walt disney world

Gardens of the World Tour, Epcot

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Another tour I had kept meaning to book was the Gardens of the World tour – this is only offered whilst the Flower & Garden Festival is on. I believe it was about $85 (May 2019).

Described as “Everywhere you look at the Walt Disney World Resort, the trees, shrubs and flowers play a vital role in setting the stage for recreation, entertainment and beauty. Disney landscaping has become a recognized show in itself, providing color and enjoyment throughout the year. This fascinating 3-hour program gives participants the chance to study the various gardens of Epcot World Showcase with one of the experts responsible for helping maintain the horticultural “show.”

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You check in at 8.45am behind Spaceship Earth, get the usual lanyard with your name and a headset. we had two tour guides, but they aren’t you usual tour guides as they are horticulturist’s first and foremost and this is just an extra part of their job. I really liked both of them, they was from South America and both very passionate about what they did. The lady looked after the UK pavilion the most and it was “her pavilion”.

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We walked over to see the new Bo peep this year and then as we walked she talked about all aspects. We went to the butterfly garden and then walked along the main walkway, she talked about the flower towers and how many flowers and layers there actually was!

The tallest topiary this year was Goofy, he was more than 14ft high!

We then walked around each country, with both cast members showing us plants/topiaries of a particular interest, stopping and talking for while. There was always time for questions.

For instance in Norway, it seems like all the roofs have grass growing, but its actually only one roof with real grass!

Everyone in the group seemed very interested in the hanging baskets.

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Its amazing how much care and maintenance go into everything. Did you know there is literally a back up plant for all of them? So there is say 120 hanging baskets around World Showcase, there is 120 back up ones, if one dies etc, they just simply replace it!

This particular tour doesn’t actually go backstage at all, so pictures are welcomed, and always nice to see a empty World Showcase! We got to Morocco before the line was dropped.

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The tour finished in Canada, where we was given another chance for questions, they also gave us a pin and a handout on care/how to for implementing our own gardening at home!

I did like this tour, I always like learning new things (especially about WDW) and how much care and devotion goes into each area of this resort is just astounding.

 

 

 

walt disney world

Concierge Level at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

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So I don’t know if people was keeping up with my latest Disney adventures on Instagram (@what_becky_did) ; ) but we had a 2 night stay at Disney’s Beach club Resort. Upon arrival, we was upgraded to Concierge level! I personally haven’t stayed at this level, but my parents have. There was no mention of why, or magic moments etc. – it just happened!

Honestly still cant believe it (especially when I looked at the price later!). I was walking on air, whilst also secretly thinking someone was going to say they made a mistake!

When I did a little research/digging I found out others who stayed a very few amount of nights also got upgraded.

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We was escorted up to the Stone Harbor Club (which dontcha know requires a tap of your magicband/keycard to press the button!). We sat in the lounge whilst waiting to check in. The cast member that did check us in – Tabia was amazing. She LOVED Disney and was just so excited about it all and had lots of tours.

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Anyway, concierge level basically means you have a separate check in (with chairs and everything!), dedicated cast members at all hours, access to a lounge which has 24/7 hot drinks and also 4 times a day complementary fresh food and drinks are available and you can help yourself. Below was the timings:

Continental breakfast 7.00am-10.30am

Light snacks 11.30am-4.00pm

Hor d’oeuvres & beverages (wine etc) 5.00pm-7.00pm

Desserts and cordials 8.00pm-10.00pm

The lounge also had a tv, board games, this one had a balcony, a coffee machine. I also saw a small fridge stocked with Mickey Bars.

It was actually really nice snacky food, and it changed each day too! The cast members bought out the food, and then was like a mini buffet. The only time they stayed was at 5pm to pour you a drink – glass of wine, get you a beer, and again at 8pm for a short while to pour the liquer, but then the drinks was left after.

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One evening we had gone for a walk around The Boardwalk but had started storming, so I suggested we went back and grabbed some desserts. So we went back to the lounge, each grabbed a plate and a hot drink, and watched fireworks from our balcony – I had created my own dessert party!

At the Beach Club, it seemed like the whole floor was club level and there was quite a few rooms. There was fresh water with fruit near the lifts and the cast members at the desk always greeted you as you walked by.

Turn down service was also offered and I had a chocolate on my pillow!

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All in all, I really enjoyed the experience, I think it forced you to slow down and have some chill time. It felt more grown up and adult, and not so rushed (especially in the morning’s). I again personally could have done without kids there (I know I sound grumpy and I’m at Walt Disney World, but I just want ONE child-free area!!).

If you are a light eater, this is perfect for you, as you could then not eat at the parks and save some money there, but if you are a big eater – this will not be sufficient. There are no mickey waffles or huge breakfast items, its a very very light dinner etc.

But it worked for us, as we could eat and go, and then still eat during the day. But knowing we could still have access to foods without a queue in the evening was lovely!

I also had some snacks and a glass of wine before hitting a park in the evening – that wine which would have easily been $8 a glass.

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I wish there had been some more comfier chairs as it was nice just to sit down for half hour and just have some quiet moments. I’ve tried goggling and searching images for the other lounges to see how they look (I’m very nosey).

I also really liked Beach Club in general – it crept quickly into my top 3 resorts! I had previously stayed at Yacht Club years ago, but been waiting patiently to get back there. The location, theming, even the general architecture of the building and we didn’t even get to the pool!

I’m also very grateful for the extra sprinkling of pixie dust we got for those few days! I got to experience something new that wasn’t even on my Disney Bucket list 🙂

I liked it from what you can see! Have you stayed at Concierge level? Did you like it? Want to do it again? Curious to hear about other resorts!

 

 

walt disney world

Up Close with Rhinos Tour, Animal Kingdom

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We did the up Close with Rhinos tour on our last trip, I booked this because we had already done the Caring for Giants and I’m always on the lookout for new things.

So I don’t have any pictures as it’s all backstage, so I hope these one’s suffice.

The Disney website describes it “Get ready for your close-up with the white rhinoceros—Earth’s second-largest land animal. In this 60-minute guided adventure, the rhinos’ keepers will take you backstage to meet these massive creatures as few people ever do. As your guides introduce you to the park’s white rhinos, they’ll offer fascinating insights into the species’ behavior and biology and discuss the challenges that threaten populations in the wild.”

At the moment (May 2019) it costs $40 and you need a park ticket.

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You check in just by Kilamanjaro Safaris, you sign a waiver and are given the lanyard above. Straight away you go backstage and are walked to a vehicle by a cast member. The minibus is driven by another cast member who gives you a few facts about animal kingdom in general. She drops you off at the Rhino enclosure.

The 2 cast members we met for the actual rhino section were Caitlin and Robyn and they was amazing. Super knowledgeable and clearly loved the rhinos – I even gave them a cast compliment.

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I was super excited after we got back into the park!

We gathered round and they talked about the rhinos, and their love and relationship with them. The ones we saw was Lola and Jao, they are basically best buddies! We was invited to in 2s/3s to come and stroke the rhino! Was amazing, they are actually gentle and loving creatures and they are herbivores.

We was allowed to ask questions, and was there about maybe half hour. The whole tour is only 1 hour, so it doesn’t take much of your holiday up. The minibus picks you up and takes you back, and you then re-enter the park again by Kilamanjaro Safaris.

I came away loving rhinos (now one of my favourite’s) and with a smile on my face, I learnt something new and I’m glad I booked it for us.

I really enjoyed this (more than the elephants) and think it’s worth the money – especially because the money goes towards conservation!

There was a few tours a day, so when I rang (quite a few months in advance) I had no trouble booking, and would recommend it for you and your fellow holiday guests! have you been? Would you like to?

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walt disney world

Quick Trip Report – Walt Disney World May 2019

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Hi All, I’m back (for a few weeks actually) from Walt Disney World. We stayed for two weeks, we did have iffy weather this time and an infestation of love bugs but still enjoyable!

This time, it was just my parents and I. We had a nice grown up visit, with lounges, cocktails and deluxe resorts. Lots of high lights as always, but here are the big ones!

I stayed at 2 – yes 2 new resorts! One of them for the majority of the stay was the flagship hotel, Disney’s Grand Floridian, talk about bucket list! I finally stayed after all those years. My only complaint was I couldn’t see Cinderella Castle from my room (we was facing one of the pools). I enjoyed walking into the huge lobby, loved being ONE stop from Magic Kingdom and just ticking another resort off the list.

The other stay was the Beach Club Resort, I will actually do a separate blog post about that.

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I met up with an Instagram friend – Kirsty, we hadn’t met before and bumped into each other at immigration, and then had a few days planned together. I loved it, someone my age with similar age and we are meeting again next month! I also will be appearing in her vlogs.  Her youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNyPQ-GHMaJRFoU6eVNMAuA/featured?disable_polymer=1&app=desktop

Yay for Disney friends!

I did 3 new tours (and will do separate posts) Gardens of the world tour in Epcot, Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience and Up close with Rhinos – both in Animal Kingdom.

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I BECAME AN ANNUAL PASSHOLDER!! Sorry, the capitals was needed, as I was that excited and still am every time I see it in my purse. I did it the first morning, and boy do I love the discounts and the annual passholder entrance. Honestly, this was such bucket list for me and I wonder why we hadn’t done it before!

I finally visited Toy Story Land and rode Slinky Dog Dash (I even bought a special slinky dog tshirt for the occasion!). It’s super cute and much bigger than the Disneyland Paris one.

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I went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and was there on the 30th anniversary and I got to pick up the commemorative map and badge/button and see the debut of the new show! I could have done with seeing the show again to be honest, as I did FB live at the same time and there was so many screens and so much happening all at once!

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I went to Minnie’s Garden Party, which was a very limited event (4 days!) of Minnie in a new outfit to celebrate spring.

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New restaurants we tried – Narcoossee’s, Grand Floridian Café, The Plaza Restaurant, STK Steakhouse and Chicken Guy. Good ole Disney Dining Plan eh?!

I liked the location of Narcoossee’s but would have preferred no children present, I had a very nice steak and a George Lucas vineyeard wine! Grand Floridian Café was ok, very quiet. The Plaza is just too small and food was ok, wouldn’t go back. STK had a very good steak, would go back but wouldn’t pay out. Chicken Guy – complete disappointment.

Overall, another magical time and I hope you pop back for the other blog posts! Any questions, feel free to get in touch 🙂

 

 

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!