Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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Universal Studios Orlando–Experience Adventure 20 of 100

I honestly think long and hard before I count an experience as one of our 100 adventures. One of the main rules I put into place to keep this journey on the right side of interesting, is that the experience MUST be NEW, something my daughters have never seen or experienced or eaten or heard.

With all of our trips down to Walt Disney World, I naturally and occasionally consider a detour to visit Universal Studios. My #1 goal was to wait until my youngest daughter was ready for most of the rides and I think we found our sweet spot in January of 2018. 🙂

Plus, all 3 of my kids are SUPER big Harry Potter fans. SCORE!

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For our 20th of 100 adventures, we spent 4 days at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. I am lumping all 4 days into one “experience” and writing a pretty short post that covers 4 days of endless fun. When time allows, I will write reviews, tips and comparisons about everything we experienced at the park. For now, enjoy a super quick summary. 🙂

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Universal Orlando is a theme park destination that includes Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Universal’s Volcano Bay and Universal CityWalk.

We spent most of our time at Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, the two main theme parks with rides and attractions. Within walking distance of the two parks, CityWalk features restaurants, bars and shopping venues. Volcano Bay, Universal’s water park, opened on May 25, 2017 and offers guests a chance to use Tapu Tapu, a bracelet with a virtual place holder for long lines. We did not visit Volcano Bay.

For Harry Potter fans, the theming for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is AMAZING and BREATHTAKING. Visitors enjoy the wonders of Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure and the impressive details of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios. The ability to ride the Hogwarts Express is reserved for those who have Park-to-Park privileges, Universal’s version of Park Hopper, because the train travels between the two theme parks.

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Butter Beer, served at carts, stands and restaurants, comes in several delicious varieties: regular, hot, frozen, ice cream and fudge. Frozen was my favorite, but I suffered through a beast of a sore throat that week and consumed an embarrassingly large amount of frozen Butter Beer to dull the pain. 🙂 All 3 of my kids unanimously preferred the hot. As you can assume, we spent a crazy amount of money on Butter Beer. LOL

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Not going to lie–we LOVED the Harry Potter sections of both parks, maybe a tiny bit more than some sections of Disney World. The rides are top-notch and the environment feels like the real deal. (More on that in a different post!)

Thrilling and sensational roller coasters, like Revenge of the Mummy (my FAV!), Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, and the Incredible Hulk Coaster proves Universal’s commitment to cater to an older crowd.

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Be warned: The two water-themed rides, Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls and Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges will get you mega-wet, like SOAKING, even if you wear a poncho.

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Almost all rides showcase amazingly realistic environments and complete immersion for guests. Don’t miss Skull Island Reign of Kong, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.

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My husband and son loved the Simpsons Ride, Kwik E Mart and Duff Brewery.

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Cool things not to miss and a few quick tips (more to come when I write the big post!):

Obviously, do not miss the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in both parks.

If you or your child love Harry Potter, buy an interactive wand on the first day.

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Try the Butter Beer–let me know which one you like the best!

If you are cool with crazy roller coasters, don’t miss Revenge of the Mummy (my FAV!), Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, and the Incredible Hulk Coaster.

Splurge for the park-to-park ticket AND the Universal Express Pass. The Express Pass beats Disney’s Fast Pass+ system a million times over. (more on that later!)

Everything is within walking distance–both theme parks and CityWalk. LOVE!

The “people dryers” do not work as well as you want. Save your money.

Some rides require guests to store all belongings, free of charge. The lockers are tiny and crowded. Carry small backpacks, if you need.

Characters walk around freely and can be found inside ride queues and shops. Very cool.

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Our fav restaurants were the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Mythos. Get a milkshake(s) and the Brussel sprouts at Toothsome.

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Well, I sure made a lot of promises to write more posts detailing all there is to know about Universal Studios Orlando. I better cut this one off. LOL

A super entertaining BlueMan Group permanently runs at Universal CityWalk. Read all about that experience here.

Want other things to do in Orlando? Click here! And here.

How about a list of every character meal in Walt Disney World? Yep! Read this.

Read about some of our other adventures in our attempt to experience 100 new things in 6 months!

The Prohibition Museum

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe

The National Watch and Clock Museum

The Turkey Hill Experience

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Blue Man Group Orlando–Experience Adventure 19 of 100

Blue Man Group is awesome.

You MUST go.

I sort of feel like that statement is enough, but for those who have never seen a Blue Man Group performance, I will give you just a tiny bit more info. 🙂

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At the present, permanent Blue Man Group shows reside in Boston, Orlando, New York, Chicago and Las Vegas, but there are also traveling performances currently in Germany, Istanbul, Czech Republic, and Monaco.

I consider myself very lucky to have attended shows in Houston and Las Vegas in the past.

But, for our 19th adventure, my family of 5 experienced the show in Orlando, Florida.

No pics are allowed during the performance, so my photos are limited. 🙂

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Located in the CityWalk section of Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, the 1,000 seat Blue Man Group theater was built in 2006.

The show engages all the senses like no other performance. Unique sounds and musical instruments, active creations of expressive artwork, hilarious (and silent) theatrical moments and audience participation fill the auditorium. It is exciting and interesting and engaging and entertaining.

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OH! And just a quick side note: The Blue Man Group shows at each location ARE different, so go see one! (or two or three!)

***If you sit in the first couple of rows, don’t wear anything nice. 🙂

Visit www.blueman.com for more information.

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Visiting Walt Disney World soon? Read this.

Find other interesting things to do in Florida here, here and here.


9 Comments

100 Experience Adventures–January Summary

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By now, most of my readers know that my daughters and I are attempting to complete 100 experiences during our 6 month sabbatical away from our home in Texas.

For newbies, click here.

And read this.

I am super happy to report we surprisingly completed 18 awesome experiences during the month of January and I kept a running list of the events and the cost for reference.

Below is a quick summary and each one is a clickable link to more information about the experience, in case you are curious. 🙂

Experience 1:

The Pennsylvania Farm Show (Free to attend, $15 for parking)

Experience 2:

George’s Furniture in Marietta, PA (Free to visit, we donated $20 for the personal tour)

Experience 3:

Cinnaholic, Vegan cinnamon rolls in Lancaster, PA ($28.04 for four cinnamon rolls)

Experience 4:

The National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA ($8.40 for four tickets through Groupon)

Experience 5:

The Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia, PA ($45.75 for three people to attend the lab class and the experience)

Experience 6:

Burning Bridge Antiques Market in Columbia, PA (free to visit)

Experience 7:

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe and Stroopie Co. in Lancaster, PA (free to visit)

Experience 8:

Lancaster Central Market in Lancaster, PA (free to visit)

Experience 9:

Beiler’s Doughnuts in Lancaster, PA ($11.25 for 2 dozen doughnuts through Groupon)

Experience 10:

Sledding in real snow in Carlisle, PA (free!)

Experience 11:

Maymont in Richmond, Virginia ($12 for three tickets to the nature center and $15 “donation” for three people to tour the mansion)

Experience 12:

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia ($24 for three tickets)

Experience 13:

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA (free for military families, $10 for the audio tour for two people)

Experience 14:

The Prohibition Museum in Savannah, Georgia ($32.10 for three tickets)

Experience 15:

The Museum of Science and History (The MOSH) in Jacksonville, Florida ($30 for three tickets)

Experience 16:

Hunting for fossilized sharks teeth in Nokomis Beach, Florida (free)

Experience 17:

Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop at the International Festival of the Arts in Epcot, Walt Disney World ($166.16 for four tickets)

Experience 18:

Disney After Hours event at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World ($476 for four tickets)

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What is next?!?

Many more adventures to explore in the month of February!


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Disney After Hours–Experience Adventure 18 of 100

 

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Me and my “babies” at Magic Kingdom, After Hours, 2018

Everyone on this planet knows how much I love Walt Disney World.  While growing up, my parents instilled in me an unwavering commitment to all things Mickey Mouse and I joyfully pass the obsession down to my own three kids–like any good mom would do.  🙂

 

jenandjack

Me and my cute sister!  The tradition (ok, it’s a necessity) of matching T-shirts started a long, long time ago!

 

Honestly, I thought long and hard about this–Would it be CHEATING if I counted every experience we enjoyed during our most recent trip to Walt Disney World as part of our 100, especially since it was our 8th time to visit Disney!?!

Um…ethically…I think yes.

To be transparent and fair, I decided not to use the actual trip as an “official” experience adventure.

BUT, we DID enjoy something totally NEW and it was certainly an ADVENTURE!

And, I am totally counting this one!  🙂

So, for our 18th of 100 experience adventures, we super maxed out the Disney junkie-side of our family and we partied like it was 1999 at Disney After Hours!

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I could post 10,000 pictures, but I will resist the urge.  You are welcome.  🙂

 

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OMGGGGGGGGG!!!!  Friends and family, Disney After Hours is a GAME CHANGER!

So…what is this SUPER AWESOME Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom?

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Disney After Hours first appeared in the spring of 2016, at the Magic Kingdom park inside Walt Disney World in Florida.  As always, Disney constantly tweaks the original offering a little here and there, but the glorious premise remains the same:  It is an extraordinary “Disney After Hours” experience.

In other words, guests purchase a ticket to the After Hours event (separate from a theme park ticket), and the ticket grants the unbelievable freedom to enjoy Magic Kingdom after it technically closes to the public–with some super awesome perks!

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!  This event has our names written allllll over it!

 

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Disney After Hours is NOT offered every night.  In fact, the dates are VERY limited.  At the time of this blog entry, the posted dates for 2018 were only January 19, 26, and 30, February 8 and 15 and March 1 and 8.  Pretty rare.

No one knows the exact number (except the all-mighty Disney people), but Disney enthusiasts estimate somewhere around 1,000 tickets per date are sold.  Obviously, it sells out quickly.  Super exclusive.  We are fancy like that.  🙂

 

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More than 25 popular rides remain operational from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with little to no wait.  (Times for this event can vary depending on seasonal park closing times.)

Once the park closed to the public at 8:00 pm., only lanyard sporting guests were allowed on rides.  **I did see other people walking around the park for a little while, but they were turned away at the entrances to the attractions and rides.

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I hope you are sitting down for this.

From 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., my kids and I rode the following rides:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad–3 times

Pirates of the Caribbean

Haunted Mansion

Under the Sea–Journey of the Little Mermaid

Peter Pan’s Flight

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Mad Tea Party

Tomorrowland Speedway

Space Mountain–3 times

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train–7 times

Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover

All in 3 hours!  Unbelievable!

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We focused on riding all of our personal favorites, but other rides were open, such as the Astro Orbiter, It’s A Small World, and Jungle Cruise.  I also noticed Mickey’s Philharmagic and the Princess Fairytale Hall were both accessible.

The event also gave guests an unlimited amount of frozen treats, popcorn and bottled beverages, sold from carts stationed around the park.  If you possess the elusive lanyard, you just walk up, flash your card and get ice cream!

HELLO!

For real.

Disney heaven on Earth!

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The event produced my own personal, magical Christmas morning–my kids and I were laughing and skipping like carefree, unattended children in a candy store–going merrily from ride to ride–without the stress of crowds, long lines and posted wait times–freely eating an obscene amount of Mickey bars and cookies-n-cream ice cream sandwiches.

We wanted to stay ALL.  NIGHT.  LONG.

OH!  And I noticed a SUPER cool phenomenon:  For those 3 short hours, all of the guests in the park were members of a special, exclusive club–everyone was OVERLY friendly to one another, all interacting like old college roommates that just won a shared lottery jackpot…a feeling of blissful celebration that I honestly find difficult to accurately describe.

The opportunity to truly act and feel like a kid again.

No stress.  No sadness.  Free from the weight of our crazy world.

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Pure joy.

With a little hint of elated disbelief.

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We found little to no wait and NEVER a line at every ride we approached.  In total, the kids and I rode 21 times (some repeats).

 

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My final thoughts:

I LOVED every single minute of this experience.  What else can I say?

Was it worth $119 a person for only 4 hours?  Absolutely!

Would I do it again?  Yes, in a heartbeat.

Do I think this ticketed event could replace an entire day at Magic Kingdom?  Maybe.  It depends on your personal ride preferences and priorities.  We rode everything we loved and felt fulfilled when we returned back to our resort.

 

***The only thing that could make this event better is if Mickey Mouse and Walt himself stood on Main Street U.S.A. handing out Dole Whips.

I will say, this event is best suited for kids and adults that can easily and effortlessly stay up late without a break.  Time flies when you are having fun! 🙂  It was the shortest 3 hours of my life!  Go!  Go!  Go!

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Once we enjoyed this amazing experience, the rush and urgency to ride the most popular rides on our next day at Magic Kingdom completely disappeared.  No more pressure!  It opened up our schedule to focus on other attractions and relax longer at our table service dinner at Be Our Guest.  For a full restaurant review, read this.

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Side note:

I booked our 2018 vacation 8 months in advance, long before special event options are posted, so the dates of our trip were already in stone.  About 2 months before check-in, I noticed a list of dates for Disney After Hours on the Disney website–and one of those dates–January 30th–fell right in the middle of our stay.

Luck or pixie dust?!?  You decide.  🙂

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Why are we attempting 100 adventures in 6 months?  Read this!

How do I plan our Walt Disney World vacations?  Click here.

Everything you need to know about the 2018 Disney Dining Plan–Read this.

A list of all of the Disney character meals?  Yep.  Right here.

Free things to do at Disney?  Yes, please!  Click here!

 

 

 


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Disney After Hours at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

 

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Me and my “babies” at Magic Kingdom, After Hours, 2018

Everyone on this planet knows how much I love Walt Disney World.  While growing up, my parents instilled in me an unwavering commitment to all things Mickey Mouse and I joyfully pass the obsession down to my own three kids–like any good mom would do.  🙂

 

jenandjack

Me and my cute sister!  The tradition (ok, it’s a necessity) of matching T-shirts started a long, long time ago!

No one in my family can remember how many times we visited Walt Disney World or Disneyland when we were little.  We even did a Disney family cruise when I was in high school, but there is an ongoing debate about which year…

As a mom, I totally keep count:  Walt Disney World 8 times–2004, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.  Disneyland 2 times–1999 and 2011 and one Disney cruise in 2004.

I could post 10,000 pictures, but I will resist the urge.  You are welcome.  🙂

ONE **amazing** Disney experience trumps every other experience from all of those other trips, hands down–and it happened during our most recent vacation.

Yep.

DISNEY AFTER HOURS

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And, OMGGGGGGGGG!!!!  Friends and family, Disney After Hours is a GAME CHANGER!

So…what is this SUPER AWESOME Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom?

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Disney After Hours first appeared in the spring of 2016, at the Magic Kingdom park inside Walt Disney World in Florida.  As always, Disney constantly tweaks the original offering a little here and there, but the glorious premise remains the same:  It is an extraordinary “Disney After Hours” experience.

In other words, guests purchase a ticket to the After Hours event (separate from a theme park ticket), and the ticket grants the unbelievable freedom to enjoy Magic Kingdom after it technically closes to the public–with some super awesome perks!

Below is everything you need to know about this AMAZING event, directly experienced by me and my 3 children (ages 24, 13 and 12) on January 30, 2018.

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Disney After Hours is NOT offered every night.  In fact, the dates are VERY limited.  At the time of this blog entry, the posted dates for 2018 were only January 19, 26, and 30, February 8 and 15 and March 1 and 8.  Pretty rare.

From the Disney website, I purchased 4 tickets for $119 EACH.  No one knows the exact number (except the all-mighty Disney people), but Disney enthusiasts estimate somewhere around 1,000 tickets per date are sold.  Obviously, it sells out quickly.  Super exclusive.

I printed 4 paper copies of the tickets and carried those with me to the park on our designated night.  The printed tickets allowed me and my children to enter Magic Kingdom at 7:00 p.m.

 

 

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Under “Event Check-In”, it states that official check-in begins at 7:00 p.m.

We arrived at the front gate and saw a cast member holding an “After Hours” sign.

We checked in with her and took this cute pic.  🙂

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She handed us each a lanyard with a hard plastic information card–our passes for the night–and we walked into Magic Kingdom!

 

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Front

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Back

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After we entered the park, we took several fun Photopass pics (The tangled lanterns!) and rode a few exciting rides before the park closed to the other guests at 8:00 p.m

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For the After Hours event, these marvelous lanyards grant visitors the ability to stay in the park AFTER CLOSING TIME!  More than 25 popular rides remain operational from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., with little to no wait.  (Times for this event can vary.)

Once the park closed to the public at 8:00 pm., only lanyard sporting guests were allowed on rides.  **I did see other people walking around the park for a little while, but they were turned away at the entrances to the attractions and rides.

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I hope you are sitting down for this.

From 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., my kids and I rode the following rides:

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad–3 times

Pirates of the Caribbean

Haunted Mansion

Under the Sea–Journey of the Little Mermaid

Peter Pan’s Flight

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

Mad Tea Party

Tomorrowland Speedway

Space Mountain–3 times

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train–7 times

Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover

All in 3 hours!  Unbelievable!

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We focused on riding all of our personal favorites, but other rides were open, such as the Astro Orbiter, It’s A Small World, and Jungle Cruise.  I also noticed Mickey’s Philharmagic and the Princess Fairytale Hall were both accessible.

The event also gave guests an unlimited amount of frozen treats, popcorn and bottled beverages, sold from carts stationed around the park.  If you possess the elusive lanyard, you just walk up, flash your card and get ice cream!

For real.

Disney heaven on Earth!

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IMG_20180130_220335.jpg

The event produced my own personal Christmas morning–my kids and I were laughing and skipping like carefree, unattended children in a candy store–going merrily from ride to ride–without the stress of crowds, long lines and posted wait times–freely eating an obscene amount of Mickey bars and cookies-n-cream ice cream sandwiches.

We wanted to stay ALL.  NIGHT.  LONG.

OH!  And I noticed a SUPER cool phenomenon:  For those 3 short hours, all of the guests in the park were members of a special, exclusive club–everyone was OVERLY friendly to one another, all interacting like old college roommates that just won a shared lottery jackpot…a feeling of blissful celebration that I honestly find difficult to accurately describe.

The opportunity to truly act and feel like a kid again.

No stress.  No sadness.  Free from the weight of our crazy world.

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Pure joy.

With a little hint of elated disbelief.

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A brief breakdown:

For January of 2018, tickets for this event cost $119 each.  Prices can vary.

Disney After Hours is a special, ticketed event–it is separate from a theme park ticket and must be purchased separately.  **$119 PER PERSON for 4 hours in Magic Kingdom, 3 of those hours represent the event after closing to the public.  

The price of the ticket allows guests to enjoy 25+ rides and includes frozen treats, popcorn and bottled beverages, like water and sodas.

Our event was from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Magic Kingdom park closing time on January 30, 2018 was 8:00 p.m.)  We were allowed to enter the park at 7:00 p.m., one hour before closing time, which gave us 4 hours in the park.

We found little to no wait and NEVER a line at every ride we approached.  In total, my children and I rode 21 times (some repeats).

Future After Hours events *might* offer different time windows, different rides or different treats, depending on scheduled park closures and ride refurbishments.  Additional food options were available for purchase at restaurants on Main Street.

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My final review:

I LOVED every single minute of this experience.  What else can I say?

Was it worth $119 a person for only 4 hours?  Absolutely!

Would I do it again?  Yes, in a heartbeat.

Do I think this ticketed event could replace an entire day at Magic Kingdom?  Maybe.  It depends on your personal ride preferences and priorities.  We rode everything we loved and felt fulfilled when we returned back to our resort.

The most popular question:

If you have a theme park ticket and spend the day at Magic Kingdom, do you still need to spend an additional $119 for this event?  Yes, IF you want to stay after closing AND you want to ride the attractions, you MUST purchase the After Hours ticket (in addition to the theme park ticket).  However, you DO NOT need a theme park ticket to attend this event.  You can just purchase the After Hours ticket and enjoy the park after closing.

Consider this event for a check-in day or a rest day. ** We spent the day at Animal Kingdom and then enjoyed the After Hours event at Magic Kingdom that evening.

***The only thing that could make this event better is if Mickey Mouse and Walt himself were standing on Main Street U.S.A. to say goodnight as guests left the park.  🙂

I will say, this event is best suited for kids and adults that can easily and effortlessly stay up late without a break.  Time flies when you are having fun! 🙂  It was the shortest 3 hours of my life!  Go!  Go!  Go!

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Once we enjoyed this amazing experience, the rush and urgency to ride the most popular rides on our next day at Magic Kingdom completely disappeared.  No more pressure!  It opened up our schedule to focus on other attractions and relax longer at our table service dinner at Be Our Guest.  For a full restaurant review, read this.

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Side note:

I booked our 2018 vacation 8 months in advance, long before special event options are posted, so the dates of our trip were already in stone.  About 2 months before check-in, I noticed a list of dates for Disney After Hours on the Disney website–and one of those dates–January 30th–fell right in the middle of our stay.

Luck or pixie dust?!?  You decide.  🙂

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Still have questions about Disney’s After Hours event?  Email me anytime!

How do I plan our Walt Disney World vacations?  Click here.

Everything you need to know about the 2018 Disney Dining Plan–Read this.

A list of all of the Disney character meals?  Yep.  Right here.

A review of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge–read it here!

Free things to do at Disney?  Yes, please!  Click here!

 

 

 


1 Comment

Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop–Experience Adventure 17 of 100

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When I planned our 2018 trip to Walt Disney World, I was SUPER excited to see that the International Festival of the Arts would be at Epcot during the same time.  (I will do a blog post all about the festival soon!)
The festival offers guests a chance to spend the day walking through and experiencing the arts–visual, culinary, music and theatre.  As an extra added fun bonus, Epcot hosts a ton of seminars, workshops and classes at an additional cost.
Hands-on learning at Disney??  Yes, please!  Sign us up!
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As Christmas gifts, I gave my children tickets to the P.S. Flavor! Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop.  My son works in the food industry and my daughters love to cook and bake.  A class all about spices was a perfect fit for the 4 of us and we looked forward to doing something different while at Epcot during our vacation.
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Read the description of the class below (taken directly from the Walt Disney World website):
P.S. Flavor! Artisanal Spice Artistry
Pam Smith and Nicole Ramsland, P.S. Flavor! Artisanal Spice Blends
Odyssey Festival Showplace
Workshop begins at 11:00 AM
$39 per person plus tax
Blend your own spices with a “sand art twist” and learn the creative
process of bringing a beautiful artisanal spice blend to life
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Unfortunately, the class was not AT ALL what we hoped it would be.  BIG BUMMER.
First of all, the first 20 minutes of the workshop was filled with awkward banter
between the mother and daughter who were running the class.
We did NOT blend our own spices.  We took the spices provided and put them
in a jar.  That was it.  We moved the spices from small containers
into a glass jar.  The spices were pre-measured, so we just poured from the small, black cups into a jar.  FOR REAL.
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The “Blend your own spices” was the adobo spice blend sold by the presenter’s company, P.S. Flavor!  Essentially, we WAY overpaid and unknowingly packaged a bottle of the company’s spice blend, which was the only spice we were given.
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Pouring the spices from one container to another took about 5 minutes.  Next, and for more than half of the “workshop”, we made “paint” by adding water and painted with another set of spices.  Yes.  Painted a picture.  Where in the description does it
state that more than half of the class focuses on painting?
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My son was not thrilled.

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Pam Smith (the woman that owns the spice company) kept
“sharing” random and incorrect information about paint history–going as
far to say that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel with spices.
That is simply not true.
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The majority of the time was filled with what can only be described as
an infomercial for the personal spice company.  The class felt like a long, drawn-out infomercial, a desperate attempt to get everyone to buy the online spice and cooking subscription classes.  My children and I found the workshop uncomfortable and a complete waste of time and money.
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The WORST part–At the end of the class, we were left with these sopping wet paintings
and no place to put them.  HELLO!  We were in the middle of Epcot!
My son and one of my daughters just threw their paintings in the trash, which made my heart hurt a little bit.  So disappointing!
I had to take the other 2 paintings back to our car–a long, long walk that wasted at least another hour of my Epcot park time.
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We left the “class” with a small jar of spices and an informational card about the spice company–another sales pitch.  We were all very upset that we wasted our Epcot park time and spent the rest of the day trying to make up for lost time.
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We did NOT “Blend our own spices”.  We filled a jar, listened to an
infomercial for a spice company, received false information and painted
some palm trees.  This class was a complete waste of time and money and
we could not have been more disappointed in the false advertisement and
the way we were forced to sit through a sales pitch from the presenters.
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I try to find the good in a bad experience and honestly, I enjoyed the painting process–because, well…I am an artist.  But, I did NOT sign up and pay for a faulty art lesson (palm trees?!?) and I would NEVER commit part of our Epcot day for such, especially for my 3 children.  Disney dropped the ball on this one, for sure.
Even though this experience is our 17th of 100 adventures, I did contact Guest Experience Services at the Walt Disney World company and asked for a refund for the price of the 4 tickets to the workshop.  I am still waiting for a response.
UPDATE:
***I am very pleased to report that Disney did in fact refund the $166.16 for the 4 tickets to this event.  Thank you Disney for making this right.  We appreciate you and LOVE you!
Good or bad, our experience adventures continue!
Read about another adventure here!
And here.
And here.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World soon?  You gotta read this!


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Hunting For Fossilized Sharks’ Teeth in Florida–Experience Adventure 16 of 100

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One of my daughters loves paleontology and she collects all kinds of things–seeds, nuts, leaves, bones, feathers, fossils, rocks and crystals.  My other daughter wants to pursue a career in marine biology–her current passion focuses on cephalopods and a desire to discover a reversal for tetrodotoxin poisoning.  Yep, I can’t make that up.

Read all about my unique family here.

And here.

And here.

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We chose to homeschool 6.5 years ago–it provides the freedom for my children to study and pursue their unique passions on their own timelines.

Read this.

And this.

And this, too.

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The freedom to do education “our way” partners with the freedom to travel and explore some super cool things, hence our crazy attempt to complete 100 adventures in just 6 short months.

My daughters and I recently took a 3 week road trip that included awesome experiences in Richmond, Virginia, Savannah, Georgia, Jacksonville, Florida and some much needed “playtime” at Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.

What did we do in Richmond?  Read this.  And this. Oh!  And this, too.

Curious about what we did Savannah?  Hint:  It’s a museum with a speakeasy!  WHAT?!?Click here.

Before we headed to Orlando, I booked a few days of hunting in Nokomis, Florida.

What were we hunting???

SHARKS’ TEETH!

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Searching for fossilized sharks’ teeth is the perfect activity for both of my daughters.  Obviously, it connects one of my daughters to the ocean, but it also fulfills the need to be connected to the past so prevalent in my other daughter.  A WIN/WIN!  This mom RULES!

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Surprise, surprise–Before hitting the road, I did some extensive research looking for the best beaches to find sharks’ teeth.  Venice Beach kept coming up, so I joined a Facebook page for that area of Florida.  I asked the locals for personal recommendations and Nokomis Beach was the winner.  Next, I booked a hotel within walking distance of the ocean.  Done and done.

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Nokomis Beach sits on the Gulf of Mexico, south of Sarasota and north of Venice, near Casey Key, an 1.6 miles barrier island.

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This particular area of Florida features an abundant amount of fossilized sharks’ teeth because the Gulf coast tides carry ancient sediment and the converging currents deposit the treasures on the beautiful shore.  Significant storms and hurricanes erode the beach, so the city dredges sand from the ocean floor to replace and replenish what is lost.

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What sinks down into the sand at the bottom of the ocean becomes fossilized over millions of years.   That’s right my friends.  I am talking about dead sharks. 

Most sharks possess 4 rows of sharp, triangular teeth and the state of Florida was once under water.  Those amazing creatures swam on top of what we now call Nokomis Beach and only the fossilized teeth remain.  Millions of them.  Millions of years old.

 

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We found 311 fossilized sharks’ teeth in 2 days.  The most common of these were from sand sharks, reef sharks, lemon sharks and extinct species such as giant makos and snaggletooths.  These teeth represent current and prehistoric sharks that lived during the Cenozoic Era–66 million years ago to present time.

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Unfortunately, we never found a megalodon tooth, much to my youngest daughter’s disappointment, but it is not unheard of in the area.  (It was certainly not from a lack of trying.  LOL)

We visited several beaches along the Gulf of Mexico:  Venice, Casey Key, Nokomis and Sarasota. We only found sharks’ teeth at the Nokomis public beach, which also offered a breathtaking ocean view and access to free parking and clean restrooms.  I appreciate that!  Thank you Nokomis public beach!  🙂

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Nokomis Beach gives visitors a beautiful ocean view, with a peaceful and relaxing small-town vibe.

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At Casey’s Pass, we found a plethora of beautiful seashells. (But, no sharks’ teeth.)

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Views at Casey’s Pass are mesmerizing.

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So, how did we find so many sharks’ teeth?

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Quite honestly, it was super easy.  🙂

We took buckets and Ziploc baggies to hold all of our treasures.  Those were our only “tools”.  Some people prefer to use a large scoop, sometimes called a Florida snow shovel, but we never needed that.

Of course my daughters tackled the experience in a scientific manner, marking off the searchable areas.  LOL

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This method proved quite effective while searching in the drier areas of the sandy beach.

They also looked in the water, which mostly resulted in discovering shells, not teeth.

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I prefer to search at the water’s edge in the collection of tiny shells brought in by the gentle waves.

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The three of us “trained” our eyes to only seek dark, triangle-shaped objects.  Once our eyes committed to the search, the hunt was on and the sharks’ teeth were unbelievably easy to spot.

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We really enjoyed the thrilling (and oddly relaxing!) experience and hope we can return when it is a tiny bit warmer.  🙂

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Where have you found fossilized sharks’ teeth?

Share your proven methods!

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Curious about what we did in Jacksonville, FL?  Click here.

Check out this museum in Florida!  Click here!

How about a company that hires refugee women?  Yep.  That is pretty awesome!

Read this!

This is cool.  Read this.