travel

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Florida

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During our last trip (the epic road trip/cruise), I realised after our first night staying in Walt Disney World – ticking off my last Disney value resort ; ) , we would be driving south down the coast, and what is there – Disney’s Vero Beach Resort! It isn’t even that far, its less than 2 hours drive.

Once seeing all that information put together, I knew it was fate/destiny – we HAD to stay there. I had to ring USA to book it, as there is no online option. We booked one night as we was restricted with days and dates.

Disney’s website describes it as “this elegant old-fashioned hideaway is located on Florida’s scenic Atlantic Treasure Coast”.

Upon arrival we parked out front and checked in, I loved the mural behind the reception. There is normally cookies on offer until a certain time, which had ended but she went and got us some anyway! There was also always iced water available.

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The Cast Member insisted on giving us first time visit badges, and we had a quick look round the lobby. We had a room in the main building, so you could see the hotel door from the lobby! The view was unfortunately facing the front so it was the car park (we was only there one night so wasn’t too fussed).

We dropped the cases off, then went out the back of the lobby and went exploring. We turned left and walked along, we found the fire pit, and then turned the other way, there was the pool, the entrance to the beach, hammocks, the restaurant, a grab and go food place, the outside bar etc.

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We didn’t go in the pool as it was slightly chilly (we was there in February). We explored all inside, there was so much to look at on the walls! The shop (I didn’t buy anything!), there was a spa down one end, and just before that was a games room – there was books to borrow and board games and puzzles set up. There was also a digital changing display of all the daily activities available at the resort (and nearby – we was intrigued by a local brewery tour but couldn’t make the times).

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That evening, we stayed in the resort – we went to The Green Cabin Room which is the resorts main lounge. It was cool as you could access it from inside and outside. There was some decking outside that overlooked the sea (I read that on a Sunday they offered sunrise mimosas!). We had a few drinks and dinner in there as they had a live singer who played lovely chilled music. It must have been quiet season as the resort didn’t feel too busy.

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The room was nice, and I do believe within the last 18 months – 2 years they had all been refurbed. It was a studio room so had a mini kitchen too. Beds was nice and comfy, very clean.

The next morning we had breakfast at the resort, at the Wind & Waves Grill, I chose pina colada pancakes! After we went for a walk on the beach and I took some photos looking back at the resort (see first picture), had another wonder around. They had all cottages along the resort that was named after different turtles, they looked so cute!

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We didn’t actually get time to see the grounds opposite with the sports equipment/games etc! Check out was 11am and we had a drive and next resort booked.

I’m so glad I got to see and stay here, it’s always kind of been on my radar of Disney things to do (parents have stayed a few years ago). It had a old beach club/yacht club vibe feel. It was very chilled, no one was rushing and the children there was minimal (I’m guessing summer is different!). I would like to have taken part in some of the activities, but we was pressed for time. It was quite expensive – to stay, eat and drink etc, but it was more of a deluxe Disney resort. I’m sure all Disney fans have been or are planning to stay one day.

Have you ever visited or stayed here? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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

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

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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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.