Disney World Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour & Universal Orlando VIP Experience

December 2015

Some of you may not have heard of the VIP tours available at Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando. Or maybe you have heard of them and are wondering if they are worth it.

Let me tell you about our experience.

The tour prices are in addition to regular ticket price. And because of the nature of the tour (do everything without the wait) you have to get the park ticket with the park hopper. This is true for both Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. If you haven’t been to Disney World it consists of four parks (Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios). Universal Studios Florida is actually two different parks and each side has different major Harry Potter attractions. The Gringots bank is in one park and the Hogwarts school is in the other park.

The park tickets are not cheap. The addition of the multiple park option in one day is another add on. The VIP tours is then another cost on top of that. It’s a lot of money. No doubt. Is it worth it? I thought so. We don’t live near Florida and we don’t anticipate a return trip soon. It was important (as always) to be as efficient as possible with our vacation time. I always want to try and do as much as possible. I realize as with any trip you can’t do everything. But I do prioritize and choose what’s most important to us. And this time it was rides. We’d miss out on most of the “shows” but try to take in a fireworks extravaganza every night. The VIP tours really took the stress out of the planning for me. I didn’t have to try and figure out how we were were going to get to each ride, in what order or how to organize our fast passes. By doing the Disney VIP tour right at the beginning of the vacation we got all the major rides we wanted under our belt and that left the rest of our Disney time open to wandering around and actually stopping to smell the roses. It was nice knowing that we had ridden everything we wanted to (without the wait times) and now everything else was just icing on the cake.

I had a great time and had no regrets. I would recommend both tours. It was not cheap but this trip was in celebration of my birthday and what a birthday trip it was!

If I did it all over again this is what I would try to remember:

  1. Take public transportation to get to Magic Kingdom. Driving to the parking center and THEN commuting via boat or bus take FOREVER. boo
  2. Do not book Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for the same night as the VIP Tour
  3. Do not book anything after Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour. We also had dinner reservations at Beast’s castle.
  4. We made it to both dinner and Mickey’s VMCP after the tour but I was _EXHAUSTED_.
  5. Bring a bottle of water. Getting something to drink is difficult on a fast paced tour.
  6. Having ponchos in Disney is helpful especially if you don’t want to get wet on a ride.
  7. Having a backpack in Disney is ok. There are places to store stuff.
  8. Having a backpack at Universal is more of a hassle. Probably, I would have a bottle of water and sunglasses and that’s it.
  9. The Universal Studios VIP Experience comes with valet parking.

Details about each VIP Tour to follow.


Adventure in Beekeeping Series

Well folks, I’ve decided to enter the world of beekeeping! When I try anything new, I always relish in the fact that during this novice time period that I know nothing. Nothing at all. It’s always an interesting experience into a whole new world filled with lots of people talking a different lingo with their own unique culture. As I embark on this adventure I’ll document what I learn and my progress.

Here’s what I’ve done so far…I’ve attended to local beekeeper meetings. These have been very helpful in that they lots of resources, not just seasoned beekeepers that have a wealth of information to share but also simple things like books and dvds on beekeeping. At the beekeeper meetings I’ve already met many people who were eager to help and lend a hand or just be available for our many questions.

I’ve also been online and scouring catalogs trying to piece together what kind of equipment and bees I will get. This is a tremendous job in itself. You have to make a few decisions right of the bat. What strain of bees do you want? What size hive? What size hive body? What size supers? Wow, look at me spewing lingo already. I’ll detail in a later post what kind of equipment I’m choosing and why.

So far, I’ve learned this much: start early! Start going to meetings, read books, get online, and talk to beekeepers. You will want to start deciding what equipment you want to work with and get all that in order and in place before you bring any bees home. And on that matter, you will need to figure out where and when you will get your bees. As I’m typing this in March I have found that most bee sellers are already sold out and I will be getting my bees in the second wave of availability in May. I will also have to drive to another city to pick them up which isn’t ideal but I’m eager to get started!

In the end, there’s a lot to learn and a lot to decide but you gotta start somewhere so I’m jumping head first into this interesting world of bees and I’m looking forward to the day I can look back and remember there was a time I knew nothing about bees.

3 Sock System

Let me teach you about the three sock system. When camping and backpacking for long extended periods of time a 3 sock system can be put into use. Almost all of us used the 3 sock system when we were on the NOLS Lightweight Rocky Mountain Backpacking trip.
When trying to keep pack weight at a minimum and comfort and safety at a maximum 3 pairs of socks seem to be the magic number.
The basic premise for three pairs of socks are:
1. Most of the time your hiking shoes will be wet (from stream crossings and not having the proper conditions to dry them out).
2. It makes no sense to put on dry socks when they will get wet inside your damp shoes.
3. It’s important to keep your feet dry for at least 8 hours a day to prevent trench foot.
4. It’s important for safety and comfort to have dry, warm feet when sleeping.
5. Wet socks will draw heat away from the body especially when moving less (i.e. while in camp).
3 socks system
1. the treasured sleeping socks (must be kept dry at all times)
2. camp socks (the socks that you change into when you get into camp
3. hiking socks (the socks that inevitably stay wet as you hike and cross streams)
When waking up change out of your sleeping socks and store them in the inside bottom of your sleeping bag. This is where they live. Change into your damp hiking socks before slipping on your damp hiking shoes. After a long day of hiking, change out of damp socks and put on dry camp socks. Dry camp socks should be used in conjunction with a method to maintain their dryness. Some campers have dedicated camp shoes or if you were trying to go lightweight like we were simple plastic bags can be slipped on the feet after dry socks to maintain a barrier between sock and wet shoe. Don fluffy sleep socks to warm up toes at night. Repeat daily.

NOLS Lightweight Backpacking By the Numbers

Team members:12
People per tent group: 2
Total pack weight including 5 days food and 2L water: 25 pounds
Total vertical feet gained: 9000 feet
Total miles hiked: 100
Camps made: 13

NOLS Rocky Mountain Lightweight Backpacking!

So excited! Just signed up for the National Outdoor Leadership School Lightweight Backpacking course. It’s gonna be in Wyoming this summer. My application has been received and my packet is on it’s way back. I’m really looking forward to poring over the equipment list. I’ve already made a general call out to my friends to send me their extra REI coupons. Like most people, I won’t be able to afford top of the line everything but will have to make do. I will definitely be weighing the pros and cons of each thing I bring and determine if it’s worth buying. I will be posting about the preparations along the way. I hope this will give some insight to others who might be interested. If y’all have any suggestions, hints or comments I’d love to hear them. 2013 adventures here I come!

2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon

We made it!! This is the Expo at the Wide World of Sports at Disney World. We were here before it opened and there was already a line to get in. The expo is on all day but I’d get here early folks!!

If you’ve run races before the expo is pretty regular. They sell official racing merchandise and have vendors with free give aways.

All the places you will go

I might not be able to finish my travel wish list this year but it sure is fun to think about.

  1. Egypt
  2. Machu Picchu
  3. Red Sea
  4. Mt. Everest
  5. Spain
  6. Mt. Rushmore
  7. Yellowstone
  8. Australia
  9. New Zealand
  10. India

Where do you want to go?


Being doubted is the best motivation for me. – Rashard Lewis


‎”any average person can be extraordinary, but if you don’t have guts, if you don’t have any try…you’d be damn lucky to be ordinary” -Buck Brannaman …