Push Away the Screen Disney Dark Side Hollywood Studios 2017

For the 2nd consecutive year, the #TampaTrio and I have make the trek to the House of the Mouse. We started this tradition last year (you can read about those posts HERE) and I knew it would be one that would continue...hopefully forever. I can really imagine the kids coming home from college during a weekend in April to wog a 5K with their mama. I hope it comes true. 

Walt Disney World offered me two guest tickets to explore a park of my choosing. This year the kids and I, even more so than in years past, really wanted the complete Star Wars experience, so we decided to go to Hollywood Studios. I registered all our tickets online and synced the app and the magic bands (that we had from last year) and we got in pretty quickly. Mind you, the park opened at 9am, and we were rolling in close to 11am because we went to the Dark Side Expo first. Once in the park we got Ronin's special needs pass and we were off!! 

The kids decided that they needed some new ears. That they had outgrown the princess and toddler themed ears of their much younger days. And they kept the Star Wars theme going strong!

While we were still in the gift shop we suddenly heard the Star Wars theme music begin to play, and play loudly! We (oh so gently) put the ears down and ran outside to see what was going on!

                                                                             

I am glad that we had that opportunity to see the Imperial March. Right after the march we went over to see if we could sign the trio up for Padawan training. But we were too late. All the spots were taken. Oh well, there was still plenty of Star Wars left for us to see.

In fact, we got to meet KYLO REN! I just love the look on my kids faces as I stare down Kylo. They all seem so impressed. Hopefully it's with my "you don't scare me" face, but it's probably not.

Touring through Star Wars Launch Bay was really the highlight of our day. It was air conditioned and full of everything Star Wars.

We also went on the Aerosmith rollercoaster. It was the first time for all of us and it was so much fun! None of us had any idea what to expect and we were all so surprised. One time was enough for Haley and I , but Ella & Ronin went on twice more!

We had a snack and decided to do some more shopping!

Ronin and I had an early morning for the Dark Side 5K, so we all decided to leave the park, head back to our hotel, swim, change, and go have dinner, and that's exactly what we did! We had a great first day at Disney, and can't wait to return next year! Ronin and I are already signed up for 2018, and have decided to visit the Animal Kingdom theme park!

                                      

Have you been able to witness the Dark Side at Disney? It's amazing don't miss it!!

Lake Buena Vista Resorts and Spa-Reflections Spa Review

Disclaimer: I received complimentary services. No other compensation was received. Photos and opinions are my own.

 Last Tuesday I was invited to spend a day of pampering at Reflections Spa at Lake Buena Vista Resort Village and Spa. I received a schedule stating that check-in was at 9:45 and from 10am-11am was relaxation and meditation. I checked in, put on my robe, and went out in to the relaxing room for my hour of meditation.

For some reason I just assumed that at a Spa an hour of meditation would take on a yoga like feel, with someone leading a class so to speak. But no. We just sat in this room. With drinks, and cookies, and gossip magazines. I could not relax at all. If I had known I'd just be sitting on my own accord I would have brought a good book to read.

My first treatment was scheduled to being at 11am, but I waited an additional 30 minutes, finally being led out of the meditation room at 11:30.

I was able to pick 2 services. My first service was a 50 minute Tropical Island Massage – "This ultra luxurious full body massage captures the feel and smells of the island. Surrender your senses and release all tensions as our skilled massage therapists create a massage designed just for your unique needs." It did feel really good and I was able to relax. The oils she used on me smelled so good, I loved it!

Immediately upon finishing up my massage, my next service was ready to begin, so off I went for my first ever facial! For my 50 minute facial included a careful analysis of my skin, followed by cleansing, exfoliation and treatment mask application.  She said my skin looked good. Some sun damage, and a few blackheads, but overall it was fine. She asked if I wanted the blackheads extracted. I've never had a facial before. She told me it would hurt pretty bad. I was like "eh, whatever, go for it." Oh it hurt all right. Really bad. I had to have her stop before she was able to finish. Ouch. But she warned me! The rest of my facial was stress-free and relaxing.

With my two services completed, next on my schedule was lunch. But I couldn't eat anything but the fruit kabobs. They were good and all, but I told them of my dietary restrictions, and so all I got was fruit.

But I did grab some of those cookies for my trio.

After lunch was another hour of meditation and I was not up for that, so I changed my clothing and left, smelling of the tropics and feeling refreshed and relaxed.

I'd like to come back to Stay Sky with my family. It looks like a great place to #pushawaythescreen. With 498 lavishly furnished multi-bedroom suites, families have ACCOMMODATIONS  room to kick back, relax and feel right at home. All suites feature fully equipped kitchens, granite countertops and appliances including dishwasher, refrigerator, stove and microwave allowing guests to prepare the perfect meal before or after hitting the pool and theme parks.Suites offer two-, three- and four-bedroom floor plans and feature additional amenities including in-room washer and dryer, fully equipped kitchen with dishes and silverware, living room, dining room and outdoor balconies. Master bathrooms feature an oversized Jacuzzi tub, his/her sinks and separate walk-in shower.  It's so important when our family travels that we have control over our meals so a fridge, stove, is a MUST for us!

But really, the pool area is really high up on our list of activities and this hotel claims to have a good one!
"Spectacular, zero-entry pirate themed pool features a 61-foot long pirate shipwreck complete with towering water slide that spirals its way around the underbelly of the ship to splash in front of mom and dad. Poolside sun loungers, hammocks and Jacuzzi add to the relaxing ambiance.The pirate plunge pool is open everyday from 7 am to 10 pm.  Which is AWESOME if you have early risers like I do!

I went to Lake Buena Vista Resorts to experience Reflections Spa and want to go back for another relaxing massage and to have fun with my kids! Smile

 

Have you ever had a facial? Did you enjoy it?

Push Away the Screen: Staycation at the Gaylord Palms Resort

Recently my family had the opportunity to Push Away the Screen and spend 2 nights and 2 full days at the beautiful Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, Florida. We had been once before, back in 2009 for their winter ICE Festival, but we had no idea what other amenities the resort offered.

Upon check-in we were told that we would be staying in a Ground Level King Suite with an adjoining Queen Suite. Say what?? Traveling with a family of 5 usually means that we are crammed for space and overwhelmed with "kid clutter" every where, but not on this trip!

There was no way I could even get one room in the camera shot, so I didn't even bother! And besides, we weren't there to spend time in our room, we were there to relax and unwind with our family while being active and pushing away the screen.

We arrived at the resort around 7:30pm and we were hungry and the kids wanted to swim. We all quickly changed in to our bathing suits and with a map in hand, Ronin led us to the Cypress Springs Family Fun Water Park! On our way to the pool we passed through all sorts of beautiful gardens that had us excited to explore when the sun came up!

Once at the pool the kids were disappointed to see that the water slides were closed, but I had warned them in advance that they wouldn't be open on the evening when we arrived. I think they must have thought I was joking. But what did keep them entertained was Madagascar 3. Yes, we were there to #pushawaythescreen, but with a Dive-In Movie, we made an exception and the kids frolicked and played, stopping every few minutes to catch a glimpse of the movie.

I stayed with the trio and James went off to find us some food. He came back with take-out from Wreckers Sports Bar. A wonderful Cesar salad for him and I, and fish and chips and chicken tenders for the trio. The Cesar salad was made by the dressing. It had to have been homemade. It was SO GOOD with a lot of garlic. Yum.

After a quick dip in the pool, I was ready for an adult beverage so I wandered over to Wreckers (which was the only spot open at this time of night) and got us each a libation. The beer was for me. Wink

Upon our return to our room we had this lovely welcome tray and note waiting for us! The Gaylord Palms motto of "Consider it Done" certainly rang true for us this entire staycation, and this bit of personalization was the icing on the cake.

They also stocked our fridges (yes, we had 2) with sparkling water Smile The kids were very excited for a fun Saturday at the pool, so went right to sleep.

We woke up and since we had reservations to eat Villa de Rosa for buffet dinner, we opted to not eat buffet for breakfast and headed to the Java market for a quick bite to eat. We wanted to be at the pool soon after opening! It's uncanny how James and I think alike for on this morning we both ordered a Greek salad...FOR BREAKFAST! The kids each had a breakfast sandwich. We ate in the St. Augustine atrium, and then James decided he needed a nap, so while he went back to the room the kids and I headed to the Cypress Springs Family Water Park.

You must show your room key, and give your last name when you check in at the park. Apparently it is quite common for locals to try to get in to the pool area on the weekend. When we checked in we were informed that we had a POOLSIDE CABANA!! SWEET! We were given towels, our cabana number and headed down to Cabana 17! I knew James would be quite happy to learn we had a cabana because he is quite sun sensitive! And I was right! He spent quite a bit of time in the shade reading It Starts With Food. Our cabana had a fridge stocked with water, plus 2 chaise lounges, and a dining table with 4 chairs. We also had chaise lounges right outside our cabana.

The kids had an absolute blast! They participated in poolside games! Ella did the hula-hooping contest (see Haley in the water cheering her on!!) and came in 3rd place.

And all 3 of them did the cannonball contest and Haley placed 2nd overall! Very proud of my big splashers!

 

The games took place on the top of every hour beginning at Noon. From 10-Noon my gang just had a blast going down the slides and swimming in the pool!

 

 

And James enjoyed the slides too! Look at that splash he made!

And you better believe that I enjoyed myself as much as the kids did!

But in typical Florida fashion, the storms rolled through at 1:45pm and closed down the pool. We hadn't eaten lunch yet, so we headed back in to the resort to the Key West area (where our suite was also located) and let the kids have a bite to eat at Sunset Sam's. We sat in the sailboat, had a few drinks, and the kids snacked on calamari. If you look closely you can see James in the left side of the photo!

It was pouring rain outside, and though we were inside, it felt like we were outside. It was amazing! The kids had so much fun exploring and before we knew it, it was time to head back to our room to get ready for dinner.

I brought along a great selection of dresses from Gwynnie Bee and decided to wear this one! I loved it. It was so comfortable, and the colors really popped!

Along the way we had time to explore all of the different eco-systems represented in the resort. The Florida Everglades was Ella's favorite! Ella loves snakes and this was her "I'm excited to see snakes" face.

And we walked though a brick area that had the name of every Florida county of them! We took our pictures next to the three that hold the most meaning for us! James is from Tampa so that's Hillsborough County, I'm from Venice, so that's Sarasota County, and now we live in Land O' Lakes, so that's Pasco County.

Then we were off to dinner! We were greeted warmly by the hostess, shown to our primo view table (which might have been located next to a quick release gate for children to easily depart to go explore the St. Augustine fort??) and the manager came over, introduced himself, shook my hand, and informed me that if there was anything we wanted to eat that we didn't see on the buffet, to please let him know and he would have his staff make it! Talk about the Consider it Done motto coming in to play again!

They had amazing healthy opitions, and here's a sneak peek of my plate(s). Yes, I ate too much. And I drank too much. But it's fine. It's not something that happens often, and I enjoyed every bite and have not one ounce of regret! Both of those plates went in my belly. Tongue Out

An alligator feeding happened at 6:30pm pretty close to where we were eating, so the kids and I hopped over there really quick, saw the show, and on the way back we ran in to Po!

 

And I'll be darned if it doesn't look like I am sporting a bicep!

We explored a bit more after dinner, but went to bed pretty early. I had to go and charge my phone, so went out exploring while the family was in bed and look who I ran across!

We had an amazing Saturday, and got to sleep in a bit on Sunday! The kids didn't wake us up until close to 9am! We did pretty much the same thing as the day before! Had breakfast at Java, James went to take a nap, the kids and I went back to the pool, got our cabana again, and just played until the rain closed the pool down at 3pm. That worked out perfectly because we had a late checkout at 4pm, so we came back to our room, took showers, packed and left.

Having a Staycation at the Gaylord Palms is more like a vacation! We never left the property! There was no need to go anywhere! We had plenty of food options, entertainment options, and of course the pool.

If you are looking for an amazing family getaway, I HIGHLY recommend that you check out the Gaylord Palms.

You can follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!!

Be sure to check out their webpage or social media channels for great promotions and of course their upcoming ICE show which this year will feature FROSTY the Snowman! I sure hope that they invite us back again because we sure loved being guests at the Gaylord!

Have you ever done a Staycation at a local hotel? What did you like best about it?