Posts Tagged by top of the world

Bay Lake Tower Grand Villa Tour

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-Tour

The Contemporary Resort is a classic fixture at Walt Disney World.  Even after 40+ years, it’s 70’s era charm still seems, well contemporary, in a nostalgic sort of way.  And who doesn’t love gliding through the lobby on the monorail or looking down on the Magic Kingdom from California Grill?  The perks of this resort just go on and on.  So in 2008 when the announcement that a new Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property was being built as part of the resort, Disney fans were thrilled!  This was the perfect addition to the Contemporary and the DVC resort group!

The Grand Villas at Bay Lake Tower are all two stories and located on the top 2 floors of the building.  These are perfect for a big family getaway or a runDisney race weekend with friends, which is when I stayed there.  Let’s go inside!!

Living Room & Kitchen

The first thing you’ll notice when you enter the villa are the GIANT windows!  The windows are two stories and look out over Bay Lake or the Magic Kingdom.  While the furniture isn’t the most comfortable (most contemporary designs really aren’t in my opinion), the views make you forget about that.  Well that and the large flat screen TV 🙂

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-21

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-17

I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the kitchens at Bay Lake Tower.  Look at this thing!  Stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, tons of cabinets…how do I bring this home??

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-16

The Views

Our villa had a Lake View, so we were able to watch the Contemporary Resort marina and see Epcot and even all they way out to Downtown Disney!

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-3

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-1

Master Bedroom

The Master Bedroom is located on the first floor with a king-sized bed and a bathroom the size of my first apartment in NYC.

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-13

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-14

Look at this shower…I was dying to check out the rain feature!  Sadly it wasn’t my room…

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-15

Second Floor Lounge

Heading upstairs there is another seating area to relax in.  This was B’s favorite area 🙂

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-18

You can kind of see why…the couch is a little more welcoming than the one downstairs.

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-8

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-9

Also looking downstairs is pretty cool from up there!

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-22

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-12

 Upstairs Bedrooms

The two bedrooms upstairs are virtually identical.  They each have 2 queen beds, an over-sized closet, spa like bathrooms and their own balconies.

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-7

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-10

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-6

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-5

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-4

Added Bonuses!

There are a lot of added bonuses to staying at one of these Grand Villas.  First (and one of my favs!) is the laundry room.  It’s not just a stackable washer and dryer in a closet like other resorts, but a full on laundry room.  This is so perfect to wash all your nasty running clothes after a race before heading home!

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-19

Next is the additional bathroom on the first floor.  When staying with multiple people it’s nice to have a bathroom off of the living room to quickly use if your bedroom is upstairs.  Oh and by the way, that make 4 full bathrooms.  That’s 3 more than I have in my home!!!

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-20

If you have a lake view villa (which I actually prefer!), you get your own “private” show of the Electrical Water Pageant.  You just can’t been that music 🙂

WDW-Contemporary-Bay-Lake-Tower-Grand-Villa-Electrical-Water-Pageant

And last but certainly not least, because the 2nd floor of the villa is on the 16th  floor there is easy access to my favorite lounge on property…Top of the World!  It really is the best place to end a magical day at Walt Disney World 🙂

Top-of-the-World-Lounge-Martini

Top-of-the-World-Lounge

I can’t say enough good things about the Grand Villa at Bay Lake Tower.  Basically, I’d just like to move into one.  Or at the very least stay there for every runDisney race weekend.  Now how to win that DVC lottery???

Which DVC Grand Villa would you most like to stay in?

RAD Signature 100x75

 

Friday Feast: Epcot Food & Wine Festival with Friends

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival is by far my favorite time of year in Walt Disney World.  Wait…have I said that before?? 🙂  So of course I was incredibly excited when my good friend Rick asked me to join him at some of the booths to film a few episodes of his series Travel With Rick.  Food, wine, beer, Disney and friends…um YES PLEASE!

TWR-F&W-Logo

So here is where I got to visit (I’ve highlighted everything I tried):

Cheese

This was the 2nd year that I was able to review this booth and this year I have mixed feelings.  While I really enjoyed the selection of cheeses, the blue cheese souffle was odd and now very appetizing.  Here are all of the offerings:

  • Almond Crusted Blue Cheese Soufflé with Fig Jam
  • Artisan Cheese Selection: Flagship Reserve Cheddar, La Bonne Vie Triple Crème Brie, Wijngaard Goats Gouda
  • Once Upon a Vine’s The Lost Slipper Sauvignon Blanc 
  • Once Upon a Vine’s The Fairest Chardonnay
  • Once Upon a Vine’s The Big Bad Red Blend
  • Once Upon a Vine’s A Charming Pinot 

France

You can rarely go wrong with France and this year was no exception.  I was a big fan of almost everything…Rick even got me to try the escargot!  Here’s what they have:

  • Escargots Persillade en Brioche (Garlic and Parsley Snails in Brioche)
  • Boeuf Bourguignon (Braised Short Ribs in Cabernet with Mashed Potatoes) 
  • Crème Brûlée au Chocolat au Lait (Chocolate Milk Crème Brûlée topped with Caramelized Sugar)
  • Beer Kronenbourg Blanc
  • Chardonnay, Macon-Villages, La Côte Blanche
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, Château Bonnet
  • Sparkling Pomegranate Kir
  • Eiffel Sour Cosmo Slush (Vodka, Grey Goose Cherry Noir, Grand Marnier, Cranberry Juice)

Scotland

This booth is new this year and is definitely one of my favorites.  There wasn’t one thing that I didn’t enjoy here and really, how can you go wrong with Scotch?!  Get all of these things:

  • Seared Scottish Salmon with Cauliflower Puree, Watercress and Malt Vinaigrette 
  • Vegetarian Haggis with Neeps and Tatties-Griddled Vegetable Cake with Rutabaga and Mashed Potatoes 
  • Scottish Banoffee Tart with Bananas, Scottish Whisky Toffee, Walkers Shortbread Crumbles and Sweet Cream
  • Innis & Gunn® Original 
  • Loch Lomond featuring Glenfiddich® 12 year
  • Glenfiddich® Scotch Flight (12, 15 and 18 year)

Craft Beers

Always a winner in my book and it’s even more fun when I get to share beer flights with my girl Amanda.  We tried all the beers!

  • Beer Flight 1: Dogfish Head Brewery Namaste, Abita Brewing Company Fall Fest, Leinenkugel’s® Seasonal Shandy, Florida Beer Company Devil’s Triangle 
  • Beer Flight 2: New Belgium Brewing Company Fat Tire, Widmer Brother s Brewing Alchemy Ale, Red Hook Audible Ale, Sierra Nevada Torpedo® 

After sampling all of the awesomeness that Food & Wine had to offer, we all met at our favorite spot, the Top of the World Lounge, to review our favorite and not so favorite items from the festival.  Don’t mind the blender in the background!

There are still 11 days to enjoy Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival and eat all the food you can!  What do you want to try most at this year’s Food & Wine Festival?

The Days Leading Up to the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon

When registration for the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon opened in June 2012, I couldn’t help but register. I had only run my first half marathon 4 months prior, but I knew I wouldn’t want to miss out on this opportunity.  Immediately after registering, I felt a sense of dread…what did I get myself into?!

Fast forward to the week of the race.  I was finally getting excited for the big day.  My nerves were starting to calm and I was just looking forward to running those 26.2 miles through my favorite place in the world.  I knew I wasn’t properly trained (I didn’t get those really long runs in), but I had faith that my CrossFit training would carry me through and I knew I was strong enough to make it across the finish line even if it was going to take longer than I wanted.  One thing I couldn’t predict was illness.  I had feared this would happen so I had been taking extra vitamins and Emergen-C for a few days, but I guess my body had other plans.

thermometer-cartoonWednesday morning I woke up not feeling so hot and it progressively got worse throughout the day.  By the time I got home from work, I was completely stuffed up and was feeling really out of it.  B brought home dinner and we got packed for our early morning flight.  I decided to take my temperature because this foggy feeling felt more than just a cold.  100.2, seriously?!?!  My normal body temperature is in the 97 degree range (which must be why I’m always cold!), so this was a doozy of a fever.  And this is when the terror set in…

Do I have this crazy flu that’s going around?  How could I, I got the flu shot?  Would I be able to fly in the morning?  Should call the doctor to get emergency antibiotics?  The race…how am I going to run the marathon?!  I have to do it after all this hard work!  People are counting on me to finish this race.  My Mom is coming down.  NOOOOOO!

I downed another Emergen-C, took some Tylenol and NyQuil, and squirted a healthy dose of nasal spray (which was to become my best friend in the next few days), then hit the hay at 9:00 pm so I could get a good 8 hours of sleep.

Thursday, January 10th
My 5:00 am alarm went off way too soon and I still wasn’t feeling great.  My temperature was down to 99.5, which wasn’t great but I was happy that it at least broke 100.  I loaded up with more vitamins and we headed to the airport.  My apologies to anyone that was sitting near me on the flight who I annoyed with my snoring or was grossed out by my sneezing.  I really hope I didn’t get anyone sick!!

When we arrived in Orlando, we headed straight to Whole Foods so I could get some pre-race snacks and lunch.  I went with a cup of soup and some OJ that really hit the spot.  After lunch, we headed down to the World and checked into our room at the Yacht Club.  I was so thankful that the room was ready because all I wanted to do was lay down.  So in lieu of going to the Expo, I took a nap.  Because I was so congested, the nap only lasted about 10 minutes but the relaxation time helped.  So did that next dose of nasal spray 🙂

HOME!

HOME!

That night we headed to the Boardwalk for dinner at Flying Fish Cafe.  I had my favorite Potato-wrapped Red Snapper, which didn’t disappoint, and an Earl Grey Tea to finish the meal.  That was some of the best tea I’ve ever had!  Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy the meal as much as usual and just wanted to get back to bed.

One of my favorite views...the Boardwalk at night.

One of my favorite views…the Boardwalk at night.

Potato-wrapped Red Snapper

Potato-wrapped Red Snapper…YUM!

I love having my own tea pot!

I love having my own tea pot!

We headed back to the hotel where we said a quick hello to my Mom and her hubs R since they had just gotten in.  I was so happy she was there for this weekend.  I was just hoping I would be able to spend time with her.   Off to bed for my early wake up call…again.

Friday, January 11th
I was up super early for the runDisney meetup at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (read the full recap here).  Thankfully my fever had broke when I woke up and I was back down to 97.9…woohoo!  While I didn’t participate in the run portion of the meetup to preserve what little health I had, I still had a great time.  I mean how can you not when you get to meet Joey Fatone 🙂

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

Photo Courtesy of runDisney

After the meet up, it was time for another nap before heading to lunch at Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West with some friends.  I had never been there and had heard mixed reviews, so I was interested to try it.  Not my favorite place on property, but the tomato basil soup of the day was pretty good.  I ordered the seafood cobb salad for my main meal and it was just ok, nothing like the Hollywood Brown Derby’s cobb salad.  The rest of the table was pretty disappointed with their meals, so I don’t think we’ll be returning anytime soon.

Olivia's Cafe Cobb Salad

Olivia’s Cafe Cobb Salad

After lunch we headed over to the Health & Fitness Expo so I could pick up my race bib.  Whoa…it was CROWDED!  Waiting until Friday afternoon was probably not the best idea and looking back I should have sucked it up the day before and gone.  Packet pickup went fairly quickly, but unfortunately almost all of the Marathon merchandise in the Field House was gone by the time we got there.  I bought a few things, but kept my fingers crossed that the merch booth on the Expo floor would have more items.

Welcome to the Expo!

Welcome to the Expo!

Marathon Bib Pick Up...OMG!

Marathon Bib Pick Up…OMG!

New runDisney Vinylmation with 20th Anniversary Marathon Medal!

New runDisney Vinylmation with 20th Anniversary Marathon Medal!

Here’s where the craziness started…look at the line to get into the expo!!

Yes, this is wrapping around the entire field!

Yes, this is wrapping around the entire field!

I usually like to spend some time visiting the vendors, but I just couldn’t deal with the crowds.  I headed straight to the back to pick up my shirt and into the runDisney merch booth.  I was so happy to find the pint glass and pin I was looking for!  I bought them and made a beeline out of the building.  I still wasn’t feeling myself and the crowds were not helping.  I hardly took any pictures at the expo…so not like me!!

We headed back to the hotel and met my Mom and R for an early dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse.  Full review coming soon, but let’s just say that these short ribs were seriously good!

Yachtsman Short Ribs

Yachtsman Short Ribs

Now I’m going to confess here that I decided to have a martini with dinner.  Yes, probably not the best thing to do 2 days before a marathon when you are sick, but I figured that it can’t get any worse and hell, the vodka would probably kill whatever was in my system, right?  If anything, it calmed me down a bit since I had been stressing more and more as the race approached.

We jumped in the car to end the night at the Top of the World Lounge so my Mom could see Wishes from there.  She hadn’t been to WDW in over 10 years and I wanted to make her trip as special as I could.  Totally worth the trip to the Contemporary 🙂

Wishes...it never gets old

Wishes…it never gets old

I had planned on getting up the next morning to go watch the start of the half marathon and cheer on my fellow runners, but I decided that my health needed to come first.  So when we got back to the hotel, I took 2 NyQuil and went into a coma for the night.  Now I don’t recommend mixing alcohol and NyQuil, but I needed a good night’s rest…and that’s what I got!

Saturday, January 12th
After 10 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling better than I had in days!  I still wasn’t at 100%, but I was getting back to my usual self.  I guess my combo of vitamins, hydration and medication were working!  We were up in time to catch the tail end of the half marathon, so B and I walked over to Epcot to see some of the runners in their last mile to the finish.  It was so exciting to watch them!

half marathon_2 half marathon_1

We headed over to the Boardwalk to meet up with my Mom, R, and our friends Marc, Kris, Amanda and her family for breakfast at Kouzzina (read my full review of this awesome breakfast here).  Amanda and Marc had just finished the half marathon as part of the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge, so they needed a serious refuel.  Much of the talk was about the heat and we were all getting nervous for what was in store for the marathon the next day.

After breakfast, we jumped on the boat and headed over to Epcot with Mom and R for an afternoon of park touring.  It was a gorgeous afternoon and we got most of the Future World attractions in.  It was also a great way to warm up my legs for the race.

Mom & R waiting for the boat to Epcot :)

Mom & R waiting for the boat to Epcot 🙂

We're on a boat!

We’re on a boat!

Around 3:30 pm we were getting a little hungry, so we decided on lunch at San Angel Inn which is becoming my new favorite lunch spot.  Those enchiladas really hit the spot!  It’s hard to find things in WDW that are gluten free that you can use to carb load before a race…corn tortillas are a good option!  After lunch we headed over to Test Track (we had FastPasses) to check out the new refurbishment.  Let’s just say, I was underwhelmed…

Mom & I getting our Mexican on :)

Mom & I getting our Mexican on 🙂

Test Track...look at Mom's hair!

Test Track…look at Mom’s hair!

My legs were starting to get tired and I knew I had to get my things ready for the race the next day.  B and I headed back to the room so I could get situated and rest a bit.  I went through my race checklist and laid everything out for the next morning.  I feel so much better when I’m organized!

All set and ready to run a marathon!

All set and ready to run a marathon!

We relaxed for a bit before I fell asleep around 9:00 pm.  That 2:30 am alarm was going to come way too soon…

And that’s where I’ll leave you today…stay tuned for my full race recap!!

Have you ever run while sick?  What do you typically do before a big race?