Walt Disney World Resort Orlando Travel Guide

Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is for everyone! I feel like a kid when I last visit Disney World, enamored by Mickey and the gang plus seeing all the other Disney characters and princesses. The notion that Disney World is just for kids is nonsense. Here’s a Walt Disney World Resort Travel Guide for all ages!
Dreams do come true with lots of characters, rides and parades. Most “amusement park” feel of all the parks in Disney World. Rides. Conquer mountains, cruise down and exotic jungle river and brace a ghostly mansion.

  • For kids, the Peter Pan’s Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Jungle Cruise cannot be missed. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, The Enchanted Tiki Room, It’s a Small World , Tomorrowland Transit Authority and the Magic Carpets of Aladdin are rides with minimal wait. Enchanted Tales with Belle, The Barnstormer and Dumbo have to be my kids favorite!


  • For family, Stitch’s Great Escape, Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion can be enjoyed together, but they may be scary for younger kids. Don’t forget Splash Mountain, which is especially fun at night when the fireworks are going.
  • For adults who don’t have small kids in tow, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are so much fun and highly recommended.

Parades.Whether it’s the thrill of seeing which Disney character comes up next, or that moment when your favorite character waves right at you, there’s just something magical about a Disney parade. Your family will love Disney Wishes, A Dream Come True Parade and Main Street Electrical Parade. Make sure to grab a spot at least 30 minutes before the parade starts on Main Street, so your kids can interact with the characters.
Characters. Various characters around the Town Square area when you enter, Tinker Belle and her friends have a a special nook and Merida has her own themed meet and greet. The times guide will give you the information you need to know. TIP: Ask a cast member, at the beginning of the line, or at the end, before you go in, who is there. They will tell you who is scheduled for that day.

Celebrating the human spirit, Epcot has 2 distinct realms: Future World, which features technological innovations, and World Showcase, which shares with Guests the culture and cuisine of 11 countries: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, the United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada.
Rides. It may be a surprise but Epcot has rides. Journey through space, glide over California, become a secret agent and more.

  • For kids, the ImageWorks, Seas with Nemo & Friends Cruise cannot be missed. Living with the Land is a ride with minimal wait. Agent P’s World Showcase adventure was my kids favorite!
  • For family, we love to go on Soarin’, Test Track, Mission: Space, Grand Fiesta Tour at the Mexico Pavilion and the Maelstrom ride at the Norway Pavilion.

Characters. You can find a variety of characters throughout World Showcase (Aladdin in Morocco, Snow White in Germany, Mary Poppins in the United Kingdom and so on).EpcotCharacters

Movie magic comes to life at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, awash in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Rides. Experience the intergalactic adventures, plummeting elevator rides, rockin’ roller coasters and more.

  • For kids, they may enjoy to run around Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure and watch MuppetVision 3D.
  • For family, Star Tours, Toy Story Midway Mania and the Backlot Tour can be enjoyed together.
  • For adults, who don’t have small kids in tow, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror are so much fun and highly recommended.

Parades. Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade includes tributes to Toy Story, Monsters, Inc, A Bugs Life, Ratatouille, Up, and The Incredibles. The easiest place to find a good spot is in the area near the American Idol Experience and Echo Lake.
Characters. This will be your best chance for finding characters from recent animated movies. Also, several times during the day, the characters all emerge from Sorceror Mickey’s hat and spread around for meet and greets. During special events, such as Star Wars Weekends, you have the opportunity to meet many special characters as well! TIP: If you have a Star Wars fan in your house, make sure to sign up your child FIRST THING for Jedi Academy near the American Idol Experience. It’s absolutely AMAZING!Image 1

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is by far our favorite theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort. There’s not a ton of rides, but the point of any visit is to get lost in the park’s lush, enveloping jungle.
Rides. Discover high-speed thrills, jungle trails and dinosaurs.

  • For kids, DinoLand USA will be their favorite destination. With The Boneyard, a child-friendly discovery playground you can easily spend an hour in – mine did. It’s a great way to give the kids a different kind of exercise, crawling around dinosaur bone excavations, climbing on nets and slides, and playing in a giant sandbox. There is a bridge built out of a dinosaur skeleton and much. My kids loved it and it gave me a bit of a break.
  • For family, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Dinosaur and Kali River Rapids can be enjoyed together, but they may be scary for younger kids.
  • For adults who don’t have small kids in tow, Expedition Everest and Primeval Whirl are so much fun and highly recommended.

Image 15 Parades. My kids favorite parade was Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade. Mickey & the gang have packed up a caravan of crazy, safari vehicles to blaze some trails through this imaginative world. Adding to the rhythm of the ride is a group of giant rolling drums disguised as animals, which are AMAZING costumes!
Characters. Mickey and Minnie can be found in the Adventurers Outpost in Discovery Island. The big area for characters are the greeting trails in Camp Minnie-Mickey. Check the times guides for other locations.AnimalKingdomCharacters
Walt Disney World Resort Travel Guide Tips

  • A few days before your trip, make sure to read the FAQ page to know what to bring and what you can’t bring.
  • Pack light. Bring only what you will need so you won’t have to rent multiple lockers. Click here for more information on locker rental.
  • I highly suggest getting a PhotoPass card when you first arrive! They are free and the photographers may capture moments that you were unable to grab because you were behind the camera. 😉 TIP from Tracy Gervais: “If you buy photopass plus or photopass 14 days before departure, you can save $50 on the disc. We find it so worth the money!”
  • If you’re leaving one of the parks right around closing, or after fireworks or a evening parade, consider waiting. Buses are especially bad at this time of night, and the park’s gift shops are open for a short time after the parks official closing time. Do your shopping then, instead of during the day, and leave a little later. Chances are, you’ll still get back to your resort around the same time, and you won’t wait in line so long for a bus, monorail, or ferry in the process!
  • Don’t forget to put on or bring your sunscreen!
  • Plan your day ahead of your arrival. As soon as you arrive at Disney World, grab one of those maps by the entrance or download the My Disney Experience mobile app so you know your way around and check the times of the shows too! You can also find where the nearest restrooms or restaurants are, and know the ride and wait times for each of the rides!
  • Schedule your lunch and snack breaks during a parade, so you won’t have to go with the large crowd and line up for too long.

I hope this Walt Disney World Resort Travel Guide proves to be helpful for your next trip. I highly encourage you to bring your family and friends there!

Friends of Greer Garson Gala Kickoff Party

The Friends of Greer Garson Gala kicks off on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at Private Social beginning at 6PM. I am honored to be asked by Greer Garson Gala Co-chairs Jennifer and Chris LeLash to chair this event alongside my beautiful friend, Honorary Chair Rachel Fresquez. Enjoy drink specials, complimentary appetizers and raffle tickets ($10/each or a bundle of 5 for $40) for a chance to win West Village packages for ladies and for gentlemen in addition to 2 tickets to the Greer Garson Gala on April 20, 2013, while supporting Women and Infant Services at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas!

This year’s Greer Garson Gala’s theme is “An Evening in Cannes!” On April 13, 2013, imagine being transported to set of Casablanca with smooth voice of Hunter Sullivan singing, while supporting a great cause. You can buy can become a sponsor or buy tickets for the gala here.

Support Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation while enjoying delicious treats! See you at the end of the month. :))

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Heartstrings

The 29th Annual Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Saint Valentine’s Day Luncheon and Fashion Show will be held on Tuesday, February 12, 2013. A crowd of nearly 800 people is expected to join for lunch and watch a fashion show by Stanley Korshak featuring Monique Lhuillier at the Meyerson Symphony Center in downtown Dallas. This year’s theme is “Heartstrings,” and the event will raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, an organization dedicated to funding research for blood cancer (a cause near and dear to my heart.). Co-chairs Angela Choquette, Maggie Kipp and Paige Slates are sure to make this event is one to remember. Tickets start at $175, and you can buy them here. Remember to valet at the Flora Street main entrance…it’s was provided by Park Place Motorcars.

Support Leukemia & Lymphoma Society while enjoying beautiful fashions in a stylish atmosphere!

Thank you to all the people below for all your support to help people like my brother, who was diagnosed last year with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Without your support, he and his family would be alone on one of the hardest battles of their life. Again, thank you!

Park Place Motorcars Dallas
Myrna and Bob Schlegal
Al G Hill, Jr
Ruth Robinson
American Airlines
Modern Luxury
Tiffany & Co.
Whole Foods
Tom Thumb
Robyn and Don Conlon
Maura Costello
Kathy Crow, Claire Emanuelson and Muffin Lemak
Jennifer and Doug Houser
Dr. Rajani Kapu
Diane and John Scovell
Sewell Automotive Companies
TJX Foundation

Heather Centurioni of HBDesigns with her husband, Steve
Baker Botts LLP
Baylor Health Care System
The Boone Foundation

Co-chairs Angela and Maggie Kipp + Lynda Villarreal
Ernst & Young
Tricia George

Dawn and Jon Mellon
Sharon and Tom McNearney & Nancy and Peter Roe
PlainsCapital Bank
The Rigby Family
Tanya Roberts
Jill Rowlett and Dee Wyly
Kim’s Cakes of Dolce Vita Events
Digital 3 Printing
Village Marquee Texas Grill & Bar

Ruthie’s Rolls Out Special Award in 2013 for Dozen Nonprofits

It’s not secret that 2012 was all about food trucks! Well 2013, Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe has created a unique way for their business to give back to the community. Through its new impressive award program, “Ruthie’s Dozen”, they will honor select nonprofits in the Dallas area. Each month, Ruthie’s will select and showcase one nonprofit in the community by providing opportunities to create more awareness, increase fundraising and highlight their philanthropic mission, all while providing delicious food from their food truck, Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe.

The idea for Ruthie’s Dozen was inspired by owner Ashlee Hunt Kleinert’s family and especially her grandmother, Ruth Ray Hunt. “Through Ruthie’s Dozen, we hope to keep my grandmother’s legacy alive by helping others and creating awareness for important causes. Ruthie’s Dozen is a very special award spotlighting a mix of some well known and some smaller, lesser known nonprofit organizations – but all need need visibility and all need our support,” said Kleinert.

Ruthie’s will donate 20% of its net profits that month (10% from Ruthie’s LLC and 10% matching gift from its founders = 20% going to nonprofit). During that month, Ruthie’s will roll to the winning nonprofit’s facility during lunch in order to celebrate the nonprofit and the incredible work they do by providing lunch for staff members. Think of it as Ruthie’s way to say, “Here’s to you!”

Ruthie’s Dozen Winners 2013
January – Genesis Women’s Shelter
February – Executives In Action
March –  Honor Courage Commitment
April – New Friends New Life
May – St. Philip’s School and Community Center
June – North Texas Food Bank
July – Methodist Health System
August – The SPCA of Texas
September – The Downs Syndrome Guild of Dallas
October – The Dallas Women’s Foundation
November – Senior Source
December – “Ruthie’s Rookie” The Birthday Party Project

Nolan Ryan Pitches Biz Advice with YMCA

Nolan Ryan will be the Keynote Speaker for the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas Key Leaders Luncheon on September 25, 2012 starting at 11:30AM at the Fairmont Hotel.

Baseball’s all-time strikeout leader will share his wisdom on how to “strikeout” the competition, with a multi-faceted look to business as a cattleman, team owner and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ryan currently serves as CEO & President of the Texas Rangers and is part of the team’s ownership group, Rangers Baseball Express, which completed its purchase of the franchise on August 12, 2010. He oversees all baseball and business operations for the franchise.

Ryan has served as a positive influence as the Rangers develop and refine their pitching philosophies while incorporating conditioning, hard work, good mechanics, focus and mental toughness. Ryan will lead a dialogue with Senior Vice President of Ball Park Entertainment for the Texas Rangers Chuck Morgan. Don’t miss this exclusive event for Dallas-area business leaders!

Tickets may be purchased for $100 per person (limit six) here. Table Sponsorships start at $1500 for group purchase over six.

Addison Celebrates 25 Years of Oktoberfest

The first Oktoberfest was not really a festival at all, but the public celebration of the wedding of Crown Prince Luitpold I and Princess Theressa of Bavaria on October 17, 1810. Held on a large meadow in Munich, the party featured a horse race, beer, food, music and dancing. Anniversary celebrations continued each year, usually starting in late September and ending in the first week of October. Oktoberfests have been held in Munich for almost 200 years (with the exception of wartime). As immigrants from Germany came to North America, smaller Oktoberfests sprouted up in their communities.

Can you guess what city battles Munich for the largest Oktoberfest? Cincinnati! In Cincinnati, close to 700,000 people jam the streets of “Zinzinnati” during late September, jostling to music from seven large entertainment stages, while dozens of food vendors serve bratwurst, sauerkraut and thousands of gallons of beer.

These giant fests set the stage for similar Oktoberfests across North America like the one held in Addison, Texas, which is celebrating its 25th Anniversary of Oktoberfest! Four day festival include the famed German polka band, the Munich Evergreens along with Grammy-award winning legends Brave Combo, schnitzel, folk dancing, sing-alongs and kid’s entertainment! Enjoy fun contests such as dachshund races, bier barrel bowling, a yodeling contest and a German spelling bee!  Wanting a more intimate experience? Dine at the Brau Haus, with full service Bavarian dining and an exclusive menu for the $45 available Thursday through Saturday.  You can also enjoy the Teutonic tradition of kuchen and kaffee at the Oktoberfest’s new bakery! Click here for more info.

Guten Appetit!

MTV RE:DEFINE Art Pops in Dallas

RE:DEFINE returns to The Goss-Michael Foundation for its second year on Saturday, September 22, 2012. This dynamic pop exhibition and auction will bring together iconic and specially-commissioned photography and artworks by established and emerging talent, including Mat Collishaw, Ralf Kaspers, Ryan McGinness, Michael Craig Martin and Jen Stark.

Artist: Marc Quinn

All proceeds from sales will benefit the MTV Staying Alive Foundation. The MTV Staying Alive Foundation is a global HIV prevention and awareness charity that is 100% donor funded. The Foundation operates with a simple vision – to stop the spread of HIV before it starts. By funding young people running grassroots prevention projects, and producing content that raises awareness to global youth, the Foundation fights HIV the smart way.

Artist: Michael Craig-Martin

Tickets are available here starting at $350. The event begins at 7PM. In addition to the exhibition and auction, the event is complemented by a dynamic range of supporting activities, including a 100 ft public mural in downtown Dallas by Lee Baker, exclusive limited edition RE:DEFINE t-shirts designed by Parra, a specially-commissioned fine art print edition by Mark Webber and live painting at the gala auction by Dave White.

Artist: Michael Reisch
Artist: Ralf Kaspers
Artist: Ryan McGinness

Galleria Dallas Celebrates Fashion’s Night Out

I hope you’re having fun getting ready for Fashion’s Night Out happening around the world on September 6, 2012.  The Galleria Dallas is pulling out all the stops to make this a wonderful night! They are getting ready for THREE runway shows this weekend (Runway Revue shows are at 12PM, 2 PM and 4PM on THIS Saturday). Galleria Dallas is reinventing Fashion’s Night Out in a style that’s uniquely DALLAS!

When Fashion’s Night Out was created in New York, it was designed to support the retail industry in tough economic times.  Well, here in Dallas, we shop VERY well. But what DOES define us is a commitment to community, and that’s what differentiates the FNO celebration at Galleria Dallas.

While Fashion’s Night Out at Galleria Dallas has signature elements like it’s QUARTER MILE long runway shows created by Jan Strimple (over 40 models will each trek over 1 ½ miles in heels to showcase the latest fall fashions) and pre-events like free Beauty Stops which start at 3PM. Check out who’s partnering with Galleria Dallas and its stores to engage the community.

  • Fashion Group International will host a lounge in the center’s common area.
  • The Smartwater Shopper Lounge will be hosted by Fox 4’s Lauren Przybyl and Cattle Baron’s Ball.
  • Attitudes and Attire will collect gently used handbags at Dooney & Bourke (donors will enjoy a free limited-edition Dooney eyeglass case with any pre-owned purse donation).
  • Equest at Faconnable (15% of the evenings sales will benefit Equest, and one lucky attendee will receive a shirt each season for the coming year from Faconnable, and another will receive a private visit from one of Equests’s adorable miniature horse ambassadors, perfect for a child’s school or a senior center.
  • Luminaries Yvonne Crum and Allison Lehman will host a benefit for the Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas at Bachendorf’s.
  • Italian shoe show-stopper Carlo Pazolini will host a benefit for PAWS in the City.  10% of sales will be returned to the group, and the party will be hosted by Tara Harper.
  • Society of Women Who Love Shoes will be at Saks Fifth Avenue as they celebrate new limited edition fall shows from Brian Atwood.
  • Danielle Vollmar will join Trooper’s Team for a benefit party at Apricot Lane, where 15% of the evening’s sales will go to help animals in need.
  • SWAGG Magazine celebrates Fashion’s Night Out at Galleria Dallas with Brahmin Handbags (the designers of the OFFICIAL FNO tote!) for shopping, giveaways and more!

Each of these parties are open to attend, and include tidbits and tasty drinks.  Dozens of other retailers are also hosting events featuring DJ’s, drawings and more!

Walking Tour in NYC with StumbleUpon

When I travel, I like to go where the locals go. I have to admit that tours scare me. A large group of people looking at “touristy” places is not for me. BUT, this time in New York I decided it is time to learn more about the city. I humbly accepted to “stumble upon” NYC Midtown landmarks, and I didn’t regret it. Thank you to StumbleUpon for providing a cool Starbucks iced latte and a guide into Midtown! Side note: StumbleUpon is a discovery engine (a form of web search engine) that finds and recommends web content to its users. Its features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.

Midtown is the heart of Manhattan, packed with architectural landmarks, the city’s most popular retail shopping and several of its top museums. The tour started at the Hilton New York. It is a couple of blocks away from the southeast corner of Central Park. This is one of the park’s loveliest sections, near the zoo and Wollman Rink.

We continued down Sixth Avenue, where we saw Radio City Music Hall, recently restored to all its original art deco splendor. I was even able to go inside to where the Rockette’s rehearse for a personalized workout with two of them. Click here to read all about it. 🙂

Stretching from 48th to 50th Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues is Rockefeller Center, a magnificent complex of towering skyscrapers and country flags. We entered between 49th and 50th Streets, past Channel Gardens (and a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop) to the main plaza, tucked under the golden statue of Prometheus. Dominating the plaza is the soaring art deco GE Building. NBC’s television studios are nearby (including the streetside set used for the Today show).

My roommate, Jen Sobel, also known as Punky and the City

We continued to Fifth Avenue. On the east side of Fifth, between 49th and 50th, stand the chic confines of Saks Fifth Avenue. Across 50th Street rise the twin Gothic spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, seat of the Archdiocese of New York. It’s worth a peek inside to see the interior, where Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald were married, and where funeral services were held for Bobby Kennedy.

Later I went down Fifth to 42nd Street, where I reached the magnificent main branch of the New York Public Library, a 1911 Beaux Arts temple with rows of Corinthian columns. Two vigilant stone lions (dubbed Patience and Fortitude by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia) stand sentry at the entrance. I headed west, past the library, to Bryant Park, a lovely green oasis in the heart of Midtown. I grabbed a chair at Bryant Park Grill and join the lively crowd who came here for a casual bite after work.

Dallasite and fellow food lover, Alex Young of Eat. Style. Dallas.

We ended the tour at Time Square. Formerly named Longacre Square, it was renamed in April 1904 after the New York Times moved its headquarters to the Times Building, now called One Times Square. Famous for its electric, neon and illuminated signs including Coca-Cola, Toshiba and the curved NASDAQ sign.

Target First Saturday Hits the Mark

Nasher Sculpture Center and Target have partnered up on the first Saturday of every month providing FREE admission to this beautiful museum from 10AM-12PM. They provide children’s activities like an art scavenger hunt, kids’ art activity (where the kids’ “get their hands dirty”), sculpture demo, family tours and story time with the Dallas Public Library.

As you enter into the museum, each child receives a gift bag with information about the center and an art scavenger hunt. This scavenger hunt uses a picture of part of the art, and the kids (and parents) search around the museum to find out what the art is called and who created it. Kids are great explorers, and this activity really challenges the kids to look and study the art. I LOVE IT!

As we are searching for art, we run into other exhibits at the museum that we LOVE. Currently at the Nasher, they have an interactive art called “Cuddle on the Tightrope.” Wow! The kids thought this was “sooo cool” & thought the colors were “pretty.”This exhibit is only available until September 9, 2012, so you better head to the museum and check it out soon.

After exploring the museum and “cuddling on the tightrope,” we were hungry. Nasher has a wonderful cafe with Wolfgang Puck’s delicious seasonal sandwiches, salads and soups prepared with farmer’s market produce, artisanal breads and locally-supplied ingredients. They have NasherKids meals that are delicious AND healthy.

Thank you to Target for providing an opportunity for my kids to enjoy art AND to Nasher for have great exhibits for them experience it!

Nasher Sculture Center
2001 Flora St.
Dallas, Texas