walt disney world

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!

walt disney world

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.

 

 

 

walt disney world

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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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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