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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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 World · walt disney world

Backstage Tales Tour, Animal Kingdom – Walt Disney World

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On my last trip to the world, as I mentioned I did a few backstage tours. One of them was the Backstage Tales tour located at Animal Kingdom.

The tour costs $90 plus tax. It starts at 7.30am, but you need to arrive fifteen minutes before. The tour lasts four hours. We chose to drive and park. You meet just inside the front of the park, you are given your name badge and head set.

The tour starts as you walk through The Oasis, where they talk about the history of the park, and Joe Rohde (I got a few questions right too!). At this point as we was still in the park, we was allowed to take photos.

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As the park was so empty, and it was so pretty in the morning sun, I was already snapping away! When else would you get a selfie in front of an empty Tree of Life?! So all of the photos on this blog post, are all from the very start as no pictures was allowed during the backstage portions (which was the rest of the tour!), but they was such pretty photos I’ve included them!

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We walked through to Africa to the Pangani Forest Exploration and then through to the bird aviary. I t was so nice, as it was so quiet just our tour group in there! We had our own cast member talk through all the birds, and their charactristics and a few stories. We was also given the option to feed them live meal worms.

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After this we then went backstage straight away. We was led to a mini bus, which would then remain ours for the whole tour. As you know Animal Kingdom is huge, so the bus was used to get to one part to the other.

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I don’t want to spoil the tour for people, as I love surprises but you do visit the kitchens where all the food is prepared, quite a few backstage areas of the animals housing parts, which was amazing. You get really close to the animals! I was desperate to stroke a rhino!!

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At each animal part, you spoke to a specialist who works with these animals day in and out, and also answers any questions you have. Every Cast Member we met was really friendly, knowledgeable and clearly loved the animals!

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There was also a break, where you could have a hot drink or water, with a snack. This was then followed by a little talk about the conservation fund. The animals they spoke about on my particular tour was tortoises. Here we was told that a portion of our ticket for the tour went to the conservation fund!

At the end of the tour, you can keep your name tag and you are given a water bottle.

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Overall, I did really enjoy the tour, and it was nice to see some more of Animal Kingdom. It did feel a little over priced, but we had two cast members for the whole tour, and the use of the bus.

 

Disney World

4 Parks, 1 Day – Walt Disney World Challenge!

Last year was an eventful holiday at Disney. As I mentioned, I was proposed to in a surprise engagement, so I had an unexpected week with my fiancé. Then once he flew home, I still had another 5/6 days with my parents.

I’m all about trying new things at Disney and my Disney bucket list is huge, and is always growing! I had the mad idea of doing all four parks in 1 day! This idea was made the evening before at dinner, so we made a quick plan.

I suggested 2 attractions and then something to eat/drink in each park before moving on. We half made decisions on which attractions to choose based on previous trips and what we knew would be quick and easy to ride. We also decided to be flexible in case the queue was long, or the attraction was shut.

At the time we were staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, so it made logical sense to start at Animal Kingdom.

We got the bus to animal kingdom, it wasn’t actually that early! It was after 10am (shock horror!), we went on its tough to be a bug soon as we got in the park, we wasn’t hungry so grabbed a snack of a dole whip. Also for some reason (I can’t remember why, maybe we had plans to go to Animal kingdom that day), we had a Fastpass for expedition Everest, so we rode that and headed out. Park 1 done!

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We got on a direct bus to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Here we rode Star Tours (queue wasn’t too long and we knew the actual ride didn’t last too long), and then Muppet Vision 3D. We also had a sit down with some cold water and a chicken caesar salad. Park 2 done! We then took a boat to Epcot.

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Once at Epcot, we headed to The Seas with Nemo & friends, then straight over to Journey into Imagination with Figment. We realised we had made good time so far, and it was only late afternoon, and we was already at the third park! So we had a stroll around World Showcase. We stopped at Mexico, where I had loaded nachos and a hibiscus margarita – yum! Park 3 done!

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We then got a Monorail to Magic Kingdom. We went to the Enchanted Tiki Room, had a Nutella fruit waffle from Sleepy Hollow, then headed to carousel of Progress. Park 4 done! We had did it. Completed the 4 parks in 1 day challenge!

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Now we was tired, and at this point my parents decided to leave. I elected to stay, so I watched celebrate the magic twice, the electrical parade and wishes!

I also decided to stay until The Last Kiss Goodnight (another first for me! Another tick on the Disney bucket list –yes!).

So I then had the chance to have photos of me down an empty main street! Another amazing dream come true. I also had my own Disney bus back to my resort. So I left the hotel at 10.20am and didn’t get back until 12.40am!! I was so exhausted, but the day was totally worth it!

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