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Every time I take a long vacation I think to myself, “That was it, that was THE vacation. It was perfect and no vacation will top it.” Every. Single. Time. This past trip was no exception.
Food Blog Forum is a food blogger conference that happens once a year and is by far one of my favorites! It’s put together by, Jaden & Scott (Steamy Kitchen), Diane & Todd (White on Rice), Lindsay (Love and Olive Oil ) and Julie from (The Little Kitchen). (along with help from a few other people and some amazing sponsors!)
I have had the privilege to attend 4 Food Blog Forum conferences so far and I have loved every single one.
The first two years that I attended, it was also at Walt Disney World, last year we traveled to Asheville, NC and this year Walt Disney World welcomed us back with open arms and gave us the week of a lifetime.
This year (like last year) tickets sold out within 2 second (2 SECONDS ya’ll) and I was somehow lucky enough to grab one! I picked up a family ticket which allowed me to take BigBear, my younger brother and his girlfriend with me!
Disney does not disappoint and when you go to a conference that is held at /sponsored by Walt Disney World you truly have a trip that makes memories!
We had a fun filled, beautiful week but our trip had an slight snowy beginning. We were originally suppose to leave Thursday morning (like 3am morning) to beginning our trip down to Florida but a winter storm decided to blow in the night before and we scrambled to pack the car and get on the road before the snow and ice hit us! We made it about an hour and a half before the skys opened up and started dumping snow onto us. Now I’ve driven in pretty awful weather but let me tell you, driving on the interstate with snow blowing at your car and not being able to see the lanes was the worst thing ever. I don’t see how my friends up north do it! Y’all are snow driving magicians because that was just rough! After forever a little while we got far enough south and the snow turned into rain. Making for a long and tiring drive to Florida. We hit the Florida state line as the sun was coming up and I made my traditional stop at the Welcome center for OJ…although I had to wait 15 minutes for them to even open. We made it to Florida a little too early. haha.
After we made it to Orlando, we checked into our first hotel of the trip which was the Rosen Plaza Hotel. I didn’t take a lot of photos of this hotel and I really, really regret it because it was a super nice hotel and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a hotel in Orlando. I booked this room using Hotwire.com and it ran me about $123 after tax for the night. The hotel was beautiful and super clean. There were two restaurants/bars, one or two shops, a big outside pool and it was super close to even more restaurants and shops!
After a change of clothes and some freshening up we headed out for a day in Orlando. We grabbed a bite to eat and then drove over to Titan Motorsports. My brother is in the process of building his own Supra and he had talked to the guys down at Titan Motorsports about coming down to check out the shop while we were in Orlando. We met up with Will and got to take a little behind the scene peek at their shop and some of the cars that they were building. Since BigBear and my brother are crazy about cars, they were in heaven and I’ll even admit that it was pretty awesome.
After our time there, we jetted over to Downtown Disney for the evening! I promise that I’m going to do a few more posts about our trip so I won’t go into crazy detail (or at least I’ll try not too haha) during this post. I will say that I love Downtown Disney and the atmosphere there is like no other! Music coming from everywhere, performers on every corner, shops galore and food trucks! YES! Downtown Disney has food trucks now! haha
I’m going to attempt to just make this an “overview” haha but I can’t promise anything. 😉
Friday Morning we work up early and headed over to our home for the weekend!
Disney’s Grand Floridian! We stayed here last time we came to Disney World but oh my how they’ve remodeled!
I’m going to be adding a few new photos to the blog post I wrote about staying at the Disney’s Grand Floridian a few years ago but I had to stick this photo in! The rooms are beautiful now and I was blown away by how much better they looked then the last time we were here! Two Thumbs Up from us, Disney!
Not only were we checking into the beautiful Grand Floridian but we also had lunch reservation for Be Our Guest!! Be Our Guest is the Beauty and Beast themed restaurant under the “Beast’s Castle” in Fantasyland (Magic Kingdom)!
Before, you could only make reservations for dinner and it was nearly impossible to get in for lunch! It is ALWAYS booked BUT the day before we left for our trip, Disney finally set it up so that people could make reservation for lunch! That morning I was up at 5:30 am and snagged us one of the first lunch reservations! I was ecstatic!
It was just as amazing as I thought it would be! More coming later on our experience there but I just want to say that if you can get reservation there, get them! The croque monsieur and triple chocolate cupcake…oh my word….I wish I could have it all again…like right now!
After lunch we walked around a bit and checked out some of the shops! I found this Jack Skellington Mickey and knew that he had to be mine! I also had to check out these Jack Skellington Mickey Ears because they matched my Jack Skellington jacket perfectly! Anyone that knows me knows how awesome this was for me! haha
Then we just kind of hung out a little while in Frontierland 😉 before heading off to the rides!
Not only did Disney give us an amazing deal on our rooms and park tickets but they also gifted us with Media Fast Passes!!! THANK YOU!!! Oh my gosh, I can not tell you how amazing it was to be able to use those fast passes. We each got 40 Fast Passes for our days at Disney and even though we rode rides like crazy, we still couldn’t use them all up! haha.
Our first ride? Seven Dwarfs Mine Train! The last two times we were at Disney World they were still building this so it was pretty cool to get a change to ride it! Meghan wasn’t as happy as we were haha. (She’s in the green) LOL
Next up? Thunder Mountain and of course the Haunted Mansion (my favorite!!!)
We also took a ride over London with Peter Pan and sailed with the Pirates of the Caribbean searching for Jack Sparrow!
Friday afternoon we headed back to the room so that I could get ready for the Food Blog Forum welcome reception! The welcome reception was held at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort which is located right next to Golden Oak! What’s Golden Oak? Oh you know…just houses AT DISNEY! Yep, for a few million you can own a house in Walt Disney World, cha-ching…please take all of my money and half of my soul…I’m gonna be needing one of those! I’ll take the Delano. Haha
The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort was beautiful and it’s already made my list of “Places to say next time we’re at Disney!” They provided us with some wonderful drinks, food and a beautiful place to socialize and catch up with friends!
The next morning I was up bright and early (too early haha) to get ready for a full day of learning because it was Conference Day!
We started our day with a wonderful breakfast and even got to taste some fresh Florida strawberries! Oh how I’ve been longing for fresh strawberries this winter!
Conference started off with a session from Victoria Finn of Disney Creative! It was amazing to hear from someone that creates for Disney! I mean could you imagine having that job!? She told a story about Dr. Seuss that still has me thinking and really made me think about “Why” I’m blogging, why I’m sharing recipes and why I’m writing to y’all!
Next up was White on Rice Couple, Todd and Diane! I could literally spend hours listening to them talk about photography. I aspire to have as much skill and confidence as they have behind the camera. Their photographs are beyond amazing in my eyes and I always pick up a few tips from their sessions! I’ll admit it, when I’m in the kitchen trying to photograph something I almost always think to myself, “what would Todd and Diane do?” haha Now do my photos show that….probably not but it helps me so that’s all that matters haha.
Since my goal is to turn my blog into my full-time job this year, I knew that the next session would be important to me. Jaden from Steamy Kitchen as well as Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom of Pinch of Yum talked about monetization of blogs. I won’t go over all of those details but it’s always great to learn from people that are doing what you want to be doing!
Right before lunch we had a pretty awesome speaker, Enid Hwang from Pinterest! Yep! Someone from Pinterest! She was like the 4th employee there so she’s been around for a little while! She was there to tell us all about what we were doing wrong… haha just kidding. 🙂 She was there to give us some great advice and squash a few blogger Pinterest myths!
After lunch we finished up with a session called “Battling Blogger Burnout” that was led by Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes! I met Elise last year in Miami and she is incredibly awesome and so talented! Not that I want anyone to feel burnt out but I will admit that it put my worries to ease to know that even huge bloggers like Elise also have blogger burnout!
And then for lunch, Disney did something really special for us. They took us up to the very tip top of the Contemporary Resort to the Californian Grill that had an amazing and huge view of the Magic Kingdom!!
Chefs from all over Walt Disney World were waiting for us!
They treated us to lunch and menu samples from different restaurants that are in the parks and resorts! Disney really does know how to spoil us when we’re there!
Look at all of that!
Mmmmm He’s putting the finishing touches on a plate from the “Be Our Guest” Restaurant!
So what did we have for lunch?
Well, I’ve got my top two favorites first! Check out the photos above!
Top Left: Sauteed Shrimp and Scallops with Seasonal Vegetables and Mushrooms served in Puff Pastry with Creamy Lobster Sauce — From Be Our Guest Restaurant
Top Right: Local Wild Ocean Shrimp, Risotto di Carnaroli alla Frutti di Mare — From Flying Fish Cafe
Middle Left: Spicy Tuna Tartare with Cucumber and Radish Salad, Avocado Wasabi Sauce and Lotus Root Chips. — from The Hollywood Brown Derby (oh my gosh, Lotus Root Chips are so good!)
Middle Right: Braised Pork Belly with Goat Cheese Polenta and Country Applesauce — from California Grill
Bottom Left: Florida Strawberry-Orange Cake with Champagne Sorbet — from Disney’s Contemporary Resort Bakery
Bottom Right: Chocolate Pudding Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce and Mint Cream — from Disney’s Contemporary Resort Bakery
I’m going to need to have that lunch delivered to my office tomorrow, K? Thanks!
I sent some lunch photos to BigBear while they were out at Hollywood Studios and this is what he sent back haha. I had to share. 🙂
So after full day of learning I headed back to the room to meet up with the gang and we hoped on the ferry and headed over to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for dinner!
O’hana is one of my favorite restaurants at Disney! My friend Chris recommended it when I went to Disney back in 2012 and ever since then I’ve been dying to take BigBear! It’s a Hawaiian themed place and since BigBear and I were celebrating our anniversary (a little late) during this trip, they called for all of the anniversary couples to get up and they announced our anniversary, gave us leis and then we got to have a dance while the ukulele player sang us a little tune. haha this was absolutely perfect considering we were doing the exactly same thing a year ago when we were renewing our vows in Hawaii!
If you’re going to eat at O’hana during your stay at Disney try to get a late dinner reservation and ask to be seated next to the windows! We had a reservation at 9:35 but got there early and we were seated at 9:10! Fireworks started at 10, so right before dessert was served, we got to watch the Magic Kingdom Fireworks from our dinner table! They even pipe the Wishes Fireworks music into the restaurant while the fireworks are going off!
Ahh, ok, ok I know this post is getting uber long. Ahhh I can’t help it! I mean I love food and all but when it comes to Disney or traveling I just can’t seem to shut my mouth! I promise to make the ending short and sweet!
Since I know I’ll be covering more of this trip in other posts, I’ll try not to yap away for the rest! Sunday we did head to Animal Kingdom and it was amazing as always!
BigBear found some friends to joke around with ….
Later that night we hoped back over to the Magic Kingdom for dinner and the fireworks! I haven’t seen the Magic Kingdom fireworks up close in the park since I was little and they were just as beautiful as I remembered! (the past few years, I’ve only seen them from across the lake)
Monday we spent another full day in the Magic Kingdom, enjoying our Fast Passes and Visiting shops!
We also checked into the last hotel of our trip!
Our last hotel? Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter! I’m going to be doing a whole post on that hotel but let me just say that I LOVED IT!
Christy from Southern Plate told me that it was one of her favorites resorts and I totally see why!
We finished up our Disney Vacation by spending our last day at Epcot!
Big Bear and I got the bright idea that we’d eat around the world and that would count as our ‘Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner” for the day. haha
We got something from almost every country in the Epcot Showcase! Again, I’m totally writing a whole post about that and I can’t wait to yap some more about the food there!
With that I’m going to end my rambling! Thank for being so awesome, I know that was a lot haha. But you see, sometimes I have nothing to say and then there are other times when I just can’t stop talking about something that I love. Oh and I’ve have to say that I LOVE Food Blog Forum and Disney very much!
Thank you to EVERYONE that put together this amazing conference! You totally outdid yourselves and there aren’t enough thank you’s out there for you! You rock!!