Disney World 2014 – Epcot & Animal Kingdom

Isn’t funny how you look forward to something like vacation for so long and then BAM it’s over. Coming home on a Tuesday means hitting the ground running trying to catch up after being gone for a week. I wanted to try to write a recap with some Disney tips before I forget.  We packed so much into just a week. Traveling and vacations are some of my favorite things, but after day 6 or so I usually start to crave the comfort of structure. I’m looking forward to getting back to my bed, my food, and my gym. But we had a really great time.

This past week we spent 3 days at Disney World, my absolute favorite place on earth. This trip was especially exciting because Payton is old enough to ride almost all of the rides! We flew in late last Tuesday afternoon and stayed at the Wyndham right next to Downtown Disney for the night. We had reservations and park hopper passes for the next day so we wanted to be sure to get an early start. We headed right to Downtown Disney and ended up eating at Bongos Cuban Resturant and just walking around for a bit before heading to bed. We were up early the next morning to check into our On Property resort, Art of Animation.


I love love loved Art of Animation! It has four areas: The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Cars, & Finding Nemo. We had a family suite in The Lion King area. We already had our Magic Bands when we arrived so we just had to check in to activate them. It turns out they were updating their system when we tried to check in and they weren’t sure our Magic Bands would work in time for our Breakfast reservations or for our park tickets and fast passes, so they gave us hard copies of the park tickets and blank fast passes. Once the system came back online we still had our pre-booked fast passes as well!


One of the biggest tips I give to people who ask about how we plan is to invest in the Deluxe Dining Plan and make your dining reservations in advance. With the Deluxe Dining Plan each person gets to order an Appetizer, Entree, and Dessert at each meal, along with 2 snacks per day. With the plan you aren’t stressed about spending money on food and you can just enjoy your meals! We try to book Character Breakfasts’ with the Dining Plan so we don’t spend our time in the parks chasing down characters, they just come to our table while we eat! Our first meal on Wedneday was at the Grand Floridian at 1900 Park Fare. The food was great. Breakfast is one of my favorite meals because they have Mickey Waffles! Seriously, there is something magical that makes those waffles taste amazing. The characters at this breakfast were a bit out of Payton’s realm. We saw Mary Poppins, who I’m not sure she really knew. It also had Alice & the Mad Hatter, she was clueless on those as well. Tigger and Winnie the Pooh also showed up, which she was excited for.

After breakfast we were able to just take the monorail to Epcot, where we planned to spend half the day. epcotfamily

We planned on using our fast passes and riding all the big rides like Test Track, Mission: Space, and Soarin’. We started out with Test Track, which has changed a big since we last rode it. You get to design your own car and see how it measures up in different test areas like power, safety, and efficiency. I’m pretty sure every one just tries to build the fastest car they can! Payton picked the decorations for our car, isn’t it cute?



After that we headed to Mission: Space. I was a bit concerned about this one… I don’t always love this ride so I wasn’t sure Payton would love it. We started out heading towards the Green “less intense” side, but once we found out she was tall enough for the Orange “more intense” side we switched over. Poor girl had no idea what she was in for!


All or nothing, I guess! She did really well, but said she didn’t like the tight feeling when we would accelerate. She liked when we were floating or driving, but not when we would blast off. This turned out to be the ride we used to rate all the other rides… “Is this like the Space Ship ride?” No, its not as bad as the space ship ride… haha. But she survived, I was pretty proud of her!

We also did the Nemo ride and played in the aquarium for a few minutes before heading to Soarin’. This ended up being her favorite ride of the day! After Soarin we headed over to walk through the World Showcase. We started in the United Kingdom where we had our lunch reservations at the Rose & Crown Pub. This is Chris’ favorite restaurant at Disney! It’s like spending a day in a real English Pub. I started with the Scottish Egg. I’ve heard a lot about these but don’t think I’ve ever tried one.  

Delicious Scottish Egg I had with lunch at The Rose & Crown in #epcot #normansdisney2014

A photo posted by Courtney Norman (@courtnorm) on

It was delicious! I also had the burger and Fries, which was fantastic. I had a Toffee Bread Pudding for dessert. After we finished we walked through the rest of the World Showcase. Payton loved hearing the different music and trying to guess what each world was.

We conquered Epcot in record time thanks to our ample supply of fast passes! We didn’t wait in line at all. We took the monorail back to the Grand Floridian where we parked and then headed back to finish checking into Art of Animation now that our room was ready.

After checking in and resting for a bit we headed back out to Animal Kingdom.


We wanted to take Payton on Dinosaur and Expedition Everest. Going in more of an off season, Animal Kingdom wasn’t that busy at all. We barely waited in line and got right on both rides. Dinosaur is always fun, but I was most excited to take her on Expedition Everest. It was her first “real” roller coaster! She absolutely loved it! Even if she had her eyes closed half the time.


We also did he It’s Tough Being a Bug show and joined in a few of the dance parties going on aroud the park. Animal Kingdom closes earlier than the other parks, I imagine it is because as it starts to get dark all the animals go hide for the night. We headed back to the hotel to rest and clean up for dinner. We had reservations at Boma, the African themed buffet at Animal Kingdom Lodge. The dinner was great with a large buffett of all different types of food. Meat, Salads, Soups, all kinds of flavorful food! Plus an amazing dessert buffett. They had a fun bongo dance party that Payton loved.

Day 1 at Disney was a long day, but SO fun!! We walked over 17 miles, without a stroller!! After dinner we were ready for bed… we knew we had another full day coming up as we planned on hitting Magic Kingdom all day the next day!

Have you ever been to Epcot or Animal Kingdom?
Do your kids (or you) like roller coasters?

Disney on Ice: Celebrating 100 Years of Magic

I. Love. Disney.

Visiting Belle's Castle at the New Fantasyland back in November
Visiting Belle’s Castle at the New Fantasyland back in November

Everything about it. While my favorite way to experience Disney is at Walt Disney World in Orlando, given the opportunity to be involved in something Disney does I will always take it. When I saw Disney on Ice was coming to town I HAD to go. I mean… I knew I had to take my daughter… hehe.

Join the celebration as more than 60 of Disney’s unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!  You’ll be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and many Disney Princesses.  Be thrilled by exciting moments from The Lion King; Mulan; and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Story films; in a skating spectacular filled with magical Disney moments you’ll remember forever as Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic!

For those of you in the St Louis Area the show dates are September 26-29 at Chaifetz Arena. Use the code BLOG to Save $5 on all performances except Opening Night when tickets are just $10* – To buy your tickets click here. For those of you who aren’t in the STL area check them out on Facebook and Twitter to see when they are coming to a city near you


 What’s your favorite Disney Movie?

*Discount does not apply to Rinkside, Circus Celebrity, Front Row, or VIP seats. No double discounts. Service charges, handling, and facility fees may apply.

I was provided with Free tickets in exchange for posting about the show. All thoughts and opinions are my own

Weekly Workout Recap

Whew- What a week!! I am happy to report that we made it back home safe and sound. St Louis never looked so good! We had a great time, but there is nothing like being away from home to make you appreciate it more.

This week was an off week for workouts. We had plans to try out a local Clearwater CrossFit, but it turns out they needed a good amount of notice to “register” for classes and our schedule was so unpredictable we couldn’t make it work. That being said, there were still some decent workouts, just not nearly as many as I’m used to. I guess having a “slow” workout week can be good every once in awhile. It made me even more excited to get back to CrossFit and to really clean up my diet. Now, let’s look at the workouts!

Monday- Unintentional Rest Day

Lots of family time!

Tuesday- 2 mile beach run

Wednesday- At Home/Travel WOD

The hubs and I were itchin for a good WOD so we improvised and created our own. It was all body weight stuff and was pretty quick, around 5-7 minutes. We just did 1 round but if you wanted a more intense workout you could do a few rounds. This was enough to get the blood pumping and a little sweat going. It

Thursday- Rest Day

Lots of work stuff going on, plus squeezing in some last minute family time and packing

Friday- Walking around Disney World

We drove from Clearwater to Orlando to spend a day at the happiest place on earth. This including lots of walking. We also went the whole day without a stroller, so there was plenty of “heavy lifting” including my nearly 40lb 2 year old.

Saturday – Pretty Muddy

We left Disney around 7pm and headed towards Miami, where I was working another Pretty Muddy event. I didn’t actually run the course this time but spent the day walking all over the place, taking pictures, meeting up with our Team Pretty Muddy bloggers and getting feedback from participants. It was our largest event yet! I was exhausted, but had a great time!

Sunday- Travel Day

Sunday was a day of travel. That including lots of heavy lifting (toddler + luggage) and walking around the airport. I also went grocery shopping when we got home. Can that be considered an olympic sport? Good news is I got to test out my new therafit shoes on my grocery trip. After wearing minimalist shoes for awhile these felt like walking on marshmallows! Perfect for tired feet after a long day of travel. I can’t wait to tell you more about them!

Overall, I am pretty satisfied with my amount of activity for being on vacation. Not so satisfied with my food choices. I made sure to go grocery shopping so I have no excuses for not eating right this week.

I’m linking up with Little Girl in the Big World for the weekly workout round up!

Your turn- How were your workouts this week? What do you do for workouts when away from home?

Thankful Thoughts

17. Thankful for the opportunity to work with Pretty Muddy
18. Thankful for a nice house to come home to