Theme Parks During a Pandemic

In the past month I have gone to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Disney Springs, and Hollywood Studios (thank you cast member preview). I am an annual pass member for Universal Studios, but I did not attend the preview days. I was still there within that first week of opening, and my reasoning for going was that the parks were most likely the cleanest they have been for a long while. I will tell you about the experiences I had at both resorts, then I will point out some comparative differences I saw.

I’m going to start with yesterday’s cast member preview at Hollywood Studios. We have been blocked out of this park basically since Galaxy’s Edge opened last year, and I was VERY excited to go back. Hollywood Studios was my home park during my DCP in 2013, and it has been my favorite park since the MGM Studios days. It’s my love of theater that drew me in, but Rockin’ Roller Coaster sealed the deal. Of course, all of the shows are closed right now, but I still love it. Anyway, we were there from opening to about 7 p.m.

In that time we were able to ride everything, including Rise of the Resistance, at lunch at Pizza Rizzo’s, and shopped a bit. Coaster was a walk on, so we rode that twice within ten minutes. We also got to ride Mickey’s Runaway Railroad twice with a rough thirty minute wait each time. Rise was a much longer line- about ninety minutes- and the queue wrapped around to the Muppet’s Studios queue. Portions of the line were even backstage! Cast members stationed at Muppet’s allowed people to get out of line for the bathroom and to get cups of water from Pizza Rizzo’s which was a godsend in the heat. A majority of that line was in the sun, but the ride was worth every minute. Like, I cannot begin to describe how intense and awesome Rise is.

Characters in Galaxy’s Edge were on platforms, and we saw character parades through the park at random times. We were never at the right spot for these parades to get pictures, but I think there were three: Mickey and Friends, Pixar, and Disney Junior. Everyone was social distancing and wearing masks for the most part- most of the crowding happened when people were trying to enter a ride queue from multiple directions at various speeds. I’m not sure how that could be addressed, but just pay attention to your surroundings if you go to a theme park, okay?

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure were pretty empty. I mean, I got GREAT pictures at Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. We spent one day at each park, and Islands was a little more crowded than Universal, but I believe the walkways in Islands are more narrow. The app to get into virtual lines was a tad glitchy and unpredictable, but we had three people trying to get in, so it ended up being okay. This was a pre-planned family vacation for my cousin’s high school graduation, so we had a group of twelve people which made things interesting. We were always split up at every restaurant we went to except for Hard Rock Cafe where we got to sit together. We had plenty of time to do everything we wanted to do and a lot of things twice. If I remember correctly, Hagrid’s Motorbike was really the only line we had to wait more than ten minutes in.

I’m trying to recall this trip that was over a month ago, so bear with me if it’s not as good as the Hollywood section.

The 3-D glasses were tricky thanks to fogging, and the team members were quick to tell guests to keep masks on over their noses otherwise “the ride will stop.” I did think I was going to lose my mask on the Hulk, but I did not and it was fine. You did not have to wear a mask on the water rides in Islands of Adventure. The freestyle cups were active (something I think Universal has that Disney needs), and a team member wiped down the station after every guest.

Both parks required mobile ordering for quick service meals (we did not eat at a table service within any of the parks). However, Universal’s locations allowed you to be seated inside while waiting for your meal while Pizza Rizzo’s made you wait outside until the My Disney Experience app said your order was ready for pick up. That was a HOT wait out in the sun, and I could see a lot of angry guests in their future. Universal’s system was not perfect, though, as a team member would go around the tables to get order numbers and sometimes they would miss a table in their rotation, causing a longer wait for food.

Hand sanitizing stations were everywhere at both parks. but it was not enforced at Hollywood Studios. At the Universal resort, a team member gave you sanitizer at the head of the line, and you could not board the vehicle until after. There was also a sanitizing station right after you got off the ride, but that one was not required. The difference was most apparent at Toy Story Mania where guests were able bypass the sanitizing station without using it before loading into the ride vehicle.

Overall I will say I felt safer at Universal than at Disney in regards to Covid guidelines. I will also say that my experience does not mean someone else felt differently. It’s all personal opinion. I do recommend bringing multiple masks to whatever park you may go to. I switched mine out after four hours in the fun summer Florida heat. This helped immensely with breathing as the sweat and humidity kind of clung to the fabric of the mask.

Now that everything is opened up and cases are on the ride, I will probably no go back to a theme park for a little while. Between the block out dates, the heat, and increase in out of state travel, I think I will say goodbye to my Saturday cardio of walking around the parks (I know, my privilege is showing. Perk of working corporate for a major tourist industry). I will probably go to Disney Springs before the current increased cast member discount ends, though. I am also going to the beach this weekend where I WILL have a mask with me by the ocean just in case the crowd levels are more than I am comfortable with. I know my level of risk, and I will act accordingly even if it means only one half of my face is tan.

Feel free to ask me questions about the parks, and I will do my best to answer. I will also follow up about that beach trip and whether or not I felt good on the panhandle.

A New Month Already? Julying

Happy second half of 2020! We’ve had a hell of a year so far, but there’s still time to turn it around.

Disney opens at the end of the week, and while I am excited, that’s not the subject of today’s post (I am signed up for one of the Cast Member preview days, so I will talk more after going to that). Today is all about that lovely goal I have about getting healthy. Woohoo!

Quick recap: I am an accountant and therefore sit around all day and do not exercise very often. I am also prone to stress snack on chips and chocolate. All bad habits combined led to a 30 pound gain since I got married in October 2016. I was doing good this past year- I started going to Orange Theory this past October and was taking daily walks on my lunch breaks. Oh, and I kept my desk at standing (LOVE my standing desk at the office) until the afternoon, which also helped a lot (scoliosis back pain, so fun). Then quarantine and working from home (indefinitely still at this point) happened and everything just kind of stopped.

In the beginning of May, I did my very first 5K for one of my favorite organizations: Bert’s Big Adventure out of Atlanta. It was a virtual race, so I was able to complete it by running around my neighborhood. I did not train for it, and according to MapMyRun, I did a total of 5.14KM in 57 minutes. Not too shabby for my first race.

My first 5k race!

You would think that would have made me want to get moving more, especially with the Wine and Dine 10K not yet cancelled, but I still did not get into a routine when it came to fitness.

In Flordia, Orange Theory opened right before Memorial Day. I did start back the week after it opened – OTF and the grocery store are basically the only places I go now. The first few classes were terrible as my body had ditched all the gains from the past 6 months. It was very discouraging, but enlightening to what all I had gained, then lost. I started making sure I took walks more regularly after that- and because B.B.A. announced another virtual race for the 4th of July. This time we could get shirts!

Y’all, my time on Saturday was 51 minutes. Things are working.

The best part is the scale is starting to trend down! I am so excited, but I do have a feeling that it is not just because of the increased activity. A couple of weeks ago, I began to really count the calories I ate – I bought a food scale and everything. Staying home all day decreases my calories burned, so I incorporated a very loose intermittent fasting schedule as well (16:8 for those who follow IF). My morning is hot tea and water; I try not to eat anything until noon. It’s working as long as I stick with it.

With all of that being said- what are some good healthy snacks? I know fruits and vegetables, of course, but what about non-traditional snacks? Especially for someone who loves sweet and salty things. Let me know some of your favorite recipes for me to try!

Create Gratitude

So, this was not going to be my next post, but with everything going on, I believe it’s more important than what I was planning.

I am an avid listener to a relatively new podcast called The Upside with Callie and Jeff. They are big on the topic of gratitude and finding the upside in the everyday, and they make a point to be a break from the news that clogs our social media and other outlets. I started listening to Jeff almost 20 years ago when he was a radio DJ in Atlanta, and I cannot recommend them enough.

Anyway, a lot of what I am writing here comes from what I have gotten out of that podcast, hence the quick plug. Gratitude is so important in the world we live in. When everything seems dark and negative, a simple “thank you” can change someone’s day. You can show gratitude in other ways as well- an act of service, being there for someone who was there for you, a smile, whatever. You are not restricted in this area.

Start keeping track of what you are grateful for. My planner has a section at the back of each month that I can write what I am thankful for and why. I have included things like my crock-pot, my husband, my cats, working from home, and milkshakes. It doesn’t have to be something life changing. But keeping up with it will change your view on life.

Right now I am thankful that my position allows me to continue to work remotely during this global crisis. As most of the world is stuck at home, please think about those who still have to show up:

  • Doctors, nurses, other medical professionals
  • Our military
  • Our first responders
  • The customer service reps who are trying to help you reschedule your spring break plans (my heart goes out to my fellow cast members who are dealing with thousands of calls)
  • The grocery store clerks that cannot control what is out of stock
  • The other service workers such as trash collection, mail, deliveries, etc.

If you interact with someone in one of these professions, remember that they are human too. They are not the business that told them to come in. They are working for their paycheck. They are tired. Treat them with kindness.

On the other side of the same coin, check in on the local businesses that may not have the resources to survive the shut down. I know of a few bakeries and restaurants that are still open, but only serving carry out and delivery orders. Show them gratitude, even if you don’t order from them- comment on a post on Facebook or something.

But the best way to show gratitude right now? Do not go out unless you have to. Remember that there are other medical emergencies going on, and the hospitals are not only dealing with this virus. Stay away from beaches and crowds. We are trying to slow the spread for the benefit of our community. By working together, we will be able to go back to Disney World sooner rather than later.

Here is the link to The Upside if anyone is interested: https://www.callieandjeff.com/

Creating Health Goals

So, being an accountant means that I basically sit on my rump 40-50 hours a week (including commute time). Then there is Netflix and other non-active activities to engage in when I’m home. This has led to being at a state of health that I do not like. I have tried combating it with spur of the moment diets, halfhearted home gym work outs, and even a personal trainer. Nothing has really stuck. 2020 is the year I change that.

In October, I started going to OrangeTheory Fitness. I go twice a week as my work schedule allows, and I really enjoy it. OTF is an hour long HIIT group class that utilizes the row machine, treadmill, and weight floor in order to improve muscle and cardio. The coaches are super supportive so far, and I feel like I can modify as needed, depending on what my body tells me. You also earn “splatpoints” which is a great pull on my competitive side and makes me push harder.

On the food side of things, I am working on snacking less and eating more veges and fruits. This is a huge challenge, and it’s where I am the weakest. I am using MyFitnessPal to keep track of calories and macros, but I know I am not doing enough in this area to really get me where I want to be.

Now that the setup is complete, I give you my health goals for 2020:

  • Lose an overall 10-15 pounds
  • Move to a jogger from a power walker
  • Complete my first 5K with a time under 50 minutes (which, I actually have signed up for one at the end of April)- I currently have a 16.5ish minute mile.
  • Complete my first 10K with a time around 1 hour 45 minute (the original plan was only to do the 5K, but I managed to snag spots for the Wine and Dine 10K in EPCOT in November!)
  • Cook with more fresh veggies
  • Less SUPER processed foods for meals (I love my Chef Boyarde ravioli in a pinch, but I will not be unrealistic and say all processed foods. I’m still human)

I have dedicated a page in the back of my planner to keeping track of my progress when it comes to OTF. Every month I update/ choose new parameters for myself. Basically, as my fitness gets better, my speed on the treadmill and weights on the floor increase. I know it’s not always going to be a linear thing- it is very import to listen to what your body tells you. One day I be able to jog a few minutes, the next power walking may be a struggle. The progress is in the long game.

To everyone in their own health and fitness journey: may we all suffer together and support each other. This is a team sport, y’all.

The Word of the Year is Create

I am a big fan of having a word of the year. And after having more “serious” words the last few years, I decided to do something more fun. My 2020 word is “create.”

I am not sure if you can read all of the headers, but the pictures above say “In 2020 I will Create…”

  • Stories
  • A Healthy Lifestyle
  • Ears
  • Better Relationships
  • A Loving Home
  • Memories
  • Stable Financials
  • Gratitude

I have four blank columns left, but all of these correspond to some goal I have for myself this year. I want to work on what makes me better as a person, which means I need to create the habits and hobbies that will get me there. I have also noticed that I have stopped spending time doing the things that make me relaxed an happy, which is why you see stories and ears at the front of the list.

And by ears, I mean Mickey. I have started making my own, because even with my cast member discount, those things are expensive. Plus, it’s fun to design and make. It’s putting my sewing machine to good use. I’m not making them to sell, though. I am no where as talented as some of the people I see on Etsy.

I will post about each of these areas- either separately or a couple at a time. There is a lot that will go into each one, but some are hard to describe/ explain correctly. Plus, some just seem to go together so well that it would make sense to talk about them at the same time. I encourage you all to have your own word of the year. I find them to be good motivators.

There’s a light…

At the end of the tax season tunnel. While Friday is business return deadline and everyone is stressed, we have just over a month until freedom.

And for me, that freedom means actual weekends and Disney World.

Things have gotten to a slightly more manageable than they were. I’m settling into this senior role with all it’s weird management like responsibilities. It’s getting easier every day, but that does not mean I am less overwhelmed by it all at times.

What has really helped has been going to the gym before work. That’s right. My husband and I are getting up at 5 and going to the gym most mornings now- except on the one day a week I see my personal trainer. My mood has been a lot better and I don’t have an excuse to not go to the gym.

Also, I rock the wet braid look at work.

This week will be a challenge thanks to deadline PLUS daylight savings time. I’m already sleep deprived so let’s take away an hour on top of long days.

Good luck fellow accountants. Five weeks until the end and we can sleep until extended deadline.

I’m Still Here!

We are a week and a half away from the first deadline of tax season. By January first, all W-2s, 1099s, 1098s, etc must be prepped, mailed out, and filed. As such, I have been super busy. I have averaged about 53 hours a week the past three weeks, and I am in a constant state of tired and stressed.

Even my personal trainer has noticed. He was very concerned when I came in Thursday, and I just told him that I’m going to look like a zombie until April 15. I also apologized to him in advance for any crabbiness and rudeness he does not deserve.

The most challenging part this year is learning how to be in my new senior role. I am in charge of a lot more things this year, and, as such, my stress level is a tad high for how early it is in the season. I have too many excel tracking workbooks to count, and I am more or less in charge of training the interns we have on all things tax. I also have to make sure I am keeping them busy. Managing is hard, you guys. I’m doing my best, but I know I have a lot more to learn.

Health wise I’m struggling to find a routine right now. It is very easy for me to say I am too tired to go to the gym. I am really only going once or twice outside my personal training appointment, and I want to get it back up to three (for a total of four workout days during the week). As for food… We eat out a lot in tax season. I try to stick to salads, but that is not always easy. This is an area that needs more work right now. I have goals, and I need to work towards them, no matter how tired I am.

Just as a FYI: I can’t answer most questions about the new tax law. We won’t really know what changes until we see it in action. This first year is a big one for all of us as we see how the IRS treats the different rules. It may take longer to process things this year. Please be patient with us accountants.

I hope everyone is having a great start to their 2019!

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a safe celebration last night. We have officially said goodbye to 2018! Today is the first blank page of 2019, and the book can be anything you want it to be. I’ve been spending the past few weeks thinking about what I want to accomplish the coming year, and I want you guys to help me stay accountable.

  1. Lose 20 Pounds
    1. I want to be in much better shape by the end of this year.
    2. I still have my personal trainer once a week, but I need to be better at going to the gym at least three other days in addition.
    3. I have a snacking problem that I need to work on. It’s bad, especially on lazy days or crazy work days.
  2. Work on Crafting
    1. Now that I have free time again, I want to learn new things.
    2. Quilting is my number one new craft this year. I already have plans with my aunt for her to teach me this summer.
    3. Making my own Mickey Ears. This one should be easier than quilting, but it looks just as fun.
    4. Sewing my own cosplays. This is probably a forever work in progress as I learn how to use my sewing machine.
  3. Better money management
    1. We want to buy a house this year. That means a lot of planning for down payments and cost of movers and new furniture. It’s a huge decision and I can’t wait.
    2. Two pretty big vacations this year in addition to moving. After tax season we are going to Disney World for a couple of days, and labor day weekend we are going on an Alaskan cruise. We have saved quite a bit for these, but they are both big spending trips.
    3. I am weak when it comes to books, leggings, and Amazon. My goal for this year is to cut down on the extra spending on non-needed things so we can afford all of our big purchases this year.

What are your main girls for this year? Maybe we can help each other out!

2018: A Reflection

Gosh, what a year. I passed the CPA exam, swam with sea turtles, started with a personal trainer, and did a bunch of stuff in between. As for my 2018 goals, let’s review together:

  • Pass the CPA exam- check!
  • Lose 10 pounds and be healthier- I could have done better here. I got really close to the goal, but I got really lazy this month which put me at half my weight goal. I did lose an average of 1.5 inches all around, and people keep telling me muscle weights more so maybe I can blame some of the weight on that. But I mostly stuck to a workout routine and ate healthier overall so I count that as a mostly win.
  • Increase monthly savings- check! I now put money into 2 different savings account at each paycheck. One is for our future house and the other is for vacations.
  • Focus more on mental health and self care- This one was a hit and miss during the year. I did get back into reading which is relaxing for me, but I did not do things like face masks and I still need to work on telling people no and removing myself from stressful situations even if it is just a ten minute break. Balance is another struggle that will need more work in the coming year, both in my work and personal lives.
  • Improve back/ posture- honestly no idea on this one. I never got my scoliosis checked (it’s been almost 15 years since I’ve had to wear a back brace) but I did yoga and wear a lumbar brace sometimes. Soooo 50/50 check?

The good:

  • Went on 3 vacations this year, two beach trips and a cruise.
  • Had a fairly food handle on finances even if Christmas went a little crazy
  • No more studying!
  • Got more serious about health goals

The bad:

  • Some issues at work that have been discussed and won’t be said here
  • Passing of family members
  • Did not won 1.6 billion lotto

The ugly:

  • Had to get new mouthguard that insurance didn’t cover but it was very needed
  • Rent and other expenses increased
  • Tax season is always ugly

So 2018 could have been a little better goal wise, but it was still a great year. I know what I need to work on in 2019, and I really hope it does not involve too many intense, serious conversations (I know I can’t avoid it in some situations, but I really hate it).

Let’s Do an Update

So, I’m a little tired and blah while writing this because I had a dream that  I was at Disneyland and then I woke up and had to go to work instead. BUT I did log in to my work email to a company wide back and forth about Elsa as one of the girls in another office cosplayed as her to read to kids. There was a little confusion involving the White Witch from Narnia, but the record was set straight.

Anyway, I figured it’s been almost a month since the last health update. I’m still seeing a personal trainer once a week, but I feel like I have gotten worse instead of better since the cruise. Most of that is the struggle to get back into the routine I had before vacation, but I have also eaten out a lot while not going to the gym as many times as I probably should.

I’m going to fix that this week. I had a grueling session with Chris last night that really pointed out that I’m not doing so hot. So, I am going to do cardio at least three times before I see him again next week, and I’m going to eat healthier this week (no out to eats for this girl).

I’m pretty sure my end of the month measurements are not going to be very different than what they were in September, but I am praying that they did not increase. I don’t think I have the measurements posted here, but you can see them on my Instagram @AccountantHealthDreams. I try to take my measurements on the last day of every month depending on what is going on. So far I have seen an overall improvement, but there are months where nothing really changes and that is frustrating. At least this month I know I have been “bad” about things which makes me prepared.

I would give an update on Taylor as well, but I honestly don’t know if he’s gotten back into a gym routine since our cruise. Maybe we need another challenge to get us back on track.