We are celebrating our 15 years of marriage at AULANI: A Disney Resort & Spa in Hawai’i. Our love and friendship has created a beautiful family and we are blessed to have each other.
Who: DisneySunflower (36), DVC Mom
DH (37), DVC Husband
DD (14), DVC Daughter
DD (9), DVC Daughter
DS (5), DVC Son
Dates: March 20 – 27, 2011
Travel Method: Family SUV
Resort: Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Experience: Experienced – 2nd stay at this resort
Introduction: This is my work-related trip to Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We have reserved a One Bedroom Lake View Villa. We have had a few trips to WDW in 2010, so we have remaining use on our Magic Your Way tickets with Water Fun and More, no expiration.
Sunday, 3/20: Check-in Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Monday, 3/21: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Lunch at Sci-Fi Dine In Theater
Tuesday, 3/22: Universal’s Islands of Adventure Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Lunch at Three Broomsticks
Wednesday, 3/23: RESORT DAY, Lunch at the Wave…of American Flavors, Welcome Home Wednesdays, Cirque de Soleil – La Nouba
Thursday, 3/24: Magic Kingdom, Breakfast at Crystal Palace, Lunch at The Diamond Horseshoe
Friday, 3/25: Epcot, Lunch at Via Napoli, Dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel
Saturday, 3/26: Downtown Disney, Lunch at Olivia’s Café, Dinner at Victoria & Albert’s (DH and I)
Sunday, 3/27: Check-out and head to visit @wifeandmomuniv and family in Birmingham, AL!
Monday, 3/28: Head home
A 4-Night Bahamian Cruise aboard the Disney Wonder departing on Sunday, November 7, 2010 from Port Canaveral, Florida.
Sunday, November 7, 2010 – Depart at 4pm
Monday, November 8, 2010 – Nassau, Bahamas
Tuesday, November 9, 2010 – Castaway Cay
Wednesday, November 10, 2010 – Day at Sea
Thursday, November 11, 2010 – Return at 7:35am
We had 5 families aboard and we had a wonderful time!
2010 ESSENCE Music Festival, New Orleans, LA
Friday, July 2 – Monday, July 5
The ESSENCE Music Festival is annual music festival celebrating contemporary African American music and culture. It is the largest event celebrating African American culture and music in the United States. It has been held in New Orleans, Louisiana every year since 1995 except for 2006, where it was held in Houston, Texas due to Hurricane Katrina. ESSENCE Music Festival, known locally as ESSENCE Fest, is sponsored by ESSENCE magazine, a magazine aimed primarily towards African-American women, and presented by Coca-Cola®.
My Role as a Moms Panelist
As a member of the 2010 Walt Disney World Moms Panel and a Disney Vacation Club member, I discussed Walt Disney World Parks, Disney’s Dreamers Academy, and Disney Vacation Club. I also discussed vacation planning and answered questions about travel to Walt Disney World. I assisted with the hourly Raffle of wonderful Princess and the Frog and Mouse Ears prizes.
Highlights of My Experience
I was given ample opportunity to take a break from our booth and attend the free seminars and performances held at the Convention Center. During the Festival, I attended the Informed and In Charge: Sex in the Era of HIV seminar with Sheryl Lee Ralph; the Where Do We Go From Here? seminar with Reverend Al Sharpton; An Educational Keynote by Bill Cosby; The Secret Life of Our Teens seminar with Hill Harper; and An All-Star Gospel Salute to Kirk Franklin, Pastor Shirley Caesar and Bishop Paul & Pastor Debra Morton featuring Dr. Juanita Bynum, II and several Gospel choirs.
I had the opportunity to eat delicious, authentic, New Orleans and Louisiana cuisine. I had Barbecue Shrimp with Rice, Jambalaya, Gumbo, German Chocolate Cake, Pralines, Apple Cobbler, and Strawberry Lemonade. I also enjoyed complimentary McDonald’s shakes and Coca-Cola’s Coke Zero and Gold Peak Tea.
I shopped the ESSENCE Marketplace & Art Expo that was a few steps away from our booth. I was able to purchase unique and handcrafted items, as well as ship larger items home via the onsite USPS.
I was able to see the Ford Booth from our booth and they featured several music artists and celebrities, including El Debarge, Kirk Franklin, Trey Songz, Idris Elba, Mary Mary, and more.
I could see the Coca-Cola Booth next to our booth and I watched Chef G. Garvin cooking demonstrations, as well as, several renditions of the Cha Cha Slide and Cupid Shuffle.
Laura, so graciously, took me to NOLA Restaurant for dinner. NOLA’s is Chef Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant located in the French Quarter. My mouth is still watering!
My family and I attended the Sunday, July 4th Concert featuring Trey Songz, Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige.
This was my first visit to New Orleans, Louisiana and my first Essence Music Festival. I met and worked alongside wonderful and energetic Disney Cast Members.
Princess Tiana, as Disney’s first African-American Princess, is an inspiration to young ladies and to all African-Americans. I was proud to witness the profound effect her presence had on everyone, especially the little girls. Most importantly, I had the opportunity to talk about Disney for 3 days!
I enjoyed every minute of this Magical experience!
Day 7 – March 20, 2010
Plan: RESORT DAY, Dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse (DH and I)
Actual: We love Resort Day! Time to unwind and relax. We had a light breakfast and headed to… The Pool. It was a beautiful day and we planned to spend the majority of it at Stormalong Bay!
We decided to rent a double tube for the day for $10. Everyone enjoyed taking turns on the tube and riding the Lazy River. DD (8) and DS loved the sand. Although there were plenty of sand toys and all the children played very well together, it was only a matter of time before our kids needed their own. So, we had lunch at Hurricane Hanna’s Grill and DD (8) and DS got a pail and shovel of their own. LOL! I do not recall ever staying at the pool so long in the past, and it was FABULOUS! We usually do mornings or evenings because of the heat, but the weather was perfect.
DH and I had dinner reservations at Yachtsman Steakhouse at 6:55 pm, and we didn’t leave the pool until after 5:00 pm. I got dinner finished, got dressed, and we were out the door by 6:40 pm. Woo Hoo! I enjoyed wearing “dress up” clothes for our romantic evening out. DH had the Porterhouse and I had the Filet Mignon. We went with the offered wine pairings and had Crème Brulee for dessert. Dinner was very good, but not fantastic. I has heard and read mixed reviews about Yachtsman Steakhouse. We definitely enjoy “steak” and the meal was delicious, but the ambience… not so much. There were families seated near us and they were definitely not dressed up, at all. I would definitely return to Yachtsman Steakhouse, but not for a romantic evening as much as for a family meal. The kids would have enjoyed the dinner selections and we look forward to bringing them in the future.
DH and I decided to enjoy the Beach Club Villas Lobby and found a quiet corner to talk. We enjoyed our time together and could not believe that our trip would be ending soon – tomorrow was departure day.
The kids enjoyed watching movies and eating popcorn while we were out. Of course, we bragged to them about how good the food was! We love getting DD (13) excited. We were sad to leave in the morning, but happy for the next leg of our travel.
Day 8 – March 21, 2010
Actual: We woke up early to eat breakfast and pack. Check out was at 11:00 am and we planned to be out of Orlando by Noon. We tripled checked that we had not left anything in our Villa and got everything out and in the car by 11:00 am! We were on or way to… Tampa, Florida. I had a conference to attend and we had not been. We had plans to have dinner with @zannaland and her family.
Tampa was wonderful, but that is a different Trip Report all together! Until next time…
Day 6 – March 19, 2010
Plan: Epcot, Les Chefs de France, Cape May Café Clam Bake Dinner Buffet
Actual: I headed off to my conference, grabbed breakfast there. DH was going to let everyone sleep in and then make breakfast. I returned to the villa just after Noon and everyone was ready to get to Epcot. The walk over to International Gateway was very nice. I must admit, at this point I felt spoiled by all the travel options and preferred the ease of walking. We were able to get a mission in Norway for our Kim Possible Adventure and finished up in time to head to France for lunch at Les Chefs de France.
This was another planned surprise. I purposely did not mention that Remy from Ratatouille would make an appearance or that I knew anything about the details of the menu. You would think that they would know better, but I think that the thought of French food just had everyone excited. As we approached the restaurant, Serveur Amusant was performing and this was a very cool performance. We were completely impressed. Lunch was a big hit, especially Remy.
We even had a special treat, we were seated so that we could see Belle and Beast as they entered and departed from France. DS swears that Belle waved at him.
We enjoyed the International Flower & Garden Festival. DH got some great photos.
DD (8) has been working on her Wonders of Water Journey in Girl Scouts, so we took extra time at the Water Conservation Exhibits. She really enjoyed putting it all together and took photos to share with her troop. (Very proud Mom and Girl Scout Troop Leader here!)
I had heard that the Princess and The Frog Exhibit left a lot to be desired, because there were no floral arrangements – just cardboard cut outs. Well, I beg to differ, the Wedding scene was lovely. Here are a few more photos from the Festival.
We then were off to Soarin’ and by the time we were finished, it was time to head back to Beach Club for dinner.
Cape May Café Clam Bake Dinner Buffet was very good. We had plenty of choices and I cold not believe the all you could eat Crab Legs. I was in heaven. This is definitely on my list of favorite meals. We finished stuffing our faces and headed back to Epcot for Extra Magic Hours. I wanted to see Figment, so we headed straight for the Imagination Pavilion. We realized that DS had not been to Honey I Shrunk the Audience, so we went there first and then to Journey Into Imagination with Figment. A favorite of mine. I even bought a Figment for my office, inspiration! We decided to head over to the The Seas with Nemo and Friends. This is a family favorite and we decided to head up to the second level. I do not recall ever being up there or even knowing there was a second level. We were fascinated with the view. Dolphins and fish, everywhere! We loved it and could have stayed forever. But, I spoke with @wifeandmomuniv and they were at Epcot! Woo Hoo! We agreed to meet them in Mexico and off we went.
I really enjoy @wifeandmomuniv and her family. We had such a good time. We finished up a snack and headed inside to ride Gran Fiesta Tour with the Three Caballeros. We tried on some hats and window shopped before getting on the ride.
Afterwards, DH and @wifeandmomuniv’s oldest son went ride Mission: Space while we rode The Maelstrom. We hung out in the Puffin’s Roost while the kids played Viking and we window-shopped some more.
We decided to call it a night and headed out of the park. DH met us in front of Japan, because I thought that I would be able to get some very last minute shopping done, no such luck. Mitsukoshi Department Store was closed when we made it there, so when DH arrived, we headed to International Gateway and walked home.
Another great day and again, we were exhausted. We really enjoyed Epcot and spending time with @wifeandmomuniv and her family. You are probably tired of hearing me say what a good time we had, but we really did! Until tomorrow…
Day 5 – March 18, 2010
Plan: Magic Kingdom
Actual: We were up and off to Magic Kingdom after breakfast. My goal was to visit Mickey’s Toontown Fair for one last time. We decided to hop on the Walt Disney World Railroad and travel to Mickey’s Toontown Fair. I always enjoy the extra touches that Disney places on the scenic route around the park. We had a great time!
Next stop, Tomorrowland. I was able to check voice mails and make a few calls while DH and the kids went on the Tomorrowland Speedway. I decided to go and get the Fast Passes for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin while I waited for them, and bumped into our neighbors from Indianapolis who were in line for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. They informed me that their next stop was Space Mountain. So, when the family got off the ride, we went to say hello. Their oldest son attends school with DD (13), their twins attend school with DD (8), and I am their youngest daughter’s (one of the twins) Girl Scout Troop Leader, so it was a love fest! LOL! It was good to see them having fun. We were hoping to grab an attraction together later in the day. But, we were off to have lunch at my new favorite, Columbia Harbour House.
As we left Tomorrowland, I saw two familiar faces. I met @NDM_1 for the first time. She is super nice! She was with @wifeandmomuniv and they were wrapping up a video session. We promised to try to reconnect later in the day for some time on the attractions. Wow, I really enjoy Columbia Harbour House! Shrimp and more shrimp. We did some people watching and enjoyed our meal. We headed back to Tomorrowland to ride Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Always fun! We decided to grab Fast Passes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and hop on Jungle Cruise. We met @wifeandmomuniv and @NDM_1 after we finished Jungle Cruise. Hung out for a few and it was time to return to Frontierland and use the Fast Passes. We headed over to Main Street, USA to grab some ice cream from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. Yummy!
Next stop, Fantasyland! My favorite, It’s A Small World, was a must do attraction. I do love it so. We could stay in Fantasyland all day and do the attractions over and over. I usually like to start the day in this very happy place, however, my desire to see Mickey’s Toontown Fair won. I can’t wait for the Fantasyland expansion. More of my favorites and lots of new Disney favorites.
We decided to have dinner at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café, we love their variety of selections. Great meal. Then it was time for Space Mountain, while DS and I played in the Tomorrowland Arcade. The line was moving pretty well, so we didn’t even get the chance to shop before they had finished the ride.
We decided to head home, because everyone was exhausted. Another great time at Magic Kingdom! I had no problem getting everyone in their PJs and off to bed.