Actually, I kid. A lot. Charm City Cakes, Buddy from Cake Boss and any other bakers, with or without tv shows, have absolutely NOTHING to worry about. However, I am in need of their creative thinking right now. I’ve sort of built up a reputation of making fun and exciting cakes for the two big kids birthday parties and now that I’ve sent out invitations for my baby’s 11th birthday party (I still remember MY 11th birthday like it was yesterday…how can I have an 11 year-old son?!), I am drawing a blank as to how to compete with prior years’ creations. I took a year off for C’s last party because I was still adjusting to having a baby around and the place we had the party offered ice cream cakes, so it seemed to work. However with S’s last party, I upped the ante with the famous Spaghetti & Meatballs Cake for her Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs movie party, so I feel it’s only fair I get back on track for C’s party in 2 weeks.
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Zannaland was created and is run by Suzannah Mitchell Otis, aka Zanna. She has been communicating online since 1990. In the early 2000’s she led 14 community message boards on iVillage.com before blogging privately from 2001 on. Zannaland was created in 2004 as a place to sell her self-published zine “Zanna, Do!” as well as publicize her essay contribution to the book “If Women Ruled the World: How to Create the World We Want to Live In.”
Discovering the world of social media and connecting with Walt Disney World fans, she converted the site in 2009 and has been blogging publicly ever since. Here she combines her favorite topics; her life as a parent and her memories and adventures at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and beyond, as well as Disney news and entertainment reviews. Zannaland has now expanded to include other local theme parks, resorts, events and more in the Central Florida area and travel destinations beyond.
Building up a large following in a short amount of time, Zannaland has a devoted network of loyal readers. The online connections she made led to many guest writing/speaking projects.
If you are a brand looking for Zannaland’s stats and audience reach, you’ll find my Media Kit will help. Thanks!
Zanna resides a few minutes away from the magic, right behind Cinderella Castle. There she enjoys her own personal Happily Ever After with her husband Scott, who she married in 2015. They share their adventures with her 23 year-old son, Christian, who now runs the Zannaland YouTube channel and covers movie reviews, her 21 year-old daughter, who attends Rollins College, 13 year-old son and 6 (yes SIX) cats. As for the 6 cats, they are: a tabby named Luna Lovepaws, a beautiful almost-white calico that showed up almost-drowned in their garage as a kitten, named Mariposa, a cat named Stella Cascade, a blue point bi-color ragdoll, and her 3 kittens (names pending as they change daily).
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Suzannah was a cast member at Walt Disney World before using her Travel & Tourism Management degree as a travel agent and agency manager. Since 2012, she has worked at MEI & Mouse Fan Travel, working on their social media and admin/training departments. She also took over VeganDisneyFood.com in 2021 and has loved sharing vegan options around Disney parks, resorts, and beyond with the world! Future aspirations include furthering her social media connections, and writing a novel or two.
Zannaland is PR Friendly and welcomes product reviews, giveaways, sponsorships and other promotions based on companies and products that would be beneficial or of interest to Zannaland readers. Suzannah is open to travel opportunities as well as advertising. Zannaland adheres to full disclosure and FTC guidelines. Click for Media Kit.
Requests for reviews, promotions, guest writing, or site statistics may be directed to [email protected]. She is most easily found on Instagram, as well as Twitter and Facebook. Her LinkedIn profile lists past professional positions.
Featured Articles by Suzannah Mitchell Otis (many of these links/sites have moved or don’t exist anymore- the internet has definitely changed a bit in the past 10 years):
Travelocity: The Window Seat Blog – 40-part series on milestones at Walt Disney World in honor of the 40th Anniversary – 2008: The Wave…of American Flavors opens at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Whoa, Momma! TampaBay.com/TBT*-Tampa Bay Times/St. Petersburg Times – Blogger/Correspondent – It appears many of these links have moved/don’t work, so feel free to search for my articles.
- 5 Top Meal Values in Walt Disney World (Whoa, Momma!) / Dining With the Mouse Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive (St. Pete Times)
- Disney iPhone Apps to Keep Kids Happy in Line
- Off Disney’s Beaten Path
- Keeping Teens from Boredom at the Theme Parks
- Tips for Staying Cool in the Theme Parks
- Applying for the 2011 Walt Disney World Moms Panel
- Tips for Enjoying Walt Disney World at the Holidays
- Downtown Disney Lego Store Re-opening
- Newly Re-Imagined Tampa Disney Store Opening
- Is Disney’s Christmas Party Worth It? (Whoa Momma!) / Is Mickey’s Party Worth It? (TBT*)
- Tips for Visiting Mickey’s Halloween Party
- Orlando Sentinel – quote about the new Storybook Circus area of the New Fantasyland
- iVillage.com – Thanksgiving Crafts for Families – Oreo Turkeys
- TouringPlans.com blog – First Time Disneyland Tips from a WDW Convert
- AllEars.net – Featured Article in monthly newsletter: Magic in the Details
- The Disney Food Blog – Dining With Kids in WDW, Food & Wine Festival Sneak Peek, Be Our Guest Lunch Review with Photo Tour
- TheDisneyBlog.com – Chef Ming Tsai Ocean Spray Demo at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival, 2013 WDW Ambassador Ceremony
- WeJustGotBack.com – Fab 5 Free Things to do in Tampa
- Type-A Parent.com – Top 10 Fun Facts About Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
- ThemeParkMom.com – Top 5 Must-Eats at Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival
- StudiosCentral.com – Memories of Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- MainStGazette.com – Contributing member of the monthly Roundtable Discussions
- HiddenMickeysGuide.com – Disney After Dark – The Magic Continues After Sunset
- DisneyEveryDay.com – Downtown Disney West Side’s new D-Street Vinylmation Store
- WDWfacts.com – 14th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
- After the Mouse – Cast Member Experiences
- Orlando Social Media Club – Mommy Bloggers Panel Speaker
- Sympatico.ca – quote on Downtown Disney picks for kid-free nights out
In November 2009, Suzannah was selected as a member of the 2010 Walt Disney World Moms Panel. The Panel is heading into its tenth consecutive year and Suzannah was chosen as one of 21 new panelists from nearly 20,000 applications. At DisneyWorldMoms.com Suzannah shared her family’s tips and experiences for planning the perfect Walt Disney World Vacation.
Press and contributions relating to the Walt Disney World Moms Panel:
Articles posted on the official Disney Parks Blog via the Walt Disney World Moms Panel:
- Top Spots for a Great Cup of Coffee at Walt Disney World
- Pirate and Pals Fireworks Voyage video with fellow Moms Panelists
- “If I Had 2 Hours in Walt Disney World to Make a Lifelong Memory…“
Video with AOL Travel on How to Navigate the Parks at Walt Disney World
MyFoxOrlando video piece on Florida resident deals at Walt Disney World. This ran on MyFoxTampaBay as well.
- Tampa Bay Times /TampaBay.com – Whoa, Momma! Blog
- St. Petersburg Times
- TBT* in print p.78 April 23, 2010 edition
- Tampa Tribune / TBO.com
- Business Week
- CNP – County paper The Laker (circ. 50,000)
- Official WDW Press Release
Zannaland is not in any way affiliated with The Walt Disney Company, any other theme park or resort, or any of its subsidiaries. This site is purely entertainment with the occasional informational nugget thrown in. I am not a Disney employee and the posts here are my own and do not represent the position or opinion of the Walt Disney Company or any other corporate entity.
I encourage all who read this to visit Disney.com or their Disney Parks site for ALL your official Disney information and news. All Disney characters and images mentioned are ©Disney. All other text, ideas and images are ©Suzannah Mitchell Otis unless noted.
Items provided to Zannaland for review will always be clearly noted on the post itself as well as any other terms of sponsorship or payment for reviews. Any feedback, questions or ideas are welcomed and can be sent by emailing Zanna. Thank you!
This morning I woke up to a nice rainy day here in ZannaLand, and I thought I’d share my favorite things to do in Disney World when you experience some of Florida’s infamous “liquid sunshine”.
Of course, the first thing to remember is that you will not melt. Unless there are some hurricane-force winds going on or crazy lightning, Disney will remain open for your use. Certain rides with all or portions of the ride outside may temporarily shut down (especially if lightning is present) but the rest of the World will be there for those daring enough to get soaked and keep on walking.
One way to help those of stout-heart and spare shoes is the now-famous Disney rain poncho. While working at the Magic Kingdom’s merchandise shops I can assure you, when the rain starts, these ponchos are worth their weight in gold. Wait, they don’t really weigh that much, that’s a bad example. Um…they’re really really valuable!! The ponchos Disney originally sold were bright yellow with Mickey Mouse on the back. Of course wearing them made you look ridiculously silly, therefore some fun souvenir photos were to be had!
In 2003, Disney made the switch to clear ponchos, so you weren’t *quite* as funny-looking (and you could spot your family members easier!). I have noticed that the most recent ponchos we purchased [it is the law that if you buy ponchos, you must forget them on every subsequent visit so you need to buy more when it rains again] are much thinner than they used to be, and the hood is sort of useless in keeping the rain off your face. If you have a baseball cap, wear that under the hood. You can also of course buy other ponchos at discount stores ahead of time but again, the key is remembering to carry them with you.
If, however, you arrive to the Walt Disney World Resort and see on the local weather that there is a 99% chance of rain all day every day of your visit, there are some activities to make you forget all about the rain rain rain coming down down down. Here are my top 3:
3. Innoventions This area of Epcot’s Future World is chock-full of activities to keep the whole family entertained. These buildings are located to the east and west of Future World, as you walk in the main entrance beyond Spaceship Earth. They have undergone many facelifts since their Communicore days with SMRT-1 (a robot that answered your questions with the latest in 1980s voice recognition technology) and the EPCOT Poll (a census-like poll where guests answered questions and learned group results at the end). Innoventions East features environmental activities including The House of Innoventions and the Test the Limits Lab. Innoventions West offers more interactive exhibits such as the favorite The Great Piggy Bank Adventure. Also included as part of Innoventions West is Club Cool (formerly Ice Station Cool) where guests can enjoy free samples of popular soft drinks from around the world, sponsored by Coca-Cola. Be sure to try the Beverly from Italy – it’s delicious! 😉
2. Resort Hopping on the Monorail This is a favorite activity of our family any time, but it’s especially convenient during a storm, because you never have to get wet once you hop on the Resort Monorail from the Magic Kingdom or the Transportation and Ticket Center. There are some truly unique shops and restaurants you can explore and enjoy whether you’re a hotel guest or not. In addition to being a fun rainy day activity, our family makes sure to tour the resorts each holiday season. I will discuss more on that in upcoming entries, but it is truly a magical experience the way Disney decorates for the holidays.
- The loop from Magic Kingdom takes you first to the Contemporary Resort which always has some fun shopping to experience as well as the popular must-reserve dining spot Chef Mickeys, as well as the delightful culinary addition of The Wave on the first floor. Another treat on the ground floor (no pun intended) is the coffee and espresso bar Contemporary Grounds, which serves delicious lattes. Our family also loves the arcade at the Contemporary and has spent many hours there accumulating tickets to turn in for prizes.
- Next stop on the monorail is the Polynesian Resort. The decor alone is reason enough to spend some time here – the lush gardens and waterfalls will relax even the most frazzled park visitor. Here you’ll find shopping with a tropical flair and items not found in other locations. Delicious meals, desserts and coffee await at the Kona Cafe (one of my favorite restaurants on property). Here’s a secret – you can also get Dole Whip at Captain Cook’s Snack Co. inside the Polynesian! You don’t even have to be inside Magic Kingdom to enjoy this popular treat. Breakfast lunch and dinner are also served at Captain Cook’s, if you’d like more than dessert.
- The final stop on the monorail resort loop is the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, Disney’s flagship resort. While here you can enjoy the elegant atmosphere, shops and restaurants, listen to music or just explore the lobby. There is a Basin White location within the Grand Floridian which offers unique items not found in the Downtown Disney location, so it’s worth a visit if you love their soaps and bath bombs as much as I do.
1. Downtown Disney From World of Disney to the Lego Imagination Store to Once Upon a Toy to Days of Christmas, there is no end to the rainy-day shopping available in Downtown Disney. You will also not be short on dining options – Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex Cafe, Wolfgang Puck, Earl of Sandwich, Raglan Road…I could go on and on! Downtown Disney Marketplace also offers unique shops like Basin with soaps, lotions and more or the new TrenD shop offering boutique-style Disney clothing and accessories. Don’t forget Downtown Disney Westside and its new Princess Diana royal gown and artifact exhibit, Disney Quest for interactive gaming in addition to more restaurants and shops worthy of discovery. One word of caution, even on sunny days, parking and crowds at Downtown Disney are on the high side. It’s no secret that this is a great location for a rainy day change of pace, so plan accordingly.
However you choose to spend your rainy day at Disney, remember Mickey can’t control the weather (as much as I’ve been wishing for a clear dome with air conditioning placed over Disney World on the hottest of summer days there!). As frustrating as it might be to have your vacation interrupted by ride-stopping, shoe-soaking rain…you are still in the Happiest Place on Earth and it’s truly how you react and make the most of all Disney has to offer that sets the tone for the success or failure of your trip. Some of my happiest memories are of wearing cloth napkins on my soaking shoulders inside Germany’s Biergarten, laughing at how we’d just run through the rain and puddles to get there. A change of plans doesn’t have to mean a short-change in the memories.
I mentioned in my Disney Resorts entry how our first foray into “on property” resorts was Disney’s Lake Buena Vista Vacation Villas. I found a few pictures that I scanned in and thought I’d share here.
As I described before, there were 4 different types of Lake Buena Vista Villas: Club Lake Villas were, if I recall correctly, more luxurious than the Vacation Villas. The Fairway Villas were smaller and on the golf course. The Vacation Villas were the attached townhouse style and the Tree House Villas were the really cool two-story tree house style homes nestled in the forest. The only remnants of this era of Disney resorts are the Tree House Villas, now refurbished after being used for years as homes for College Program International Cast Members. You can view the Tree House Villas from the boat that sails from Port Orleans and Old Key West Resorts to Downtown Disney. I always loved riding the Disney resort buses from the parks to the Vacation Villas, because we had to go through the Tree House Villas first and you never knew what you’d see on those dark roads; raccoons, bunnies, deer…it was great fun.
The layout for the Vacation Villas we stayed in was a typical condo layout downstairs: small kitchen with pass-thru and bar stools at the counter, dining area, bathroom, and family room with a sleeper sofa, tv, etc. The fun was upstairs, where the master bedroom was actually an open loft design. You have no idea how cool this was to an 8 year-old. The master bedroom had a king bed and a tv, then a bathroom too as I remember, but the wall that the tv was on was completely open to the family room downstairs. It was so exciting to me. There was another bedroom upstairs with two twin beds and a bathroom. The family room downstairs had sliding glass doors leading to a patio with chairs. There were several options for views, but we always requested and received an Empress Lily view.
Another great part of staying at the Lake Buena Vista Villas was you were able to rent a golf cart for the length of your stay. You could then get anywhere you needed to go in that area with the golf cart. We drove to breakfast at the Buena Vista Club restaurant. (This was the Club attached to the golf course). We explored the other villas…if my dad had been a golfer obviously he could’ve used it for that too! The best part was driving to the Lake Buena Vista Village Marketplace. You may know it now as Downtown Disney.
We could drive our golf cart over the bridge in the area that now houses the bus stops for Downtown Disney. From there we could park over where Downtown Disney Guest Relations now is, plug in the golf cart and explore the shops and restaurants. I think there were only a few at the time Cap’n Jack’s was one, and Chef Mickeys, which stood where Rain Forest Cafe now exists. It was a quaint, little place then. Dark wood decor, windows overlooking the lake and the Empress Lily. It had a separate lounge where you could wait and have a drink while you waited for your table. Back then, if you ordered one of a few specific drinks, you could get a souvenir plastic mug to keep. I remember getting a drink similar to a Shirley Temple, with rock candy swizzle sticks. A lot. I have quite a few of those red mugs with Chef Mickey’s image on them. I had to stop using them because the dishwasher was wearing off the design.
I think the only other restaurant was Heidelberg’s deli where Earl of Sandwich is now. Mickey’s Pantry was there, a jewelry store called 24-K and a few other shops. Can you imagine a Marketplace without World of Disney, Once Upon a Toy, the Lego Store or even Pleasure Island?? That’s how it once was. The Marketplace truly was a rainy day excursion and not an attraction unto itself like it is now.
Sadly, Disney decided to discontinue operations of the Villas. They used some of the buildings during the Disney Institute years, but then demolished all of the original villas (apart from the Tree House Villas) and built the Saratoga Springs Resort as part of the Disney Vacation Club program. Saratoga Springs now offers some of those same gorgeous views of the Empress Lily that we once enjoyed, even though it’s now called Fulton’s Crab House.
Another thing I found in my search for old pictures was this coupon for the arcade at the Lake Buena Vista Villa Center. Think they’ll still honor it? 😉
I welcome any information, links or pictures from this time period at Walt Disney World!!