Monday, February 19, 2018

Another Half-My-Life Milestone!

As I've written about on a few occasions, I'm all about numbers and dates. I was recently thinking about how long I'd lived in the U.S., and realized that it had to be about half my life now. So I figured out exactly when that "half my life" date was, and it was January 4, 2018.  Frankly, I'm a little surprised that I didn't recognize this sooner!

Even though I thought a lot about what it really means to me to be "from" two places in a post a few years ago, the idea that I have now lived in the U.S. longer than I lived in Canada is pretty significant to me. I've been a citizen here for almost 14 years, something I never take for granted. My American passport is one of my most prized possessions. I was in love with the idea of America long before I relocated. And now here I am, having spent more than half my life in this country! Chances are, for the rest of my life, the percentage of time lived in the U.S. will continue to grow, while the percentage of time lived in Canada will continue to shrink. That is both a happy and a sad thought.

One thing I've learned is that many of the stereotypes about people from both countries are absurd. Canadians don't live in igloos.  They don't say "eh" at the end of every sentence. They don't keep beavers as pets. I mean, maybe some Canadians do some of these things, but most don't! Likewise, not all Americans eat hot dogs, watch football, drive pickup trucks, or say "y'all." Again, some do, but not all! There are awesome, kind, smart people in both countries.

While these two places have their fair share of challenges, I love being able to say I am from both countries. Even if that makes me a weirdo! It's pretty great to be able to adore the beauty and brilliance of America's National Park System while still cheering for Team Canada in any international hockey events!

My favorite place in America...
Crater Lake National Park
I love everything about this photo!

Happy Tails to you!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

WDW January 2018

Friday, January 26

Our Magic Bands for this trip were Rey and Kylo Ren (admittedly a character I despised after The Force Awakens, but have softened on since seeing The Last Jedi!), and we flew down to Orlando on Friday afternoon. The "mascot" for our Frontier flight was Chocolate the Moose and I know it's such a silly little thing, but I have come to look forward to the mascot on every one of our Frontier flights! I'm not sure if it's a coincidence that I'm from Canada and I love moose, but I really do, so I figured this was a good omen for the trip!

The flight was uneventful (the best kind of flight, obviously), and we had each only brought along a backpack, so there was no luggage to contend with, meaning we were off the plane and heading to the car rental area. I really don't understand why this is such an antiquated system…why is this always some sort of ordeal, regardless of the company we rent from? The renting of a car of is, without a doubt, my least favorite part of any travel we do. After sorting things out with the less-than-helpful employees, we were in the car and on our way!

We arrived at WDW and checked into Pop Century. The resort is undergoing a major refurbishment, and we were really hoping to get an updated room, but unfortunately, that did not happen. Actually, the room we were assigned was very musty and humid, so I called the front desk and asked for a room change, a request that was quickly accommodated. It still wasn't an updated room, but sooner or later, we are bound to get assigned to one of the new rooms!

After getting settled (which took no time whatsoever, as we were traveling very lightly for this trip!), we went over to Disney Springs to grab some lunch at Blaze Pizza and then we drove over to TTC. Before going to MK, we stopped at Polynesian for Dole whip floats. So good!

We hadn't been to MK in a year! AN ENTIRE YEAR. Seriously! The last time we were there was January 27, 2017! It is difficult to believe this, as there have been years during which we have spent 45 nights at WDW!

Although we went to WDW over the summer after our cruise on the Fantasy, you may recall that we left after six hours due to my debilitating sunburn. Then my mom and I went to WDW both before and after our cruise on the Dream in August, but we did not spend any time in the parks.

Why? We have not had annual passes for almost a year now! If you've read any of my posts from the past year or so, you will have noticed that we've been busy traveling elsewhere…Tokyo, Copenhagen, Prague, Edinburgh, and Paris, in addition to smaller, weekend trips. Knowing we had those big trips on our calendar, we decided not to renew our annual passes until we'd be able to take full advantage of them with several trips to Florida and California. Actually, our plan was to buy new Premier Passports, which cover both WDW and Disneyland, in December, when we were supposed to go to California. I say "supposed to go" because we had our flights and a room booked at the Disneyland Hotel for the second weekend in December, and then Maddy got sick and needed surgery the day after Thanksgiving. We cancelled the trip and put our plans for annual passes on hold.

We had purchased tickets for the After Hours event at MK back in the fall, so we decided to not buy annual passes on this trip, either, but instead to go to MK for the event on Friday night and spend Saturday taking it easy and wandering around Disney Springs. This worked out beautifully and we had a fabulous trip!

This was our third time attending the After Hours event, with the first being in May 2016 and the second being in January 2017. These events are worth every penny! I read on line that 30,000 tickets are sold for each of the Halloween and Christmas parties, but that only 3,000 tickets are sold for each of the After Hours events. I don't know if that is accurate or not, but having attended each of the special nights on multiple occasions, I am inclined to believe it because MK has been practically empty during the three After Hours events we've attended! It is AMAZING. Non-existent wait times for attractions, unlimited popcorn, ice cream, water, and soda, the feeling that you are the only two people in the park…I could go on and on. We have also lucked out with fantastic weather all three times; this third time was a little on the chilly side, but no complaints here!  One time it rained when we attended Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and I'm not going to lie – it was not great. So a little chill in the air still constitutes great weather as far as these two northerners are concerned!

January 2018

May 2016

January 2017

As you can see from the photos, we had an awesome time! With the parks seemingly busier and busier and the apparent demise of "low" season, we cannot recommend these types of events strongly enough! The official hours were from 8:00-11:00 pm, but we were able to enter the park a little before 7:00 pm, which was great. The fact that for the first two times we attended we had annual passes but were still willing to pay the extra money for the After Hours event should speak volumes about how much we think of it!

We loved this personal greeting
at "it's a small world"!

There are no words for how much I love this man!

As the night came to a close, we slowly made our way to Main Street, USA and watched The Kiss Goodnight before taking the ferry back to the TTC and returning to our resort. Another fabulous night at MK in the books!

Saturday, January 28

We slept in, then drove over to Disney Springs for lunch at Blaze Pizza. Yes, again! What can I say? We love the pizza there!

After lunch, I had an idea about a picture that I wanted from Epcot. We weren't planning on going in to the park, but I'd seen a ton of photos on Instagram about the International Festival of the Arts. We attended last year, and loved it, but again, with no annual passes, we were not about to buy one-day tickets just so we could go again this year! The photos I'd see on IG were of the Figment topiary in front of Spaceship Earth, surrounded by rainbows. I have a well-documented and long-standing love affair with Figment, dating back to March 1983, and I typically answer the question, "What's your favorite color?" with "Rainbow!"…so obviously I was very eager to try to capture all of this for myself! We decided to drive to Epcot, then take the monorail to MK and return back to Epcot. Not only it is just fun to ride the monorail; we would go right past the entrance to Epcot on our return ride! The photos I got exceeded my every expectation!

After this monorail adventure, we drove past the Wedding Pavilion (ahhh…happy, happy memories!) and went over to Port Orleans French Quarter for beignets before taking the boat back to Disney Springs. We spent the rest of the day there, which is something we probably haven't done in close to 20 years, and then we grabbed a quick dinner at Art of Animation, where we also wandered around because it was another beautiful night. We then ended the night with a visit to Animal Kingdom Lodge. A pretty spectacular day from start to finish!

SOOOOO cute!!!

A little treat from the staff at Pop Century
for being returning guests!

Sunday, January 28

We were up early because our flight home was scheduled to leave Orlando at 9:20 am. They announced at 8:10 am, when we were already sitting at the gate, that the plane was delayed. I will spare you the boring details of passing time sitting in an airport, and fast forward to the part where we finally left Orlando around 3:10 pm. It was a long day. That's all I will say about it!  The good news is that we received travel vouchers for the inconvenience, so we have a fun weekend trip already planned for somewhere new next month!  Definitely the silver lining!

We'll be back to WDW in June, although I'm not sure if we're going to get annual passes on that trip or not. We are so lucky to have been many, many times, and we can always find tons of things to do that don't involve the parks (and by extension, the crowds!). Until then, we'll be reliving our perfect night at MK!

I'd be remiss to not thank my mom, who is always up for a weekend of watching our two little furry gals! Best Fairy Dogmother Ever!

Happy Tails to you!