How to Disney from a Disney Newbie

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     Guys, I went to Disney! And it was great! But also kind of stressful… which is what I’m going to discuss today. I learned a lot about how to best “do Disney” while I was there… by making mistakes.
     First, if you have the ability to go to Disney at anytime, and aren’t harbored by kids’ school schedules or only being able to take vacation at certain times of the year, make sure you really think about the dates you go. I went during the week of my birthday. My birthday is mid February the day before Valentine’s Day. I didn’t see that as being a popular Disney holiday and it seemed to me that it would be a slower time of year. But I was wrong. Mardi Gras happened to fall on my birthday. And many kids in Louisiana get that whole week of school off. And they go to Disney. Also when we first arrived it was at the end of a cheerleading competition weekend at the ESPN Wide World of Sports on Disney property and there were cheerleaders all over for the first part of the trip. We were told there were 20,000 cheerleaders on property. So, if you want to avoid crazy crowds, check for competitions, and check for any kind of holiday, even if it might seem random to you.
     Really think about the weather. I didn’t pack the best. I brought pants, a couple of dresses, and last minute I luckily threw in a basic skirt. But no shorts. And I brought layers. It was February and I was expecting 70 degree weather. But it was in the mid 80s and quite hot everyday. So check and recheck the weather. If you want to bring one warmer outfit and a jacket or sweatshirt if you go during winter and I think that would be fine but remember this is Florida winter.
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This day was one of the hottest, and one of the most crowded. 
     Go early! We had a tendency to not leave our resort until 11 or 12 when the crowds were really starting to get big at the parks (especially Magic Kingdom). The rides that typically can be walk ons had 40 minute waits. The day we did go early, and when we stayed late and did rides after the fireworks, we were able to walk right on. So maybe avoid midday if you can.
Walked right on this guy, as you should. 
     Don’t be afraid to change your plans. I skipped fast passes and cancelled my Be Our Guest reservation. I CANCELLED BE OUR GUEST. One of the most highly sought after reservations. So why did I do that? Well my original plan for the day was to head to Magic Kingdom in time for the reservation at 1:30 and stay all the way through to the fireworks with a couple of fast passes in between. After a couple of days, I realized this plan was never going to work. It was going to be too long, too hot, and too stressful. So I cancelled. We ended up going to the park a couple of hours later than originally planned, grabbing snacks, riding the tea cups, and then I skipped my Big Thunder fast pass. The fast pass line was 45 minutes long! There’s nothing fast about that. So instead we went to Casey’s for dinner and I caught my Seven Dwarves Mine Train fast pass before finding a spot for the fireworks. So clearly my day changed quite a bit from my original plan but that’s okay and it was still a fun day.
     I hope you enjoyed hearing some types from a first-time-since-childhood Disney goer. And get ready for more Disney inspired posts to come. I’ve got a lot in mind!

St. Louis Adventures – Missouri Botanical Garden

A place in St. Louis I would definitely recommend to out of towners (or locals who haven’t visited in a while) is the Missouri Botanical Garden. Something I absolutely love about this place is that it is an expansive, beautiful garden in the middle of a bustling area of the city. Its a lovely place to escape the chaos and have a peaceful day enjoying nature. The day I went was during the Best of Missouri Market. This was a fall festival with lots of food and craft vendors and a fun fall kids area including pumpkins and petting animals.

The lily pond is one of my favorites.
We found Groot sleeping in the flower bed.



The Japanese Garden is a really lovely place.


The Japanese Garden is a very peaceful area of the park. It has a large pond complete with koi fish you can feed and this time there were ducks which were quite cute to watch. I kind of think of this area as the perfect spot to have a relaxing day of reading and enjoying nature.

Overall I had a great time during this trip and if you’re in St. Louis and looking for something to do, the Botanical Garden is a great place to go.