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Zach and I have always put traveling together as a top priority in our marriage. We use our trips as a time to really reconnect and to keep our marriage strong. Over the years we’ve had to switch up when and how we go as the more kids we have…the more difficult it is for someone to keep ’em!
Zach works with Aflac and earns MANY free trips through the company so we try to stick to those as our “trips together” and do smaller, quicker trips other times of the year. We typically do a little getaway at Christmas as well as our Anniversary. This past year for my birthday Zach gave me the gift of an EPIC Disney trip…but with us not knowing when Spear would be born we decided to hold off on it. Obviously we also didn’t do anything for Christmas with Spear being born on December first. So we combined my birthday gift trip with our Christmas trip AND our Anniversary trip!
It really worked out so well because the kids got out of school right before we left for our trip. It’s SO much easier on Zach’s mama to have all the kids when there aren’t any school schedules to be dealing with. Spear is also at a super easy age to leave. He’s not yet needing solids, still naps three times a day, and is super set in his schedule where there aren’t any sleep disruptions or concerns. For it being our first time leaving all four kids for an extended period, it was very well timed!
The past several years for Christmas Zach and I have stopped really exchanging gifts and have instead used the money to go on a shopping trip together as part of our Christmas get-away trip. We saved that money and decided to just skip anniversary gifts too and combined that money with the Christmas money so we could really SHOP IT UP!
We took the kids to Zach’s mom the night prior and went to bed SUPER early so we could get up and drive straight to the outlets in Orlando right when they opened. We made it in perfect time and had time to grab a Starbucks to get crunk for shopping 😉
I’ve been trying out different Starbucks orders…this time I got Iced Carmel Macchiato Skinny and it was GOOD!
Zach was most looking forward to eating dinner haha which was funny because really he was more excited about shopping than I was! He had a LOT of money to spend and was on a hunt for some new golf attire to wear to Ireland!
Last time we did our Christmas shopping trip (which was actually in Jan of 2017 because Zach had his spinal tap and it was a nightmare and we had to redo our Christmas trip…) I struggled to actually buy anything. I just am TOO CHEAP for shopping haha. I’m so into Amazon deals and Ali Express stuff that I’m just unwilling to pay even outlet prices for things because I know how overpriced they are.
So this year I didn’t overthink it. I just had FUN with the money and treated it like a GIFT rather than like I had to spend it “wisely” ya know? So I did WAY better with the actual buying haha. I just bought as I went and didn’t really try to “save” it either. We had set plans that evening and I knew we’d be running low on time so if I wanted something, I got it!
I just popped into Michael Kors. I own several Coach bags (mostly from the outlets of course!) but have never bought a Michael Kors one and it never hurts to look right? Um. KILLER DEAL. I’m glad we went in early b/c I’m 100% positive that the bag I got was GONE within an hour or two!!!
Originally $340 (which was the outlet price not original retail) and I paid $80! WHOOP WHOOP!
Duh. Panera for lunch!
Zach and I split up a good bit. Which was fine! We love shopping together but we were both so excited about all the fun together time we had that evening that splitting up allowed us to get things done in the time to really enjoy each other that evening 🙂
So. My Forever 21 experience was pretty epic. First of all I took this pic to post on my IG Stories about how you really realize when you walk into Forever 21 that you cannot be actually 21 Forever and that you’re now actually quite a bit past 21.
Then I try on a bunch of clothes. And was actually pretty pumped for my finds. I was on a BIG Disney kick and truly almost bought this pajama looking jumper thing because I thought it’d be cute with a red belt at Disney haha Don’t worry, I didn’t go through with it!
While I was trying on I overheard this girl shopping with her Dad. I came out of the dressing room and saw her in this little sundress and she was asking how it looked and he was complimenting her and then offered to go get different sizes for her. Yall it was adorable. And reminded me of going shopping with my dad as a teen as it was something we both loved doing together!
You know me and my super mega extroverted self. I passed him when I was going to grab another size for myself and stopped and said “I just have to tell you that you are THE sweetest dad!!!”
He said “Um. I’m not a dad. At least not that I know of!” Yall. I didn’t stop. I just kept on going digging myself deeper. “Omg I’m so sorry! I thought she was your daughter! She looks 12!” He says “She’s my wife.”
Mortified doesn’t really begin to describe it. I just thought he was like a little older than me and I’m totally at that age where people in their early 20s look like pre-teens to me. Gah yall. I about DIED. And it takes a good bit to embarrass me. I’d wished someone had been there to laugh with me haha
And then of course I passed them like 5 times before leaving the store and I did apologize again and said “I guess it was my lesson that I’m no longer 21!”
We had a GREAT shopping day! Zach got KILLER deals on awesome Nike, Under Armor and Adidas golf gear. Way more than he was ever thinking he’d be able to get for such great prices. I also did awesome. I spent all my money which was a win haha and I ended up with like a whole new wardrobe of shorts haha shorts are a STRUGGLE for me with length and I went a little crazy at Loft when I found some that I LOVE!
I had saved some money to hit up Disney Springs because I’ve REALLY been wanting a LoungeFly book bag but we didn’t want to risk being late for our reservations so we headed straight for the hotel.
Zach and I very, very rarely stay on property. But 33 is my lucky number so this year is my LUCKY year and Zach did it big for my birthday gift and planned a few nights away for us at Disney. This was even prior to us looking at Disney houses 😉 But I’m still SO GLAD we stayed at a hotel rather than in our home down there. It would have been too tempting to work on the house rather than truly unplug and enjoy each other and this trip was SO awesome for us being able to truly do that!
Originally Zach had planned for us to stay at Port Orleans Riverside. Britt and I stayed there on our solo trip and I found it to be super mega romantic! Since we had decided to stay on property I really loved the idea of having a Disney travel agent help me in my planning. Travel agents are FREE so why not have that help and insight, right? My fellow Babywise Friendly Blog Network friend Carrie is also a Travel Agent (Here’s her site, Travel By Sisters!) and she was PHENOMENAL!
She helped me book the Port Orleans Riverside but then contacted me and let me know that Disney had some specials going and it worked out where we could stay at a higher level resort for practically the same price so we went for it! I would LOVE to stay at Riverside someday with Zach but also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stay at Yacht Club when it’s something we may never get to do again. When it comes to Disney I really, really love experiencing NEW things that I’ve never done before so getting to stay at a new-to-us resort was special!
Whoop whoop! We’ve arrived!
A big benefit of using a travel agent was that Carrie put notes on my file that we were there to celebrate our anniversary. When I walked up to the check-in desk and gave them my name they told me that we’d been given a FREE UPGRADE TO CLUB LEVEL. Whhhhhhat?!?! I about DIED. I mean what are the chances!!!
So a bellhop took our luggage and met us up on the Club Level for our check in. Y’all. We were treated like ROYALTY.
First thing I loved? The TAFFY. It was sitting out at the check in counter and every time I walked by it to the elevators on our whole trip I grabbed some taffy 😉 Zach and I gave out salt water taffy as our wedding favor so it was so special to have it on our anniversary trip!
I want to also add here that you are allowed to pay for your Disney vacation using Disney gift cards! I always purchase my Disney gift cards from Target. I use my Red Card and save 5% which can really add up quick when you’re talking about Disney 😉
I’m not quite sure how the Club Level compares to the regular rooms at Yacht Club but I do know a BIG perk was having an all day snack room! Oh my goodness if y’all know us then you know how super mega frugal we are so we were alllllll about the free food haha. We hit it up on the regular!
Waiting for us in our room!
Such a cool touch having a print out each day of our plans including our reservations and fast passes!
Apples and caramel was my favorite snack of the trip!
I am not a big fan of staying on property when it comes to doing a hardcore Disney trip. First, it’s impossible to sleep well as an entire family in such small spaces, second I believe the prices are just WAYYYYY to high for what you’re actually getting, and third you’re not in the room enough to justify it! Plus I love having a full kitchen to keep costs lower and our rental home allows for SPACE to really spread out and rest. And our drive from our rental home really was just about as long time-wise as driving from the resort to the parks! And we give a HUGE discount for blog readers who book our house so be sure to check it out here 🙂
I LOVED staying on property just Zach and I though! It was SO nice to have a hotel room where they cleaned the room everyday and gave us all the bathroom items. It was truly a vacation because I wasn’t having to worry about a single thing!
I am not sure the price of the Club Level rooms at Yacht Club. I will say the same thing I always say about Disney resorts and that’s that they are overpriced for what you get. The price we just paid for the regular room was crazy high in my opinion. Again, I don’t regret it and we LOVED our experience but I just think the rooms should be nicer for how much you pay for them!
I didn’t get lots of pics right when we arrived so some of these are from later in the trip but this is a tour of the room (reminder, this is a Club Level room so I’m not sure how it compares to a standard Yacht Club room!). I also took this video on the day we checked out!
LOVED the wardrobe for keeping all of our stuff!
The shower was ammmmmazing
So many great nautical details 🙂
Our view!!! We overlooked Boardwalk which was SO pretty!
Even had turn down service with chocolates. What what!
View of the resort…SO pretty!
On our way for our carriage ride!
We got new phones right before the trip so I had to test out the portrait selfie mode for the iPhone X!
When Britt and I stayed at Port Orleans Riverside we did a horse and carriage ride throughout both Riverside and French Quarter and I thought, again, that it’d be super romantic! Even though we decided not to stay at that property I made us a reservation for the carriage ride. I guess I misunderstood the location where it’d be starting because we drove to French Quarter only for me to get out, run inside to check-in and to be told that we needed to hop back in the car and go over to Riverside 😉 At least it did give me a chance to check out French Quarter and the lobby is AWESOME. Def want to go back to explore more in the future!
We made it right on time!
I was pretty pumped about my outfit that night because I just threw it together and thought it really worked 🙂 I got the dress on super clearance last year from Kohls but the cardigan/kimono thing is from Amazon (direct link) it runs large so you can size down!
Ready to go!
The carriage ride goes from Port Orleans Riverside through French Quarter and back. It’s 30 minutes long and really the perfect length of time. It is a very romantic experience and one that really set the perfect tone for our trip together 🙂
Zach and I LOVED visiting New Orleans and the resort is so well done and true to the NOLA lifestyle!
We had plenty of time before dinner so I thought it’d be fun to channel our NOLA vibes by getting a Mint Julep from the bar. I thought they were always non-alcoholic but I guess it does have alcohol typically? We asked for a non-alcholic version and they kinda struggled with making it. But it didn’t really matter that it wasn’t very good…Zach was just getting a kick at how I pronounce “Mint Julep” (here’s a video…I feel like I say it JUST FINE don’t you?)
Great spot to sit and just soak in the beautiful surroundings 🙂
Loved seeing the horse outside the window!
Next stop…resort #4 for the day…The Contemporary!!!
When Zach planned out the trip he did a LOT of planning on his own which was SO sweet so when things had to be shifted and converted into an anniversary trip I tried to stay as close to his original plans as possible. I LOVE that he planned a romanic dinner for us at California Grill to watch the fireworks!
This was another advantage of having Carrie help in my planning…she kept track of when our 180 days were to book reservations (and helped me book ’em) PLUS she kept track of our 60 day marker for fastpasses etc. It made planning such a BREEZE!
Booking California Grill to watch the fireworks is a VERY popular thing. I learned a LOT and wanted to be sure to share it with others. First of all, it’s VERY hard to get a true fireworks viewing seat. Our reservation was for 9:00 (fireworks were at 9:15) we arrived at 7:30 and all the tables with actual fireworks views were GONE. The hostess said people made reservations for like 5:00ish and would stay at their tables until 9:15. NOPE. We won’t ever be doing that haha.
BUT don’t overly stress about having the “perfect table” because even WITH the great table view you still really want to go outside to see the fireworks. They pipe the music through the speakers outside (they don’t do this inside) and the view is way better outside anyway so don’t overly stress about the table location. If/when we do this again though I will do a 7:30 reservation for dinner. Go ahead and eat and then see the fireworks when we’re finished. The way we did it we were eating dinner close to 10 pm!
The restaurant is BEAUTIFUL!
There are two decks you can go out onto to see the views. It’s recommended to use the deck that’s actually further away from Magic Kingdom because you have a more forward view of the fireworks. You also want to stand about mid-way down on that deck for the best views!
Can you find Cinderella’s Castle?
I adore sweet strangers who offer to snap pics 🙂
There is no one else I’d rather spend my Happily Ever After with 🙂
We tried to really watch our eating on this trip. Not only because the sticker shock on the room price freaked us OUT but also because we just both feel so icky when we eat too much. We’re BAD about eating because we want to “get our money worth” and that’s really a silly way to think about things. The money is spent if you eat it or not! So we tried to split meals when possible and keep it light! We got a pizza appetizer to eat on before the fireworks started 🙂
So I am all about asking Cast Members for tips and tricks and asked when I should go out to the deck and this girl told me 8:45. So I went. Zach was making pretty hardcore fun of me but I didn’t realize the fireworks weren’t until 9:15. haha. So I went out onto the deck and was completely alone! I ended up meeting a couple who chatted me up for a good bit of time so I actually didn’t go back in before the fireworks and instead Zach just came out and met me out there a few minutes before they were set to start!
If you are at California Grill for the fireworks, I’d recommend going out 10-15 min prior to the start time 🙂 Not 30 min prior 😉
Space Mountain looks so awesome!
I did get to watch the electrical water parade 🙂
As the crowds filled in this man helped an older man come to stand against the railing. Y’all I was struggling to hold back ALL THE TEARS. Whew. It just hit me DEEP. Seeing this man (and his son I’m assuming) was just beyond precious. The older man had a walker and was clearly having to have the help in order to be there, but how special is that that he was there. I hope my babies take that good of care of me to make sure I get to visit my favorite place during my later stage of life! Watching him combined with the “Happily Ever After” song just was SO emotional for me!!!
#lifegoals right here!!!
It was SUCH an awesome experience! I did think of Britt the most and how I think it’s something she’d LOVE and I def want to do with her at some point. While I personally LOVE Happily Ever After and think it’s WAY better than Wishes…I do think Wishes was probably a better experience at California Grill than Happily Ever After because Happily Ever After has a LOT of projections on the castle and it just wasn’t the same experience seeing it from so far away. Super awesome experience and VERY glad to have done it but it’s not something I’d want to do regularly and I don’t think it was at all a replacement for viewing Happily Ever After from Main Street USA.
We split a steak and it was SO GOOD. We loved the food and the WATER. So random but the water was amazing and they said it’s some special only on Disney property. We had AWESOME food experiences the entire trip. Literally the only thing we ate the WHOLE trip that I didn’t like was the asparagus at California Grill haha. We loved the steak and loved the atmosphere and I def recommend it!
Living that VIP life with our special access to Club Level!
We couldn’t have had a more amazing start to our time away together. My favorite place…my favorite person…it can’t get much better than that! We had THE BEST day and everything went so great and we were both just SO happy with it all and couldn’t wait to see what the rest of our trip would bring 🙂
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Looking for a way to enjoy the magic of Disney while saving money? Check out our rental home! It’s 10 minutes from the parks and has a pool, hot tub and game room as well as plenty of SPACE to really spread out and RELAX!!! Plus we offer a great discount to blog readers 🙂