The Most Magical Place on Earth

beverages, Birthday, Disney, Dream Come True, food allergies, mom, NYC, soda, Uncategorized

I teased about it awhile back – but now I’m here to share the story of our most magical trip!

Back in November (before all the sickness and holidays kicked in and I disappeared) I had been preparing for my youngest daughter’s 2nd birthday.  My daughter and I actually share the same birthday – she is the best birthday buddy!  We had a sweet little party at a local venue. They provided kiddie entertainment (art, music and of course bubbles) and kid food, and I provided the adult beverages.  Of course I learned earlier in the fall that seltzer was necessary, so I brought a bottle, which before I would have never thought of doing!

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We had a great time – but the real fun was actually set to begin just a few minutes AFTER the party.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love Disney.  We actually have a trip planned (in my mind, lol) for a few years from now to visit Walt Disney World Resort when it’s Christmas time.  I’ve always wanted to see Disney decked out in all its holiday glory! A few months back I learned that part of that beautiful Christmas splendor, “The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights” would be showcased for the last time this year, and I was sincerely saddened that I would have never seen them.  I tried to just let it go, but a few weeks before our birthday I couldn’t shake the need to see them, so I explained to my dear dear husband how badly I wanted to go (mind you, 1. He HATES going to Disney, 2. We’ve already gone this year & 3. We already have a trip booked for the spring)- and he finally relented and agreed to make my dream come true and go for my birthday!!

We didn’t tell the kids about this trip! As soon as we returned home from my daughter’s party, I started to open my birthday “presents” which wound up being our packed luggage and Disney themed gifts and we surprised them that we were leaving THAT minute!  They didn’t quite understand…they thought we were talking about our Spring trip that they knew about…my son was confused about why I was being given his packed clothes as a gift…it didn’t exactly go as planned…but as soon as we started rushing them saying “Quick put on your shoes we’re going to the airport right now – come on! Come on!” They started to get giddy!

We flew into Orlando and arrived at Disney around 10pm- crazy late for us.  Since we only booked the trip 3 weeks before going this was the most UN-planned I’ve ever been for touring Disney, and it led to a few nice surprises!  We stayed at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, which I never would have considered before and was pleasantly surprised. The grounds were beautiful, the food was more than fair and the transportation to the parks was fantastic.  The grounds are rather spread out, but we were happily housed in the Cabana section of the resort right near the featured pool and a bus stop, so it was perfect!  We went straight to our room and went to sleep so we could wake up early and start our surprise adventure!

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We woke up early! 5:45AM- crazy, I know, but I like to get to the Magic Kingdom before it opens at 8AM to see the welcome show and to try to get in as many rides as possible before the crowds show up.  We got up, dressed, ate breakfast and got on the bus!

I know many people can’t relate to this – but I hope there will be a few of you that do…when you enter the Magic Kingdom and round the Town Square and step on to Main Street and see Cinderella’s Castle in the distance, something very special – yes, I’ll say it: magical – comes over you. You are transported to another time and place and in that moment all is well with the whole world.  This trip was especially magical for me and as we reached the end of the beautifully Christmassy decorated Main Street and started walking up the castle ramp I started to tear up with happiness. This trip, more than most, was truly a dream come true. To be able to surprise my kids with a trip like this and see something I’ve always dreamed of, but never knew if I actually would – was just so so special.  I just felt so thankful that we were able to make this trip together as a family.

I could go on and on and on about every tiny detail, which I originally planned to do, but I’ll stick with 3 main things…the lights…a special dinner moment…and of course the soda!

I’ll start in reverse with the soda – and praise above, Disney serves Coke products!  When you stay at a Disney Resort you have the option to buy a refillable mug (can’t refill at the parks, just the resorts) for around $16.  The mug has a chip on it that will activate the soda fountain and is good for your length of stay. You can also buy individual drinks if you don’t want a mug, so you need to decide for yourself what makes the most financial sense to you. I, of course, even thought we would only be there 2 full days, opted for the mug – and I made the most of it!  Whether at the Pepper Market food court or by the featured pool, each soda really was fresh and crisp – no complaints from me.  At the parks I drank either 20oz bottles which were available at snack carts for purchase or fountain sodas at both counter service and full service restaurants.  All were top notch, chilled perfectly and met all expectations. (You can see some examples of the refillable mugs here.)

Next I’ll tell you about another pleasant surprise that came from my last minute planning.  Normally when you plan to stay at a Disney World resort you can make all of your dining reservations 180 days before your arrival, so as you can imagine the pickings were slim when we booked our trip on such short notice.  I settled on an 8:15pm dinner one night – WAAAAAY past my kids’ bedtime – for Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  My 4 year olds and I watched the 7pm Fantasmic show  (Dad and baby headed back to hotel to rest) and then went to dinner.  My daughter and I enjoyed a delicious buffet and my son was treated like a VIP guest!  Chef Angel came to our table to discuss his food allergies and then went back to the kitchen and prepared a scrumptious and safe allergy free meal for my boy.  I tried a little myself and I will tell you – I would pay anything to have someone prepare me such a healthy and tasty dinner! We were one of the last tables seated that night and so by the end of the meal we were basically one of the only parties left. Chef Angel came back out and chatted with us for a while, and I got to hear about his grandson and family. When you are at Disney World it’s amazing how time after time you feel such personal moments – like you’re home – in such a huge place.

(Yes, I have this shirt. You can too..just click on picture and get redirected to amazon.)

Finally we packed up our things and started to head out – that’s when another magical moment happened.  As we walked towards the door, we saw Daisy Duck hand what looked like a smart phone to a Cast Member (Disney’s term for all staff) and motion that she wanted this person to take her picture.  The restaurant had maybe 10 people left in it, and the Cast Member started to take her picture in front of a Christmas tree.  A moment later Donald Duck ran over and started posing, then Mickey and Minnie came…well, Donald didn’t want to lose the spotlight and started photobombing Mickey & Minnie’s pictures.  I am not doing the experience justice here – because we were rolling on the floor laughing.  It was as if we got a special secret glimpse into Daisy, Donald, Mickey & Minnie’s real life after work. I will never forget it!

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OK- So here’s where I’ll just show you the whole reason for the trip. The stunningly breathtaking, magical, surreal “The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights”. The lights are set to holiday music and snow falls from above as you walk down the Streets of America in Hollywood Studios.  Again, I am not doing them justice – but I will say it was worth a last minute 2 day trip to Orlando and I will never forget it for as long as I live.  Please enjoy the photos!

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NYC Soda Girl’s Rating

Disney World

Florida

Diet Coke – all shapes and sizes

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Celebrating One Month with a Giveaway!

Best NYC soda, beverages, Disney, food allergies, Giveaway, mom, New Blog, New York City, NYC, soda, soda fountain

Thank you NYC Soda Girl Readers – you’ve supported me and we’ve made it to ONE MONTH!! I’ve loved sharing my NYC soda stories with you!

You’ve heard how I’m often tired and rushed…but yet somehow preplanning for the holidays (follow up-someone has purchased that necklace off my wish list-hooray!)…have a bit of a Disney obsession…appreciate exceptional wait staff service a lot…am a devoted allergy mamma…and so much more!

To say thanks for following me, I’m having a giveaway contest! The only 5 cup rating I’ve given so far has gone to a Hillstone restaurant, so the prize is a $20 gift card to Hillstone Restaurants! That will easily cover a delicious spinach dip and a soda (don’t forget to ask for a chilled glass!)

Here’s how to enter:

Simply comment below, saying “Enter me!”

Want more chances to win?… You got it!

For a second chance, “like” NYC SODA GIRL on Facebook and then comment here a second time “I liked you!” (If you already like NYC SODA GIRL on Facebook you can still enter this second chance by commenting “I liked you!”)

For a third chance, “Share” a NYC SODA GIRL Facebook post on your Facebook timeline (public so it can be verified) and then comment here for a third time “I shared you!”

You may enter from today, Wednesday, October 21, 2015 through Saturday, October 24, 2015 at 10pm EST. I will announce the winner, selected at random, on Sunday, October 25, 2015.

Good luck everyone- and thanks again for reading NYC Soda Girl!

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NYC Allergy Mamma

Best NYC soda, beverages, food allergies, Halloween, mom, New York City, NYC, Pumpkin Picking, Uncategorized

Last weekend was quite the “Allergy Mamma” experience. I had the joy of seeing kids get together to support food allergy kids and then later we had a complete restaurant fail.

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A Teal Pumpkin? What is that? Well, I’ll happily tell you 🙂

The Teal Pumpkin Project is a way to help kids with life threatening food allergies (1 in 13 kids have them) be safe and enjoy Halloween.  The idea is, instead of offering just candy at Halloween you can also have a stash of non-food treats available for kids with food allergies. They’ll know you have them available because you have a teal pumpkin (and maybe a little sign too) out on display.   This year I’ll have 156 Piece Mega Halloween Toy Novelty Assortment; 12 Halloween Ducks, 12 Halloween Pencils, 12 Halloween Sticker Sheets; 48 Halloween Erasers; 72 Halloween Glitter Tattoos!! and 8″ LumiStick Brand Glowsticks Glow Stick Bracelets Mixed Colors (Tube of 100) available, plus candy. Don’t worry non-food allergy friends, no one is trying to take candy out of Halloween, The Teal Pumpkin Project just wants to help more kids be able to safely participate in the holiday just like “all the other kids”.

When visiting Hank’s Pumpkintown (you can read about it here) we bought a bunch of extra mini pumpkins and got together with friends to paint them teal! We went to the Food Allergy Research & Education website and downloaded these coloring pages and signs for the kids to work on too.  You can check out their website and get the downloads too at: DOWNLOADS

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Here are the finished products!

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Still working on what to write with the black glitter paint on the tombstone ;)
Still working on what to write with the black glitter paint on the tombstone 😉

The kids used these materials to paint their mini pumpkins (you can click each material and order from amazon.com if you’re interested):
Crayola Turquoise Washable Paint  mixed with Crayola Green Washable Paint

ALEX Toys Artist Studio 15 Colorful Brushes

Teal Glitter

And for the “Crafty” pieces, I used these materials (or similar ones) so that hopefully we can use the pumpkin and sign year after year:

Halloween Decoration Tombstone

The Plump Pumpkin Keepsake

Teal Acrylic Paint

White Nylon Brushes

Black Glitter 3d Paint

I have to keep in mind how great it is that so many people are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, because this next part of our weekend sadly seems to be the norm.

We went to a family lunch at Antonio’s Trattoria. As soon as we sat down the waiter came over. I explained to him that our child has life threatening allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and sesame, so while we brought safe food for him to eat, we would like to know if those allergens are in the food we want to order.  If so we would order something else. We also asked that while handling his beverage (water cup and straw) please be sure no one who was handling those allergens touches his cup without washing their hands first or putting on fresh gloves.

The waiter assures me that they don’t serve anything with those ingredients.  I could have just left it at that, but it was an Italian Restaurant and my experience is that they usually have sesame present. So I asked about the sesame specifically again, he said “No – oh except for all the hero rolls.”   – Oh.

Then at that exact moment I happen to look around and notice this:

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Yes, you are correct- those are 6 TUBS of Nutella – a chocolate hazelnut spread.  So I point to them and ask “What about that?”

He tells me that “those just sit there.”

“So you don’t cook with them?”

“Well, we have a Nutella pizza.”

Right. So basically when I first tell him about my child’s LIFE THREATENING allergies, he says they don’t even have those items in the restaurant. Thankfully I kept asking. I have no problem bringing food for my child so that he’s safe everywhere he goes. I do not expect restaurants to stop serving the things they want to serve – but please be knowledgeable about what you’re selling and about the severity of food allergies!

Besides the scary interaction I had with the waiter, I simply can’t recommend this restaurant. The highlight of the meal for me was the bread basket and olive oil. For my entrée I ordered the gnocchi caprese.

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When it arrived my kids asked me what kind of soup I ordered. Umm, I didn’t order soup. I ordered a simple pasta dish and  instead received an inedible vat of slop. The soda was a watered down Diet Pepsi.  My husband had pumpkin rice balls for an appetizer which he said were delicious, but beyond that one dish I say AVOID this place if you happen to be in the Bronx!

Oh what a weekend!

NYC Soda Girl’s Rating

Antonio’s Trattoria

2370 Belmont Ave., Bronx, NY

Fountain Diet Pepsi

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