopping by! Check out our NEW Go See Do Explore Podcast, available wherever you listen to podcasts. To read more about this trip, be sure to read our Long Weekend at Disney World Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

A Rainy Day in Epcot

The Seas with Nemo and Friends

Our second day in Disney World was spent at Epcot. We got up early and were able to secure our Virtual Queue Reservation for Guardians of the Galaxy, another new to me attraction. Then we hopped on the Skyliner to the park for early entry and the rain had already started. We headed right from the International Gateway to ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. We rode Remy during our last trip on the day after it opened and I loved it! I have to say it lived up to my memory. I would have loved to ride it again, but by the time we were done with the ride, it was already up to a 45-minute wait so we headed to the Land and a short wait for Soarin’, which is another of my favorites in Epcot. Because of the 100 Years of Magic Celebration, Soarin’ Around the World was replaced with the original Soarin’ Over California (Soarin’ Around the World returned to Epcot after our trip). It was great to experience that version again and I would’ve ridden it again, but once again when we got off, the line was already long so we had a stop for breakfast at Sunshine Seasons, which was my favorite Quick Service in Epcot before COVID. It is pared down now, but it served its purpose.

We got a quick ride on Living with the Land and then headed to Test Track to ride single rider, but by the time we got there, it shut down due to the rain. At this point, everything else had longer waits than I would typically wait for any attractions, but we to get out of the rain, we waited 30 minutes for the Seas with Nemo and Friends. I’m not proud of it, but at least it was dry. From there, we headed to the Canada Pavillion to see the updated film with Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy of Schitt’s Creek fame. The film had me reminiscing about our 2022 trip to Vancouver and realizing there is way more of Canada than I have seen. I did miss the funnier Martin Short version of the film that we saw last time, though.

After that, it was about time to get some lunch and we decided to try some of the Festival of the Arts booths. First, we went to Pop Arts and had the grilled cheese and tomato soup, which was delicious but we realized that eating at the booths in the rain was unpleasant. Our sandwich got soaked and the soup was watered down, but overall it was pretty good. While we were eating and trying our best to stay dry, we got our notification that it was time to join the Virtual Queue for Guardians of the Galaxy – Cosmic Rewind.

Just like with Tron, it was a long wait with the virtual queue, but all of the other attractions had long waits at the time and we were enjoying getting out of the rain and drying off a little. Before this trip, I had never seen a single Marvel Film and didn’t know much about the Guardians of the Galaxy. The exhibits in the queue told a lot of the story and I was excited to see Terry Crews, who is always funny. The attraction itself was amazing (and is the most expensive roller coaster ever built)! We got Conga by Miami Sound Machine and I think that song has the best energy to accompany that ride. If you don’t mind rollercoasters, I highly recommend you ride Guardians of the Galaxy. We enjoyed it so much that we actually bought an Individual Lightning Lane for it later in the trip and we watched the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies when we got home.

I was glad we didn’t eat too much before riding Guardians, but once we were off the ride, luckily the rain let up and we enjoyed more of the festival booths. Since it wasn’t raining we went back to Test Track and were able to ride it. Wait times were still pretty high for everything else we wanted to do, so we decided to head back to Pop Century to rest and dry off before dinner.

Dinner was at a restaurant I’ve always wanted to try in Epcot, San Angel Inn. If you have ever been to Epcot, this is the restaurant inside the pyramid in the Mexico Pavillion where you can watch the boats of the Gran Fiesta Tour float by while dining, similar to Blue Bayou in Disneyland. San Angel Inn gets very mixed reviews online, but we have been having a lot of authentic Mexican food at home lately and this lived up to our expectations. I do not understand the hate this restaurant gets online. It is not TexMex; there are no free chips and salsa, but everything we ordered was wonderful! I would dine there again in a heartbeat.


After dinner, we rode Gran Fiesta Tour and headed to find a spot for the fireworks. The cold, rainy weather really worked in our favor this time because there were not a lot of people left in the park at this point. We were able to find a spot on the bridge from England to France, with only a few umbrellas blocking our view. This was my first time seeing the new Luminous show. I was not a fan of Harmonious in 2021, if you didn’t camp out to get a spot right by the water with the right angle, you didn’t get to see the projection screens. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like wasting my precious theme park time camping out for a fireworks spot so it didn’t work for me. Luminous greatly improved on Harmonious, in my opinion. While our view was slightly blocked by umbrellas, we were still able to appreciate the show. I also enjoyed that the show is a mix of music from Disney films and original music. I think this show does a good job of blending what people enjoyed about Harmonious and my all-time favorite theme park firework show, Illuminations into one, modern show with good music. I recommend you don’t skip Luminous when you’re in Epcot!


Since we watched the fireworks from the Bridge by the International Gateway, we were able to get out of the park fairly quickly and were able to get on the Skyliner before a line formed. If the weather was better, we probably would have headed back to end the night in Magic Kingdom, but at that point, I was just looking forward to taking off my wet shoes and getting some sleep before an early morning at Animal Kingdom the next day.

Thanks for stopping by! Check out our NEW Go See Do Explore Podcast, available wherever you listen to podcasts. To read more about this trip, be sure to read our Long Weekend at Disney World Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: It’s a Small World

It's A Small World

Wordless Wednesday: Sleeping Beauty Castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle

A Disney World Fan’s First Visit to Disneyland

Disneyland Train Station

When we booked our California Coastal cruise, I knew I couldn’t step foot in Southern California and not go to Disneyland so we looked at our schedule and figured out how we could make it work. With logistics like our ship’s return to LA and our flight home, we only really had one day to spend in the Happiest Place on Earth. According to Disney die-hards, that is not enough time, but with a few tricks, we were able to see everything that we wanted to see and then some.

The day of our visit was a Tier 6 day, meaning the park is projected to be the busiest it gets and the price for a one-day ticket is the highest it gets. I knew this was not going to be a budget day in the park, so I decided to spring for the $25 extra per person for Genie + to make sure we would get to see the headlining attractions. Since I had experienced both Rise of the Resistance and Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway on our visit to Hollywood Studios in 2021, I did not feel it was worth it to pay for the Individual Lightning Lane to experience shorter lines for these attractions. My goal for this day was to experience the attractions that are only available on the west coast or are significantly different than their Disney World versions.

It's a Small World

It’s a Small World

One of the best ways to deal with shorter lines at any Disney Park is to get to the park before it opens for what is known as Rope Drop. The first hour the park is open is when the headlining attractions have the shortest waits. We were able to ride Space Mountain, the Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, and Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters in the first two hours before the crowds arrived. Throughout the rest of the day, we watched the wait times on the app and chose which attractions had the shortest wait. In the late afternoon after we had ridden pretty much everything we wanted to, Rise of the Resistance went down to a 45-minute wait, so we headed to Galaxy’s Edge to what is in my opinion, one of the most immersive Disney attractions of all time.

Splash Mountain

Disneyland and its castle are much smaller than their Floridian counterparts and things are laid out slightly differently. For Disney World veterans, it feels much like coming home but someone has rearranged all your things and in a few cases, made them much better. I have been going to Disney World since I was two and I never cared for Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion. They scared me as a kid so I don’t have the nostalgic attachment to them that a lot of Disney fans have. I rode both of them multiple times in Disneyland because they were SO good! Big Thunder Mountain and Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters were better than their versions in Florida. The Jungle Cruise was so much more lush than the version in the Magic Kingdom. Even It’s a Small World (which is the original from the 1964-65 World’s Fair) is so much more impressive than the Magic Kingdom version. Chris wasn’t sure why I was making him ride it but he admitted afterward that it was actually really impressive. Now, Splash Mountain (RIP) has always been my favorite Magic Kingdom attraction and I did not enjoy the Disneyland version as much. I got absolutely drenched on that ride and it was only 60 degrees outside. Why do you get wetter in temperate California than in hot and humid Florida?

Disneyland also has more classic dark rides than the Magic Kingdom. I enjoyed Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, and Snow White’s Adventure. I was excited to take Chris on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride because I remembered it as a kid. I will say, I understand why they got rid of it in Walt Disney World. That was a strange experience. I don’t think there is another Disney attraction that ends with you going to Hell.

Blue Bayou Restaurant

Us at Blue Bayou

Another thing that California has that Florida does not is the Blue Bayou Restaurant. Blue Bayou is located inside Pirates of the Caribbean. It is probably the most popular table service restaurant in Disneyland and it can be hard to get a reservation, but I managed to score one for lunch (their iconic Monte Christo sandwich is only available at lunch) exactly 60 days out. When we checked in on the day of, I checked a box that it was our first time in Disneyland and they seated us right on the water! It was fun watching the boats go by as we enjoyed our lunch. It was also a great way to rest a little after all the walking we did in the morning.

Walt Disney's Bench

As a Disney Nerd, one of the things I was most excited about was Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Disneyland Story. Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was another attraction Walt Disney developed for the 1964/65 World’s Fair and nowadays, the preshow for it is a small museum dedicated to the history of Disneyland and Disney artifacts. It was very interesting to look at the scale model of Disneyland on opening day in 1955. Probably my favorite thing was the bench from Griffith Park (left) where Walt Disney first came up with the idea for Disneyland.

If you are a Disney Fan, you need to get to Disneyland! Your favorite attractions are better and there is nothing like walking where Walt himself walked. I really was not expecting to like it as much as I did and I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be so much different from the Magic Kingdom. I was disappointed that we only had one day. Oh well, I guess I will have to go back, stay in one of the resorts, and check out California Adventure too!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Cruising the Pacific Coast Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! For my list of gadgets to make your travels easier, click here. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Pacific Northwest Trip Recap

Clouds over Crescent Lake

Our trip to the Pacific Northwest this summer checked off two more states, one Canadian province, and two more national parks in an unforgettable nature-filled two week trek. We visited Seattle, Vancouver, Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, Haines, and the Olympic Peninsula.

I would love to take another Alaska cruise, but I think it would have to be on a larger ship. Sure, the Serenade can get into smaller ports that the big ships can’t, but there just wasn’t much going on during the sea days. I would look at ships that were purpose built for Alaska like the Norwegian Bliss that have more indoor areas for people to hang out on sea days.

Serenade of the Seas in Juneau

Cruise Ships in Juneau

I definitely want to explore different ports on my next Alaska cruise and I think I would look for a cruise that visits Glacier Bay. I’ve heard that park rangers get on the ship and talk about the nature. And it would cross off another national park! Ketchikan is another Alaska port I really wish we got to see!

I would definitely plan strategically if I ever cruise out of Vancouver again. I would make sure to pick the earliest check in time and arrive maybe even an hour before that. I might even look at cruises that start in Seward (Anchorage, Alaska) before looking at cruises out of Seattle.

Cruise ships in Sitka Sound

Cruise ships in Sitka Sound

You can call me crazy, but I would fly in/out of Seattle for a Vancouver cruise again. Amtrak is running the Cascades route again so the train is an option to get from Seattle to Vancouver again. Yes, it was two additional border crossings, but Quick Shuttle was easy and comfortable and honestly, you can’t beat the price of Greyhound. Is it my new preferred means of travel, no, but it got the job done!

I would definitely wait until later in the season to really get to explore Washington’s National Parks. I really don’t know if I can count visiting Mt. Rainier if I couldn’t see the mountain! I’ve been told the fog is less common later in the summer so that is when I would plan my return trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

All-in-all, our 2-week Alaska cruise, Olympic National Park trip was another epic vacation! There were many firsts and experiences I can’t believe we got to do! Where will we explore next? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Stormtroopers

Stormtroopers in Rise of the Resistance

Coronado Springs Resort Review

Coronado Blue (33706136420)

For my past several trips to Walt Disney World, I have chosen to stay at Value Resorts to save money. Since this was only a long weekend trip, I decided we could level up and stay at a Moderate Resort. My first choice was Port Orleans Riverside which one of my favorite Disney Resorts. But, due to COVID-19, it was not open yet, but was scheduled to reopen a few weeks after our trip, so we had to switch our original booking to Coronado Springs.

Coronado Springs is an enormous resort with over 2,300 guest rooms set up around a 22-acre lake in the Animal Kingdom area. The resort has three pools and multiple restaurants. The resort is themed to Mexico and the American southwest and is very beautifully landscaped. This is a convention hotel so it also has a convention center and a spa. If there is a convention, Coronado Springs can get very busy. It was pretty empty when we were there for the 50th, though.

Coronado Springs pool view - panoramio There are some amenities that differentiate a moderate resort from the more budget-minded value resorts. Value resorts typically only have a food-court-type restaurant. This is an area where Coronado shines (thanks, in part to the convention center) with four restaurants and three bars. Moderate resorts each have a big theme pool. Coronado Springs’ is called The Dig Site and is themed like a Mayan pyramid with a waterfall running into the pool. The resort also has a playground themed to an archaeological dig. Transportation is a step up in the moderate resorts as well with several bus stops located around the resort as opposed to one main bus stop in the front of the resort at the values. Coronado Springs also has upgraded bathrooms in the rooms complete with a rain shower.

Coronado Springs Resort For the whirlwind trip that we did, we were not able to use most of these amenities (although the rain shower was appreciated). We were in the parks from open until close. I didn’t take a single picture of the resort. We did not make use of the pools or the lounges, although we picked up breakfast from the Mercado (the counter service restaurant) one morning. I enjoyed the breakfasts we had in the parks more, though. The additional bus stops were nice at the end of the day, but in the morning, many of the buses were full by the time they got to our bus stop. Overall, I wish we would have either shelled out more money for a deluxe resort close to the Magic Kingdom or saved and gone back to Pop Century.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Coronado Springs Pinterest Graphic

Wordless Wednesday: Millennium Falcon

Millenium Falcon

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