Day 1:  De-Stress, Just Enjoy Being Home

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Up until a week ago, I was supposed to be traveling tonight to Walt Disney World, but once again I found my sucked into the Twilight Zone with the floor dropping out from under me.  Instead of ending up with another anxiety attack over it, I gave myself one more Disney day and really treat myself because it is well deserved and VERY earned!

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Today is about de-stressing and being home, but still within the  perimeters of new experiences…

Plans for today include:

  1. Breakfast at Be Our Guest (I hear they now mimosa’s)
  2. Massage at Senses in the Grand Floridian

-I might end up at All Star Pool, hotel room for a nap. or Food & Wine in the afternoon.  All of these options are on the table.

  1. Dessert Party and VIP Seating for Fantasmic!

-Afterwards, the night is still relatively young in terms of Disney time so I might go to Disney Springs or enjoy All Stars at night.   

Remember that I am doing a full out social media blitz this week to make you part of my “working vacation.” Content will be different on each site to make it fresh, so you will want to follow me on…

ta social page

I am also going to be giving everyone* following along and interacting, a chance to win up to $200 in a Disney Vacation Credit* as well as a few daily giveaways as a thank you for being a part of my “working vacation.”  The more you interact, the better chance you have to win.

“Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho It’s Off to Work I GO” Contest Rules & Details

There is so much magic waiting for me that I need to get going, I will C U real soon and remember that life is always better when you are wearing ears.

Friday Five: 5 x 5 for Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival 2017 & 2018

40347632_686479751712198_1256641477291802624_nYesterday, was opening day of one of my favorite events at Walt Disney World, Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival.  This is the time of the time of the year where I unleash my inner foodie and throw out any kind of diet plan. One of my favorite things is to pour through the menus of each Festival Booth and stalk all the great Disney Food Facebook pages, dreaming of all the yummy sips and bites.  The menus were released a few weeks ago and I already have my list ready for my trip in 35! But before I look ahead to next month, let’s take a moment to look at back at some of my favorites (and misses) from 2017…

5 Top Bites from 2017

1 & 2 Piggy Wings (2nd year of my list) & Chocolate Picante-Dark Chocolate Mousse & Yellow cake with Cayenne Pepper, Chili Pepper and Raspberry Dust

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Roasted Pork Wings with a Korean BBQ sauce…sticky, sweet and just little after burn to remind you that you are at Flavors from Fire)  I love chocolate and heat, a yummy combination!

3. Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle with a Warm Whiskey-Caramel from the Chocolate Studio (2nd Year of my list)

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Yummy and refreshing, love the cold treat on a hot day, and paired with a beautiful red dessert wine…AMAZING.

4. Warm Irish Cheddar Cheese and Stout Dip with Irish Brown Bread from Ireland

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I was a little scared to try this combination, considering I am not a beer fan but I love Irish Brown Bread.  The flavor of the bread, cheese and beer together was the perfect bite of Ireland

5. Traditional Spanish Paella with Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Mussels, Chicken and Crispy Chorizo from Spain

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How they managed to get every component on the plate is beyond me, plus the rice had that crispy chewy bite that normally you would be fighting to get at home.  

Top 5 Sips from 2017

1. Lenotti Recioto della Valpolicella (see picture with Nitro Truffle)

A sweet red dessert wine, probably the best red dessert wine I have EVER had and a perfect complement to the truffle.

2. Kim Crawford Frozen Wine Cocktail featuring Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand

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It was the perfect wine slushy and took the edge off of a family who decided that they wanted to ATTEMPT to crowd me out of my spot for illuminations that I had staked out for over an hour.

3. Red Moscato from Italy

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This must be the year of the sweet reds for me.  Another great vino!

4. Twinings Pumpkin Chai Tea Frozen Cocktail with Caramel Vodka (2nd year)

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My favorite drink from 2016 did not disappoint…pumpkin, chai, caramel vodka fall in a glass!  I will not even admit to how many of these I drank this year. I was EXTREMELY disappointed when I was reading the menu for Ireland’s Festival Booth for 2018 and found this missing…thankfully I did not have to cancel my trip over this as has just been moved to another booth.  

5. Dragon Berry Refresher featuring Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum from the Refreshment Port

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A refreshingly light frozen cocktail, that given the opportunity I would have had more that I needed.

5 Misses from 2017

1. Bleu Spectrum (Blanc de Bleu Cuvee Mousseux with Boba Pearls) from the Light Lab

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I wanted to love this, but after 3 sips I threw it away.  It was bitter with an odd aftertaste. Light Lab is such a fun festival booth, mad scientist lab that glows in the dark.

2. Crispy Calamari with Spicy Pomodoro Sauce from Italy (see picture above on Italy’s Red Moscato)

The appearance turned me off as it seemed under fried, however the calamari was crispy but it lacked any sort of flavor at all.  The Pomodoro sauce was good, but not good enough to make up for the calamari.

3. Spicy Hummus Fries with Cucumber, Tomato, Onions and Tzatziki Sauce from Morocco

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Another favorite bite from 2016 that was a HUGE disappointment in 2017.  This year the fries were wet and soggy and lacked the spice in spicy.

4. Teriyaki Ginger Pork from Japan

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I guess I was expecting another version of the Piggy Wings, but this was not that.  It was dull and flavorless.

5. Beijing Roasted Duck Bao Bun with Hoisin Sauce from China

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I was so excited that this was on the menu again for 2016, but after the first bite I was extremely disappointed.  This year’s  lacked the deep rich flavor I remembered and the duck was chewy and greasy, so instead of being on the top again the duck moved to the bottom.

Looking towards the 2018 Epcot Food & Wine Festival…

So, what I am looking forward to eating and drinking in 2018 (based on menu only)? Of course, I am going for the Liquid Nitro Chocolate-Almond Truffle, the Pumpkin Chai with Vodka and the Piggy Wings, plus I might give a few past disappointments another chance but here is what is topping my list to try…

Top 5 Eats to Try For 2018

1. Maple Bourbon Cheesecake with Maple Bourbon Cream, Caramel & Pecan crunch (Cheese Studio)

2. The Steakhouse Blended Burger (blended beef and wild mushroom slider with brie cheese fondue, arugula, truffle and blue cheese potato chip on a brioche bun) from Earth Eats

3. Bougasta (warm phyllo dough strudel with sweet vanilla custard, lemon honey syrup and cinnamon) from Greece

4. Sweet Potato Poutine (sweet potato fries with caramel sauce, mini marshmallows and pecans) from Refreshment port

5. Korma Chicken with cucumber tomato salad, almonds, cashews, and warm naan bread from India

Top 5 Sips to Try For 2018

1, Caribbean White Sangria from Islands of the Caribbean

2. Chateau Des Charmes Vidal Ice-wine from Canada

3. La Passion Martini Slush from France

4. Fiji Apple Cocktail from Japan

5. Blood Orange Mimosa from the new Mimosa Bar

I have decided that this year, I do not have to try to eat and drink something at every booth.  Instead, I am going to get as many dishes and pours at a Festival Booth that catches my attention (and my stomach as room for).

Follow this link to the 2018 Menus…

2018 Epcot Food & Wine Market Places

What would make your list?  Share your lists in the comments!

Friday Five: 5 Disney Things for 2018

The calendar page is turned so…

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I am excited for the new year, which has not been the case the last few years.  There are so many new adventures that I am working on that hopefully will impact my life (both In and out of ears) for many years to come in a good way.  Plus, there are so many Disney things that I can’t wait to experience in 2018.

http://video.disney.com/watch/every-disney-thing-happening-in-2018-oh-my-disney-560e17a19be5c80766ffcd1e

things” for 2018…

1. Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World, Disney Hollywood Studios

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I am so excited that Disney Hollywood Studios is finally getting that much needed make over that it desperately has needed.  Don’t get me wrong some of my favorite attractions are located within this park, but even those attractions have been enough to get me to the park each trip. If you have walked through the stand by line of Toy Story Mania, this is what I imagine Toy Story Land to be like.  Surrounded by larger than life toys, games and other things from my childhood…Even Mr. Grumpy can’t help but smile and be drawn back into memories.  The tinker toys get me every time.

 

2. Incredibles 2

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Seriously, Disney what has taken so long with this sequel?  If movie time was real time, Jack would be learning to drive!

3. Avengers:  Infinity War

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I admit it that I have a thing for smart alec, egocentric super heroes…I also seem to be drawn to conflicted comic villains like Loki.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would become a comic book hero fan, but thanks to Disney I can’t get enough these guys!  And once again Disney has created experience that my whole family can enjoy together.

4. Pixar Pier at Disneyland Resort, Disney California Adventure

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I am not sure when I am going to make my way back to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland but I hope it is soon because changes are also happening on the west coast with Disney.  Paradise Pier is getting rethemed Disney-style.

5. Pixar Fest at Disneyland Resort, Disnyland

But the experience I would love to be part of this summer is, Pixar Fest.

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https://disneyland.disney.go.com/events-tours/pixar-fest/

Disney’s Nighttime Spectaculars are one of my favorite experiences, as the night comes alive with magic.  Combining music, fireworks, beloved movie scenes together along with friends & family just stirs up those emotions of warm and fuzzy that are certain to bring a tear down my cheek.

I am not certain that I will make it home to the happiest or most magical places on earth in 2018, but I know I will be at the movie theater and stalking friends & family’s trips because 2018 appears to be a great Disney year.

What Disney things are you most excited for?  Drop me a comment and tell me…

Remember that I can help you plan that vacation so that you can be part of the Pixar coast to coast fun this summer!  Disney has just released Summer 2018 package & room promotions…

Tammie’s Take Thursday: Flight of Passage (FOP)

Be warned there will be a few spoilers in this post…

It’s been no secret that I am not a huge fan of the movie, Avatar.  It’s a beautiful movie from a scenery aspect but has a very predictable story line that at times is long and slow.  I have also felt like Disney missed the mark by making it an entire land in Animal Kingdom.  To me the area could have been better served by adding North American story lines like Brother Bear, Bambi, and Pocahontas; but I am not the Imaginear.  I must say that though in terms of rides/attractions Disney certainly hit MOST of the marks I look for in a great attraction with Avatar:  Flight of Passage (FOP) and technology wise finally come close to what the “dark side” (aka Universal Studios) of Orlando has been offering now for over 7 years with the Forbidden Journey. But before I tell you more about the ride itself, let’s discuss the journey to get on this attraction which starts WAY before ROPE DROP.

There are 3 things that you need to know about Flight of Passage before you arrive, motion sickness is REAL, wait times are UNREAL and getting a FastPass is DIFFICULT.

Motion Sickness is REAL

Guests need to beware and respect the “Motion Sick” warning to this ride.  Flight of Passage last 4 minutes and you no not want to feel sick for 4 minutes (and probably the rest of the day). So if you are prone to motion sickness, like Mr. Grumpy, you might want to take precautions or skip FOP because the combination of the movement of the vehicle and the action on the screen might be too much for you. But what is worse than motion sickness…

Wait Time in UNREAL

The worst thing about Flight of Passage is the wait time, I have seen it posted 15 minutes after park opening at 3 hours and later in the day at 5 hours.  Let me assure you from talking to people in that line and experiencing it that guests WILL wait 5 hours to ride Flight of Passage so that line will not go down until park closing, but what makes this wait really frustrating is that obtaining a….

FastPass is DIFFCULT

A FastPass is hard to get for FOP, even if you are able to book at the 60 days.  If you are waiting until the 30 day mark, a FastPass is pretty much not going to happen.  Animal Kingdom is on a tiered system FastPass system and both the attractions, Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey, in Pandora are Tier 1, so you are going to have to stand in line for one of the rides in Pandora.

Honestly, until the opening of Toy Story Land in 2018 and Star Wars in 2019 I do not see wait times coming down anytime soon nor the availability of a FastPass.  So how do you combat the wait time and no FastPass?  Book your vacation through me and I will be happy to share my tips on how you can to ride both Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey BEFORE the park officially opens and NOT use a FastPass in what I am calling the Na’vi Shuffle. I have spent months stalking trip reports for tips on how it can be done, and I HAVE DONE IT.  Now you have used my vacation planning expertise and have made  relatively in one piece to Flight of Passage…

You can expect stunning views of the floating mountains as you venture through a bioluminescent rainforest that is taking over the ruins of the abandoned RDA building.  I will say that Imaginears have done an amazing job bringing Pandora to life.  It is beautiful to the eye and you will feel like you have entered another world.  Don’t be afraid to stop and take pictures while you are in line, there are lots of beautiful selfie spots (or maybe you have made great friends with the people with you in line for the last 5 hours since you did not use my complimentary traveling planning services).  Once have made your way through the rainforest the line will then enter a cave adorned with Na’Vi paintings and then into the abandoned RDA building and now research laboratory of the humans who’ve settled on Pandora.  Here you will fine various experiments showing how the study of Pandora wildlife is progressing, including a suspended animation of a Na’vi avatar inside a giant, water-filled tube. Most disappointing for me during my whole journey through the queue was that I was constantly moving and not being able to focus on the small details built into every Disney attraction that brings the experience to life.  Disney does an amazing job keeping you stimulated as you spend 5 hours in line.

Once you are though the queue, you are lead into a 16 person chamber to prepare for your flight. There are actually 2 chambers, with 2 different videos and interactions.  Although I experienced both chambers my first 2 flights on FOP, but the 3rd flight I only was in the first chamber and walked through the second.  I am not sure why other than I am guessing it is a crowd manage technique. 

When you are done preparing for your flight you are lead into a room with what looks like 16 stationary bicycles without pedals and handed a pair of 3-D googles and to board the “bike.”  Once all preparations are done for your the room goes dark, there’s a flash of light, and you become “linked” to the Na’vi surfing a banshee and flying through Pandora.  The ride is beautiful, similar to what you would experience on Soarin’ but more intense.

Disney technology has caught up to Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter in terms of motion simulator, but Universal will always have the edge with Forbidden Journey and Escape from Gringott’s in my opinion.  Why?  There is no storytelling with Flight of Passage, nor with Na’Vi River Journey which for Disney is a huge let down and disappointment because to me Disney is stories and beloved characters.  Again, I reference back to why Disney should have gone with the beloved stories of the Americas.  None of the scenes from the screen playing in front of me could I relate back to the movie, Avatar which makes me not vested in a story line with the banshees.

Will I ride Flight of Passage again? Of course I will, it was beautiful and FUN to feel like I was flying but only if I can get a FastPass and not have to get up so early.  There are other rides in Animal Kingdom that I would prefer to wait for or use a FastPass for, because they don’t leave me emotionally empty wanting more.

Remember that when you book your Walt Disney World  Vacation with me, I will give you my honest opinions as well as help you successfully do the Na’Vi Shuffle without waiting in 2-5 hour lines!

 

 

Saving 4 Disney Saturday:  ShopKicks-Overview & Getting Started

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Disney Penny App #1: ShopKicks…Overview & Getting Started

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Over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to share with you how I was able to earn $1400 in 11 months by putting my computer/smart phone to work by using what I like to call my Disney Penny Apps.  

This Saturday we are going to take a deeper look into ShopKick, which is one of my favorite apps and is a great way to get your children involved at the store while you are shopping.  Call it a scavenger hunt, your kids will love it and shopping has now become a game instead of chore…a game that will pay off in a few more Mickey Bars.  In the past I was earning a $25 Walmart gift card every 3 months using this app, but with recent upgrades I now find that I earn $25 Walmart gift card every month.  

https://www.shopkick.com/how-it-works

ShopKick basically has 2 sides to the app, IN-STORE and AT HOME (mobile shopping), plus a few in app opportunities to earn a few by watching videos or clicking on products.  So far, I have only used the IN-STORE part of the app because Swagbucks tends to reward you more for online/mobile shopping.

To earn “kicks” IN –STORE

  1. WALK IN:  Open the App as you walk into a featured store…EARN KICKS.  
  2. SCAN:  With the App open you will find featured products and simply scan their barcode…EARN KICKS
  3. PURCHASE:  Simply put the featured item in your cart and then scan/submit the receipt after check-out purchase…EARN KICKS.
  4. LINK CARD:  Pay with a linked card…EARN KICKS. (I do not do this.)

To earn “kicks” AT HOME

  1. Online Shopping-Simply kick on the store you wanting to purchase from and shop away.
  2. Featured Stores/Products-Look for the eye symbol, click on it and earn a few kicks for looking at a product.
  3. DISCOVER TAB-Scroll through products and look for videos that award kicks for watching, watch and earn!

How much are KICKS worth?  While they vary from product to product and store to store, they are worth it in the end.  Who can’t use $25-$50 extra each month in free gift cards at your favorite stores allowing you to treat yourself, your spouse, your kids or even save up for that Disney trip for doing what they already do, shopping?

So, how do I get started earning kicks that I can change to Walmart/Sams Gift Cards that I can turn into Disney Gift Cards?

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1.) First you’ll need to download the app to your phone. It is free to download and available for both Apple and Android devices. Please use my referral link. http://getsk.co/mall911058 and we both will get rewarded!

2.) Once it’s downloaded, open the app and set up an account. It’ll walk you through the steps, having you pick out your desired reward (more about rewards later), and create an account (or you can connect it to your Facebook account).

3) Link your credit cards in the app.

I know this sounds scary. And ultimately it will be up to you to decide if you want to do this (it is optional). Know that your card information isn’t saved by Shopkick, but through Visa or MasterCard’s secure site (they are the only two cards you can link in currently).   You can link up to three Visa cards and three MasterCards. I do not personally do this.  

4) Make sure your location is on so you’ll know which stores close to you participate on ShopKick. You can also do a search to find stores near you. Scroll through the store listings and familiarize yourself with what stores near you earn your kicks.

Your job this week is to get your account set up and start “playing” with the app. Next Week I will go into more detail on how to earn kicks through Walk-In & Scans.

I am going “Home” tonight…

I am going home tonight…

 “Ummm Tammie…. Most people do go home after work on a Friday.”

Let me be a little more specific.  Tonight I am going home to the most magical place on earth, Walt Disney World.

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I love being greeted by Cast Members with the phrase “Welcome Home” when I return to my Walt Disney World Resort either after an extended period of time away or just after a day in the park.  It is one of those special touches when you stay at a Walt Disney Resort that leaves you with that warm fuzzy feeling.

When I tell people that I am going back to Walt Disney World I am often met with that “look” and I know they are thinking “Why does she keep going back there?”  Make sure you check out yesterday’s blog “Tammie’s Take Thursday:  Going Home” for some of the reasons why I keep going “Home.”  This trip “Home” is a little different for a couple of reasons, mainly who is going along and why I am going.

This is my first SOLO trip to Walt Disney World.  That’s right there is no husband, no kids, no girlfriends, or even runDisneyBFFs. This trip did not start out that way, in fact it was going to be our first couple’s trip but due to circumstances, i.e. a senior in high school playing his last Friday Night Lights that our plans had to change.  To be honest, I am pretty giddy about (for the most part) doing what I want to do for an entire week at Walt Disney World.

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Heigh-ho Heigh-ho it’s a “working vacation” for me.  It’s a hard job I know, but I will take one for the team.  I will be attending Academy Travel’s Agent Education Program (or AEP) onsite training for Walt Disney World.  I am looking forward to connecting with fellow affiliates of Academy Travel, members of the home office staff as well as Cast Members from the Disney Travel Agency, but more importantly working together to make your next vacation even more magical.

There will be some down time from the conference for a little personal fun time and looking back at my last couple of trips, I have in a Disney vacation rut…doing the same things, eating the same things, riding the same rides, visiting the same experiences, etc. My plan is also to make my down time an “informal working vacation.”  Each day I have created a NEW EXPERIENCES BUCKET LIST where I am challenging myself to expand my Walt Disney World knowledge, again to be able to give you honest advice, feedback and planning ideas to make your trip even more magical.  Look for my bucket list to be posted each morning across my social media platforms as well as here in Life in Ears blog!

While I cannot take you physically on vacation with me, I can take you along virtually through my social media platforms. I am planning a full out social media blitz this week to make you part of my “working vacation.” Content will be different on each site to make it fresh, so you will want to follow me on…

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I am also going to be giving everyone* following along and interacting, a chance to win up to a $200 in a Disney Vacation Credit* as well as a few daily giveaways as a thank you for being a part of my “working vacation.”  

For complete rules and details…

Heigh Ho Heigh Ho Contest
Get ready by following me and then be on the lookout starting about 4 pm CST as we begin this “working vacation HOME” to Walt Disney Word.

I will C U real soon and remember that life is always better when you are wearing ears!

Tammie’s Take Thursday: Why I Love Fall at Walt Disney World

I know Fall doesn’t officially start until September 21st,  but with the kids headed back to school and football starting up my mind just goes there.  Fall at Walt Disney World is one of my favorite times of the year  to be “Home”  as the crowd levels and temperatures begin to “FALL” from the peak summer months making a visit much more enjoyable. Here are some of the other reasons I love Fall at Walt Disney World…

As I write this blog entry, Fall decorations are going up. There is something inviting in the Fall tones of browns and oranges.  The parks are brought to life with fall leaves (yes in Florida), pumpkins, scarecrows and the spook-tacular decour needed for one of my favorite celebrations…

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP).  If you have never been to the party, you need to.  It is a special event ticket held on select nights at the Magic Kingdom Park.  It offers family friendly trick or treating, character meet and greets, Mickey’s Boo-to-You Holiday parade and a special Happy HalloWishes fireworks display, plus it’s a great way to bring out your inner child as everyone is encouraged to wear costumes and participate in the fun.  Wanting a more “adult” adventure then check out…

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival held during the fall months.  During this entertainment packed event guests can taste fine cuisine and wines from more than 30 locations from around the World in addition to separately ticketed events like food & wine pairings, specialty dinners, culinary demonstrations from award winning chefs and food seminars.  Also, you can rock to some of your favorite 70s-80s-90s musical talents with the Eat to the Beat Concert Series…

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For those interested in running Disney, the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend happens in the fall…why absolute favorite race weekend of the runDisney series.  There is a distance for everyone, including the popular kids races!

And no Fall season should ever go without a few seasonal inspired treats…

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How about a pumpkin spice waffle sundae? I should really dedicate a complete article to the delicious and amazing treats available only during the fall season from candy corn ice cream, skull apples and pumpkin cupcakes to Jack Skellington caramel apples and Ghost Marshmallows.

I know you will “Fall” in love with Walt Disney World in the Fall like I have.  It’s never too late to plan a trip for this Fall…I know just the right Disney Vacation Planner who can help you experience the Fall Magic.  Contact Me Today and lets get planning…

For More Exciting Fall Information Check out the Disney Parks Blog.