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.

 

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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 8 – Brunch with Pooh and more Disney Springs

 

Today was a strange day to be in the parks, with Irma due to hit tomorrow all the parks have announced they will be closed for it. Today I was expecting it to be busy with people getting a bit of magic before everything shuts down. Magic Kingdom today, like Universal yesterday was eerily quiet.

We had a dining reservation at 10:30 we got in just before it, this was main street…

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Crystal Palace was one of the dinings I was most looking forward too, I’d heard good things and was excited to try the famous breakfast lasagne. Plus there’s nothing better than getting a hug from Pooh, he’s like a big teddy bear who cuddles you back 🙂

Again it was quiet in here so I think we got more of an interaction than normal with the characters just strolling about and playing with the kids rather than just stopping for pictures and to sign. I booked at a time so we could try breakfast and still be there when the lunch buffet came out but we were all a bit stuffed so we didn’t get to try that as well.

 

Food here was really good one of the better buffets, and if you are doing breakfast you must have the lasagne, it’s like some sort of heavenly trifle with waffles, pancakes, bananas and all manner of good sweet breakfast stuff.

Weather wise today we did get caught in a few showers meaning we spent a bit of time looking in shops and spending our snack credits. I haven’t had nearly enough ‘Disney’ themed snacks so far so I had a Mickey marshmallow bar which I was most pleased with 🙂

These snacks are great ways to use your snack credits on a dining plan, the toffee or dessert apples are great too but to me they always look far too good to eat!

Trying to stay away from the dodgy weather we did a lot of indoor stuff today, Philharmagic, and a lot of character meets. Including my favourite Donaldo and Pauls Ariel in her grotto 🙂

We went to see the boss man today as well in his theatre and this is the Mickey that talks to you. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of this one. There’s always a kid in front of us who is seeing a talking Mickey for the first time and their faces are always priceless. It’s a must do for anyone on a first trip and one to fastpass as it does get really busy.

Another first for me today was meeting iCan the robot in Tomorrowland, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve spotted him whilst on the Peoplemover only to get off and find he’s gone so this was a special moment 🙂 He’s really cool so keep an eye out for him when you’re there.

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I finally got to have my ‘balloon’ photo today as well, it’s one of the magic shots you can get with the Disney photographers, make sure you ask them when they’re taking them if they have any magic ones. It’s fun to see what they are when you check your memory maker ones after. I love this it’s one of my favourites from the whole trip…

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Dinner today was in Rainforest Café, not somewhere I generally like to eat. It’s too loud for me and after doing T-Rex as well I wasn’t that enamoured with doing this one. But the weather was getting more and more dodgy and it was the closest restaurant to where we got off the boat from our hotel therefore we didn’t have to walk too far in the wind 🙂

Amelia loved it here, they got our name wrong when we were asked for it, we were the ‘Buff’ family. I’ll take that!

Food is pretty similar to T-Rex being that it is owned by the same company, we enjoyed it food was good, service was good and we had a few cocktails.

We had a very quick wander around the Springs, the weather was getting worse and more windy and going on a boat for someone who is a little bit scared of them is bad enough but doing it in bad weather and the dark is just not fun so we headed back before it got too blowy and spent the evening watching Disney movies which were kindly put on our TVs for free for the duration of the hurricane.

We’re not sure what tomorrow holds to be honest, no parks are open so we will be confined to the hotel. Disney were great at keeping us informed as to what was going on so for the time being the hotel facilities – minus the pool – are all there to use, including the arcade on free play for the kids and Disney movies in room to keep us occupied. I guess if anything it gives us a chance to catch up on some much needed sleep!!

Day 7 – A Deserted Wizarding World, preparing for Irma and meeting a Polar Bear

Today is the main reason we decided to stay at Hard Rock Hotel.

Staying on site gives you the early entry and both parts of the Wizarding World open an hour early for hotel guests. 8am in our case at this time of year. We got up early, checked out and walked to Universal Studios. Literally a 5 minute walk if that! No need to get on a bus, train, monorail or boat.

Nothing else bar Starbucks and a few places to eat were open and we were a little disappointed to learn that Gringotts didn’t actually open until the park did. That being said there is so much to look at in Diagon Alley and we had so much fun looking about and being able to have pictures without loads of people in the background. Paul even pretended he knew what Harry Potter was all about and had a go at being a wizard!

Anyone who’s been here knows how immersive it is and it does really feel like you’re entering the wizarding world. Even with the ride closed the hour we had before opening wasn’t anywhere near enough time to explore it all in peace!

We spent a lot of time doing spells and wondering around the shops and into Ollivanders to see how the wand chooses the wizard. One of the little extra things I really wanted to do that I’d kept quiet from Amelia was visit the money exchange where you can change up your dollars (a minimum of $10) to wizarding money with the help of one of the gringotts goblins. Fully interactive of course.

The money can only be spent in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade or of course makes a relatively cheap souvenir. We kept ours.  We did video our experience in the money exchange as well as most of the trip so when I can get my head round editing I’ll put all that up as well.

Food in Diagon Alley, well snacks, are magical too. We had the obligatory Butterbeer which comes frozen or normal, and is every bit as delicious as I remember but a little too sweet for some people. We had Earl Grey and Lavender Ice Cream which was lovely but in typical Orlando style even one scoop was far too big! Amelia was sensible and went for a no melt ice cream from the sweet shop. It looked fabulous but was essentially just a pot of frosting, very good frosting but frosting all the same.  Pumpkin spice is one of my favourite things in Orlando so we went for a Pumpkin Pasty which was ok and we also bought a cauldron cake – we skipped breakfast so we were all a bit hungry!

I really enjoyed just wandering around and to be honest I could have quite happily walked around all day. But we needed to get as much done as possible as we needed to find a Walmart to stock up on rations for when Irma hit.

We had a quick stop off at The Night Bus and a chat with Stan and the shrunken heads before we took a little walk over to the other side of the park to see a show I’d been dying to watch for a while.

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That didn’t happen straightaway however as Paul nearly had some sort of fit after The Blues Brothers were walking along. He loves the Blues Brothers and we were planning on making sure we caught their show but we ended up seeing an earlier one. Paul even got involved in it, again to be seen in an upcoming vlog!

The Blues Brothers show is one of those must sees, everyone knows all the songs and it’s so entertaining and funny. Lots of audience participation and the performers are really really good 🙂

Jaws the ride may now be a distant memory but you can’t visit Universal Studios without finding the famous shark himself and inspecting the inside of his mouth.

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We did try and go to Richter Burger for lunch which does some of the best burgers but sadly it was closed.

The park was very quiet today, eerily so, due I would imagine to the upcoming storm. Most of the people in the parks were on holiday, I think most locals were out getting supplies.

If you’re planning a trip to Universal or have been before and are looking for something different to do, make a spot in your itinerary for the Horror Make Up Show. It’s not something I was overly interested in on previous trips just thinking it would be like some of the animation classes you used to get at Disney which although I enjoyed it wasn’t something I would rush to do again. I actually saw a vlog on it a few months after we booked and I laughed so hard! So we decided to give it a go 🙂 Plus it’s inside and it’s been raining on and off quite heavily all day.

It’s a live stage show with 2 fantastically funny hosts who show a few techniques for horror make up and blood and then show clips of the movies that they’re used on. And the movies the hosts have worked on. An unsuspecting audience member – sadly not one of us – gets roped in to be made up as well.

There are screens in the theatre – which isn’t that big – so any tricks they show you are shown close up on those 🙂

It’s a great way to spend half an hour, you won’t be disappointed and honestly it’s one of the funniest shows I’ve seen 🙂

Plus you can have your throat cut by the hosts after if you want to…

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One thing I only found out about recently were the impromptu ‘dance parties’ involving the floats from the Superstar parade. We were lucky on coming out of the show to stumble upon a Despicable Me one. Amelia got picked to be a Minion which she loved and you can have a dance with all the characters to the music from the film. I was just really excited that you can meet the girls!

These are really good fun and kids love it!

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It turns out we were in a great location for meeting characters here, after the dance party we spotted Popeye, Beetlejuice, Scooby Doo and The Simpsons. Some with photographers so we could take advantage of the photopass.

Shaggy and Scooby are always fun to meet. Other places where you can use the photopass are with the meets with Transformers, Minions and Shrek.

I finally got to do the Transformers ride which I wasn’t all that impressed with. The ride tech is brilliant and the special effects are really good but it’s not really that much different to Spider-Man, it’s just the story is about Transformers instead. I prefer Spider-Man.

The Despicable Me ride is one I always enjoy, I love the films and the Minions do make me laugh. Best bit of the ride though is undoubtedly when you exit to a dance floor where you can dance with the Minions 🙂

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After a quick? stop in Walmart and $200 of groceries later – we were told we could be in our rooms for 48 hours so we needed enough to last – we went back to Port Orleans, without getting lost for a quick dip in the pool.

I really enjoyed the pool at Port Orleans, it’s a great size and has a slide. There’s always activities for the kids as well, at an extra cost though.

There is also a bar that does some brilliant cocktails and an adults only Jacuzzi which we most definitely made the most of.

We decided to spend the evening in Disney Springs. The beauty of staying at Port Orleans is that you can get to Disney Springs on a boat which was fun. They run quite late into the evening as well it’s a less crowded more fun way to get about than the buses.

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We had a reservation at T-Rex where I really wanted to try the famed Cottontini 🙂

It’s basically a martini poured over candy floss (or cotton candy as they call it). I went for the apple one and I loved it. If you don’t like sweet things you won’t like it. The Candy Floss dissolves as you pour the drink over it. I ended up having 2 and another fruity cocktail as well. You get to keep the cocktail shaker when you order as well so you get a little reminder.

Food wise we really enjoyed T Rex, I’d read a lot of bad reviews about it but honestly apart from it being loud, it is dinosaur themed and comes from the same people who do Rainforest Café so you do expect a certain amount of ‘background’ noise from all the things that go on. I don’t remember exactly what happens in T-Rex I think it’s supposed to mimic the demise of the dinosaurs but there are animatronics all over the place and it’s a great fun place to eat with kids.

After the cocktails we had a rather tipsy wander around the Springs. I love the shops in Disney Springs so much grown up Disney merchandise from homeware and clothes to artwork, I never buy a lot but I just like to look.

One of the things I was super excited about was meeting the Coca Cola Polar bear. I’d watched some videos of him on YouTube and he really made me laugh so finding him was one of the things on my bucket list for this trip. He was brilliant, such a fun character meet and all the photos – in fact all the photo ops in Disney Springs – are included with memory maker. We loved him that much we went back twice.

We also had more cocktails on the rooftop bar at Coca Cola Store. You can have them with all the different coke products you can try in Epcot at Club Cool, I wasn’t brave enough to try the Beverley one so I went for something raspberry flavoured although all I could taste was the alcohol. Don’t forget if you are over 21 and old enough to drink in Orlando you will need to prove it so make sure you have ID with you.

The rooftop bar is lovely, it gives you great views over the Springs, the shop was great as well. It wasn’t there last time I visited so I was excited to have a look 🙂

Feeling ever so slightly tipsy we went back to the boat to go back, tomorrow is the last day the parks are open before Irma hits so we’re off for breakfast with Winnie the Pooh…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 – Hollywood Studios, ‘enjoying’ Rock n Roller coaster and BE OUR GUEST!

We had a bit of a lie in this morning and arrived at Hollywood Studios about 10 for our dining reservation at 1950s Prime Time Café, Pauls favourite from our last trip. It’s a really fun experience putting you in the home of 1950s America serving old favourites such as meatloaf and stuffed chops. The food is so good but make sure you eat your greens and beware of putting your elbows on the table!! You will be told off!!

 

After lunch we had a stroll around the park taking advantage of the memory maker.  There are some great photo opportunities here especially for Star Wars fans who I’m sure will love the chance to sit on a speeder 🙂 I would imagine with Galaxys Edge opening next year there will be so much more like this too 🙂

 

There is a lot of work going on at the park meaning it doesn’t seem like there is a lot to do currently. I was devastated that I missed the opportunity to do Great Movie Ride one more time it was sad seeing it closed 😦

Amelia was most excited about coming back to this park, being 2 years older this time and finally big enough for ‘an upside down ride’ she was beside herself with excitement for Rock n Roller Coaster. We had tears last trip as she was too small but this time she loved it!!

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For me once was more than enough and who’s idea was it to be in the back carriage where we all know its far faster than anywhere else? (Note the child chose to sit on her own, I was glad I was NOT getting on that coaster if I didn’t have a grown up with me). She would have ridden that all day if she could!

Onwards to Tower of Terror (for them not me) and even though Paul hates it he was subjected to it multiple times, in the end we were those parents we swore we’d never be at Disney, stood in the giftshop holding the bags while the kids go on the rides! I love this picture she looks so happy he doesn’t 🙂

Make sure you say hello to Stitch the Bellboy when you come out of the ride too 🙂

Hollywood Studios has one of my favourite shows on property so we had to go and watch Beauty and the Beast. Again. I love this show, it’s a shortened version of the musical with amazing performers and all the songs we all love, I always get a bit emosh watching this but it is a must see 🙂 Even more so today knowing where I’m off to eat at tonight!!

The Indiana Jones stunt show is a great way to spend an hour as well, although our show was cut a bit short due to the weather we did still get to see some incredible stunts and an insiders view on how some of the big stunts in the blockbusters we love to watch are achieved 🙂 It’s great for the younger audiences who are always wowed by the gunshots and the near miss accidents in this show!

After a brief stop at our resort for a nap – not me I might add – far too excited, we headed for Magic Kingdom ready for our dinner reservation at Be Our Guest.

Out of all our reservations for this trip this was the one I was most excited about and it really did live up to my expectations. I’ll do a full review of the food etc in a future blog but I think this is a must do. The restaurant is beautiful the theming is incredible, I *may* have cried when I walked in. We were seated in the Ballroom and I was so impressed with the ‘magic’ windows making it look like it was snowing inside.

The food was great the desserts even better, we all had the grey stuff, it was delicious 🙂 Although it’s something put on top of puddings and not just a mousse itself which is what I was expecting.

Then of course you can meet the Beast which is the big draw of having an evening meal here. It’s the only place and time you can meet him. I *may* have cried!!

It’s such a magical experience being in Beasts castle, it is actually like being in the film. Definitely one of the highlights of this trip…

Tomorrow we’re off to Universal to spend a night in the Hard Rock Hotel…

 

 

 

 

Day 3 – Ohana, Cinderellas Royal Table and Magic Kingdom

Good News, we have the camera back so I have pictures yay!!!

Today we did a LOT of eating with characters starting our day at Ohana in the Polynesian. I’ve never been in there before and I have to say it’s a stunning looking resort. We did find that they don’t have any disabled parking there when we pulled up but instead they give you free valet parking which made us feel a bit special!!

I loved Ohana – I may have had something in my eye when we met Stitch and were seated at a table with a view of the castle!

Food is served Family Style which means it all comes out on the same plate and you help yourself as much as you like. The Pineapple and Coconut bread you get as you sit down is amazing I could have eaten that all day and no Mickey Waffles here they’re Stitch ones!

We met Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto.

On to Magic Kingdom after eating and we signed up for Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom which is a really good way to keep kids entertained as they walk through the park.

We did both the mountains (Splash is closed 😦 ) and while we were having a refreshment stop we were asked if we wanted our picture taken in a rocket. This is the rocket!! The cast member insisted I stayed in my ECV so we have this ridiculous photo!! I can assure you this is not a very fast rocket!!

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It was really quiet in the parks today which was lovely most rides only a 25-30 minute wait if that. This is why I love coming at this time of year. Weather is fab – obviously apart from the threat of the Hurricane.

Lots of characters about as well with little or no queue at all. (I’ll put all the Memory Maker photos up when we get home)

Amelia decided she wanted to drive the car on Tomorrowland Speedway which was more of a thrill ride than Thunder Mountain, she can’t steer and I was only just big enough to be able to reach the pedal so everytime it jolted my foot would come off the pedal and the car would stop! I think it took an hour to get round… I am dreading her getting her driving license…

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Gaston is by far my favourite character meet ever! I laughed so much I was crying!! Great use of snack credits today with the LaFous brew I’d been looking forward to since last time. We *might* have made Paul buy a light up rose cup 🙂 Suits him don’t you think?

We decided to skip the parade today and go on rides instead and it seemed like the day just went so quickly and before we knew it it was time for our 7pm reservation at Cinderellas Royal Table which was Amelias choice of restaurant.

I have to say eating inside the castle is really exciting, the service as you would expect from a $260+ price tag for 3 was exceptional. What surprised me is how small it is inside, there really isn’t that many tables, I guess that’s why its so hard to get a reservation there. I found out from our server that it was actually meant to be Walt’s conference room so that explains why it’s compact in there. That for me made the whole experience so special knowing that this room was one Walt himself had designed.

The food was lovely! Although Amelia ordered chicken which was more than dry! (I will do a full review on the food when I get home)

We met 5 princesses all together Cinderella as you walk in and then Snow White, Aurora, Jasmine and Ariel as we were eating.  You get given wands if you’re a girl and a sword for the men – which Paul was a little too happy about!!

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The puddings though were the best bit!

We did more rides after eating and as we came out just before the fireworks started we decided not to attempt to get to the front of the castle and struggle to find a spot so instead we watched from behind which was a really different experience than we’ve done before. I’ve watched a few vloggers film it and if you stand by the tangled bathroom they’re actually all around you which is something to behold.

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We were really lucky after coming out of Cinderella Royal Table we were really lucky that there was a photographer by the Tangled bathrooms doing the Lantern photos, they are amazing and a must do if you’re around when they’re doing them.

On the way out we headed to the photo place near where Mickey meets as we’d had loads of photos on our memory maker not upload and some of totally different families to ours!! We spoke to a wonderful cast member called Katie who is still trying to retrieve some of them for us, we were there for nearly 45 minutes trying to get it all sorted. Once we finally got back to our room we walked in and our phone rang – which is always a worry when you’re on holiday. Katie had found our camera and remembered our name and did some investigating to find where we were staying to make sure she got it back to us. This is why Disney is so special. Cast Members who go that extra mile to make sure you don’t lose things like those special memories. So massive thanks to her for that!!

Next blog will be Epcot tomorrow!! 🙂

Day 2 – Islands of Adventure, Blue Man Group and a present from Spiderman.

Up a little bit later today and headed off to find a Waffle House for breakfast – guess what? – we got lost and couldn’t find one!! So we ended up in an IHOP near Universal.  I remember going to IHOP loads on my first ever trip over here nearly 20 years ago.

Have to say this time we were so not impressed and it wasn’t what we’ve come to love about eating out over here – and boy do we love eating out over here!! We had a miserable waitress who told Amelia off for looking at and smelling the different flavoured syrups for the pancakes on our table and when the – very small – meals came out no cutlery for Amelia, she had to go and ask for it herself.  I ordered a breakfast but asked for no eggs as I have an allergy and was told they can’t be substituted so I basically ended up paying 8 dollars for 2 small pieces of bacon and a hash brown!! The food itself was OK but the bad service made it a not very good experience to the day. $40 that cost us. I don’t recommend it at all, if you want a good value breakfast then Waffle House all the way – if only we could find one! They were literally everywhere yesterday why is it when you want to find something you can’t!!

We got to Universal at around 10:30 and to be honest considering it is Labor Day weekend it wasn’t actually that busy until we got to the turnstiles. Inside the park we went to get my Access Pass which I didn’t think I’d get after the rules had changed but it turns out I do so that made our day good again 🙂

They do ask a few questions about how your disability affects you and that’s how they determine what pass you need. It works really well and wait times less than 30 minutes allow you to go in the express pass lane any longer you get a return time.

We went straight to Seuss Landing one of my favourite lands. I love it. First ride was Cat in the Hat 🙂 We didn’t manage to do Islands on our last trip so it was exciting to  be back.  We went on the Trolley Ride around Seuss landing too which gives you an amazing view of the whole park.

There’s a cool little show in Seuss with all the characters which we missed by a few minutes but we did get to the meet and greet which was really exciting and only maybe 2 minute wait for each of them. Super speedy!! It was actually really quiet most of the rides were walk on with less than 15 minute wait.

Headed over to Marvel Super Hero Island for Spiderman ride and also to meet the man himself who took a liking to Amelia ‘the girl who can fly’ and we ended up with our print with him free 🙂

We talked before we left about getting the photo package at Universal and the very lovely cast member at the Spiderman photo op gave us the 14 day package for the price of 3 which was awesome. It’s definitely worth it and I’ll go into more detail about where you can use it etc in a later blog.

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No visit to Islands is complete without a soaking on the Popeye ride, we have some fab video of how soaked we got, we may as well of just had a shower that’s what we looked like. Then on to get even more soaked from Rocky and Bullwinkle. One thing we noticed about that ride was how much it really needed a bit of TLC, it didn’t look as clean as the other rides and it looked really unloved, apart from the length of the ride and the way that side of things worked it just reminded us of being at Chessington…

We then made our way over to Hogsmeade which was insanely busy, my only complaint about all of the Wizarding World is how thin all the walkways seem to be you just feel like there’s too many people too close to you and you’re bottlenecked in. Now it may be an illusion because the buildings are pretty high compared to some of the others and obviously we all know that’s what London/England in general is like but a couple more inches would make a big difference!!

We rode forbidden journey which I love, I don’t however love the spiders in it as you can see from the photo above which gave everyone a good laugh!!

After that off to citywalk to try out Toothsome one of our most anticipated eateries and it is out of this world in terms of ambience and service. We loved it even with the $100 price tag however in the grand scheme of things the food itself wasn’t that amazing, the puddings were though so maybe just go there for that side of things. I will be going back before we come home to purchase some sweets to bring home. Not as presents for people, all for me 🙂

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We ended our evening with a visit to Blue Man, I won’t bore you again with all the info on how awesome it is, I did a pretty extensive blog on that a while ago which you can read here Blue Man Group – Is it worth it?  What I will say about the show is no matter how many times you do it you cannot get bored, it’s still as hilarious as the first and second times I saw it and I cannot stress enough how much of a good time you will have at it and look you can meet the Blue Men after…

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Oh and guess what happened on the way home? We got lost. Again.

Another early morning tomorrow for us, breakfast with Lilo and Stitch 🙂

Seaworld – Penguins Up Close Tour – Review

Seaworld do some unbelievable behind the scenes animal encounters that you may not know about.

My husband loves Penguins and looking at doing some sort of up close thing here in the UK is really blimmin expensive so for Christmas a few years back I booked him a Penguins Up Close tour for when we visited Seaworld.  It’s something you book directly through Seaworld and was around £35 each! Peanuts really.

But was it any good?

Yes ,yes it was!

You check in near the Sealions and are taken into the Penguin house where you meet your tour guide and are given a little information on what Penguins they have at Seaworld and all about the conservation efforts they have in place.

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Here you also learn all about how to approach the Penguins and the health and safety side of it all – remember these are animals with really big pointy beaks in some cases and can do a lot of damage if you don’t handle them carefully.

We were told we would meet a few different types of Penguin and we’d get to pet them. Sadly this didn’t happen due to other members of our group not really paying attention to the rules which did cut our experience down a little.

You’re then taken through to the penguin enclosure – top tip it is absolutely FREEZING, you can see from our pictures that we were not prepared for that and spent the next part of the experience – around 30 minutes shivering!!

You are not able to go into the actual enclosure you are stood behind a small gate and the penguins do come over – they’re quite curious animals.

It was amazing being that close to them and seeing how different all the types of penguins are.  The guide was brilliant at asking any questions you may have and telling you what the different noises they make actually mean.

Your guide will then find a willing Penguin (or penguins if you’re lucky) and bring it out to meet you. We met a rather large emperor penguin.

You get to pet it which was awesome although every-time we did it let out this incredibly loud screeching noise – perfectly normal behavior apparently but it did make us jump – hence the laughing and the slightly wary faces we have.

Apart from the experience being a little short – it’s only a 45 minute one. It was so good. It was interesting and anything that allows me to pet an animal I wouldn’t normally see is a win for me.

It’s small groups of around 6/8 and does need to be pre-booked. You can also do the Penguin encounter as part of the behind the scenes tour which will also show you manatees and sea turtles and allow you to touch a shark too. You can book this one through most of the ticket resellers here and that will work out less than purchasing through Seaworld directly, it’s around £23.

If you want to do something a little different at Seaworld then I highly recommend this tour. They do have a few others as well, same sort of idea and price but with different animals. Currently Sharks, Dolphins and Sealions (which may have to be my next one).

Things to do in theme parks without being in a queue – ISLANDS OF ADVENTURE

Last of my Universal blogs on this and I think I’m going to surprise myself at what there is to do here without queuing.

I love IOA and I’m so looking forward to going this trip as my last one we didn’t get a chance to do it all properly.  I didn’t even get on Dudley Do Rights!!

The themeing in all the lands here is incredible and you can spend ages just looking at stuff – and taking photos, there are so many great photo opportunities if you’re an Instagram user.

Seuss Landing is fab and it really is like walking into a Seuss book. The Cat in the Hat ride is so much fun and I’ve rarely seen a queue for it – although I would imagine during the summer there would be some. There’s a great interactive playground for little ones here based on ‘If I Ran the Zoo’ and there are splash bits so expect to get a little wet. And keep an eye out for character meets throughout the day as well.

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There are 2 great shows here as that are often overlooked as is the area that they’re in.

The Lost Continent does seem to get a bit ‘lost’ with all the more well known ‘lands’ in IOA. But here you will find the awesome stunts and special effects show ‘Eighth Voyage of Sinbad’ as well as the walk through action show ‘Poseidons Fury’. There’s some really interesting stalls in this area as well so it’s a unique place to do a bit of shopping. You can find the Mystic Fountain here too, don’t tell the kids but he does talk to you so tell them it’s a wishing fountain and watch them jump when it starts to strike up a conversation with them. There are so many little things in this almost hidden area you can do, you can pick a pearl and have your fortune read – these are an extra charge.

IOA is of course where the first part of Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened and it’s here you will find Hogsmeade and Hogwarts.  Of course the rides always have a queue but just like Diagon Alley there is plenty to do.

You have more interactive windows for your wands and another Ollivanders not to mention the interesting but odd ‘Frog Choir’ and the TriWizard Spirit Rally.

Ladies make sure you have a wee here in Hogsmeade, you might just find yourself joined by Moaning Myrtle!! This is one of my favourite things here.

Jurassic Park has plenty to do as well as the River Adventure. There’s a great kids play area ‘Camp Jurassic’ with an active volcano for little ones to explore and it’s just as much fun for big ones. Discovery Centre is a real fun and interactive game area where you can learn all about dinosaurs and mixing your DNA with one. You also get to see and handle dino eggs and if you’re lucky you might see one hatch and be able to name it.

You can also have your photo taken with a T-Rex

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There’s various side show games for an extra charge and a climbing wall.

Toon Lagoon is one of my favourite themed lands here the shops are fab especially Betty Boops which smells amazing.

There’s lots of water fun here and splash zones are not just found in the kids area they are all over so be warned!!

The jokers among you should head down the small trail to the right of kids playland ‘Me Ship The Olive’ it’s packed with gags such as a miniature ‘school’ of Fish. A must for Dads I think! The ship itself is a three storey watery play area which is perfect for squirting people on the Popeye ride below it.

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You can meet vintage cartoon characters here which is always good fun.

Marvel Super Hero Island is a must for boys of all ages and has some awesome features that not a lot of people are aware of. Keep an eye out for anything that looks like a giant speaker they are communication ports that have special messages from the heroes and villains in the area.

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The heroes meet periodically throughout the day and appear on their bikes which is a fun thing to watch.  Here you will also find a huge games arcade – all at an extra cost.

So you see so much to do here to keep you amused without queuing not to mention all the incredible shopping – of which there is a lot at Universal. Make sure you look in the shop just to the right as you exit IOA that is usually selling off season stock and you may find some stuff at lower prices.

Massive thanks to Jolie for some of these little things I didn’t know about. If you have any others yourself then please let me know.

Things to do in theme parks without queuing – UNIVERSAL STUDIOS

With it being the home of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal is now a lot busier than it has been in previous years and is giving Disney a run for its money as a resort in itself.

Although Universal does have a large amount of very popular rides and is popular with the thrill seekers – although it does actually only have 3 rollercoasters – there is almost another whole parks worth of non-ride stuff to do there.

Turning right as you go into the park and into Hollywood you’re sure to bump into Characters as you work your way down the street you’ll find all sorts from Scooby and Shaggy to The Flintstones.  There’s live music here as well from the studio Brass Band and I’m sure I remember them playing the Simpsons theme.

Here you also find Terminator 3-D it’s part 3-D film and part live action and is based on the Cyberdyne company from the films – mostly from Terminator 2. It’s really action packed and runs periodically throughout the day and being as it’s in a pretty large theatre I’ve never seen a queue for it.

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Also in this area is the Horror Make-Up Show which shows clips of horror movies to show us how they have scared us through the years and then show how the make up is done. It’s fun and interactive but not recommended for under 12s. Again there’s rarely a queue and an entertaining way to spend 20 minutes.

There are plenty of play areas for the young ones to keep them amused in KidZone and a whole area dedicated to a huge adventure playground based on Curious George.  There’s an indoor play area aimed at the really young called ‘Barney’s Backyard’ and also a Barney live show.  Not to mention Fievels Playland with it’s little water slide that Amelia loved and we couldn’t get her off!!

Also here you have Animal Actors on location a live show with real performing animals in which some of the children in the audience are invited up to help with. I’ve rarely seen queues for this and had no idea this even existed until my last trip – we didn’t get a chance to do it them but this time it’s high on our list!

Springfield has loads just to look at while you’re walking around – that’s the great thing about Universal everything is so immersive in a totally different way to Disney. There are so many photo ops in Springfield and a lot of side show carnival games (for an extra charge) but plenty to do if you don’t want to queue for the ride there. Even wandering into Moes for a Duff Beer or a Flamin Moe.

Men in Black is right at the back of the park and since Diagon Alley opened and the Simpsons next to it I’ve rarely seen a queue.

There are lots and lots of photo ops around Universal Studios, so do look out for them. Namely the huge shark from Jaws and the Knight Bus from Harry Potter.

Diagon Alley is always going to be relatively busy but again like Springfield there’s loads to do if you don’t want to queue for the ride. The shops are an experience in themselves and it’s just like being on a film set with loads of places to investigate. Purchase one of the interactive wands and follow the map through casting spells a big hit with kids and adults. There’s entertainment here as well with a re-telling of Beedle the Bard with puppets and songstress Celestina Warbeck.  Don’t forget to change your dollars for wizarding notes at the Money Exchange there’s even a goblin host there.

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Heading back towards the entrance to the park takes you through New York where you will find the infamous Blues Brothers show which is definitely not to be missed.  There’s also a climbing wall (for an extra charge) and if you look you *may* find the entrance to ‘The Blind Pig’ from Fantastic Beasts and where to find them.

You can easily spend a day just walking round Universal Studios, remember the idea behind it is to ‘ride the movies’ so it is set up to look like a movie set so there’s loads to investigate.

What are your favourite non ride things to do? Have I missed anything important?