January might be my favorite time to go to Disney World. Last year, my husband Blake and I spent a few days there with our friend Paula while she shot some engagement photos for us, and even though we had some rain, we also had some gorgeous weather and, best of all, pretty empty parks. So when I was trying to figure out when the best time would be to take one of my best and oldest friends, Haley, to experience everything, January was at the top of my list. And this time, I wasn’t disappointed… except for the day we were freezing our asses off because Florida tricked us and suddenly it was actually winter.
In general, we had a blast — minus one night where we all got real sick, but more on that later. Alisha got to activate her annual pass, we spent more time interacting with characters than we usually do, and we made a return to our absolute favorite Disney restaurant, 50s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios. Go there, and order the pot roast. I’m not kidding.
A lot of wonderful things (and wonderful food) happened in the place where dreams come true, but here are some of the highlights from our trip.
Taking Haley For Her First Trip
The fact that I got to show one of my favorite people my favorite place in the world really made this trip special for me, because it’s really fun to see things for the first time through someone else’s eyes. I have always been super excited for the day I get to take my future kid to Disney for the first time, so this was kind of a trial run, and I think it was a success.
I loved seeing her reactions to fireworks, the castle, and especially Chewbacca, because what compares to the joy someone experiences when they hug Chewy for the first time?! It’s impossible to see everything (or even most things) at Disney over just three days, so I hope we get to go back together so she can do everything else, too!
The Monorail Tour
On the day we arrived, we headed straight for the monorail so Haley could get a quick preview of Epcot and the resort line, and riding around in circles is probably one of my favorite things to do. We all have our things — my husband loves the parking lot trams, because that’s what made him feel like he was at Disney as a kid, and for me, that’s the monorail. I’ve never stayed in one of the monorail resorts because I’m not independently wealthy, but I hope that happens someday! Maybe even this year, if I see an annual pass discount I can’t pass up!
Plus, we got to see this patriotic AF image:
If you ever have downtime at Disney or want a break from the parks, I highly recommend hopping on a monorail and seeing the resorts. There’s a lot of switching around from line to line, but it’s worth it. Plus, if you get off at the Grand Floridian, you can reenact all of Uncle Jesse’s scenes from the best episode of Full House ever.
Gaston. Gaston is Everything
I’m not usually into character meet and greets, because I feel really awkward talking to them… unless it’s Rapunzel, because I feel that she and I share a soul. But no amount of social anxiety should ever keep you from visiting with Gaston, because he’s hilarious. This time, I made the mistake of asking for a selfie, and he promised to show me the best kind of selfie before covering my face. Thanks, man.
The Worst Disney Meal EVER
I am one of those people who is really into food. Food isn’t fuel, food is actual love. And although my tastes aren’t necessarily refined (I enjoy a good box of Pizza Rolls just as much as I enjoy a really expensive steak) I feel like I’m a pretty good judge of food. I mean, I’ve watched enough Master Chef Jr. and Kitchen Nightmares to know a little bit about the restaurant industry. And in my semi-professional opinion, and I’m guessing Gordon Ramsay’s, a certain meal we had on our trip was not good.
One of the nights of our trip, we ate at one of Italy’s restaurants, Tutto Italia in Epcot. I’ve been to Via Napoli, Italy’s other table service restaurant, a few times and loved it, so I thought Tutto Italia would be comparable. Nope. Alisha and I both ordered the $27 lasagna, Haley got some sort of cheesy pasta dish, and we got a pitcher of $36 sangria to share. Our food was so bad it was practically inedible, and tasted much akin to Chef Boyardee left under a heat lamp for way too long. After our meal, we only made it to Japan before we ended up in the bathroom, and not even all that Hello Kitty and Pokemon merch could save us at that point.
In fact, we did not even drink our sangria, and all three of us have a real, true love for cocktails, so that’s saying something.
The plus side? Management was super friendly and comped our meal and couldn’t do enough to apologize. Plus, when we got back to our rooms after the nausea had passed, we tore up a pizza so fast that Alisha fell asleep while eating it. I’m not kidding.
It’s Impossible Not To Love Stormtroopers
People have been bitching about Hollywood Studios a lot lately, but as a huge Star Wars fan, it’s one of my favorite parks. And now that Captain Phasma’s March of the First Order is a thing, I can’t get enough. Talking to the stormtroopers (and occasionally pissing them off) is one of my favorite things to do, and it’s fun to catch them in the rare moments they’re actually super sweet to a little kid who’s excited to see them.
Or The Jawas
Inside Star Wars Launch Bay, the Jawas are waiting to trade with you, and this time, we came prepared with shiny slap bracelets. We each ended up making the trade for little droid pieces, and the interaction is phenomenal. Plus, they’re all about my height, so I feel right at home talking to them.
And then, of course, there’s the very last night of our trip, when one of my favorite people in the world, Jacie, arrived for her family trip and we got to spend a few hours with her in the Magic Kingdom! Jacie also got an annual pass so she’ll be going on so many adventures with us all year long, and I can’t wait. We’ve been doing Disney together since 2012, almost once a year every year since — it seems like way shorter!
I’m missing Disney already, but good news: Our next trip is in 10 days! Alisha and I will be going back for a quick, fun weekend, because we have annual passes and that’s something that we can do now! More on this trip (and the next one) later. From this first trip alone, I can already tell that 2017 is about to be a vast improvement on 2016.
Oh, and I averaged 20,000 steps a day on my Kate Spade activity tracker. Progress!