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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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.

 

Disney World · walt disney world

World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered – Walt Disney World Tour

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On my last trip to the world, as I mentioned I did a few backstage tours. One of the ones I had been looking forward to was this Epcot one. This was the World Showcase one! I had done the Future World tour a few years previously so wanted to see the other side of the park.

The tour costs $109 plus tax. It starts at 8.15am, but you need to arrive fifteen minutes before. We chose to drive and park. You meet at Fountain View in Future World, you are given your name badge and head set, also strangely had to choose your lunch! (This tour includes a lunch at Rose and Crown).

The beginning of the tour, was the much known history of the Epcot Centre park and an introduction to the tour. Our tour guide was Christopher and very knowledgeable, He had worked there over 10 years.

There was so many facts and trivia you learnt along the way. One at the beginning, (which I think most people know) was that he pointed out the back of Tower of Terror, from some points you can view it, and it seems like its in the Morocco pavilion, So they changed the back of the Tower and chose a colour that blended it in to the landscape!

You start clockwise in Mexico, and work your way around. You stop at each pavilion, and the guide will share details / history of the country and the pavilion itself. You go backstage a few times, so they can show you example’s and describe facts.

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Also did you know most of the pavilions have a museum/ gallery dedicated to the country? For example in Norway – go inside the Stave Church!!

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One of the best parts was that the park was absolutely empty! (Well except for Norway – that was crazy!!) He encouraged us to take as many photos as we liked whilst there (not backstage!). We made it all the way to Morocco before World Showcase opened! Then I just got lucky with my photos, as it still wasn’t busy.

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I really don’t want to spoil the tour for anyone, as its so much fun to learn whilst you are there! And obviously ask and answer questions. At one point he asked a question, and I answered it – correctly! He was so shocked, he said in all the years he had done this tour no one had answered right! I was SOO proud of myself! (It was about illuminations and the torches – again, not spoiling for anyone).

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The only part to me, which was a not a let down, but seemed a waste of time was the lunch! As it was in the UK pavilion, you are almost at the end of the countries anyway. We was there an hour, and then only had Canada to see! We also got a sneaky ride on Soarin’ .

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I really did like the tour, but it was a long and tiring one. It’s 5 hours long, its an early start, its a lot of walking and the day we had it, it was absolutely roasting so it made it hard going!

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But overall, I suggest if you are a huge Disney World geek like me and love learning about the construction, process and other trivia about the parks – book it! I also hope you like the empty park photos, and get some good shots for yourself!

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Disney World · walt disney world

Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour, Walt Disney World

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This was one of the tours I went on, on last visit to Disney.

I have done a lot of the backstage Disney tours offered, and am always keen to do more. I knew of Walt’s love for trains (who doesn’t?!) and decided to book this one too.

It was a very early start, you had to be at Magic Kingdom for 7.15am! No transport was available, so we drove our hire car to the Contemporary Resort, and then walked over.

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We met outside the entrance, and then walked into a very empty park – bliss! The tour guide let us stop for a while and take some photos.

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I can’t remember the name of our guide, but she was so enthusiastic and passionate about the steam trains! She clearly loved her job.

It starts off with a ride on the train, one was already set up and in use. So we went round the park, until we got to the roundhouse exit. (This is located at the Fantasyland Station). You then go backwards, so you are now backstage and arrive at The Roundhouse. The train we was in and looking at was the Roger E. Broggie.

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This is where the steam trains are kept overnight, maintained and serviced. We was encouraged to take photos, but not to touch or lean on the train as it was so hot!

We was broken up into groups of 3 or 4, and took turns going up into the cab, where our tour guide explained how the train starts, works and the jobs of the two cast members. It sounds like a very hard working role, and when she said how hot the cab can get in those summer Florida month’s – wow! That’s dedication.

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When you are there, you get to see a cast member light the engines – you actually see the flames, and you also get to witness “a pop-off”. I will let you experience that for yourself!

After this portion of the tour, we got back on the train and headed to Main Street.

Under the Main Street station is a section, with posters and information on the four people the trains are named after. Walter E. Disney, Lilly Belle, Roy O. Disney and Roger E. Broggie. Our tour guide went quickly through the stories and how they got chosen. I personally hadn’t noticed this before, and think it’s a very nice touch to honour the people. If you haven’t noticed this either – maybe go check it out on your next visit!

We then went upstairs to the station, and took a seat on a few benches. There was then a flipboard with old photos and more information about steam trains. For example Walt’s own train in his garden and the story behind that.

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The tour finished here, and we was each given a pin. The tour itself lasts approximately three hours, and you need a valid ticket to get into the park.

I did enjoy the tour, and I always love hearing stories about Walt Disney. The bonus of an empty park in the morning, and going backstage are always highlights for me.

 

 

 

Disney World

Disney Blues…

 

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I have recently returned from a two week holiday at Walt Disney World!

I managed to cram a lot in – two hotel stays, my first ever Dapper Day, four backstage tours, three Disney wall photos, nineteen character selfies, seven new restaurants for the first time, and watched the last ever Wishes!!

I also worked out via the health app on the iphone, that during the two weeks, I walked 69 miles!!

It was a great time, and I miss it like mad! I think the longer you are there  the worse the Disney blues get!

But once I’m settled, I will review the tours and lots more.

How do you cope with the Disney Blues?

I listen to Sorcerer Radio, or a WDW Radio podcast. I flick through all my photos and videos. I look at my new merchandise, and lots of social media visits! I will also be appearing on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast to talk over different aspects of the trip.

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Disney World

Behind the Seeds Tour, Walt Disney World

 

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On a previous visit a few years we booked the Behind the Seeds tour.

This is very reasonably priced at $20, and lasts one hour. I’m not a huge fan of gardening but I do like to see behind the scenes at Walt Disney World, and would like to slowly work my way through all of the tours.

It’s based in The Land at Epcot, and you start by the entrance to Soarin’

You learn about insects, the high light was being able to free the ladybirds! You are given a vial and then allowed to set them on the plants. The reason for this is they are considered useful insects as they are a natural pesticide.

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Later you are given a hand-out so you can learn how to implement a different way of growing at home.

You are also given some cucumber that was grown in the greenhouses, it tasted very fresh.

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You are taken through the green houses with your group and cast member. You stop and gather round which item or food they are talking about and you can ask questions.

In another area, you are given glass jars to pass round and smell, the group then try to identify the food/spices that they are.

I did learn a lot about food and different ways on growing it, and future research. I did like the tour, but its not one of my favourites. But to learn more about Disney World and for such a good price, it’s worth it.