Tuesday, May 1, 2018

NYC

New York City, the city that is ever changing, ever growing and never sleeps. I have been here a few times and it always leaves me wanting a little more, but it also makes me never want to go out in public again. The last time I went there was for a weekend trip with my now Fiance to complete his dream of staying at the Waldorf. We lucked out because a good friend of mine lives there and became our tour guide or rather food guide to the city. And boy was she the best food guide ever.

Now there are so so many things to see and to do here, I'm really just going to hit the high points.

Statue of Liberty - There is one thing that I do think every single person should see is the Statue of Liberty. It astounds me that so many people who came here for a better life, that our Lady Liberty was the first thing they saw. How miraculous that would have been.
Make sure you book your tickets early especially if you want to go up in the crown or the flame.


Ellis Island - Again, to me this is one of the most important landmarks in not only NYC but all of U.S.A. It is even cooler if you can trace back an ancestor that walked through those halls.
Outside of Ellis Island

The Hall where they stood in line

The Record Book

How the process works. 


Central Park - Over 1 mile of open space is this gem of the city. Not only are there duck ponds, ice skating rinks, running trails and a zoo. You can take a horse and buggy ride for a not so small fee through the park. I've not done that yet, but I think it would be a great way to see the park and save your poor feet. One of my favorite places is the Alice in Wonderland Statue.



9/11 Memorial - I feel like this is just as important as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. People should see exactly what happened to all those people in the Towers. The entire memorial is very well done.
The Memorial

The Memorial

There is also a Museum that examines the implications of 9/11 and memorializes the victims of the attack as well. It costs $24 to get in for an adult. I thought it was a great tribute to the victims. 



Empire State Building - Once the World's tallest building, it is now just office buildings and a tourist attraction. The 86th Floor is the highest open-air observation deck and the 102nd Floor is a glass observation deck with stunning views as well. Just to the 86th floor is $37 for an adult. For both 86th and 102nd Floors is $57 for an adult. Buying tickets in advance is recommended.
Empire State Building

Empire State Building

View From the Top


Times Square - Where the Ball drops every year on New Year's Eve. Right in the midtown of Manhatten is this beautiful square filled with billboards of various Broadway shows and movies. There are numerous places to eat and shop in this square too!


Broadway - Believe it or not, Broadway is an actual place in Manhattan! Most people just refer to "going to Broadway" as making it into one of the many shows! I am a musical girl and actually got to see my first actual show in NYC in Feb. 2017. I saw the Lion King, which was absolutely perfect! This is a must do and there are multiple shows that you can check out!


I've now seen Wicked, Mean Girls and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway as well and HIGHLY recommend all of them!!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Wicked


Grand Central Station - The main transportation hub of NYC! This beautiful building that was opened in 1913 and by the 1950's more than half of the U.S.'s population had traveled through it!

Brooklyn Bridge - The beautiful iconic bridge that links Manhattan and Brooklyn. Completed in 1883, you can walk across it! :)




Rockefeller Center - A huge tourist attraction in midtown Manhattan. This is where the Ice rink and the huge Christmas tree is during the winter season. There are shopping and dining as well as the Top of the Rock which is a similar experience to the Empire State Building.


Chelsea Market - First time I've been here was this last trip to NYC and I loved it. I spent almost 3 hours roaming around this place. So many places to eat and shop! I can personally recommend Doughnuttery - because that place was fantastic!!




Coney Island - Where the rest of NYC comes to relax from the city life (well other than the Hamptons, obviously). This place was so amazing. I didn't get to experience it fully due to time constraints (Harry Potter on Broadway started at 2, didn't get to Coney Island til 12). But the beach is beautiful and the boardwalk is everything you need in a beach boardwalk. There is an amusement park called Luna Park. My friends rode the Ferris Wheel and totally recommend it!
Make sure you eat a Nathan's hotdog while there! They are world famous and host the hotdog eating contest every year!





The Strand Bookstore - if you are a huge book nerd like myself then this is your mecca. 18 miles of books, 3 stories tall and amazing.




FOOD


You have your choice of food in this huge city. Literally, there is everything available to you. But here are a few places I have enjoyed!

Do: (pronounced like dough) - it was one of the "new big things" that everyone found out about. It is edible cookie dough and let me tell you. Totally worth the 2-3 hour wait that you will probably have to endure.

Edi and the Wolf - the wiener schnitzel is absolutely fabulous! 

El Centro - by far my favorite place to brunch. The chilaquiles are TO DIE FOR! 

Max Brenner's - prepare for chocolate overload!! And it is worth every penny and calorie. Because calories don't count in NYC! 
The fondue sharing experience 




Any specific questions I'll try to answer as best I can! I am definitely not an expert but I will always try to help fellow travelers!! :)

graceparsons2023@gmail.com

Monday, April 23, 2018

Delaware

Welcome to THE FIRST STATE! The first couple times I've been to this state was just to pass through on my way to NYC or Boston. But this past summer, we made a stop in New Castle and I just recently ran a half marathon in Rehoboth Beach!

Wilmington
Situated right on the Delaware River, this town boasts probably the most to do. It's right in the middle of Philadelphia and Baltimore and well I feel like this poor town gets over-looked. A drive-by city.
But there is quite a bit to see and do in this town!

Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library. 
Founded by the Du Pont family (DuPont) it now boasts one of the largest Americana collection. Even if you don't take a museum tour, you can walk through the extensive gardens!

Brandywine Zoo 
150 animals on 22 acres! The cost for an adult is $7 and $5 for kids.

Delaware's Children Museum 
On the riverfront and perfect for toddlers through teens! Climbing, learning and exploring galore. $8.75 per person and parking is free! Closed on Mondays and most holidays!

Riverwalk
This runs right in front of the Children's Museum and runs along the river. There are several places to eat here. Joe's Crabshack, Iron Hill Brewery, Big Fish Grill on the Riverfront to name a few.


New Castle
I have to say that I fell in love with the old historical part of town when I visited last summer. It was cute and historical, basically the two things I love in a town. And it had an ice cream shop, which just gave it more points to its already high score.

New Castle Courthouse Museum 
This is part of the First State Historic National Park and in a perfect part of town. All of the houses/businesses around it are historic, most built in/around the 1600's. And this is where the ice cream was found! My fiance found it in a tavern where the people were dressed up as pirates. Jessop's Tavern is the place and I highly recommend it.
New Castle Courthouse Museum

Some of the shops around New Castle Courthouse

More Shops


Fort Delaware 
A Civil War fort that is on an island and only accessible by ferry in either Delaware City or Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey. The fort has historic reenactments and interpretations.


Rehoboth Beach
I know what you are thinking. A beach? In Delaware? But real life there is! It has been named "The Best Family Beach on the East Coast!"


The Boardwalk is the main entertainment in this area beside the beach obviously. A mile-long with lots of shops and restaurants. It has been named "One of the Nations Top 10 Coastal Boardwalks" as well as America's Best Boardwalk! There is a little amusement park on the boardwalk called Funland. It is priced by tickets which are 40 cents per ticket and with the bigger rides costing up to 6 tickets to ride.
The shops along one of the streets

The Boardwalk

More Shops 

Candy Kitchen

The Boardwalk


And that is all I have for our First State!
Any questions let me know!!

graceparsons2023@gmail.com

Monday, April 16, 2018

Walt Disney World

I am finally doing a Walt Disney World blog post. I have been hesitant to do this because there are SO MANY ways that Disney World can be done and have the best time! So this is my opinion and what I think about Disney. What's worth it, what's not worth it. Where to eat, and where to get the best seats for things.

Ok here is how I’m going to break this down. Each park has a page. Then each park is divided into sections. I will put everything in the section on this. I’ll tell you what I think is worth doing/eating and what is not. I'm also not going to go into where you can see what characters and when. There are a lot of them and they can be sporadic. Some days they may come out, some days they may not. The best way to find them is to download the WDW app. It will show you when and where the characters come out. They normally do 40 minutes on and 20 minutes off, so plan accordingly.

First. There are things called Extra Magic Hours. This means that people who are staying on property (at a Disney Resort Hotel) can get into the park an hour early or stay an hour later.

Transportation to and from parks is included when staying at the resort hotels.
The Hotels are grouped into “parks”. So the All-Star resorts are Animal Kingdom hotels – this just means they are the closest to those parks.
You cannot get from one hotel to another. If you are staying at the All-Star and have dinner at the Contemporary, you have to bus to a park then either boat, bus or monorail to the hotel.

Timing.
Allow at least a half hour – 45 minutes to get from park to park. This really only matters if you have dinner reservations at one park but you aren’t at that park or hotel.
You can only use the fast-passes during your allotted time. They won’t let you go early or late.
Be 10 minutes early to your food reservations!!! – They will try to accommodate you if you are late, but no promises.

Bring your own water bottles!!!! – really can’t stress this enough, water is like 5-6 dollars a bottle, there are MULTIPLE fill up/fountains for you to fill up the bottle. It will save you a lot of money in the long-run.

Dining at Hotels 
There are several really good places to eat at the hotels!
Chef Mickeys – buffet character dining at Contemporary – MY FAVE! – monorail or walk from MK to get there! Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Daisy, Pluto, and Mickey can be found here.
Ohana – buffet breakfast at Polynesian – FAVE BREAKFAST – monorail from MK. Lilo and Stitch, Pluto and Mickey
1900 Park Faire – buffet breakfast at Grand Floridian – monorail from MK – Alice, Mary Poppins, Bert, mad hatter, stepsisters can be found here.


There is a dining plan option, make sure you really look into this. Example, my family of 4 it is not worth it, we actually do not eat enough to warrant the dining plan. Your family might eat enough to do it!
Table Service vs Quick Service

Quick Service (QS) – this is you go up order your food they hand it to you and you find a seat.
Table Service (TS) – you sit, a waiter takes your order

TS is more expensive than QS

Magic Kingdom
When you first walk into MK, you are on Main Street. It's mostly shopping. There is a Starbucks, ice cream place, confectionary, and CASEYS!!! Casey’s hotdogs are my favorite thing in the whole world. The hotdog with pulled pork bbq on top is my favorite thing to eat in the park.
Crystal Palace – buffet for breakfast and lunch with Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger – ask him for a bounce off.
If you walk directly down Main Street to the castle you will be in the “hub.” From here you can get to any “land”
There are 4 “lands”, 5 if you count Main Street.
Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland, and Adventureland.
Technically there is a Liberty Square – but really that is in Frontierland, so I don’t count it!
Will not talk about the quick service food places unless they have some kind of neat feature about it. Mostly they all have the same type of food. Burgers, chicken, pizza or salads mostly.
Also – no alcohol is served in MK at all. You can sneak your own in (dole whip with rum is delicious) but good luck.
Bippity Boppity Boutique – will make your daughter into a princess for the day (extra charge + reservations)
Pirates League will make your son or daughter into a pirate for the day (extra charge and reservation
The Town Hall is where you need to go to meet Mickey and trust me that is the Mickey you want to meet!!

The parade is normally at 3pm. Best viewing spots is on main street or in Frontierland by Country Bear Jamboree.
Fireworks are usually at 9 – main street is the best place, there is a show before, try to be in the hub by 8-8:30 to see it!


TOMORROWLAND
If you are facing the castle it is on your right.
Tomorrowland Terrace is off to the side close to Main Street – if it is open it has burgers and such there but mainly it has outside AC! It is always cooler than most places J
Monsters Inc, Laugh Floor – kids will like it, It’s basically a comedy club for kids. Pretty funny. Runs about every 20 minutes – do not fastpass this.
Stitch’s Great Escape – smells. Kids may like it. I do not. Do not fastpass this.
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin – LOVE – fastpass this – talk all the smack to the kids. You have a laser and shoot targets for points. Super fun and you will probably ride 5-10 times.
Carousel of Progress – Walt Disney made this for the worlds fair a long time ago. Old animatronics – GREAT place to nap. Cool and dark. The song will get stuck in your head.  – Not a priority.
Space Mountain – rollercoaster – fastpass unless you go first thing when the park opens. One of my favorite rides
Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover – great place to relax for a little bit in the afternoon.
Astro-Orbiter – actually never rode this. An awful lot like carnival rides at the 4th.
Tomorrowland Speedway – not awful, basically a go-cart but you really don’t control the car.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight CafĂ© – inside and pretty nice.






FANTASYLAND
Be prepared to spend a lot of time here.  It's directly behind the castle. There is a little walkway right by where Merida meets, toward the castle. Snow White’s Wishing well is there and it's really cute for photos J

Mad Hatter Tea Party – ugh. Do everything in your power to avoid this ride. This is sickness waiting to happen. Purple teacup goes the fastest!! AVOID AVOID AVOID
Dumbo – actually pretty cool, especially since they now have the play area inside you can let your kids go in while you wait.
Barnstormer – goofy’s rollercoaster – it's pretty good –  I barely fit on the ride. 
Ariel’s Grotto – where you meet Ariel
Little Mermaid – another ride where you sit and watch the movie scenes on a clam. – do not wait more than 20 minutes.
Be Our Guest Restaurant – can meet the beast – really expensive and not my favorite place to eat.
Winnie the Pooh – you sit in a cart and go through the movie scenes. Do not wait more than 20 minutes for this ride.
7 Dwarves Mine Train – roller coaster - really really good. Either fastpass this or ride this first thing in the morning!
Princess Hall – 2 sides: one with Cinderella and Elena the other with Rapunzel and Tiana. Normally have to fast-pass these. Or Late in the evening, it does slow down!
Prince Charming Carousel – nothing spectacular
Mickey’s Philarmagic – cute and great place for a nap
Peter Pan’s Flight – my favorite ride ever!!!! You will probably need to fastpass this, it is also a sit and watch the movie scenes type of ride.
It’s a Small World – you gotta do it. The song will get stuck in your head, but you have to do it. Do not wait more than 20 minutes for this ride.
Rapunzel bathrooms are the best bathrooms in the park FYI J


Frontierland
Again this is liberty square included!
Haunted Mansion – as a child, I thought it was a little weird. But as an adult, it really is one of Disney’s best rides.
Riverboat – never been on it – it just goes around the “rivers of America” nothing fabulous.
Tom Sawyer’s Island – the kids will love it, kind of like a playground
Hall of Presidents – nap time ONLY – really don’t do this. It's so bad.
Liberty Tree Tavern – is my favorite place to eat in all of Disney. It’s an all you can eat Thanksgiving style meal.
Country Bear Jamboree – Naptime only not worth it
Pecos Bills – TACOS
Splash Mountain – you will get a little wet – sit in the middle you won’t get soaked that way
Big Thunder Mt Railroad – rollercoaster!! J - fastpass


Adventureland
Pirates of the Caribbean – saucy jack is the best J
Jungle Cruise – has the worst jokes around but it's hilarious! – ask if you can see the backside of water J
Tiki Room – a napping area as well

Magic Carpet ride – not worth it





EPCOT
Kidcot Fun Stops – these are stops in each country. You get a cardboard Duffy bear (Mickey’s teddy bear made by Minnie for all his global travels) and the kids can color it/collect stamps from each country and learn a little bit about the history. It’s a great keepsake --- AND they can take it to school and show/tell what they learned from each country.

Future world

Spaceship Earth – actually pretty fun – they take photos of you and use them to predict the future
Innoventions – a big tech playground the kids will love it.
Soarin – fastpass this – go flying through the sky!
Mission: Space – no. let the kids go. It spins you around to create the G forces for the ride. I get sick on it.
Test Track – kind of like a rollercoaster, the kids will like it. Fast pass it


World Showcase
The only ride is the Frozen ride in Norway. Fastpass is a must.
The rest of the showcase – just walk around and see it. Go to the shops and experience the culture.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – breakfast with the princesses!!


Food 
I mean this list is huge and I'm not going to get into it completely. I'll hit my favorites:
Le Cellier Steakhouse - To me this is the best place to eat in Epcot. It's not cheap but worth it for that steak
La Hacienda de San Angel - Mexican Food




Disney Hollywood Studios
This was called MGM when I was younger and I can’t seem to break the habit. There is A LOT of construction going on in this park, however Toy Story World is going to be open very soon, but Star Wars Land will not be. 
There are lands here as well. 

When you first come through the gates, straight in front of you, is extremely similar to Main Street in MK. A lot of shops. 

Sunset Blvd 
Take the first right you come to in the “road” towards the Hollywood Tower of Terror! 
Tower of Terror – must do
Rockin’Rollercoaster – MUST DO! Aerosmith is everything 
Beauty and The Beast Show – one of my favorite shows. Must check showtimes though!! 
Fantasmic – If you don’t do a reserved dining plan for this. YOU MUST GET HERE EARLY!!! Some of the seats are really bad and you can barely see anything. It’s a really good show though! 
There is a little section of quick services right in front of beauty and the beast. This is my normal place to eat lunch! 


Animation Courtyard 

Voyage of the Little Mermaid – another show, it's cute.
Disney Jr. Live on Stage – don’t think you should do it especially if none of your kids watch Disney Jr. – doc mcstuffins, jake, and the neverland pirates are the normal characters. 
Star Wars Launch Bay – you can meet some of the star wars characters AND there is a section where you can draw characters. Its really cute, but I’m not 100% certain they still have it since it has changed to star wars now. 


On the way to Pixar place, there are a couple things sneak peek -  is normally a trailer for their next movie – not worth it. And Walt Disney presents – basically just about Walt and his dream for the parks – not worth it either. 

Pixar Place 
This will change by the time you guys go. I’ll present updated information as I get it. But for now 
Toy Story Mania – fastpass this. I am the queen of this game. It’s a lot like buzz lightyear at MK. But its 3D. and way more fun! 

Grand Avenue 
Muppet Vision 3D – a 3D show, it's actually pretty cool!
Star Tours – Virtual ride, its awesome since the update! 
Backlot Express – 2nd fave place to eat that’s quick service 
Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular – get there early and you may become an extra on the movie! ☺ I tried for years and finally made it! 


Food
50's Prime Time Cafe - Buffet style character dining for some meals, also included in the Fantasmic Dining Package
Hollywood and Vine - a great place for some fine dining, also included in Fantasmic Dining Package
Mama Melrose's Ristorante Italiano - I've actually never eaten here, but have heard good things and is in the Fantasmic Dining Package




Animal Kingdom
Quite possibly my favorite park but don’t tell MK that.

When you walk into the park directly in front of you is 2 paths. Either will take you to the Tree of Life.
Either path has animal viewing areas and it is a little bit of a hill!
When you cross the bridge there is a Wilderness Explorer place on your right.  Do this! They give you a book and missions to complete to become a Wilderness Explorer!! It is actually really fun and super informative for the kids.

AK is set up almost exactly like MK. The tree is the hub.
The tree has some trails and It’s Tough to be a Bug – a bugs life 3d show. The kids will like it.


Pandora
This is the place I know the least about.
There are 2 rides,
Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. Both will require fastpasses


Africa
Festival of the Lion King – best show in Disney. Best show ever!!!!
Kilomanjaro Safari’s – do this first thing! The animals will be more active in the mornings.
Tusker House has really good food and is character dining for some meals. 

Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Have to train there
Can meet Rafiki, Pocahontas and can pet some animals. Sometimes you can watch them do procedures on some of the animals.

Asia
Kali River Rapids – you WILL GET WET
Expedition Everest – best rollercoaster in Disney
Finding Nemo Musical -2nd best show in Disney behind Lion King

Dinosaurland
There is a little carnival section with some games and rides.
The Boneyard is an outside playground.
Dinosaur – dark and can be scary.
My favorite place to eat is right by the entrance to Dinosaurland from the Tree its called flame tree bbq – so good.


There is a new night show – Rivers Of Light – there is a dining package


This is a huge list and can be complicated if you have any questions or want me to email you a copy of this I totally can! 

graceparsons2023@gmail.com