I thought Spring Break 2017 could very well be my last. So, when I decided to end up at law school this year, I looked at these Spring Breaks as bonus time!! I want to make the most of these breaks and travel as much as I can because once I start working full time, vacation time might be hard to come by. The only problem is...money. Ya feel me? I am trying to be better about being on a budget. I'm not terrible with money, but when I have it, I like to treat myself. Nothing extravagant, maybe a new dress here or a nice dinner out there, but stuff starts adding up. And I think I'm not the only one who has looked at the their credit card bill one month and was like, "Whoa, when and how and why did I spend all that??" But this isn't a Dave Ramsey blog, and you didn't come here to listen to me talking about money management. But here's my point! I strongly believe that if I spend money on something, I want it to be travel. Because travel is an investment. Travel enriches my life and adds to my worldview and perspective. It's the only thing I think that is guaranteed to make you richer the more you spend on it. If you think about the material things you spend on, while clothes and food are necessary, do you really need to eat out every day or buy that cute top when you have 10+ ones similar to it? No! (And I have to preach this to myself. LOL :)) But all that to say, travel is affordable. Once I decided I wanted to go to Disney, I watched my spending habits more and was way stricter on myself. I didn't do the monthly clothes binge at Old Navy. I didn't let myself run wild through Target, and I tried to have a competition with myself to see how much free food I could get and how long I could make my groceries last. And it was kind of fun! That's what happens when you have a bigger goal in mind. And for me, that goal was DISNEY. I was going to make it here for Spring Break!!
The second part of watching my wallet was making sure every part of my actual trip was as cost-effective as possible. That meant plan, plan, plan. Here are my best tips for the planning stage of your Disney trip to make it as wallet-friendly as I did:
Magic Kingdom!! Park hours: 9 am- 11 pm. We arrived at the park almost as soon as it opened and made the mad dash to high priority rides before the lines got too long. The first two hours at the park are key. Get there early and ride high priority rides that are close in proximity to one another to knock them out early in the day. We set our Fast Passes between 11-2, the busiest time and longest lines for rides. We chose Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Enchanted Tales with Belle for our fast pass choices. So, here's the method, after reading several travel blogs:
You can't go wrong with Magic Kingdom, and I think any trip to Disney can't be complete without a trip to this park. It truly is unlike another more magical world!!
Some of my favorite Magic Kingdom highlights were:
Universal!! Islands of Adventure park hours: 9 am- 8 pm. Universal Studios park hours: 9 am- 9 pm. Same deal with Disney. Get there as close as possible to the park opening for sure! Since we had a park-to-park pass, we decided to start off at Universal Studios for the first half of the day (which ended up being pretty empty, and we was able to get through lines super quick!), move to Islands of Adventure after ride on the Hogwarts Express around 2 pm and then back to Universal Studios for that last hour after Islands closed. Here are some general tips:
All things considered, I think I loved the overall feel of Disney World. But in terms of thrilling rides and more adult-catered content, Universal was definitely amazing! I'm so glad I got to spend a day here!
Some of my favorite Universal highlights were:
EPCOT!! Park hours: 9 am- 9 pm. This was one I most anticipated and had very high expectations for, and it surely did not disappoint. Being someone with a love for travel, I really enjoy the idea of the World Showcase. Sampling food and culture from countries around the world in a such a small space is so exciting and one of the few things I actually remember from going to Disney World as a little kid, so I knew I definitely wanted to make this a priority to visit. We kept with the same method for Fast Passes, choosing them in the middle of the day for Spaceship Earth, Mission: Space, and Frozen Forever After. We didn't do so well this time with Fast Passes. We ended up knocking out Spaceship Earth right off the bat and then going to try Mission: Space at a low wait time. Fast Pass was helpful however, for Frozen Ever After since it's a new ride with a perpetually long wait. Here are my best tips for Epcot:
Epcot is truly a one-of-a-kind place, and it was a highlight for this trip. I honestly would love it if I lived in Orlando because I would visit Epcot and the countries every day. No joke. It's a park that just doesn't get old.
Some of my favorite Epcot highlights were:
Animal Kingdom! Park hours: 8 am- 10 pm. This is the only park we didn't get to as soon as it opened. It might have been the exhaustion setting in or the fact that we weren't actually sure if we would go to Animal Kingdom (we were also considering Universal's Volcano Bay), but we arrived leisurely around 10 am, and it turned out to still be plenty of time to get in everything we wanted! That being said, we had no fast passes in place in advance but were able to get one for the Kilimanjaro Safaris and one for the Na'vi River Journey on the fly which was amazing because it's one of the newest rides along with Flight of Passage in the new Pandora world with the longest wait times. Here are some general tips for Animal Kingdom:
I was on the fence about Animal Kingdom. I don't remember it being my favorite Disney park as a kid, but almost every Uber driver we had recommended it. In the end, I'm super glad we went here instead of Volcano Bay on our last day although I would like to try that at some point.
Some of my favorite Animal Kingdom highlights were:
I hope this post was helpful for you! I sure did love reminiscing and writing it. Of course, there was so much more we could have seen and so much more I wanted to do like spending more time at Universal, checking out Volcano Bay, and chilling in Disney Springs and Universal CityWalk, but that just means I'll have an excuse to go back. ;) If you're planning a trip to Orlando soon, I'd love to hear about it!! Contact me using the page on my site or shoot me an email at email@example.com. Can't wait to hear about it all!
Emily is a Mount Pleasant native, and they both grew up in SC not too far from each other, but Emily went to Clemson and Cody went to the University of South Carolina. So they didn't meet until after college! Their first date was at church, so they said they started off on the right footing from the beginning, and ever since then, these two have been inseparable. And as they say, when you know, you know! Only eight months into dating, Cody popped the question, and I think it's just the sweetest story. You can tell from any amount of time spent with these two that they are totally in love with each other. I LOVED traveling down to Charleston to photograph their engagement session in a favorite spot close to where Emily grew up. It was so special, and even though there was a little drizzle from an incoming storm, you'd never know it with these two! Their smiles were so bright, and their snuggles were so warm. And they are both MODELS! I think you'll understand what I mean when I say their images look like they could be stills from the movie The Notebook. And Cody was really into the shots where they both looked off into the distance. It was adorable! And I do have to say some of those shots are my faves, so shout-out to Cody for his artistic eye! Enjoy these two in one of my favorite cities on the planet!
Sarah and James have this great laid-back sense about them that makes you feel instantly comfortable and happy. They met in high school, got to know each other through cross-country running but didn't start dating until right before college. The only problem was James was headed to Clemson, and Sarah was on her way to...the other college in the state. :) I'm just kidding! I have to be nice because I go here now. But anyways, these two weathered long distance for a year, and Sarah made the drive from Columbia to Clemson faithfully until she ended up transferring to Clemson as well. (Good choice, Sarah! :)) They've been together ever since, and their love is the sweetest thing to witness. On a funnier note, as we were walking the beautiful wooded Swamp Rabbit Trail in downtown Travelers Rest, James unfortunately had an unpleasant surprise dropped on his shoulder from a bird up above. But these two nature-lovers handled it like champs! And to think, they walked into the session telling me about how un-photogenic they were. I'll let you decide if that's the case. Spoiler Alert: it's not!!! They are the most precious people and look amazing in front of my camera! I had so much fun hanging out with them a couple weekends ago, and I simply can't wait to photograph their wedding this summer!
I love travel and adventure. I love seeing things from new perspectives. I love to find good food in exciting places. And I love making moments last for as long as possible.
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