Hollywood Studios


I’m going to be totally honest with you. Hollywood Studios is my least favorite Disney park. It has some pretty intense thrill rides…The Tower of Terror which is a dropping elevator ride…and the Rock N’ Roller Coaster which is super fast. You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to go on either ride.

My husband Paul took our youngest two children on most of the thrill rides at Disney. I felt bad that this time without the children he had no one to go on some of these rides with. He said he really wasn’t into it though and wanted to see the things the kids wouldn’t be interested in.

There is one ride that I do like in the park…I like the Toy Story ride which is a target hitting ride. I guess I am not a good aim since I can never beat my husband.

We also went on the Star Wars 3D ride and weren’t very impressed. For awhile Paul didn’t think his 3D glasses were working. There was also a live Star Wars show which was kind of cool even though I don’t get into Star Wars. I can’t make it through a Star Wars movie without falling asleep. Unfortunately, I have the same issue with The Lord of the Rings series. I’ve heard many tell me that these are the greatest movies ever made..I’m not sure about that since I never made it through one without sleeping…but I think I just found a cure for my occasional insomnia.

There are some other neat shows there like the stunt show and the Muppets 3D show. There are tons of shows and live performances if you get into that.

My favorite restaurant there is the Sci-Fi Drive In Theater. It is like the old time drive in theater. You are seated in antique cars and the servers come out on roller skates. There is an old black and white sci-fi movie playing on a continuous loop on the big screen. This restaurant offers American fare and you can get a pretty good milkshake.

The funniest thing happened at HS this time. My husband got carded. He was rather upset because he didn’t have his ID on him. This past week he turned 49. I had to buy the guy a beer.

During our stay at Disney, we bought a Hopper pass which allowed us to go to more than one park a day. We didn’t use it once…so it was a waste of money. We were at Disney a total of 3 whole days and spent the last half day at HS. I think it would take awhile to get from one park to another. It is almost more economical money and time wise to not spend the extra money on the Hopper pass. I would spend the money instead on a t-shirt or other souvenir…or maybe save it for another trip..

We had a great visit and hope to be back there again someday soon…

Magic Kingdom


My favorite Disney park for rides is Magic Kingdom. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of roller coasters. I am a wimp! I did go on Space Mountain a few times years ago. Space Mountain is my limit for scary. The problem is sometimes the only way to see if you will like a ride is to ride it. It sure makes me feel a little braver when I see preschoolers next to me in line.

My favorite ride is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We were able to get 2 fast passes for the ride which made me so happy. Then we were able to get on again right before the park closed for the night. I would say it is a moderate roller coaster, just the way I like it…it has small drops and doesn’t go upside down. The scariest time was when the ride momentarily stopped unexpectedly. I was afraid that the other ‘train’ might hit us, but it didn’t despite my fear.

When we stayed at Disney this time, we were given bracelets that allowed us to get into our room and into the parks. We could make purchases with our bracelets which allowed us to travel very light. We downloaded the Disney app to manage our meal reservations, get fast passes, and see the wait times for rides. Technology has really improved since we last visited a few years back. Of course, this also allows Disney to track you and send you surveys regarding the parks you visited. After we went on a ride, we even saw our names displayed which was a bit on the creepy side for me.

MK is also a great place for unusual attractions. We went on the Carousel of Progress which took us on a trip through several decades viewing how people lived in different time periods. We went on the small world ride which displayed hundreds of dolls. We went to a bird show in the Tiki room. We saw a live performance of the Pirates of the Caribbean and went on the ride which was scary enough to be fun.

When you are there, you can’t miss the Monsters Inc. Comedy Show. It is hilarious regardless of age. The only ride I didn’t like was the Lilo and Stitch ride.


Also good to know, MK is a dry park. That evening we went to Narcoossee’s a fancy restaurant at the Grand Floridian resort. It takes two meals per person on the meal plan. Paul and I both enjoyed lobster. I got to drink a local Orlando beer out of a Mickey Mouse straw. Then we took the monorail back to MK for the fireworks show. It is cool to experience riding the monorail at least once.


The fireworks and light show at the castle is a must see. I tried to take some pictures with my phone but only ended up capturing hundreds of other people taking pictures of the same event with theirs.

After the fireworks, the park remained open until 11 PM. We were able to go on a lot more rides since the park emptied out a little after the fireworks. Unfortunately, the wait time for the new Seven Dwarfs ride was too long and no fast passes were available…we will save that one for next time.

This is also the park that parents spend hundreds of dollars dressing their girls up as princesses for. You can see lots of little girls in fancy dresses with curled and glittered hair. You might even see the adult version walking around as well. There are many characters at this park.

It truly is a magical place and a must see with small children.

Animal Kingdom


Animal Kingdom is my favorite park with kids. One of the best things to do there was go on a safari ride to see the animals.


When we went with the kids, they got their faces painted. We did an African dance and played instruments. Each part of the park has separate continent themes to enjoy the animals native to that area. This time they even had an area dedicated to Avatar. It was over a 2 hour wait to go on the ride, so we didn’t.


I think that this park was the hardest for me to tour without the kids. I felt sad that they had grown so fast until I saw the little kids cry. The parents seemed surprised that their children weren’t happy the whole time they were at the happiest place on Earth.

I had expectations at one time too. I thought that my children would get along. I thought that if I provided the right kind of environment for them that they wouldn’t argue as much as they do. It took me until my 2nd child was 6 months old to figure out that expectation wasn’t going to work well for me.

The evening we went to AK, we ate at the African restaurant at the AK resort. I loved seeing all of the animals, but I like to people watch too. I saw a couple with a small child at the table next to ours. When he got a little fussy, they handed him a cell phone. They relaxed instantly to know their boy wasn’t going to make a scene. But I thought ‘how sad’ in my motherly mind…they don’t know this yet, but in another decade they will be trying to pry the phone out of their teenager’s hand to have a conversation.

I have learned so much, but there is still so little that I know.

I really thought I had this parenting thing down. I mean, my oldest adult daughter and I are like best friends. She tell me things that I would never share with my mom.

But what worked with her did not work for my other 2 children. With them it is more of a struggle.

This week I had to tell my son that he needed to do his homework. He is a very smart guy but doesn’t care enough to do the work. He has been sliding by the last couple of years with C’s and D’s. He thinks that he will be able to get into a decent school by just having raw music talent. I also told him that he needs to wear his seat belt although he argued that he has never been in an accident and will not die because he is young.

My youngest daughter thinks that she is stronger than me. She said that she could beat me in a short race. I reminded her of the 5k we did a few years back where I placed in my age group and she came in last place overall. Seriously!

These are the types of conversations that I have with my teens.

But despite my insanity from parenting teenagers, I missed them when I went to the AK park. I missed all of our trips to the zoo when they were little. I missed their excitement and awe over seeing the animals. I wish I could recapture that again. Maybe with my grandchildren someday.



Things have been getting a little heavy lately…so I wanted to share about our trip to Disney before I forget all about it.

I forgot my journal at home along with the luggage tags.

The first day at Disney we spent in our clothes that we wore to the airport and slept in.

Note to self, pack an extra set of clothes on the carry on bag in case of lost luggage.

It was hot in Florida. Of course, we happen to be wearing black. We were soaked in sweat left without deodorant, a tooth brush, or a hair brush. Surprisingly, I am posting the pictures anyway. Good thing we don’t have the technology to capture scent online yet.

Anyway Epcot…I would have to say this is my favorite WDW park. We had the ability to sample beer from around the world. One of my favorites was the pomegranate beer. It was very light and flavorful.


For a short period of time, we felt like we traveled around the world. We also went on the ride Soaring and went on one of my favorite rides through a greenhouse that focused on agriculture and sustainability. I find it interesting despite my black thumb.


That evening we ate at the restaurant Marrakesh that featured Moroccan food. The food was phenomenal. A belly dancer entertained us during the meal. When we travel, we try to experience as much ethnic food as possible.

There is not a lot of cultural diversity in small town Wisconsin. There is more now than when I was a kid. My graduating class had one Asian kid…all the rest of the kids at school were white…they looked, talked, and shared similar beliefs to me. We were never exposed to different cultures that I find so fascinating, especially in the days before the internet. We didn’t travel to exotic places besides the local library.

In small WI towns, there are not a lot of jobs available…so a lot of people don’t move in. Most of our people don’t move out of the state either…if they do, it usually is to a surrounding Midwestern state. I haven’t moved more than a few miles away from the ground my ancestors tread a hundred years ago.

Beside Mexican and Italian restaurants, most other ethnic restaurants don’t thrive in this area. Epcot gave us the chance to talk to people from around the world and try foods that we are not accustomed to.

That evening in Epcot, a thunderstorm came through. It down poured for about 20 minutes. The storms went through in time for the fireworks display which was awesome.

Animal Kingdom’s peculiar animals

…the herd is taken over by a younger male gorilla…the older male loses his family and remains alone…the staff member says as she waves her hand towards an older gorilla that we are gazing at. 

Two little boys (~6) slide in next to me by the gorilla display. 

Boy 1: That gorilla doesn’t look very happy. 

Boy 2: That is because he is an adult. All adults look sad. 

Boy 1: I think he is a female. 

Boy 2 turns to me and asks…Hey lady, is he a female? What do you think?

I turn to the boys with a smile masking an inward chuckle. I tell them that the gorilla is an old male. Look at his white fur. He is simply old and tired. 

The boys, satisfied with my answer, thank me and walk away. 

The old gorilla looks my way. I bet he thinks how peculiar the humans are that parade by on display. 

A hurricane, a pocketknife, and luggage lost

Our flight went so smoothly that we were feeling smug.

There was that one brief moment when Paul realized he had a pocketknife in his backpack before going through security. Last time he got pulled aside after security. That was a little nerve wracking. He ended up having a corkscrew in his carry on luggage. 

Because I am a nervous flyer, I read a lot of articles about flying. Somewhere I read that flight attendants size up passengers to see who needs extra assistance in the event of an emergency and who would be of assistance. 

On a plane, I watch the flight attendants. I put on my music and watch all of the nonverbal cues. The flight attendant looked bored. Good, good…for a minute he looked worried when another attendant ran to the back of the plane. But then he laughed and went back to looking bored again. 

The flight was easy this time, too easy..I was expecting turbulence from flying over the storms caused by the hurricane. But the most difficult part for me was getting off of the Disney bus. It was dark and I missed the step by the seat. I caught myself from falling into the older lady beside me. How embarrassing! I tell you this often enough…for an athlete I am very clutzy. 

Since it was late, I dozed off in my clothes while waiting for our luggage. I woke up every couple hours and opened the door to find nothing. 

The morning came and still no luggage. Apparently I put the luggage tag on but not the sticker. I don’t remember getting one. So it was basically my fault. I called the resort and they weren’t much help. Paul was upset and called back. He is direct and gets shit done but tends to be more reactive than me. He told them that they needed to help find our luggage. Paul said he had medication in the luggage. He was so worked up that they asked if he needed an ambulance.

I am laughing so hard as I write this.

We decided to get some coffee. There were workers clearing brush that was scattered around from the hurricane. On a side note, Orlando didn’t seem to sustain much damage from the storm. However, quite a few of the employees said they didn’t have power at home. The biggest complaint I heard in this area was of people losing freezers and refrigerators full of food. 

With the exception of the customer service person on the phone, the employees were great. Even a few of the workers cleaning brush asked how we were doing. Paul said crappy. Another worker asked jokingly if he wanted to help. Paul asked if they had any extra clean underwear. I inwardly chuckled because I knew he would be part of the day’s story. We spent the morning with the conceirge trying to find our luggage with no success. It disappeared.

We decided to go to Epcot as planned. We were wearing the warm clothes we flew in with. The clothes we slept in. We didn’t have a hair brush, tooth brush, or deodorant. It was hot and humid out. Hotter in Florida than it was in Wisconsin all summer. We stunk! Paul’s wet underwear painfully chafed his skin. Of course we had to be covered from head to toe in black. We didn’t pack extra clothes in our backpacks. Maybe we’ll have to rethink this whole traveling light idea. 

We walked around the happiest place feeling dirty and miserable. I felt strangely emotional. It was unexpected. I remembered coming to Disney a few years ago when the kids were younger. Those were magical times, middle childhood. Back in the days when my kids were innocent to the evil in this world. For the most part, I am happy that my kids are growing up. I am ready to let them go into adulthood, but sometimes I miss the wonder and excitement of the younger years. 

I felt a completely unexpected sense of loss. 

But then my son texted saying he was feeling sick. We had an employee call in because her mom had a heart attack. At that time, I wanted to be done with it all. I wanted the stress and responsibility of parenting and owning a business to be gone. 

But instead, we lost our luggage. 

I’m going to have to talk to the person in charge of magic here…

My gosh, there is always something to write about. Isn’t there?

Thankfully due to Paul’s persistence, our luggage was found. Frontier airlines was great to work with although our luggage ended up in Denver. They even reimbursed us our luggage fee for our inconvenience. 

Finally clean underwear! Woo hoo. 

Now maybe we can enjoy being at the happiest place on Earth!

Heading to Orlando

I printed off our boarding passes this afternoon….we are headed to Orlando. The best part is that we will be meeting up with some good friends for a few days at Disney before the business part of the trip.

I got the feeling that we might be traveling on Sunday despite the hurricane. My daughter Arabella said that she was starting to feel sick. She is the kid that has gotten strep the last couple of times we left home without her.

That was a good(?) sign we were heading out of town.

Arabella had me take her temperature this morning. It was normal. She is a little congested, but that is all. I did feel really frustrated with her at first.

But instead of being angry, I decided to talk to her about…gasp…feelings.. She admitted to feeling afraid when I leave. It is touching that she feels that way in high school, but I am starting to worry about college. Will she be the kid that ends up living in my basement?? I was betting on the music majors…hmm…maybe I got this all wrong..

She is worried that I will die. Too tell you the truth, I worry about that every time I step on an airplane. So of course I had to book my first trip out of the continent to Asia. Nothing like a 22 hour flight to conquer my fear of flying!

Thank God for the little white pills that keep me from having a 3 hour long panic attack on a plane.

(Oh my gosh, I’m going to be flying 22 hours soon!!!!).

As for today, I am excited to go to Florida. Maybe I will have a few pictures to share when I get back…

The travel diaries, Disney

We took our first family vacation to Disney World in Orlando. We liked it so much that we came back a couple of years later with my parents. We stayed at Disney both times. The first time we stayed at the moderately priced Port Orleans resort. What I liked about it was that it had a restaurant there that we could eat at in the morning. All 5 of us shared one room. My son slept on a trundle bed. He wouldn’t fit on that right now like he did back then. The second time we stayed at the tree house villas. We had a little bit more room and even had a kitchenette that we didn’t really use since we had the dining plan. I would suggest getting the dining plan if you decide to stay there. The biggest drawback to staying at Disney was that Disney was the only thing that we saw. Last month, we did not go to Disney because we really didn’t have enough time. We checked out Universal and Sea World. Frankly, I liked Disney the best.


The picture above was taken at Animal Kingdom. You really feel like you are on safari with the rides and exhibits. I really enjoyed this park a lot. However, if you have a very limited time at Disney I would probably skip this park as it is very similar to a zoo that you could see anywhere.


The above picture is my all time favorite AK photo of my wild animals. The face painting made my kids very happy.


The picture below was taken at Epcot. I really enjoyed going on the ride Soaring. They use different images and even scents to make you feel like you are flying over various locations. The hydroponic vegetable technology ride is a must see. Then we spent most of the day exploring the different cultures presented at Epcot. Disney brings ambassadors in from the countries of Japan, Germany, China, England, France, Canada, Norway, Mexico, Italy, and Morocco. I was tempted to buy a belly dancing costume from Morocco. We ate french pastries and sipped German beer. The Italian ladies ran off with Paul. We ate at a wonderful restaurant with an underwater aquarium. It was nice to see fish swim by as you are eating. They even had a diver in the tank that waved at people. The evening ended at Epcot with a spectacular fireworks display. Epcot is my favorite park and is a favorite among adults.


The second time we were at Disney during the Super Bowl. That was the year that the Packers were playing and won. My family had to parade around Downtown Disney sporting their Packer jerseys. After the Super Bowl, Disney has a parade in Magic Kingdom with someone from the winning team there. That year it happened to be Aaron Rodgers.


While everyone was back at the resort watching the Super Bowl, Angel and I got away for a couple of hours to see Magic Kingdom. They offered extended hours that evening for resort guests. We were able to get on our favorite rides without a line. Space Mountain is the most intense roller coaster that I will ride. We really liked a moderate roller coaster at that park which mimics riding through a mine shaft. The comedy show at Monsters, Inc. is always worth the wait. I would skip Lilo and Stitch though if you don’t like the smell of pepper burps. We saw a Disney throughout history show too which was really neat to see how homes looked throughout the decades.


Magic Kingdom is the best park to take the kids. I loved it there. It is neat to see all of the characters and of course the castle. The fireworks in the evening at the castle are worth seeing too.

The last park at Disney is Hollywood Studios. It is a park that you could go through in a half a day and see pretty much everything. What I really enjoyed there was the Sci-Fi Diner. It is mainly a burger, fries, and milk shake joint. Waitresses come to the table in roller skates. You are seated at tables inside of an antique car just like you were sitting at an outdoor theater. The best part is that they are playing old black and white sci-fi movies. Out of all of the parks, HS is my least favorite. That being said, it is still pretty good.

We really enjoyed our time at Disney. It is great to be picked up at the airport. You don’t have to worry about driving the whole time that you are there. The wait times for the buses are never very long. It can be a little pricey, but is worth doing at least once. We had a wonderful time there. I hope to go back again some time, maybe even run their marathon. It truly is a magical place!