Tips and Tricks for Disney World!

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We went to Disney World right before Christmas and it was SO much fun! I wanted to share a few planning tips that helped us have such a fun and happy time together. When it comes to Disney World, planning and being prepared really does make all the difference when it comes to NOT stressing, so I wanted to compile all of my thoughts here for any of you who are planning to take your family to the happiest place on Earth, too!

Planning:

  • We used a travel agent when planning our trip and it’s probably my BIGGEST recommendation for a Disney trip - if you take no other advice from me, please please please have someone help you plan your Disney trip. Alyson Pitzer of Magical Moments Vacations helped us tailor our trip perfectly to our family and I would highly recommend her to anyone! We didn’t have to pay her either - she is compensated by Disney so when you purchase your tickets through her or reserve hotels, she is compensated by Disney. But she does SO much more than book things - she truly helped us tailor the trip perfectly for my kids’ ages, character preferences, height requirements, EVERYTHING - she helped us schedule our fast passes, make dining reservations for character meals, and explained how to actually execute a Disney trip - everything from transportation to meal planning to where the best hidden places are in the parks to grab a bite to eat, change a diaper, etc. She is a wealth of information and I hope everyone uses her because gosh, we certainly will be using her services again! #disneycruiseupnext

  • Park Hopper! This is so helpful to have along with your ticket if you want to move around a little bit. It’s really fun to spend a morning at Magic Kingdom and then head over to Epcot to eat in the afternoon. I didn’t utilize our Park Hopper much this time, but my extended family did and they really liked being able to move around! I feel like this is helpful if you have multiple park days and older children who are a little more mobile).

  • Rider Swap - It’s hard for me to explain how this works but it is SO helpful. Since Daxton is still too little to ride roller coasters, Stevie and I could utilize the rider swap to switch off taking Everett on rides and not have to wait in line each time. Like I said, hard to actually explain but it is so worth utilizing!

  • We used the My Disney Experience app to organize all of our fast passes (you’re allowed to plan up to 3 per day and continue to add more as you use them up), and our dining plans (reservations are required for sit-down meals, and booking 6 months in advance for some restaurants is a must!) Again, our travel agent was absolutely amazing in helping us get all of this set up, so we just had to show up on our trip and our app told us what was happening. It was literally amazing.

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Eating:

  • If you can swing it, the Disney Meal Plan is evvvverything. You pay ahead of time for the dining plan and then your Magic Band is automatically loaded with daily credits for meals and snacks at the parks and hotels. It is a total gift to all the mamas! A true vacation for me is one where I do not have to cook. Can I get an amen?

  • All that being said, I wish I had packed my kids some pb & j sandwiches (and a few healthy snacks) as an extra during the days. They love something simple like that and they didn’t always eat the chicken nuggets or whatever it was that we got for them that was on the dining plan. However, Stevie and I always used their dining credits, so I still think the plan is totally worth it!

  • Just so you know, you can get Starbucks coffee on the dining plan - it counts as a snack credit and it is the BEST to grab one in the early morning when you get into the park. It gave me a little extra motivation to get to the park right when it opened! Which is also the time when the park is least crowded.

  • Fave restaurants:

    • Magic Kingdom- Be Our Guest (I like breakfast here best), Sleepy Hollow (get the waffles!), Casey’s (get the corn dog nuggets and don’t think about the calories), Aloha Isle (get the Dole Whipped Treat!!!!), and Starbucks on Main Street (I personally like to grab an early coffee here and walk very slowly down Main Street - it’s perhaps the cheeriest place I’ve ever been and I always want to soak it up!)

    • Animal Kingdom - Tusker House (my favorite character meal!)

    • Epcot - Oh gosh, I ate everything here! This is the best place to walk and munch literally all day long. Christmas Tea in England, tacos in Mexico, kettle corn in Canada, crepes in France, mac’n’cheese in Germany, orange chicken in China and mulled wine in Germany!

    • Hollywood Studios - 50’s Prime Time Cafe

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Attire:

  • You have to wear Mickey ears at The Magic Kingdom! I got this 12-pack on Amazon, which had both Mickey & Minnie ears, and we wore these the last time. This time my sis Lauren also snagged a pair for me from Claires (that look similar to this) and I loved having a fancy glitter pair!

  • We wore Mickey and Disney gear the entire trip because its fun to be so festive! I shopped at Target for a few months before hand and just picked up things here and there that would coordinate well for the days we were at the parks.

  • Wear comfy shoes. Do NOT wear flip flops. Just trust me on this one, friends. I’m on your side!

  • Pack an extra layer for yourself and your kiddos if you are going to stay for the whole day into the evening - the temperatures definitely drop at night!

Getting Around:

  • I personally loved renting a van and driving to the parks everyday. Even though the monorail and bus system is super efficient, our hotel didn’t have a monorail option and sometimes the buses can take a while to arrive. With little kids (and nap times and the need for urgent potty breaks!), I just really liked having the control of leaving when we needed to. However, this is totally a personal preference thing and I have lots of family that really liked using the bus system!

  • I will also highly recommend arriving at the parks 15-30 minutes before they open. I know, that sounds crazy, but just hear me out here. Many of the parks actually open their doors 30 minutes prior to actually opening and beginning the rides, so if you are able to get into the park, grab a coffee, and have a leisure walk to your first ride, then when the park officially opens you are already standing in front of your first ride. It can be hectic trying to get to the park that early, but it is much less crowded in the mornings and it’s easier to jump on rides. Trust me on this one - the park is the most crowded at 11am because that’s when most people manage to get there after eating breakfast, etc. Just trust me here! Get to the park early and enjoy the peace and quiet! You will ride 3x as many rides this way!

  • If you have a child that naps, you can either stay in the park and hope that they nap in your stroller, or you can head back to the hotel in the early in the afternoon and give them a proper nap. We have done it both ways, and we really make the decision the day of, depending on how late the park will be open that day. For example, if Magic Kingdom closes at 5pm, then we will probably try to stay at the park for the day. But if it closes at 10pm, we would try to get to the park at 7:30/7:45am, ride rides and have fun until about noon, eat lunch and then head back to the hotel for rest time and naps until about 5pm. Then we would grab dinner and enjoy the park in the evening - making certain to catch the fire works!

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Gear:

  • We brought our Double Bob Stroller and we LOVED having it. They boys could ride around in it when they got tired, we could keep them contained (which is a big deal, because otherwise we were holding their hands while we walked with them in the crowds). It was also helpful for letting Daxton nap in the afternoons. Overall, it was just SO convenient to have it and Disney has tons of stroller parking everywhere (with people keeping an eye on the strollers!) when you couldn’t take the stroller directly to the rides. It was so helpful to have a hub for all our STUFF. Because man, we brought a lot of stuff.

  • Speaking of stuff, I packed my diaper bag each day with the following: an extra pair of clothes for each boy, a full refillable water bottle for each person, lots of snacks, diapers and wipes, hand sanitizer, sun glasses, chapstick, tissues, a little toy for each boy (to play with while we were in line, but honestly, we didn’t need these), and when its really hot, I would also recommend a mister fan, a hat and some sunscreen.

  • I would also recommend packing a portable phone charger (you use your phone SO much at DIsney, between taking photos and using the My Disney app to keep up with your Fast Passes - this is helpful if your phone battery isn’t great!)

I think that’s all! Goodness, it looks like a lot of info, but this was our second time taking the boys to Disney and it was an even better trip! I truly think having a travel agent help us make an amazing plan made all the difference - we have never used a travel agent for any other trip, including international travel with the kids, but I feel like at Disney is it completely necessary! We absolutely LOVED our time there this year and I even made a little Travel Diary on IGTV, which you can see here.

I hope this was helpful for you! Please leave your fave Disney tips and tricks in the comments section so we can all learn from them! xx

More Autumn Fun in Charlestown, MA & Portsmouth, New Hampshire!

Continuing to share a bit about our New England adventure (part 1 here). This was a long but incredibly spontaneous day. Which I’m learning I really really love and makes me feel alive, making spontaneous travel choices. Don’t get me wrong, I plan a ton for the trips when we travel. But then once we’re finally there, I like to deviate and have lottttts of flexibility within “the plan”. Which makes for a fun day! So on this particularly chilly autumn day, we started off walking around Charlestown, touring the Battle of Bunker Hill and showing Everett the U.S.S. Constitution (he was obsessed!), but things started getting seriously wet and cold… so we had to make a choice. Go back to the hotel and hunker down. Or, you know, drive to Maine and get some lobster rolls. Which one do you think we chose??


Charlestown, Massachusetts

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Outfit Details:

Anthropologie Top, Old Navy Jean Jacket (like 10 years old! Similar here), Nordstrom Jeans, Sebago Boots, Madewell Scarf, Stella & Dot Knot Bracelet


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(And this is just a side note but I found the most amazing natural nail salon in Atlanta where they do fancy polish and nail art - Lark and Sparrow!)


Portsmouth, New Hampshire

We drove up to Kittery, Maine (such a great lighthouse!), and then turned around and found our way into Portsmouth, NH. These towns are right next to each other on the water, and we decided to walk around quaint little Portsmouth and find some dinner. Not too many pictures from this spot because it was drizzly, but we all cozied up in a little cafe and the boys had quesadillas and we had lobster rolls. I know, we are all sorts of culinary excellence ;)

Truth be told, we had to pull out the kindles for this meal, and Stevie didn’t love it. We don’t like to be those parents who shove technology in their kid’s faces all the time, but sometimes if you want to have a nice meal, and you’re all traveling together, and things are getting fussy… yep. Kindles to the rescue!

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And that was our drizzly cold, 40-degree day in Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire. Okay, the Maine part barely counts, but it’s still KIND of fun to count it because it makes us sound like road warriors. Which, in a van with two toddlers demanding “Frozen” songs over and over for hours, we kind of became.

What are your travel go-tos when your children are sort of melting down? I would love to hear!


Visiting New England in October!

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I guess I’ll just start off with the truth.

We almost moved to Boston this summer. Or I should say, we almost moved back to Boston this summer. There was a job opportunity that we were seriously considering, and during that time, I was chatting with Everett & Daxton all about New England. Well, we ended up staying put because another (better) job kept Stevie working right here in Georgia, which was a relief because we have so much family here, but after sharing with my boys so much about Boston, I thought we ought to take a trip. And what better time to visit than autumn in New England??

I’m going to break this post up into a few so that I can share about where we ate, what we did, and most importantly (to the boys!) - where we played. Because we played a LOT. I will do a separate follow-up post about traveling with our two boys this time around - please let me know in the comments section if you have specific questions!


Downtown Boston

This shot cracked me up because it was COMPLETELY candid and they all looked so pensive.

This shot cracked me up because it was COMPLETELY candid and they all looked so pensive.

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Color like POW.

Color like POW.

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I love this statue. She’s representing the angels who worship at God’s throne.


Beacon Hill, Massachusetts

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Are you seeing the streets lined with gold? Goshhhh.

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Just casually posing on the quaint cobblestoned alley. LIKE ALL BLOGGERS DO. Sometimes we’re a little bit ridiculous.

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Outfit Details


Loft Top (half off right now!), Madewell Jeans, Banana Republic Scarf (similar), Franco Sarto Flats, RAW Bronzing Studio Tan, (my leather jacket was purchased overseas, similar styles here and here)

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My little sweetheart.

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I never want to forget them like this. Everett is wearing this top and these pants, Dax is wearing this top and these pants.

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Leaf confetti.

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Not the tour we were on but I wanted to get a shot of how the truck goes into the water! So cool!

I think this is our only family photo of the trip but gosh, isn’t Daxton just the sweetest? That child is growing up.

I think this is our only family photo of the trip but gosh, isn’t Daxton just the sweetest? That child is growing up.

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What We Did.
We walked the historical Freedom Trail (if you go without kids, I HIGHLY encourage doing The Freedom Trail Run - it’s a 5k tour of the Freedom Trail and ends with a ferry ride back to where you started! SO efficient and helps you squeeze in a workout while you’re traveling!) We wandered the Boston Public Garden and the Boston Common, which are two of the most amazing public spaces you will find in Boston (I’ve previously overshared the Public Garden here and here).

We also found several amazing playgrounds, one in Beacon Hill called the Myrtle Street Playground, where we played with the kids for a few hours one perfect morning. The golden leaves kept falling around us like confetti and the air was cool and I just thought, “This is it. A perfect moment that I don’t want to forget.” Whatever those golden trees are, I need to plant one here in Georgia. We also played at the Esplanade, on the Charles Bank Playground along the river, and this was the perfect way for the boys to get out wiggles when they were sitting in the stroller for too long.

We also took a Duck Tour in the afternoon, which Everett was really excited about, because (all you boy mamas, listen in!), the tour truck transforms into a boat and goes into the Charles River. Yes. My boys were losing their minds a little, because at any mention of “transformer”, they are shook.

We took the boys to the Curious George toy store in Harvard Square and let them each pick out a toy. It’s kind of a fun thing we’ve started to do - minimizing the toys we buy at home but letting them choose something to play with when we travel. I think it helps them create a special memory reminder of our trip AND gives them a little something to play with on those long travel days where extra patience (and distraction!) is sometimes needed. Our one rule is that the toy must be small enough to be packable! And by the way, they picked out some of these Green Toys and we are loving them!

Where We Ate.
Call me boring, but we did a lot of Starbucks on this trip. My boys are carb monsters and tear through the muffins and bagels like its their job. I like having a few things I can count on them actually eating, so we did a lot of Starbucks in the AM. My order is a grande Americano and the Bacon, Egg & Gouda breakfast sandwich - it’s so good! We also packed the boys apple sauce pouches, snacks and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day, which really helped them feel comfortable (because they eat a lot of this at home!) However, Stevie and I didn’t hold back! We loved our juices and smoothies at The Juicery, dinner at our favorite restaurant in Harvard Square called Grafton Street, and a must-have yogurt at Berryline. Yum.

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This trip was such a blast and we did so much on each day! I’ll share in a separate post about hanging out in Charlestown, where we ate the BEST brunch and cannolis, and why we took an impromptu trip to Maine for the day ;)

Day Date in Atlanta!

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Going out on dates seems really hard to squeeze in these days. Between Stevie’s travel schedule for work, my teaching evening DoTERRA classes, and juggling soccer for Everett, it feels like we just run out of evenings every single week. But I know that date nights are so vitally important, and when we go too long without dates, we both feel it. Like every marriage, we are doing our best to balance pouring our energy into parenthood AND our marriage and implement date nights more often than once every 3 months (seriously.)

Right before we went out of town last week, we had a super fun day date in Atlanta! Because daytime dates means that we will actually stay awake to enjoy our time together (hashtag we tired yall.) I usually never take along the big camera to photograph our every move on date night (because that’s kinda lame) BUT, we did take a lot of pics on this particular day because we were doing some of our favorite Atlanta-ish things and I want to share more about our fine city here on the blog. I usually heap praises on other cities when we travel, but I haven’t dedicated a whole lot of energy towards sharing about Atlanta and I want to do a better job of that! So here are a few things we did and ate in Atlanta the other day ;)


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We started off with a home run meal at Barcelona in Inman Park. It was restaurant week, so we took advantage of the chef’s tasting menu which allowed us to try a million amazing tapas for a great price. My favorites were the burrata, hanger steak and the spiced empanadas. And what are tapas without sangria? Do yourself a favor and order the rose sangria.

We made our way toward Ponce City Market on the Beltline via some Bird and Lime scooters, which are SO fun and really must be tried! I rode these around in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago with friends and knew that I had to find them in Atlanta. They practically litter the Beltline so we scooted until we got to Piedmont Park and then headed back toward Ponce City Market. But Stevie’s battery power died during that jaunt so we hopped on one together and that was kind of like a crazy trust experiment because I basically hung on to him for dear life (!)

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After we dropped our scooters off, Stevie found an outdoor piano and did some jamming out for strangers walking by, and since he really worked up an appetite he just had to stop at Lucky Lotus for an acai bowl. He scarfed it and I had a long hard think about getting some gelato, but refrained because those tapas had really put me over the top. We browsed around did a little shopping, and dreamed at all the beautiful Citizens Supply goods (like kilim rugs and leather wallets and fiddle leaf figs and adorable clogs) and then decided it was high time to try out the new brewery.

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I saw new, but it’s only new to us. New Realm is right on the Beltline and has a gigantic outdoor seating area, and the food is truly good. Not like, for brewery food, but like for a great meal out! And I’m a big fan of wine flights and beer samplers because I like to try a little of everything, and they had a great beer flight. My favorites were “Hazy Like a Fox” and “Citrus Pucker”.

We watched the sun go down over the Beltline and honestly, it was a strange experience because we hadn’t been on such a long date in a reeeeeally long time. We talked a lot! Day dates are a thing that need to keep being a thing in my book because it was theeeee best day with my sweetheart of 12 years.

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Perhaps everyone feels a significant shift with the seasons, but Fall always feels like the biggest shift for me every single year. I don’t know why, but lately I am feeling older. Not in a bad way, but in a way where I can tell that my mind and my heart are growing and changing and I just feel like more and more of a woman lately. Having the uninterrupted time (meaning, without children around!) with Stevie to really talk about things, our feelings and our life, is such an incredible thing and it shouldn’t be an anomaly. Day time Atlanta dates really need to be more of a thing!

Tell me, what are some of your favorite date spots and date ideas? Have you tried daytime dating? xx