Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge in Walt Disney World

Woah.

Like literally. Woah. Joey Lawrence circa 1994 WOAH.

I gave you a sneak peek of our Galaxy’s Edge experience last week when I talked about my Star Wars Style, but this week I’m going to tell you everything I can about your first visit to Batuu.

If you didn’t already know, I’m a Walt Disney World annual passholder. And at some point in the last year, I managed to convert TBC3 over to passholder status as well. In this time, Disney announced they would be offering previews to passholders for the opening of Galaxy’s Edge. It was on a first-come, first-serve basis, so as soon as the email went out, I got on the site. I waited for what seemed like an eternity until the virtual queue took me to the registration page.

I couldn’t get reservations at Oga’s Cantina (but we have one coming in September!) or Savi’s workshop (I don’t expect that I would have been able to rationalize the $200 for a build-your-own-lightsaber experience anyways), but I did manage to snag us a preview slot which guaranteed a ride on the Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run.

Tom and I decided that if we could score a cheap hotel and flight, we’d go. A $100 round trip flight on United and $100/night on-property resort meant that we were definitely going to Batuu.

We arrived in Orlando the morning of our preview, Magical Expressed to our hotel and checked in. We hit up the Magic Kingdom for Space Mountain, the People Mover, and a Mickey pretzel before heading to Hollywood Studios. Our reservation was for 5 PM, but we were waved through at about 4:30 with ease.

Immersive Experience

By far, my favorite thing about Galaxy’s Edge is the incredible amount of detail that went into every little piece of the land. From the epic infrastructure to the cast member back stories, I’m here for all of it.


When you walk into the land, you truly feel like you’re stepping onto another planet.

I love sassing stormtroopers in Galaxy's Edge

I love sassing stormtroopers in Galaxy’s Edge


My Galaxy’s Edge outfit choice definitely made an impact on the CM interactions that I got. Several characters came up to me while I was wearing the Chewbacca dress I received from TV Store Online and invited me to join the resistance. They knew a good wookie when they saw one.

But each cast member will tell you what planet they are from and give you a story if you let them. Ask questions. Talk about the land. See what little nuggets you can uncover. Spend time exploring and learning about Batuu, because the experience is what this world is all about.

Millenium Falcon: Smugglers Run

This attraction is amazing. We rode it three times so we could experience every role available. The queue is full of detail and story. Take in all of the visual artistry as you wait. Once you get into the attraction, there’s a short presentation with a mix of animatronics and video introducing you to the mission. Then you wall through a door and get assigned a role.


Our first time through, we waited 45 minutes and took the first thing they gave us: engineer. On our second ride, we waited 15 minutes and requested engineer. On our third ride, we, along with 50 other people, waited 0 minutes until we got to the assignment line and waited for pilot.


Then they usher you into an open waiting room, where you’re free to wander or lounge at the table until your team is called.


Our first two sets of pilots were awesome and the ride wasn’t too dizzying (I get vertigo). But when Tom and I took the helm, we (mostly me) were flying the ship all over the place. There was only one other person with us because of the aformentioned people waiting for pilot, and she had no idea what was going on, so we just laughed the entire time.


Even if you get a bad pilot (🙋🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️) or people who don’t know what they’re doing, you can still have fun. Sure it’s kind of a game with a score, but it’s also just a fun attraction. Enjoy it. Laugh more.

Food and drinks

We ate at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, the quick-service spot with a dining hall. Tom had the kids’ fried endorian tip-yip (fried chicken with mac and cheese) and I had the kids’ yobshrimp noodle salad (shrimp and noodles with veggies). Yes, we order kids’ meals (which come with drinks btw) — it’s one of the ways we keep our spending down…or save money for dessert…

Kids' Yobshrimp noodle salad at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Kids’ Yobshrimp noodle salad at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


Both entrees were tasty, albeit simple. The shrimp and noodles was a very tiny portion, but perfect if you just want a taste (or you want to get dessert, which I did).

Oi Oi Puff at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Oi Oi Puff at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


The real stars of the meal were the desserts. I had the oi-oi puff (a raspberry filled cream puff topped with passion fruit mousse) and Tom had the Batuu-bon (chocolate cake with coffee flavored cream).

Batuu-bon at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Batuu-bon at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


The Batuu-bon was good, but the oi-oi puff will likely become one of my must-eats at WDW.

Ronto Roasters Menu at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Ronto Roasters Menu at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge


At Docking Bay 7, you can also get roasted chicken, ribs, pot roast, and a plant-based meatloaf dealie. You can also grab a quick meal or snack at Ronto Roasters, a quick-service stand that serves wraps and jerky. And if you just want something light to munch on, Kat Saka’s Kettle offers colorful popcorn.



In the drinks department, you’ve got the Milk Stand, where you’ll find blue and green milk. Both are fruity and sweet. We liked both, but not enough to really order them again. We both agreed that green was the superior milk, though for me, there wasn’t a big gap. Blue is sweeter, like a Hawaiian punch and green is more citrusy, though I can see why people say it’s got a floral flavor. Neither can hold a flame to LeFou’s Brew or the new Red’s Revenge, which is where my money will be allocated.


And finally, there’s Oga’s Cantina, which we did not get to visit because there were no available reservations. I will update you in two weeks when we return for our advanced dining reservation!

Photo ops

There are so many incredible places to snap a photo, I don’t even know where to begin. The land is full of amazing backdrops and photopass photographers everywhere you turn.


There are magic shots with porgs (in the front of Galaxy’s Edge near the main entrance) and TIE fighters (near the First Order area).


And every photographer wants you to use the force in at least one photo.


If you’re a big fan of Memory Maker or Disney Photo Pass, Batuu is full of talent!

Shopping

So the other major thing you can do in Galaxy’s Edge is add to your merch collection. They have two interactive build-your-own shops: Savi’s Workshop takes reservations and will set you back a couple hundred dollars for a custom-made lightsaber and Droid Depot (which I believe also takes resos) will set you back about $100(+) for a customized droid. The plus is for add-ons like personality chips. The droids aren’t really designed to roll around the ground at Galaxy’s Edge,  so if you buy one and want the personality chip interaction with cast members, you should plan on carrying your new bundle of robot joy around the park.


There are LOTS of shopping opportunities in Galaxy’s Edge. A couple of walk-in stores and then a market of small shops, some selling beautiful robes and costumes, others selling toys, collectibles, and more. One of the best things I saw though was a shopping limit per person.

Merch at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge in Walt Disney World

Limit of one item per item per person on collectibles at Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge

Each person can purchase one of each item available. This keeps ebayers at bay at least a littld bit, which means limited edition merchandise won’t sell out super fast to resellers. Hallelujah! (I really don’t like when people buy something JUST to resell it right away for a huge uptick in price).

I managed to leave without spending a dime on merchandise, but your mileage may vary, so I wanted to let you know there are lots of really cool items for sale.

Are you excited for Galaxy’s Edge? What are you most looking forward to? When are you planning on visiting? Tell me everything in the comments.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

What to wear to Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Well, this week has been quite the whirlwind! Tom and I managed to snag tickets to the Walt Disney World annual passholder preview for Galaxy’s Edge, and I have a full trip report coming next week, so make sure you’re subscribed for email updates.

Today, I’m talking about Star Wars style at Disney. Because when you head to Batuu, you’ll definitely want to get into the jedi spirit. I don’t say this solely because I like playing with fashion and style, but because it is 100% part of the experience. The cast member interaction is incredible, and the right outfit can actually enhance the interaction to the point where cast members will start talking to you about the resistance and the first order.

Now, because this is a part of Disney World, you still have to follow Disney’s rules regarding what is and isn’t allowed. Costumes are only allowed for guests ages 14 and under, with the notable exception of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, a separate ticketed event in the Magic Kingdom. And while you can buy some pretty amazing-looking cloaks, robes, and fighter pilot costumes in Batuu, you can’t actually wear them in the parks.

With that in mind, there are still a few different types of looks you can choose if you want to get into the spirit of Galaxy’s Edge (and ideally secure some of those fun cast member interactions).

Graphic tees and Star Wars symbols

Obviously, a Star Wars graphic tee will always fit in and absolutely has its place in Galaxy’s Edge. You can also wear other Star Wars branded clothing, like skater dresses and skirts with one of the many symbols of the various alliances in the Star Wars ‘verse.

Chrissy wearing a Star Wars Dress in Magic Kingdom

You can probably see the R2D2 and C3P0, but can you spot all the rebel alliance symbols?

What about the armies of R2 units disguised as flowers?I thought about wearing this low-key HerUniverse skater dress (I did see other ladies wearing it in the park), but two in-park outfit changes was already stretching my 4-hour time budget, and I was really excited about the other two looks.

Costume-y skater dresses

One of my favorite ways around the no-costume rule is to wear a skater dress inspired by a character. You can find all sorts of fun cosplay-light looks that won’t break the bank or the Disney rules. My first outfit in Batuu was this AMAZING Chewbacca skater dress. I received this dress from my friends over at TV Store Online (who like to send me quirky things to wear to random events like Jury Duty and other epic places) in order to provide an honest opinion of it, and I absolutely love it! I considered getting the non-furry Chewbacca version of the skater dress, but then I remembered how extra I am, and if I was going to Batuu, I was going big.

Wearing a Chewbacca dress in Disney World Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

The cast member guarding this part of Batuu told me there was a top-secret resistance mission coming in December, and they could use someone like me to join their cause. I fully believe my Chewbacca dress was the reason she initiated the conversation.

So there I was, wearing a fur dress in August in Florida. Granted, it was after 4 PM, so the midday sun was fading, but it was still a toast position to be in. In fact another cast member walked up to me and told me, “Batuu has three moons…and three suns.” And then she looked at me like I was insane.

Chrissy in a Chewbacca dress in Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Batuu Disney World

Taking in all three suns

To be perfectly honest, gang, I had every intention of putting the dress on (which I did in the middle of Batuu over the neon green tank top and shorts I was wearing under my Buzz Lightyear Disneybound) and taking it off immediately after a few solid photo opps. But something surprising happened. I never overheated. I didn’t even feel that warm. There were fans blowing in the land, creating a nice breeze. The interior shops and spaces had A/C blowing, and I was keeping myself SUPER hydrated. I also refrained from drinking alcohol (a must for me when it’s as hot as Florida is in the summer).

Wearing a Chewbacca dress waiting to ride the Millenium Falcon

I felt right at home in the Millenium Falcon.

And so I spent two+ hours in the dress. We rode the Millenium Falcon, took lots of photos, had dinner, and wandered the shops. It was comfortable, looked AWESOME, and provided countless opportunities to engage with cast members. I also got a lot of compliments, which is always a confidence booster. I would have worn it the entire time if I wasn’t carrying around a backpack full of clothes, including a skirt I was super stoked about.A couple things to note about the dress: it is furry, so it does shed a little. It is also a little snug in the arms, so I recommend sizing up if you are able.

Disneybounding

The last look you can use, and my all-time favorite way to dress up in the parks and at home, is to Disneybound a character from the movies.I found the most perfect skirt while thrifting a few months back, and I knew it would be a perfect way to check out Batuu. I only had to find a character that would work. After much Googling, I came across the scene of Padme Amidala packing for Naboo. And I knew what I needed to find: a sparkly tank to wear under a black vest I already owned.

Senator Padme Amidala packing for Naboo dress in Attack of the Clones

I was super excited to put together my thrifted outfit once I found the perfect black and silver sequin top just days before leaving for Batuu.

It was comfortable, breezy and looked fun in Disney Photopass shots, but it didn’t get as much uninitiated interaction from cast members.

Are you excited for Galaxy’s Edge in Florida (or even California)? What would you wear to Batuu? Let me know in the comments below!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Last night in Dublin: Define the luck of the Irish

Brian and I just returned from an incredible 16-day adventure in Ireland. And in true Chrissy fashion, I managed to include a side of ridiculous (or twelve) in our summer vacation. Most notably on our last night in Dublin during the first leg of our trip.

Chrissy and Brian at the Guinness Storehouse
Visiting the Guinness storehouse on our first day in Dublin (running on zero sleep and pints of that ruby red life blood).

It all started after a nap. Well, Brian napped. I mindlessly scrolled through Instagram in an attempt to relinquish the final edges of jetlag without sleeping. We had arrived in Dublin two days prior after a sleepless night on a plane and been zombie-walking our way through the city into every uncrowded bar with music that didn’t prevent us from having a conversation (have I mentioned my husband is an introvert?).

After rousing ourselves from bed, we realized that we needed to locate food immediately because most restaurants in the area seemed to shut down around 9 pm. Our hotel felt like it was in the middle of a food desert, so our options were limited if we planned to walk. After some Googling, Brian found a bar/restaurant that piqued his interest. The food was Southern American, but the bar had a self-described enormous board game collection. Our people!

So I put on my nerdiest accessories — an Avengers Infinity bracelet featuring the infinity stones and dinosaur necklace, both of which were early birthday presents from Brian — and we began the twenty-minute walk to said bar.

Last night in Dublin wearing a dinosaur necklace
My sweet dinosaur necklace. Not pictured: this infinity stone bracelet.
Disclaimer: Amazon links = small commission for Chrissy blah blah etc etc.

When we finally arrived at the bar, I sat down and Brian went to check out the game shelf. I realized the bartender would not be visiting the table, so I pulled my credit card out of my wallet and strolled up to the bar to get menus and order drinks. I asked for a menu, and the bartender looked at me like I was an idiot before telling me the kitchen was closed. I slid my credit card into my jeans pocket and walked to Brian so we could discuss the situation. We left and went to the Asian fusion restaurant directly next to the bar to get food.

After eating, we decided that we didn’t want to pay 10 Euro to play games we already had at home and began the walk back to our hotel. There was a great looking Irish pub next to the hotel, and we figured we could go play our own games (why yes, we did pack three pocket-size strategy games for two weeks in Ireland, and it was brilliant) in a nicer atmosphere.

Though we had just eaten, snacks seemed like a necessary and important reason to stop at a convenience store…or two. At the first one, I paid with Samsung Pay on my phone, leaving my credit card safely forgotten in the pocket of my jeans.

Because we couldn’t find a snack that Brian wanted, we proceeded to a different convenience store a block further from our hotel. We found some snacks and walked to the self-pay kiosk. Brian put his credit card in the machine and then pulled it out after he thought it was through. When the receipt didn’t print, he put his card back in for a second attempt. The kiosk called for an attendant because he needed to sign a slip. The attendant didn’t know what was going on, and a flurry of chaos escalated everyone’s panic and stress. We finally left the store with our packages in tow.

As we walked, I started feeling the urge to use the ladies room. I thought I could make it to the hotel, but Brian spotted a pub that the hop on/hop off bus tour guide swooned about when we passed it. Knowing that sometimes my need to use the bathroom can have disastrous consequences, he offered a solution.

“I’ll go get a drink. You go to the bathroom.”

It seemed harmless enough…

We walked in, and I immediately regretted my decision. This was a local watering hole that reminded me of The Snuggly Duckling. I walked to the bathroom through a dark back bar and a dimly lit hallway. I stepped down into a tiny two-stall bathroom where a woman in her sixties was smoking a cigarette and ashing it into the sink. I went for the first stall when I realized there was no toilet seat to be found. So I had to maneuver around Smokey McGee to get into the second stall.

I wiggled around the door into the stall and locked it, noticing there was no hook to hang my fleece or my purse. The floor was soaked — and I’m not sure from what — so I zipped up my purse and placed it on the back of the toilet and prayed. I tossed my fleece up above the door, effectively hanging it over into the bathroom (Smokey had flown the coop, so it was just me in there at this point).

I went to the bathroom and then started collecting my belongings. First I grabbed my fleece, which was now accompanied by a thick layer of yellow, musty dust. When I tried to pat it off, my Infinity bracelet unclasped and went flying into a puddle of wet floor. Who knew my bracelet would become the latest in a lifetime of vacation fashion fails.

Visibly flustered, I grabbed my purse, wiggled out of the stall, washed my hands and bracelet, tucked the bracelet into my pocket — feeling it beside my credit card — and hustled out to Brian, who had not ordered a drink. We rushed out of the bar and I began regaling Brian with my bathroom tale reaching into my pocket and grabbing the bracelet to show him.

We arrived back at our hotel. Brian brought the convenience store snacks to the room and grabbed our games, while I waited in the lobby. A call came in from a 00000 number, so I ignored it (spam calls are not worth 25 cents a minute). When a voicemail came through, I listened to it, fully expecting a deletable junk message. Except that it wasn’t.

It was Capital One calling to tell me someone had found my credit card (the credit card I was planning to use to rent a car the next day), and they were trying to return it to me. After a brisk walk back to the bar, interviews with every human we came in contact with, and a complete walk-through of our evening, we finally let Capital One cancel my card and walked back to our hotel.

“Do you still want to get a drink?” Brian asked, after noting my overstressed and sad disposition.

“Uh yes. Yes I do.”

We walked just past our hotel into the pub, found a comfortable spot, and Brian reached into his wallet to get his credit card out…

It’s moments like this that you have to laugh. Because there is literally nothing as absurd as discovering that you and your husband both lost your credit cards within minutes of each other. We swapped roles as Brian went into a panic-and-anger-at-himself mode, I went into crisis-management mode.

Confident that his card was at the convenience store, we left the bar and I began Googling for a phone number. The hotel made a local call for us, and we discovered the store had just closed, and it went straight to voicemail. We called a cab to take us back over there and then back again (It was late, and not the safest-looking of neighborhoods). The cab driver let us out to go bang on the window of the convenience store until someone noticed us (they all had headphones on!) and waited across the street.

We thankfully retrieved Brian’s credit card, at least, and were relieved to walk back to the cab…when the cab wouldn’t start. The driver had to pop the hood and wiggle a few things until the engine finally started up again.

After all of the hoopla and insanity, we decided not to take any more chances with our bad luck, and we went straight to bed. Did not pass go, did not collect $200. As I drifted off to sleep that night, I couldn’t help but wonder if this evening was a preview of the rest of our Irish vacation or would we even bounce back from this nonsense?

What’s the craziest string of bad luck that you’ve had on vacation? Have you ever lost your credit card while traveling internationally? How did you deal? Let me know in the comments!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things to do in Chicago this spring: City adventures

Greetings fellow adventurers, world travelers, or Chicago natives. Despite the snow-covered flowers from this past weekend, spring — I promise you — is here.

With spring, comes the end of hibernation (or Snowbird) season. And if you’re like me (and the 547 cookies I ate this winter — not counting the two I just had for lunch), you’re probably ready to step out and get active. And I’ve got a list of some super fun things you can check out if you’re a Chicagoland local or considering an exciting visit to the Windy City (highly recommended now that winter is *hopefully* over…just in case, bring a coat. And a light jacket. And an umbrella. And maybe hand warmers…).

Some of these things will help you with that whole getting active thing. Others may deter whatever health resolutions you made for 2019. But it’s fine. Walk it off. Without further ado, here are some of my top picks for things you can do right now (or like, really, really soon) in Chicago(ish). I’ll even break it up for you into two parts: city adventures and suburban treks (coming next week – make sure you’re subscribed). Try both. I promise the suburbs don’t bite. And neither does the city.

City adventures

360 Chicago ($20-$30)

Chrissy in a rainbow dress on the TILT at 360 Chicago
You better believe I dressed to match the TILT, you guys. Dress: Amazon $15; Crinoline: Amazon: $13

I recently attended a sweet media preview at the skyscraper formerly known as Hancock (now officially known by its address, 875 N. Michigan — but like most things in Chicago, we call it what we want because we don’t like change). 360 Chicago is what you get when you ascend the elevator to the 94th floor — a panoramic view of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan, complete with a bar and cafe, activities and entertainment (including yoga!), and my favorite part, the TILT thrill ride.

TILT is a moving window pane that literally tilts you out at a 30 degree angle, 1000 feet over Michigan Avenue (The Magnificent Mile). It’s pretty freaking awesome. I’ve been on it about ten times and probably would have kept going if they hadn’t kicked me off to make way for more people. Tickets to the observation deck are about $20 (buy online in advance to save a few bucks) and $8 extra for the TILT experience (WORTH IT).

Djembe! The Show ($39-$53)

Recently making its U.S. tour debut in Chicago, this interactive storytelling experience is EVERYTHING. First and foremost, this show is a drum-focused musical performance. But it’s so much more than that. Cletus and I had the pleasure of attending a media preview for the show and oh boy did we have a fantastic time.

Djembe! drums in the Apollo Theater lobby
These drums were so much fun to listen to and play with!

Each seat is equipped with a djembe drum because you are a part of the show. The performers will guide you in an interactive drum performance that will leave you breathless (and probably with slightly sore arms unless you’ve been working out all winter — I clearly haven’t).

The empty Djembe! stage at the Apollo Theater
The stage at the Apollo

In addition to the incredible collaborative drumming, there is a beautiful story weaved throughout the show that focuses on the positive and uplifting side of the history, music, and influence of the djembe drum. The music is inspiring, and the storytelling is amazing. I cried. Of course. Djembe! is playing at the Apollo Theater through June 2. Tickets are $39-$53.

She the People

Not sure if you know this about me, but I’ve been studying comedy at The Second City Training Center in Chicago. It’s been a wild ride to be sure, and I am loving every second of it. Part of the ride includes seeing lots of comedy shows, and She the People is truly the best show that I’ve seen at The Second City. I’ve seen it twice, and I’m planning to go again. That’s how good it is.

I laughed. I cried (there are some real moments in here that really spoke to me). I related. It is so freakin’ relatable. It’s feminism with a side of laughter. It’s smartly written and super funny. I only cried like twice. If you’re a woman. If you love a woman or women. This all-female cast sketch show is for you. If you’re a He-man woman-hater, you may want to sit this one out. Go see Djembe again. Or one of the other dozen or so shows playing at The Second City every night. She the People plays Thursday through Sunday evenings in the UP Comedy Club. Tickets are $26-$36.

What are some of your favorite things to do in the city in Spring?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How to visit Disney World without killing your family

Clark Griswold is my spirit animal. So when I got to spend part of the holiday season in Disney World with my family, I was in heaven. It was like Christmas Vacation AND Vacation in one hotel suite. Without Cousin Eddie.

We spent a magical 8 days in Orlando as my mom and I dragged our entire family to Disney World for her 60th birthday. Even though I’d just been there in June, I was fucking pumped. My family hadn’t been on a trip together since The Worst Thanksgiving Ever AKA The Worst Vacation Ever. We hadn’t been to Disney World together since 1998. And did I mention there was an adorable 9-month-old baby in tow?

Taking a baby to Disney World

My dad loves that little Nugget so much.

Somehow, all 7 of us managed to crash in the same hotel suite for most of a week and not kill each other. To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised that I don’t have more interesting tales of drama and/or homicide to regale you with from our trip. I was most concerned about being in a hotel room with Mom because she and I get along smashingly when we don’t live together, but put us in the same space for more than a few hours and smashingly turns into smashing things (love you, MOM!). Apparently, being in the happiest place on earth meant that both Mom and I were in our happy place and nothing could stop us from enjoying every freaking minute of it. Mom was only there for the first three days of the trip, culminating with her birthday party at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Look how happy she looks on Day 1!

Parents kissing under mistletoe magic shots Disney World

Day 1: Aren’t my parents the most adorable ever?

The best part? She was just as happy on Day 3, and I was just as thrilled to be there with her. Dad, on the other hand, was sick to death of taking fucking pictures (he may have told me so the next day).

Mom and daughter hugging under mistletoe magic shots Disney World

Day 3: Wearing our jams at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

But how did we all manage to share the same space for a week and not kill each other? Here are 5 ways we did it.

    1. Don’t all travel at the same time. I think if everyone had gotten on the same plane at 5:30 in the morning, there would have been even more crankiness, even if we were all drinking bloody Marys because Southwest is the best. Alas, Brian and I flew at the crack of dawn (yes that meant a 3 AM cab to the airport) with my parents, landing at a respectable 9:30 in the morning. My brother, Anna, and the baby flew in on an afternoon flight that allowed them the time they needed to get their little nugget prepped for her first flight. On the way home, it was just my brother, Anna, Nugget, Brian, and me. Mom left earlier in the week and Dad left the day before we did.
    2. Don’t feel obligated to follow the same schedule or plan. Originally, Mom and I were going to Disney on our own the first day, but Dad decided to join us. This was one of those days that will forever be with me. It was magic. Brian, on the other hand, needed time to decompress from the flight, so he stayed back at the hotel waiting for the rest of the fam. My brother and dad were originally going to go with us to Universal Studios, but they ended up staying back at the hotel with the nugget so Brian, Anna, Cletus (one of my besties and bridesmen, who happened to be in Orlando for a conference at the same time we were there), and I could revel in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (more on that later). Mom decided she didn’t want to go to Animal Kingdom, so she met the rest of us at EPCOT later. It all worked out, and everyone got to relax when they wanted to.
    3. Do plan some time for yourself. I know me, you guys. I know that I’m the only one in her right mind who can do 7 days in a row of theme parks. I also know that I need to be able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. In June, I learned that Disneying on my own is AH-MAZING, and so I planned an entire day by myself before my family joined me around 4 PM. I went to a character breakfast, dined with Prince Eric, met more characters, took some photos, ate lots of delicious things, and just enjoyed the things I knew my family didn’t care about. Meanwhile, back at the suite, my family slept in, had a pool day, and relaxed before the Christmas Party.
    4. Do mix up who you spend your time with. You don’t all have to be together at the same time in the same place. Have a few set plans in place (We had dinner at Biergarten designated months prior, and we knew that Mom wanted a night picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle), but then feel free to split up and enjoy smaller group time.
    5. Do make sure everyone has food when they need it. A lot of unnecessary fights happen when people are hungry. My brother was ready to kill everyone when he felt like he hadn’t had a decent meal in days (he wanted to sit down and eat something that he liked, and we had been doing a lot of quick-serve snacks that day), and as soon as we got him delicious Chinese food, he was happy again. Also, if you’re into it, booze helps too. There are a ridiculous number of delicious drinks to try and not nearly enough time to try them all!

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Family in front of Magic Kingdom Entrance with Magic Shot
Merry Holidays from my family to yours! And if you want to get on our Christmas card list, this is your last chance to drop your address in the Google form. I’m mailing cards on 12/16!5 tips keep your sanity on a family trip to Disney World

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Hot mess airplane travel tips

I feel like I haven’t been home in ages. My adventures have kept me going going going like the energizer freakin’ bunny from Vegas to Orlando to the weird depths of Wisconsin. And I have SO MUCH TO TELL YOU about said adventures. But first, I really needed to throw down some serious advice. Because tonight I’ll be on another plane, and I definitely needed a reminder on proper travel etiquette (and not fucking shit up) because this one’s a work trip. You know what a hot mess I can be, so I devised a set of rules (which, let’s be honest here, I break every now and then) in order to prevent myself from being a complete douche in the air.

Southwest new planes

I was so stupid excited to fly on one of Southwest’s new fancy planes, you guys. My next flight was almost a disappointment because I missed the newness so much.

Without further ado, here are my top airplane travel tips if you’re anything remotely close to a hot mess like me.

Drink clear liquids

Go ahead and have that cocktail on the plane. Especially if you fly often enough that Southwest sends you a regular supply of free drink tickets. Or you just know when to procure free drinks from Southwest. Or if you’re fancier than me and have one of those preferred statuses that gets you free cocktails whenever you want. But for the love of God, whatever you do, make sure it’s clear.

Bubbles on Southwest

It was Southwest’s birthday. And on Southwest’s birthday, everyone (of age) gets a free drink! I like to celebrate with bubbles, and so bubbles it was.

Vodka and soda? Check. Tonic? If you’re into that sort of thing, sure (gross, but it’s cool). White wine? Clink Avoid red wine at all costs. You may even want to skip the whiskey, depending on what you’re wearing. I know I don’t want my rainbow yoga pants covered in deep dark liquid. Not into an alcoholic bevvy because you’re flight is at the crack of dawn and you’re more respectable than me? Sprite. Ginger ale. Water. But steer clear of the Coke and whatever else can spill all over you and your fellow passengers. Especially when you’re sitting in the middle of two strangers.

Bring a change of clothes to the airport

I’m embarrassed to admit the number of times I’ve changed inside airport bathrooms, but damn am I glad I travel with a spare outfit or two. Especially since I like to make the most of my last day wherever I am. In Vegas, I went straight from the pool to the airport, so I wanted to change out of my bathing suit before my flight. In Orlando, I took an Uber straight from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to the airport (with a brief stop at my hotel to grab my luggage from the bell station), and I was a sweaty disgusting mess. I also have a propensity to spill shit all over myself. Change of clothes? Makes everything better.

Make your in-flight entertainment easily accessible

There are dozens of great ways to entertain yourself on a flight, but make sure you don’t have to dig to the bottom of a large duffel bag every 25 minutes in order to find your Nook, Kindle, tablet, laptop, charger, etc. You’ll get dirty looks from the people who’s empty seat you usurped. I mean, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. And try not to read a book that makes you laugh so hard your boyfriend will wish he wasn’t sitting next to you.

Think wisely about your snack choices

I know. Planes don’t really serve food all that often. Well, Southwest has some killer snacks and all…especially on their fancy new planes. So you’re forced to bring your own reinforcements. But let me tell you guys. There are good options. And there are bad options.

Southwest Airlines New Plane Snacks

I really wanted to ask for one of each. But I am not an asshole. So I asked for cheese crackers and peanuts. And spent two hours wishing I had asked for butter cookies.

A small, easily hand-held sandwich or wrap? Great plan. A large salad that requires shaking and flying croutons? A pastry dealie with delicious ham and cheese and buttery pastry crust that ends up crumbling everywhere? Those are less than stellar ideas. Take my advice/learn from my mistakes. Those will also incite dirty looks from your fellow flyers.

Well, I’m absolutely sure I could give you more pointers on how not to be a dick in the ways I’ve been a dick, but I think this is quite enough for this morning. Be sure to follow me on the social medias for all my travel adventures.

This post uses affiliate links. When you click on them and make purchases, I can occasionally earn dollars to help keep this site running. Thanks for being awesome and such. I talk about Southwest a lot. Because I love them. I don’t get paid any money from all my shout outs to them. They just make me insanely happy.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Fear and loathing in Las Vegas

You guys. I made it back alive from Vegas, and if all goes according to plan, I’m in the Mouse House as the post is published. I thought I’d throw down a few highlights of my Viva Las Vegas jaunt.

There were ghosts or someone was stalking my room. I walked into my hotel room at about 10pm, and the T.V. was on. Thoroughly creeped out, I scanned the room for signs of someone else’s luggage. Then I called the front desk and asked if that was normal. Spoiler alert: It’s not. She told me to “be careful” and I thought those were some pretty bold words for someone sitting in a proverbial tower. I opened every door, turned on every light,  pulled the curtains wide open and patted them down for good measure, and slept with one eye open. It was not unlike that one time I was alone and afraid in my house when we first bought it.

The Backstreet Boys are still awesome. Amber and I had one hell of a time. It was like being 14 and in college at the same time all over again. Although my love for Nick Carter died a quick and painless death, I realized that I am definitely a Brian kinda girl. 

I read 3 books. This may not seem all that exciting to you, but when you’ve got a cocktail in a cool spot by the pool, you can  churn through a lot of books and call it research for your own book. Of course, you can also start reading a fourth book,  a series that was highly recommended to you, and not understand why in the world you couldn’t get into it…and also why it was super confusing…until you realize you’ve started with the second book and you feel like an idiot.  You know…hypothetically. 

I realized that I can make friends everywhere. Whether I want to or not. On Saturday evening,  I sat down in the coolest little pool nook,  right alongside the deep end.  I was hanging out, people watching, and taking selfies, as I’m typically wont to do, when a group of people sat down next to me. A man eho was about my age affectionately told an older woman to sit there beside me. So I scooted over when teo more people came up on my other side. I was almost disappointingly trapped, but they started talking to me, and we had a bizarre conversation about the Backstreet Boys,  Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey’s ex-boyfriend. 

My new friends weren’t the only ones to invade my personal space that weekend,  though. Poolside again on Sunday, I was giving off my very serious KeepOut vibe as the sun slowly crept up the foot of my chaise lounge, when a leathery, red-tanned man in his 50s or 60s walked up to me. 

“Hey sexy, can you do me a favor? Can you put some sunscreen on my back?” 

Whatever was unfolding, I’m not one to take skin care lightly. I agreed, as he definitely looked like he needed it. 

“I can put some on you too.” 

“No thanks, I’m good.” I had alread doused myself in half a can of spray sunscreen.

“I don’t want to get burned ya know?” 

“Me neither. That’s why I’m hiding from the sun.”

I quickly patted some sunscreen on his back and sent him on his merry way. He returmed to the pool where a few of his friends were laighing and smiling. Whether I was a bet or not, I hope he got a good story out of it too. 

Going places without my husband is weird. I forget sometimes what it’s like to be single, but both of my aforementioned interactions included, “Where is your boyfriend/husband?” With the first group, I’m sure it was merely curiosity, as I’d preciously mentioned him in conversation (because I love the word, “husband”). The second was definitely fishing for information. Both times, though, “your husband doesn’t mind you traveling without him?”

Mind? I’m pretty sure he appreciates that I don’t drag him on every wild adventure I say yes to. 

Speaking of wild adventures, follow me on the social medias to catch the next leg of my summer adventure.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Adventure is out there!

Ya know, I’m not normally one for exclamation marks, but I’m about to embark on three weekend adventures in a row.  Tomorrow after work, I’m heading on a flight to Las Vegas to hang out with one of my besties and see the Backstreet Boys — who, apparently, I see every ten years-ish. I saw them in 1997 and 2008 (yeah, I know a little more than 10 years. Whatever. Close enough). And now, I’m going to see them in 2017 in Las Vegas. I wonder where I’ll catch them in 2027…

Chrissy falling out of her camp chair at the Backstreet Boys concert

This is the only photographic evidence I have of me at a BSB concert. And it’s because I fell out of my chair and my girlfriends thought it was funny.

Of course, I’m not entirely sure that I’m going to make it out of Las Vegas alive. Just last weekend, one of my other besties sent me a text sharing a link to an article about Legionnaires disease in Vegas. My mom had suggested I stay at the Rio, but I’m thrilled she helped me find a sweet deal on a room at Bally’s instead. Either way, I’ve decided that I’m just not going to shower while I’m there. You know…Just in case.

And that’s only the beginning of all the ways I could die in Las Vegas.

After a few cocktails, I have a tendency to wander off. On my own. And in a city like Vegas, I’m likely to get eaten by wolves. Or something. Maybe I’ll walk the plank on that pirate ship in Treasure Island…or get too excited near the Bellagio and fall in. The possibilities are endless. And terrifying. At my bachelorette party, I started talking to strangers with the promises of free shots. I’m not entirely sure that won’t happen in Vegas. Except, I won’t have a brood of lady friends protecting my ass. It’s me and my girlfriend against the world. And this is how we roll:

triple fisting cocktails

Why yes, we are both triple fisting the cocktails in 2006. And it’s entirely possible we’re at a strip club. Also, I really miss that strapless shirt.

The only other time was in Sin City was approximately a million and a half years ago when I was 17 with a bad haircut and couldn’t do anything fun. I was with my best friend and we wandered the hotels, shopped, and gossiped about life. But as an adult? I don’t know if my brain was designed for Vegas. There are so many bright and shiny things and lights and sparkles and OMG you guys I’m going to get so distracted, I’ll probably miss my flight home.

Chrissy at 17 with a vegas gondolier

At least I knew this gondolier was attractive when I was 17…

And I can’t miss my flight.

Because I’m coming home for approximately 46 hours to smooch my husband, throw dirty clothes down the laundry chute, and refill my suitcase for Orlando.

From there, I’m going to gently dabble in a little solo Disney adventure. I say gently because this shameless hussy sharing a room with me promised to meet me for an after-5 dinner date inside the Magic Kingdom.  The next day may include a little waterparking before heading into BlogHer17, my fourth BlogHer conference. Much hugging will ensue, and at that point, there will be plenty of friends with me to make sure I don’t get lost in the House of Mouse.

Chrissy and Mary Poppins Disney World

I’ll return for about 5 days, this time, with one final adventure on the horizon for Fourth of July weekend. 5 days in the cheese motherland of Wisconsin with the one I left behind two weekends in a row. But honestly, guys, don’t feel bad for Brian, abandoned though he might be. He eats this shit up. You mean days upon days in a row in which he doesn’t have to do ANYTHING but go to work? No peopling? No socializing? No incessant babbling? No Disney music? The man is going to be in heaven.

Me too, Brian. Me too.

What adventures are you heading for this summer? Anything sweet on the horizon? 

Want to follow my adventures? Make sure you’re following me on all the social media nonsense. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Butterfly kisses, and how I kind of sort of almost died in New Orleans…twice

I love Southwest. Even when I screw up my flight reservation, I can change it lickity split for a few extra bucks, a middle-of-the-night arrival time, and a “happy fun” layover in L.A. I also love that I can stalk their rates obsessively, buy when I think it’s super low, and then change my flight when the price drops even lower. All I have to do is use those remaining funds to fly somewhere else.

Southwest free drink coupons and a bloody Mary

I especially love that Southwest regularly sends me free drink coupons.

So, it was no surprise that when December rolled around, Brian and I had a few Southwest credits that were on the verge of expiration. “Where shall we go?” I probed. I suggested a cozy cabin somewhere in the northeast or a relaxing trip somewhere chill.

“How about New Orleans?” my introverted husband of nearly 3 months suggested. We planned a trip to coincide with our 3-month anniversary (if that were even a real thing) shortly before Christmas for funsies to New Orleans. A quick Friday to Sunday weekend of indulgence. We’d eat too much, drink too much, and come home ready to face the holidays.

Unfortunately, when you live in Chicago, the best-laid winter plans get shot down because Jack Frost is kind of an asshole.


Our flight was canceled early that morning, on account of the projected snowmageddon that never came.
Luckily, we were able to cancel the New Orleans hotel we booked through TripAdvisor. Southwest offered us the opportunity to reschedule our flight anytime in the two weeks that followed our planned trip for no extra cost, and we found a better price for the same hotel the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

“Do you want to stay for New Year’s Eve?” the aforementioned introvert suggested…

“You would hate that, Brian. Even I would hate that. I did it once. Never. Again.”

So we planned to leave the Tuesday after Christmas on a 4-hour flight with a Kansas City layover.

Upon our noon-ish arrival, I was riding the Chrissy travel high, and Brian was…well…

Done. Checked out. “Sayonara, wife. You’re on your own.”

We ate some snacks, and then he went to the hotel for the rest of the evening where I’m pretty sure he slept for 18 hours. I wandered. I shopped. I ate more food. I hunted Pokemon.

Chargrilled Oysters

Sweet baby cheeses, these oysters, though.

I almost got abducted and died.

Well. Not really. But when a homeless-ish man walks up near you and yells in an attempt to scare the shit out of you, you feel like you might die. Even if you’re barely 15 feet off the main drag of Bourbon Street, just around the corner from your hotel. I started walking faster, while still trying to find an elusive Pokemon because priorities. I ran my hip right into a bicycle and could hear the man’s laughter echoing after me. I crossed the street, turned around, and walked right back to my hotel room faster than you can say Pikachu. I did not pass go. I did not collect $200.

St. Louis Cathedral from Jackson Square

When I was 19 and insane, I woke up at the crack of dawn and attended mass at the church after being out until 4 am the night before. Now, I’m content to snap a pic from Jackson Square.

The next day, Brian was up for a little bit more adventure. We ate breakfast, took a carriage tour through the French Quarter (which was actually super interesting), wandered the French Market, ate turtle soup and bananas foster at Brennan’s, and created our own special little NOLA bar crawl, eating and drinking from bar to bar to bar.

Brian and Chrissy posing by candlelight

Cozying up in the dark at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which has no artificial light (except the Christmas twinkle lights, because Christmas).

We made our way from Bourbon Street to Frenchman Street and back again, consuming all the booze.

Drunk Brian holding a cup with his mouth.

I may have gotten Brian a smidge on the drunk side. This is a rare occurrence, so it was worth every second I was alone the next morning. Well…except when the homeless man almost stole my phone.

So when Brian wasn’t down for breakfast the next morning, I didn’t fault him. Again, I made my way out into the city on my own, wandering, eating, shopping, hunting Pokemon, hatching eggs, eating eggs…you know…me time.

I was headed to a restaurant I wanted to try, and as I walked up, the staff was shooing the homeless men away from their opening doors. I walked toward the main entrance just as one of the homeless men reached out to me and slapped my phone so hard, I thought it was a goner. I squealed and ran ahead, clutching my phone tight, the sound of laughter again trailing behind me. My heart was racing as I feared for my safety for only the second time that week. And this time, it was broad daylight in the middle of Jackson Square. Apparently, I’m not so good at traveling on my own.

Breakfast in New Orleans

Two biscuit halves topped with crawfish cakes, poached eggs, and crawfish etoufee…and a side of the cheesiest grits on the planet.

After breakfast, I went back to the hotel room and jumped on the bed to wake Brian up. I brought him a breakfast sandwich and told him it was time for adventure.

He was not in the mood for adventure.

So I took him to the bug museum. And all of a sudden his spirits were sky high. Yes. I did say bug museum. New Orleans, home of the Po’ Boy, Muffaletta, Hurricane, Hand Grenade and the best damn crawfish on the planet, is also home to a rather fancy insectarium where you can sample chocolate chirp cookies for free (Noooo thank you).

Personally, I found it a little disturbing, but I took solace knowing my museum tour would end with a trip through the butterfly garden. Plus, Brian was in heaven.


Two hours later, we finally made it to the butterfly garden, where everything was peaceful and serene until a gaggle of small children hurdled through the room, stepping on butterflies and wreaking havoc. Brian raced to the outer edge of the space, and I found the most interesting thing in the room. A pair of turtles…making sweet sweet love to one another.

I could tell you more about the trip, but nothing we did really tops two turtles banging.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How many passport applications is this going to take?

In just a couple of days, Brian and I are leaving for our European honeymoon. I’ve been obsessively Zulilying adorable dresses, checking the weather, and buying Disney pins on ebay in preparation.

Why yes, I did say Disney. Because one of our stops includes a couple nights in Disneyland Paris.

After our 2012 trip to Walt Disney World, Brian hasn’t been able to think of anything else. (I’m totally lying. He couldn’t care less. It’s all me.)

So we’re heading on a magical trip, partially inspired by my romance novel addiction when I was 15, in which I read one of those dime-a-dozen Harlequin Presents novels with the main characters honeymooning in Belgium and eating chocolate. Teenage Chrissy couldn’t think of anything better. Especially since adult Chrissy realized that Belgium and beer are close compadres.

Anywho…

When one travels internationally, one needs a damn passport.

Brian, being a cool AF dual citizen, has two valid passports. Me?

I had an expired passport from 2004 that I couldn’t find.

So I delayed.

And I waited.

And I procrastinated like it was my job.

Once we were 5 weeks from our trip, I hunted for, and found, my expired passport. The one I had paid extra to expedite 5 weeks before my trip to London.

It looked like I would be covering that cost again.

So I made my way to the post office, credit card in hand…where they told me I needed a check, five minutes before the passport office closed.

Not to worry, I had a backup plan.

I left, stopped home, picked up a check (and one of Brian’s special pens), and went to a post office that was open later.

It was there that I began diligently filling out the passport application. And it was there that I screwed up, and had to rewrite it. Twice.

Third time’s the charm, right? So I finished up the app and got in line. They told me I would have to wait as only one person was managing passport applications, and I patiently stood in the long queue. When my turn was finally up, the lady took one look at my application and sent me back with another. APPARENTLY, you’re supposed to use black ink pens only.

This is also apparently on the front of the form. Whoops!

So I went back and started the 4th application. Only to be deterred by another egregious error, in which I was forced to start over. Again.

How to fill out a passport application

5 applications later, and I was ready for my close up.

The woman took me to a back room of the post office to snap my pic. I had perfected the art of the non-smiling smile and the perfectly angled head tilt, for a snazzy photo opp.

Except that head tilting is against the rules. So much for the perfect selfie.

Finally, she took an acceptable picture, and I was ready to get this show on the road. She handed me an envelope and told me to mail it. She explained that with 5 weeks before my trip, I should still be fine without paying for expediting the passport (because it was a renewal for an existing passport).

I received it within two weeks. And I’m ready to go!

As we head off to Paris, Disneyland Paris, Ghent, and Brussels, I thought I’d leave you with a few animated favorites to stream on Netflix in honor of our little jaunt.

  • Anastasia – one of my favorite non-Disney flicks, partially set in Paris. Dimitri is, by far, the hottest of the animated male love interests. John Cusack lends his voice to this smooth talkin’ handsome con artist.
  • Tangled – this was one of the first Disney princess movies Brian and I watched for our Valentine’s tradition. I think it was VDay #2, but who’s counting?
  • The Princess & the Frog – this one doesn’t get enough good press. I really like Tiana and her sass, and I love the voodoo magic.
  • Enchanted – one of my absolute favorites. I adore everyone in the cast, and think it’s just one of the most funDisney movies with a billion nods to the princess flicks of old.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas – if you haven’t seen my Sally nails or our Jack and Sally Skellington Costumes, you’re totally missing out.

Netflix Stream Team

As a member of the Stream Team, I publish montly posts sponsored by Netflix who gives me the ability to watch 24/7 streaming TV and write about it. I had a Netflix account long before I was a Stream Teamer, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!