Why I’ll Never Be Too Old or Too Cool For Disney World

Less than 70 days until I go back to my roots, you guys.
You guessed it. I’m going to Disney World!

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Considering that the name of this blog was influenced by Disney, and that my homesickness for my second home will soon cease, I think it’s time I wrote a little about my die-hard Disney obsession.
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Before my passion for travel, there was Walt Disney World.

Before I ever considered traveling internationally as a legitimate possibility, there was Epcot’s World Showcase.

Before I ever imagined I’d hike paths around volcanoes, there was Animal Kingdom.

Before I became a ‘traveler’, I thought Walt Disney World was one of the most spectacular places in the world.

Now that I have had an array of life-changing experiences, I still think that Walt Disney World is one of the most spectacular places in the world.

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FYI, not the cute one in the front. (left).

While I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who either put up with my Disney obsession, or who are complete Disney fanatics themselves, I have come across my fair share of people who are completely opposed to ever visiting.

These people generally fall into one of two categories:

  • Those who think that Walt Disney World is “just an amusement park.”
  • Those who think Walt Disney vacations are a waste of time in comparison to authentic travel

I had my first out-of-the-country experience at twenty-two, and had only regularly began road-tripping the east coast at about eighteen. So while I now count the days until I can embark on some new exotic adventure, there will always be a part of my heart that aches when I’m away from Disney World for too long. For a good portion of my life, Walt Disney World was the “adventure” I looked forward to every year.

Literally, every year.

In fact, my trip this August will be the first time I have gone longer than a year without visiting. #sonotokay

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Fifteen. Converse, too much black eyeliner, and my first dye job. Clearly feeling bad to the bone, even while standing next to Mary Poppins. – Epcot’s Norway, 2008

Coming from a single-parent home meant that vacations weren’t always in the budget. And I remember the first year that we were finally able to go! After years of awing over the Disney resort commercials at the beginning of every VHS (#nostalgia) we were finally going to be that cheesy family from the commercials. From that point on Disney became our traditional family vacation.

While some may have had a more diverse range of travel experiences at a young age, I feel lucky to have had as many adventures as I did. And I do mean adventures.

Where else could you visit eleven different countries in one day, while enjoying a Mickey bar in between? Or go on an African safari without having to purchase high-priced airfare?

By the time I realized how much more of the world I wanted to see, I had already woken up in a resort where giraffes slept beneath my window, soared over California, and had lunch in a castle; all in the span of a week.

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The trio & the ‘Eiffel Tower’ – Epcot, 2015 (left) ; Pre-English Lunch, Epcot’s U.K., 2015 (right)

A couple of years ago, my mother took her own passions for travel and Walt Disney World and started her own travel agency, Map to Magic Vacations. Today, she and some other amazing agents have helped countless families create their own memories in five continents. And also many at the different Walt Disney resorts.

Some may always view Walt Disney World as “just a theme park”, but I have a different perspective. Disney for me, has always represented adventure, persistence, and memories I’ll always remember.

And while the world may be slightly more accessible to me now, and I definitely plan to take full advantage, I”ll never be too cool, too old, or too above strolling down Main Street, U.S.A, giant pretzel in hand, on my way to meet Mickey.

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NYC Food Fads II: Worth the Wait or Not So Great

You may have read my first NYC Food Fads installment in February. Well, safe to say I still haven’t kicked my addiction to social media hyped munchies. It seems that every week there is a new innovative “must-try” taking up a third of my Instagram feed, and naturally I can’t avoid joining in on the hype.

If you’re wondering if some of the newest fads are worth going out of your way for, I’m here to tell you what’s “worth the wait” and what’s “not so great”.

1. Soft Swerve – 85B Allen Street, New York, NY 10002

Considering that Ube Kitchen was such a hit at Smorgasburg, which opens for the season each April, it’s no surprise that Soft Swerve photo shoots began easing on my social media feeds around the same time. I too went home after experiencing the magic that is ube ice cream in a dragonfruit bowl, and Googled “Ube ice cream in NYC”. Surprise, surprise, Soft Swerve is the first location that pops up; and for good reason.

The ube ice cream at Soft Swerve is just as creamy and delicious, and various toppings, specials, and cone flavors allows customers to customize their dessert. What I love about this new trend of flavors, such as ube, coconut, black sesame, and matcha, is that they provide new, unique flavors without straying too far from the classic feel. Despite it’s simplicity, I would definitely consider Soft Swerve worth the wait.

Taste: 4/5

Atmosphere: 3/5

Value: 4/5

 

2. Tipsy Scoop – 217 E 26th Street, New York, NY 10010

Tipsy Scoop is making waves with their liquor-infused ice cream flavors based on classic cocktails, but we’re not talking “adding a little rum for flavor.” Ordering a scoop at this ice cream bar, each of which has about 5% ABV, actually requires you to provide proof of age.

I went in around 4:00 PM and while many flavors were already sold out for the day, I still had a decent amount of choices to choose from. On this day Dark Chocolate Whiskey Caramel and Cake Batter Vodka Martini won out. There was an obvious liquor taste in both flavors, but it was definitely a bit more noticeable in the Cake Batter, most likely due to it having a vanilla base. I wouldn’t deny the possibility that a quart of this stuff, which you can actually purchase online, could leave you with at least a slight buzz. But the liquor flavors only add to already delicious ice cream. Jury says Tipsy Scoop is definitely worth the wait.

Taste: 5/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Value: 4/5

 

3. Avocaderia – 238 36th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11232

Avocaderia, in my opinion, proves that social media hype can make anything trendy. Why Instagram your homemade avocado toast when you can choose from an array of avocado-centric dishes at Industry City’s new food hall? Customers can choose from various avocado toasts, with toppings like feta and smoked salmon, to salads with large helpings of the green fruit.

I decided to keep it simple and try the “Chill Out”, which is avocado toast topped with chili flakes and sichimi. I also ordered a side order of the “signature guaca” with baked pita chips. Despite the great taste and sturdiness of the multigrain bread, I have literally made more flavorful avocado toast in less than two minutes at home. Avocaderia guacamole is weirdly flat, lacking even the mildest hint of salt or lime. But hey, I did come across some pieces of chopped celery (#why). I’m sure some people will adore this spot just for the Instagram-worthy photos and maybe I should’ve tried one of the more topping filled toasts. But personally, if I’m going to drop almost 12 dollars on what is considered your “signature”, I want it to at least taste worth it. The only great thing about Avocaderia is that I was able to grab a mushroom slice from Table 87 right across the way. Not so great.

Taste: 2.5/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Value: 1.5/5

 

4. Ice & Vice – 221 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002

Ice & Vice is an experimental ice cream shop, and a winner of a 2014 Vendy Award for best dessert. Innovative flavors include names like Blood Sisters, Olive Garden, Ants on a Farm and many others. But Ice & Vice are also known for their outlandish dessert arrangements. Want a slice of pie between your two scoops? Sure. Want to top off your sundae with an ice cream sandwich? No problem.

I kept it simple with a scoop of Milk Money (toasted milk, sea salt, chocolate ganache) and a scoop of their 21+ flavor Pickles of the Caribbean (rum, coconut, pickled pineapple jam) in a blue corn honey cone. My friend went with 9 AM (Vietnamese coffee, donut truffle) and Basic B (Mexican vanilla, black lava sea salt) topped with a Mexican chocolate fruity pebble brownie ice cream sandwich in a coconut almond macaroon cone.

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It’s a mouthful, literally and figuratively. My Milk Honey flavor was delicious for what it was but the Pickles of the Caribbean was outstanding! The sweet pickled pineapple combined with the rum and semi-sweet coconut was the perfect combination. I already know I’ll make my way back here to try another combination by the end of the summer. All in all, I’d say Ice & Vice is worth the wait.

 

Taste: 5/5

Atmosphere: 4/5

Value: 4/5

 

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