Five Things Friday {Week 8}

So is anybody sick of Christmas music/movies/decorations/parties/food yet? I didn’t think so! It’s so crazy to think that Christmas is only 2 weeks away and then we have to wait a whole year before we can celebrate again (yes, I know that some people start celebrating as soon as November rolls around). With that being said, I have another Christmas filled Five Things Friday for y’all!

  1. Today is our company Christmas luncheon. I’m kind of bummed that we’re not doing an actual Christmas party (we missed the party last year because we were at Disney World), but the lunch is at Vic and Anthony’s, one of the best steak restaurants in town, so I’m sure that it will be wonderful. After the lunch, the office is closing down, which is always a good thing! I’m very much looking forward to socializing with my coworkers and enjoying ourselves before Christmas break.
  2. I’m so excited to be going to dinner with some good friends of ours tonight! We haven’t seen them in a while, and it’s going to be so much fun to catch up on everything with them. We’re planning on going to dinner tonight at Uchi, which is one of the best sushi restaurants (the hubby and I think it’s the best) in town. They have a fantastic Happy Hour where they have several of their best dishes that you can try at Happy Hour prices. Needless to say, I’ll probably be eating my weight in sushi tonight, even with the wonderful lunch I’m sure that I’ll have had earlier in the day.
    The Wandering Weekenders - Five Things Fridays
  3. After dinner tonight, we’ll be headed to a concert by the Houston Symphony called Very Merry Pops. The show will be a collection of Christmas songs, and I seriously cannot wait! Christmas music has been playing in my office and in my car nonstop after Thanksgiving, so I’ll be very excited to listen to some live music for a change!
  4. I’m super excited for the first weekend in a while that we don’t have any specific activities planned! I’m hoping to be productive this weekend and send out the last of our Christmas cards and actually get some presents wrapped and under the tree (we’ll see if that actually happens). Also, one of my best friends is coming over to watch Christmas movies Saturday, and I can’t wait to see her! I’m pretty sure we’ll be watching Christmas movies set in NYC so we can remember our last trip there a couple of years ago, and so we can get prepared for our trip that we’re planning next year at Christmastime!

    The Wandering Weekenders - Five Things Fridays
    Our trip to NYC in 2012!
  5. Finally, I’m very excited that I finally received my 2015 Emily Ley Simplified Planner in the mail (after the USPS took almost a week and a half to deliver it!). One of my friends told me about it, and after doing some research I decided to give it a try. Currently, the hubby and I have a shared calendar on our iPhones where we can keep track of different activities that we have going on, but I still feel like some things get lost in the day to day shuffle. I’m hoping that by having an actual planner for 2015, I’ll be a little more organized and stay on top of my to do lists better.
    The Wandering Weekenders - Five Things Fridays

Well, that’s all I have for this week! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

A Safari in Florida

For our third day at Disney World, we split our time between Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. Because Animal Kingdom closes so much earlier than the rest of the parks, we decided to start our day there before making our way to Magic Kingdom.

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

We arrived a few minutes before Animal Kingdom opened, and the first thing that we were greeted by before we entered the park was the beautiful Animal Kingdom themed Christmas tree.

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

All of the parks had a huge Christmas tree that was themed according to that specific park (Epcot had country ornaments, Hollywood Studios was all about film, Magic Kingdom was a classic tree, and Animal Kingdom had animals and African themed ornaments). Out of all of the trees, the Animal Kingdom tree happened to be my favorite. The details of the ornaments were absolutely stunning, and I also loved the fact that they looked like they’d been pulled directly from the Lion King stage production.

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

We opted to not use any of our FastPass+ selections for Animal Kingdom because we were arriving first thing in the morning, and we figured that we could get to the main attractions before the lines got too long. With that being said, our first stop of the day was at Expedition Everest, the big roller coaster in Animal Kingdom. We were seriously some of the first people in the park and immediately got onto this ride, which we absolutely loved! It was so cool to go forwards and backwards, and then to have the Yeti pop out at the end was cool too.

Next, we made our way over to the Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition because this is the ride that gets the most crowded during the day, because, hello, you want to see animals when you go to the Animal Kingdom. We had a blast riding around and seeing all of the different animals, which included zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, and so many others!

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

About halfway through our ride, the intercom system on our jeep ended up breaking so we couldn’t hear our driver describing all of the different animals and their habitats to us. When we got back to the end of the ride, they actually let all of us get into another jeep to ride again so we could hear all of the details the driver is supposed to tell us. It was so awesome to go again because we got to switch sides and see the animals on the other side of the car that we didn’t get to see as closely as before.

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

After our second ride on the safari, we made our way through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and the Maharajah Jungle Trek in order to see more animals. We also watched the Flights of Wonder show, which is a show with several different birds, including a Bald Eagle. It was pretty awesome to see all of those birds flying around your head, but at the same time you were hoping that one of them wouldn’t poop on your head.

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

We finished off the morning with the Finding Nemo Musical, which was exactly like the Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid shows in Hollywood Studios. It was a shortened version of the film with songs (they added some new songs for the Finding Nemo show, instead of including songs from the movies like in Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast).

Lunch was at Flame Tree Barbecue, which we all thought was delicious. There was a beautiful patio that we sat on during lunch, which had great views of some of the attractions, including Expedition Everest. There were also a lot of different birds that were constantly around the patio, so beware, otherwise they’ll steal your food.

After lunch we rode the DINOSAUR ride, which like everyone had warned me, was absolutely terrifying! The whole premise is going  back in time to when the dinosaurs basically became extinct, very exciting, but also very scary. Next was It’s Tough to Be a Bug! which was a very cute 4D show with the characters from A Bug’s Life.

Our final activities for the day were Festival of the Lion King show and Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade, the afternoon parade at Animal Kingdom that they make a little more Christmas-y during the holidays. We all loved Festival of the Lion King! The Lion King show had several singers that sang the songs from the movies, while other performers did stunts or danced. It was fantastic, and you wanted to be up and out of your seat singing the whole time.

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

After the Festival of the Lion King ended, we immediately made our way out to the main road in the Animal Kingdom in order to find a spot to watch the parade. Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade was very beautiful in my opinion. Obviously, the focus of the parade was animals, so several of the parade walkers had these giant animals that they carried or even rode in. They were absolutely breathtaking, and reminded me so much of the animal costumes from The Lion King Broadway musical, some of them were so lifelike that you almost forgot that they were fake.

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade also had a lot of the main Disney characters, like Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald dressed up in holiday outfits for the season. There were also several other Disney animal characters that were in the parade as well, such as Rafiki or Baloo. It was very cute to see them all dressed up.

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

After the parade ended, we made our way back to our hotel for a quick nap before making our way over to the Magic Kingdom for the first time during our trip! Tune in next time to read about our first day at the Magic Kingdom!

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida
Our trip to Animal Kingdom wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to the tree of life. So beautiful!

The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida The Wandering Weekenders- A Safari in Florida

Christmas at Hollywood Studios

As promised, here’s our continuation of our first day at Hollywood Studios, and, also as promised, there’s a lot more Christmas involved! In case you missed it, here’s the first half of our day at Hollywood Studios.

After we had lunch, we headed back to our hotel room for a quick nap before ending our day at Hollywood Studios. Once we arrived back at Hollywood Studios, we immediately made our way over to the Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage. I was pretty excited for this show, and by pretty excited I mean I was extremely giddy that I could barely contain myself, since Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie and totally the best one ever! I absolutely loved this show! They did a really good job including all of the highlights from the movie, and of course the songs, although it was very hard to not sing along.

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios
She’s just so beautiful and she loves to read!

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios

After the show ended, we made our way over to the Tower of Terror for our FastPass+. We loved not only this ride, but also the details of the ride itself. It was so much fun to walk through the hotel and to pick up the little details that Disney had dropped in there. Again, major props to my mother-in-law for hanging in there with us for this ride. Sudden drops is definitely not her favorite thing in the world.

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios
Again, this pretty much sums up how my mother-in-law feels about roller coasters.

By the time we were done with Tower of Terror, it was time for us to head over to Fantasmic! for our last FastPass+ of the day. This was by far the best selection that we made for our FastPass+ options in Hollywood Studios. People start lining up hours in advance in order to see Fantasmic! and even then they might not be guaranteed a seat, or even a good seat. Disney has it set up so that the people with the FastPass+ reservations or the dinner and show options have the best seats and they also happen to have the most seats available to them. I would definitely recommend choosing either one of these options in order to view this show because it’s totally worth it!

Fantasmic! was quite simply, fantastic! It was amazing to see all of the villains come out and try to take control of Mickey’s dream, and then to see all of the good guys come out and help Mickey. Although, I think that my favorite part of the whole show was seeing the images pictured on the water. How they do it, I don’t know, but it’s beautiful! I also loved seeing all of the Disney princesses (especially Belle) come out at the end with their princes and dance in the boats on the water.

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios
This image was projected onto a wall of water! Awesome!

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios

Once Fantasmic! was over, we were pretty much starved so we made our way over to Pizza Planet for some dinner. I really wanted to eat here because it’s supposed to be completely modeled after Pizza Planet from Toy Story, but unfortunately it was already closed by the time that we made it over there. Instead, we ended up eating at ABC Commissary, which had burgers, salads, sandwiches, and other American food. I got another cupcake for dessert, and this time it was a Christmas cupcake.

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios

We ended our night at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which really was the perfect way to end the evening. Basically, Disney World has one “block” of Hollywood Studios completely devoted to the Osborne Lights and every single square inch of that block is covered in lights. It almost looks like daytime outside because of how many lights there are. Every few minutes, a Christmas song will come on and the lights start blinking in time with the song. It’s like watching those videos of people who’s houses are completely decked out in lights and then they start blinking to Carol of the Bells, except that it’s about 20 times more lights and more songs than that. We literally could have spent hours just staring in awe of all the lights! Definitely was the perfect, and most Christmas-y, end to our day.

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios
In true Disney fashion, there were lots of hidden Mickeys throughout the lights.

The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios The Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood StudiosThe Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood StudiosThe Wandering Weekenders - Christmas at Hollywood Studios

Check back next time for talk about third day, when visited the Animal Kingdom and finally made our way over to the Magic Kingdom.

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