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Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience, Animal Kingdom

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Another new backstage tour/ experience we did was the Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience. I actually booked this for my dads birthday present, so paid for mine and his, and then they paid for my mums ticket. This one is pretty pricey, which is why it was a special treat! Currently (May 2019) its $169 each and you still need a valid park ticket). I had booked the later tour at 6.15pm (there is another at 5pm) as I wanted to be there more of sunset/evening.

 

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Check in is right next to Kilimanjaro Safaris, you are given a POG juice to sip on whilst checking in. Your group (I think there was approx. 12 people) walk with the guides to your personal truck. This isn’t the usual safari truck (its the same one in the other Animal Kingdom tours), there’s no middle rows of seats you all just sit round a bench round the truck, and it is very bumpy!

The tour starts on the actual safari, and then we pulled up next to another cast member and stopped to talk to him. You should see the other ride vehicle’s going past, all thinking why aren’t we stopping here? The guy pictured above talked about his daily routine, and time working there. Also gave time for questions. We then drove over to the platform for the food/drinks/prime animal viewing portion.

Guys – I could have stayed there all  night! I think its about 45 minutes – 1 hour you are there, but I needed more time!

All of the tables had a cover on, they did a quick run through of the food on offer, there was quite a variety and you helped yourself (see picture below). On offer also was a mini bar with wines and beers, fresh fruit water etc. I opted for a white wine and enjoyed some whilst overlooking the savannah.

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Also at this time, someone proposed! I was actually getting my drink so I missed the actual thing, but saw them hugging and a female friend was also there (who clearly knew) as she then gave her some special ears!

People were mingling and talking and as the food was tapas style, it was easy to use hands. I actually sat down facing out towards the flamingos. The food was really nice, and I did go back for seconds.

The desserts was nice too – my favourite was a 7 layer bar, it was nuts, chocolate and lots more. Very yummy. The pink one was a strawberry cake and the one in a tin was a de constructed S’mores – it didn’t photo well.

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There was 2 other cast members besides the ones on truck, and they was all so lovely. I did a cast compliment for Mandi (and the others but I didn’t get their names). You can walk all round the veranda, and there was a few binoculars on the tables.

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The sun was slowly starting to set, and we saw lots of movement from the animals (the ones below came quite close). There is also a long walk way heading to the right, and Mandi called us down as the Lions was roaring! Most of us walked down (it wasn’t hugely close to the lion part but you could see them from a distance and you could hear them well!) Let me tell you, it is now what you are expecting. She actually gave us some interesting movie/animal trivia too. You know the MGM lion? That’s not a lion, its a tiger roaring!

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I liked the set up at the bar, so had to get a picture! So cute right?

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During our time up there, a storm started. And did it come down! In the picture behind me, you can see how wet the floor was! When it was time to get back on the truck, they gave us complimentary ponchos, and I’m glad they did. As the way you are sitting, the water was streaming in and hitting our backs and necks, we would have all been drenched!

It carries on the normal tour route, with the ability to stop as usual. It ends at the same place, and we all walked back to where we met. They gave us all a gift (SPOILER ALERT) of a 4 piece bamboo set of coasters with the savour the savannah on. They are actually really nice. I did mean to take a picture after but it was raining so heavily and was quite dark. I think its about a 2 hour tour.

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I really enjoyed this and I know my dad did (such a cool birthday present right?!). I do think the price feels a bit heavy. I’m not sure if kids was allowed but we had none on our tour (yes bonus!). It does feel very adult and unique, and truthfully I don’t think kids under 12 would appreciate it. It felt like a very chilled evening and doesn’t feel like you are at Walt Disney World at all! Have you been/ Or would you like to? If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

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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.

 

 

 

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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!

 

 

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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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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 🙂

 

 

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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!

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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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