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Curated Travel: How to Do Disney and Epcot as an Adult in 48 Hours

TravelCarlene ThomasComment

If you're in Orlando, you might as well go to Disney World! I was heading to Orlando for a business trip and last minute decided to tack on an extra night and hit Disney with Chris! Let it be known, this was really, really spontaneous for us. As you know from the blog, we like to do our research and plan, but sometimes you just gotta go! So consider this the research for your fast trip to disney as an adult. If you don't have time to real the full post, check out this less than 2 minute video to get the feel. 

 

 

The plan: 1 day at Magic Kingdom day of landing in Florida and 1 day at Epcot day of departure. We had an early flight (like 4 AM), dropped bags at the hotel and went directly to the park. As a quick note, I found out Uber is not allowed at MCO unless it's Uber Black or Uber SUV, so be prepared. We used Uber regular to get to the parks which is super convenient. Way better than renting a car. 

If you have a little flexibility, know that there are calendars that show which parks are busiest each day, which have 'extra magic' hours that day, and what's going on where. It can help you pick the least busy park possible to beat crowds. 

how to do disney in 48 hours as an adult

magic kingdom

  • Make a loose list of must do's with a logical flow (we did Main Street (coffee crucial) to Tomorrowland and rotating around to end at Adventureland. If we missed anything we wanted to do because of lines or just adult brain forgetfulness, we looped back around to hit them, ending with ice cream on Main Street again.  
  • Take advantage of the FastPass 3 scheduled rides that come with your ticket. Do your research based on what you should use it for (some rides never need it because the lines are minimal) and build those into your 'must do' rotation list. Basically this means you can 'schedule' an hour block to ride this ride and get limited line access.
  • Pack snacks. I'm going to be totally blunt here: most of the food at Magic Kingdom is not good. It's very 'kid centric' basics (exactly why we knew we wanted to hit Epcot as our second park. It's basically all food, drink and architecture). Dried mango and trail mix and jerky were perfect between meal, heat safe things (balanced protein, fiber and carbs). 
  • Water is free anywhere. Ask for a cup of ice water at any location! This saves you room of carrying water bottle.
  • Buy your Disney mouse ears online on Amazon before you go for half price. 

Our must hit list:

Main Street: 

  • Starbucks (Main Street Bakery ): They do cute Disney Starbucks cups. Easiest Instagram ever. 
  • Ice Cream Parlor: Definitely didn't need this in the morning but we did this on the way out at night.  
  • Castle: If you want an epic picture of the spires on the castle, go around to one of the sides where there are less people.

Tomorrowland:

  • Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger: If you are competitive (which we definitely are), you'll love this even if it is a little old school. Definitely use a fast pass here. 
  • Monster's Inc Laugh Floor: It's air conditioned, inside and you can sit down. While this definitely needs an aesthetic and graphics update, it's still wildly entertaining to see people from the audience picked on.  

Fantasyland: 

  • Mad Tea Party Teacups: SO FUN. I don't care how old you are. 
  • Cheshire Cafe: A quick stop if you need a snack (we passed- too hot to eat anything!). 

Liberty Square:

  • Colombia Harbor House is a decent food stop (they do have lobster rolls etc) and a niee place to sit if you're waiting for your FastPass at....
  • Haunted Mansion: A definite must do! Basically the perfect example of what Disney is known for. FastPass essential.

Frontierland:

  • Thunder Mountain Rail Road: A roller coaster for those who hate roller coasters. I LOVE this one. Again, FastPass essential.  

Adventureland:

  • Dole Whip: It has a cult following. 

 

Final Thoughts: there are definitely some things here that need upgrades with technology. That being said, I can only imagine how hard that is for a huge park to pull off renovations while still keeping guests entertained. I bet there will be some big new rides coming soon that will stay true to the Disney feel without becoming Universal Studios with a million rollercoasters. 

how to do disney and epcot in 48 hours as an adult

epcot

Note that Epcot has lockers that can fit a carryon roll on (check your's but this is my carryon and it fit plus a tote bag). Know they will hand search your luggage. So just maybe don't keep your underwear on top? 

OUR MUST HIT LIST:

Future world opens at 9 am. Ironcally it's really retro now.

  • Living with the land is a little ride that takes you inside some of the dome sections to see plant innovations. I thought this was goign to be way more facinating than it was, but since that's literally our job, I just think the basics they went through were already common knowledge for us. there is a behind the seeds tour that goes more in depth but costs extra
  • Soarin is BEST THING EVER. I think this is the route Disney is going to have to take with some of their rides to keep kids entertained these days. I would ride this like five times. Also, FastPass must.

Countries:

Okay. So... there's this movie called Frozen and it makes Norway in the country part of Epcot a nightmare. We started on the Canada section and worked around so it would be less busy. That being said, high five Norway! You were the only country to 'buy' a spot in the World Showcase and now you're the most popular. 

  • Canada: cronut
  • France: Boulangère Patisserie is your best friend. It has mimosas and macarons and baguettes. Next door are macaron ice cream sandwiches. 
  • Italy: has oven pizza but the fact that it was the end of July in Orlando meant that was the last thing I wanted.
  • Germany: THE BEER! THE BEER! There is this insane grapefruit hefeweizen that I am now in love with. If you're in the mid-Atlantic, you can find it at Wegman's. 
  • Japan: has the best shopping, hands down. Kabuki care has shaved ice desserts as well and you can watch the drummers.
  • America: Bless your heart America. There's a kiosk with baseball caps, they play Beyoncé and that's about it. There is also an acapella concert they do outside that is super fun to listen to, making it a great half way point. 
  • Norway: Meatballs and jam and mashed potatoes for the win. I've also heard the school bread is amazing but I was too full to try.
  • Mexico: a tequila bar, inside an aztec pyramid thing with air conditioning. 

A Note About Disney Springs: 

Disney does exist outside the parks. Recently, 'downtown Disney' underwent an expansion and became Disney Springs. It's awesome for dinner and socializing (and you can also walk around with alcohol). We ate at Morrimoto Street Food, had poutine at 10 PM...but there are a ton of options no matter what kind of food you like. There's also shopping. Specifically a fantastic UNIQLO store that struck our fancy. Lastly, there is a Cirque du Soleil show within Disney Springs (although they were closed that night).  

Curated Travel: 10 Must Do's In Bar Harbor Maine: Wild Blueberry Barren Tour

Weekly Update, TravelCarlene ThomasComment

You need to go to Maine in summer. ESPECIALLY if you live somewhere where summer is hot and humid. I've never been north of New York on the East Coast before so this first taste of New England has me hooked. The gorgeous humidity free weather in the 70's alone is worth the trip! 

So why Maine? I spent last week in Bar Harbor with Wild Blueberries to experience "Blog the Barrens" during harvest. To geek out for a second, wild blueberries are really interesting and unlike anything I've seen before. They grow in the craziest location (acidic, gravely terrible soil) and are completely naturally deposited. You don't plant them. They are what they are. And because they are such survivors, it gives the cool nutrition powers. Details later in the post. 

But, if you're here for the details on Bar Harbor....

Here are 10 things you need to do in Bar Harbor, Maine: 

1. Bar Harbor Inn 

This inn is probably as good as it gets location wise. You're right on the water (the middle picture is the view from my room. The water is RIGHT THERE!) and about a five second walk from downtown. The view from the upper deck (right picture) for sunset is magnificent. Now granted, this is not a city hotel so don't come in expecting that! Think New England charm.

10 Must Do's In Bar Harbor Maine
10 Must Do's In Bar Harbor Maine
10 Must Do's In Bar Harbor Maine

2. Coffee Hound Coffee Bar

Coffee Hound was my daily stop. It's super close to the waterfront and the inn but more importantly it has lobster rolls and coffee.  The coffee is great and you can get nearly every beverage either iced, blended or hot. I tried a maple latte too. When in Maine, right? Now as for if this is the 'best' lobster roll in the harbor, I have no idea. I don't think I'm an experienced enough lobster roll consumer to make that call. But as a food lover in general, yes. Eat it. Take it to the green overlooking the harbor and enjoy.

3. The Rock and Art Shop

Coolest. Shop. In. Maine. So this is obviously a generality considering this has been my only Maine experience, but I'm pretty convinced this statement is true. If you love anything nature/botanical/rocks/crystals/natural history you are going to need to bring a second suitcase. You're going to buy everything. The products are so well curated and the copy on the signage is perfection. There's definitely some weird stuff but that adds to the charm. While the Bar Harbor shop is seasonal (like basically all of Bar Harbor), there's also a shop in Bangor. It's great spot for gifts and things no one else will be able to find for your house. 

bar harbor maine top must eats and dos
bar harbor maine 10 must do's
bar harbor maine must do's coffee hound lobster roll

4. Wild Blueberry Anything 

If I can experience something food origin related, I'm extremely happy. Seeing the home of a food or recipe helps me understand it on a deeper level. And I definitely appreciate it more. With the amazing powers of the internet, you can basically order any boutique food item from across the world. I love it. But it also can make traveling for a specific food slightly less cool. Slightly. But that's not the case with wild blueberries. As soon as you pull away from the airport (over an hour away mind you) you start to see how important wild blueberries are to Maine. As the state berry of Maine, covering 44,000 acres, wild blueberries grow in the most inhospitable conditions: the barrens. The soil is acidic, rocky and horrifically cold in the winter. But that just makes it perfect for wild blueberries. As one of only four fruits native to north america, wild blueberry growing areas naturally have a lot of a diversity with multiple varieties coexisting (see the dark and lighter berries in the picture?). That means the wild blueberries you get in your freezer (99% are frozen and I actually got to see the freezing process- you can only get the 1% fresh in New York and north for a very short period of time in the summer which is exactly what made this trip so amazing). 

I also got to attempt hand raking the wild blueberries which essentially looks like you're using a giant metal dustpan with teeth to pull the berries up and the leaves off. While that sounds harsh, the bushes actually get mowed low after harvest (they used to be burnt) and have a two year growth cycle. So no daintiness needed! Their rhizome root system (think ginger or some irises) means that 70% of the plant basically lives underground. And as a low input crop (they use less water and significantly less chemicals than average crops) since they are resistant to native pests with a harsh growing environment, it's interesting to see a well loved and healthy food item thriving in an unexpected location. 

Bottom line: go eat as much as you can fresh but also order wild blueberry everything. And they do have everything. 

wild blueberry barren
wild blueberry barren
wild blueberry barren

5. Mount Desert Island Ice Cream

There are several ice cream shops in Bar Harbor. In fact, this is going to be the least tempting shop for you. It's on a side street. There is not a giant carved lobster holding ice cream in front. Mt Desert is more subdued but if you do your research and check the ratings (and the fact that Obama stopped here), you're going to want to hit this shop. Now as an ice cream aficionado, I have my personal favorite flavors (cookies and cream, extra cookies on the chewier vs crumbly side), if I'm traveling I try really hard to get something I can't get anywhere else. I asked the employee behind the counter what his favorite was and without hesitation he recommended Brigadeiro and let me know half the staff felt the same way. It's a Brazilian truffle ice cream made with dulce de leche and dark chocolate cocoa powder. It's not overly chocolate or sweet. It's perfect. 

6. stewman's lobster pound

Let's be real here. There's probably a rule that if you go to Maine, you have to consume lobster, right? Like you can't get back on the plane unless you've consumed your tourist share of lobster. So do lobster for one meal. Stewman's Lobster Pound is right on the water and a great place to get your whole lobster to crack while everyone else orders something boring (I'm kidding, but they do have more crowd pleasing things too. And cocktails. And beer.) 

bar harbor maine must do's mount desert ice cream
bar harbor maine must do's
bar harbor maine must do's
bar harbor maine must sees
bar harbor maine must do's

7. Havana

If you're looking for a higher end meal you need to go to Havana. This Cuban restaurant is well known (the wild blueberry tour group who went last year saw Martha Stewart) and a nice walk from the waterfront. Actually, if you're coming from the waterfront, take the harbor side trail and see some of the gorgeous houses on the water. Because we ate a set menu that featured blueberries, I can't speak for their normal standing menu but WOW did they mix some good cocktails. 

8. Acadia National Park:

I'm a big park person. I like to hike. And by hike I mean East coast hiking...so not super high. I don't know what West coast hiking is. I like greenery. I love good views. Acadia national park is a must do. We hiked to Bubble Rock which is a relatively quick hike but I highly recommend taking the descending trail down the steep side of the mountain on the way down (if you have good joints). It puts you right at the lake for more good views and the other end of the lake has food if you didn't pack something. 

Maybe more importantly, what Acadia is most known for is Cadillac Mountain. It's the highest mountain on the Eastern seaboard and the summit is the first place the US gets sunrise in the morning. Bring a lunch and eat at the rocks on the top.  

bar harbor maine must do's
bar harbor maine must do's
bar harbor maine must do's

9. cafe this way:

While most of the meals on this trip were pre-planned by the PR team, my friend Alex from Delish Knowledge (SIDE NOTE: buy her new cook book!) and I made an effort to stop for breakfast on our last day at Cafe This Way. A few of you recommended this stop and for good reason! It has a good vegan breakfast and awesome blueberry pancakes. If you're craving traditional American breakfast food that's filling, here's your stop. Get there early because it fills up fast! 

10. watch the sun rise at 5 AM 

I have never, every experienced such a bright sunrise and never so early. Like I mentioned if you're a true sunrise lover, you have to watch from Mt Cadillac. But this image is from my hotel room. At about 5 AM. It is bright, intense sunrise light and if you don't have blackout curtains you are going to be fully awake at 5 AM. Take a walk around the harbor as the sun starts to rise for awesome pictures.

 

100%, I'm making Chris do a Maine trip soon. I've been told Portland Maine is also amazing, but Bar Harbor was a knock out.

bar harbor maine must do's

 

 

 

Disclosure: Wild Blueberries invited me to Bar Harbor and covered my travel for the experience but did not compensate me for talking and writing about/Instagramming/etc this trip. I'll probably be messing around with wild blueberries soon to see how they shape up into recipes and will share more nutrition information then! 

Simple Southern Summer Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Sides, Healthy HostessCarlene ThomasComment

Summer is for simplicity. The ingredients available right now are so good by themselves, they don't need a heavy cover up. And let's face it...it's usually too hot to eat anything heavy anyway. During our recent trip to Disney World last week (so, Orlando in late July...) all I wanted were beverages. Except that one night I ate poutine at 10 PM (worth it). So for normal life activities that don't involve walking miles in the Florida sun, I look for light but still filling meals. This tomato mozzarella dish has been our lunch for days and days and days. And if someone stops by or you are headed to a winery for the day, MAKE THIS. You are going to look so good, because it's an exceptionally photogenic and easy to eat dish while holding a wine glass. Priorities.

Now if we want to get professionally picky about this, no, this is not a balanced meal. If we added maybe some salmon or chicken and some greens, I would say, well done. But every meal doesn't need to be perfect. And in summer, please cut yourself some slack. Summer is supposed to be a little more relaxed. If we are all wound so tight year round, it's just bad. Chill vibes, chill vibes, okay? It's literally my job to think about nutrition, and I'm telling you, it is OKAY to not have a perfect meal every time. Just make it worth it. Maybe put a little bit more thought into the sourcing and plating? Or not. that's okay too. 

Simple Southern Summer Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Now there is nothing new or special about this recipe. Tomato and mozzarella salads are everywhere. This is not a secret special recipe. It's just the honest truth of what Chris and I are loving right now. How we make it better is by picking a high quality mozzarella (check out your farmer's market- test out the cheese! There's this guy at our market in Virginia who makes smoked mozz.), getting in season tomatoes (if you make this in December don't even talk to me), and adding lots of fragrant basil and lastly...Maldon salt. 

That is the one thing we're doing differently compared to last year with this dish. Maldon is the stuff of dreams. It's just salt. It really is. Chemically there's nothing that makes it better than normal cheap-ass salt on the bottom shelf at the grocery. The difference, and why I think it's worth it, comes to the shape and therefore the texture. Maldon is flakey and pyramid shaped. That means when you sprinkle it on the top of your completed dish, it doesn't dissolve immediately and when you take a bite, you really get the salt effect. Do NOT buy this salt and use it during cooking. It's a finishing salt. So buy it, but only use it at the end. Also delicious on steak. Just in case you're wondering.

Simple Southern Summer Tomato Mozzarella Salad
Simple Southern Summer Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Simple Southern Summer Tomato and Mozzarella

serves as many as you want- just keep adding!

/// Ingredients ///

  • tomatoes (it doesn't matter the variety or shape or size. Pick what speaks to you. This would be amazing with big slabs of gnarly heirlooms)
  • mozzarella (again, lots of varieties here. It's awesome with smoked mozzarella or even little pearls!)
  • olive oil
  • basil leaves
  • Maldon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

/// Directions /// You can do this! You don't need directions! Just slice and dice and cut and throw it on a plate. The goal is to make it easy to get a good balance of each ingredient in every bite. You do you. 

� Healthfully Ever After & Carlene Thomas 2011-2014