Let’s talk SPRING HAPPENINGS at Disney World- AND a Giveaway!

This blog was written in partnership with the EZ Dis Travel Agency. All opinions are truthful and my own.

 

The first time I took my kids to Walt Disney World, they were they tender ages of 3.5 and 1.5. I’d been before, but not since I was a kid, so it was almost like experiencing it all for the first time, with hints of nostalgia here and there. So many memories can get blurred and fade away as time goes on, but I’ll always remember Cinderella’s castle, wanting to ride the Tower of Terror (but always being told no), and being absolutely terrified of Space Mountain and Snow White’s Scary Adventure (which sadly, is no longer).

As much planning went into that trip, there was so much I DIDN’T know about the modern Disney World. Research I MAYBE should have done.

It’s always weird when people come to me for Disney travel advice to tell them to DO THEIR HOMEWORK, because while you can just walk in and have an amazingly magical time, if you’re traveling from far and want to make the most of it, research may be required. Where do you want to stay, what do you want to ride, which park/s do you want to visit each day, are there any events going on? A free Disney travel planner at EZDis (a full concierge Disney Travel Planning agency- all the parks, cruises, and Aulani!) can absolutely help answer all of these questions if you don’t want to take on the heavy lifting yourself (and why should you, if you don’t love the stress of planning tiny details?)- because there is ALWAYS something going on, whether ticketed or free with park admission, and there will almost always be something you get home and realize you missed. Happens to me every year!

Our first trip was a book & go. We did research on our resort, there was no online booking of fast passes ‘back then’ so we prepared to wait in lines- but one thing we didn’t expect was the Epcot Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. My kids were so little, especially staring up at those amazingly sculpted topiaries, that I wasn’t sure they’d recognize the characters, but we had fun one day when the lines were too long and the fast passes ran out just walking around and looking together.

 

This year’s Flower & Garden Festival starts March 6th and runs through early June- which is a perfect time to visit the parks. And it’s not just topiaries- there’s the Garden Rocks concert series, and outdoor kitchens in the World Showcase where you can try all kinds of delicious foods from different countries!

Now that you can book your rides before arriving, spring break crowds are a breeze, and you’re beating the heat of the hottest months of summer. And that’s JUST Epcot. Remember- there are 3 more parks to enjoy, and countless resorts to dine at, not to mention Disney Springs.

It might still be snowy and miserable where you are, but spring is springing right up at Walt Disney World– are you gonna be there? I sure want to be! Don’t forget to use the code HH18 when booking with EsDiz (which, remember, is absolutely free)- and have a magical time!

And now for a BONUS. What better way to rock springtime at a Disney Park (or in the comfort of your own home, like I like to do on occasion) than with a new pair of ears?

These are GORGEOUS! A little mermaidy, a little Ursula, and you can win a pair (shirt not included, sorry! 😉 )!

How to enter? COMMENT BELOW (please be sure to use the e-mail address you check most often) and leave me a comment telling me your favorite Disney character of ALL time (yes, you can ONLY pick one!)

ONE winner will be drawn on 2/27/19 at 8:30pm Eastern. The winner will be notified by e-mail, and has 48 hours to respond with their mailing address or a new winner will be drawn. Good luck!

Posted on February 22, 2019 by Holdin' Holden 38 Comments

18 Memes that Perfectly Describe just how AWFUL Adulthood is

Y’all, I’m not gonna lie– I really thought I’d be back to blogging a bit by now. Life is weird. You can make plans, arrangements, promises to yourself, but things don’t always go on the path we envision. There are twists, turns, responsibilities, bills, and kids to take care of (and/or pets), all while trying to get rest, and take proper care of our bodies and mental health.

It’s a LOT. Adulthood is a LOT. And when it comes down to it, adulthood is what keeps me away. It’s not all staying up late and dessert for breakfast. It’s an endless cycle of self destruction to try to get everything done.

And THAT is why this blog is not only an apology for still not being around (but you can find me on Twitch 5 days a week!), but also one that is dedicated to all those slogging through it with me- just trying to get shit done, and failing miserably.

Because what better way to cope with the overbearing weight of adult life… than with memes??
Here are some I don’t think you’ll enjoy, because let’s be honest, but that I KNOW you’ll relate to.

 

 

  1. Honestly my whole back.

 

2. It’s not resting bitch face- it’s sleep deprivation.

 

3. SELF CARE = BEST CARE

 

4.

 

5. Because what is adulthood without panic and destructive procrastination?

 

6. I honestly can’t remember what it’s like NOT to be tired

 

 

7. There are a lot of times I think “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is just the title of my autobiography and not a popular children’s series

 

8. Lemon and face masks- it’s science!

 

9. The real Never Ending Story

 

10. I barely even answer the phone for people I DO know

 

11. Adulthood is knowingly doing damage to your sanity and sleep cycle just to get a few hours of peace and quiet at the end of the day

 

12. It’s no longer a “hangover” after 30. It’s an “this is it. this is how it ends” kind of feeling.

 

13. I like treating past acquaintances like Mall Kiosk guys. DON’T MAKE EYE CONTACT

 

14. Give credit where credit is due. You’ve earned it!

 

15. Just because I’m awake doesn’t mean I’m ready to do the things.

 

16. Why are 90% of these memes about sleep? Oh. Yeah. Because that’s adulthood.

 

17. Man. And we thought we had it rough as teenagers.

 

 

18. This sums it up nicely

 

 

Hang in there y’all.

Posted on February 20, 2019 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment

9 Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World in 2019 (Plus, a Giveaway!)

This blog was written in partnership with the EZ Dis Travel Agency. All opinions are truthful and my own.

With 2018 coming to an end, it’s time we look forward to the new year, and all the amazing adventures it could hold! For me, it’s always looking forward to my next Disney trip. Unfortunately, 2018 slipped through my fingers, and was a little less magical than years past, so I’m looking to make up for lost time in 2019!

Here are the top 9 things (in no particular order, because everything is amazing) I look forward to on my next Disney vacation!

  1. The Tower of Terror — It’s #1 on my list, and #1 in my heart. I could literally ride it all day, every day, and never get tired of it.
  2. Characters! — I don’t consider myself a sentimental person, but I still get teary thinking about how much my boys LOVED meeting the Disney princesses for the first time. Or the way that Parker would always scream at ANYONE in costume (Santa, The Chic-Fil-A cow) but the second he saw Mickey, went running into his arms. They still get that magical look in their eyes, and it’s amazing.
  3. THE FOOD! — It’s no secret that theme park food can leave a lot to be desired. A LOT. This is not the case for Disney World. They have everything from 4-star restaurants, to little stands that sell Mickey shaped pretzels, and it’s all absolutely delicious. You never know what you might find. My favorites are the 50’s Primetime Diner in Hollywood Studios, and the AMAZING spicy chicken and waffle sandwich I had in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom. Each season holds different offerings- and who can leave out the Epcot Food & Wine Festival?
  4. Construction of Star Wars Land — I know most people loathe going to Disney World and seeing things under construction, and any time you’re looking forward to riding something specific and it’s down for renovations/maintenance, it’s a bummer, but I LOVE seeing how the park grows. I remember watching the floating islands being constructed before Pandora opened in the Animal Kingdom and being so amazed when I could finally go back and see it when it was completed, because I got to watch the process. I LOVE Star Wars, so the construction of Star Wars land is even MORE exciting. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
  5. Expedition Everest– I don’t know if it’s riding up, or back down Mount Kilimanjaro that thrills me the most, but it’s the one thing in the Animal Kingdom that I refuse to leave without riding more than once!
  6. Happily Ever After — there are fireworks EVERY night at Disney World, but the show that I love the most, that I will stand in elbow-to-elbow crowds for, is the Once Upon a Time light show that projects on Cinderella’s castle. It’s worth staying until night time for (or coming back for!)
  7. Magic Hours — I might hate early mornings, but there’s honestly nothing like being able to stroll up to Cinderella’s castle bright and early, and get pictures before there are a million other people around. Magic Hours are offered to Walt Disney World Resort guests and offer park entry either 1 hour early, or one hour late (which park has magic hours depends on the day).
  8. Toy Story Land — It’s new, it’s adorable, and I’ve yet to get to experience all it has to offer! Slinky Dog looms over once was Hollywood Studio’s Backlot (I honestly accidentally typed HollyWOOF and considered leaving it), beckoning you to come and ride his coaster, but that’s not all there is to do there! Read more here.
  9. THE MAGIC! — I know, it’s sort of cliche, and a little cheesy, but there’s something to be said about the feeling that washes over you when you walk through the gates of Walt Disney World. Everything shines a little brighter, you can’t help but be in a good mood, and if you have kids, you’ll NEVER forget the looks on their faces experiencing everything for the first, or twentieth times.

 

This doesn’t even scratch the SURFACE of all the things I love, but these are what popped instantly to mind when thinking of getting started booking my next trip.

I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions, but I would like less stress in the coming year. Disney Vacations are amazing experiences, but they can cause a lot of exactly that. The planning, coordinating, scheduling. When to go, where to stay, what rides to book in what order, where to eat– it’s a LOT, even for an expert. Easiest way to avoid this and enjoy your 2019 with a little less stress is to put your trip in the hands of someone trained and capable (and FREE). The company I trust the MOST to do this is Ez Dis, a full-service concierge travel planning service, that can be as hands on, or hands off as you like. They can help find the best time to go, which resort or hotel is right for you, help book your dining reservations (and keep trying if the place you want to eat as is booked) and MORE. Best part is, it’s absolutely free to you. I can’t recommend enough.

Now, I know it’s a little late, but I do have some things to give away this blog as well. These could help fill your time until your next Disney trip, OR, occupy your kids on your journey to the land of the mouse!

THREE Disney coloring/activity books. Not just any coloring books, they come straight from the parks themselves! HOURS worth of fun. All you have to do to enter to win is leave a comment below and tell me what YOU look forward to before your Disney vacations. If you haven’t been, what do you want to do the MOST?
(Winner will be drawn 1/1/19 at 8:00pm EST. Please enter your email address below when commenting. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email that their name has been drawn, or a new winner will be drawn.)

Good luck!

Posted on December 27, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 17 Comments

Hiatus Explained. See you all soon

It’s been a long time since I sat down and typed to you all here. I do apologize for that. I’ve been doing some healing, and a lot of thinking, and I think it’s time to finally sit down and try to explain what is going on, and what is going to happen as best I can.

My oldest child is eleven years old. I’ve been writing this blog for over ten of those years. It’s been my outlet when I had nowhere else to go. Somewhere to write out stories to share with all of you that I thought would make you laugh, or make you feel better; sometimes even make you cry. I shared my life, and you shared yours with me–in comments, e-mails, guest blogs. I’ve gotten lovely “fan” mail when I never thought of any of you as fans, but more as family, I’ve gotten hate mail that made me laugh because it meant I was doing something right, and I’ve gotten amazing opportunities. I keep all of that in mind in making decisions on how to move forward with my life, and decisions are never easy when things change.

For seven of the ten years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve done so through debilitating, chronic pain. It’s not always been easy, but I always got it done, because I loved writing. It gave me something to look forward to. Over time, I think, the pain changed… or it changed me. It’s hard to say, because I didn’t realize it was happening until it already had. Pain/illness is funny like that. You don’t know just how far it’s gone, or how much it’s taken, until you look up and there’s not much left.

I’ve told the story a few times, but I’ll tell it again to be sure we’re all on the same page.

Six plus months ago, I had a set back. This isn’t unusual, I have them often with my pain, but they always heal. This one didn’t. In fact, it’s only gotten worse for the past six months. I went to a new doctor and got on a list for a procedure that could get rid of my pain, at least most of it, for months to years. I know I usually go deep into detail, but over this past decade I’ve learned that divulging ALL the details of ones health on the internet sometimes comes back with negativity you aren’t prepared to hear, so for that reason, we’ll leave it at that for right now. Not to mention, I think we’d all prefer I not make this single blog a book. I could, maybe one day I will. I know that’s cryptic, I’m sorry. I think I’ll be more ready to talk about it once the whole situation is over.

Waiting for this procedure, watching my health decline, coming to the realizations of how much I’ve changed over these past seven years has been a rough few months for me- mentally and physically.
The easiest way to put it is: I’m not okay. I’m not well. I’m maybe not me right now. I hope to be soon. Of course, I’m not going to put all of my hope in one procedure’s basket, but there’s hope I’ll get my life back once this is all over. I also have to accept that I’ve changed permanently. I’ve fallen out of love with what once used to give me great joy, and at this point in my life, I have to fill my life with things that bring me joy. I’ve pushed myself to do everything at once, because of obligation, because I felt like it was what I needed to be doing, and I crashed, hard. I can’t afford to crash again.

I know this all sounds ominous, it always does. I can’t say it isn’t, I guess. I still love this blog. I love sharing stories with all of you, and when you share your own. This is NOT goodbye. It’s not even a “see you soon”- but it is me taking a step back from writing as a full-time job. I’m halfway through writing my 3rd book, and I am committed to that, but I think for the time being, I will only be blogging when I feel well enough to. I’m still figuring things out, honestly. It was hard to write this blog being so uncertain of what the future holds, because it’s possible that once my health is under control, I’ll come back full time. It’s also possible I won’t. Life shifts, it changes, it grows, and we aren’t always prepared for that. I sure wasn’t. I fought it for a long time, but it’s time to follow the change and see where it takes me.

I appreciate those of you who have stuck around and read my ramblings, even with Facebook snatching me from your newsfeeds. I appreciate those who have laughed, and cried with me. I’ve loved watching your children grow up with mine, and reading your stories. I’ve appreciated your letters, and your comments. Just remember, this isn’t the end. You can ALWAYS find me somewhere, and I hope you do.

I live stream on Twitch most days per week. This is where most of my attention will be focused from here on out- http://twitch.tv/holdinholden
I will still ne updating the Holdin’ Holden Facebook page
I am active on Twitter, and Instagram

I WILL see you around, I hope all over- but especially here. We’re not done here by a long shot.

 

Posted on November 29, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 6 Comments

The Lights are Even Brighter this year at Busch Gardens Christmas Town!

Christmas Town may not open until this weekend, but I got to take a tour of all the new, magical things to see, so that I can tell you- it’s not to be missed!

This is the 10th year of Christmas Town here in Virginia, and Busch Gardens always does an amazing job of thinking about how to outdo themselves each and every year- this year being no exception.

Ten years and ten MILLION lights later (actually, a little more than that this year if we want to get really technical), if you love, or even like Christmas- this is the place you’re going to want to be, and admission is now INCLUDED in your pass membership for the first time.

Me and a group of bloggers and media were ushered into the park one dreary Friday morning, and were instantly greeted by a group of the most cheerful elves, Christmas music, and a park being transformed into a winter wonderland.

They were finishing up decorating the O’ Tanenbaum Tree, found in the center of Germany, which is always one of my favorite sites in the park

From there, we were ushered in to the Fest Haus to hear from the park president about all the new things the 10th anniversary of Christmas Town- and there’s a lot to share with you! BUT FIRST

MERMAID TAIL STOCKINGS? Yeah… I know what I’m getting next time I go to Christmas Town, along with some signature hot chocolate.

Up next was the tour of Santa’s Workshop- which is honestly amazing, no matter your kids (or your) ages. It’s beautifully decorated, and we even had special guests stop by

 

Mrs. Claus served us the breakfast of champions: Hot Chocolate and a GIANT Smore (both of which can be purchased in the park, and I highly recommend. Unfortunately, Mrs. Claus will be tending to Christmas duties, but the Busch Gardens employees can certainly handle the task!)

It was so good. If that doesn’t get you into the Christmas Spirit, nothing will!

Now let me tell you about what’s NEW this year at Christmas Town!

Christmas Town Express – The familiar Choo Choo of the Busch Gardens Railway will signal an unparalleled experience around the world’s most beautiful theme park. Park guests can sing along to favorite holiday songs while enjoying the lighted decorations along the park’s popular train route. The experience will feature festive caroling, two million stunning Christmas lights and themed holiday vignettes meticulously placed around the 1.5-mile tour.

Wilkommenhaus – Located in the park’s German village, the Wilkommenhaus transforms into a fantastic visual Christmas spectacle through beautiful projection mapping. The sweet smell of Christmas treats from the Cookies & Cocoa Shop wafts through the air as virtual gingerbread men make this festive village come to life nightly, every 15-minutes during Christmas Town.

Sesame Street® holiday show: Elmo’s Christmas Wish – Elmo’s Christmas Wish debuts this year on the stage at Sesame Street® Forest of Fun™. Guests can enjoy this holiday musical show with Rosita, Grover, Zoe and Cookie Monster as they help Elmo find his Christmas wish.

Battle For Eire™ – The innovative virtual reality attraction joins an exciting lineup of rides that also includes roller coasters InvadR™ and Verbolten®.

 

Not to mention the classics, like Santa’s Workshop, the wonderful live shows around the park including Twas that Night, headlined by Olympic figure skater Elvis Stojko, meet and greets with characters from the classic Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, all kinds of delicious holiday food, and THE LIGHTS! Don’t forget about the lights!

Busch Gardens is open 2 – 10 p.m. on most Christmas Town operating days and
12 – 10 p.m. on Saturdays from Nov. 17 through Jan. 5. For more information about Christmas Town and operating days, visit www.christmastown.com/va.

The best way to enjoy Christmas Town and other park events and attractions all year long is through the newly-enhanced Busch Gardens Williamsburg Membership Program. Guests can receive unlimited visits to Busch Gardens, Howl-O-Scream and Christmas Town for as little as $9.99 per month. For more information, visit www.buschgardens.com/joinBGW.

Posted on November 13, 2018 by Holdin' Holden 0 Comment