Day 206- Butterflies at Epcot

Today is beautiful and it is a hot 90 degrees this afternoon. There are beautiful clouds in the vibrant blue sky and a good breeze. The kids went to Epcot last weekend with some friends and they got to hold butterflies in the Butterflies on the Go Butterfly exhibit. It sounds so fun and so cool to get to hold a butterfly. So, we decide to go to Epcot because I want to get to hold a butterfly!

We enjoy our drive to Epcot. There is a light crowd as we arrive and go through the main parking gates. The parking attendant is filling in vacant spots near the front. That is great and will make our walk a lot closer.

As we walk to the entrance, we get our bags checked and MagicBands scanned. Now, we enter into Epcot and see the beautiful topiaries for the Flower and Garden Festival. Goofy eaters the plants while Pluto smiles and Daisy holds a fresh bouquet and greets you as you enter!

The first place I look for is the Butterflies on the Go exhibit, so we walk up around the right side of Spaceship Earth, pass Fountain View, and walk on around to see the butterfly exhibit.

As we walk in, we begin to look at all of the beautiful flowers and the little houses full of chrysalises. It is amazing to see the different stages that the chrysalises are in and even the ones that are empty. You can see various stages of the butterflies’ life cycles as you look at the flowers, chrysalises, and the butterflies.

I see someone holding a butterfly and I am so excited to see one this close. Soon, they are about to leave and they gently pass the little orange butterfly to us. I was so excited to hold a real, live butterfly!! It just sat there on my pointer finger and I could just look at it for a little while. Then, I handed it to the kids. They have held one before, but this is the coolest thing I have ever done! Soon, we have several families gathering and I ask if they would like to hold this butterfly. These butterflies are so cool! You just gently put a finger in front of their tiny legs, and they crawl right on to your finger. Please, whatever you do, try not to touch their wings, as they are very delicate, and there are signs to remind of this. It is too cool to feel their little feet crawl onto your finger!

I had just handed it off when we tried to catch another one, and a mom called me the “butterfly whisperer” and then three landed on me. It was SO cool!

I am watching these kids enjoying the butterfly when I hear a little guy say, “Oh, there is a caterpillar!” in the best British accent. You really can see every stage of a butterfly’s life in here! I ask his dad if his son would like to hold the butterfly, and he is so appreciative. Then, Twinkie sees his older brother is trying to catch one with one of the KidCot paper Duffys. She let him know that his little brother is holding a butterfly, and maybe his brother would let him hold it if he wanted to. He jumps up and goes to hold the butterfly.

The kids hand it back to me and I show the next little one how to get the butterfly to walk onto her pointer finger. Her dad is so excited and takes her picture. Then, her brother wants to hold it, so they ask if I can help them. I am so happy to show them how to transfer the gorgeous orange butterfly from one pointer finger to the next. The smiles on their faces as they get to share the butterfly with someone show how truly magical this moment is. Soon, they are leaving and another family comes up and asks for help learning how to transfer a butterfly from one person to the next. This is so much fun!

The last family actually sat down in a group and got a picture with their young son holding the butterfly! Everyone is all smiles and it makes for a beautiful, absolutely amazing picture. A little girl stops me and wanted to show me all of the butterflies flying around the top of the butterfly exhibit. That is so sweet. So, I ask the little girl’s parents if they would like to hold the butterfly. The young son was more than glad to hand the butterfly off to her. She is so excited and her parents snap a few pictures of her. Then, there was a grandmother that isn’t sure how to get to hold it, so I show her to put her pointer finger in front of the butterfly and gently move it to let the butterfly step onto her finger with its front feet, and then lightly turn her finger to help it step its back legs onto her pointer. They are so excited!

Amazement and awe fills the faces of young and old, of moms and dads, and even of grandparents as they experience the delight and joy of getting to hold a delicate butterfly. As I am getting ready to leave, there is a young pre-teen girl sitting so still; she has been there for a while and starting to look disappointed. I ask her if she wanted to hold a butterfly. She said, “Yes,” and sounded a little disappointed. So, I told her that there is a dad in the red shirt, and a dad in the blue checked shirt holding a butterfly. We walk over and her mom is so excited that they will get to hold a butterfly. A dad handed off the butterfly to me, so I turned and helped her get the butterfly on her pointer finger! Her mom’s eyes lit up and she started taking pictures of her.

This was the most rewarding day. I love seeing so many visitors get to hold these precious butterflies. To see the gracious sharing of these little butterflies from one family to the next is so cool. I was so grateful that someone shared a butterfly with me. I wish everyone could experience this amazing adventure.

Well, I need to get something cold to drink, so we go the Fountain View to get some Starbucks coffee and tea. I get an iced tea lemonade on this hot evening. We get our coffees and teas and find a place to sit for a minute to cool down. There is a great spot in the shade where we can watch the fountain water dance to the music.

Soon, we head for the front gates and walk a short distance to our car. It was a fabulous evening with all of the butterflies. Good night, Epcot, we had so much fun today!

Day 205- Hollywood Studios

Today it is mostly sunny with bellowing clouds rolling in. Some are beginning to look like rain clouds, so we take our rain jackets. It is hot and humid today; it is going to be 90 degrees this afternoon as we head for Hollywood Studios. Even though it is hot, there is a little breeze to help cool off the afternoon, which is nice.

Once we park, we walk to the front gates. We get our bags checked and scan our MagicBands. It is busy as we enter onto Hollywood Boulevard at Hollywood Studios. I love the excitement as people walk into the park and down Hollywood Boulevard. As you look down the street you can see the Chinese Theater, which houses The Great Movie Ride.

There are so many things to do here. If you are coming to Hollywood Studios, be sure to check out all of the different rides and various shows. There is even a Disney Junior show for the little ones!

Our first stop is going to be at the Trolley Car Café, where I order an iced green tea lemonade with peach syrup. We get our Starbucks drinks and find a place to sit while Twinkie’s tea finishes brewing. As I step up to a table, I hear two of the Citizens of Hollywood performing on Sunset Boulevard. There they are! It’s Sonny Burbank and Evie Starlight! They are so fun to watch, so we join the huge group of people watching their performance. There are so many people watching that the circle of people gathering around crosses the entire street. People are still joining over the next few minutes. While Sonny is talking about the extravagant date he plans to take Evie on, Evie comes over trying to find a way to escape, and Twinkie gets a fun picture of her as her Coffee View of the Day. (Twinkie has started documenting her “Coffee View of the Day” on Instagram, you can find more of them here:www.instagram.com/twinkiemiller)

The crowd is laughing and enjoying this amazing show! I see a dad in plaid pants bending over because he is laughing so hard. Others are laughing so hard that they can hardly stand it. It is so funny! This is one of their best shows ever! I wish you could hear this funny list of places, foods, animals, and activities that Sonny has lined up for the date (all of which are audience suggestions!). Sonny is remembering a list of about 20 things and repeating them back to the audience; each person laughs as he calls out their suggestion.

As Evie and Sonny finish their skit, there is a huge round of applause! The crowd is so happy and still chuckling over this funny skit! I love watching the Citizens of Hollywood and seeing how much fun the visitors have watching and participating in the skit.

Wow, I had no idea how hot it is in the sun. I was laughing with the kids when I crossed my arm across the metal decoration on my shirt and it is burning hot! Oh, I think I am going to find some shade and cool back down with my iced tea.

After a short beak, we walk around for a bit, and then head for the front gates. We see plenty of cast members trading pins, so we trade a couple with them. They are so gracious and kind.

There are many groups coming in, and it is busy as we are leaving. I see a couple of the cute cars carrying the Citizens of Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard. These little trucks and the cars are so cute! There is a cool breeze blowing and the clouds look like there could be rain soon. We get out to our car and it begins to rain right after we exit the parking lot.

It has been a fun day, and it is always fun to see the Citizens of Hollywood. I had a really fun afternoon at Hollywood Studios!

Day 203- Easter Parade at Magic Kingdom

Happy Sunday Morning! Happy Easter Sunday Morning! It is a beautiful, sunshiny day. They sky is blue and the clouds are plenty. This is going to be a very fun day to get to go to Magic Kingdom. The Citizens of Main Street are dressed in their Easter finery, and there are butterfly ladies and living flowers to meet in the hub.

We arrive at the Magic Kingdom parking lot. It is semi-busy as we park and walk to the Monorail. When the Monorail approaches the Contemporary Resort, I hear a little one gasp as we go right through the Grand Canyon Station, inside of the Contemporary. She is amazed that we can drive through the building, where she can see Chef Mickey’s restaurant. Then, she sees the mosaic tower, and next, the little shops. It is so fun to hear her “ooh” and “ahh” as the Monorail makes its way through the Contemporary and out the other side.

We disembark at Magic Kingdom, where we get our bags checked, and MagicBands scanned. I love hearing the Disney music as we arrive. As we step onto Main Street USA, the buildings look beautiful. They are glistening in the bright sun and contrasted by the darker clouds gathering in the sky.

So many people are dressed in their Easter clothes; they look so pretty and so nice! It is a slower moving afternoon, so we take our time as we walk down Main Street. We stop at the Main Street Bakery for some Starbucks tea and coffee. It is not very busy at the moment, so we don’t have a very long wait. We have our coffees and teas, so we are off to find a place to sit or stand for the Easter Parade taking place before the Festival of Fantasy Parade today.

I love the new hub! It is so open and makes the foot traffic flow so much better. We find a great place to stand and wait, just behind the line of people sitting on the curb. Soon, the family in front of us has hamburgers delivered by the men in their family. It smells so good! The guys head back to the new hub and find a ledge to sit on while they finish their lunch. I love all of the seating that the hub expansion has added.

After about 30 minutes, we hear that there is going to be a high school marching band coming down Main Street before the parade starts. We see them getting close, and they look so cool! All of them have on Mickey ear hats and they are so fun to watch. You can tell which families have kids in the band as they sit on the sidewalks cheering and clapping for their kids! I love it.

After about 15 more minutes the Easter Parade begins. The music is so cheery for this beautiful day! There are the official banner carriers, dressed in their fun Easter clothing, flower ladies, walking butterflies, dancing pink hippos and ostriches, and even flower petals floating in the air!

The Easter Bunnies ride down Main Street in a lovely car!

There are young ladies in a sea of beautiful pastel Easter bonnets and ruffled dresses; they look so lovely with their pastel parasols as they glide down the street gracefully.

Even Thumper, Ms. Bunny, the White Rabbit, and Rabbit appear in a gazebo!

Soon, we see chicken ladies go dancing by in front of the barn of none other than Clara Cluck herself! What a treat!

It was so beautiful and fun getting to see the Easter Parade at Magic Kingdom!

We sit for a minute on the hub and talk about what to do next. I have not seen the Easter Egg Display at the Grand Floridian yet, and it’s the last official day for it to be out. That is a must on my list for this season. So, we decide to head that way.

As we exit to go to the Resort Monorail, there are so many people coming into Magic Kingdom. We walk up to the Monorail, wait a short time for one to arrive, and board. We make a stop at the Contemporary, the Transportation and Ticket Center, the Polynesian, and finally, the Grand Floridian.

We disembark and go through the doors into this most grand hotel. It is so beautiful in its coastal Victorian style. We take the elevator to the ground floor, and as we look out of the elevator, we can see the exquisite backs of some of the Easter eggs being displayed. They are just beautiful. We look at all of the ornately decorated, giant Easter Eggs. We study them and fill out a voting slip. These are amazing. Oh! I do see a couple of ladies I have met in these past few months. I say my hellos and we exchange, “Happy Easter Sunday!” greetings. It is good to see them.

After taking all the time we wanted to see the detail of these beautiful eggs, we are off to the Monorail. As we are leaving the Grand Floridian, I see the sky has filled up with what looks like rain clouds. So far, it isn’t raining. Once we board, we stop at Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary, and our final destination, the Transportation and Ticket Center.

Well, it has been a beautiful day, filled with so many smiles, pretty pastel colors, and lovely Easter eggs. It was a Happy Easter Sunday, indeed!

Day 190- Magic Kingdom

Today it is lightly rainy. It has rained all night, so the flowers are especially beautiful and everything looks refreshed. We decide to wait until this afternoon to go to Disney We grab our rain jackets and head for Magic Kingdom. It isn’t misting any more and the weather feels great. It was cool this morning, and now the sky is full of clouds; looks like it could rain again.

As we get to the Transportation and Ticket Center, we are surprised that we are parking so close. As we enter the parking area, it pretty empty, which normally means that it is not going to be very crowded at Magic Kingdom. We park, walk to the Monorail, and board. When get to Magic Kingdom, there are plenty of open tables to get our bags checked, so we each pick a table. Then, we scan our MagicBands and enter into Magic Kingdom.

Pluto is meeting guests near the Main Street Confectionary. He is usually out by the flagpole, but he’s under the covering today since it was rainy. Everyone is so happy to get to meet him!

Going down Main Street USA, the kids check for pins to trade. Twinkie finds one right away and trades for a fun pin. Today is going to be a good day for pin trading.

As we make our way down Main Street, the family behind me is talking about how something must be getting ready to happen, since there are so many people lining up on the sidewalks. They’re right! The Festival of Fantasy parade will begin in just a little while, as long as the rain stays away. If it rains again, they will have the Rainy Day Motorcade instead.

The sky is beginning to clear just a little bit. It will warm up quickly! It is fun to hear people talk about how hot it is right now, in the mid 70s, especially with so many families coming from snowy areas! It’s a nice day today, and it is only going to be near 81 as the high.

We got our hot drinks at the Main Street Bakery, then sat and drank our drinks at the parade was going by. The parade is beautiful! We talked to the family near us, the little girl was so cute. After our drinks, Tooti and I grabbed a gluten free beef and bleu salad at Tomorrowland Terrace, and Twinkie went to Casey’s Corner and got a gluten free, corn free hot dog with apple slices.

The wildlife was busy today. A pigeon sat near us, ducks flew overhead, and the dad behind us pointed out a baby duckling swimming near the Loch Ness Monster shrubs; the duckling was so tiny and looked so alone. I guess he was catching up to his family. It’s so fun to see the little ducklings swim together.

We made our way back to Main Street USA, walked across the street, and as we were going past the doors of Main Street Clothiers, we saw the new spring line of Minnie Mouse clothing. Everything is so very cute! We had to check these new styles out.

As we got near to the front gates, Twinkie was asked to do a survey, so she followed to cast member into the Chamber of Commerce building, where she filled out the computer survey. Toot and I waited, and I saw that the Easter Bunnies are here to take pictures with. Oh, I will have to do that before Easter arrives!

We sat and we talked to a lady who was waiting on her husband to finish a survey. She was very nice. Soon, her husband and young son joined her. Twinkie joined us just shortly after that, and we were off to the Monorail.

It has been fun, and now it is time to head home! See you soon, Magic Kingdom!

Day 188- Birthday Fun at Magic Kingdom

Today is a spectacular day! It is a very chilly 67 degrees on this this early morning. We are going to Magic Kingdom and know it will be a hot 89 degrees by this afternoon. The skies are so blue and there are fluffy white clouds in the sky.

We get to the heroes parking lot and can hear they just called for, “No more boarding…” on the tram. The safety message begins as we decide walk to the Transportation and Ticket Center. It is about a 5-minute, fast walk, and not bad at all. If you have little ones, you might want to put them in their stroller and save their excitement for the parks! They can use up a lot of energy dancing all the way to the Monorail. Once they get to the park, 8-10 hours can be a long day for little ones.

The kids have planned a special day for me and gave me a “Happy Birthday!” pin to wear for the day. So, first things first! We arrive at Magic Kingdom and head for our lunch reservation at Be Our Guest. We check in and have pre-ordered our meal, so we are seated in a timely fashion. We sit by the windows in the ballroom and I can watch the snow falling as we wait for our server to hand deliver our special allergy friendly order.

Be Our Guest is a beautiful place to celebrate everything. If it is your first time to Disney, an anniversary, wedding, engagement, birthday, or have any other reason to celebrate, this is one of my favorite places. As you walk across the bridge to the Beast’s castle, it is fabulous! Notice all of the details of the lamps as you cross the bridge, and the lion-creatures that guard the front doors. It is incredibly beautiful. As the doors open, there are wonderful archways before you enter the ballroom.

We are so excited that they have a gluten free roasted beef sandwich with French fries; we also have a gluten/corn free sandwich served with green beans, and order French onion soup as well. The food here is delicious!

After lunch, our next stop is the Main Street Bakery for our Starbucks drinks. They are setting up for the Festival of Fantasy parade as we enter. As we are leaving, the parade is coming down Main Street USA. I love seeing all of the floats, the beautiful dancers, and all of the Disney characters.

We stop for a moment in the shade and wait for Twinkie’s tea to brew. We meet a couple from Pennsylvania and they are talking about how difficult it is to make the weather change from very cold to this 89-degree day with 82% humidity. I sympathized and listened. Then, I remember that I need to get my cooling towels out since it is getting hot enough to need them.

Now, my favorite ride is next. So, we head toward Fantasyland. The kids went to look at Sir Mickey’s and I went to see if Gaston was out greeting his loyal fans. He was not, so I walked back up to go to Peter Pan’s Flight. In the meantime, Twinkie met some of the Royal Majesty Makers and was having quite a fun chat with them. As I approached Peter Pan’s Flight, I saw the kids chatting and quickly Twinkie introduced me as, “The Queen” and I asked if I could get a picture with the Royal Majesty Makers! They are such a delight; do take the time to chat with them if you happen to see them out!

Our FastPass+ time is here, so we are off to ride Peter Pan. I love this ride.

Now, the kids and I walk down to see Gaston and watch the girls swoon over him. It is so fun to see him interact and talk with the ladies. He looks across the way, to where buff guy was standing. Gaston left the girls and told the guy that he would “help him” with his sleeves and rolled the buff guy’s t-shirt sleeves back down to cover his arms. The crowd laughs and Gaston picks on him once again. It is just fun watching all of the interactions and pictures.

Next, we have the Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid ride. I love this one too! I cannot wait, they have added some more fishes and it is so fun to feel like you are in the movie. The kids loved this movie when they were little, so we saw it many times. I take in a moment of dreamy fishes enjoying the music, then listen to “Under the Sea.” I love this large cave full of so many fish.

We decide to grab another iced drink at Starbucks. It is so hot today and staying hydrated is very important. We drink so much water during the day. I love having a glass to refill in between rides. When we get to Starbucks, they are preparing for the second Festival of Fantasy parade of the day. There seem to be several High School Bands passing as we are waiting for our drinks to be crafted. They are really fun to hear and to see passing by the windows of Starbucks.

As we are walking to a ride or from a ride, there are characters everywhere, or a play, or a parade – there is something always going on when you are at Magic Kingdom.

Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is our next ride and we get checked in with the FastPass+ on our MagicBands. The cast member greets me with, “Happy 21st Birthday! Oh, and I see that your brought your younger sisters!” He totally caught me off guard, and all I could do was to laugh and thank him! The line is fairly long, but soon we were on the ride. There is a score that I have not attained yet. That score is 999,999 also known as Galactic Hero. My kids have gotten it a few times, but I’m still working on it! Me? My highest score was today: 339,800!!! Oh, yes! I am happy with this new high score! We stop and get the Galactic Hero celebration pin for the kids!

Well, I have had a blast. It has been a lot of fun celebrating my birthday with my kids at Magic Kingdom. I have had tons of, “Happy Birthday!” greetings all day long! I think I am done for the day! We walk back through Tomorrowland to the new hub where there is a parade in process, so we take our time as we are heading for the front entrance. It gets crowded with people stopping to take pictures. The cast members encourage those taking pictures to go under the rope into the safe zones for those who want to stand and watch the parades. It makes it easier for the people coming up and down the sidewalks and aids in traffic flow. I like days that people are kind and thoughtful toward those around them.

As we are exiting, the cast member waving good-bye says, “Happy Birthday!” The cast member at the monorail hollers, “Happy Birthday!” As I am exiting the Monorail another cast member says, “Happy Birthday!” These are some of the wonderful things that happen all day long when you are celebrating! Be sure to get your special pin! It was a very happy birthday!

Day 182- Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

Today there are blue skies and fluffy white clouds. It is going to be another hot day, near 90 degrees, as we get to Epcot this afternoon. We park fairly far out, so we catch the tram and ride to the entrance. We get our bags checked, MagicBands scanned, and enter into the Flower and Garden Festival. The sun shines bright as we walk toward Spaceship Earth. It is busy, but not too crowded.

My first stop is to get something cold to drink, so we walk on around to Fountain View, which houses Starbucks. It is amazing how 88 degrees seems a lot hotter on such a sunny day. Iced tea lemonade sounds nice! As we get to Starbucks, I think a lot of people need a cold beverage since the line is somewhat long. It takes a little while, but I have my drink and we head for the Festival Center to see the displays.

Before we get to the Festival Center, we have to stop and get a picture with the Buzz Lightyear topiary. It looks really great when you see it with Mission: Space in the background. Love it!

Now, we are off to the Festival Center. As we walk up, we begin to see all of the flowers. As you enter there is a wall filled with all sorts of plants, orchids, ferns, and various other tropical greenery. It is truly incredible!

When we leave the Festival Center, we hear some sort of music… Drums? Or is it something else? Oh, how fun! The Jammin’ Gardeners are playing all sorts of trashcans, shovels, buckets, ladders, and even the ground as percussion instruments! They are so much fun and so entertaining to watch!

I need to get something to eat, so we walk back through toward Starbucks and go around the fountains. We stop for a picture, trade a pin, and head off toward the World Showcase Lagoon, turn right, and backtrack a little to the Urban Farm Eats booth. We order the Kale Salad with dried cherries, almonds, and goat cheese with white balsamic vinaigrette and decide to share the Ghost Pepper Dusted Tilapia with crisp winter melon slaw and mint oil featuring The Original Sauce Man’s Kick it Up Rub. The tables are in the sun, so we walk toward Canada and find some benches under umbrellas. There we sit in the shade and enjoy a very late lunch. The gluten free kale salads are really good. We had these the other day, and they are so filling and so yummy! The tilapia is tasty, but we found that the main spicy punch comes from the winter melon slaw. The winter melon slaw was Twinkie’s favorite part of the tilapia dish.

There is a steady stream of people passing as we enjoy our lunch.

Now, off to The Tea Caddy, Mr. Stephen Twining is there today. As we enter the edge of the United Kingdom pavilion, Twinkie finds some pins to trade. Then, we continue on to The Tea Caddy where we check on one of our favorite teas. We find that the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Tea is gone, and Mr. Twining is on a break. We walk through the gardens behind The Tea Caddy and then we enter into the Lords and Ladies shop to look at the Downton Abbey items. We make our way through The Queens Table shop and back through The Tea Caddy. Mr. Twining hasn’t returned yet, but maybe next time we will be able to meet him. We did get to meet him last year, which was really neat!

Now, Twinkie is going to trade another pin on the edge of the United Kingdom pavilion before we head to the front of Epcot. We are enjoying the day, it is hot, but I think we are doing good drinking tea and water to stay hydrated. That sounds funny since it is only March, but in Florida, it is like the early part of summer weather. The clouds have gathered overhead and it is nice to have some shade as we get to the front gates, catch the tram, and walk to our car!

It has been a lot of fun today. The colors and combinations of flowers are so refreshing! I loved today and being at the Flower and Garden Festival!