Disney World: Magic Kingdom

Hola and welcome back to our adventures! It’s been a while (Since January) since we’ve taken a trip – and oh, did we miss it! This time, we went to Orlando, FL for two full weeks. We did Disney, Clearwater, NASA, and more and had fantastic weather to boot – we couldn’t have been happier.

Getting There

We actually DROVE down to Florida from Ottawa in Canada, which for those of you who don’t know, is a 22+ hour drive – or about two days of driving including stops. It was super cool to see the foliage, scenery, and cultures change on the drive down (as well as the temperature getting HOTTER!).

Magic Kingdom

Our very first Disney park was MAGIC KINGDOM (you know, the one with the Castle?) and we had pretty good weather for it. It was sunny and super hot. We were in the park from open to close, which is 9am – 9pm (a 12 hour day!) but I’m glad we got to do so much and see almost everything we wanted to see. We did the teacups ride (above), saw an incredible fireworks show (below) and went on many, many other super fun rides! The atmosphere, theming and interactive cue lines were amazing, even though line-ups could be long sometimes – they didn’t seem too bad with all the cool stuff you can do while proceeding through the lines!

 

Fireworks Show

We managed to get a great spot for the fireworks/projection show at Magic Kingdom. They do these shows EVERY night, which is crazy! The music, projections and fireworks were very well done and we were incredibly impressed with the show overall and how the crowds were managed. Lots of people, but well organized! Getting back home after the show was a lot better than we anticipated as well.

 

The Food

So, we HAD a plan to make our lunches ahead of time and bring them into the park with us to save time and money from waiting in lines and purchasing food there ($9.00 USD for a hot dog?!). That didn’t go so well for our first day because we FORGOT our lunch! Regardless, we got some good hot dogs, a giant turkey leg (for Marco, of course) and a yummy slushy complete with Disney silly straw! The meals were ok, but we packed our lunches for the remainder of the trips!

The Culture

Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has different “areas” or “zones” throughout the park which all signify different cultures or time periods and the zones are very well themed. The theming is what makes Disney World so special. Characters only appear in zones that are relevant to their “theme”, the music is theme specific, what they sell in the shops, the food, the architecture – EVERYTHING! Way more interactive and “magical” than your typical amusement park.

Character Meetings

Meeting Characters is super cool and fun – especially if you get to meet your fave Disney character! We found the wait times were pretty lengthy for a quick meet and greet and photo-op – we are adults after all. The characters are always IN CHARACTER – no matter how old you are, so prepare for some cheesy conversations and funny comments straight outta the films. I endured the 45 minute wait to meet Ariel from The Little Mermaid because she is my all-time fave, but we didn’t bother to wait for others. Unless you are a kid, or with a kid, it’s a long wait time for a photo!

 

 

 

The Lights Fest: Ottawa, ON

Many months ago I decided to buy an early bird ticket to this Lights Festival I saw advertised online. It looked incredible in the photos and I saw it as an opportunity to have an inexpensive (only cost me $25.00 CAD per ticket), different and romantic night out. It was an incredible experience.

Getting There
The Lights Festival in Ottawa was expecting over 5,000 participants (wow!), so as you can imagine there was quite a bit of traffic build up. We were supposed to arrive before 6:00pm, but due to the traffic we did not get into the festival until nearly 7pm! Regardless, we were able to find a great parking spot and still had time to find a great spot on the grass to sit and listen to some live music.

The Festival
The atmosphere was incredible. There were so many people of all ages sitting either on blankets on the grass or in their chairs. There were tiki torches all over the place to light the place up even in the dark. Everyone was given one lantern each and you were given a little marker too so you could decorate it or write something sentimental on it. Some people dedicated the lantern to their lost loved ones while others decided to write a wish or simply draw a picture.

While everyone was decorating their lanterns there were some live local talents playing on the stage. The music was really good and occasionally they would have some small contests for prizes like t-shirts.

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Lighting The Lanterns
It takes two people to light a lantern due to their size, so basically Marco was on one side and I was on the other. We brought the lantern over to the tiki torch to light it up. You need to hold the lantern close to the ground for a few seconds so the hot air gets trapped inside, and then you let it go! It’s quite a quick process, actually, and we didn’t get the photos we were 100% expecting to get but we still made some great memories!

It was quite magical to see 5,000+ lanterns float up into the night sky. They played music as this happened and just so happened to be one of my favourite songs – Hallelujah – I cried a little bit (tears of joy!). It was absolutely breathtaking, words cannot even describe it.

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They actually do these festivals all over the place (primarily Canada and the US I believe). You can check them out here: https://thelightsfest.com/ and see if they are coming to a town near you. I would highly recommend it. Have you been to a Lights Festival before? What were your thoughts? Drop us a comment below – we would love to hear from you!

 

What We Did In Less Than 24 Hours In Toronto

Sometimes you just want to go somewhere but may not have all the time in the world to do so. For us, Toronto is 5 hours away from home so making a short trip needs to be worth it. It was Marco’s birthday this past weekend (Happy Birthday!) so I decided to treat him to a weekend getaway.

Saturday 12:00pm – 5:30pm
On Saturday morning, the day of Marco’s birthday, I surprised him by telling him to pack a bag and hit the road with me to Toronto. We dropped off Poco (our dog) at my parents house and began our journey! The traffic was a bit heavy when entering Toronto and took us a while to find the hotel but we made it in great time!

Saturday 7:30pm – 9:30pm
Medieval Times! I had never been and neither had Marco. He absolutely loves medieval everything and I thought he would find it enjoyable – he did! I did too! We absolutely loved it. It can be slightly corny but overall was a great experience and the food was actually really good. For those who don’t know, Medieval Times is a spot in Toronto where guests eat with their hands and watch a show of knights riding on horses and playing games to claim victory. Guests are assigned a coloured section which corresponds to that of one of the knights and this is the knight you cheer for (you also get to boo the opposing team sitting across from you).

They also address you as “My Lord” and “My Lady”, which is super cool. We got some super awesome drinks from the bar prior to the dinner and show and purchased some AWESOME light-up cups that we got to keep. These will surely be a party favourite at home!

Sunday 10:00am – 12:00pm
The next day we decided to check out the Ripley’s Aquarium. It was absolutely incredible. Again, another attraction we had not seen but were really impressed by. It surprisingly was not overly busy and we were able to snap some great photos (keep an eye on our Instagram for more!). We learned a lot about fish and other sea creatures and made some great memories in record time.

Pro Tip: We purchased the tickets online ahead of time and bought the “timed” ticket (you check in at a certain time). You save some money and it gives you a little more structure to your day as well. I also added these to my “Wallet” on my iPhone. I’ve never used the wallet app before but found this incredibly handy as I did not need to sift through emails for a confirmation nor wait in line to purchase tickets onsite. If you have an iPhone I highly suggest doing this whenever it is available.

Sunday 12:00pm – 1:00pm
Arepa’s for brunch! We make arepa’s at home quite regularly but we heard of this arepa place and had to check it out. It was only a 5 minute drive from the aquarium and incredibly delicious! For those who don’t know, an arepa is a Venezuelan dish made of corn flower and whatever you want to put inside it. You can eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner (desert even!) and literally put whatever fillings, toppings or sauces you desire.

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Sunday 1:00pm – 6:00pm
Home trek back to Ottawa! The drive back was a bit better. We wished we could have stayed longer but time was not on our side and well, we have responsibilities to report to tomorrow (yuck!). We tried to squeeze as much as we could into such a short trip for Marco’s birthday, but I believe the best gifts to give are experiences and not items (or both!).

Although it was a short little trip we really enjoyed ourselves and needed a little break from the usual scenery we are surrounded by. I highly encourage you to take small getaways every once and while. They may not be five star luxury holidays but the little trips will surely give you some lasting memories.

Have you taken a short trip lately that you absolutely loved (or absolutely dreaded)? Where is your next small travel going to bring you next? Let us know in the comments, we would love to hear from you!