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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bday Disney Trip: Wilderness Lodge

My gift for my 30th birthday was a trip to DISNEY! I'm not gonna deny it...I was really, really hoping that turning 30 would somehow involve Disney. When you're turning such a "milestone" age you want to feel as young as possible and Disney guarantees youthful feelings, am I right?

Zach had completely, 100% planned the entire trip himself. It was SO thoughtful! I am the planner of the family and having something planned for me was a nice treat. AND he did a great job in the planning too :) He really put a lot of thought into what I'd enjoy and made it meaningful and fun.

Of course the day that we were taking the kids to Mrs. Charlotte's so we could leave for the trip is the same day that Tess got diagnosed with RSV. I had a MEGA hard time leaving. To be honest, Z and I had a pretty legit argument that evening once we'd dropped the kids off. I was having a breakdown and he was hurt and upset that he'd done all this planning and that I wasn't even going to enjoy any of it because I was so worried about Tess. I really got myself together and made the decision to put my worries and anxiety aside and focus on my husband, the trip, and our time together. I'm SO thankful I did that!!!

We left very early the next morning (it was Tues Dec 3rd if anyone cares for the exact day) and headed for the outlets in Orlando near Disney. Zach planned for us to start off the trip with some shopping. We LOVE outlet shopping together (we are the "ultimate outlet team" haha). And this shopping trip did not disappoint. Y'all. It was seriously the best deals EVER. I had some birthday money and gift cards and Zach set aside some spending money for me too. So it was fun :) I had seen several girls in Hawaii with super cute pineapple coverups (I LOVE pineapples. Random?) and really wanted one. I planned to ask for one for Christmas but since they were from last summer I couldn't find it anywhere. Well it was at the JCrew outlet on mega clearance and they gave us an additional percent off and I had a gift card so I ended up not paying anything for it and even getting an extra top to use my gift card balance! I was PUMPED!

Then we went into Crocs and I got even luckier. I have to wear Crocs b/c of my foot injury junk and it's hard to find shoes that don't hurt my foot. I randomly got some Crocs flip flops last summer from Zulily and they are amazing. The Crocs outlet had the same flip flops in a variety of colors also on clearance AND in my size! (If you're wanting some good supportive yet comfortable and cute flip flips here are the ones I got!)

But wait...there's more... ;) We then went into Loft and I found SO many great age-appropraite clothes. I hate to call them "mom clothes" but that's what they are. They fit awesome and looked great and they had some great deals too. While we were there I noticed a girl wearing a leather jacket. I had it on my Christmas wish list that I really wanted a biker type leather jacket. She said she got it at Wilson's in that same outlet. We got there and omg y'all. We were in shock at the deals! REAL leather jackets for only $40! The ones I'd been looking at for Christmas were from Express, not real leather, and were $119!!! Hello early Christmas shopping for each other ;) We both got a jacket (I actually got 2 and then Zach surprised me at Christmas with a third one haha). I don't think we've been that excited about a purchase in a super long time!

We also went to Coach (Zach did some Christmas shopping while I didn't look!) and to a Disney store. Which is genius and I don't know why I haven't thought to do it before. SUPER cheap Disney stuff!

We legit had THE BEST TIME. We rarely EVER go shopping. Especially not together. And especially not with money to spend haha. I spent all the money I had and didn't try to save anything for another day. I just lived it up ;) We hadn't even gone to Disney yet and we both agreed that if we were to just go back home that it still was an amazing trip already!!!
The only change I made in Zach's itinerary was our dinner plans. He had us booked for dinner inside Magic Kingdom that evening and I switched it out for late lunch at a resort and figured we'd just do that and be full enough to skip dinner rather than spend park time at a restaurant. We finished up with our shopping then headed over to the happiest place on earth to spend the rest of our trip!
Since he started planning the trip within the 180 day window, it was tricky to get reservations. Once I knew about the trip it was less than 30 days out from our travel dates which made it even trickier! He originally had us booked at Tony's in Magic Kingdom. I do want to eat there someday but it has mixed reviews and I thought it'd be more fun to visit a resort since it's something we don't ever get to do. I switched it out for lunch at Beaches and Cream Soda Shop located at Disney's Beach Club Resort. 
Hey Mickey!

I originally planned on not telling the kids where we were going. I didn't want them to feel left out of the fun! But when Tess got RSV I was on the phone to a friend and said something about us going to Disney and Kye heard me. I was really impressed with how he handled it! I told him I'd send pictures to him and I think he enjoyed getting to see some of the things we were seeing! I knew he'd love this sand castle with Mickey inside :)
Waiting for our table!
I hadn't ever been to Beach Club Resort or, obviously, to Beaches and Cream Soda Shop. It is ADORABLE. Of all the places we visited, I'm 100% sure we will be going back here. I loved the whole vibe and the decor was so retro and fun. It was great! We did NOT order "the kitchen sink" (huge ice cream!) but plan to bring the kids back and order it with them! It looked awesome!


Zach had a turkey sandwich and I totally wish I'd ordered that b/c it was AMAZING!
I had a burger and it was good...but the turkey was awesome 
They brought a balloon and a pin for me and had the whole restaurant sing Happy Birthday :)
And, of course, we got dessert!
Something I wish we'd had time for, and something I'd love to do in the future, is tour all the resorts and see their Christmas decorations. We were able to check out three resorts and it was so fun! We saw a bus full of older people doing the tour and I thought that was such a great idea!!! I know everyone loves Christmas trees and "pretty" decorations...but I have to say I thought the decorations made out of food were the coolest!
Ingredients that went into making the carousel!

Once we finished with lunch we headed over to check in to our resort. I have been to Disney World more times than I can even start to count. I was born in a town only 30 min away from Orlando so I have no clue the number of times I've visited the area. I do remember staying at the Fort Wilderness Camp Grounds and I know we stayed on property at least once somewhere else, but I'm not sure where. As far as my Disney experiences as an adult...Zach and I have stayed on property once. It was at the Sports resort and it was before I started blogging. 

I've talked a lot on my blog about how we don't stay on property when we visit Disney. I was SO excited to be able to try it out! Zach booked us one night at Wilderness Lodge. It's the second nicest resort on Disney property (Grand Floridian being the nicest) and he was told it's one of the most romantic places to stay especially at Christmas time. Zach and I never, ever, ever stay in expensive hotels. If we are paying for it ourselves, then we go as cheap as we can go (like bugs aren't uncommon for us...and shoes stay on...haha) so it was a real treat to get to stay somewhere so fancy!!! While Zach got us all checked in I looked around the lobby. 


I really loved how themed all the trees were!
Sidenote but I read that there are some hidden mickeys in this fireplace and when we were checking out I looked like a CRAZY lady trying to find them haha. I never did! So if you are staying there please find them for me and let me know :)

I knew Britt would love the Donald!




The resort was beautiful! Zach had me stay in the hallway when we got to our room and had a surprise waiting for me when we walked in :) It was just above and beyond in the thoughtfulness!!!! Best husband ever, right!??!

I will go ahead and say this. Part of the reason we haven't ever stayed on property is because we thought once we did that we'd always want to do it. The resort was beautiful. It was! But it was NOT worth the cost. No way. I loved the experience and I will totally stay on property again if Zach and I go on a solo trip together or something and can afford it. But it just doesn't come close to being worth the expense. The room is TINY. And it's JUST a hotel room!!! Yes, there are Disney touches. But overall it's a standard hotel room. I was not overly impressed with the "staying on Disney property" experience and I agree with the guidebooks and blog posts I've read reviewing the experience. The bus system wasn't great (if I had the kids with us I would have been frustrated) and the dining plan was FOR SURE not worthwhile. I never like to speak on things that I haven't experienced. Now that I have experienced both staying on property and using the dining plan I can say with confidence that I don't recommend either one...especially if traveling with children b/c we kept saying there is NO WAY we'd make it work with the kids there!!!

All that being said, we had an amazing time and Zach did PERFECT in his planning. I loved staying on property for our one night just the two of us stay. I loved the dining plan because our main focus on the trip was doing things we couldn't do with the kids. Both staying on property and the dining plan just aren't economical but this trip wasn't about counting pennies. It was about spoiling me haha Our priorities were different than a normal Disney trip for our family. Usually we prioritize saving money as the cost of tickets to the park alone are expensive for a family. Staying off property and going cheap on food is way more budget-friendly and we still have just as magical of a trip :) This time though I lived it up and we both said we'd love to do the same trip again someday! And we both got spoiled bc checking into the cheap hotel we booked for the 2nd night def wasn't as nice as hearing "Welcome Home" at the Disney check-in :) 


Characters on the hooks
thumper pillow!
Tiles in the shower
 Towel folded like a bow!
I really liked the textured leaf wallpaper in the bathroom 
My surprise waiting for me!!! A Minnie Mouse cooler!
Also when we got in the room there was a voicemail on the machine. I listened to it and had the surprise of the characters singing happy birthday to me!
Zach had purchased snacks to fill it with and had the resort put some Mickey popcorn in it as well (um that junk was addictingly delicious). He said he really wanted it to feel like a birthday celebration and thought it'd be neat to walk in the room to a gift! It's a super cute cooler and a great gift b/c I'm not into "Disney gear" but a cooler is something fun and practical that I'll legit use!
Since we haven't ever stayed on property this was our first experience with Magic Bands. We LOVED them. I was also happy to find out that once we got home we were able to load our tickets on them to continue using them for future visits. (We do the 10 day no expiration with park hopper tickets in case you were wondering! I did the math and it worked out to be the cheapest option for our family based on how often we go). I ended up buying two additional bracelets for the big kids to have as well! I think it's an awesome system and SO much easier than having to find cards all the time. I do wish they'd put a watch on them though b/c we constantly kept looking at them for the time!
You know I took these home ;)
I also LOVED that the resort had a cast member in the lobby for photos. Y'all know me and my love of photos. I appreciated that they took pictures for us!!!



Our plans for the evening were to attend Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Zach had purchased our tickets but we didn't rush to get there like we normally would. The park would let us in at 4 and usually we'd be hurrying to get there right at 4 to make the most of our park time. But the reality is we WILL go to Magic Kingdom in the future...we probably won't be going to Wilderness Lodge! We wanted to enjoy the resort and take our time getting to the park. I think we ended up getting there around 6? We really didn't rush at all! It was nice just taking a little boat over to the park and we enjoyed the views on the way!

Our night at Magic Kingdom is next!

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