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Time To Sit In Front Of The Dead Tree And Eat Candy Out Of Socks!

As I have kind mentioned before, life is pretty cool right now. I have a job I never thought I would have, and I absolutely love it, I have the worlds best travel partner who loves me unconditionally, and it is the best time of year when everything is covered in tinsel and lights. 

Living in Orlando, we are fortunate enough to get to visit all the parks during the most magical time of the year. Our first stop was Universal Studios to visit the home of the Who's during Grinchmas. I have an unhealthy obsession with the Grinch and quote the Jim Carrey movie 365 days of the year, so I was pretty stoked to meet the guy after the show (thanks Jenna!!).

Whoville is especially ready for Christmas and even has some special new treats for the who-lidays, like green buttered popcorn and Who Hash! 

Who Hash is simply tater tots with a white gravy sauce and corned beef topped with green onions. Better get it before the Grinch steals the last can, they sell rather quickly, it's part of their plan! (OH NO! I'm speaking in RHYMEEEE!). 

In other parts of the parks you will find cute Christmas decor, and even see Santa himself during the parade.

*not my photo (dumbly did not take any)

The Christmas parade is very different than when I danced in it 7 years ago, but it's still very festive and even features a few more familiar faces than previously. 
*not my photo

*not my photo
*not my photo

Another festive highlight at Universal is warm butterbeer! This magical potion tastes almost like warm butterscotch similar to hot chocolate. It is incredibly sweet though, and I recommend sharing (unless you're a Slytherin like me!). 

With Mike working at SeaWorld we have the ability to visit whenever we want. I consider myself lucky to get to go here during Christmas time because it is one of the best times to go. Even the animals there seem to know it's time for the holidays. The beautiful telling of O Wondrous Night with it's live nativity, checking in on Rudolph and his friends, and as always, the holiday treats are all what make this place so magical (even if it is pouring the entire time you are there). 
O Wondrous Night


butterfinger hot chocolate

Bumble! Or what my 8 year niece thinks is the Coca Cola Bear 

While Universal and SeaWorld do a great job with Christmas, for me personally, I am sorry to say that nothing can ever really top the magic of Disney at Christmas time. The festive decor spreads from the parks to the resorts to the shopping at Disney Springs. The Disney Christmas Tree Trail is becoming one of my favorite holiday traditions because I love seeing the beautiful tree decorations in their themes but also the super creative signs painted onto the fence. 

Disney parks at Christmas time is nothing short of joyful between delicious Christmas treats and adorable Christmas decor (thanks Felix for sharing with us!!). 
Felix was my stage manager at one point in Hong Kong, so it was lovely to see him again!

we would find Japanese ramen (and katsu!) at Disney World

Christmas Tea from the UK

Raspberry Maple Yule Log from Canada

Of course it is always magical to see Cinderella's Castle all lit up with lights, but I personally enjoy visiting the countries of Epcot and learning about all the different ways they celebrate the holidays from the different Santa figures more.
There is also the special holiday decorations added to Living With The Land ride giving it that extra Christmas cheer.

One of my favorite moments of the day, however, was meeting Anna and Elsa in their new Frozen 2 outfits. We loved chatting with Anna about baking cookies for the holidays and seeing her beautiful new bling.

Elsa heard some magical stories about Mike's Santa hat, and showed us her super cool new pants.

We did take a small break during the day from the park to check out the new Disney Skyliner and ride it to the brand new Rivera Resort, now that it's open. 
This day was super fun, but it was a high of 55 degrees out and mostly cloudy, so we were pretty chilly most of the day. 

Although Hollywood Studios was blocked out while we were there, I had the privilege of getting to see Star Wars Galaxy's Edge and being one of the first people to ride Rise of The Resistance before it was opened to the public because of my incredible job. 

Although I know nothing about Star Wars, the ride itself is really well done, and reminds me of a combination of Spiderman at Universal, the Penguin ride at SeaWorld, and Shanghai Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean. Proud of Disney for going above and beyond with it, and although we did get stuck and evacuated off the ride at the very end, the experience itself was still totally epic.

I was also excited to venture through Galaxy's Edge experiencing some of this created land enjoying Batuu's delicacies like blue/green milk and blueberry lemon popcorn.

  My job with FrontRunner Casting allows me to do some unimaginably cool things, like stage manage the Disney Star Wars press release....

...or wrangle/be talent on one of the Disney Cruise Line ships, which I had never seen in person before. 
Visiting the Dream (more than once!) with it's Christmas decor up was an actual dream.

We also recently wrapped our first television experience, filming The Right Stuff, coming to you early next year. Having the opportunity to work on a show like this, with such an amazing cast and crew has inspired me. I was really fortunate on this project to learn a lot being cast as talent, standing in for principal cast members, wrangling the talent on set, and assisting in casting the background extras. I can't share a lot about this project until it appears on National Geographic in 2020, but until then, let's just say we were made of the Right Stuff to make this happen. 

Since Mike and I had never been to the Kennedy Space Center, and having a little extra time now that the show wrapped, we decided to venture over to the coast and check it out. At the KSC, anything that remotely mentioned the Mercury 7 Astronauts names had me emotional, all the way from the parking lot structures to the giftshop in the photo above because of The Right Stuff show, I had such a deep connection to it now. The one that really got me was the Heros and Legends exhibit featuring the Mission Control reconstruction and a lot of artifacts from Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom, Gordon Cooper,  Wally SchirraDeke SlaytonJohn Glenn, and Scott Carpenter. 
in the Mission Control room  

Mike & Alan Shepard


The rest of KSC was interesting, and included a lot of videos, a bus tour of the launch pads, and a lot of excitement as NASA prepared for it's Falcon9 launch.

The bus tour stopped at various sites including Complex 39A, where we sent the first astronauts to the moon, supported dozens of space shuttle missions, and now serves as a commercial launch site-
 and the upgraded Complex 39b launch pad, which will send more astronauts to the moon in 2024 and eventually Mars. 

 We also saw the NASA crawler transporters in action preparing for SpaceX's Falcon9 launch-
 and NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building - which the largest one story building in the world, used to facilitate the assembly of the large pre-manufactured space vehicle components. Also located in this photo is the building made of mostly windows, or the Launch Control Center.
One of Mike and I's favorite sites however was the view of the Mercury Redstone Rocket, just like the one Alan Shepard flew in. 

The bus tour concludes at the Apollo/Saturn V Complex where you reenact what it was like inside the launch control center during the Apollo 8 launch back in 1968. 
You will also walk beneath an actual Saturn V rocket ....

and view other space artifacts like moon rock, variations of the astronaut flight suits, visit the NASA van that drove the astronauts to their voyage, and walk the Apollo 11 gantry.

Back at the main KSC campus, or Atlantis Zone, we learned more about NASA's 60 year impact on the world and celebrating the technology. We also spent time learning how astronauts eat, sleep, work out, and communicate in space.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is also on display after it's orbit around the Earth, and landing like an airplane. 

The rocket garden where you can walk among actual rockets of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs is also totally a must check out.

Ready for launch! 

The final must do at the Kennedy Space Center is try astronaut ice cream! It's very crunchy but the flavor is definitely there.
Although we did not watch the Falcon9 launch from KSC, we were lucky enough to catch it outside, and wow, what a thing to see. 
The holidays can be such a special time when surrounded by fun and family, but sometimes the holidays can be difficult, and my heart goes out to you. Our family was struck by tragedy recently, with the loss of my Great Aunt Joyce. We had just come together as a family in August to celebrate her 90th birthday, and I am so glad circumstances had worked out that I was able to join. 

Although it was not under circumstance I would have wanted it to be, it was nice to visit Cincinnati with my sister Bethany to see my mom and grandma this Christmas season. 

I wish everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a safe New Year this holiday season!

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