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Disney Planning – Dream Guide by Adam Hattan

I absolutely LOVE Adam. He’s the first Disney vlogger I ever watched and he’s still my absolute favourite.

Adam has not only visited Disney on countless occasions he’s also lived and worked at Walt Disney World as part of the Cultural Representation Program.

His vlogs are incredibly honest and he gives lots of amazing tips on how to make the most out of and enjoy your trip to Disney so obviously the next logical step is to put together a travel guide and utilise all that knowledge he has gained from his travels.

Dream Guide is the result of that.

And what a wonderful result it is.

I’ve read quite a few planning books about Orlando in general and although they do go into great detail about Disney it seems to be the generic info that you can find from travel agents and the My Disney app rather than from a personal experience.  It doesn’t really matter how many of these guides you read you’re generally getting exactly the same information.

That is why Dream Guide is so different.

Drawing from his own multiple experiences Adam gives you a unique and honest account of Disney.  What it’s like to stay on site and how to navigate the parks to best get the most out of your holiday.

There’s no target audience for this book, it covers every group of people who would travel to Disney. Whether you’re on your own, with a partner, friends or family. A big group or a small one this guide is for you.

It’s well written and so easy and enjoyable to read.  It reads like Adam speaks in his vlogs and genuinely feels like he’s a friend just giving you some helpful advice – like your own private tour guide if you will! It’s an odd thing to say but I know Adam will appreciate it – it smells good too!! Not that I go round smelling books but you get a whiff if you’re flicking through it!

He uses great little icons to show you at a glance what attractions would be best for you for your trip.

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It even shows you what rides you can do in the very increment weather in Orlando. Little bit too hot – look for the thermometer, Going during the hurricane/rainy season and stuck in a downpour? Look for the raindrops.

Being that this is coming from a Disney addict and not a travel agent who will be trying to ‘sell’ you something you can rely on Adam to give you HONEST opinions of what it’s like to be in Walt Disney World. Whether it be helping you choose your accommodation or where to eat this guide will really help you to manage your expectations when it comes to being in Orlando.

I’ve traveled quite a few times to Orlando and the fact that Adam had mentioned this was helpful for those of us who have been lucky enough to visit made me even more curious to read it.

There are things in the book that I found really helpful.

Quite a few little top tips scattered through the book.

What I also liked was the fact that having been both a guest and a cast member he is able to use both sides of that to advise on things like tipping. You won’t get that from any other travel guide.

All in all, I was incredibly impressed with this book. I’m hoping in the future there will be more to cover all the parks over the world and maybe the cruises as well – which are briefly touched on in this book.

You can purchase ‘Dream Guide’ from Adams website

Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for updates of his travels.

Most importantly you can subscribe to his channel on YouTube for some of the best Disney vlogs you’ll watch. But be warned watch one and you’ll be dragged into watching the rest and before you know it you’ll have been watching them non-stop for several days… not that I have experience of that in any way at all.

On top of all that he’s a lovely man too, as I can testify after a very unexpected meeting at a gig last year.. excuse the face I was very excited!!

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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 – 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.

 

Last Day :( – Last visit to Epcot and lunch at Garden Grill

I’ve been dreading this day. I always find the first week of my holiday goes at a steady speed as soon as you get halfway the days just fly by 😦 There is still so much we want to see and do and I’m sad we don’t have time to do it this trip. There will be another one but that’s not the point!

We checked out and left our luggage with concierge so we had room for the ECV in the car and also got them to print out what we still had left on our Dining Plan. (Going to Epcot we knew we’d use snack credits…)

Epcot is my favourite park so it’s kind of fitting that this is where we spend our last day.

I was determined to do Journey into your Imagination. Paul hadn’t done it and I knew he’d find the song irritating so it had to be done. I do love this. Amelia liked the interactive bit when you come out but sadly we didn’t have a lot of time to take it all in.

We did a little bit of eating, knowing we had a late(ish) lunch booked and we found the chocolate stand that we’d looked for on the last visit. We loved everything. There was an amazing item which was hot inside but frozen with dry ice, when you smash it it’s all gooey inside. I have that on video. But the rest of it was amazing.  We are a pudding family!

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Food and wine is amazing! I know I’ve already said that but I loved it. It’s a shame we missed the live music stuff because of Irma but it’s a foodies dream. I think we’ll book for the same time of year for subsequent trips. When the dining plan is free it’s so worth booking at this time, you can really utilise it. Even if you’re paying for it, I think it’ll be worth more when this is on. (I’m going to do a new blog on the Dining now that I’ve used it)

We didn’t do many rides today because of time, Nemo was closed 😦 But we did go on Spaceship Earth again and Frozen cos we loved that.  And we tried on a lot of hats…

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Lunch was at Garden Grill with Chip and Dale. I’d read some really good things about this so was looking forward to it. Problem was we weren’t that hungry 😦 I need to make sure I ONLY book breakfasts in Epcot in future..

Garden Grill is in the Lands Pavillion and it rotates, very slowly though so you won’t feel sick, so whilst you’re eating you can see parts of the ‘Living with the Land’ Exhibit which is cool. Chip and Dale are your hosts for this so you meet them, Mickey and Pluto. I thought they would all be in Farmer costumes but it was just Mickey.

 

Food here is served ‘family style’ which I’m still not a fan of but it was tasty and as much of it as possible is actually grown at Epcot which is pretty cool. The characters were great here we really enjoyed it.  I was just excited that the plates were set out in a hidden mickey when we sat down… simple things..

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We decided to head off after our food so we could use the last of our snack credits in the hotel shop and make our way to the airport. I’m actually not going to put the last pictures we took of the day up, I do NOT look happy in them. I really didn’t want to go home 😦

We had such a good time on this trip. Disney is great for a Honeymoon, I love it anyway but it makes it even more magical when you’re celebrating something.

I’ll be doing full blogs on all the character dines (and normal places) we ate on this trip, about the resorts we stayed in and of course the dining plan.  I have a tonne of video footage to edit together as well to give you some visuals on all of those things as well as hiring an ECV and what it’s like getting about in one – including how well they fit in the back of a car.

Writing these do keep the trip ‘alive’ a bit longer but they also make me want to book again. And for the first time in a while I don’t actually have a trip booked. But for now, that’s the end of this trip for us 😦 So off we head to get on the plane and head home to the dogs!

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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 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…

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!!

Days 6 – Staying at Hard Rock Hotel, Volcano Bay and more Universal

Breakfast this morning was finally at Waffle House after I didn’t get lost and found one! You can always rely on Waffle House for cheap good food and lots of it. Service is always great and the servers do make it a fun place to eat. Plus they have the tastiest and biggest hash browns. We did notice these seem to be everywhere on the 192 and not so prominent when you get to I-Drive so if you fancy trying one of their delicious breakfasts then head towards Kissimmee you’re bound to come across one!

 

I’d heard lots of good things about Hard Rock so we were both really looking forward to staying here. Mostly because of the early entry to the parks and the unlimited Express Passes that come with a room booking 🙂

We checked in about 9ish and were lucky as our room was actually ready for us. The smell of this hotel is unbelievable! I did ask if you can buy it but you can’t, they are missing a trick with that one! Because you get the early park entry with your room you can actually check in as early as 7am on the day of your stay to make use of it. Your room might not be ready but you can leave your bags somewhere safe.

We had a quick look at the room and got changed to head to Volcano Bay for a swim. The rooms are big and spacious and we loved the music channels as well. You can even make your own playlist that you can download to remind you of your trip.

My favourite thing about the room was this, it had me in fits – no-one else found it quite so funny..

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The good thing about staying on Universal is that all the parks are really close and we got on a bus from our hotel to Volcano Bay. It gave us a chance to see some of the other hotels on property as well. It was quick and there is no way to walk there from Hard Rock.

We didn’t actually take any pictures really in Volcano Bay just a few as we went it. It’s a great park. The Tapu Tapu worked great, its given to you as you go in and each of the rides have machines where you can scan it to put you in a virtual queue for that ride. We were lucky it was pretty quiet. Paul and Amelia managed to get on a few slides. The ‘Oh No’ was her favourite. It was a slide which ends 6ft above the pool giving you a free fall drop to the water.

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Volcano Bay has 2 lazy rivers, if you want to chill out and relax make sure you enter the right one. TeAwa The Fearless river is anything but relaxing. It’s like white water rafting in a rubber ring, its so much fun but kind of impossible to get off! The wave surges come at just the wrong time and kept shooting me past the exit, I think we went round 4 times and it’s not a short river!

Disabled Access here is really good, there was an entrance for me on the rivers with hoists to put you in and out of the water, most of the slides had lifts to get you up to them so if you are in a wheelchair you can still experience a lot of the park which is great.

The Volcano is stunning when you see it, and the wave pool in front of it is perfect to just chill out and soak up the sun. Do not forget your sun cream, we were there for a few hours and I ended up with red legs!

We went back to the hotel for a few hours to ease our sunburn and just as we sat down we had a knock at the door and some Champagne and Chocolates delivered as a Honeymoon gift from the hotel which was lovely, we were chuffed with that 🙂 Made light work of the bottle and went off to Universal Studios a little bit tipsy…

 

The Express Passes you get with your room booking are fab. It’s actually your room key that acts as your pass so buying a lanyard is a great idea, it’s a good way to carry them around 🙂

We were straight on every ride we wanted to do. Jimmy Fallon is amazing. We were obviously aware of his show and who he is but you don’t need to to enjoy it. The pre show is fabulous with a barbershop quartet like he has on the show singing some modern classics for you, I really enjoyed that. It’s worth queueing for just for them. And it does keep you entertained while you wait. The ride itself is another 3D/4D ride simulator of which there are quite a few at Universal. The general idea of these is pretty similar yet they are all unique in their own way. This one takes you on a race through New York City taking in all the sights like the Empire State and Statue of Liberty before ending up back in the Tonight show studio.

Amelia had been going on and on and on and on about Rip Ride Rockit since our last trip, it was another one we had tears about with her being so little. Having the Express pass meant she could go on as many times as she liked and I lost count at 5, seeing this little gem after she’d been on it made my day!

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We managed to get on Simpsons, which still makes me feel sick, Men in Black and The Mummy before our day was cut short because of the weather.

I mentioned the photopass in my last blog which we managed to get a good deal on and we did use it as much as we could. It’s nowhere near as good as the Disney one and there isn’t really any photographers about much it’s mostly just on rides and character meets you can use it. There isn’t a lot of those at all. With all the photo opportunities all over Universal and particularly in Wizarding World I think Universal would benefit from having more photographers dotted about. That being said we did take advantage of it today with ET and SpongeBob 🙂

Dinner today was in Mels Diner which I wasn’t overly impressed with if I’m honest. I’d eaten there before and I remembered having jukeboxes on the table but I’m sure it used to be table service. Food was ok, not brilliant and it was quite expensive.

We spent the evening chilling out with cocktails by the pool and sitting in the hot-tub not an entirely bad way to spend the evening. Universal doesn’t have the evening shows like Disney does so the parks do close earlier. You do have Citywalk to explore but being as we only had one night in the hotel we did want to make use of the pool and have a quiet and early night. We need to be awake enough to take full advantage of early entry for Diagon Alley!!

Tomorrow we get the chance to visit Diagon Alley without all the crowds!

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…