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Monday, May 22, 2017

2nd Disney Solo Day!

Wanna read about my first Disney Solo Day (yes, it was just back in Feb haha). You can see that post here!

I have always envied the way Zach LOVES his hobbies. He loves sports. When we first got together it was football and when that ended he went through a transition of trying to figure out the new "thing" for him...which became golf (and basketball prior to the wreck he was in a few years ago). I've never really felt like I've had a "thing." A thing that brings me joy just for ME.

Something I also envy with Zach (and probably most husbands/fathers) is that he's able to go and enjoy his "thing" without having any concerns. He doesn't feel guilt over having "his time." He doesn't have to get a million things organized and handled for the kids before enjoying "his time." I tell him often that I wish I had a full day to do whatever I wanted without a single care!

On Friday May 5th Zach came home and told me that he was going to give me a completely "Mommy Free Day" that Monday. To do whatever I wanted. For the full day.

I struggled with this decision. He figured I'd do a pedicure or something. But everything I thought of didn't make me feel like it'd truly bring ME joy in a way that Zach has joy in his sports. Zach, half jokingly, mentioned Disney to me. And an instant lightbulb came on.

I decided to get up at 4:30 and head to Disney for the day! I know most mamas would take a free day and SLEEP. And I debated that, but I knew with the kids at home I wouldn't be able to just ignore them and stay in bed anyways. I also know I'm too "practical" to actually just CHILL at home. I needed to be completely out of the house for the whole day to truly enjoy a "me day." And what better place to do that than at my favorite place?

Y'all. I don't like driving long distances. I struggle seeing for night driving. I don't love being by myself. I get anxiety about strangers...about stopping at gas stations solo. I don't function super well on very little sleep.

But NONE of those things mattered to me. I know everyone always jokes about me being hardcore about Disney. And I've always agreed with that, but this day? This day was my MOMENT of realizing and recognizing that I'm a Crazy Disney Lady. You hear about Crazy Cat Ladies. They love their cats. They rock their cat jump suits proudly. Well. Sign me up for some Mickey Mouse Loungewear because I'm OWNING my Crazy Disney Lady status ;)

FINALLY I have my "thing." A thing that brings me true JOY just for ME.

I brought along just a little bit of stuff in my book bag. I left my big camera at home and kept it all pretty basic to keep it light! I DID bring a water bottle this time though (last time I struggled to find cups of water) and am glad I did!

The ride down wasn't bad AT ALL. Keeli hooked me up with a podcast to listen too (Up and Vanished...it's SUPER good, especially if you're from South Georgia b/c it's about a local missing person case) which made the ride even easier. I took Zach's car which was a great drive (he got a new Malibu a few months back...cheaper than the Flex and WAY better on gas).



I planned out my day less than 24 hours before leaving. I had a solo day a few months ago at Disney and did Magic Kingdom that day. For this day I really wanted to explore World Showcase at Epcot. Iv'e never taken the time to REALLY look through each country and I wanted to be able to do that! My goal was to get there before the park opened so I could make the mad dash to ride Frozen ;)


Whoop whoop!



I made it through the gates about 20 minutes before park opening. PERFECT timing!

It was hilarious b/c I hadn't told anyone really what I was doing and while I was waiting for the park to open Mrs Charlotte called and about died when I told her ;) 




I felt like a straight up old lady. The sitting and driving for 3ish hours made my legs SO stiff and I couldn't race to the ride the way I had wanted to. But being a single person did make it WAY easier to navigate through the crowds and make my way up to the front of the line. Only a 25 min wait! It was my first time not having a fast pass to ride it and I enjoyed getting to walk through the full line experience. 




Yes I LOVE the ride but I still FREAK OUT during the fall part. Apparently I'm the only one haha


Mrs. Charlotte's Main Man ;) 


The park opened at 9 but World Showcase didn't open until 11. My plan going in was ride Frozen then find some breakfast and just kinda chill until World Showcase got rolling. It was such a weird feeling to be in SUCH a rush for the ride and then to have NOTHING to do. I called Zach and caught up on some texts and such and took my time finding a bite to eat and a relaxing place to sit. 

I happened to be visiting during the Flower and Garden Festival which was also perfect for a solo day because it was BEAUTIFUL. 


I did some research and heard that one of the best bets for breakfast was actually still in Norway!


Hello School Bread. YUM!




Sitting in Norway, enjoying the view of the Eiffel Tower. Def can't complain!


"Everytime I'm At Disney I'm a Better Version of ME"


Once I finished my breakfast I went back towards the front of the park since I had so much time to kill. 




South Ga Shout Out with the Collards ;)


I had a BLAST on my first solo trip earlier this year. However, leading up to the trip I was nervous. I wasn't sure what to expect. If I'd enjoy the experience. And I felt SUPER awkward about being alone all day. I felt like I was out of place, like people thought I was super weird. I felt really self conscious getting Photo Pass pictures taken and I didn't meet a single character because I thought that it'd be awkward and uncomfortable. 

All of that went out the window this time around. Like I said earlier, this was THE day that I embraced my love of Disney. I owned it and rocked it and was zero percent awkward or uncomfortable. I embraced every single second. I chatted up random strangers, tons of cast members. I stopped at every single Photo Pass person (which there were LOTS more this trip too) and I LOVE all the pics b/c I can TELL that I'm just super happy and comfortable. SO basically be warned b/c there are about a billion pics of ME in this post haha. 








SO. Beautiful!


When I was getting the Photo Pass pics taken I noticed a little shop of Flower and Garden Festival Merchandise. I stopped to chat them up and see if they had any Christmas ornaments as I thought it'd be a perfect one to remember my solo day by! They didn't have any there and said it was a low stock item so it'd be tough to find. I figured it'd be a great mission while I waited for World Showcase to open. I headed back down to the World Showcase area and went in the first gift shop I found and got lucky right off the bat!


Love this! Pineapples are my fav!



While the areas weren't open yet, there was still plenty to see and browse while I waited. Since I'd already been to Norway and a bit of Mexico I headed the opposite direction over to Canada. 


The cultural thing to do in World Showcase is to learn about the countries. Do the experiences, etc. Buttttt my goal for the day was to walk through every shop. Haha I wanted to just browse! I've never had the opportunity to take my TIME through World Showcase and I love shopping. I told Zach that it'd be SO FUN to go back together and do some Christmas Shopping. There were so many awesome, unique gifts!

Some good Canadian finds ;)



During the Festival, each country had a special egg hidden within it. For $5.99 you can buy a map and sticker set to keep track of the eggs you find along the way and then turn it in at the end for a prize. I didn't want to spend the $5.99 but figured it'd be fun to kinda look for them as I went. I did NOT even open my Hidden Mickey guidebook. I had planned on it, but I had a lot to see and do and looking for the eggs was fun enough :) 


I'm super pumped about this as a gift for Britt for her birthday (yes, in December ha!). She often says she has bad dreams. I've always had bad dreams too and had a dreamcatcher as a kid so I think she'll like it!





United Kingdom!



I feel like this is pretty true for me? The keeping my mind fixed on positive things is a struggle though at times for sure!


I tried to look up the Parker Family Crest but I don't know the country of origin for the name. That miiiiight be something handy to learn huh?!?!

Found the egg ;)



I walked out of a shop into a little courtyard and just saw Mary Poppins standing there with only 1 person waiting to meet her! If there was ever a moment to get over my semi-awkwardness about solo character meetings...it was NOW!

I hopped in line and asked the cast member to take pics for me since there wasn't a Photo Pass person.  I will say the ONLY awkward thing about meeting characters solo is the line. Other people look at you super strangely. But I just smiled and rolled with it. I was pumped to meet Mary, who cares if I probably related more to their 6 year old kids than I did the other parents in line haha. 

We discussed gnats. Which are bad right now, even at Disney. And they seemed to really be attracted to her dress! 



To walk up and meet Mary with literally no wait? So awesome!!!


Even though World Showcase was open...it was super mega DEAD because it was so early. I loved it! I took my timmmmme and just soaked it all in. 


"Bye Mary!"



Hello France!




Egg...and Eiffel Tower ;)


Oh Hey there Belle!!! I've never met her in her blue dress! The line was SUPER long for her but it was cool that she literally walked right in front of me!


I wasn't super hungry but I also knew I didn't have lunch/dinner till late and while in France I had to get a crepe. Duh. I DO regret not going for chocolate or Nutella. I went with plain sugar b/c it's what the girls working there had recommended and it just was okay


Morocco!


A not-so-hidden-Mickey


I'm not joking. I have this EXACT camel (minus the hat) in our attic. This size and everything. I'm the QUEEN of random belongings haha



Egg!


As part of the festival there were many little stations set up of items people have made. I talked to these people a good bit and took a lot of time looking at their work. I'm sure they are often overlooked in the rush of a day at the theme park. What a HUGE honor to be asked to showcase AT Disney, right?!?! I actually came across one station and LOVED their jewelry. It's all handmade from peels, seeds, beans, flowers, etc. And it's not crafty looking...it's legit pretty!


I needed a gift for my step mom's bday and was super excited about this for her!





The shops in each country are so fun and really do reflect the vibe of that country. In Canada the guy working there was very talkative and PROUD to be Canadian (which is like a thing right?). In United Kingdom everything was very "posh" and almost fancy. In France it was a little pushy, lots of people trying to get me to try perfume. Morocco is one of my favs as it's set up like a market. I wondered if you're allowed to haggle ;) Japan though was SO MUCH ENERGY! I walked in when a family was opening their pick a pearl and everyone was cheering and so excited. All the merchandise is so brightly colored and FUN and there were lots of super affordable items so I thought it'd be a good place to get each of the kids a little something. These little lucky kitties are under $3 each (pink ones mean good luck in friendship)


I thought the ninja and his meaning was great for Kye!



Egg!


In my opinion, the American area is lacking. Right? The shop isn't that great and there just isn't much appeal to the entire portion. I know The Great American Adventure is a top rated attraction at Epcot and I agree, it's awesome, but the rest of the area could use something else to make it more exciting. A LOT of visitors come to Disney World from ALL over the WORLD and being in America is a special treat for them and I think it'd be neat to give them more of a taste of what our country has to offer. I did enjoy the music though and took this video for Britt of her fav song ;) I enjoyed doing a lot of IG Stories all day for the kids to see! 



Disney Ducks!


Heading to Italy...gotta love some Lady and the Tramp!






This was a tricky find!



The merchandise in Italy was beautiful but, whew, pricey. The leather bags would be quite the splurge! I headed to Germany and really, really wanted to buy one of these clocks. My mom had one and it's an instant memory of my childhood. I WILL buy one eventually and we will have one in our home at some point. But it's def a BIG purchase and something I would need to do with Zach with me ;) I loved looking at them though! 




I knew I wanted to get Zach something as a "thank you" for the day away and had planned on getting him some fancy chocolate and knew Germany was the place to do it! I just asked the guy who worked there about what he recommended and bought it ;) I figured he knows best! 







The Outpost area is SO ODD to me. So it's kinda like Africa I guess? But it really is like nothing? Which I don't think they need an Africa area b/c that is covered in Animal Kingdom but it's just an odd spot and seems so half-hearted on Disney's part which isn't typical of Disney. I'm interested to see the long term plan for this portion of the park. 



China!


I was kinda starting to run low on my time for the day and felt like a lot of the China stuff was a repeat of Japan. I know they are totally different countries with different cultures, but a lot of the merchandise is similar. I also looked and looked for the egg and even asked for hints but couldn't find it! Dangit!


Back to Norway!



Had to stop and say hey to Sven ;) 


Egg! I didn't spend a lot of time in Norway since I'd had a good bit of time there that morning! 


Beautiful flowers on the way to Mexico!



I saw a TON of cute gifts I wanted to get the kids from Mexico...but then I remember that I'm going to LEGIT Mexico in a couple weeks and should probably hold off haha


I survived World Showcase and didn't even buy too many things (b/c I wanted to buy THEM ALL!)




I had planned to go to the Character Spot and meet the characters with my Visa card (they have a special meet and greet) but when I got there the line was pretty long and I didn't want to risk being rushed to get to Magic Kingdom. So I browsed a little in the big shop at Epcot. I had two "must find" gifts for the day: something for Audrey and something for Kye. He had done SUCH an amazing job at our yard sale (post to come) that Zach and I agreed we wanted to do something special for him. He didn't expect it, he didn't do the hard work because he thought he'd get something out of it. And that's exactly why we wanted to reward him. I found this and thought he'd love it but decided to wait to buy it until Emporium b/c I didn't want to carry it around all day (carrying around that chocolate was pain enough haha!). 


Goodbye Epcot!


On my way leaving the park I happened to see Daisy. With, again, NO LINE. There was like two people waiting to meet her so I went on over. I've never met classic Daisy! She's ADORABLE and I love how short she is! I expressed to her that I prefer this outfit over the magician one she wears at MK ;) 





I had a blast with all the photo pass people this time. SO many of them were just standing around not taking ANY pictures. And I'd see guests just ask them for directions over and over again. I was that kind of student in school that would raise my hand to ask a question because I felt bad for the teacher that no one was asking any haha. So I couldn't pass up any picture opportunities and several of them were super into it which was pretty funny too. 





On my way to MK!


I love ALL the Disney Parks but nothing feels like HOME the way MK does!






Wishes is the fireworks show that has been running for 13 years at MK and came to an end on May 11th. I was super, mega tempted to stay to watch it that night but I had already seen it for my "last time" so I didn't stay. I knew it was wise to leave early enough to drive back! 

I told Zach I wish I'd gone to Disney in Jan b/c I've now been once in Feb (solo trip), once in March (Kye's bday trip), once in April (Parker fam trip) and once in May (solo trip 2). Gah I'd be SO DOWN to make it a once a month visit!!!!!


My original plan was to get to MK and head over to ride Pirates. But the parade was about to start (Festival of Fantasy starts at 3 but ends on Mainstreet at about 3:20ish) and if I was able to get through the crowds to get to Pirates it'd be a pain to try to get ALL the way back to Main Street for my lunch reservation at Tony's. So I just used that time to go ahead and browse Emporium to pick out things I'd want to buy on my way out of the park. 

Such cute Tiki Room themed necklaces!


I've been drinking a TON of green tea lately and could really use a cute Disney cup!


Had to happen ;)


Britt couldn't get over how many times I got to catch Tink ;) 


I hung out in the shop until I heard the parade coming and then just popped out and watched it. SUCH a great advantage of being solo! I didn't have to find a spot and wait or anything. And being so short, and looking like I'm 12, a nice man let me get up in the front of the group to watch haha. I did get to see his granddaughter have a SUPER special moment in the parade when one of the 7 Dwarves came over and hugged her and kissed her!!!

It's so funny to me that I hadn't ever seen this parade before until Feb and now I've seen it three times haha









I took a few videos from the parade too: 1, 2, 3

On my first Solo Trip I ate at Tony's for the first time and LOVED IT. Seriously when Z mentioned going to Disney my FIRST thought was of the meal I had at Tony's and my mouth watered and it was really what led me to the decision to make the drive that day. It was that good. I was able to get a reservation for myself at 4 and figured I'd make it my only large meal of the day. It worked out great and they have a wonderful lobby to enjoy while you wait for your table!



I looked over the menu while I waited and semi-sorta had a moment of panic. When I came in Feb the waiter actually ordered for me. He made me an amazing pasta dish with broccoli and artichoke and I LOVED IT. But I didn't see it on the menu at all. I spent my wait time pulling up my own blog post so I could screen shot it to show the waiter in hopes they could recreate the dish (having a blog comes in handy!). 


I felt a little uncomfortable on my last solo visit sitting alone in the restaurant. I sat outside to watch the parade on that day but on this day I wanted indoor seating. It was HOT and it allowed me to see the atmosphere of the restaurant too by eating indoors. I didn't feel uncomfortable one bit this time around! I enjoyed my relaxing time and used it to look up some things in mental preparation for future Disney visits (and had to respond to some adoption related things too) :)


They do NOT have the dish that I loved anymore. At first I was SUPER bummed but then I trusted my waitress and am SO GLAD I did! This shrimp pasta? A-MAZING. So good, in fact, that I kept my leftovers and carried them around with me the rest of the day and had them the next day for lunch haha!



I had to spend a least a few minutes in my favorite Hub spot ;)


Must have photo opp!







I not only booked dining reservations less than 24 hours prior to my travel time, but I also booked fast passes for myself. I did Pirates (which I missed), Buzz, and Talking Mickey. I knew I wouldn't want to walk all over the park so I stuck to stuff that was pretty close to the entrance. I was on a time crunch! 

Buzz line took a LONG TIME. I'm not sure if the ride was having issues or what because the posted wait time was 25 min and I had the fast pass, but I still waited about that full time. Found a new hidden mickey though and had a good time talking to people in line with me. I had SEVERAL great moments with fellow mommies on this day. Ones that said they wished they could come solo or have come solo or just shared a similar love for Disney. Maybe it being a week day I had more annual pass holder type people there or something than on the Sat when I went solo before? I just overall had better interactions with other guests all throughout the day! I chatted with several wonderful ladies at Epcot too! 


Every single time we ride Buzz Zach gets the high score. And every single time we ride, I'm no where close. I know it makes Zach proud that my FAVORITE moment from my solo day was that I GOT THE HIGH SCORE!!! My top score before this moment was like 250,000. I don't know if this will ever happen again but I was STOAKED!



I raced out super quick to tell a cast member. She made the moment so special...she yelled and got everyone's attention who was exiting the attraction and announced my name and that I was an official Galactic Hero. I bowed and said "You're welcome for saving the Galaxy"

She also offered to take pictures of me with Zurg :) Which duh, was awesome. 

Even better after we got done taking the pictures, a whole family from Brazil raced up to me and, through our language barrier, wanted to see my high score and were cheering for me. It was epic.



Keeping this FOR LIFE. 


I was hoping to hit the road at 6ish but had to book my FP for Mickey at 6 so I planned to get there at 5:50. I buzzed through Emporium and picked up the couple of items I had planned to purchase and then had to wait for the Move It Shake It parade to pass and ended up at Mickey right at 5:50 :) 



This guy would probably be a fabulous Disney BFF. He knew every song and dance move to the parade (I'm guessing he must be a current or former cast member) and he was literally freaking out the whole time. He's my spirit animal ;)


The line for Mickey was probably my only semi-uncomfortable moment of the day. The families around me were great. I chatted up the kids and traded Disney tips with the parents. But there was a group of teens a bit ahead of me and that was a little awkward b/c I knew they thought I was super strange. I'm glad they were in front of me though as I think having them watch me interact with Mickey would have been a little uncomfortable and would have taken away from my moment ;) 


Pretty proud of myself from going from not feeling comfortable meeting ANY characters to meeting a talking one!!! When it was my turn I just let any insecurities fade away and channeled my inner Disney lover side and got crunk for some Mickey one on one time!!! 


I love this. He looks like he's in awe of ME rather than the other way around haha!


We talked about how I was there solo and that I had to come say hey to my Main Mouse!






I headed straight for a snack cart by the exit in hopes of grabbing a Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich. My fav Disney treat is a pretzel but I was pretty hot and just craving the ice cream. Sadly, the snack cart didn't have it at that location. I opted for cotton candy and frozen lemonade instead. I always think I'm going to like the lemonade more than I actually do haha but it was a good snack for the ride home!


I will say that park hopping this visit was MUCH smoother. I know they are working through security stuff. For this day I only went through security ONE time. At Epcot that morning. Hopping to MK didn't have any security at all. I rode the monorail back to Epcot and did have quite a long trip due to the monorail stopping a few times. I didn't mind as I enjoyed chatting with some first timers and helping give them advice on being at the parks while the mommy was pregnant ;) 

I was a tad nervous about finding my car as Mrs. Charlotte and Casey visited Epcot recently and couldn't find where they had parked. I had taken a photo of it and found it easily and was in my car ready to go by 7 which wasn't too bad! I was also a tad nervous for the ride home because I never had any caffeine all day. I had planned to get a coffee of some sort but there wasn't anything at Epcot's entrance area so I had to make due! Shockingly though the lemonade was still plenty frozen and the podcast was PERFECT for the drive. I never felt tired and was so into the podcast that I could have kept driving haha

I was REALLY proud of myself for this entire day. I feel like I learned a lot about myself and truly feel so content FINALLY feeling like I have a thing just for me. I know other moms can probably relate to that feeling of desire and longing for something just for US and it feels ammmmazing to finally have that in my life. I also got over a lot of personal mini hurdles: doing that drive solo, taking pics solo, meeting characters solo, and the BIG one is going to a gas station solo. Zach's car gets such amazing gas mileage that I assumed I'd make it there and back and not need to stop. I realized that I wouldn't make it and would have to get off and kinda freaked out. It was dark and like 9 pm and I get SO sketched out about gas stations solo. But I found a nicely lit one and got out and filled up and felt FINE. I wasn't nervous or scared. I just got it done. Now, I didn't go inside to pee, but small steps ;)

I was home before 10:30! I was tired but in a wonderful sort of way. I'm so thankful for my first solo day earlier this year because I think it was a great intro to me tackling the parks alone and I just had THE best time on this day! It was truly what I needed and will be something I do more in the future. I think this whole Annual Pass situation is going to be tough for me to give up...because really it was a cheaper day than if I'd stayed in Valdosta (pedicure...shopping...that all adds up!). 

I'm appreciative of Zach for encouraging me to have this day to myself and am thankful for such an awesome opportunity! I would seriously go again tomorrow if I had the free day to myself. I truly can see this becoming a somewhat regular thing for me! Zach has his golf days, I can have my Disney ones ;) If you've never done a solo day and are able to do one then DO IT!!! 

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