Disney World · walt disney world

World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered – Walt Disney World Tour

1

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.

11

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!!

3

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.

4

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).

5

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’ .

6

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!

8

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!

9

10

 

travel

Flashback Friday – Montreal & Toronto, Canada

 

1

So late last year (about Mid October) we flew to Montreal in Canada. We was looking at another European break, but I found some crazy cheap flights to Canada, so we went with that option!

We stayed three nights in Montreal. On the first day we wondered all round the old town (which is by far the prettiest). We also went through all the underground malls, as the winters get so bad there, there is basically underground towns which are connected all over. To save people braving the weather up top!

 3 2

We also tried Poutine for the first time that evening (not one of my favourite’s!). We also visited the Botanical Gardens, where at the time the Gardens of Light was on. Was really pretty with all the light up animals and displays, but it was chilly!

The next day we took an Uber to Mont Royal – a massive park with a cool look out point. For the rest of the day, again just grabbed a lunch and took in more of the city. We had a very early start the next morning, so had an early night!

4

 

We got a train from Montreal to Toronto, I think it took about four and half hours, also because it was the earliest one, it was the cheapest option! We was going to stay in Toronto four nights before flying home from there.

 

We dropped our cases off as the room wasn’t ready and walked into the city. We saw lots of people wearing Blue Jays tops, so went to a Starbucks for some free wifi! There my fiancé found out a game was being played that night, and the stadium was a ten minute walk away! So he booked tickets! We didn’t realise until we was there, how big of a deal the game was! So we went to our first baseball game in Canada – we both did enjoy it, but such a long game!

The next day was another early start as we had a tour booked to go to Niagara Falls! Another bucket list item! The driver was really good and informative, gave us loads of interesting facts about Canada during the drive.

It was chilly that day, but you were given a poncho to wear, as the wind made the water go everywhere! The boat ride was about twenty minutes and takes you right up to the falls. You can’t believe how powerful it is! The noise and the spray, was a really cool experience. After the boat ride, you had a free hour and a half, so everyone had lunch.

We was then driven to this cute town called Niagara on the Lake, it’s been used in films and tvs. And you cant have a chain shop / restaurant there (but we did see a Starbucks so I’m not sure how it got through!). It was just just such a nice place, we went into a lovely café/coffee shop and I had a Maple tea. The last stop was a Canadian winery, where you were given samples of ice wine (yuk!) and the opportunity to buy some. This part really wasn’t needed on the tour, and at this point I just wanted to lie down and rest!

 5

6

 

The next day we had a lie in and relaxing morning, then we walked all the way back into town again to go up the CN tower. On most of our trips, we go to the towers/view points etc, and I think this was one of the worst!

As we was in the same area, we also went to the Steamwhistle brewery. A little tour and a beer included. It had a lovely wedding venue, that had over a two year waiting list for a Saturday!

7

13 14

The next day, was our last full day. We visited the Distillery District – it was pretty with old building and cobblestones etc, but it was very small! We then walked to the famous food market – St Lawrence. It was huge! Stupidly, we didn’t get anything to eat or try here!

We also walked through the Yonge-Dundas Square – which is Toronto’s version of Times Square. We also had a quick walk through of the mall there. Since it was the last day, and we had already done so much in one week, we headed back to the hotel, watched a film and packed!

16 17

I did like Canada, but I don’t think it was the parts I wanted to see. They were both busy built up areas, so was almost two city breaks. We both agreed we wanted to see more rural and country sides. But most of that seemed to be on the Western side – which then knocks flight prices up. I also was disappointed with the lack of maple flavoured things – I thought there would be loads!!

Has anyone ever visited Canada, where did you go? Did you like it? I  know this year is a big year for Canada, as its their 150th birthday!

 

Disney World · walt disney world

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

4.jpg

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.

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

6

5

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.

7

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.

 

 

 

walt disney world

Art of Animation Resort – Little Mermaid Photo ops!

At my last visit at the world, I stayed at Art of Animation for three nights. I stayed by myself, so managed to get a Little Mermaid room!

I had visited this hotel on two occasions previously, and had loved the Cars section the most.

Whilst I was at my room, I wondered round my section each evening and noticed how many photo ops there was! I know there is lots in other resorts too, but this one just had so many!

I also had to walk through the Lion King section to get to the food court – and it also had lots! Not once walking through did I not spot someone taking a photo!

I loved it, thought it was great that Disney puts out these statues / pieces / sculptures – whatever you want to call them to add atmosphere, to plus up the experience and for great photo ops!

I’ve added some of my favourite’s from The Little Mermaid section. What about you – have you stayed here? Did you like it? Did you manage to grab some great photo ops?

1

6

4

75

2

 

travel

Flashback Friday – Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

1

A few years ago, my fiancé and I went to Amsterdam for three nights. We had so many people that had already visited and wanted to see the city for ourselves.

One of the best parts was the short flight, from London Gatwick – it was 45 minutes!     We stayed in a hotel a little on the edge of the city, and chose a basement room for a cheaper price.

The first day we walked, and walked. Just all over the town, taking it all in. Its a very picturesque place with the towering town houses and endless canals. Plus I have never seen so many bikes in one place – everyone owns one!

2

 

I wasn’t too keen on the food there, I know it would have been us as well – but felt like a lot of fast food restaurants and not many independent cute places.

On one of the days, we visited the Heineken Experience, a good brewery experience – but they don’t brew there anymore, so its more of a tour.

On the same day, we also took a boat ride on the canals over a lot of the city, was nice to see the views from a different prospective, and a few interesting facts on the recorded audio guide.

4

 

We did visit the Red light district of an evening too – everyone does – its the tourist thing to do! Felt very surreal to see – just lots of girls in their windows and you just walk past!

On one of the other days, I had pre booked a tour – it was a half day. the tour was to see Zaanse Schans windmills and a traditional clog maker, and then to Volendam – a little village where you also saw cheese making. The time on the tour, you was transported by bus (with commentary) and also for a small part – a boat.

 

3

We visited a working windmill – we actually went inside and the owner let us walk all around. The whole village was very pretty and smelled amazing, as there was a nearby chocolate factory!

Out of all the city breaks I have taken the last few years, Amsterdam is a place I wouldn’t return to. I just think there is too much hype, and there is other new places to explore. Of course, most people are shocked when I say this – but hey everyone has their own favourite’s!

 

 

 

travel

Flashback Friday – Reykjavik, Iceland

 

1

A few years ago, I had a strong desire to see the Northern Lights, so some research and a trip was booked! We booked Iceland for four nights in mid November.

I don’t normally book package type holidays, but I ended up booking the tours with the flight. I used Wowair,and the process was so easy, and we got a really good price. Hotel was through trusty old Booking.com.

Reykjavik is not cheap which we found out whilst there! Unfortunately I don’t have many photos for this blog post, as they are all stored elsewhere.

Anyway, whilst we was there – we completed three tours, visited the Blue Lagoon and explored Reykjavik on foot.

Two of our tours were unsuccessful! One was the Northern Lights chasing one – there was the tiniest glimmer, but not enough for me to say confidently I had seen them! It was still an experience, being driven miles and miles to where there is no light pollution, and standing in the middle of a road, on a hill looking up at the sky in Iceland!

The other tour was a whale watching one – two hours on a boat in very bad weather! As we got on the boat, the captain was offering everyone another date to come back (we couldn’t as only a short stay), or a sea sickness tablet! We didn’t take the tablet, as neither of us suffer from motion sickness. It was a very rough two hours with not a whale in sight!

The tour that was amazing was The Golden Circle tour, its a long day, over six hours – but you get driven around in a coach to see a lot of natural beauty sites. Such as Strokkur geyser, Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National Park, (where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimetres per year.), so you see actual craters in the ground!, you also visit a greenhouse where they grow tomatoes. Everyone else had hot tomato soup, my fiancé and I had a bloody mary! During this tour, there is a stop for lunch, but it is not included in the price, same as the tomato drinks.

2

 

 

a2

 

 

3

As I mentioned, the Blue Lagoon was amazing – its a must do if you visit Iceland. Such a surreal experience, in a pool which is lovely and warm, but its freezing out and you can mountains and snow! There is Silica Mud all round the outside, so you can even give yourself a facial! In all honesty, I wish we had stayed here longer but we had to rush back for the Northern Lights tour!

So the only disappointing thing about the trip, was the lack of Northern Lights – which is all weather based, and never guaranteed wherever you go! And as you now know, I saw them a few years later in Norway.

Iceland was one of those places I didn’t think I would ever go to, and definitely wasn’t on my list! I was really surprised but how pretty and scenic it all was. Even some of the houses were so cute! I would recommend Iceland, and suggest you put on your travel plans for the future!

travel

Flashback Friday – Prague, Czech Republic

 

1

A few years ago a friend and I went to Prague for three nights.

We stayed in a hotel outside of the city for cheaper rates and either got the tram or walked everywhere.

During the three days we walked all over the city, had an afternoon on the hop on/hop off tour bus, had meals out and visited a very cool cocktail bar.

I was disappointed in the well known Wenceslas Square, but the Old Town Square – where the famous astronomical clock is located made up for it! This was by far the prettiest part of town, and we ended up here several times.

 

 

 

 

2

3

The bar we visited was called Hemingway Bar, my friend had found on a website and we booked a reservation. As you can guess it was inspired by  Ernest Hemingway.  The drinks were made lovingly and carefully by the bartenders, and we had front row seats – as we was sat at the bar! I loved it in here, and definitely worth a visit!

5 6

7

As happens with a quick city break, you only see the tourist parts that are well known, but I like to think you can decide from those few days if you would return or not.

From my visit to Prague, I will not be going back. But hey, I experienced it and its another tick off the countries visited list!

4