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!

 

Outings

Ocean Liner Exhibit, V & A Museum

 

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A few weekends ago I visited the Ocean Liners: Speed and Style exhibit at the V & A Museum, London. The museum website described it as “Experience a unique journey through the design stories of the world’s greatest ocean liners, including the Titanic, Normandie, the Queen Mary and the Canberra, and find out how these impressive vessels helped shape the modern world.” It is running presently until June 17th 2018.

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I wanted to visit the exhibit after going on two cruises, and thought it would be an interesting subject, with lots of history. The exhibit was much quieter and more adult friendly. There was more space, and didn’t feel like you had to rush.

It started off with lots of posters advertising cruises and the ships back in the day, there was also an old black and white video, and models of ships.

The next few rooms were all actual items from past cruises and ships. Doors, furniture, carpets, vases etc. All with the signage next to it, saying the ship and year, with a little information.

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On a cruise, you realise how tasteful everything is, and it was back in the day – maybe even more so. Some of them were so glamorous – and they sold it that way!

On ships, they had the classes broken up into different sections of the ship. The first class lounge had prime location – mid ship, on a higher deck, as if it was bad weather – this is the best place to be.

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There was a room dedicated to the engine and mechanics. This room was dark and painted black so it gave you the feeling of being lower down on a ship.

The best part was the ‘Life on board’ section, there was a big screen showing the sea with a railing to give you the impression you was on the ship! There were mannequins showcasing staff uniforms, and the swimming wear from old times. There was even a deck chair from the titanic!

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They had videos showing, with the room broken into smaller sections – so the cabin rooms, dining, fashion etc. Lots of pieces to look at.

The last room had an actual piece of The Titanic in – and even more surprisingly it was the first time it had been back in Europe since it had set sail! There was also a short video clip with movies/films with ships featured, one was Titanic by James Cameron. It just makes me feel instantly sad!

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Overall, I enjoyed the exhibit and would recommend if you was interested in the good old days of luxury cruise ships and liners, and like learning about the history of them. We went on a Saturday, and I booked the tickets about an hour before going, so it’s not too busy.

 

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?!

 

Outings

Winnie the Pooh Exhibit, V & A Museum

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A few weekends ago I visited the Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic exhibit at the V & A Museum, London. The museum website described it as “This multi-sensory and playful exhibition explores the magical world of Winnie-the-Pooh – one of the most adored fictional characters of all time”. It ran from 9 December 2017 to 8 April 2018, so sadly if reading this you have now missed it!

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I had seen the exhibit advertised last year on the website, and knew straightaway I wanted to visit.  I had my Winnie the pooh phase when I was at High School and my favourite was Tigger.

I went on a weekend, so unfortunately it was too busy and full of kids for my liking! But it was a charming exhibit, and I learnt quite a bit.

The exhibit started off with a glass case full of old and unique memorabilia. The next part was all about the history of the authors past and family. This part was set up within a bedroom, and then a house. All white walls with decorations and the exhibits framed with lights on them so you could see the drawings clearly. There was even a bed set up with books to read to the kids.

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And the original drawing/sketch of 100 Acre Wood!

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There was a small door for kids to walk through which then led to the setting being outside. More original sketches and drawings nicely displayed, with just the right amount of information next to it. There was a also a short film type with a reading, so you watched the words overhead.

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Everyone loved the photo opportunity on the bridge playing pooh sticks. There was a coat rack with rain macs and umbrellas to borrow and wear, but as they were kids sizes – I couldn’t do it! This was the main noisy section, with a table full of paper and pencils for the kids.

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Around the corner, was more drawings broken into different sections along the wall, movement, character expressions etc.

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At the end was another glass case with first edition books of Winnie the Pooh.

I did enjoy the exhibit, and it really was such a good price for a cute little hour out! Any fans of Winnie the Pooh, young and old must have enjoyed it too.

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disney cruise · travel

Tiana’s Place, Disney Wonder

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Whilst the Disney Wonder was at dry dock, she had a few upgrades, including a new restaurant. It is Tiana’s Place – based on the restaurant that Tiana dreams about and finally builds in The Princess and the frog.

I love Princess and the Frog! So I had been looking forward to dining here since we booked the cruise.

I loved it! definitely my favourite restaurant on the ship. It was great. Firstly it was different as they had characters in the restaurant and there was a live band! The food was new Orleans based and the servers were dressed in yellow, it really did feel like the film! I mean look at the main menu!

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During our week cruise, we ate here twice. The first night I was just looking around and checking out all the details. I sadly didn’t get a photo of the entrance, as the doors was shut during the day and then too many people of the evening!

Tiana with the band sang and they played jazz music, she also came round to the tables for a photo. We also saw Louie the alligator.

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The plates even had frogs on and were super cute! I managed to take a photo of my dessert, I chose banoffee pie – honestly the best one I’ve ever had.

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On the second night dining here, you “celebrate” Mardi Gras! Each person was given beads in the New Orleans colours. There was more singing and dancing, and guests were encouraged to join in. So our table of six adults all went up and danced down the centre!

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I chose the tuna ahi for a starter that night, and also had the classic beignets for dessert. I’m annoyed I didn’t get more food pictures, but hopefully you can get an idea of the restaurant by the ones I have included!

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I really enjoyed eating here, just for the whole experience. It felt like a proper show, not so much a character meal but with the live music and interaction, it was just very enjoyable.

I know there is a very similar new restaurant on the Disney Magic based on Tangled, and I would very much like to try that out too now!

Have you eaten at Tianas’s Place? Would you like to?

 

disney cruise · travel

Castaway Cay, The Bahamas

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On most Disney cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean, you will make a stop at Disney’s private island – Castaway Cay. The island is approximately three miles long and two miles wide, so its not very big! Disney have also left a lot of the island to be undeveloped.

The island is almost broken into two – Castaway Family beach and Serenity Bay – Serenity Bay is an adults only beach!!

There is food on the island for lunch (it’s a bbq which is included in the cruise price), a few shops, (exclusive merch!), character meets and lots of things to do. There is a tram provided for you to get around, or you can walk. We have now tried both options.

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I also found out recently that it won an award – 2017 Cruisers’ Choice top-rated cruise line private island destination.

On our most recent cruise, we had two stops at Castaway Cay due to a change of itinerary. So we explored a lot more of the island as we wasn’t so pressed for time. On the first stop, we hired the bikes.

The bike trail is also the 5k trail (You can sign up for free for the 5K and get a medal!). The price to hire (current of March 2018) was $12 for the hours hire. We cycled all round, found a few photo ops, and went to the Observation tower.

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It is a nice trail, it’s all flat, the pavements are wide and you can cycle at whatever speed you wish. We went all the way down to the other lookout at the end of Serenity Bay.

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After all my exercise and lunch, we treated ourselves to the cocktail of the day, which that day was a Bahamamama.

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On the second stop we hired a kayak. It was slightly windy so it was hard work, we was only out twenty minutes! But we did get a different view of the ship, and I attempted some photos on my partners phone. After we found a hammock, and just chilled. It was lovely, we could hear the music, the sun was shining, it was one of those moments you don’t forget.

Its a very pretty island with amazing blue seas( I can never get over the colour!) and photos needing to be taken around every corner! I hope I get to return again.

Have you been to Castaway Cay? What was your favourite part? Do you want to go?

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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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