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In Travel on
April 4, 2016

Ice Castles, NH

Winter is over and spring is “here”… But you would never have guessed it based on the few inches of snow that got dumped on us over the past few days. Before the weather warms up and spring actually arrives in the northeast, I wanted to share one of my favorite memories from this winter: my first visit to the Ice Castles, NH.

This year we somehow got lucky enough that Valentine’s Day fell on President’s Day Weekend. My honey decided to treat me to a weekend away in New Hampshire to visit his hometown and along the way we stopped at the Ice Castles.Ice Castles New HampshireDSC01378

The Ice Castles concept was created by Brent in his back yard in Utah one winter. It started out as a small, fun winter playground that would keep his kids entertained, but he soon realized he could create it on an even larger scale for more folks to enjoy. And VOILA! The Ice Castles were born.

I’m not a huge fan of winter sports or activities. It’s too cold for my liking… Arthur and I just so happened to pick the coldest day of the year to head out for a visit. We braved the negative degree weather and set out for a full “Frozen” experience.

First stop, meet Elsa the Ice Princess herself! DSC01432

Next stop, set out for some proper exploring.

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When you walk through the Ice Castles, you can’t help but just stare in awe. Each Ice Castle weighs about 25,000,000 pounds. DSC01434

Don’t forget to look up!DSC01395

The artisans grow about 10,000 icicles every day!DSC01406DSC01448DSC01399

They place the icicles all around the castle and eventually they get absorbed into the ice structure and create this scary/wonderful look.DSC01397DSC01415DSC01428DSC01396

^ My favorite one. A heart for Valentine’s Day.

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The walls are blocks of ice that are 10 feet thick!

We walked through all of the caves and peeked into the crevices. DSC01407

The Ice Castles are truly a playground for the young and old. DSC01408

Some of the hidden nooks include slides and even a track for sledding.DSC01409

This kid and his Dad were arguing over who would get to go down the slide first.DSC01410 DSC01421

It was much too cold for me to brave the long line for sliding or sledding. Arthur and I just admired all of the other brave souls as they came down the tracks. DSC01416 DSC01417 DSC01418

Hi there!DSC01422

Despite nearly freezing our butts off, Arthur and I had a really great time! It was so sweet to finally get to see the Ice Castles in person after fawning of the photos online for so long.DSC01426 DSC01442

When they said everything was made of ice, they weren’t joking! I nearly slipped off the ice throne trying to get a cute picture.

But I managed… Watching over my ice kingdom.DSC01430 DSC01413DSC01433

Eventually after about an hour of exploring, it got too cold and we decided to head out for the day. I heard the had a heater in the lobby and peaced out to go warm up my frozen hands.

The Ice Castles have four locations:

Midway, UT

Eden Prairie, MN

Lincoln, NH

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

They are currently closed for the season, but check them out on Facebook for information on when they open next season.  

Some tips for your trip to the Ice Castles: Check the weather before you go, dress warm (hats and gloves are a must, if it’s really cold, I would even pack some hand warmers so that your fingers don’t freeze up), wear waterproof shoes/snow boots, purchase your tickets online – it saves you so much hassle, and make sure to bring a camera to capture your favorite memories.

Go later in the afternoon. At night they do a light show and it looks so cool up against the ice. It would be really great to see the Ice Castles in day light and under the night lights.

Bring cash or a charge card if you want to buy souvenirs… they do sell printout photos for around $15, but I’d much rather take my own pictures and print them myself. 

Stay warm during this spring snowstorm!

In Style, Travel on
November 23, 2014

Riviera Maya, Day 3 & 4

As I type this, I am laying in my bed cuddled up with my fuzzy blanket and wishing it were 95 degrees again… and that I could lay out by the pool again in Riviera Maya.

 

That’s where I spent most of Day Three.

After a quick stop at the breakfast buffet of course.

 

Pool ready!

 

My swimsuit is from Old Navy. Currently sold out.
 
I spent most of the day sunbathing and taking naps by the pool.

 

I stopped for a little ice cream around lunch time.
 
Then went right back to where I started.
 
Pool selfie with my Mama.
 
My mom and dad kept me company by the pool for a little while. Maya and I even took a nap together before she got bored and decided to go exploring the hotel on her own.
 
Eventually I looked up and the pool was closing and it was time to get ready for dinner.
 
We ate at the buffet tonight… sorry no pictures! I’m a very picky buffet eater so I mostly sampled all of their options.
 
Here’s a sneak peek of what I wore:
 

 

 

Fancy yellow bracelet courtesy of Iberostar Resort & Hotel.

 

 
 
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Day Three

After a hearty meal at the breakfast buffet, we decided to spend another day by the pool.

 

 

 

I gave my body a little rest from the sun rays and got a spot under a little shade.

 

I even made a new friend. He snacked on Maya’s lunch scraps.

 

 

 
Say hi to our new friend!
 
 
I wish I could say that my day was more exciting… but hey – I had a blast laying out by the pool and people watching.
 
And then just like the day before, I blinked and it was time for dinner again. This night we had reservations at the Brazilian Steak House.
 
We rushed back to the rooms to shower off the salty water and throw on something cute.
 

 

 

 First, we started off with appetizers and sides served buffet style.
 

 

 

 

Awkward first bite picture. So far, so good….
 
But now it’s time for the good stuff: if you’ve never been to a Brazilian Steak House before… basically a fine looking young man comes around with huge skewers filled with all types of meat. 

 

So fresh out of the oven that it’s still simmering. He comes to your table and asks you if you would like a piece.

 

When you say yes, he cuts you off a piece and puts it right on your plate for you.

 

They repeat the process with about 6 or 7 different types of meats ranging from chicken to various cuts of steak.

 

(FYI, I drooled on my own keyboard looking at this… but this is a judgement free zone.)

 

Maya had a tilapia fish cooked especially for her since she doesn’t eat meat. She said it was delicious. 

 

While she had her seafood, us carnivores got our fill of all the meaty stuff.

 

We ate and ate until we could eat no more. 
 
But there’s always room for dessert…

 

Coconut covered pound cake topped with fruit.

 

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
 
The restaurant was beautiful. It was indoors and I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that AC and  being free from the grasps of the mosquitos who just so happen to love me so much.
 
I snapped a photo of the buffet area before we headed out just to give you an idea of the space.
 
After dinner, we decided to take a few snaps.
Mom, Dad, and Maya

 

Us lovely ladies – we somehow could never get it right.

 

 

Never ready….

 

 
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We were heading back to our hotel rooms, when we got distracted by something a little more fun…A 70’s show! The hotel has actors and dancers on staff to put on different performances. We were walking past and decided to stop and stay for the rest of this one:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was honestly a blast. The show was so colorful, the dancers were on point and the renditions of the songs they were singing we’re amazing. Definitely worth a visit. They do a different show every night too!
 
It was a welcome distraction from the little routine that we had created for ourselves. Soon after the show we were off to bed… we had a big day ahead of us.
 
More tomorrow!
 
In Style, Travel on
November 20, 2014

Riviera Maya, Day 1 & 2

This past weekend the ground was covered in a fine coat of snow. The other day it rained cats and dogs. I had to pull on my rain boots and rain coat before sloshing through campus to go to my discussion. Today, I shed tears while walking to class bundled up in my heavy jacket, gloves and scarves as the icy cold wind whipped me in the face. It’s fair to say winter is coming, and I am far from ready for it.

 
Instead of accepting the inevitable, I’m just going to avoid it all together and pretend like it’s not happening. Let’s reminisce on warmer days, shall we?This summer, my family and I took a trip to Riviera Maya in Mexico.
I can feel the warm rays of the Mexican sun warming up my body now…. or maybe it’s the hot cider that I’m drinking? A girl can dream….

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Day One

My family and I hopped on the plane late morning. We are not early flight takers. It takes us forever to leave the house so an early morning flight just spells disaster for us.

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My sister Maya was my flight buddy and we kept each other entertained. 

 

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More like I kept her entertained….

 

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The only plus side of having a window seat. Can’t beat this view!
 
We arrived in Mexico early evening. The only downside of taking a later flight was that we arrived halfway through the day. Plus, we were famished. We didn’t clearly think through the whole eating thing and I refused to pay $15 on the flight for a bunch of snacks that didn’t even look remotely tasty. 
 
The hotel that we stayed at was called Iberostar Paraíso Beach/Del Mar. It was just one hotel in a huge resort with SEVEN other hotels in it. I didn’t even get to see it all because it was so big… but I’ll do another post on that later. 
 
The first thing we did after dropping off our bags was head for the food!
 
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Melodramatic Maya, describing how she was going to pass out from hunger.
 
The hotel where we were staying offered us many different ways to eat: buffets, restaurants (pre-reservation required),  and different spots that had snacks foods. We were too early for the dinner buffet and too late for the lunch buffet and it seemed like every where we went was just closing up. 
 
Then we happened upon a little taco place. 

 

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Not fancy at all, but we were starving and didn’t care for all of that extra stuff, we just wanted the food.

 

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Tacos were made fresh to order.

 

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Filthy nachos (after I’d already eaten about half of them) smothered in cheese and topped with all of the fixings.
Pretty? No. Delicious? Yes.

 

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Is your mouth watering yet? No?

 

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How about now?

 

vacation_travel_riviera_maya_mexico_playa_del_carmen_iberostar_resort_tacos

 

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The nachos were delicious. The tacos were even more delicious. It’s fair to say that they satisfied the nagging hunger feeling that we had. None for our little pescearian, Maya. Poor girl ate nachos and cheese until dinner since they didn’t have any non-meat friendly options for her.
 
It was too late to go to the pool or beach, so after our little meal we wandered the hotel until the dinner buffet opened.
 
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We even made some new friends!

 

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I wore this outfit on the plane.
 
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It was so comfy. My motto when traveling via airplanes: Less is more. 
Passing through security is a pain in the butt and it’s even more annoying when you have 250 things to take off and put back on.
 
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My camera died after we wandered around the hotel but the rest of our night went a little something like this: we stuffed our faces at the dinner buffet and then went back to our rooms and passed out for the night.Day Two

We were up bright and early for a meeting in Cancun.

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We were treated to a delicious breakfast buffet.
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Breakfast was followed by some boring meeting stuff.

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Then came the fun stuff: mimosas and champagne.

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By the time our meeting was over and we got back to the hotel it was time to get ready for our dinner reservation.
 
The first night we had dinner at the Italian restaurant at the hotel.
Per usual – we all pretty much ordered the same thing.

 

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Fried calamari and marinara sauce.

 

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Fruti de Mare

 

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A grilled shrimp and rice combo.

 

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For dessert: tiarmsisui 

 

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And a chocolate pistachio pudding. (None for me – I’m allergic!)

Dinner was okay. It was definitely not one of the best Italian places that I’ve been to. If you decide to head over for a visit – skip this one. You only get a certain number of restaurant reservations per days that you stay. Trust me – there are some better ones that you’ll want to try out instead.

Dinner outfit details:

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Overall – our first day and a half in Mexico was pretty relaxing. I basically got to dress up and stuff my face with food.

I promise I did other fun stuff too! More adventures from Mexico tomorrow…

 
In Foodie Files, Places To Eat, Travel on
October 15, 2014

Universal Studios, Day 2 – Florida

After spending a day at Disney and the day before that at Universal – it’s fair to say that Jazmine and I were beat. But we had two day passes to Universal and there was no way were going to let our last day of vacation go to waste.
 
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We woke up late (again) and rushed to make the shuttle bus. When we got to Universal, we knew right away that there was no way we could do another full day of walking around.

 

It was a Monday and I thought that since it was a week day the park would be less crowded. Well – I was wrong. It was even busier than when we visited on Saturday.
 
We went back to try and get on the new Harry Potter ride, but the wait time was about 3 hours. #NotAboutThatLife. There was no way I could stand on my feet for three hours for a ride. So we took it easy. We rode everything with a short line and revisited a lot of our favorites from our Saturday visit.
 
At one point we were walking around trying to figure out what to go to next and we passed a sign for the Horror Make Up Show. Our feet were tired and we said why not.
 
Let me tell you. This was one of the best.decisions.ever. Not only did I give my poor little feet a rest, but the show was hilarious! I didn’t bring my camera, so excuse the picture quality.
 
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I didn’t take too many pictures because I was getting glances from the other attendants, but it was so much fun. The hosts were hilarious. They showed us how a lot of the make up for many of the old horror films were made, how to make fake blood, and they gave me a ton of great Halloween ideas for the future. There was audience participation and it looked like so much fun I even considered seeing the show again so that she could pick me to come up on stage.
 
If you have the time – you should definitely stop to see this show. It was about an hour long, so it didn’t take too much out of the day. But it was an hour well spent.
 
We wandered through the park some more.
 
I found my future husband on the way!
 
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“Your love is one in a minion – it goes on, and on, and on.”
 
We shared a quick kiss before Jaz and I set off again – this time in search for lunch. We were ready to grub.
 
I didn’t write anything about lunch on our first day at Universal – that’s because the food we had was terrible. It was a quick service burger place and it was so busy. I’ll just attribute the bad food to that. Our expectations were really low for food at this point and we even considered leaving the park to go to Emril’s, which was located at City Walk right before the park entrance.
 
But we walked past a restaurant called Mythos on the Island of Adventure side and the wait time wasn’t long so we decided on that instead.
 
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Being in the restaurant felt like being inside of a coral reef.

 

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I ordered a Pina Colada to start.

 

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And we munched on some rosemary bread rolls. So. Delicious.

 

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I was trying to decided between ordering fish tacos and the Mythos burger as my entree. I’d already had a bad experience ordering burgers at Universal and I was skeptical – but my waiter Eric said that the Mythos burger was one of the most requested dishes, and it was his favorite. 
 
So the foodie in my said why not, and that just what I got.

 

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My burger came out and I was pleased, but underwhelmed by the fries. 
 
Eric fixed that right away and brought me fresh plate of piping hot parmesan fries.
 

 

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Are you drooling yet?
 
No?

 

How about now?

 

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Here’s the foodie break down: it was topped with a braised pulled pork, jalapeño jack cheese, a creamy cole slaw, tabasco onions, and smoked chili barbecue glaze. 
 
When I first read it, I was like “Ew, that sounds like too much.” I couldn’t figure out if the burger was going to be spicy or sweet. It was literally both. Sweet with a kick afterwards that makes you think twice. But not too spicy that you need to sip on some water in between bites.

 

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The burger was sooo delicious. Universal redeemed itself. Jazmine got the same thing and we were both oohing and ahh-ing throughout the entire meal. 
 
The perfect burger.
 
I’m drooling now.
 
The meal was so much better than the quick service crap we had on the first day and it was literally the same exact price, with the exception of a few extra dollars for tip!!! A great meal without having to cry as you pull out your wallet. 
 
The whole vibe of the restaurant was really cool. Our waiter was so nice. He was so willing to talk me through the menu items I wanted to choose from, and he didn’t rush me at all. He told us that he’d been working there for 8 years – so at this point he pretty much knew the menu by heart. Ask to sit in his section if he’s there when you stop by for a visit! 
 
After lunch it was back to our explorations. Mostly just more of the same rides we had already ridden.
 
Before the end of the day approached – we wanted to try the new Harry Potter Gringott’s ride one last time.
 
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To the Hogwarts Express!

 

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Our view of Hogwarts as we were leaving.
 
The main line was a 2 hour wait and we had exactly 2 hours before our shuttle bus came to pick us up. We were cutting it a little too close. So we hopped in the single riders line and waited for an hour and a half.
 
When we got on, I was filled with so much anticipation… Only to be severely disappointed. The ride had no action. No crazy drops, nothing. It was mostly graphics on the screen.
 
Some people loved it… but those some people were definitely not me (or Jazmine either… she hated it too.) I just feel like if I want to watch Harry Potter on a screen I would’ve watched the movie from my hotel room. I wanted action, drops, crazy things to pop out at me. 
 
Sadly our last hour and a half was wasted. Save your time when you visit – The Harry Potter Forbidden Journey ride is much, much better. Just go on it twice and pretend like you went to the Gringott’s one.
 
Finally, our time at Universal Studios had come to an end. And so did our vacation. It was almost time to get back to the real world. We raced across the park to make our shuttle bus on time.
 
 
One last quick stop! For all the haters and doubters out there….
 
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YES – I was tall enough to get on the rides.
 
In Travel on
October 5, 2014

Disney World, 4 Parks in 1 Day – Florida

So when I left you last, Jazmine and I were dragging ourselves back to the hotel after a busy day at Universal Studios and Island of Adventure and getting ready for a fun filled day at Disney World.
 
 

But, when I got to the hotel, I had a moment of revelation. I could not another full day of walking and being on my feet.
 
You see, I foolishly left packing to the last minute and did not pack any sneakers with me. All I had were cute little sandals that would match my outfits that I had picked out. By the end of the first day I wanted to throw them all out the window. I literally had to drag myself back to my room because I couldn’t lift my legs. 
 
My phone has a pedometer app and on the first day we walked a total of 12.5 miles. I needed something comfy. I needed sneakers that would make my feet feel like I was walking on clouds. 
 
So that night, I took an (expensive) cab ride to the nearest shopping center and bought myself a pair of Nikes. It ended up costing me so much, but I learned my lesson – always plan ahead and pack for anything.
 
 
 

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Welcome to the family. 😍😍

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The next morning as our alarm went off, we fought the urge to lay under the covers all morning long and got up to go to the Happiest Place in The World.
 
We ate a quick breakfast at the iHop across the street from the hotel before being picked up by a cab to head to Animal Kingdom.
 
Like I mentioned in my last post, the hotel only had shuttles at certain times. Since the tickets to Disney were much more expensive than the ones to Universal/Island of Adventure, we chose a one day pass rather than a multiple day one. We wanted to get there early and beat some of the crowd and the hotel shuttle didn’t arrive until after 10am.
 
Filled with excitement, we entered the park. It’s so funny – as Jazmine was picking up her ticket at Will Call, the woman at the teller was explaining to us how we can use our “Park Hopper” pass – which gives us the option to go to each park. She said “I hope you’re not going to try and do all four parks in one day.” Jazmine and I looked at each other and laughed.
 
That’s exactly what we were going to do.
 
Jazmine had an internship with Disney during one semester at school, so she spent a good four months learning the ins and outs of the parks. I let her plan out all of the rides and set up our Fast Passes (which you can now do prior to getting to the park.) We started off at Animal Kingdom because that park closes the earliest because of all the animals inside.
 
Our first stop was the African Safari. I thought this was quite fitting – my family was planning on taking a safari trip to Africa this summer, but because both my sister and I were going to be in college for the first time together and it was quite expensive, we decided on a less expensive trip instead. This attraction was almost as if I had gone.
 
There’s a lot of pictures, so go grab a cup of hot chocolate, and enjoy!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It means no worries, for the rest of our days 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite animal ever <3

 

 

 

 

 

You can barely see it – but on top of that hill is a female lion.
And right in front of her was her hubby the male lion.

 

 

 
Our driver did an awesome job of explaining all of the animals and making us feel as if we were on a real safari. We got so close to the animals – the Rhino literally rode right in front of our humvee.
 
After the safari ride, we walked around Animal Kingdom for a bit and enjoyed the sights.

 

 

 

I even played a little music. 
 

 

 

 
And saw a dinosaur.
 
 
I’m a huge fan of Disney movies. My Netflix cue is actually filled with old Disney movies that I have on VHS at home but can’t watch because I no longer own a VHS player. I saw a sign that said Lion King Show and we jumped at the chance to watch (and sit, relax, and get out of the heat.)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The show was amazing! They played all of my favorite Lion King songs. The singers first of all were so good. I haven’t heard voices like that in a long time. The acrobatics was so much fun to watch . I wish we weren’t late to the show because I would’ve loved to see the first 10 minutes (and sat closer to the front) but we made due and had a blast always.
 
After the Lion King show, it was time for us to bid farewell to the first park of the day. We left Animal Kingdom and headed to Hollywood Studios.
 

 

 

 

From inside the Tower of Terror

 

 
The Tower of Terror was my favorite ride in this park. Definitely one of the scariest rides I’ve been on. The entire park looked like a Hollywood set. It was so much fun to run around, especially with the current Frozen craze. I know I wished out loud several times that Elsa would come and freeze over Florida because the heat was a killer.
 
After Hollywood Studios we headed over to Epcot for some more rides and some lunch.
 
 
We tried sodas from around the world. 
 
 

 

 
After walking “around the world” and getting caught in a quick Florida rainstorm, we finally settled on having lunch in Mexico.
 
 
 My favorite ride in Epcot would have to be Innoventions. It’s the giant golf ball looking ride at the entrance of the park. It’s not really much of a ride. You sit as it goes to the top of the ball to the bottom. But what makes it really cool is that you can select a topic and voice will guide you to how the future will look.
 
I chose Health. The ride snapped a picture of me and Jazmine and showed our journey through the future.
 

 

 

 

 
Finally, we left Epcot and headed to our last and final destination: Magic Kingdom.
 

 

 

 

 
 
I’ll be honest with you, at this point we were pretty tired. We had used up all of our fast passes and there weren’t many left for the rides that we wanted to go on.
 
One ride that we for sure wanted to visit was Space Mountain, Jazmine’s old stomping grounds.
 
I was so glad that we left this park for last because from what I hear, it’s crazy busy in the mornings.
 
We had so much fun hanging around Magic Kingdom and going on the few rides that didn’t have ridiculously long wait times. 
 
We ended the night with a light show and fire crackers in front of Cinderella’s Castle.
 

 

 
See for yourself! (Press play)
 
 
 

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Thanks for the memories, Disney! All 4 parks in 14 hours. Completely exhausted but it was an amazing day! #DisneyWorld ❤️
 
(In case you were wondering – we walked around 16.5 miles.)
 
If you want to do all of Disney World in one day, here’s my advice: don’t. 
It’s kind of exhausting to run around and try and get to the parks in one day. Don’t do it, especially if it’s your first tim because you won’t get a chance to truly enjoy and see everything. I would limit myself to at most two parks per day. 
If you don’t listen to my advice and want to do it anyways, just know that you won’t be able to get on every ride. Luckily, when I went I had Jazmine who knew what the wait times would be like a certain times of the day and was able to plan our fast passes out for us. It wasn’t either of our first time there, so we had kind of seen mostly everything before and just wanted to have some fun. 
 
Overall it was a fun day! Exhausting, but fun. It was so great to get a chance to feel like a kid again.
Except for at the end of the night when we literally had to sprint in order to make it to our shuttle bus to get back to the hotel. At least we could look forward to a more relaxing day tomorrow for Universal Part 2.