Travel, Uncategorized

WDW Packing List

It’s no secret my blog has turned into a mini Disney travel blog as I’m counting down the days until I leave for my trip! Today I wanted to share with you my must haves for a trip to Disney!

WDW Packing

But the one thing I can’t travel without- a book! It’s a great way to pass time in the airport, on the plane, and during some downtime. When we used to go to Florida during the school year I took James and the Giant Peach with me as that was what our class was reading. It took a plane ride and a few days riding the bus to the parks but I finished the book and then finished another one on the way home. When I got back to school my teacher explained they didn’t get quite as far as she had expected… they were on chapter two.

Speaking of books I’ll have a new What I’m Reading up tomorrow! I have finally put together my review for Crazy Rich Asians and I’ve already rented the next two from the library!

Let me know what you can’t travel without in the comments below!

Have a magical day!

xox,

Marissa

Advertisements
Travel, Uncategorized

Disney: Animal Kingdom

IMG_3752

Here is the soundtrack for today’s post! I am obsessed with the music in Animal Kingdom, I think it’s so unique!

We’ve made it to the last park! Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite parts of Disney World! From the Maharajah Jungle Trek to Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom is definitely underrated. The last time I was at Disney, Pandora was still under construction so I cannot wait to explore!

What to Ride

  • Expedition Everest- Legend of the Forbidden Mountain: my favorite ride at Animal Kingdom! Although the line is usually pretty long, the queue has tons of artifacts from Nepal. This is another ride that has a single rider line option but I don’t think it’s quite as fast as the one for Test Track. The ride itself is an absolute thrill! It even feels like you’re going upside-down. I remember one year talking about how it felt like we were upside-down and a Cast Member explained to me the different types of seat belts and how they tell you if you go upside down. Those cast members, always going the extra mile!
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris: Simba-1, come in Simba-1! Thai is a ride you can’t miss! While its not a thrill ride in the traditional sense, there is an intriguing story line and the ride is never the exact same as you are passing through a savanna with real animals. Let me know if you see the lions doing anything cool, I’ve only seen them lounging around!
  • Kali River Rapids: A ride that can ruin the rest of your day if you aren’t in the right seat! You have the potential to get drenched on this ride which adds to the thrill. If you end up going backward down the hill people will comment on how wet you are. One year my Dad and I went on this are were the unlucky two and other people in our boat were saying how they may be wet but at least they weren’t us!
  • Primeval Whirl: This is a wild mouse type rollercoaster and if you’ve ever been on Goofy’s Sky School (formerly known as Mulholland Madness) you’ll love this one. The cars even spin while they are going through the track!
  • Dinosaur: this ride used to freak me out and not going to lie… the T-Rex still does. This ride is loud with flashing lights and dinosaurs that if they were real would not hesitate to eat you. You can’t miss it though! Just make sure you don’t come home with a guest!
  • It’s Tough To Be A Bug: if the wait is less than twenty minutes I definitely recommend stopping by but I am not this show’s biggest fan. I’ve seen this show so many times and the bugs still creep me out!

 

Where to Eat

  • Tusker House Restaurant: this is my favorite place to eat at Animal Kingdom! It’s my mom’s favorite too! While they have a lot of fancy food like peri peri salmon and basmati rice and curry chicken you will always find me in the kid’s line for the corn dog nuggets and mac and cheese. Yes, in my opinion the best food at Tusker House is the corn dog nuggets and I would make a reservation just to eat them. What can I say, I’m easy to please. My favorite dessert there is this cute little chocolate cup with pink frosting in it and a little chocolate straw.
  • Pizzafari: they have a table service and quick service option although I have only been to the quick service side. I would definitely recommend Pizzafari if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat!
  • Restaurantosaurus: Another quick service tucked away in DinoLand U.S.A. This is another great place to grab some food when you’re looking for something quick!
  • Anandapur Ice Cream Truck: who can resist stopping for ice cream when it’s easily over 100 degrees?

 

Extras

  • Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail: These are some of my favorite parts of Animal Kingdom! I love walking through and seeing all of the animals, it really feels like you’re walking through Asia or Africa.
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch: home of the Affection Section and Conservation Station. This is another really interesting part of Animal Kingdom. It’s a short ride on the Wildlife Express Train to get there and it’s so worth it! Up until our last trip I had wanted to be a veterinarian and I was always fascinated by the section where you can see vets doing procedures. The coolest thing I’ve ever seen was them working on a turtle whose shell was broken but I’ve seen people writing online that they’ve seen sheep being neutered, a bird’s wing getting clipped, and one person even saw a lion! While looking into what other people have seen I saw a tip, go early in the morning and ask a Cast Member at the translation to radio and ask what the schedule is for the day. They also have a petting zoo!
  • Festival of the Lion King: A show you have to see at least once! The performers are amazing and it’s such a great show! My favorite part was the aerial performers, they are incredible!!
  • The Tree of Life: take a few moments to notice all of the different animals carved in the tree! Every time you take a look you may find a new one!
  • Wilderness Explorers: While I’ve never done this I had to include it because I love Up! and… the wilderness must be explored! I have done the Kim Possible missions in Epcot (now Perry the Platypus) but if the Wilderness Explorers are anything like Kim Possible you have to check it out!

 

Have a magical day!

xox,

Marissa

Lifestyle, Travel, Uncategorized

Disney: Epcot

IMG_3272

Another day another guide to a Disney Park!

This week I’m focusing on Epcot, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. I’ve always loved Epcot because it’s such a cool concept, when you walk in you are in Future World and then you can travel the world through 11 different pavilions. Here is the link to some Epcot music if you really want to get in the spirit!

What to Ride

  • Test Track: I’m still unsure if the new Test Track is as good as the old one but this is still a ride you cannot miss. While the old preshow is gone you can enjoy  it here. The new Test Track is sponsored by Chevrolet and looks like something out of Tron. One of the coolest things about the new version is that you get to design your own car! My tip for Test Track is to take the single rider line, you have to miss some of the interactive elements but it can save you so much time! The cars fit 6 people so all the families of 4/5need single riders to fill seats. Of all the single rider lines at Disney I find this one the most efficient, my family of 3 has gone on the single rider line and 2 of us have even ended up in the same car. One last fun fact about Test Track, the outside turns are banked at 50 degrees while Daytona’s Speedway is only 31!
  • Soarin’: I actually can’t speak too much to this ride. While I adored the old Soarin’ it has since been updated to be Soarin’ Around the World. If the new ride is anything like the California version I can’t wait to see it! Here’s a fun fact about the old Soarin’: the year before it opened in Florida our Disney World vacation was changed to a Disneyland vacation due to a hurricane (after lots of hard work from my Dad) and so I got to ride it just before it opened in EPCOT and it has been one of my family’s favorites ever since.
  • Living with the Land: this is a nice boat ride through the Epcot greenhouses where you can see Mickey shaped pumpkins earning their ears! While this isn’t a thrill ride it’s a nice way to break up your day!
  • Journey Into Imagination: My Dad would probably kill me if he saw I put this on my list and didn’t include Mission: SPACE but the theme song is so catchy! And who doesn’t love Figment!
  • Gran Fiesta Tour: A boat ride  that follows the three Caballeros in a journey around Mexico. While it’s very similar to It’s A Small World you have to go see it and find out what happens to Donald. It’s located inside the Mexico Pavilion which is a breathtaking indoor Mexican market!
  • Frozen Ever After: I can’t even write a review on this since I have not been on it since it was Maelstrom! While I’m excited to see the new ride I don’t think it will ever compare to the original!

Where to Eat

IMG_3303

When my family goes to Epcot we actually don’t usually plan to sit down and eat lunch. We’ve gotten breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, I definitely recommend eating there it’s a great place to get all you can eat food and meet princesses! We’ve also eaten lunch at both the Nine Dragons restaurant and the Lotus Blossom quick service restaurant.

One thing I’ve done in the past is my own personal under 21 take on a beer in every country, where I got a dessert in every country. I didn’t quite get through all 11 and about halfway through I transitioned to getting a piece of chocolate in every country instead. My favorite place to grab a dessert is definitely the French bakery! If you’re looking for somewhere to sit after getting your pastry head into L’esprit de la Provence, the gift shop is amazing and has tables off to the side!

Extras

IMG_3327 2
You can meet princesses throughout the World Showcase. Here are Ariel and Eric at the International Gateway!
  • Club Cool: While I’m not a soda drinker I recommend stopping in to try the Beverly!
  • Pin Central: If you are big into pin trading you have stop by! They have all the collectable pins you could ever need!
  • A lot of people end up entering Epcot through Future World and then find themselves short on time when it comes time to enjoy the countries. If you want a foolproof way of making sure you don’t get distracted by all that Future World has to offer come in through the International Gateway. If you find yourself at any of the Epcot area hotels (Yacht Club, Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, or the Swan and Dolphin) you are a short walk/boat ride away from this hidden entrance!
  • Jumping Fountains in Future World: try putting your arms out and letting the water go in between… can you make it go through just your hands?

My Top 4 Pavilions:

 

 

This is such a hard one but I have narrowed it down to Norway, France, Canada, and Morocco! I’m not too sure how Norway will hold up now that they have replaced the viking display and Maelstrom ride to become Frozen tributes but I’ll keep you updated on those. France has to make the list as I took five years of French in junior high and high school and it is so fun to see all the things I had learned about. One year my parents wouldn’t buy me a cream puff unless I ordered it in French! Canada has beautiful flowers and the best video, in my humble opinion. It stars Martin Short and has to be one of the funniest things in Epcot. The attention to detail goes down to having some buildings look like they are in French Canada and some take on more on an English Canada style. Last but not least is Morocco! The attention to detail in this one is astounding as well! Rumor has it that the king of Morocco actually sent his own designers to help create this area. Another fun fact about Morocco is that it is the only country that does not light up during IllumiNations because the tower is a prayer tower and doing so would violate Muslim beliefs. For more fun facts head over to Disney Fanatic.

Mum’s Top 4: Japan, Canada, Norway, and Mexico.

Dad’s Top 4: Japan, Canada, China, and Norway. He gives an honorable mention to Mexico even though it is dark.

Honorable Mention

  • The English gardens: tucked away behind the stores and the Winnie the Pooh meet and greet is a nice place to relax and possibly catch the Beatles tribute band, the British Invasion.
  • The Japanese gift shop: a fun place to crack open an oyster for a pearl. It’s also a great place to grab crazy snacks to try. One of my favorite memories in that store is picking out crazy flavored snacks to bring home to my cousin Nick.
  • The Terracotta Army: inside one of the buildings in China is a replica of the Terracotta Army and it’s so cool to look at!
  • Street Performers: from the Chinese acrobats to the balancing act in France the street performers are always entertaining.

 

Have a magical day!

xox,

Marissa

Lifestyle, Travel, Uncategorized

Disney: Magic Kingdom

 

IMG_3621

In a few short weeks I will be headed to the Most Magical Place on Earth! I wanted to share with you my own version of “Disney must dos” in the wise words of everyone’s favorite host, Stacey Aswad. If you want to put yourself even more in the Disney mood listen to this YouTube video!

What to Ride

Arguably one of the most important things to do when in Disney. Here are the rides you absolutely cannot miss:

  • The Jungle Cruise: a Disney classic! You cannot miss the chance to take a ride along the rivers of Asia, Africa, and South America, I promise you’ll be quoting the jokes for the rest of your stay.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: another classic that would be a shame to miss! My favorite thing about this ride is spotting Jack Sparrow.
  • “Triple Mountain Whammy”: this is another Stacey-ism that refers to Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! It’s so hard to pick a favorite because they’re all so different but if I had to pick I would choose Space Mountain.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: this had just opened last time I went to Disney and it was so worth the wait! It is 100% worth the FastPasses if you chose to use them on this ride. The way they designed the cars allows you to actually swing them!
  • Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: while this isn’t a thrill ride I would say it’s worth your time if the wait isn’t too long! With the new Christopher Robin movie coming out I feel like this will be pretty popular when I get there but it is always fun to find yourself in the land of Heffalumps and Woozles.
  • It’s A Small World: disclaimer: after riding It’s a Small World this song will get stuck in your head at any moment for the rest of your life, and once it’s there it’s hard to get it out. That being said, it’s totally worth it!!
  • Haunted Mansion: this is a ride where the details really stand out to me. I know Disney puts this much attention to every attraction they have but there’s just something about this ride that gets me. Make sure you take a peak at the gravestones as you are waiting in line, they’re quite entertaining. And don’t be afraid of your host, your ghost host, he’s just Paul Frees- the voice of the Pillsbury Doughboy.
  • The Liberty Square Riverboat: not my personal favorite as I’d rather be riding rollercoasters but I had to include this for Mum! This year she may not find it as relaxing as I’ll be asking her to take my blog photos while we’re on it 😉 There is one thing I love about the Riverboat though- if you go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party they dock the boat and you can see grave keeper/zombie figures looming around the boat.
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin: I am awful at this attraction! I cannot hit anything for my life, which just gets worse when my Dad sits next to me and gets 999,999. I would recommend looking up which targets are high points before stepping on- here’s one: underneath Zurg in one of the final scenes!
  • Carousel of Progress: here’s another catchy theme to get stuck in your head: there’s a great big beautiful tomorrow shining at the end of every day! This attraction was featured at the World’s Fair and takes you through American history in an entertaining way.
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority: paging Mr. Morrow, Mr. Tom Morrow, head on over to the TTA for a relaxing ride around Tomorrowland. This is another classic you absolutely should not miss!

IMG_3638

Where to Eat

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table: my insider tip is to go during one of the last reservations and then by the time you are done eating you can watch the fireworks from underneath the castle!
  • Crystal Palace: a fun buffet with Winnie the Pooh and friends! I’m sure they have great adult food there but I always go for the mac and cheese, corn dogs, and dessert.
  • Liberty Tree Tavern: they have great food and even better milkshakes!
  • Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe: definitely an under appreciated option! I usually get a burger and  you have the freedom to put whatever you want on it as there’s a topping bar. That may not be a big deal to some of you but a mentioned above I’m a picky eater so it’s easier to just put it on myself.
  • Aloha Isle: The home of the oh-so-famous Dole Whip. Even if you prefer chocolate ice cream over fruity ice cream you have to get one!

Here’s a picture from my iPod Touch circa 2011 of the fireworks under the Castle. It’s definitely worth it to wait until 9pm to eat dinner if you ask me!381402_335047186524217_1783441837_n

Extras

  • Look for hidden Mickeys! They are everywhere in the parks/hotels. In Fantasyland you can also look for hidden Pasquale’s.
  • Tom Sawyer Island: it’s not a ride but I could easily spend half a day over there exploring all of the caves!
  • Kingdom Keepers: a book series, definitely geared more towards kids but I remember reading when I was there and it was so fun to imagine the story unfolding in the park. From what I remember it makes you look at the park in a totally different way!
  • Don’t forget to meet some characters while you’re there. This photo is from when Rapunzel and I decided blondes do in fact have more fun.

IMG_3599

 

Here’s my last tip: if Disney gives you Extra Magic Hours use them!! One night during our last trip it was pouring and the park was open until 1 in the morning but we still had so much fun! Extra Magic Hours are just for people staying on the Disney Property so wait times are significantly lower. IMG_3415

I hope you enjoyed my whirlwind tour of Magic Kingdom! More parks will be coming soon!

 

 

Have a magical day!

xox,

Marissa

Travel, Uncategorized

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

A few weeks ago (before I sold my soul to PT school), I took the train to Boston to enjoy one of my last days of freedom. I had never been there before but I had seen a photo of the courtyard on Pinterest and it was so beautiful! I have been to Boston sooo many times I found it hard to believe I had never been there before.

I had learned about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in high school because there was a book (“The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft” by Ulrich Boser) on one of my summer reading lists. While I had picked a different book, every once in awhile I would try to remember the name of the museum that had paintings stolen that had never been recovered (more to come on that later). Then three years later I accidentally stumbled in when I found out college students can get in for $5.

Without further adieu here are some of the highlights of my trip

IMG_9517

Had to stop for Blackbird Doughnuts before I headed over! This time I tried the java berry donut, 10/10 would recommend.

After wandering through some of the Emerald Necklace parks I started heading toward the museum.

 

 

Following the death of her husband, Isabella Stewart Gardner opened a museum to showcase her extensive collection of art. She lived up on the fourth floor of this museum and in my opinion it looks like a regular building, so when I was looking around to figure out where I was supposed to going I completely missed it the first time.

 

 

After looking at a collection in the New Wing, I was confronted with the view I had come to see. Gardner’s “Inside Out” Venetian palazzo. I spent plenty of time just taking in that view as well as watching some people restoring a piece of the collection.

Pictured below is a piece of the woman herself. This picture was actually pretty controversial when it first appeared in the museum. IMG_9549

Two of the themes that I was fascinated by, and it appeared that Gardner was also fascinated by were the dancers and the Christian pieces. I forget if this was a Degas painting but there were a few of Degas’s dancers scattered throughout the museum. They also had quite a few religious pieces and the stain glass absolutely mesmerized me.

 

 

The science lover in me really appreciated this one…IMG_9543

Then, I spent sometime in the garden outside reading. (Go take a look at my review of Summer at Tiffany)

 

 

Here’s the showstopper…

IMG_9551This is one of the thirteen empty frames in the museum. Once a piece entered Gardner’s collection it stayed there. Keeping with her tradition of collecting art, the museum keeps the frames as placeholders.

And just one more picture of the courtyard!
IMG_9561

If you are ever in Boston and looking for something to do, I would definitely head here! It’s such a beautiful place and it’s easy to spend hours wandering through the rooms. I want to keep some element of surprise so I didn’t talk about the layout of the museum but it’s very intriguing!

xox,

Marissa

P. S. If you want to check out my Pinterest, you can find it here!

 

Travel

A Day on the Vineyard

One of my favorite places is the Vineyard so I wanted to share all my favorite things with you guys!

We usually Take the Island Queen from Falmouth so our first stop is looking at all the shops in Oak Bluffs.

This yellow dress is from J. Crew.  I got it from a consignment store but there are tons on Poshmark if you search J. Crew yellow dress. Use code MARISSAMOQ to get $5 added to your account when you sign up for Poshmark.

IMG_4572

This dress is from Vineyard Vines! Here is the link to the dress on Poshmark but just a warning this dress wrinkles easily!

After getting a donut at Back Door Donuts we stop by Vineyard Vines. We probably spend more time outside playing corn hole than we do looking inside!

IMG_4587

One of my favorite activities is picking out which house I’ll buy one day… This one is definitely in the running! You can also find the Gingerbread Cottages in Oak Bluffs. It’s a neat place to walk around and you can even tour one!

Then we wind up in Edgartown. I usually stop by the Vineyard Vines in Edgartown too. I always stop in the Lilly store to try stuff on because we usually go right before the APS. This past visit I ended up buying something full price! It was just too cute to pass up.

For lunch we went to the Seafood Shanty. It’s right on the water and you can see the Chappy ferry go back and forth and back and forth and back and forth (it’s a 527ft ride!).

My bathing suit is from Vineyard Vines and my cover up is my first ever Lilly purchase from the APS sale in 2015! I couldn’t find a similar one  but they still have tons of beautiful ones on their website!

Then I took a leap of faith of Jaws bridge. It took me forever to get on the rail but it was so much fun! If you’re planning on jumping and you aren’t a D1 gymnast make sure to bring two friends- one to take your picture and one to help you get up!

IMG_4555

I don’t know about you but I’m dreaming of summer!

xox,

Marissa

 

Travel

Chicago

Two summers ago our family vacation was to Chicago to do the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon and I wanted to share some of my favorite places with you guys.

Our first stop was the waterfront. It was so beautiful and just a little windy.

IMG_9685

And next

The Bean! This was one of the things I was most excited to see in Chicago. Honestly, I’m not sure why I just think it’s a really cool landmark. The second time we visited the Bean was at night and we got to see a proposal!

IMG_9512

The line inside was way shorter but how could I pass up the opportunity to get a cupcake from an ATM?

IMG_9513

Like how cute?! Dress is Ralph Lauren and I found the same one (in a small) on Poshmark for $8! Use code  MARISSAMOQ when signing up for Poshmark to get a $5 credit. Get the dress here for $3!

Another thing that was amazing about Chicago was the architecture! I wish we could have gone on an architecture tour but there’s just not enough time in the day. The building on the far right is actually a parking garage!

I can’t even tell you how many pictures I have of that rhombus building at night. So beautiful!

Another fun spot to go to was Navy Pier. We did not get to ride the Centennial Wheel because we were there during the Centennial celebration but there is still so much to do there!  We could have walked up and down the pier all day!

And how could we not go to Wrigley! I’ll always be a Red Sox girl at heart but I think Wrigley is the Fenway of the National League.

Some other fun things we did: stop at White Castle and take a double decker bus tour!

IMG_9574

Last but not least the actual race! It was such a nice route around the city of Chicago. I would definitely go back and do it again if I had the chance. As a lover of all bling, I convinced my family to do the remix challenge: a 5k one day and then the half marathon the next. The weather was so great while I was running but as soon as i finished the sky opened up and it was pouring!

To wrap things up if you ever have the chance to go to the Windy City… take me with you! It was so fun exploring a new place and I’m counting down the days until I’m back!

Happy travels!

xox,

Marissa