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MSC Cruises – Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.

On Wednesday 4th October I was very excited to have been invited to #BlogCampOnBoard hosted by Tots 100, and MSC Cruises, on board the MSC Preziosa cruise liner. I had never been to a blogging conference before let alone on a cruise ship, hence my excitement.

The MSC Preziosa was going to be docked in Southampton for the day so this gave us the chance to explore the ship as day guests as well as attend various blogging sessions if we wanted to.

When I arrived at Southampton docks it wasn’t hard to spot where I needed to be. The Preziosa was absolutely beautiful and that was from afar. I couldn’t believe the size of her (not surprising seeing as she has 18 decks, 14 of which are for guests). The sun was already shining and it got me excited to get on board and explore what she had to offer.

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

We had to pass security just like a passenger would and present our passports, even though we weren’t actually going anywhere we were still treated the same. It was interesting having never been on a cruise before to see it was just the same as traveling through an airport. It looked just like airport departures with security and the departure lounge.

Once we were escorted to board the ship we were once again asked to show our day passes and present our passports to the security team on board – the level of security is really good and definitely makes you feel at ease and feel safe on board.

Once all the checks were in place we walked into the breathtaking main atrium of the ship. It is absolutely beautiful. Everything was so shiny and sparkly and so very grand. The spotlights and lights in the ceiling reflected onto the tiled floor below. There was a beautiful piano situated in front of a generous seating area whilst being encased by a Swarovski crystal staircase. The grandest staircase I have ever seen in my life. Each step has been embedded with the crystals and costs a whopping €8-10,000  – yes that’s right each step! I felt privileged to have walked down them and I can only imagine how glamorous it would be walking down them in a ballgown. There were two glass lifts which gracefully carried guests between each floor.

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.

Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.

Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.

Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

We were taken from there into the ships Platinum Theatre, which can seat a whopping 1,603 passengers. It was absolutely huge, far bigger than anything I have been in on land and this was on a ship!

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

MSC is a family-owned company and that really showed. They have thought of everything and cater for children from babies through to 17 years.

Seeing as we have such a large age gap (L is 14 & C is 5) I was keen to find out how they could both benefit from the kids clubs and I wondered if they could cater for both of them. I was surprised to find they could.

The children clubs are split into five groups:

  • Baby –  3 years
  • Mini – 3-6 years
  • Juniors – 7-11 years
  • Young – 12-14 years
  • Teen – 15 – 17 Years

Kids can join in as little or as much as they like. Daily schedules are delivered to cabins each day with a forecast on the following day so you have plenty of time to decide what they would like to do. The clubs are open 9am – 11pm and your little cherubs can be taken for their breakfast, lunch or dinner if you wanted the staff to take them. You can even leave them on board in the clubs if you fancied the odd day off exploring an island when the ship is docked. The activities in each club depend on the age but they can range from talent shows, cooking, arts & crafts, discos, DJ/sports/technology programmes … there’s plenty to do.

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC

MSC also offers a new baby laundry service for families traveling with children aged 0-6 years so you don’t have to over pack on luggage. How cool is that? We all know as parents accidents and food mishaps can happen. But on board with MSC you don’t need to worry. They have also partnered with Chicco & Lego to bring fun and educational toys and equipment on board for their little passengers.

I know both of mind would love the facilities on board especially the swimming pools, waterpark and water slide!!

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Indoor pool with a retractable roof Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

 

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Indoor pool with a retractable roof Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC

Once we had finished the welcome and briefing in the theatre we were split into three groups. The first thing my group did was have a tour of the ship. We weren’t able to see the entire ship because of time restraints before lunch and the ship currently had passengers on board so we weren’t able to see in any cabins. MSC has however provided some photos of the cabins to show us what they would typically look like.

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC

The MSC Preziosa is a beautiful ship, she was christened by Sophia Loren in Genoa Italy. Sophia is the godmother of MSC Cruises. The ship’s length is 333.30mt, she weighs 130,072 tonnes (WOW!), she can carry 4,345 passengers which are accommodated over 1,751 cabins (45 of which are suitable for reduced mobility passengers) and her average speed on the water is 18 knots (although she can reach 24,21 knots!)

To keep you occupied on board the MCS Preziosa has:

  • 3 outdoor pools – one of which is an infinity pool & one indoor pool with a retractable roof, so if you are sailing towards better climates then you can experience the ‘outdoor’ pool vibe.
  • Doremi Castle – a water playground for kids
  • 120mt waterslide wrapping itself around the outside of the ship.
  • Fully equipped panoramic gym (where better to work out overlooking the ocean)
  • MSC Aurea Spa – 1,700m of beauty and wellness offering a range of treatments and expert masseuses.
  • Onboard shopping boutiques selling handbags, jewellery, perfume and even cameras and camera equipment.
  • Platinum theatre – seating 1,603 passengers hosting a range of different shows almost every day of the week.
  • Sports and bowling alley (yes that’s right, an actual bowling alley on a ship!!!)
  • 4D Cinema
  • F1 Simulator
  • All night Casino
  • Wide choice of live music in a choice of different bars and lounges
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo courtesy of MSC

The MSC Preziosa has an impressive 8 restaurants on board so there would be plenty to choose from.

  • The Golden Lobster restaurant
  • L’arabesque restaurant
  • Galaxy Lounge
  • Panoramic a la carte restaurant
  • Maya & lnca buffet (open 20 hours a day)
  • Eataly & Italia themed restaurants
  • La Locanda international wine bar and pizzeria
  • Le Palmeraire (Private gourmet restaurant for Yacht Club passengers)

MSC Yacht Club.

This is an exclusive area for passengers wanting that little bit extra on their cruise. This club is offered on seven of the MSC ships – MSC Preziosa, MSC Divina, MSC SplendidaMSC Fantasia, MSC Meraviglia, MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview. It’s the best way to discover various destinations. Included in the MSC Yacht Club you can enjoy these special privileges:

  • Private swimming pool and sun deck
  • Private concierge reception
  • 24 hr butler service
  • Prestige luxury suites
  • Panoramic top sail lounge
  • Luxury experiences from mini bar, meals, refreshments and drinks
  • LePalmerair restaurant
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
MSC Yacht Club private pool and sun deck. Photo courtesy of MSC.

After our tour of the ship, we were taken to the Golen Lobster restaurant for our lunch. We had either a choice of food from the 3-course menu or we could help ourselves to the buffet. I decided to go with the buffet and enjoyed some cold meats, salad, potatoes and some fresh bread. I also opted to choose some dessert from the buffet because quite frankly they all looked amazing.

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

The staff at lunch couldn’t have been more attentive. They were constantly making sure we had water in our glasses and topped up wine if glasses seemed empty. We had the choice of still or sparkling water and red or white wine. For those of us who didn’t want to drink, soft drinks were on offer too. As soon as plates were empty they were being taken away so the tables were kept clean and tidy.

After lunch, there were a few blogging sessions to choose from so first up I decided to pop along to one that Alison Parry was taking all on Podcasts. I found this really interesting and informative and who knows maybe sometime in the future I might just embark on podcasting. The second session was all about metrics with Sally Whittle founder of Tots 100. We had an interactive game to play for a bit of fun and a good way to find out how Tots 100 work.

After all the blogging sessions we had a Q&A session with the lovely MSC staff whilst sipping on cocktails. They answered some pressing questions us bloggers had about cruising with MSC and help us with any information we didn’t already find out from the day. They told us how they are planning to accommodate British passengers on board by providing kettles in the cabins with the famous Yorkshire teabags (my favourite tea!) They also answered queries bloggers had about children traveling on board with medical issues and how the staff would be able to deal with this.

I then took the opportunity to quickly pop off for one last wander around the deck to take some last minute photos and take in the beauty of the ship before we disembarked.

MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Some of the gorgeous cakes on offer to buy with an afternoon coffee.         Photo © It’s a Blogs Life
MSC Cruises - Spending The Day On Board MSC Preziosa.
Photo © It’s a Blogs Life

Before Blog Camp on Board, I don’t think a cruising holiday would have been something I would have booked as our family holiday, but I was surprised to see how many families and children were on board and how many facilities were on board to keep children entertained. It is definitely something I would now consider.

MSC have 16 ships, two of which sail from the port of Southampton – the Preziosa and the Magnifica. This is a huge selling point seeing as Southampton is only half an hour away and it would save the worry of flying out to a destination to board a boat and no baggage allowances to worry about either!

A huge thank you to MSC for welcoming me on board for the #BlogCampOnBoard conference and also to Sally at tots 100 for organising it all.

If you wanted to find out more information on MSC Cruises, you can check out their website for more details.

 

Disclaimer – I was invited onboard the MSC Preziosa as a day passenger to attend Blog Camp on Board, however, all thoughts and opinions on the ship are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa – Orlando, Florida

If you’re planning a holiday to Florida and are looking for family accommodation then I can thoroughly recommend the Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa, as a perfect place to stay on your holiday. By doing some research we come across these perfect apartments within a hotel environment.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa - Orlando, Florida

Having only been built in 2006 and had some refurbished work carried out in 2017, there are 495 apartments spaced out over 5 buildings, which consist of either private one, two, three or four bedrooms, sleeping from 1-10 people.

Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen, a jacuzzi bath in the master bedroom, flat screen TV’s in the living area and all bedrooms, a living room with a sofa bed if extra sleeping space is needed, a washer and dryer and also high-speed internet. They have absolutely everything you might need for your Orlando stay.

I don’t know about you but when we go away being a family of four the washing soon builds up. I liked the idea of being able to pop a wash on every few days to a) save it all building up for when we got home and b) It saved us a lot of luggage weight not having to take 2 full weeks of clothing away because I knew we could wash, dry and rotate clothes whilst we were there.

I also liked the convenience of some days making stuff in the kitchen for us, especially breakfast. We tended to have breakfast in the apartment and make up some snacks and bottles of ice water to take to the parks. On the days we had off from visiting the parks I wouldn’t mind cooking us something in the evening. I tend to get a bit bored of eating out for two whole weeks so making the odd ‘home’ cooked meals didn’t bother me at all and it was actually nice some nights.

We had a two bedroomed apartment. It included two bathrooms, two toilets and two separate bedrooms. Bedroom one (the master) had a huge king sized bed, a Jacuzzi bath, a separate shower and a toilet. There was also a large walk in closet/wardrobe which housed a fairly decent sized safe, and in the bedroom itself we had a chest of drawers and a flat screen tv. The beds in the resort are amazingly comfy. There’s loads of space as well because the beds are massive.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa - Orlando, Florida

The second bedroom had two twin beds, a wardrobe and chest of drawers and next to the bedroom in a separate room a bath & shower combination, sink and toilet.

The lounge/dining room had plenty of seating, a flat-screen TV, a table in the centre of the sofas and the dining room had a really lovely big circular dining table and 6 dining chairs.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa - Orlando, Florida

The kitchen had a cooker, microwave, kettle, toaster, coffee machine, fridge/freezer, all the crockery/glasses/cutlery/pots and pans you would need and in a separate cupboard, there were a washing machine and dryer.

The outdoor swimming pool “The Pirate Plunge Pool’ features an excellent Pirate Ship which has a water slide. It’s even been built into the shape of a seahorse! There is a poolside bar so if you fancied a drink, snack or ice-lolly in the sun, sat down by the pool you could.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa - Orlando, Florida

 

We found the Lake Buena Vista Resort perfectly located for the Disney,  Universal & Seaworld Parks and also for restaurants, shopping and supermarkets. DisneyWorld resort is only a short 10 minutes drive, Universal & Seaworld were 20 minutes and Walmart is literally a few minutes drive across the road. The resort also offers shuttle busses to all of the theme parks too.

They have three restaurants on site as well. Pizza Hut Express, Lani’s Lanu pool bar and Frankie Farrell’s Irish Pub.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa - Orlando, Florida

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa - Orlando, Florida

The resort is also next to the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, so plenty of shops to help that all-important shopping day!

The Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa have their very own ‘Reflections Spa & Salon’ on site so if you fancied a little treat and some time to relax then you don’t have to go far and if you are feeling more energetic (if you’re brave after a full on day at the park) you can make use of their fitness centre too.

Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa - Orlando, Florida

I would definitely choose to stay there again and I have recommended the resort to anyone who’s been looking for recommendations on places to stay.

Have you ever stayed at the Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa?

All featured images are supplied courtesy of Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa.

 

 

Booking A Holiday To Disneyland Paris.

Booking a holiday to Disneyland Paris can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing .. especially if you’ve never been before. There are lots of different ways to book, lots of accommodation to choose from, ways of getting to there and different meal options.

Booking your Disneyland Holiday.

There are various different companies you can choose to book with. We chose to book with Disney Holidays direct themselves. Very often they run different offers which could be free meal plans added, a percentage off your holiday, buy a number of nights and get the same again free, children under seven stay and play for free (which would be free hotel and park tickets). If you’re planning on making a booking it’s worth checking back every so often to see if they have added on any special offers.

A few other companies I have heard people using are Magic Breaks & Thomas Cook.  I’m sure there are a few more out there but those are the ones I know of.

Travel Options

 

There are 3 ways to get to Disneyland. We chose to Fly with Easyjet. Again there are plenty of airlines to choose from who all fly to Paris, from all different airports and to 3 airports in Paris within a short distance to Disneyland.

We flew from London Gatwick into Charles De Gaulle airport. The flight time was only 40 minutes, so perfect if you’re travelling with small children.

You can drive yourself and take the Euro tunnel (or otherwise known as the Channel Tunnel). This is perfect if you wanted the freedom to pack as much as you wanted without the worry of luggage allowance. You pick the Euro Tunnel up at Folkestone in Kent which is in the South East of England and you will arrive in Calais in France. You will then need to make the drive to Disneyland which I believe is around 4 hours long. You will go through a few tolls on the way so be prepared and have some Euro’s ready for that. I have read the drive in France is a very pleasant one.

Another option is to take the Eurostar. You can pick the train up at 3 different locations in England – London St Pancreas, Ebbsfleet International & Ashford International. The train arrives literally at the entrance to the Disney Parks where you can then get onto a shuttle bus to your Disney Hotel. The trains offer a direct service and an indirect service averaging anywhere between 2hrs 30min to 4hrs 30mins. You would have to drive to whichever departure station you choose and then park your car in their carpark for the duration of your holiday (a bit like you would do if you travelled from an airport).

Or finally, you can choose to travel via P&O Ferry. You can pick the ferry up in Dover which again is on the South East coast of England and the crossing takes just 90 minutes. You will arrive in Calais and then you would have the 4-hour drive from Calais to Disneyland Paris, just as you would do if you travelled via the Euro Tunnel. Again this has its advantages of having your own car with you and being able to pack as much as you like without the worry of luggage allowance. You would also have your car over there if you fancied doing any sightseeing around Paris.

Airport Transfers

If you have chosen to fly into Paris then you will need to use a  transfer to your hotel. We flew into Charles De Gaulle airport in Pairs but you can also choose to fly into Orly as well.

There are three options to choose from when it comes to transfers. There is the Magic Shuttle, which is what we picked. The transfer takes anywhere from around 30 minutes to an hour depending on how many hotels it stops at before your one. The coaches are fully air-conditioned and offer free wi-fi.

TGV – This is a high-speed train that will take you to the entrance to Disney in around 10 minutes. Once you arrive at the station you will then need to get on a hotel shuttle bus from outside the Disney Parks.

Trainline – this train can be picked up in the centre of the airport just like the TGV, but this train will take you roughly and hour & 11 minutes.

Private Transfer – There are lots of different companies offering private transfers – the best way to look into these is to join a Disneyland facebook group. Lots of people have some good recommendations for you on there.

Disneyland Hotels

Disneyland has six on-site hotels. They all offer free shuttle buses running to and from the hotel to the parks and some of the hotels are within walking distance of the parks. Staying in one of the Disneyland hotels offer many benefits. Extra magic hours is where hotels guests have an extra two hours per day to use the parks before they open to the general public. This is a perfect time to get on some rides or do some meet and greets before the queues get big. The characters will pop along to the hotels at various times of the day – usually in the hotel lobby’s, and you can have the luxury of having your shopping delivered to your hotel room if you purchase anything in the parks without the worry of carrying it around for the rest of the day.

Disneyland Hotel (5-star rating) –  The Disneyland hotel is situated right at the gates to the Disneyland Park. In certain room and suites, you can actually have a view over main street looking down to Sleeping Beauties castle. With its beautiful victorian decor and turrets, it can’t help but blow you away when you see it.

Disney’s Hotel New York (4-star rating) – This New York themed hotel is around 10 minutes walk to the parks, or a quick ride on the shuttle bus. It over looks the beautiful lake and has one of the biggest pools out of all the hotels in Disney. It’s also only a couple of minutes walk to the Disney village.

Disney’s Newport Bay Club (4-star rating) – This nautical-themed hotel was renovated in 2016. This hotel over looks the other side of the lake and is only a few minutes walk to the Disney Village. A walk to the parks from the Newport Bay Club is around 15 minutes.

Disney’s Sequoia Lodge (3-star rating) – This hotel gives you the feel of staying somewhere in a mountain retreat. A walk to the parks from here will take you around 15 minutes, but again for a quicker option, you can use the free shuttle buses.

Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne (2-star rating) –  Themed like a Wild West town, they have newly refurbished rooms featuring Toy Story. This hotel is a little further from the Disney Parks and will take around 20 minutes to walk, but again like all the hotels, there is the shuttle service. Thos hotel doesn’t have a swimming pool.

Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe (2-star rating) – This is where we chose to stay – it’s themed around the film ‘Cars’ which C really loved. Despite it only being a 2 star we were very surprised at how good the quality was. It was clean and comfortable and had all the amenities you would need. We had two double beds, furniture to use for our clothes, a TV, safe, free wi-fi, a kettle, a bathroom with towels changed daily if we required, a bath & shower with complimentary cosmetics. We spent very little time in the rooms as it was because we wanted to maximise our time in the parks, I can honestly say I don’t think I would bother with a higher rating hotel on any future visits purely because the Santa Fe had everything we could want. Their restaurant was also really nice too (more about that in another post). The Santa Fe doesn’t have a swimming pool but I don’t think we would have found time for a swim anyway! The Santa Fe is also around a 20-minute walk to the parks.

Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch – This is the only self-catering option on the Disney Site – they don’t have a shuttle service and it is about a 15-minute drive to the parks so you will need to have your own transport. The accommodation is log cabins with the amenities you will need for a self-catering holiday. It’s also perfect for larger families who don’t want to share the one hotel room. There is a swimming pool on site too.

You can find out more about each hotel on the Disney page.

Shuttle Buses

I did touch on the subject of the shuttle buses in the hotel section but … every hotel on the Disney site offers a free shuttle bus service to and from the parks (all hotels except the Disneyland Hotel & Disney’s Davy Crockett Ranch) The buses run every 12 minutes between 06.30am & 11.00pm. During the peak times (park opening and closing) the buses can get very busy so be prepared and you may have to stand too.

Meal Plans

As of March 2017, the meal plans have changed. Seeing as we went in February we had slightly different meal plans. The Disney website explains all the different meal plans they have to offer so check it out for all the information. You can choose what plan will best suit your party.

Character Dining

Booking a holiday to Disneyland Paris

Disney offers various options to have an extra special meal alongside the Disney Characters coming to your table for personal one to one interaction. You can choose a breakfast, lunch or dinner option and they offer these special mealtimes in three of their restaurants.

Auberge de Cendrillon – This restaurant is situated inside the main Disneyland park. It’s not far from the castle and themed like a fairytale. If you dine here you will most likely be greeted by the prince and princesses.

Inventions – This buffet style restaurant overlooks Main Street in the Disneyland Park. Meet Mickey Mouse and friends at your table except for breakfast time.

Booking a holiday to Disneyland Paris

Plaza Gardens – This restaurant is located just off the end of Main Street. It only became a character dining restaurant inMach 2017 and they only have the characters join you for breakfast. This is a great way to start the day meeting Mickey Mouse and his friends as you tuck into your first meal of the day before you head off for a day of adventure.

Booking a holiday to Disneyland Paris

So, I hope some of this has been of some help to you if you are looking to book a holiday to Disneyland Paris. There is so much to think about and it can sometimes be daunting especially if it’s your first time. However many times you’ve been though you’ll have an absolutely magical time and I can’t wait to return again some day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida Holiday – Aquatica Water Park – Day 12

I thought I would do a little throwback series for the next few weeks re-capping our holiday to Disney World in Florida. At the time of going I kept a daily blog which was only ever used for that holiday and i’m so pleased I did. Every night I would sit down and document what we had done each day even down to what kind of weather we had. I love reading it back every so often reliving the memories. On this day we went to Disney’s Aquatica water park.
Todays Weather – 77f (25c)
Well the drive into the park looked really promising, it was quiet n the car-park despite it being a good hour after it opened so we hope that meant the queues would be nice a low for the rides.
Florida Holiday - Aquatica Water Park - Day 12
Florida Holiday - Aquatica Water Park - Day 12
Florida Holiday - Aquatica Water Park - Day 12
Florida Holiday - Aquatica Water Park - Day 12
Florida Holiday - Aquatica Water Park - Day 12
The first ride we went on was the water slide that sent you through the dolphin tank and you were meant to see them through a see through slide. The only bit that was see through was right at the very end and it wasn’t very long, plus with the speed you whizz past you’re lucky to get a look at anything. So we were disappointed and found the adverts really mis-leading.
The park was really very quiet – we went in the lazy river so we could get to another ride you were meant to ride the river in a rubber ring. The only problem was the current was so strong you were lucky enough to be able to stand up let alone struggle into a rubber ring – L got carted off at one point and she couldn’t even hold onto the wall to stop herself 🙁
We probably did 3 or 4 slides in total and none of them were particularly enjoyable.
L stayed and played in the kiddie area for about 15 minutes before getting bored which is unusual for her.
Florida Holiday - Aquatica Water Park - Day 12
Florida Holiday - Aquatica Water Park - Day 12
Florida Holiday - Aquatica Water Park - Day 12
We took at look on the map and realised there were only two slides left we hadn’t done so Mr S went to do them (I had lost interest by now) and L went into the swimming pool with the waves, which after Typhoon Lagoons huge wave machine the other day it really was quite lame.
So after about an hour & a half we all agreed we’d rather just get ready & leave. We found it really boring and what they did have we didn’t enjoy.
So thats two parks owned by Seaworld we’ve done this holiday and not liked, and we certainly won’t be doing either parks again – they just don’t seem to ‘get it’ as fair as we’re concerned so we shall be sticking to Disney in the future :o)
I’ll do another blog after this evenings for Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Party.

Florida Holiday – Chef Mickey & Epcot – Day Seven.

I thought I would do a little throwback series for the next few weeks re-capping our holiday to Disney World in Florida. At the time of going I kept a daily blog which was only ever used for that holiday and i’m so pleased I did. Every night I would sit down and document what we had done each day even down to what kind of weather we had. I love reading it back every so often reliving the memories. We went for breakfast at Chef Mickeys in the Contemporary Lodge hotel & spent rest of the day at Epcot.
Day Seven – Chef Mickey & Epcot (Sunday 13th November 2011)
Todays Weather – 79f (26c)
Lauren woke very excited this morning because she was off for breakfast at Chef Mickeys 😀 We had the reservation booked for 9.25am in Disney’s Contemporary Lodge Hotel – a hotel located near the Magic Kingdom Park and the one with the Monorail running through the middle.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.

We were shown to our table and the waiter filled up our glasses with fresh orange and told us to go ahead and get our breakfast because the characters were about 10 minutes from doing their table rounds.

They had tons of stuff to choose from. They had fresh fruit, cereals, dried fruit, pastries, muffins, cakes, hot breakfast (eggs, ham, sausages, fried potatoes etc), pancakes and the very popular, Mickey shaped waffles.

Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
(Excuse the pretty tired looking faces – we’ve had a lot of early mornings and this morning in particular we all felt very tired).
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Lauren loved it – we were constantly getting our glasses of juice filled as soon as it was empty or half empty – Lauren could see the characters starting their table round again and she was getting so excited. Mickey was first to our table and I just love the look on her face when he arrived.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Minnie Mouse was up next, followed by Goofy, Donald Duck and Pluto.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven. Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Lauren loved it – all I kept hearing from her is “this is great, I love it”
Once the Characters had done their table rounds – they get everyone dancing and waving their napkins around for a sing and a dance. Even the waiters & chefs get involved :o)

So the whole experience was really quite special …… and it wanted to be for the price lol. But we’ve done it, Lauren has the experience but I don’t think we’ll feel the need to do it again.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
So yes with tips it cost $100 :-0
The Contemporary Lodge was really lovely and had some gorgeous views. I didn’t manage to take a picture looking out over The Magic Kingdom but I did take a few from the other side.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
So with Chef Mickeys done we hopped on the Monorail and went over to Disney’s Grand Floridian Hotel for a nosey …. wow what a hotel, it was just stunning (and very expensive, I picked up a rates leaflet and the cheapest basic room this time of the year was $500 per night!!!!! Steve was chatting to some one in a queue later in the day staying in the Grand Floridian and between the nightly room rate and their daily food bill they were averaging $1000 per day!!!) Once we finished being nosey we jumped back on the Monorail and headed off to Epcot.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Needless to say after the previous night we all decided to stick together today ;o) There were a few rides Steve wanted to go on so we checked them out for the queue times , luckily they were low so he did them first and got them out of the way – he said the best ride by far was ‘Mission Space’ – he said it was amazing. There were two options to take – either the ‘Orange Team’ or the ‘Green Team’ The green team was a less intensive ride than the Orange, he opted for the intensive Orange Team, (quoted from the Disney website) The orange Team is an intensive training session and is the original version of the attraction, where you will experience forces up to 2.4G – he said he sat in a fairly realistic spaceship with a seat that lays back and a control panel is right in front of you – each rider is given a ‘job’ – Steve was navigator. He said the ride was excellent.
Afterwards we went into ‘Innoventions’ for Lauren to get hands on – she made a paper serviette out of water & recycled paper which she enjoyed and then her & I starred in our own video game. We had to stand in front of a camera and jump & run on the spot when prompted – they then uploaded us to a computer game which was pretty cool & we were able to play.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
We then headed off to World Showcase – they have been hosting ‘The food and wine festival’ since September and today was the last day so we were able to experience different tastes of food from around the world.
World Showcase is a collective of pavillions that wrap around the World Showcase Lagoon, each country has a range of shops and restaurants and in each country due to ‘Food & Wine Festival’ they had hut selling samples of foods and drinks from that particular country. The 11 countries include:
Mexico
Norway
China
Germany
Italy
United States
Japan
Morocco
France
United Kingdom
Canada.
We must have spent about 2+ hours walking round taking in all the smells of each country and admiring the different buildings and shops. Even the staff/Cast Members were dresses in the appropriate dress code for that country.
We stopped by to sample some food from the Caribbean, Steve had Jerk Chicken and I tried some Spiced Beef with rice – both were really lovely.
Lauren got to meet and greet a lot of characters whilst in the various countries as well so her autograph book is coming along nicely.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
We finally managed to find Snow White – it was one of Lauren’s missions to get her autograph for our neighbour & friend, Catherine who wants to see it when we get back.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven. Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Steve has been saying for ages how much he wants to try Sushi so as we walked past Japan we decided to be brave and give it a try …… :-/
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Hmmmm at first I thought it was ok until I tasted the raw, slimy fish – OMG it was foul, really wished I hadn’t taken such a huge bite lol. Steve was the same. On the plate there appeared to be a dollop of avocado so took a spoon to it and shoved some in my mouth – OMFG I have never, ever eaten something so spicy and hot in my life – I could hardly breathe and my lips and tongue stung, I have no idea what it was, of course I had to get Steve to try some, so I didn’t tell him what I was experiencing, and gave him a mouthful to try ;o) needless to say he felt the same as me and he almost struggled to breathe Haha. I just wish he never had such an urge to try Sushi now *bleugh*
So by the time we were finished in World Showcase we headed off for Steve to ride one more ride whilst Lauren & I hung out looking around and some things and buying her all important Epcot Pin badge – she’s been collecting them for each park we visit to go on her lanyard.
Here are some more photos from today:
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Florida Holiday - Chef Mickey & Epcot - Day Seven.
Reading back on this five years later of course I would absolutely go to Chef Mickeys again, I really want C to experience it, and it was so much fun. It’s funny how you change your mind over the years isn’t it? Or and the ‘green’ stuff on my Sushi  plate was Wasabi!
Next up Discovery Cove.

Florida Holiday – Animal Kingdom & Epcot – Day 6

I thought I would do a little throwback series for the next few weeks re-capping our holiday to Disney World in Florida. At the time of going I kept a daily blog which was only ever used for that holiday and i’m so pleased I did. Every night I would sit down and document what we had done each day even down to what kind of weather we had. I love reading it back every so often reliving the memories. We went to Animal Kingdom today with a short visit to Ecopt in the evening.

 

Day 6 – Animal Kingdom & Epcot (Saturday 12th November 2011)
Today’s Weather 75f (23c)
We had decided to do Animal Kingdom & Epcot today – starting with Animal Kingdom then going over to Epcot in the afternoon. The plan was to park in Epcot and get the bus to Animal Kingdom so when we came out of Epcot, when the park closed that night we were near the car. We thought we would try and do the two parks in one day to try and give us a free day – we worked out the parks we still had left to do and the days we had left only gave us one free day to relax by the pool so by doing these two parks in one day would free up some time for us.
We got to Epcot around 9.30ish, parked up and waited for the bus for about 15 minutes, the bus journey then took around 10 minutes so by the time we arrived it was nearing 10am I think.
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
First place we headed for was ‘Kilimanjaro Safari’ – when we did this 11 years ago we didn’t see anything at all – it was far too hot for the animals to come out so we wanted to make sure we saw something this time, we figured it was cool enough first thing in the morning.
The queue wasn’t too bad and luckily they have the safari jeeps running pretty quickly one after the other.
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
We saw loads of animals this time …. hippos, elephants, monkeys, lions you name it we saw it – the guy driving our jeep was ace! He really made the experience.
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
After the Safari we went on a ‘Jungle Trek’ – got to see lots of different things, bugs, creatures etc. Lauren was able to compare her hands with a 6 year old male gorilla’s.
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
There was a Gorilla we had a good glimpse of – she’s 40 years old and in the wild she would have only reached 40 – the lady we spoke to said in captivity they live for around 10 years more. We watched her go and find some food and she carried it off to a nearby wall to sit and eat it.
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
After the trek we were feeling fairly peckish so we stopped off at one of the restaurants for a bite to eat.
Next we decided to head over to one of the parks newest rides ‘Expedition Everest’ – Lauren & I didn’t go on it just Steve – he said it was excellent.
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Next stop was Camp Minnie & Mickey to meet and greet some characters – we were able to see Dale (from the Chipmunks), Donald Duck, Goofy, Minnie & Mickey – the queues for them we quite low so we were pretty lucky. (We got photopasses on all of them with the three of us with each character so we’re looking forward to seeing them).
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
By the time we had met with the Characters it was time to get our seats in the theatre for “The Festival of the Lion King’ I had remembered this from last time we were here so we were looking forward to seeing it again.
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
As we were expecting it was excellent – Lauren enjoyed it – especially the naughty acrobatic monkeys.
After the Lion King we walked to another part of the park and caught a few rides for Lauren and met Pluto & Goofy, and spotted a place where Pooh Bear, Tiger & Eeyore were doing character meets and there were no queues so we took Lauren to seem them too – she did really well for autographs that day. Tigger was really good with Lauren due to the fact there were no queues – he went and hid round the corner from her playing hide & seek and when he did come out he danced with her for a bit.
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Here are just some photos we took throughout the day, this is the HUGE Christmas tree they had at the entrance gate with all animal decorations on.
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
‘The Tree of Life” (the photo doesn’t do it justice really, but they have carved animals into the bark of the tree trunk.)
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
Before we realised it was around 4ish and we had planned to be leaving for Epcot for 2pm so we decided to head out for the bus back to Epcot.
Florida Holiday - Animal Kingdom & Epcot - Day 6
We waited for about 15 minutes for the bus and by this time wondered why we just didn’t drive between the parks ourselves, especially when we did eventually get on the bus we had the slowest driver … ever!!!!
We arrived back in Epcot at around 5 and headed straight to ‘Test Track’ for Steve to ride – the single rider queue said 30 minutes so I said to him to do that and Lauren & I would head off to meet some characters and we would meet each other afterwards. Job done or so we thought …
Lauren and I headed off to meet some characters we queued for about 40 minutes and spent quite a bit of time interacting with each character so by this point I was expecting Steve to be waiting outside.
Well he wasn’t so Lauren and I sat outside on the wall – time by now must have been around 5.30ish I guess, we waited around for a good half an hour and I had began to wonder if maybe he did a ride next to ‘Test Track’ and that was what was holding him up …… time was pressing on and it must have been approaching an hour of us sitting and waiting – it was starting to get dark and I just kept scanning a sea of people walking towards us looking for Steve wearing a blue t-shirt .. but guess what? loads of people that night were wearing blue shirts.
Anyone who knows Lauren will know what she is like. By now I was getting the panicky “Mummy will we ever see Daddy again” “Do you think Daddy has been taken” “what happens if we never see him again”??? OMG lol We took a walk off to see if we could see him in the area where the ride was but we didn’t see him so walked back. We did this a good few times scanning everyone just incase we saw him … it never happened – in the end I decided to just stand in the one place back outside the character meet – Lauren was balling by now – I was getting bored (very bored) and my legs were killing – trying to console Lauren we would see him agan and to stop being silly and trying to scan the crowds – it actually makes you go lightheaded a bit looking at people walking in all different directions for over 2 hrs in the dark!!!!
Eventually after 2 hours I looked up and spotted him, my god we’ve never ran so quick, heavy bag on my back and all trying not to lose Lauren and trying to get his attention incase I lost him in the crowd again we finally met! Turns out he was stood waiting outside the ride and I was stood outside the character meet and each time either of us wandered to each area we must have been doing it at the exact same time FGS.
Well after that we certainly we not in the mood to do anything else so we left and headed back to the car – sod the extra day we tried to make up – it didn’t work LOL.
Coming up next ….. Chef Mickeys & Epcot

Florida Holiday – Seaworld – Day Five.

I thought I would do a little throwback series for the next few weeks re-capping our holiday to Disney World in Florida. At the time of going I kept a daily blog which was only ever used for that holiday and i’m so pleased I did. Every night I would sit down and document what we had done each day even down to what kind of weather we had. I love reading it back every so often reliving the memories. We went to Seaworld for day five.

Day 5 – Seaworld (Friday 11th November 2011):
Today’s Weather 64F (17c)
Bit cooler today as the weather predicted, the sun was still out but there was a cooler breeze.
We decided to head off to Seaworld today – I remember it not being such a big park and we needed an easier day after such a busy day the day before – plus the park closed at 6.
Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Five.
Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Five.
We didn’t get there until about 11. We enjoyed the day but we won’t feel the need to go back there again the next time. We didn’t think there was much there (and thought the same last time too) we headed off to watch the ‘Shamu’ show first – mixed feelings about it really – yes it was impressive and they were very clever but I couldn’t help feel sorry for those gorgeous whales – 5 of them in a tiny pool, entertaining on demand … they seemed happy enough and was rewarded with plenty of fish and i’m sure if they were left to their own defences in the wild they would feel a bit lost I did still feel sorry for them.
Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Five.
Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Five.
Mr S went on the new ride ‘Manta’ – looked pretty hairy but he did it and said it was good.
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sam_0304
Lauren & I queued up at 1.30 for the dolphin feeding – we bought a tray of fish each and stood by the wall to feel them …. this was pretty cool – I love dolphins – we were able to touch & feed them for about 15 minutes – Lauren loved it and said they felt so soft and silky. We didn’t get any photos of us doing this – Steve took a video instead from the viewing balcony.
The rest of the day was just wandering round looking in various pools of stingrays, fish, sharks etc. We went through a shark encounter which was ok.
The only other ride we did/fancied was the ‘The Polar Express’ based on the Christmas Film – we at first sat in a theatre to watch a preview of the film, then when we left through the exit door we were then in ‘The North Pole’ they had a few things to look at, a few Christmas presents along a warehouse corridor, no other decorations, no music playing it just seemed half hearted. We saw a few white whales and a polar bear (who looked throughly depressed being in such a small tank 🙁
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Eventually we met Santa (it’s was ok nothing special to be honest and they clearly don’t put as much effort into things like Disney do).
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That was it pretty much – we had done the whole park, not missed anything and by this time it was 6 and time to head back.
So yeah good day but a bit ‘meh’. We’ve done it and won’t feel the need to go again.
Coming up next Animal Kingdom & Epcot.

Florida Holiday – Hotel Pool & Magic Kingdom Day Three.

I thought I would do a little throwback series for the next few weeks re-capping our holiday to Disney World in Florida. At the time of going I kept a daily blog which was only ever used for that holiday and i’m so pleased I did. Every night I would sit down and document what we had done each day even down to what kind of weather we had. I love reading it back every so often reliving the memories. Day three was all about shopping for supplies and spending some much needed time relaxing round by the pool after the long day we had travelling the day before.

So back to the current day – i’m having to play a bit of catch up – C has been poorly and we spent best part of the night & early hours of the morning in hospital with him with a possible stay. Luckily we managed to avoid him going on a drip. So i’ve been a bit busy tending to him. So after today i’ll be back to posting these daily.

Day Three – Hotel & Pool Day (Wednesday 9th November):
Todays Weather – 82F (27c)

So as expected we were awake bright and early – I think I was wide awake from 5.30am due to my body clock still thinking it was 10.30. Lauren came into us around 6.30.

We asked her what she wanted to do today and we knew what the response would have been – she wanted to try out the pool!! To be honest though we were hoping she would say that because we were still pretty tired after the journey the day before and we also needed to make the trip to Wal-Mart for supplies so a day by the pool suited us.
We did the Wal-Mart trip first – luckily it was just up the road so we didn’t have far to go to find it.
Hmmmm what an experience it was shopping there – firstly it’s HUGE .. absolutely massive, they sell everything! But we set about finding our way around the food asiles. Secondly we were so surprised with what we saw – everything they sell was from a cardboard box .. mashed potatoes come from a box, cakes, cookies, biscuits come from a box, cereals with no amount of colourings, sugar & god knows what else added to hype a child up for the day, hundreds of different types of cereal bars, gallons on Sunny D (which I believe was banned in the uk), sausages with added chicken … why would you want chicken in your sausages. No wonder people over here are seriously overweight 😮 we had to actually hunt out and search for stuff we wanted, healthy things, ingredients so I could make things from scratch rather then it being already cooked/processed. Also another thing I did notice were the prices – the non food stuffs like clothing, home, electrical weren’t too bad but food was more expensive than I thought it would have been. We were in the queue and the family in front of us had 4 boys and they must have bought about 20 boxes of cereal bars with added colourings – they give this stuff to their kids for breakfast??!!
Anyway Wal-Mart done we headed back to go to the pool. It’s gorgeous – really nice and big with plenty of seating & a pool side bar. There is a huge pirate ship with a log flume which Lauren is desperate to try but as of yet only goes up the stairs and a few minutes later comes back down again lol – I know what will happen – towards the end of the holiday she’ll try it and will love it.

Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four

At one point we did laugh – Lauren was stood talking to us and I saw something pretty large flying up to her .. only problem is I didn’t see it fly past her – next minute a huge shriek from Lauren as she noticed a rather large grasshopper had landed on her …. she panicked and flicked it off and it landed on me – I tried to get it off and put on the table but just as I did it flew off right onto Steve’s nose! Poor thing then jumped into the pool but a boy fished it out and put it on the pool side.

Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four

 

After about an hour of being down there Lauren made a friend – a girl her age who had only arrived the day before us from England – they hit it off really well and spent about 4/5 hours in the pool playing together.

Day 4 – Magic Kingdom (Thursday 10th November 2011):
Todays Weather 82F (27c)
We had set the alarm for 6.30 because we wanted to get to Magic Kingdom for opening at 9 – we had hoped to get there for the opening ceremony and this time of the year the park closes at 9 so we knew we would only have 12 hours there.
Huge excitement when the alarm went off – Lauren came running in grinning she was off to see Mickey :o)
We headed off around 7.45 so we were there in plenty of time – found Disney World with no problems and the signs to Magic Kingdom were easy. Driving under that sign just give you goosebumps and brings tears to your eyes – it just screams out magic to you.
Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four
Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four
We got parked up in Simba 11 parking lot – they had the parking lots named after Villians & Heroes and then numbered so you can remember where you parked. The car-parks are huge – they even had a guy whizzing round on a segway directing cars into parking spaces.
At the end of each parking lot there was a Walt Disney Cart train to take you to the Monorail.
I think the Monorail is great – love the little trip between the parking lots to the Magic Kingdom gate – it just seems to start the magic off and the views are lovely – always nice to get that first glimpse of Cinderella’s Castle and it’s pretty cool going through the Contemporary Lodge Hotel :o)
We arrived at the gate – had our bags checked & went on through – first job was to buy Lauren an autograph book & pen for those all important signatures :o)
Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four
Main street is just gorgeous – they’ve got all of the Christmas decorations up and it really did look lovely.
Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four
They also had an area taped off for Daisy Duck & Pluto to do character meets just inside the entrance gate so we queued there first – Lauren had decided on wearing a Daisy Duck t-shirt – as soon as she got to first in the line for Daisy she noticed her top, pointed at it and blew Lauren a kiss – the interaction she had with Lauren was just great – she signed her book then posed for some photos getting Lauren to stand in different poses, it was a great introduction to the park for us and after the photos & the photopass photographer took their photos Daisy hugged and kissed Lauren.
Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four

As usual the music was playing and there were the occasional street performance going on – singing & dancing. In City Hall we picked up a badge for Lauren that said 1st Visit so she wore that all day.

Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four

Mickey & Minnie Mouse & three of the Disney Princesses were doing character greets in the Theatre, the queues were a bit long so we got a fastpass and headed off down Main Street for some light breakfast/snacks (we had some toast when we left but we were getting peckish by now) We got something from the Main Street bakery & sat outside taking in everything that was going on.
Before we went back to the Theatre for the character meets we got the all important Minnie Mouse ears for Lauren and got her name inscribed on the back – something she has wanted ever since she knew they existed about 2 years ago!
Fastpass is excellent – we were able to head straight to the front of the queue – we went into see Mickey & Minnie first – I think Lauren was going to burst with excitement!
Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four

They were great – Whilst Mickey signed her book Minnie hugged her & she had her photo taken (again by photopass) and whilst Minnie signed the book Mickey had her photo taken with her. Afterwards Steve & I joined in for a photo and the photopass photographer took one on our camera for us too.

Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four

The Princesses were also really lovely – Cinderella was first – she took Lauren’s hand and took her over to sign her book, chatting away to her asking all sorts of questions then they posed for photos – Belle was second and I can honestly say the interaction with her was just fantastic – she asked Lauren’s name and personalised her book and sealed it with a kiss so she left her lipstick imprint – I didn’t see her do that with anyone else, third and last was Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)

We did take photos but we got Photopasses on all of them so hopefully they’ll be a lot nicer.

Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four

After we had finished with the autographs we headed off to the main part of the park, as we walked out of the theatre we saw Mary Poppins who had just come out to sign autographs so we were first up to see her – definitely at the right place at the right time there.

Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four

Getting to the end of main street and seeing Cinderella’s Castle just gives you goosebumps how ever many times you’ve seen it but seeing your daughter see it for the first time beats anything – she was in awe <3

Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four

I have to say everyone I spoke to on the Disney Forums said November is low crowds and less queue times but we couldn’t believe how busy it was – there were people everywhere, queue times for rides were not the 15 minutes people said they would be – they were all more like 60 odd minutes!!!! We took a few fast passes for some rides so we could go back at certain times and go straight to the front but you can’t have too many fast passes valid at one time so we were limited. We went to Fantasyland first and we did ‘it’s a small world’, ‘Aladin’s flying carpets’,’Dumbo’ etc for Lauren and just generally made our way through the park and the crowds.
At around 2pm Lauren & I sat down for the parade and Steve took the opportunity to do a few rides whist the queues were quiet (which they weren’t, in the end he only got to ride the Haunted House). 3pm the ‘Celebrate Today Parade’ started and I was actually quite surprised how short it was compared to previous years we’ve seen it – 11 years ago it lasted for a good 50 minutes but now it’s about 20/25 minuted with about 6/7 floats – it was still lovely to watch and Lauren throughly enjoyed it but I did feel they didn’t put as much effort into as they had done in the past.
After the parade we did a few more rides, watched a show put on by the main characters in front of the castle, which was excellent & then headed off for some dinner, Steve then went on ‘Space Mountain’ and by the time he had done that the sun had gone down and it was nearly 7. We made our way back towards the castle for the ‘Wishes’ firework display.

As we left TomorrowLand and approached the Castle we couldn’t believe the difference in it at night – quite literally took our breathes away – it was absolutely gorgeous all lit up with the fairy Christmas lights – it really was something else. The photos really don’t do it any justice at all.

Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago – Day Three & Day Four

The Main Street Electrical Parade had started at 7 and from where we were stood for the fireworks we were able to see the floats which were really good.
‘Wishes’ started at 8 and I can’t tell you how good it was – I was on the verge of tears pretty much the whole time at just how wonderful it was and how magical they make it. It really was breathtaking – They started with a light effect show on the Castle projecting memories and photo’s from people and their magical moments throughout the day. Tinkerbell then flew from the Castle across the sky waving her wand at everyone to mark the start of the fireworks – no firework show will ever top that – ever. I just wanted to bottle the feeling I had and keep it forever!!
Leaving after the fireworks was really quite easy – Main Street looked lovely all lit up at night with Christmas lights and we managed to stay together working our way through the crowds – the lines getting onto the Monorail were pretty long but they have it all sewn up and the Cast Members make sure the lines are kept moving and the Monorails were in and out of the station one after the other – once off the Monorail the Transportation cart to the parking lot was ready and waiting and again as one pulled out another one pulled in – bearing in mind thousands of people were all leaving at the same time we were back in the car within about 20 minutes.

Driving home was an event – driving over here is fine and we’re used to that but things aren’t signposted very well coming home (going to the Parks is easy) so it took a while to get back in the dark and a few wrong turnings but we did it – our feet were absolutely aching after being on them for 12+ hours but it was SO worth it – we’ll have memories that will last forever – it’s such a special place.

Coming up next Seaworld.

Florida Holiday – Travel Day with Aer Lingus – Day two.

I thought I would do a little throwback series for the next few weeks re-capping our holiday to Disney World in Florida. At the time of going I kept a daily blog which was only ever used for that holiday and i’m so pleased I did. Every night I would sit down and document what we had done each day even down to what kind of weather we had. I love reading it back every so often reliving the memories. Day two was all about airport fun & flying to Orlando. Lauren was 8 at the time and we flew with Aer Lingus from Dublin – Orlando.

Day Two – It’s Today – We’re Going To Florida Today! – (Tuesday 8th November 2011):

So the day had arrived – we set the alarm for 6.30 and set about getting ready & packing up the stuff we had used for the night in the Travelodge, check we had passports, tickets, driving licence for the hire car, park tickets …. you get the picture.

We had the car booked into the airport carpark so we headed over there around 9ish – parked up and collected the transfer bus to the terminal.sam_0029

Throwback to Florida Five Years Ago - Day Two

 

So we checked in (as they opened .. get us, for once we’re on time) and they told us we had to be at immigration for 10.45 which didn’t give us long bearing in mine it was now 9.45 and once we had passed immigration I knew there wasn’t anything to do but sit at the gate.
So we went straight to security and did the whole HooHaa of taking everything out of pockets, putting loose things in the tray, laptops, phones ……. then collecting it all again in a mass hurry so the trays can keep moving and people can get their stuff … by this point I had wondered why we were still carrying scarfs & heavy coats and why we didn’t leave them in the car as we definitely wouldn’t be needing them for 2 weeks *rolls eyes*
With security done we had half an hour to get something to eat so we grabbed some breakfast, bought some water for the plane (no less than 4 bottles I might add which were added to the stupid amount of hand luggage we already had … and the coats … and the scarfs – we were breaking out into a bit of a sweat lol) then remembered we had to fill out the form we were handed at check in …
We arrived at immigration at the right time – hardly any queues. When it came to our turn I said to Steve lets not make small talk – I had heard these people can be pretty miserable so we go to our stand and he was alright to be fair – Steve and I had our fingerprints scanned and we all got out passports stamped – job done in under 5 minutes. We then had to do another round of security – everything back into the trays & shoes had to come off this time!
We then arrived at the gate at around 11.30 – flight was due to take off at 12.30.
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By this point Lauren was getting bored and I thought to myself bored now … we’ve got an 8hr flight ahead of us lol.
Boarding was on time and we got to board first because we had a child result!!!! which meant we had plenty of time to faff about and get sorted. We were in a row of 4 seats with the 4thseat free so we had plenty of space. The family in the row in front asked one of the cabin crew how long the flight was expected to take and she said it all depends on the flight route the captain gets but it can be anything from 8.5hrs – 10!!!! TEN OMG was my reaction 10???? I was finding 8 bad enough. Take off was on time I think and it was fine, so much nicer than any Ryanair flight we’ve done with the steep take off they tend to do. Captain came over with an announcement once we were airborne and told us with the flightpath they had the journey should be ahead of schedule and would take around 8hr 45 mins – PHEW!
The flight was fine (long but fine) – inflight entertainment was ok there wasn’t much movie wise I fancied watching but watched a few programmes – played a few games as well. Lauren found it hard getting into anything – she messed around playing games for a few minutes – found a programme she wanted to watch but after a few minutes she got bored – I could see this being a loooooong flight!!!! Trust me to get a woman in front who from the word go lay her seat right back so my TV screen was right in my face – I was beginning to go square eyed so after a few hours we all shifted up a seat – I was so grateful for that spare seat in our row I can tell you.
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The maps were really handy and we used them a lot to find out how far we had travelled and how long we had left. I remember watching a few programmes and looked at how long we had been in the air (felt a long time by this point) and realised we had only been going for 4 hours :-0 we had been going for less time than we had left lol. But funnily enough they didn’t seem as long as the first 4.
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I did find it quite funny though when we still had 3 hours left Lauren asked with desperation how much longer we had .. when I told her 3 more hours, she rolled her eyes and replied “oh you’re joking … kill me now” lol.
The flight was pretty smooth, the seat belt signs came on a few times but you wouldn’t have noticed anything was up until we flew over Canada – they went on and the captain said we had hit a pocket of turbulence and it should last no longer than 20 minutes. Jeepers for a while it was awful, and 20 minutes is a long time when you’re experiencing something like that and what was worrying me was how bad was it going to get. But sure enough it did stop after about 10-15 minutes.
We landed in Florida at 16.15 (local time) – we did it!!!! It was over and we were here YAY.
It was So nice just getting off and going straight to collect our bags and car hire without having to queue for immigration.
Got to the car hire desk and as expected they tried to get us to upgrade and take out extra roadside insurance & tried to flog us a satnav but we didn’t take anything – what we had was enough. We went outside to pick the car we wanted and off we went …. driving in a new country on the different side of the road …
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We found driving ok but it soon started to get dark so getting to the hotel & complex took a little longer than maybe it should have done but at least we were thrown in at the deep end … new car, automatic, right side of the road and now it was dark! Still we did it.
We checked in and found our apartment – in building 3 (there are 5 in total) and on the 11th floor!!!! Thank goodness for lifts is all I can say – I very quickly got over my fear of lifts I can tell you!
We have a two bedroom apartment, fully equipped kitchen with oven, microwave, fridge/freezer, washing machine, tumble dryer, two bathrooms, lounge/dining area, balcony with a very very a*se twitchy ariel view of the ground from the 11th floor. I won’t let Lauren go out there on her own :-0 or stand near the railings. To top off the luxury we have a Jacuzzi bath in our bedroom. So apart from grabbing something to eat and having a go in the Jacuzzi bath (like you do when you’ve had a long journey and trying to get used to the 5 hour time difference) then we fell into bed exhausted!

Florida Holiday – Travelodge – Day One.

I thought I would do a little throwback series for the next few weeks re-capping our holiday to Disney World in Florida. At the time of going I kept a daily blog which was only ever used for that holiday and i’m so pleased I did. Every night I would sit down and document what we had done each day even down to what kind of weather we had. I love reading it back every so often reliving the memories.

Day one was all about the day before we flew to Orlando – we travelled to a Travelodge based in the airport in Dublin so we were all set and ready to go the morning we flew out.

It’ll be five years ago we went (funnily enough the exact days as we are on now due to the leap year) and re-capping these memories seems quite apt for us and this blog at the moment.

Day One – Travelling to Dublin (Monday 7th November 2011):

It’s here – we’re flying to Disney tomorrow :o)

We’ve headed to Dublin tonight so we can stay in the Travelodge near the airport so in the morning we can head over without the hassle of a 2hr drive first.
The travelodge is ok we much preferred staying in the Premier Inn last month whilst we were in Manchester but hey it’s for one night and not just any night … it’s the one before Florida 😀
So we’re all packed, have all the tickets and passports, everything is on charge as I type so we’re ready.
Lauren is “trying” to go to sleep – without much luck atm, but i’m sure she will eventually.
So I guess my next post shall be when we’re there. Just hope the flight goes pretty quickly, we have plenty to keep us entertained and just incase we don’t like the films i’ll have my laptop with me and Lauren & I can watch some films I packed.
I’m setting the alarm for 6.30am – enough time to get ready, have breakfast and head over to park the car in the airport before check in at 9.30 am for the 12.30 flight.
Coming up next – travel day.