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Last weekend, Kevin and I drove up to Connecticut to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and adorable nephew (who is now speaking in sentences! Crazy). The purpose of this trip was an amazing local farm dinner, which is held at Scott's Farm and Greenhouse every year, in Essex. My sister has been for the past several years, and has always loved it. And now that I am, and am dating, a foodie, she bought tickets for Kevin and I!

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Disney world, Epcot, World Showcase, France, WDW, Chef's de France

Paris. The city of Love. The city of Lights. The home to some of the best food in the world.

Too bad I've never been there. But I have been to Epcot, which is pretty much the same thing, right?

The first time I read the menu for Chef's de France, I knew that if I had to pick one restaurant at Disney World to go to, I wanted it to be this one. For a relatively new member of the "Look at me, I eat vegetables and fancy food now!" club, even the names of the food they served there sounded delicious:

-Canard au miel, haricots vert et Polenta

-Filet de saumon, epinards sur coulis de tomatow et poivron rouge

-Plat de cote de boeuf au cabernet avee pates

Even after I read the descriptions (in English of course), I was still enchanted. So I called and booked our reservation.

When that muggy, hazy Friday finally rolled around, we headed over to France for our early dinner. (Though we still hadn't finished digesting our huge German lunch!)

Disney World, Epcot, World Showcase, France, WDW

Disney world, Epcot, World Showcase, France, WDW, Chef's de France

The French pavilion is set up as a darling little Parisian town with patisseries and perfume stores, artists and musicians, and is home to more than a few familiar Disney faces:

Disney world, Epcot, World Showcase, France, WDW, Cinderella

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Epcot, Disney World, Epcot ball, Spaceship EarthAh, Epcot. The Disney park that takes you around the world in one afternoon, allowing you to cross the English Channel from England to France in minutes, and leap miraculously from Norway to Mexico without paying heed to geographic distances.

And why does the world showcase exist? Walt himself may have wanted to bring the wonders of far and exotic countries to the people of central Florida, but we all know the real reason:

Food.

It's true, Epcot is a foodie's mecca. It's like a food court on a larger, fancier scale, where you can pick a country and then sample their culinary masterpieces without ever breaking out your passport.

On the final day of our trip, Jeremy and I wandered around Epcot before our flight with several sit down meals, quick service meals and snacks left on our dining plan. And what a place to have free dining vouchers! Pastries and quiches in France, pretzels in Germany, enchiladas in Mexico...it was great.

But on our first day at Epcot, we had a more scheduled approach to our dining: Lunch at Biergarten, dinner at Chef's de France.

It's interesting when you have a fairly early lunch reservation and you have to run through several different countries to make it to Germany on time. No time for you, Japan. Sorry, Italy, we'll come back! Canada...psh. Who goes to Canada anyway?

But Germany? What a country! Beer, meat and potatoes, more schnitzel and spaetzle than you know what to do with, and did I mention the beer? But I'll come back to that :) ...continue reading

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Animal Kingdom, WDW, Disney world, Tree of Life, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom, the newest of the Disney parks, embodies to me what Disney is all about.  It combines the stage presence and attention to detail that the Disney parks have become famous for, and adds the element of live animals. The result is a thrilling experience that no zoo can top.

We arrived promptly at 7:45 am for the 8:00 early Magic Hours opening, but unlike Magic Kingdom there was no big opening number. Just a large crowd gathered in the park that took off like horses out of the gates at 9:00 am, sprinting to the three main attractions: Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest.

Jeremy and I ran to the back of the park to Africa, and were on the first jeep heading out on safari.

Animal Kingdom, WDW, Disney world, Tree of Life, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Ostrich, Africa

Animal Kingdom, WDW, Disney world, Tree of Life, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris, giraffe, Africa

Animal Kingdom, WDW, Disney world, Tree of Life, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Rhino, Africa

It was amazing! Definitely a must-do.

Our reservation wasn't until 11:30, so had ample time to explore the park and make some friends.

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I didn't know where else to post these things, so I just combined them into one mini-post! 

The Camera:

Over labor day weekend, my friends, my boyfriend and I drove to Lake George in the Adirondacks. We stayed at a friend's adorable cabin and went hiking, played lots of mini golf, and went on an old steamboat, the Mini Ha Ha.

We had a blast! There was only one problem...I lost my camera. That's right folks, I lost my digital camera five days before I was leaving for Disney World. I wasn't about to NOT take pictures when I was there, so I did the only logical thing I could think to do:

Spent all my money on a gorgeous Nikon d3000 SLR.

I'd been planning to upgrade sooner or later, so losing my beloved point and shoot was the push I needed to make the big plunge. I love it already, and just wait until you see the pictures of food it can take! I'm still figuring out exactly how to use it, but you'll see a definite increase in the quality of my photos on the blog as time goes on.

And just to prove it, here is a picture of my adorable nephew!

 Now click the picture and zoom in until you can see every eyelash, and even the dried snot on his adorable button nose. That's a nice camera :)

The Ice Cream:

Now, there's something you must know about me: I'm a planner. I don't like waiting until the last minute to make plans, I get annoyed when I don't know what I'm doing later that night, and I refuse to walk into a place like Disney World blind.

I was floored when a mother waiting in line for the shuttle turned to me and Jeremy and said, "this is our first trip here, what rides are good?"

You mean you don't know everything about every single park?! You didn't make a schedule with different colors for the parades and restaurants and fireworks shows? You didn't watch videos of the rides to make sure you wanted to go on them? Don't tell me you're going to a restaurant without reading the menus and reviews and making reservations?!?!?! *faint*

All my friends made fun of my obsessive planning, but Jeremy and I got to reap the benefits. And the best thing I learned was from a blog (I forgot which one! Sorry!) that pointed us towards the Aloha Isle stand in Adventureland, in the Magic Kingdom.

Which is the only place you can find this:

Pineapple ice cream. 

The most delicious, refreshing ice cream you will likely ever eat. The one in the picture is actually a pineapple ice cream float, with pineapple juice at the bottom of the cup. And when it's 95 degrees and hazy outside, there's nothing better than this. It's like tart and fruity heaven, delivered as a snack on your meal plan.

So! If you're ever in Disney World, you have to go to the Aloha Isle and try this. You'll thank me, I promise.

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When you walk into Disney's Magic Kingdom (or run, as I did, with my Mickey ears firmly bobby pinned to my head and pulling Jeremy behind me), the first thing you see is NOT the castle. Slightly disappointing, but you have to get through security and actually, you know, show them your ticket first.

So after walking through the turnstile, the first thing you see is this:

Note the cute fall decorations they have, getting ready for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

As this was the second day of our trip (and our first full day at a park), I woke up excited and full of energy. After jumping up and down on the bed to wake Jeremy up, we rushed to the park to get there before it opened.

And we waited.

And waited.

In reality, it was no more than 20 minutes. But when you're staring through a tunnel onto Main Street, USA, and all that stands between you and your Disney dreams is a small-framed cast member that you could easily knock over if you got enough momentum, it feels like an eternity.

But finally we hear music playing and a bunch of dancers appear...where we can't see them.

You see, we were right in front of the entrance tunnels so that we could be the first ones into the park. I craned my neck to see the dancers, but I wasn't giving up my prime spot to the mothers pushing strollers or European tourists who had been eyeing it greedily. Then, all of a sudden, we hear a whistle and felt the rumbling of the train as it passed over our heads.

And there he is. Mickey Mouse, in the flesh (or should I say costume?). I'll admit, I teared up a little bit. Something about that anthropomorphized rodent just says to me "This IS the happiest place on earth! You're finally here!" I was too excited to take my camera out in time, but when the cast-member threw confetti at us (pixie dust, of course), we ran in.

And that's when you see this:

And you die of happiness. Especially knowing that all your friends are back at home, driving through the rain to get to work :)

Since our reservation wasn't for an hour or so, we took advantage of the non-existant crowds to get in a few rides in Tomorrowland (and a few pictures!)

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