Girl’s Weekend to Orlando and Disney Springs During Pandemic

Girl’s Weekend to Orlando and Disney Spring’s During Pandemic

Obviously we’re all living in these crazy pandemic times and it’s TOUGH having SO many plans canceled or delayed and so many things up in the air.

Owning a rental home near Disney is rough right now with the parks being closed and people not traveling.

The upside of the house being empty and us having less plans than usual means we can take a last minute trip now and then πŸ˜‰

Katie and I had tickets to see Alanis Morisette in concert and that has been delayed a year and with the house being empty we decided to make a super last minute trip down! Tiffany came along with us and it was yet another lesson to me in that last minute plans can be some of THE BEST.

Katie and I have taken a TON of trips together and she even said this was one of the top ones EVER. We had suchhhh an awesome time!

We headed down on Friday June 12th and when we arrived we just hung out on the couch for like two hours deciding what to do haha. It was so fun thinking up ideas and we were all on the same page with using the weekend to do something none of us have ever done and have new experiences together!

Our rental house is located just 3 minutes from the new Sunset Walk area and I’d yet to be there to check it out so we decided to go over there for an early dinner and walk around.

Yall it’s an ADORABLE space! So many cute shops and it’s set up where there is a wonderful breeze through the buildings (you can tell they built it intentionally for that purpose) that made it beautiful to walk around even in the June Orlando heat!

We popped into Ford’s Garage and it was so cute! All the car details were really fun and the food was fantastic. We all loved the burgers and it’s a place I’ll for sure come back with the family soon (and I just learned that they have a kids nights on Tuesdays – gotta remember that for sure!)

I was so excited to see that they have a peanut butter burger. IT WAS SO GOOD!

I also really, really loved the quote from Henry Ford. We’ve gotta take chances in life!

After our early dinner we walked around the shops a bit, there is a store called Sugar that we assumed would be a bunch of fun stuff for the kids and candy and treats. And it was…but it also had super inappropriate merchandise that I wouldn’t want my kids seeing. It’s one of those places that I bet goes out of business because you look at stuff and laugh but don’t actually buy anything.

One of our FAVORITE spots to visit on girl’s trips together is the Five Below located in the same shopping area as Target and TJMaxx. It’s like the sweetest little shopping center spot πŸ˜‰

It is also located just 5 min from the house so it’s convenient and a fun place to browse!

We ALWAYS find good deals and fun times at Five Below. I grabbed a few workout items and it was so funny at check out I asked the cashier how well the items actually worked and she ended up giving me all kinds of work out motivational pep talks and said “Don’t give up, you’ll get there!” I about died haha

It was a mix of masks vs no masks depending on what store we visited (reminder this was in mid-June, I’m sure masks have become more of a “thing” now in mid-July).

TJMaxx was pretty hardcore about their social distancing rules and had some intense barriers up between cash registers.

By the way I get questions about my shorts every time I wear them and they are MY FAV denim shorts! I’ve been on a hunt for good shorts and these are THE BEST! Size up at least one size!

We then went over to Menchies (also in the same shopping center) to FINALLY get some FROYO!

When Zach and I first bought the house at Disney I was so excited that a froyo place was located so close to the house but here we are 2.5 years into owning it and I’ve yet to visit the froyo place. Katie and I tried once on one of our trips but it wasn’t open when we went.

This time is WAS open but, naturally, it had all sorts of rules in place due to the pandemic.

All the toppings were in individual cups and we had to wear masks and gloves and use sanitizer prior to putting on the gloves (which I don’t quite understand) and weren’t allowed to eat inside. It was all worth it for that froyo goodness though!

We headed back to the house and stayed up talking and laughing so much. Katie and I have always been friends, Tiffany and I have been growing our friendship over the last couple of years and I just loved that they connected too! It was so great that we all three just meshed SO WELL.

Friendships in adulthood can be tricky let alone combining friendships. I’ve really been so blessed in the friendship department and God just knows exactly who to put in my path at just the right moments πŸ™‚

The next morning we slept in a bit (well I did…pretty sure Tiff and Katie were up early talking while I snoozed ha!). And then layed out by the pool. Is there anything better for a kid-free weekend than sleeping in and being lazy pool side? NOPE!

During our two hour planning session the day prior we decided to try out a really random tourist spot that I’d never heard of before…Chocolate Kingdom.

We wanted to do something random and loved that it was interactive and inside in the AC. Plus since we were the only ones who took the tour – we got to be mask free too which was a nice perk!

Chocolate Kingdom is located about 20 minutes from the house and it’s a factory that makes their own chocolate in house. They have a tour of the factory that is both filled with interesting chocolate facts and info about the process of making chocolate and chocolate itself as well as a storyline that would be fun for the kids too.

They also host birthday parties and adult events – all of which sound really fun and something my kids would love and something we’d enjoy on another girls trip in the future!

The storyline is about a prince wanting to impress the princess of chocolate kingdom and he has a dragon friend to help him on his quest. There were multiple stops during our tour to get to taste test chocolate and at the end we got to make our OWN customized chocolate bar.

We got to see clothes made from chocolate, huge chocolate animal designs and got to toss big marshmallows into a dragons mouth. I mean can it get better than that? πŸ˜‰

The chocolate was all SUPER high quality and the prices were crazy affordable. Zach and I had just visited Jacksonville a few weeks prior and paid more than double for some chocolate for the kids that wasn’t nearly as yummy as what they sell. I would even take the kids there just to buy the chocolate!

It was SUCH a random thing for us to do but that’s what added to the FUN!

After we got done getting our chocolate on we ran back by the house to drop it all off so it wouldn’t melt in the car and had some downtime because it started straight up STORMING.

We had reservations at Disney Springs but were unsure what to do so we waited it out a bit (after we ran into Five Below to grab some umbrellas ha!)

When we threw together the weekend plans I really did want to visit Disney Springs. I know it’s not Disney but I figured it’d at least give me a bit of a fix to hold me over until the parks opened again πŸ™‚

Thankfully the rain died down and we decided to make a go for it!

We arrived at Disney Springs and were directed to park in the Orange Parking Garage.

We parked ourselves and noticed guests didn’t have any masks on until we all got to the temperature screening area.

It was VERY quick and easy going through the temperature screening and getting the go-ahead to enter Disney Springs. Lots of signage with health and safety reminders as well as hand sanitizer stations too. We literally didn’t even have to stop walking to get the scan taken and I didn’t see anyone being turned away.

We had a bit of time before our reservation for dinner so we walked around a little bit. It was strange having to wear a mask and the stores and shops were limited to the number of guests allowed in at a time.

That restriction led us to skip over going in most places because it wasn’t worth waiting in line to go into a store to browse around ya know? The places we did go in it seemed like a struggle for the cast members. They had to put forth a LOT of extra effort to be kind and friendly because it’s tough to talk loudly in the masks and to show happy emotions through it!

We popped into Disney Style which is totally my fav shop in Disney Springs. Loved getting to see the castle and I’m interested to see if they update this to match the newly painted Cinderella’s Castle in Magic Kingdom!

It’s always a bit awkward to ask a random stranger to take a picture for you but it’s even MORE awkward in these times of social distancing and germ awareness. I felt weird asking and didn’t want to be putting someone at risk for a picture BUT it also still doesn’t hurt to ask and I found a super awesome guy that was ALL about taking our pics in front of the Florida wall! He did a little mini photo shoot for us which was so sweet πŸ™‚

It was a really nice and cool afternoon so we didn’t get a FULL idea of how the masks will be at the parks because it was just an oddly cool time so the masks didn’t really bother us all that much!

We did a good bit of researching in deciding where to book dinner reservations. We wanted somewhere with some theming to it and it was a decent struggle to find somewhere that was open for indoor dining.

We ended up deciding on Paddlefish and it was a WONDERFUL experience. I’d love to go again on a date night with Zach sometime as it has a very romantic vibe and beautiful views.

It was NOT crowded at all but lines were set up outside of the restaurant for social distancing purposes. When we were seated we were given a baggie to put our masks in during our meal and handed a throw away menu. They had limited menu options for now but we found it to be plenty of choices for us to choose from.

Fun fact that the boat used as the restaurant for Paddlefish was also the home of the first character meet and greet meal at Disney World! I love how Disney is always repurposing everything πŸ™‚

We were able to use my Tables in Wonderland discount card for 20% off of our entire meal so we splurged a bit and shared the lobster corn dogs as a starter.

I LOVE crab cakes and ordered that as my main meal and it didn’t disappoint. SO yummy!!! We all loved everything we ordered and had a wonderful experience. It was THE most perfect girls night dinner spot for sure!

It was SO pretty out that we weren’t in any sort of hurry to head out and instead just enjoyed the casual walk through Disney Springs taking it all in and noticing changes and safety updates.

There were arrows placed on the ground and really I never noticed anyone truly following them or socially distancing while walking. It personally didn’t bother me but I will say the same thing I’ve said before…if you’re concerned about the virus you really shouldn’t be going places where crowds tend to gather anyway.

Disney, and other theme parks etc, are going to do their best but there is also only so much they can do and it’d be impossible to enforce true social distancing everywhere especially at such a large outdoor venue like Disney Springs!

I peeked in the Lego Store but didn’t want to wait in the line to enter…I bet Hulk could bust out of that rope if he wanted πŸ˜‰ I did love seeing some updates to the Lego designs around the store. Rey is AWESOME and Cinderella looked so pretty with the sun setting on her face!

We went into World of Disney and they were counting the number of guests inside but it wasn’t crowded enough to reach capacity at all.

It was also the ONLY time I was instructed to put on my mask. I kinda did a test run to see if I’d get in trouble if I had the mask hanging from my ear while sipping a water cup. Other stores didn’t say anything but walking into World of Disney they did ask me to put it on.

I’m a pretty hardcore rule follower so I didn’t like feeling like I was getting in trouble hahaha! But I also wanted to just see how strict the rules would be on the mask wearing. Eating and drinking is fine and, for the most part, if you’re walking and sipping on something you can have it off. We found having it hanging from an ear while drinking was the best of both worlds because it could also be put back on quickly and easily when we were done drinking!

It was a Saturday evening in June and it was CRAZY to see Disney Springs SO EMPTY.

A lot of the shops closed really early too so many of the places we would have popped into weren’t open which was a bummer!

We saw many people removing their masks for photos and never had anyone get onto us for doing it, cast members and security even walked by during our photo taking and never said anything.

Again, this was during the weekend of June 11th so I know it may be much more hardcore now and I’m interested to revisit and see how it may be different!

I’m scared of heights but for some reason have always wanted to do the hot air balloon at Disney Springs. I’ve actually never even looked into it much as I’ve heard it’s very sensitive to the weather and often doesn’t go up because of wind so I’ve never wanted to plan it on a trip and have it be canceled (oh how times have changed…we’re used to things being canceled now ha!).

It was SO GORGEOUS out. The sun was setting and it was just beautiful so we wanted to give the balloon a shot. It was $20 per person which I don’t think is crazy bad for such a unique experience? I also felt like I’d probably feel okay in it since it’s not truly floating and is attached?

We went for it but were told the wait was 30 minutes and figured it’d be dark by then and we’d miss the sunset so we decided to just walk around and take in the pretty view of the balloon rather than ride in it! It was SO pretty!!!

I was asked a lot on Instagram about mine and Katie’s shoes! These are my favorite summer sandal as they can easily dress up any look and are comfortable (and easy to pack on a trip too). I’m wearing the tan and Katie is wearing the black!

On our way out you can see that people weren’t distancing on the stairs either. Again, this didn’t bother me personally but I feel like it’s good to share so people know what to expect if they visit (and again, let me point out this is from about a month ago from the current time I’m posting). There were also hand washing stations located near the garage.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see these taken out as EVERYONE was using the sanitizer stations but NO ONE was using the hand washing ones.

I am not looking to debate masks but I just don’t really understand the hardcore rule about kids ages 2 and up having to wear them in an outdoor environment. I respect and understand places requiring them for inside but making the kids wear them non-stop outside seems a bit excessive to me.

I was glad to try out the Disney Springs experience kid-free to see how it went and I don’t know that I’ll be in a rush to bring the kids there with the current rules and regulations in place. For the theme parks? It might be worth the masks and the social distancing rules in the heat with kids….but Disney Springs isn’t really worth all that hassle and headache to me!

Sure we enjoy Disney Springs but not enough to fight the heat and the safety measures to visit! Truly this summer we’d planned to kinda stay away from the parks anyway because summer is just SO MISERABLE so we’ll probably stick with that plan and deal with the masks and such if it’s still required once temps cool down!

We got back to the house nice and early and did some fun girl sleepover things like wear our pjs and put on face masks! I love that Tiffany brought them as it’s ALWAYS been a dream of mine to have an adult sleepover and do all the fun sleepover things haha!

These are the masks we used and they were AWESOME!

I grabbed some frames while we shopped the day prior to do a little updating at the house for our guests πŸ™‚ If you’re considering a trip to the Disney World area our house is located just 3 miles from the parks as well as only 20-25 minutes from the airport, other theme parks (Universal and Sea World) and only 45 minutes from the beach too! You can see the special rates we offer for blog readers here :)

We stayed up CRAZY late (I’m talking 2 am late) just laughing so, so much. I can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed and laughed like that! So we slept in the next morning before loading up to head home.

We stopped at McAllister’s on the way and were glad to be able to eat inside!

The kids were excited that I was home…and especially excited about the chocolate bar I brought with me πŸ˜‰

It was SUCH a wonderful weekend. I am so thankful for Tiffany and Katie and the impact they’ve both had in my life. Friendships are a blessing and the older I get the more valuable they are to me. I am pumped for future fun together and so thankful such a last minute weekend was able to happen!

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Emily Parker

Hey Y’all, I’m Emily! I’m a stay at home mom and consider parenting to be my passion. Disney is my happiest place and I love making memories as a family together. I’m a big believer in transparency and share all of my real-life moments as a mother of four.

My work has been featured on Love What Matters, Today Parenting and Babywise.Life. I’m also honored to be a member of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network.

You can read more about our family on my About Me page. Also be sure to follow along with me on Instagram, FacebookΒ and Pinterest!

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