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Food Review – Jungle Navigation Skipper Canteen

Skipper Canteen was my absolute favourite place to eat on this trip and I recommend it to anyone who is asking for places to eat on upcoming visits.

Skipper Canteen is in Magic Kingdom,  it’s in Adventureland and right opposite the Swiss Family Treehouse.

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I booked here after seeing it on an Adam Hattan Vlog – You can watch that here

It was (aside from Be Our Guest) my most anticipated meal of the trip.

Food wise the menu wasn’t something I would normally choose, its African/Asian/South American inspired and not the type of menu you find anywhere else really.

Its meant to be the headquarters of the famous Jungle Cruise Skippers and you will be seated in one of 3 rooms, The Mess Hall, The Jungle Room or the S.E.A Room.

We were seated in the SEA room which is a secret dining room. And the one I’d seen on the Vlog so yay!! (Pic from WDWMAGIC.COM as I didn’t take any) We were on the table in the top left.

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This place is a hidden gem, it was so quiet and especially so being in the room we were in so that was lovely 🙂

Food wise the menu is really varied and pretty healthy!

Paul went for Pork with broccoli and rice $24

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Amelia had ‘Smilys Little Croc’ which was Chicken Noodle Soup $11

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And I went for the lamb chops $28 that couscous it came with was amazing!

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Honestly, I still dream about this meal.

It was incredible. Looking at those pictures I can still taste it! I have to eat here again!

Puddings were just as good.

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I had the coconut bar, it was so nice, again not something I would normally eat but I wanted something a little lighter. It was like a cheesecake texture and not too overbearing with the coconut (see much more detail than other reviews, I can literally still taste it) $8

Paul went for Kungaloosh which was a Chocolate cake with bananas $8

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It was small but quite heavy so that was plenty for him.

Amelia had the kids Volcano cake (I don’t have a picture sorry) which had caramel inside and popping candy.

Price wise it was the same as most of the other places we ate in $15-$35 per adult. All the menus can be viewed on My Disney Experience so you can see exact prices and what other food there is.

Dining Plans are accepted and this will cost you 1 table service credit.

All in all this was the nicest meal we had. It was quiet. Atmosphere was lovely in there and being in the small room almost made it feel like we were doing private dining. Cast members were lovely and it was just a really nice experience.

The quality of the food was incredible and it was nice to have something that was a little healthier than steak and chips!

I think this place is one of those hidden gems. When you visit for the first time you just tend to go for the character dining and the more well known/popular eateries in the parks. This tends to be one for regular visitors, which is a shame cos it is THAT good.

If you have a trip planned and want somewhere to have a nice sit down meal in Magic Kingdom I urge you to book here. You won’t be disappointed.

If you go after reading this then let me know what you think 🙂 I’d be interested to hear other opinions on it as well 🙂

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Food Review – Rainforest Cafe

I’ve eaten here a bunch of times both in the UK and in Orlando and it wasn’t one on our list of places to go but with Irma some of our reservations got cancelled and to be honest it was the nearest place to the boat dock when we got off at Disney Springs and that was why we went in!

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I do find these type of places really loud so if you’re looking for a quiet dining experience then this is not for you. You have a tropical storm I think every hour and the place goes dark, you have thunder and all the animatronic animals make noise so it can be quite intense for younger ones.

There is a lot to look at though so the ambience of the place is pretty cool. You’re able to walk around and see all the different animals that are there which Amelia loved.

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Food wise the menu isn’t that inspired, burgers and steaks and just basic food but it wasn’t bad. All the names of the stuff are ‘Rainforest’ themed.

I went for the Flat Iron Steak, Paul had the Rainforest Burger and Amelia had the Jurassic Chicken Tidbits from the kids menu (basically nuggets)

Paul didn’t really like his burger but my steak was pretty good as all steak generally is in Orlando.

We had to have puddings obviously!

Paul had Amelias kids dessert, Lava Mud, chocolate pudding with Oreos and gummy worms. But Amelia, well she went for the giant Sparkling Volcano dessert! It was huge and they make a big deal of it when it comes out. It’s a giant brownie with ice cream and cream on it. It was delicious but far too much food for us!

Best thing for me here was the cocktails, we had a few… They come in the Souvenir glasses which are always great to take home. You don’t have the ones your drinks are served in you pick up boxed new ones at the store on your way out.

Amelias kids drink came in a cool cup too, she chose the elephant one 🙂

Our server was great but its not somewhere I was say is a must do. Kids will love it but I think there are much better places you can spend your money on that you can’t do in the UK.

Price wise I think it’s pretty expensive for what it is and honestly I don’t think I’d eat here again. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either. Prices are $15-$35.

The Volcano was $16.99 and all the cocktails were around $15.

Dining plans are accepted here, it will cost you 1 of your table service credits. The Volcano and the Cocktails were not included as part of the plan.

Food Review – 1950s Prime Time Cafe

The first of my non character dining experiences at Disney and one of our favourites from our last trip.

This is in Hollywood Studios right next to Echo Lake.

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Hollywood Studios doesn’t actually have a great deal of choice when it comes to sit down places to eat. I find its mostly quick service. Hopefully with the opening of the new lands we’ll get some more eateries 🙂

We ate here on our last trip and it was Pauls favourite so it was one we booked as soon as we were able to.

This place is fab. It’s set up to look like a 1950’s kitchen and the idea is that you’re visiting the family for a meal. Your servers are cousins and you WILL get told off if you leave your greens or put your elbows on the table.

I’ve heard some great stories of experiences here with interaction from people like Uncle Fred but sadly we’ve not had any of those yet, but the food is sooooo good!! Closest we got was Paul getting into a drinking competition with a guy on another table after being told by the server he had to drink all the refills she bought him. 6 Rootbeers in and I think he felt a bit sick!

 

The TVS on your table play old 50’s classics on a loop which adds to the experience of it all, it really does feel like you’re going back in time.

Foodwise everything here is classic American comfort food.  And lots of it.

I went for the meatloaf, which is what I had last time and I loved it. It’s an american classic and it was so tasty. It comes with green beans, carrots and creamed potatoes. Never enough gravy for my liking though.

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Paul went for the stuffed pork chops. I’ve never seen him eat something so quickly. It comes with veg and was stuffed inside with a creamy cheese, apple and herb sauce.

 

Amelia went for a kids meal and she had Goofys Salmon, one of the few meals she actually finished entirely! It came with rice and seasonal veg and she absolutely loved it.

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I love the fact that everything here comes with veg, making it a more healthy option. Portions are big as well and I always feel full after eating here. It’s like the ultimate comfort food!

We obviously had dessert here. I went for the Cheesecake and Paul had Moms Brownie. Amelia went for the sundae but she ate it too quick!!

 

One other thing I always have here is a root beer float. I feel like I’m in Back to the Future when I eat here.

Amelia had a lot of the specialty kids drinks, sadly not usually included in the dining plan. All she remembered here was that she could have a drink that glowed. Mickeys Bee Bop drink it is, it’s only cherry sprite but it came in a souvenir cup with a glowing ice cube, both of which she still uses now we’re home.

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Dining Plan is accepted here and it will take up 1 of your table service credits.

Its moderately priced here with main meals between $17-$25 so its not too bad. We really love it here. It feels really homely, the food is always good (I even asked for the recipe for the meatloaf, I have made it, it didn’t taste as good) and it’s just a different dining experience and somewhere we will no doubt be visiting again!

Food Review – Cinderellas Royal Table

Cinderellas Royal Table is one of the hardest places to get a reservation for at WDW.

Knowing this it was one of the first places I booked when we got to our 180 day booking time and it was the place Amelia was most looking forward to eating in.

What little princess wouldn’t relish the chance to eat with the Princesses INSIDE the castle?

I think it’s location has a lot to do with the fact its so hard to get so we were really excited when we got one and it was somewhere I was very much looking forward to trying out.

For those that don’t know Cinderellas Royal Table is inside the castle in the middle of Magic Kingdom. When it was originally designed it was to be part of Walts quarters and was earmarked to be a conference room. Being told that made the whole place seem even more special.

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You check in at the podium by the entrance to the restaurant which is at the back of castle. There is ample ‘parking’ for pushchairs/wheelchairs.

Once you’ve checked in you’re taken into the lobby area and this is where you meet Cinderella. The whole place is actually beautiful, high ceilings, stained glass windows and it really IS a castle.

There is a photopass photographer here and Cinderella was wonderful. I’ve said before I do struggle with meeting the Princesses I always find it hard to talk to them. I prefer the characters who don’t talk, however Cinderella was brilliant. She was so good with Amelia and she loved it.

You’re then taken upstairs to the dining area. There is a lift for those less mobile among us!

The actual dining area is STUNNING! However it is a LOT smaller than I imagined which explains why it is such a hard place to get a reservation at. We were sat on a table in the middle of the room I would have loved to have a window seat and look out across the park but maybe next time.

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It was quite loud and seemed busy inside, there were no empty tables for long and they do feel quite close together. This isn’t by any means a relaxing meal I don’t think. But that may have been due to where our table was, I think in a window would have felt less busy.

When you sit down each ‘princess’ is given a wand and a ‘wishing star’ and for the boys? A sword, Paul was very happy with his as you can see in the photos below. They’re great keepsakes to have. There was some kind of announcement with what you do with your wishing star but it was loud as I said and we couldn’t really hear what was being said over the general hustle and bustle which was a shame.

Our servers were brilliant which you would expect from a signature restaurant. The princesses all come out to an announcement and a shortened version of their story and work their way around the tables. We met Jasmine, Snow White, Ariel and Aurora.

This is the first of my reviews that hasn’t been a buffet so this time I get to show some proper food pictures and no doubt make myself hungry in the process!

We had 3 courses here. I’ve had a look at the current menu and some of the stuff we had isn’t on it anymore so I think the menu can be seasonal.

For our starters or ‘Appetisers of the Court’, Paul went for the soup which he thinks was french onion and he said it was delicious. I had an asparagus salad which was actually raw asparagus which I wasn’t a fan of. I did like the rest of the salad though and the dressing was so nice.  Amelia had cheese and grapes.

For our entrees (mains as we call them here) both me and Paul went for the beef and Amelia had the chicken from the kids menu.

The beef came with seasonal veg and garlic mash and was so tender. It was lovely. It looks small but it was a perfect sized portion for us.

Amelias chicken however was not good. It was really dry and she really didn’t enjoy it. The server was great though and did offer her something else but she ended up having Pauls and he ate some of the chicken. I would say avoid the chicken if you can.

The best part of the meal was without a doubt the dessert – was there ever any doubt coming from a pudding family.

The desserts we had off the menu was ‘The Clock Strikes Twelve’ a chocolate mousse with choc ganache and it was sooooo good!! I loved how it came out with the chocolate clock face pointing to 12, this is the little Disney touches that I love. Amelia went for the build your own cupcake dessert from the kids menu, complete with mickey shaped sprinkles and a little carriage in cocoa.

We also ordered the Cinderella Slipper dessert. This isn’t on the regular menu. It costs an extra $15 and isn’t included in the dining plan. You have to book this no less than 48 hours before your reservation via email wdw.crt.special.events@disney.com. I would recommend doing this as soon as you have confirmed your reservation.

This was the highlight of the meal for Amelia and it was really tasty, I’m not normally a fan of American chocolate but the shoe was really nice, the mousse cake is the same as what you have with the other dessert we had.

This is not a cheap meal, it’s a premium restaurant and you obviously pay more for the location.  Had we not been on the plan this would have cost us over $200!! For 3 people!!

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This is included in the Disney Dining Plan and it takes up 2 of your table service credits.

Although I did really enjoy this and I’m glad I did it, its one off the bucket list, I’m not sure as I would have had we not been on the Dining Plan.

I wouldn’t say I’d rush to eat dinner here again, I’m curious to try the breakfast, getting an early reservation before park opening and a window seat looking over a deserted Magic Kingdom would be idyllic.

Its definitely a must if you have little princesses but for me once was enough 🙂

Disney Parks Tag – Something different for me!

I’m used to just giving travel tips and reviews so after seeing a post from one of my fellow #disneybloggers the other day I thought I’d give this a go, a bit of fun before my next restaurant review (which is Cinderellas Royal Table)

Lovely Beth did this on her blog the other day, you can check hers out here and check out the rest of her blog too, it’s very good.

We both saw this for the first time when one of our favourite Disney Vloggers Adam Hattan did it on his channel, you can see his here

So here we go, 10 questions about the Disney Parks and my experiences in them 🙂 Well the ones I’ve been to anyway, I’m yet to visit LA, Tokyo, Shanghai or Hong Kong so just Paris and Orlando for me at the moment.

1) WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU VISITED A DISNEY PARK?

The first park I visited was Disneyland Paris when it was called EuroDisney and that was the year it opened in 1992! I was 13 and in all honesty I don’t remember a lot about it.

I wasn’t actually into Disney then – I know it’s hard to believe – I don’t recall meeting any characters at all either, which is odd being as it’s the main thing I do now!

My Dad was a coach driver back then and he was doing a trip over so I got to go.

What I do remember is it was REALLY busy, I remember going on Star Tours (me and my Dad loved Star Wars) and buying a Star Tours baseball cap that I loved (and subsequently lost) and going on Phantom Manor (which for years I’d talk about but had NO idea where it was) and also Captain EO, the Michael Jackson ‘ride’ other than that it’s all a bit of a blur!

It’s a shame that I don’t have pictures at all but I was never that much of a camera person back then and lets not forget no such thing as a phone that took photos!

2) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISNEY PARK?

EPCOT!!

No hesitation there. I just love it.

On my first visit to WDW I wasn’t that much of a fan but I think the older I’ve got the more I appreciate how wonderful it is and its the place I always look forward to going back to the most.

I love that I can travel all over the world pretty much, trying different food and looking in all the different shops. I love all the little hidden places for photos, doing the Passports and meeting all the characters as you walk through the showcase.

 

Plus you can have so much fun trying on all the native hats as you go round…

 

I really like the different elements you can explore in Future World and how it constantly changes. The Sea pavilion is just amazing and all the interactive stuff when you exit the rides is great.

Club Cool is another place I like and the shopping in Epcot is the best on site in my opinion.

And who can forget Spaceship Earth, my favourite of the Disney Park ‘Icons’ and I never tire of looking at it.

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3) WHAT IS YOUR HAPPIEST SINGLE MOMENT IN A DISNEY PARK?

ALL my moments in the park are happy but one that really stands out for me is from my 2015 trip.

Dopey is my favourite character and up until my last 3 trips he was always about meeting in the parks. Now he’s rare and you can only see him with the other dwarves at the Halloween and Christmas parties. Which is gutting 😦

For one reason or another I wasn’t really feeling the magic on that trip and we were spending the day in Magic Kingdom. Literally JUST as I walked in, who should walk past me but Dopey! He was doing a random meet with Snow White, I just managed to get in the queue and I was the last one in it.

I was so happy to meet him I actually cried!

There’s me a grown woman, actually looking like a mental with my Snow White skirt and my big Dopey autograph book crying like a baby!

He had to wipe my tears away! The shame!

But from that moment on the magic was back!

 

4) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISNEY PARKS PURCHASE?

OOH thats a tough one!

Probably these guys!! I love them. Cogsworth is the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought in a Disney Park and he was so worth it! All I need now is a Mrs Potts to complete the collection. (Chip was in the Dishwasher!)

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5) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISNEY ATTRACTION?

I can’t actually narrow this down to 1! It’s impossible!

However for Disneyland Paris it’s easy. Crush’s Coaster is the best ride there without a doubt. It’s completely deceiving when you see it cos it doesn’t look fantastically fast but it is. As much as I love seeing kids enjoying themselves at Disney it never fails to make me chuckle when you see kids crying on it as it’s not the kids ride they expected it to be! It’s a must do on every DLRP trip.

WDW is much much harder! I have a few.

Without a doubt the most visually incredible and immersive ride experience currently at WDW is of course Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdoms Pandora. I literally cannot put into words how incredible this ride is. Every little detail is just incredible and you really do feel like you’re flying over Pandora. I’ve talked about it in my blogs about my trips but when you’re on a VR ride and you have to cover your eyes to avoid one of the things that scares you the most, even though you KNOW it’s not real, shows you how real it does look! If this is the technology of a few years ago I cannot wait to see what they do with the Star Wars stuff which will be so much more advanced!

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Space Mountain is ALWAYS the first ride I go on on a day at Magic Kingdom. It’s actually the first roller coaster I ever went on and I still love it now. I think it’s a nostalgia thing it reminds me of one of my favourite ever trips with my best mate in 2002. We always do it multiple times on our trips and it’s now one of Amelias favourites as well 🙂

The last one and another one I’ve lost count on the amount of times I do every trip is Expedition Everest. Another of Amelias favourites as well. It’s just a great ride with amazing views of the park and I swear it gets faster every time I go on it!

6) WHAT CHARACTER DO YOU HAVE TO MEET?

ALL OF THEM!! For me Disney is all about the characters so I have to meet all of them. If I had to make a choice though and could only meet one and seeing as Dopey isnt an option it’s gotta be DONALD DUCK! He’s just brilliant. I always come away smiling when I’ve seen him!

Having said that I do love meeting Winnie the Pooh, mostly cos he’s so cuddly and it’s like you’re having a cuddle with a real teddy 🙂

7) IF YOU COULD BUILD AN ATTRACTION BASED ON YOUR FAVOURITE MOVIE WHAT WOULD IT BE?

These questions are so much harder than I thought! My favourite movie already has quite a lot in the parks. (It’s Beauty and the Beast if you were wondering) but I do have a few ideas of movies that are completely under represented and would be great to see.

Tangled is one. Yes we have the Tangled toilets but there’s so much you could do with that movie. some kind of kids coaster zooming on Rapunzels hair down the tower or a boat ride with the lanterns. Even a restaurant based on the Snuggly Duckling.

I would love to see some more attractions around the world showcase and a Mary Poppins ride in the UK pavilion would be amazing.

I’m hoping that there will be some sort of Coco ride put in the Mexico Pavilion although I can imagine them re imagining the current Three Caballeros one and taking you on a colourful journey to the land of the dead.

8) WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISNEY PARKS RESTURANT?

This is the easiest one for me to answer. SKIPPER CANTEEN!! I absolutely loved this place and it was because of a Vlog I saw Adam Hattan do that I booked it. You can see that here.

It seems to be one of those places that first timers by pass. It’s so underrated.

It was the best meal of our entire trip. It’s themed like the Jungle Cruise and your servers are skippers and the food was just unbelievable and healthy too. I still dream about that meal and it’s top of my list of places to eat in when we go back again.

In Disneyland Paris the best place to eat is by far the Agrabah Cafe. I discovered it a few years ago when I went with my friend who is Vegan and all the reviews said that was the place with the most choice for that. It’s another one I dream about and I’ve been 3 times now. It’s so so good. The themeing is wonderful, it really is like you’re in a Moroccon market and the buffet is HUGE. It’s all Moroccon things like Moussaka and lots of salad but the Tabbouleh is why I keep going back. Highly recommend it. Honestly book a late lunch and don’t eat breakfast!

9) DESCRIBE A SITUATION WHEN A CAST MEMBER WENT ABOVE AND BEYOND FOR YOU?

I’ve never come across a bad cast member at WDW. Everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting has been exceptional so it’s so hard to pick a moment.

However when we first took Amelia a few years ago she was really tired (we’d been out all day but she insisted she wanted to stay and watch fireworks) she was hungry as well and we had a few tears. We left her sat at a table while we went to get some food in Pinocchio’s resturant and when I came back there she was BIG smile on her face blue frozen slushy with a Mickey Straw in her hand. A lovely cast member called Ariel (wonder how I remember that name 3 years on) had seen she was upset and thought she would cheer her up 🙂

I love chatting to the cast members when I get the chance to, while you’re waiting for rides and stuff. I’m one of those annoying guests who like to quiz them all about their jobs! :p

10) PLAN YOUR DREAM DISNEY HOLIDAY. INCLUDE YOUR PERFECT RESORT, RESTAURANT, PARK AND SHOW.

It has to be WDW although I do REALLY want to stay in the Disneyland Hotel in Paris. (I’m 40 next year and hopefully if all goes to plan that’s a good enough excuse to splash out and stay there)

Resort wise at WDW, I’d love to stay in the Polynesian. It’s just gorgeous and I could get to Epcot on the monorail pretty quick from there 🙂

Restaurant I’d pick Skipper Canteen obviously but for somewhere I haven’t eaten that I want to maybe Coral Reef in Epcot.

The park is obviously going to be Epcot, it’s my favourite and I could quite happily spend every day of my holiday there.

Show. Fantasmic. It’s wonderful. It’s my favourite of the evening shows in the Disney parks and just combines everything that I love about the shows of Disney. Music, fireworks, awesome effects and of course CHARACTERS!! I cry every time I watch it!

So there you have it, my Disney Parks Tag, I hope you enjoyed a different sort of blog from me and gives you a little insight into my Disney favourites and why I love it so much.

I’d love to hear some of your answers 🙂

 

 

Food Review – Ohana

If you’ve been following my blog then you’ll know that most of the dining we did on this honeymoon trip was character dining. There are a few exceptions but for the most part it is all characters! That is why we had the dining plan after all!

Ohana is one of those places that people rave about and sometimes the trouble with that is that they talk it up so much that you can’t help but be a bit disappointed when you experience it.

Ohana has a lot to live up to.

Again we booked for breakfast as this is the only time it is a character dine and its the best friends breakfast with Lilo and Stitch. I LOVE Stitch, I have such fond memories of a past trip not long after the movie came out when I visited with a friend. We were the oldest most excited people in the queue to meet him and it was one of the best interactions I’ve ever had. He rummaged through our bags, kept stealing our cameras and at one point took our passports and ran off with them. So yeah, I have a bit of a soft spot for Stitch. Plus I’d never met Lilo and the idea of that is just too much!

One of this big draws of this for me was it being in the Polynesian. I literally will never in my life be able to afford to stay there so it was a good excuse to go and have a nosy at it. Plus it is right near Magic Kingdom.

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Don’t forget as well if you do book a breakfast at a hotel you can leave your car there for the day as well rather than use the park parking. I don’t recall if there was a charge (we had free parking as we were staying on site anyway) but for the disabled drivers among you we had free valet parking as there didn’t seem to be any dedicated disabled parking at the hotel.

The Poly is stunning! It’s all Hawaiian themed with lots of colourful flowers all over like you’re walking into a luau.  The entrance lobby was breathtaking. All high ceilings and just very very luxurious.  Maybe one day Disney will be kind enough to upgrade me and let me stay there!

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Ohana is up on the second floor I think it was of the hotel and unlike Tusker where all the characters come to you at your table you actually get to meet Stitch before you go in and there is a photopass photographer there as well which is awesome.

We got to spend quite a while with Stitch, we had an early reservation and there wasn’t anyone else behind us so that was great.

Ohana is all you can eat but it isn’t a buffet. Food here is served ‘family style’ so it comes all together in a big skillet and you help yourself. But before you get that you have some of the famous pineapple breakfast bread and fruit on the table. This was so tasty, I would have been happy to just have a tonne of that to be honest! I must find a recipe!

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We had scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, sausages, biscuits (my fave), bacon and waffles.  As I said it all comes out together but they are really accommodating if you have allergies. I have an egg allergy so they bought ours out with the eggs separate for me which was great. All the places in Disney are fabulous with any allergy as I’ve said before.

The food was good, not amazing (except the pineapple bread). I wasn’t keen on the sausages but then sausages that aren’t patties in America do tend to be a bit rank. The biscuits were a little dry but the bacon was tasty and apparently the eggs were good.

We got through 2 plates of food and they would have bought us more if we’d asked!! The best bit though was the waffles, Disney is known for the Mickey waffles but here you get Stitch ones, I was most excited by these!!

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Character interaction here was fab, we met Lilo (so exciting), Pluto and Mickey here.

Amelia was also given maracas (which she’d been eyeing up as soon as we walked in and she saw them on the side) and the kids all got taken up to do a little parade around the restaurant with the characters. I love the little touches like that, just another thing that adds to the magic! Plus the kids really enjoy it.

We were lucky that it was quiet when we arrived as it meant we had a window table. The Poly is on Seven Seas Lagoon so it’s a stones throw from Magic Kingdom. We had a perfect view of the park from our seat and when the fog cleared we could see the castle, I may have got a little emotional!

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We did this on the morning of our first trip this visit to Magic Kingdom so sitting there looking at the castle and eating breakfast really did make it a magical start to the day so for that I would recommend it 🙂

Price wise this is the same as the other Breakfast Buffets $35 per adult and $15 for a child plus tips.

This is worth 1 of your table service credits if you’re on the dining plan.

 

Day 13 – Animal Kingdom and being Married by Rafiki

We had a pretty short day in the parks today being as we go home tomorrow night and we needed to pack 😦  So this will no doubt be quite a short blog 😦

But we headed off to Animal Kingdom and it was so busy! I think the remnants of Irma had gone and flights had started coming back in so the crowds were picking up again.

Pandora this morning was insanely busy and even getting into it was near on impossible so we gave it a miss for now and decided to do all the other stuff first.

The rest of the park was pretty quiet compared to Pandora, it did seem like a lot of people were coming in to do that and not really visiting the rest of the park.

We got a return time for Kilimanjaro Safaris which we love and went off to use our fastpass for Everest. Our favourite ride here I think 🙂 Amelia always insists that she sits on her own!! I love this picture of us on Everest, she’s loving it me and Paul look as if we’re in class about to answer a question or something!!

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As it was quiet we went on this 3 times in a row! Everest is such a fun ride and you get such a great view of the park when you’re going up the mountain, especially at night. If you look the other way I’ve seen you can see Epcot I think it is but I always forget to look!

We tried to get on Kali River Rapids but it was closed still after Irma so we didn’t get to do that. There was a massive tree down in Animal Kingdom due to the hurricane. Pretty much the only significant damage I had seen through the parks so far.

The safari was great, it’s one of the best things about Animal Kingdom, I love Hippos so that’s my favourite bit and seeing the Elephants at the water hole is always fun to see 🙂 We didn’t get the time sadly to do the night safari so that’s something for the next trip.

We had lunch today in the Harambe Market, we were in the parks early so it was an early lunch. Animal Kingdom doesn’t have a large amount of choice for table service places to eat and a lot of the quick service looks a bit spicy and not really something we like to eat. So we struggle here. However Harambe Market was lovely. There are a few different windows serving the different dishes and we went for the Beef and Lamb Gyro flatbreads cos the looked the most plain thing there.

It was really really nice. I’d definitely eat there again.

I love the African part of Animal Kingdom the most. There’s a lovely atmosphere here and the street entertainers are great. Particularly the dancers who always get Amelia up with them, they did some kind of song and dance for me and Paul which is a wedding celebration. I got it all on camera so it will be up in a future vlog.

The best show at Animal Kingdom is by far Festival of The Lion King so we had to make sure we saw it before we had to go home.

I love this show. It’s ‘in the round’ so you can see wherever you sit (kind of a theme with the Disney shows all the theatres are like that). It’s not the story of the film but it has a lot of the songs in it and some of the characters. Again little miss has been picked on for this each time we’ve seen it and this time she was even more happy as she was the one who was chosen to interact with Timon today. (Again all on video). It’s a great show, the tumble monkeys are the highlight of it for me 🙂  You do not need to use one of your fastpasses for this unless you want to sit right at the front. It’s a big theatre you’ll get in 🙂

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Cautious of time we decided to head to Pandora to use the return time we had for Flight of Passage, we’ve talked about this ride the whole trip so we had to do it again. We also had a look at the Banshee rookery which seems to be the ‘big’ merchandise item for Pandora. They look pretty cool and the fact they move and make noise is fab but the harness on your shoulder doesn’t really stay straight and they are really expensive for what they are. I can honestly say I didn’t see many people with them. Amelia decided against getting one in the end, she’d saved enough money to get one, and got herself a little plush one instead that she loves and was much much cheaper!

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I wasn’t overly impressed with the merchandise there if I’m honest but I’m not the biggest fan of the movies.

I did have another Night Blossom though and we got some lovely shots in Pandora with the Photopass.

I hate saying goodbye to Disney and just as I was feeling sad coming out of Animal Kingdom I spotted characters. We missed Meeko but we did meet Rafiki and this was quite possibly my most memorable character meet and one of the highlights of the whole honeymoon.

Rafiki saw our ears and insisted on making us stand in front of him while he conducted a whole wedding ceremony – I’m so upset I didn’t get this on video – it was so fun and something that we weren’t expecting. Amelia loved it being made to stand and hold some imaginary flowers. He was such a great character and it made us laugh!!

We had such a great day at Animal Kingdom and it was the perfect way to end the day.

Sadly now it’s packing time ready for our flight home tomorrow but we are spending as much time in Epcot as we can first and we do have a character lunch booked too 🙂

Day 12 Wild Florida, Minnies Seasonal Dine and some park hopping!

 

Today was the thing Paul was most looking forward and we headed down to Kenansville to Wild Florida. It’s not just an airboat ride but also has a wildlife park where you can see Gators and Sloths and other animals native to Florida.  I was excited for the sloths and we were planning on upgrading when we got there to do a Sloth encounter.

It’s a 40 minute drive from Disney and considering we have no sat nav and relied on the directions on the website we did really well at not getting lost. Although some of the places you drive through do make you think you’ve gone the totally wrong way!

Due to Irma sadly none of the wildlife park was open as it was all flooded but the airboats were still running – the entry to the wildlife park is included in the price of the airboat.  The swamp land we went over we were told was probably double the area it usually was and as we were going round our captain was pointing out areas that aren’t normally underwater!

I’ll be honest I was a bit dubious about doing this, I’m a little scared of boats especially these types of ones, they just look like they’re going to topple over at any moment! That water is filled with gators I didn’t fancy ending up in there!!

This wasn’t our boat but this is what they look like, like a bit of tin with some seats on!

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In the end I actually really enjoyed doing this. It’s loud so you’re given headphones to wear and it was quite relaxing skimming over the water and so quiet and peaceful (except for the noise of the boat).

Our skipper was great, he was full of information and kept stopping when he saw signs of gators being around. The best thing about this experience though was helping to rescue a little baby Armadillo. Armadillos are not made for the water and with their scaly backs they do look a bit like a gator when you’re coming up close. That’s what our skipper was expecting when he pulled up to it. Sadly this little baby was in a bit of distress so our skipper pulled him out the water and we had to find some, very scarce, dry land to set him free.  After he had this little thing in his hands Paul realised there was actually nowhere for him to put it and he obviously couldn’t hold it while driving, Paul being the animal rescuer that he is (we’ve had all sorts of birds and ducks bought home) piped up slightly TOO excitedly ‘Would you like me to hold it?’ thus giving him a hero moment and the highlight of his whole trip!!

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Thankfully we did find some dry land to set him free on and carried on looking for Gators. We did find some in the end which I do have on video. It’s a great way to see them in their natural environment and I think a must do if you to Florida.

The gift shop was really good as well, and quite cheap and there were some baby gators in tanks that you can see, it’s just a shame we couldn’t see the Sloths, but there is always next time…IMG_8797

Wild Florida was really good value as well I think it was £20 each and that includes the airboat and the park. So pretty good really 🙂 We booked the earliest boat we could so we had the rest of the day to do other stuff.

We headed back over to Disney had a quick change of clothes and went off to get all the ‘wedding’ pictures I wanted. My work colleagues were nice enough to get me and Paul bride and groom ears as a wedding present so I was determined to get some nice pictures at all the ‘landmarks’ in Disney with these ears on. Paul and Amelia weren’t quite so keen!!

I also really wanted to see Fantasmic! as we hadn’t yet so we started at Hollywood Studios, about 12ish and it was super hot today. Amelia and Paul wanted to go on Rock n Roller Coaster, I spied Donald as soon as we got in so I waited for him while they went on that 🙂

We managed quite a few characters meets today including Olaf who was wonderful. The Star Wars ones are amazing though. Both me and Amelia love Star Wars, Paul, well he had no idea who any of these people/animals/aliens were we meeting. BB-8 was cute but really tiny, Kylo Ren was incredibly intimidating! but the best one was Chewy, I had no idea he ‘talked’ but I was so excited that he did!!

This is why I love the photopass, you get to have all of the photos that are taken rather than just having to choose some, which are usually the posed ones. The picture below captures the moment that Chewy ‘spoke’ to Amelia perfectly!!

We sadly missed the opportunity to meet Moana but her meet had turned into a Guardians of the Galaxy one so we got to meet Baby Groot, another one little miss loved!

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We had a booking for Minnies Seasonal Dine at Hollywood and Vine, obviously this was Halloween themed. I’d heard some mixed reviews about this one so wasn’t really sure what to expect, it’s another where you meet the host, in this case Minnie, before you eat and the other characters come to the table. I’ve just noticed putting this together that the photos of that aren’t on our memory maker 😦

The food was good with some Halloween themed dishes, meaning pumpkin flavoured, we had some incredible pumpkin soup. And the Halloween desserts were so cute.

The weather got pretty bad while we were in here and we came out to find that Fantasmic had been cancelled for the evening. There was evening EMH at Magic Kingdom so we decided to head over there once the rain had cleared. Meet some more characters and get the wedding pictures there.

 

I’m not the biggest fan of meeting the princesses but it’s always fun meeting Rapunzel. No queues this time of night either 🙂

We managed to get a really good spot right in front of the castle for Happily Ever After – I cried obviously – and we had a really good quick service meal from Caseys Corner. One of my favourites in Disney, the hot dogs are amazing and portions massive.

We did a few rides and spent some of our left over snack credits before heading out of Magic Kingdom for the last time this trip, always a sad moment 😦 But we did an amazing shot with a relatively quiet main street behind us!

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Tomorrow we go to Animal Kingdom for the last time 😦 I hate getting to this part I always feel sad…

Day 11 – Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party and Skipper Canteen

One of the best things about being in Orlando at this time of year is all the Halloween festivities that are happening. Although Universal doesn’t start until the day we fly home (don’t remind me of that I’m not forgiven for booking too early to go). I first did MNSSHP 5 years ago on a trip with a friend and her family and I loved it one of my favourite things I’ve ever done at Disney. I loved meeting the rare characters and the fact you get free candy and can trick or treat around Magic Kingdom is just amazing!

We had quite a relaxing day, had a swim in the morning and then spent the rest of the day trying to buy some white facepaint for our fancy dress outfits, the make up we’d picked up at home we didn’t look at properly and the bit we thought was paint was actually a make up sponge….. We had NO luck at all, even though Disney decided Halloween should start at the end of August it seems the shops didn’t and nowhere could we get any 😦

We had decided to dress up this year, Paul and I as Wednesday and Pugsley Addams (mostly because I’d not long seen the musical and loved it) and Amelia, well she wanted to be a Zombie Bride… She’s such a girly, dainty, sugary child! After the face paint failure we decided to get her face painted in MK, it cost us $20 but they would touch it up for free if any of it came off.

We got in the park in time to watch the Festival of Fantasy parade and do a few rides before our dining reservation at Skipper Canteen. I was so excited about this place. I’d watched a few vlogs on it and it was highly recommended. I’d looked at the menu as well and it was different food than you normally expect from a theme park.

This place ended up being my top eatery of the trip!! Food was unbelievable, it was a bit more on the healthy side. But just look at it, everything looked so lovely!

I still dream about this meal now and honestly if anyone wants a good place to eat at Magic Kingdom this would be my recommendation. I will go into more detail about all the places we ate in in future blogs but for now I’m just going to say, the coconut pudding was just, well there are literally no words for how good this meal was!

With the Halloween party none of the events actually start until around 7pm, however you are allowed in the park from 4pm if you have a ticket for the event. We had the park hoppers as well so we could go in whenever we liked.

One of the big draws for these events is the rare character meets so knowing they were the most popular as soon as we finished eating we went on the search for Jack and Sally. There was already a pretty long line and I think we ended up waiting just over 90 minutes to see them. They were great, well worth the wait. Brilliant interactions and Amelia loved them.

We did as many of the trick or treat locations as we could but not many rides, that’s why its a good idea to get in at 4pm if you don’t plan on visiting for anything other than the party, it means you can do rides and then concentrate on all the Halloween stuff during the party.

We watched the Boo-To-You parade which is my favourite parade at Disney. The music is so good and seeing an actual headless horseman riding through Magic Kingdom is something you won’t forget.

As you can see from some of the pictures there are a LOT of awesome magic shots throughout the park for these events and we made the most of as many as we could.

It was a pretty quiet night and apart from Jack and Sally, Moana and Lotso from Toy Story the queues for characters weren’t too bad. Even Seven Dwarves which is normally a good few hour wait was only about 30 minutes.

We missed the Hocus Pocus show which was a shame and proved to me that I think if you can you should go to 2 nights of this. There isn’t enough time in one night to do everything and meet everyone.

The fireworks at this is brilliant, Hallo-Wishes is another of my favourite things at Disney. Halloween themed music and images projected on the castle, it’s a must do and we really loved it 🙂

It is a late night and Amelia was exhausted after it but she really loved it and especially loved the attention she was getting for her outfit, most people go as Disney characters or something less gruesome than she was so I think she was a bit of change for everyone!

Cost of MNSSHP varies depending on when in the season you go, obviously the earlier you go the less it is and Halloween night itself is the most expensive. We paid about $70 each for our tickets but UK ticket sellers like Attraction Tickets Direct have started doing these and had we bought them from there we would have only paid about £40 each so it’s worth keeping an eye out for those when the dates are announced.

Tomorrow we are off to Wild Florida to do an airboat ride, this is what Paul has been most excited about doing, I’m a bit dubious I’m not a fan of boats….

 

Days 9 and 10 – Staying at Disney for Hurricane Irma

I love visiting Orlando in September, the weather is perfect and it’s not quite as busy. Not to mention Food and Wine and the Halloween stuff (just don’t mention Halloween Horror Nights, I’m still not forgiven for booking too early for those..). BUT it is hurricane season so you do always run the risk of there being one. I’ve been lucky on previous trips to either miss them or just have to deal with a bit of rain most days. But this time, we were slap bang in the middle of it and saw first hand how it affects people in Orlando and what Disney do for their guests while all this is happening.

There won’t be a lot of pictures in this blog there’s not a lot to photo when you’re just in your room…I’ll try and keep it short but informative for those of you who are worried about what being there for something like this is like.

We were staying at Port Orleans French Quarter which is the smallest of the Moderate resorts and they did a fantastic job in the run up to Irma keeping us updated daily with memos left on our beds by housekeeping explaining what was happening. Obviously this changed constantly as weather is really unpredictable. The last update was we had a curfew in place from 7pm last night until 6pm the day after Irma. The hurricane was due to hit in the early hours so during the day apart from it being windy and colder than normal that was all we had to deal with.

The hotel was amazing and it’s a testament to how safe Disney is as a location that a lot of people who were evacuated were in our hotel along with some locals who had decided to decamp to Disney as they knew it was ‘the safest place to be’.  The Floridian Mayor had insisted that all hotels open up to people with pets as so many in real danger from Irma wouldn’t leave them and just stay at home putting more of the emergency services at risk. We had dogs in our hotel, I know it’s a bit of a controversial subject, but personally I loved having them around. They didn’t cause any problems, I heard no barking, all dogs were on leads and there was no mess.  It just made me miss mine more. I found it quite homely having a load of dogs I could pet 🙂

All the cast members were great and again after speaking to a few it turns out Disney had asked weeks ago for volunteers to work for this, whether it be in the hotels or as part of the clean up crew. Apparently Disney were overrun by people offering to help out. Shows again the extra measures Cast Members go to for their jobs.

The pools were drained and closed so we didn’t have that to do however there was more than enough to keep the kids amused. Arts and Crafts in the lobby area, music and dancing and the arcade on free play as well. By far the best thing was having characters in the lobby, they took part in the arts and crafts and dancing with the kids. We had Chip and Dale, Pluto and my favourite Donald Duck. I had a great time just watching him dancing to Michael Jackson, who knew he had some moves!! Something you’ll see in an upcoming vlog.. I would even say that was one of the highlights of my trip!

Staying at Port Orleans does give you access to both of the resorts there, ours and the much larger Riverside. Being as both were open for food we took a little wander over along the riverside to just have a little change of scenery.  There is more choice foodwise over that side and it’s where you can see Yee Haw Bob (sadly not while we were there though), we tried the Jambalaya which was so nice and had a look around their much bigger gift shop.

Food in our resort during this time was limited. There was pre packaged meals of sandwiches etc and just Pizza or Meatballs and Pasta. Both of which we had – there’s not a lot to do really apart from eat when you’ve seen the crafts and the characters.

Disney did kindly put Disney Movies on a loop on the channels in our rooms so we did spend the day going back to watch a movie and then off to get more food. Being as we knew we would have to be in our rooms for around 12 hours (much better than the ‘up to 48’ it was originally) we tried to stay out as long as possible. I remember watching Little Mermaid, Big Hero 6 and Brave a good few times.

Not once during this whole time did any of us feel worried, scared or anxious. Watching the news and weather channels on TV the way things were worded made it sound a lot worse for us than it seemed to be. We were lucky where we were obviously it hit worse on the coast and it was devastating for many but Disney is quite rightly a safe place to be.

There was never any loss of electric or water – largely due to Disney having their own supplies of this – and I think the reason so many decamp there.

During the curfew we literally just ate and watched TV, not a lot else you can do. We bought playing cards and colouring stuff but we slept through most of the hurricane. We did get woken up a few times during the night and peered out to see incredibly high winds and a lot of rain, trees were blowing over but apart from that we didn’t see much, it was dark though…

Next morning once the curfew was lifted we did venture out to see what damage had been done and it was mostly just trees and a few signs had been blown off. As I said we were lucky. The rooms were secure and having the TV on did cover over most of the noise of the wind and rain. Had we lost power then it might have been a different situation.

Obviously the pool was still closed and not too many people were about but we went to get food and by the time we’d come back to the room and watched a movie the second trip to get out we were met with a very different resort. It was like nothing had happened, all the debris was cleared away and apart from seeing workmen about fixing signs etc you wouldn’t have known anything had happened.

Curfew was lifted for the area early evening so we headed out to get some food. It was clear once we’d got off Disney property how much damage had been done locally. Literally as soon as we were off site we saw traffic lights out and a lot of flooding, some of the big store signs along the 192 were ruined, blown down or ripped and we could see a lot of places without power.

Not many places were open, social media was so helpful for this, we ended up at Golden Corral near Kissimmee which had queues around the whole building we waited nearly 90 minutes to get in and eat, when we came out the queue was twice as long so we were lucky.

Parks reopen tomorrow so we’re looking forward to Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween party which thankfully is still happening.

All in all we were lucky that we were onsite for Irma, I think if we’d been in a villa we wouldn’t have had it so easy.  It’s not put me off coming in Hurricane season again, we were well looked after. Floridians in general are really friendly so if you do normally do Villa holidays neighbours will be  more than happy to help you out if the situation arose. All hotels would have some kind of policy in place but it would only be resorts on Disney where you’re not likely to lose power.

If you’re worried about booking and the impact that it may have on your holiday I really wouldn’t, missing 2 days in the parks did mean we missed some stuff but most of that could have been done earlier on in the holiday if I’d planned it right. We were upset to miss some of it and having to spend so much time together stuck in a relatively small room might drive some families mad and fray some tempers but luckily we don’t annoy each other too much! I think we panicked when we originally thought we would be stuck for 48 hours and spent far too much on supplies we didn’t need to have so in hindsight maybe we should have waited a little longer to get stuff.

Generally during Hurricane Season you will get rain pretty much every day. However unlike here the weather channels will tell you what time that will be and they’re for the most part incredibly accurate, its usually just a shower and over as quick as it starts. I love it when it rains, people empty the parks and it ends up so quiet, always a bonus. Don’t let it put you off booking!!

I’m glad this all happened towards the end of our trip and it wasn’t something that stopped us actually getting here and it does mean that if it happens to affect us again we’ll know what to expect and family at home might not be as worried as they were this time.

Not too long for us left now which is sad and I imagine we will still have some bad weather to deal with but tomorrow we eat in one of the places I’ve been most looking forward to – Skipper Canteen…