10 Must Do's At Walt Disney World

10 Must Do's At Walt Disney World

'The Most Magical place on Earth' can be just a bit more magical with these must-do's for your next trip to Walt Disney World!
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Whenever you go on vacation you always research the must do places to see or must do places to eat or must do rides. Walt Disney World just so happens to be one of the most must-visit places in the United States for some people, including those who travel from over-seas just to go to Walt Disney World!

As a professed Disney geek myself I have been to Walt Disney World an outrageous amount of times, but the parks never get old each time I go! This is because they are always adding something new and Walt Disney World always has a unique sense of magic surrounding it. As a result of being at Walt Disney World so many times and doing my research, of course, I have compiled a list for your next trip to Walt Disney World including the must-do's on your trip!

1. Take pictures at The Purple Wall

Fun Fact: it's one of the most Instagrammed walls in Disney world! It's located near the entrance to Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom!

2. Have a kitchen sink!!

This is a very popular ice cream dish at Beaches and Cream Soda Shop located in Disney's Boardwalk Resort! Many college students who do their Disney College Program at WDW will often go and do the kitchen sink challenge with their roommates as it has far too much ice cream for one person! (Fun Fact: It has 8 scoops of ice cream in it and the dish looks like an actual sink hence the name kitchen sink!)

3. Ride Tower of Terror

It may seem scary, but it gives you such a thrill which makes it easily one of the best rides in all four parks. It's located in Hollywood Studios!

4. Attend Fantasmic

This show never gets old no matter what age you are! Through Fantasmic, you enter Mickey's dream world as good and evil battle it out on the water. See it in Hollywood Studios!

5. Ride Rock N' Roller Coaster

Some might say this is a must ride along with Tower of Terror! They only have this ride in Disney World and Disneyland Paris so fasten your seat belts and get ready for a wild ride to the music of Aerosmith in Hollywood Studios!

6. Mail a Coconut

Yes, you read that correctly! In the gift shops at Pirates of the Caribbean, Caribbean Beach Resort, and the Polynesian Resort you can buy a postage-paid coconut and mail it anywhere in the United States! The cost is $20 including postage!

7. Visit the World of Pandora

This is a new land that was just recently added to Animal Kingdom! Representing the World of Pandora from the film Avatar you'll be amazed by the beauty of everything! There were also two new rides added to go along with this land that you can enjoy with friends or family!

8. Eat/Drink at every country in World Showcase

World Showcase at Epcot is a must visit. if you're with younger kids they might not appreciate it as much, but as an adult, it is truly a must do to visit all the countries! If you're with a younger child I suggest getting them a "passport" available at any gift shop in Epcot! You can stop in any gift shop in each country and get it stamped just like you would a normal passport! For teens and adults, however, eating and or drinking (drinking if you're 21 or over) is the way to go to try new food or different types of drinks in each country! Plus then you can say you've been to 11 countries in one day!

9. See Rivers of Light

This light show opened last summer and people have been raving about it! In this light show, Discovery Lagoon is brought to life with floating lanterns, mist, projections, music, and other performances! It's similar to the World of Color projection water show at Disneyland's California Adventure in Anaheim, California!

10. Experience the 'Kiss Goodnight'

Anyone who stays until the very last minute of Magic Kingdom's operating hours can close out the park with their 'Kiss Goodnight'. This is where a special announcement is made on Main Street U.S.A. thanking you for visiting and quoting Roy O. Disney's speech from the opening day of Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971! If you're a Disney geek this a unique way to end your day at the most magical place on earth!

If you do any of these 'Must Do's' at Walt Disney World you are sure to have a 'fantasmic' (see what I did there?) trip!

Cover Image Credit: Travis White|Flickr

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13 Life-Saving Safety Tips To Know BEFORE Your Summer Parties And Travels

These tips could make or break a vacation, depending on if you want to follow them or not.

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Summer is something we all look forward to, but we tend to forget about our safety when we are out and about. From going to the zoo to going out to the bar, everyone is at risk because unfortunately there are bad people in the world. It is important to keep things like this in mind.

Boys, girls, men, and women are taken every single day by sex traffickers all around the world. People are sexually abused, and last but not least people are exposed to bad things like dirty needles, broken glass, and other factors that can turn a great night into a horror story.

In order to shed light on these things and give the public a reminder, I compiled this list.

1. Don't set your drink down/watch your drink in big crowds

"Don't set your drink down" is one of the oldest rules in the book. Sadly enough, I've watched girls get things dropped into their drinks while they are dancing and holding it up in the air in big crowds. The man standing behind you at the concert may seem harmless, but you never know if he's planning on dropping a disorienting pill into your drink; pay attention at all times.

2. Don't let your friends leave the bar alone: rule of pairs

Whenever you go somewhere, especially at night, take someone with you. If anything happens, you'll always have someone else to run and get help. This goes for falling off your bike and skinning your knee to someone trying to grab you and pull you into their van. Two is always better than one.

3. Carry pepper spray, a knife, or, if you are comfortable enough, a gun

When you are walking alone at night just a few seconds worth of pepper spray can save your life. Personally, I carry a knife. I carry a Leatherman in a little cloth case on my belt. It's not too bulky and from afar it looks like it could possibly be a small handgun. The look of it alone could deter someone away from me in a bad situation.

If you aren't comfortable carrying these things, holding a set of keys in between your fingers is also another way to protect yourself if a bad situation did arise.

4. Be cautious about Uber, Lyft, and taxi services

When an Uber is coming to pick you up, ask them who they are there to pick up. Ask them their name as well. Before you get in the vehicle, open the door and make sure the child lock is off. Before getting into the car you should take a picture of the license plate and send it to a few of your friends. You can never be too safe.

5. Share your location with a group of close friends or family members 

I share my location with almost all of my friends. If something were to happen they would know exactly where I am. It would be an even better idea to share your "Find My iPhone" username and password with a friend or two because you can locate someone much easier that way. From my own personal experience, I know that the Find My iPhone app works much better than simply sharing your location. If you have an Android/Galaxy phone there are probably applications specific to them for location sharing as well.

6. Before going on a date with someone new... do the following:

If they are picking you up in their vehicle, try to snap a photo of their license plate. You should do this even if the person seems trustworthy because you never know what someone is truly thinking inside of their head. If you plan on going out to eat, tell your friends when and where. The more other people know, the safer you are. Check out their social media pages to make sure they are who they are saying they are. Do a little bit of research and utilize the tools that you have at your fingertips (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) Again, you can never be too safe.

7. Don't let your children leave your sight! 

Lately, I've read too many articles about children getting taken at fairs and other public events. One that I read said that the mother let her 5-or-6-year-old walk to the port-a-potty alone (right around the corner) and they never came back. It can happen so easily when it is the last thing on your mind.

If you have a younger child, send an older sibling with them. Make sure that you tell your children what to look for when it comes to someone watching them. If there is someone standing alone, wearing sunglasses, and pointing their phone at your children, it could be completely innocent and coincidental... but what if it's not? Watch out for the signs and warnings and educate your children.

8. Know where the nearest police station/ hospital is located

I actually never thought about this until I started working on the pipeline. Before each day of work we typically meet as a crew and locate the nearest hospital. We do this so that there is less confusion if an accident happens. The same thing goes for when you are on vacation to somewhere new. If you are walking and slice your foot an inch deep on a piece of glass, the last thing you want to worry about it finding a hospital to go to. When that is already predetermined it makes bad situations easier to handle.

The same thing goes for a police station. If you and a friend are out on the town and someone harasses you or does something disorderly, it would be beneficial to know where the police station is located. I know you're thinking "why wouldn't I just call 911?"

Well, think about this. What if your phone dies, your apple watch gets crushed trying to fight back in whatever situation you are in, or your phone just gets broken. You may have to run to the nearest police station or run to the nearest home to use someone else's phone.

I can't say this enough, it's better to be safe than sorry. It takes 10 seconds to look up the nearest hospital and police station before a night out. Utilize the tools you have and put your safety first.

9. Before going on vacation, read reviews 

I'll use beaches as an example. There are some really amazing, friendly, and clean beaches you can go to in the United States. With the internet in reach, use it and read about the place you are going to. Every so often a family will plan a getaway and arrive ready to enjoy the week, but if you pick a location where drug addiction is a known problem you are putting yourself and your children at risk. I understand that drug use is an issue everywhere, but it's worse in some places than it is in others. No one wants to be exposed to a dirty needle that someone left laying hidden in the beach sand. Using tools like Yelp and Google reviews can prevent little things like this from happening.

Tip: It's important to check the status of the water before you go somewhere. Sometimes, the water is infected with bacteria and other similar diseases that prevent you from swimming in the water.

10. Be aware of sex trafficking hot spots 

They are unfortunately all over the place. I currently live in Ohio, and I know that Columbus and Toledo are two big places where sex trafficking takes place. I have family that live in Michigan, and I know that Ann Arbor and Detroit are dangerous when it comes to that, too. Whenever I go to those places my guard is extra high and I pay attention to detail.

It's easy to let your guard down when you are out having fun, but no fun is worth risking your life over.

11. Trust your gut 

If you go out to a party with friends and feel uncomfortable, leave. Do not second guess your feelings or stay to please a friend.

12. Don't park next to vans/be aware if a van is parked next to you

It seems silly and a bit dramatic, but you never know. If there is a van parked next to your vehicle when you are leaving work, go back into work and have someone walk you out to your vehicle. In cities with high populations, this happens every day. You walk out to your car, the van doors open up, and you are never seen again.

13. Pay attention to detail 

Throughout this list, I've stated things that you should pay close attention to. Overall, you need to be paying attention to detail. When you are walking at night and there is someone walking 20 feet behind you with their hood up, that is a red flag. Call a friend or family member until you make it home safe. When you are walking around at the store and you continue to see the same person in your aisle, notify someone and express your worries. Watch people and their body language, and learn how to read it. Have an escape plan in situations that make you uncomfortable.

Although this list is probably full of things that have been pounded into your head over the years, it's never bad to refresh your mind. Keep yourself safe, keep your friends safe, and keep your family safe. There are hundreds of young aged boys and girls out there that may have never heard of things like this before. People too often let themselves think that a bad situation is a coincidence.

This list isn't meant to scare you, and life is made to live and have fun. If you just take the extra time to educate yourself, you should be able to live freely, happily, and safely. Share and be aware!

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My Future Is Unpredictable And That's Totally Alright

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations.

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For six months, I had plans to study abroad in the Dominican Republic during the fall semester of junior year. Filling out what seemed like endless applications and paperwork, searching for travel ideas on Pinterest, and writing a class research paper on the DR's relationship with its neighboring island, Haiti, I was prepared to live and learn about Dominican culture hands-on.

Then on the Thursday before Finals Week last spring, I read my email. My study abroad program in the DR had gotten canceled. In the span of 30 seconds, my future had taken a new course. Less than a week later, I was submitting papers to study abroad in a new country where another adventure awaited: Ecuador.

If there's anything I've learned in the past year, it's that life is unpredictable and we can't control it. The future is unknown. But-

Who wants to know exactly what's going to happen in the next few years? I mean, I believe it's good to have a direction, but you don't have to have the entire journey pinpointed straight to the core. You meet people, you get inspired, you see things, you have experiences. And you go from there. (Though, I totally respect people who have clear ambitions and stick with them their entire lives.)

Where I was a year ago was a completely different path than where I find myself today. Last summer, I worked four different internships/jobs in the span of three months. A year ago, I would never have guessed my following summer unfolding with an immersion trip to India, a solo adventure to Taiwan & Hong Kong, and becoming a certified yoga instructor. A year ago, I hadn't met half of my best friends. A year ago, I hadn't seen poverty in a third-world country. A year ago, I wasn't even sure I wanted to major in Environmental Studies.

Just because I don't know what the future holds doesn't mean I can't set goals. I have a destination, an idea of where I'm headed and where I want to go. While abroad in Ecuador, I want to learn about sustainable development and coffee production as well as enhance my Spanish skills.

As I prepare for study abroad in Ecuador, I'm going in with no expectations. I know the format of the program. I'll be taking classes and living with a host family and then doing an internship at a farm. Otherwise, I have no idea what's going to happen. And that's what I'm looking forward to the most. The spontaneity. The unexpected. As one of my good friends would say whenever he doesn't have formal weekend plans, "I'm improvising." And you know the one rule of improv: Always say yes.

¡Hasta pronto, Ecuador!

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