walt disney world

Caring for Giants Tour, Animal Kingdom

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On my last trip I ticked off another backstage tour at Walt Disney World. This was the Caring for Giants tour. I actually booked and paid for all us 5 adults a Christmas present!

The tour is described on the Disney website as “Get a closer look at the majestic African elephants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park—and learn what it takes to care for them”.

This is definitely one of the cheaper tours priced at $30 each (prices correct as of June 2018), and a short one at 1 hour long. the groups are quite small, maybe twelve people. It also runs approx. ten times a day, so it’s easier to get a spot when booking. We was also told the money from the tour, went to the charities and conservation funds that Animal Kingdom support.

You check in just by Kilamanjaro Safaris, given a lanyard with a name tag (which is made from recycled elephant poo!) and are taken backstage straight away to a waiting minivan. This then drives you round the property to the back of the safari. You are not allowed to take any photo’s at this point, and the driver is friendly and chatty, and was asking questions.

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Once out of the van, you walk up a new looking ramp to where the tour will take place. Once at the top, and by the fence, you are allowed to take photos. You are now at the elephant place on the ride – So essentially it feels like you are still on Kilamanjaro Safaris – you even see the trucks going past!

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There are two cast members with you, they talk about the elephants, the ones that are in the park at the moment, including baby Stella, where they stay, what they eat etc., and always ask if anyone has questions. The second cast member was from South Africa and worked for years on a national park, she had lots of funny stories about elephants and used her past job to talk about her current role at Disney.

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You are also given the opportunity to have a photo with the elephants in the background – these are taken by the CM’s.

Overall I did like the tour, it wasn’t one of my favourite’s as is so short! But it’s always nice to go backstage and learn more about how everything works. I would recommend if you was a big fan of Animal Kingdom and/or elephants as you do get much better photo ops than from the truck.

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walt disney world

California Grill Brunch, Walt Disney World

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On our last trip, I had one dining request and that was brunch at California Grill. I’m a huge breakfast food fan and brunch is even better!

The only thing is, its Sundays only. So when our ADRs became available to book, I was straight on it – with no luck! We arrived on a Saturday, so we didn’t have too many Sunday’s, and as we was on a cruise, that whole weekend was out also. I left it for a bit (and sulked lets be honest), and a few weeks later tried again. And suddenly an opening had appeared, I grabbed that table pretty quick.

It was the first Sunday, so literally our first morning! As we had the Disney dining plan, it used up 2 credits each. Once you arrive you are given a glass of mimosa (ours didn’t have the orange juice in, it seemed like prosecco with boba balls – and judging by others photo’s, it does seem to change).

We was shown our table, the restaurant itself wasn’t overly packed, there was musicians there, it was sunny, and it was our first Disney morning! Life was good!

We was handed a menu, which was quite big! But the brunch is technically split into 2 parts – one is self serve with all the different sections and the other is the hot food which is bought to you.

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We all chose to walk around the self serve before making any selections, and boy is there a lot of food!

Bakery part with croissants and sweet treats, granola, sushi, charcatueri with meats and cheeses, a bloody mary bar (my sister had a virgin one with all the accompaniments which you choose yourself) a crepe section,(my mum had one and said it was really good) and you can eat as much as you want, and go back and forth! You know when there is loads of food you want to try, and when you get back to the table – you have such a mish mash of food on your plate!

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For the hot food menu, I chose the eggs benedict with salmon , along with another bellini. It was tasty, and I honestly was getting so full.

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They then bought over the dessert plate. This was mostly untouched as everyone was so full! But I did have a nice coffee with cream to round it all up, and nibbled on a few bits.

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During the meal, we wondered outside to admire the views, and it was nice, as I had only been there of an evening.

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I really enjoyed the brunch, and if anyone has done the Palo brunch on a Disney ship, its very very similar to that. It was pricey, but as we was on the DDP, we only paid for the service charge. I think this is a test, and if its popluar they will roll it out elsewhere or offer more than one day a week

If you wanted a special treat, or something different with less rush and kids, honestly I think its worth it! Lots of food, great views, drinks topped up, live music. Go and enjoy!

travel · walt disney world

Walt Disney World – A Quick Trip Report

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I’m back in the land of the normal living (barely!), as I recently returned from a fifteen night stay at Walt Disney World. I’m not actually sure what number trip this was, as I’ve actually lost count. (how bad is that?!)

We travelled as a group again – 5 adults and 1 toddler, so stayed in a 2 bedroom villa at Saratoga Springs Resort. This works out for us, as we all have our own separate space. This really isn’t my favourite resort, its just too big! Included in our reservation was the free Disney Dining Plan again, this was amazing. This year one alcoholic beverage was included with the meal. The server would say which drinks this was.

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We hit all the parks multiple times (actually Disney Hollywood Studios was only once!) and the family did a water park. (I don’t like them, so I skip that day). We visited Disney Springs a lot, as its so close to our resort.

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We also changed it up a little this year by including a 3 night Disney cruise in the middle (all my idea, and was the first ever cruise for all my family). I will do another blog post on that separately.

Dining wise – we did have quite a few ADR’s booked, but ended up cancelling some and making new ones for on the day! We had no issues getting last minute reservations, sometimes its nice to be more spontaneous and not so rigid in the days plans.

So we tried out Toyko Dining and Garden Grill for the first times. (Pictured below is the bento Box from Tokyo Dining) We also headed over to Fort Wilderness and Trails End for a special meal for the vegans in my family. They had a 7 course meal! The rest of us had the normal buffet and I tried a Moonshine Margarita. My absolute favourite was Brunch at California Grill – again another separate post on that.

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I only did one new tour this trip, which was the Caring for Giants at Animal Kingdom. I managed to ride Flight of Passage another three times! It’s just so clever, and it really has shot into my top rides list.

The Flower and Garden Festival was still on whilst we was there, I love this festival. Epcot is so pretty with all the extra flowers and topiaries. I also enjoyed the Coco exhibit in the Mexico pavilion, and the gods one in Norway.

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I finally saw Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom, and I was so disappointed. It just didn’t feel like it tugged on my emotions like Wishes did. I also feel they tried to shoehorn in too many characters, I get that its nice to highlight others, but was just too many for me! And I watched it more than once, and still didn’t enjoy it.

I did one disneybound this year – I went as Lilo! I took far too many Disney wall photos and made my parents honourary photographers for the trip.

If you want to listen to my trip overview, I actually was on the Disney dream Girls Podcast last week – here is the link! http://disneydreamgirlspodcast.blogspot.com/

If anyone has any questions or needs any tips for future trips – please feel to ask!

 

walt disney world

Pandora – The World of Avatar, Animal Kingdom


 

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Pandora – The World of Avatar is based on the massively huge hit film Avatar. When the new land was announced, the feelings were mixed and oh boy did it take years to build!

I watched the film (not at the cinema), and wasn’t a massive fan. I just didn’t get the hype. How was it the biggest film ever?!

But as a hardcore Walt Disney World fan, nothing was going to stop me from visiting this new part of Animal Kingdom! Pandora has been open nearly a year now, but I only just to experience for the first time in March this year. I waited impatiently for ten months watching what felt like everyone on Facebook and Instagram seeing and marvelling at it all . I did however avoid reviews of Flight of Passage, as I wanted to experience that first hand.

After my cruise, I booked my partner and I a one day ticket to Animal Kingdom. And even more luckily I got us fastpasses for Flight of Passage! Our fastpass wasn’t until the evening, but I wasn’t waiting until then to see it! So we had breakfast at the resort, and didn’t stress – I had seen photos of the morning rush for Pandora and I did not want to be involved in that!

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Once in the park, we did have a fatspass for Everest, it then started raining so we ran to Finding Nemo: The Musical and then we did make our way to Pandora, and there was no queue to get in to the land. So we took our time, strolled round and took it all in.

The first thing that struck me was the background noises, it was like a jungle! There’s lots of photo opportunities, and not ones that need people and posing, but just the landscapes and the plants and the floating mountains! The imaginers have clearly put a lot of time and effort into this.

We decided to try lunch at Satu’li Canteen, this was the first time we tried Mobile ordering (the CM suggested we did as the queue was huge!). We both tried a bowl, I had the chicken and my partner had the beef. I like the fact you then choose the base and the sauce, so there is a lot of options! I also chose the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse as I had seen photos and it looked so interesting. The lunch was nice, and I would recommend it.

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Then directly outside is Pongu Pongu – Pandora’s lounge/bar. These drinks looked so instgrambbale! I chose the Mo’ara Margarita and my boyfriend had the Rum Blossom, he also got the Pongu Lumpia (which is Pineapple Cream Cheese Spring Roll) – I didn’t even try that as it didn’t look nice! Now I love a cocktail, and margaritas are my favourite. But it was just so sweet, and I couldn’t finish it. The same with the rum blossom.

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We then decided to queue for the Na’vi river Journey, as you can get fastpasses for both attractions in Pandora.  The queue had died down, and we queued for about an hour. This attraction lasted less than five minutes, it was so short – we was in shock! It was clever, cute and everything but just too short for the amount of time waiting.

We then came back later in the day for our Flight of Passage. I don’t want to say too much, as I know lots of people still haven’t rode it. This attraction is genuinely amazing, and very clever. The technology they have used is quite something and gives a glimpse into the future star wars rides. We wanted to ride it again straightway but the queue was 135 minutes at 7pm!

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It was certainly different of a night, so you do need to visit the land twice. My photos on the iPhone didn’t come out great, but I’m sure the proper photographers with the cameras get better ones! It’s all lit up and the strange plants are glowing – as is the floor!

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Overall, its a completely immersive experience and you don’t feel like you are in Walt Disney World anymore. So take time out of your next Animal Kingdom day and venture into Pandora. (I know obviously you would do this anyway!!) Have you visited Pandora yet? What were your thought’s? If not yet – Is it on your list?!

 

disney cruise · travel · walt disney world

Disney Cruise Number 2 – Disney Wonder

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It’s been a while since I blogged, I was so ill for 6 weeks and then cracked two ribs – so I didn’t get out much, or have much energy! But I have bounced back, and managed to get well for my holiday.

I’ve recently returned from my second Disney Cruise, this time aboard the Disney Wonder. We chose the Eastern Caribbean itinerary but unfortunately due to weather, a change was made and we didn’t stop at St Maarten. I was quite upset about it, as I like exploring new places, and this route had the two Caribbean islands, so in the end it was Puerto Rico (as planned) and two stops at Castaway Cay.

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It was very rocky on the first night! Our table mates couldn’t even stay for dinner, I was offered tablets but declined to see how I was. So I think I can safely say now, I don’t suffer from sea sickness!

We had a stateroom on deck 7 with a verandah, we was at the aft of the ship, which I don’t think is as comfy as mid! But as you know to have those holidays, you need to save money where you can.

I liked that the ship was smaller as quicker to get to places, but I definitely preferred the grandiose of the Fantasy, I was totally blown away by the lobby of the Fantasy, so this one felt so small in comparison!

We saw all of the shows – they are such Broadway quality!The Frozen, A Musical spectacular was over an hour long! My favourite shows are the ones where they mix all the films and songs in and you get a bit of everything. One was called The Golden Mickeys which is a play on the Oscars, which was funny as the Oscars was actually on the night before! They are all performed perfectly and get you so emotional. We also watched JunNk, a British group of performers who sing, play instruments and have a wide rang of talents – they was great. Also a new show called acrobatrix, and it was their first time on the Disney Cruise Line.

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There was amazing cast members on board (as always), I feel like the ships CMs are the tip top ones. Lots of English too, and there wasn’t too many brits on-board as passengers so it was nice to talk to them, and they then recognise you and say hi a lot round the ship.

One thing I love to do is watch The Morning show. Another of my favourite things is the tour round the ship! LOVE this, if you like backstage tours at the parks, this is a must do.

You don’t go backstage on the ship, but you learn a lot of design information and knowledge. For instance, the Disney Wonder is the only ship in the fleet where the lobby is based round the statue – which is The Little Mermaid. So the restaurant is Tritons behind her, and the big light is red to symbolise her hair, the carpets are yellow and blue for the sea and seabed’s. I just love details like this!!

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We played trivia, watched Disney Innovations, played shuffleboard, went to a Mixology  class, went to the cinema, character meets, shopped, drank, ate, made new friends, etc – we did it all.

The ships really are amazing, I’m a total convert to Cruise life now and am desperate for more. Bucket list item is to go on all four ships and I’ve seen the information about the new upcoming ships and definitely want to try one of them!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise? Did you love it? Or do you want to?

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Disney World · walt disney world

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Review

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I have always wanted to go to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP), it was on my Disney bucket list, and two years ago I was in Walt Disney World on the right dates!

October 31st – actual Halloween was our final night of the holiday, so I asked the rest of my holiday party (my boyfriend and his family), if they wanted to come to and it was booked! I was so excited, Halloween in the Magic Kingdom, and what a way to end the holiday.

We hadn’t planned to dress up, but USA is huge on Halloween and we got sucked in! We went to Wal Mart and Target and ended up buying costumes. I found a cheap kids one, and loved it. Then my partners sister did my excellent make up. I was a mime! I had so many compliments that night.

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I had read what we needed to, and lots of information. But sadly that went all wrong! We didn’t get in the Magic Kingdom until 7pm – rookie mistake! We also missed where a cast member was giving out the trick and treat bags! So when we went to the first stop – luckily they had 4 spare on the cart!

I would suggest getting the special party map, as that will show you the trick and treat stations, and what extra character’s there are. In case you don’t get a map, look out for these.

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I really wanted to meet Jack and sally, but the queue was over 2 hours – which was half the party so we skipped that! We did go to Tomorrowland dance party, and danced with Monsters and Boo from Monsters Inc.

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I loved that all the classic characters were dressed up, I caught Donald and Daisy as they was leaving a meet and greet. Look at Donald in a pumpkin! He caught me looking and waved.

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I was shocked that they shut pirates of the Caribbean and turned the entrance into a trick or treat station. I thought pirates was  a perfect Halloween ride! I also sadly didn’t get a chance to eat any of the special treats – the food and snacks in the shops/restaurants!

We watched Hallowishes, which I really enjoyed, and we also watched the second showing of the Boo to You parade – again I had researched, and this one was quieter. So we got a seat on Main Street and sat on the pavement. I had been wanting to see the Headless Horseman for years! I did get some photos – they are not great, as everyone had their flashes on! But I saw him!

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I loved the parade, the uniqueness of the characters – Madam Leota, the gravediggers, pirates and Captain Jack Sparrow, various villain’s, Wreck it Ralph and Vanellope, Oogie Boogie and more.

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I also loved they had changed the lighting on Main Street, it was all very effective, and they played music throughout the park, like Thriller and monster mash.

I did enjoy the party, I really did – but to me for a special ticketed event, it was way too packed. Seven Dwarves Mine Train was over an hour, everywhere was super crowded, and I know it was Halloween, but I thought a select number of people was allowed in, not that many thousands!

I also was expecting a LOT more sweets/candy – but I realised after, the photos I have seen are people, who just go round and round to each station, and must have more than one bag. I did see people whose prams/strollers were loaded with bags, and they just pointed at each station to get them filled up.

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So yes I would go again, – I would be in the park by 4pm and having an early dinner so I was already there before the rush (which was my original plan!), and I would go earlier in the year, so it would be quieter (and cheaper!).

What about you – have you ever been to MNSSHP?

Disney World · walt disney world

My Favourite’s at Walt Disney World

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As you know Walt Disney World in Florida, is one of my favourite places – well it’s my second home! I feel so comfy there, and always have an amazing holiday with lots of new memories and photos. It’s always on my mind, and I’m so envious of people that live close by.  So thought would do a list of my favourite’s!

Resort: Polynesian

Park: Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom Lands: Main Street / Adventureland / Tomorrowland

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Attraction’s: –

Magic – Pirates of the Caribbean / Splash Mountain / TTA

Epcot – Spaceship Earth / Soarin’ (Although I am not such a fan of the new one)

Hollywood Studios – Tower of Terror / Star Tours

Animal Kingdom – Kilimanjaro Safaris (although I preferred the old version as high lighting poaching is important)

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Restaurant: I am stuck on this one. I used to love Kona Café for breakfast but they took away the Big Kahuna, but I still like the restaurant. I also really enjoyed California Grill and Teppan Edo on the last trip

Character Meal: Ohana breakfast

Bar: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto

Transport: Monorail / Boat

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Parade: Electrical Parade (sad times)

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Character meets: Minnie and Mickey (but had a great Daisy meet at Epcot, and I loved our Pocahontas at Animal Kingdom!)

Epcot Pavilion: Mexico

Things to do: Backstage tours, and new photos!

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How about you? What are you favourite’s? Let me know!