Day 4 – Epcot Food and Wine, Akershaus and Biergarten

Today was a day for eating and the food and wine is something I’ve been so looking forward to. In hindsight booking 2 table service meals for a day when we’re essentially eating our way around the world was not a good move!

We started with breakfast with the princesses at Akershaus, we booked it for before the park opened and walking into Epcot with hardly any people about was amazing! It was so quiet I just wish we’d got there a little earlier (we got lost. again.) so I could soak it in a little more.

Akershaus is Norweigan food so lots of fish for breakfast and pastries. You meet princesses here and meet with Belle before you sit down. We had Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White and Aurora visit us.

 

Food was ok, the restaurant was beautiful. It’s a nice (much cheaper) option than Cinderellas Royal Table. Amelia loved it although I don’t think eating a whole plate of salmon for breakfast was one of her best ideas.

We managed to meet Anna and Elsa after breakfast and get on Frozen all before 9:30! (Little tip, although the showcase doesn’t open until 10am, Frozen does open when the rest of the park does so you can go on that from 9am)

Frozen is wonderful, we ended up riding it 3 times! The technology they use is so good!

There is an awful lot going on during Food and Wine including having some artists around and we were lucky enough to meet the wonderful Larry Dotson and purchased a few of his prints which are beautiful. I always love looking in the Disney art shops when I’m in Disney, I always want so much stuff for the house but we just don’t have the space for everything.Β  It just goes to show that the Disney merchandise isn’t just for kids!

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We rode Soarin’ Around The World for the first time which is so much better than the original one, I always really liked Soarin so it’s nice to see it a little bit differently.

There was 2 new character meets at Epcot that we were all really looking forward to, well I say all of us, mostly me! And I was super excited as you can see….

Baymax is AWESOME! We were really lucky that there were literally no queues for anything, we were in and out of meeting Baymax and Joy and Sadness in about 30 minutes.

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Character meets out of the way and breakfast fully digested off to do what Epcot is made for and eat!!

I absolutely LOVED food and wine! Our plan was to try and eat something savoury and sweet from each of the booths as we walked round but it quickly became apparent that we are a pudding family (which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows us) and we mostly ate puddings!!

One thing that was really awesome is that if you are on the dining plan you can use your snack credits to purchase items at the booths. They don’t publicise it but that’s what we did. I knew you could use a quick service for 3 snacks from the same vendor but everywhere I looked said no to using snack credits.Β  It’s a great reason to get the dining plan I think it worked so well for us, we ate loads of stuff!!

The Creme Brulee in France was our favourite sweet and the meatball from New Zealand our savoury.

Epcot is definitely my favourite park, I just love walking around, there’s loads of cool places to take photos and the shops in all the pavilions are so much fun to look around – and great for kids to spend their holiday pennies in as they do have some really cool things at a fraction of the price you would pay to buy anything with Disney on it πŸ™‚

We had dinner in Biergarten so we missed Illuminations. This was one of the places I was looking forward to eating in it looks really cool online but I have to say I don’t think I’d chose to eat there again. The entertainment was fabulous that part of it I really liked but we were not overly impressed with the food. There wasn’t a great deal of choice. It’s also incredibly loud in there so it is hard to have a conversation with whoever you’re with when you’re in there. It’s good for kids, they can have a dance to the band who play, Amelia really liked it but for us we weren’t blown away.

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We managed to get back to our resort without getting lost tonight – tomorrow we go to BE OUR GUEST and I am so excited!!

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 πŸ™‚ 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.Β  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!! πŸ™‚

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.Β  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.Β  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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ We didn’t manage to do Islands on our last trip so it was exciting toΒ  be back.Β  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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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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?Β  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 πŸ™‚

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.Β  It’s something you book directly through Seaworld and was around Β£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.Β  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 Β£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.Β  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.Β  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.Β  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 being in a queue – HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

The last in my little series of non queuing things in the Disney parks takes us to Hollywood Studios – the home of Star Wars!

This is currently one of the smaller parks – although not for long and to be honest there isn’t as much to do as there is around the rest of Walt Disney World.

Much like Magic Kingdom the main strip of Hollywood Boulevard as you walk in has it’s own citizens who show up to do shoots and castings and are absolutely hilarious!! I’ve seen so many videos on YouTube of this lady Dorma and she is absolutely brilliant! So make sure you hang about to see them you won’t be disappointed πŸ™‚

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There are loads of cool things happening here as you just walk around particularly for the Star Wars fan, the march of the First Order is an incredible thing to see with all the Storm Troopers marching through the crowd.

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More Star Wars stuff is the Jedi Training which is fun to watch and you also have the Launch Bay now with props and stories from the making of the Star Wars movies. I love learning all about that sort of thing and seeing movie props so this is on my list to do this trip. There’s a 10 minute show all about it as well.

Although the queue for Indiana Jones can look big the theatre seats 2000 people so as long as you’re there about 5 minutes before it starts you’re likely to get in without having to queue for it – although obviously at peak times the theatre may be full. I’ve never had a problem getting in when I’ve been and turned up late.

Muppet Vision rarely has a queue and is a good fun attraction, it has a really awesome pre show so you don’t even realise if you are waiting a little while for the main attraction. With all the work going on at Hollywood Studios and with The Great Movie ride closing I would imagine that some of the ‘less popular’ rides will be getting a little busier as there are less things to do whilst all the building is going on.

There are a few shows at Hollywood Studios that run throughout the day, Beauty and The Beast is brilliant and there is a new ‘Music of Pixar’ show with characters in it as well. Some of these people will queue for but again the theatres are pretty big so they do let a fair few in.

Hollywood Studios is a fun park to just wander about it and is great for shopping some of the best shopping in the whole of the resort is in this park!! I love movie memorabilia and there is a great shop for that here!

 

Things to do in theme parks without being in a queue! ANIMAL KINGDOM

You should already have read my tips on Magic Kingdom and what to do while you’re waiting for ride times or if you just don’t want to queue for rides so here is part 2 ANIMAL KINGDOM and this park has LOADS to do without queuing for ages.

Of course a big part of Animal Kingdom is the animals and looking at those as you walk around is a great way to pass some time. There’s different trails in each of the ‘lands’ where you can find animals from each of those countries.

There’s also Rafikis planet watch which I’ve never seen busy but I love as there’s a petting zoo with goats πŸ™‚ Anything that includes touching and petting animals is a win with me. The Train to get there and back is pretty fun as well. Plus there’s characters there, we met Chip and Dale and Rafiki when we went and it’s super quiet.

The Tree of Life is an incredible thing to look about and spotting all the different carvings as you get close to it is fun. It looks different from every angle as well so you never get bored of looking at it πŸ™‚ It also lights up at night which is an amazing thing to see.

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All throughout the park you have the Wilderness Explorers which is based on the movie ‘UP’ and a trail through the park learning about all the difference species as you go, you’re given a guide book to fill up and get a sticker at each stop and a little prize at the end if you’ve completed it all πŸ™‚

There is entertainment literally on every corner in AK, different music from each corner of the world it represents and there’s drums and other instruments that look like part of the scenery that you can play yourself.Β  From what I’ve seen of Pandora there is a lot of that in there.

Queues for some of the shows here can be long although the theatres do seat 1000 per show so you may be lucky enough to get in without a fastpass or spending an hour queuing when the park is quieter.

Flights of Wonder is a great way to pass some time, it’s a live animal show with some of the parks native birds including macaws and hawks. In true Disney style it has music in it and is loads of fun for those of you who aren’t afraid of birds!!

DinoLand USA has loads to do for the little ones with a big dino themed adventure playground in ‘The Boneyard’ and of course the strangeness that is Chester and Hesters Dino-Rama! with a few rides and some side show games you would find at a fairground – these are an additional cost though.

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As with all the parks there’s characters all over as well and ad-hoc entertainment throughout the day.

Let me know if there’s anything you like doing in Animal Kingdom while you’re waiting for rides πŸ™‚

Things to do in theme parks without being in a queue! MAGIC KINGDOM

Can this be true, there are things you can do in the theme-parks without being stuck in a queue for hours? Things you can do without having to plan your fast-passes a month in advance?

It is true!

Disney isn’t all about the big rides there’s so much fun to be had and so many classic attractions that you can experience without spending 4 hours in a queue.

Most first timers will go to the most popular things which is a shame as there is so much more Disney has to offer and you can spend your day doing so many of these if you know what they are!

There’s loads of things at Disney that I have yet to do and this trip I’m planning on doing them all.

So what can you do in the parks with little or no queue at all?

Lets start, as always, with MAGIC KINGDOM..

Starting at the entrance on Main Street and going clockwise around the park..

Sorcerers of The Magic Kingdom (which you can find more about in this blog Free things to do at Disney – Surely that can’t be true? ) this is something you can do all over the parks with portals in most lands so a good way to pass some time and something fun for the gamers (and non gamers) in the family, plus you get FREE game cards each day and there isn’t much that’s free in Disney!!

Main Street houses different shows throughout the day with the Citizens of Main Street and the much loved Dapper Dans as well as the Move it Shake it dance party and the many different shows on the castle stage.

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There’s even a Barbers in Main Street where little ones can have their first hair cut (so can the big ones) and with a sprinkle of Fairy Dust…

Adventureland has the classic Enchanted Tiki Room (which I’ve not done yet! :0) an indoor animatronic musical revue, you also have Swiss Family Treehouse a walk-through actual tree house based on the Swiss Family Robinson movies. There’s a variation on Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom here too, the pirate themed A Pirates Adventure helping Jack Sparrow fight off his foes and find treasure around the land with a magic talisman and a pirate map. There’s more Pirate themed fun with Jacks Tutorial teaching kids (and adults) how to swash-buckle.

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Moving into Frontierland you’ve got the magical Country Bear Jamboree another musical animatronic revue and one of my favourites.

Tom Sawyer island is rarely busy, you takeΒ  a raft over to an island playground with caves and mazes. A great place to people watch and have a picnic πŸ™‚

Liberty Square has it’s riverboat (another attraction I’ve yet to try) which takes you over Americas rivers in a nice calm boat ride on an authentic paddle steamer. Here is also the home of the Hall of Presidents one of the most famous yet quietest rides at Disney. With a 2 part show all about the American Constitution featuring audio-animatronic’s of all of the US presidents, it might be a little boring for kids but it is really educational and I think a must-do.

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There’s a new show in Liberty Square too, Moments in History with the Muppets featuring Kermit and co telling stories of great American events in a way that only the Muppets can!

Fantasyland has loads to look at I could spend ages just walking around and taking it all in. Mickey’s Philharmagic is a fab show that I’ve never seen a big queue for. It’s a 3D journey through the music of Disney movies with Donald as your hapless guide. It’s one of my must do things in MK I love it πŸ™‚

Storybook Circus has a fun splash station for little ones themed like the Casey Jnr from Dumbo and entertainment throughout the day from The Royal Majesty Makers who do regal routines and watch out for ad hoc musical performances as well.

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Tomorrowland has quite a lot to do Carousel of Progress is one of the original rides in MK and has been open since 1975! It’s been updated a few times but it still has that nostalgic charm taking you on a journey of technology, you also have Stitch’s Great Escape which rarely has queues and of course the best thing in Tomorrowland the People Mover or Tomorrowland Transit Authority.

Monsters Inc laugh floor is a great show really interactive and funny and with hardly any queues. Don’t miss the Incredibles Super Dance Party either.

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As well as all this you have shopping, dining and characters all over the parks to keep you entertained.

So you see you can quite easily fill a day with things you don’t have to stand in line for for hours and hours πŸ™‚

If you have any other ideas of things to do then let me know πŸ™‚

Halloween Horror Nights or Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween – Which is the one for you?

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Orlando during their Halloween celebrations then you may just be able to attend one of the special Halloween events that start from the end of August this year – they do like to drag it out!!

Although Seaworld and Busch Gardens do have their own events the most popular ones and the ones most people are aware of are Universals Halloween Horror Nights and Disney’s Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween. These events are so worth going to if they’re on and give you a different way of seeing the parks but which one is the best one for you? If you can it’s worth going to both as they’re so different but if you can only visit one then hopefully this handy little guide will give you some information that may help you make up your mind… or make you save harder so you can do both!!

WHEN IS IT?

Mickeys Not So Scary (MNSSHP) starts really early this year and runs on selected dates from August-November

  • August 25 and 29
  • September 1, 7, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 26 and 29
  • October 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29 and 31
  • November 1

Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) runs from September-November

  • September 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30
  • October 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
  • November 3, 4

WHERE IS IT?

MNSSHP is at Disneys Magic Kingdom

Halloween Horror Nights is at Universal Studios.

IS IT ON ALL DAY?

No these are both evening events and the parks will close early to accommodate them so do bear that in mind if you don’t have tickets to the parks for the day.

MNSSHP starts officially at 7pm although they have historically let guests into the park from 4pm and it finishes at around midnight. If you have a normal Disney ticket that allows you in the park in the day you are able to get in earlier and stay in for the event. When the event starts you will find cast members scanning tickets and giving out wristbands to those who have tickets for the event.

HHN starts at at 7pm also and gates open half hour before it starts and finishes around 1am.Β  If you have a day ticket for the parks as well as the HHN tickets then you will be able to stay in the park when it closes for the event. They have ‘holding’ areas for those with tickets which put you in prime position for some of the scare houses as soon as they open.

WHAT HAPPENS AT THESE EVENTS?

Both of these events are obviously Halloween themed so you do expect a certain amount of scariness.

MNSSHP is on the milder side of scares and is family friendly, HHN is more macabre with scare actors and scare houses based on horror movies.

Both parks are decorated for the occasion and each event will have exclusive merchandise and food as well.

MNSSHP is definitely more on the fun and less on the scary. A lot of the regular daily Disney things are given a Halloween makeover so you have different parades and fireworks as well as exclusive shows including one based on ‘Hocus Pocus’ and a villain show too.

Regular characters are dressed in their best Halloween outfits and rare characters and villains are around the park to meet you all including the ever popular Jack Skellington and all of the Seven Dwarfs. It’s also a chance to meet the Princesses with their Princes.

Also included in the admission ticket is a trick or treat bag which you can fill up with candy at all the treat locations around the park and you can go to these as many times as you like!! That is a lot of candy!! Allergens? Then don’t worry they cater for that too, you just tell them as you go in and you’re given a different colored bag and there are treats just for you!!

HHN on the other hand is there to scare you!!

The main attraction at this event are the many scare houses based on horror movies and TV Shows (past themes have been The Exorcist, Krampus, American Horror Story…) Each one of these transports you into the movie so you feel like it’s all happening around you, they use clever special effects, animatronics and real scare actors to completely immerse you into the experience. This is Universal, it’s not a ‘normal’ haunted house attraction.

Also around the park are various ‘scare zones’ again themed on popular horror shows and movies with scare actors walking around completely in character chasing you.

Please note these actors are NOT allowed to touch you so if you’re worried about that – as I was – then you don’t need to be!!

Sound a bit too intense for you? Then don’t worry there are various ‘safe’ zones around the park so you can take a break and there is also a really fun show based on Bill and Ted which changes every year to include things that are relevant in pop culture.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

MNSSHP prices start at $74 – $115 depending on what evening you go. Halloween night itself is the most expensive time to go. These are one night tickets and will not allow you into the park before the event starts.

THESE TICKETS ARE ONLY AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE FROM DISNEY DIRECTLY

HHN prices start at $70 – $81 again depending on when you go.Β  These are one night tickets and will not allow you into the park before the event starts.

HHN also have Frequent Fear Passes available these are great value and allow you unlimited access to select nights while the event is on. These are great if you’re there for 14 days and can be purchased from most ticket resellers for around Β£105.

Tickets for these events do sell out on certain dates so it is recommended that you purchase them before travel to avoid being disappointed if you can’t get in.

CAN I DRESS UP?

You can for MNSSHP although there are guidelines to follow which you can find here.

You are not allowed to dress up for HHN

WILL THE RIDES BE OPEN?

Yes. Rides are open for both events but not all of them. Check the websites for up to date info on what you will be able to go on. MNSSHP has info now but HHN is not available just yet.

Halloween Horror Nights Here and MNSSHP Here

CAN I SKIP THE LINES?

Disney FastPass+ is not available during MNSSHP, however because of all the other events going on not many people do ride so it is a fab time to get on some as you’re walking around the parks. Remember though you can do these on a normal day in the park so make the most of the exclusive events and not so much the rides, you don’t want to miss out on something you only have one chance to experience.

You can purchase Express Passes for the houses for HHN, these are in addition to the event ticket and are only available through Universal directly. I’ve searched for some prices but I can’t find any at the moment!!

WHO CAN GO?

Both events are open to anyone although HHN do advise that it may not be suitable for anyone under the age of 13.Β  I have a 10 year old who is desperate to go so it does all depend on what scares your child.

I’ve had a look at some vloggers online and picked 2 of the best ones to give you a bit of a more visual idea of what you can expect from both events.

If you have any questions at all then please let me know πŸ™‚

Halloween Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights House

Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween

 

Free things to do at Disney – Surely that can’t be true?

We all know how expensive it is to go on a Disney holiday but did you know that there are some pretty cool things you can do at the parks that don’t cost you any extra and might give you some extra souvenirs as well.

We all know about the badges you can get if you’re celebrating literally ANYTHING!! (you can pick these up from Guest Services…) but did you know that there are in park games you can play as well that will come with collectable cards and maps among other things.

If you’re lucky enough to be a frequent visitor to Disney then you might already know about these but some of them I’ve only just found out about so chances are there will be some people who don’t know so for those of you who go a lot then maybe I’ve given you something new to try!!

I know I’ll be doing some of these when I go this year!

MAGIC KINGDOM has Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom which is an interactive scavenger hunt game you play around the park using cards to cast spells to defeat the villians around the park.

You sign up for this free at the Fire House as you come into the park and you’re given instructions, maps and some free spell cards as well as your portal key which activates the ‘portals’ around the park to help you on your mission. There are actually 70 cards to collect and each person can have 1 set per day so even if your whole family isn’t playing they can scan their tickets and get the extra cards for you.

Sorcerers-of-the-Magic-Kingdom-Firehouse

There are several missions to complete and once you have completed one you’ll be told how to move onto the next and if you complete all you get to defeat Hades and then you can collect an extra set of cards so make sure you do that if you do get to do them all.

It’s a different way to see the park and it will give you some free keepsakes with the cards so it’s definitely worth a go. If you meet other gamers on your way round you may be able to trade cards with them as well πŸ™‚

TOP TIP – Your portal key has a chip in which will save your progress so you don’t have to complete all the tasks in one day if you have more than one day in the park, this also allows you to get more cards to help on your mission. Each mission can take up to 30 minutes and it can take 5 hours to do all of them so it might be wise to spread them across a few days.

ANIMAL KINGDOM has Wilderness Explorers which is based on UP, this one we’ve done and it’s so much fun. We didn’t get to finish it so we’ll do the whole one this time.

It’s really good fun, you sign up at HQ near the entrance of the park – you can’t miss it – and are given a Wilderness Explorers handbook – bit like what you used to get at guides and brownies – and it shows you what badges you can get and gives you tasks to complete and questions you need to find the answers to.

You get given stickers – there are 30 to collect – and you get a special one at the end if you complete it all.

All the locations are shown on the park maps but you can spot them easily around the park by looking for these:

wilderness4

I really enjoyed doing this and it’s educational for kids as well, you learn all sorts of things about the animals and nature at Animal Kingdom. I’m intrigued to see what we can learn in Pandora!

EPCOT has 2 things you can do for free!! 2!!

You have the Kidcot fun stops all around the world showcase for the younger ones in the family. You’re given a free cardboard Duffy the Bear that you can colour in a section of at each of the stops around the world showcase. The cast member in each country will tell stories of where they’re from and give Duffy a stamp from that country.

We also did this last trip and the kids really enjoyed it. It’s a good way to have a little break as well walking round Epcot can be quite exhausting all the kidcot areas are air conditioned.

The areas are again all on the maps and are really easy to find.

For older children and those you can’t get away from their phones you have Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure based on Agent P from Phineas and Ferb. It’s a similar idea to Sorcerers in that it’s a scavenger hunt but with this one you’re given a FONE (Field Operative Notification Equipment) or you can connect with your own smart phone. You get clues via text that direct you to places in the world showcase to solve clues. There are several different missions in the showcase and each one can take up to 40 minutes to complete. Like Sorcerers it’s a really good way to see the park and being that the showcase is so big it will no doubt direct you to places you may not have seen if you were walking around on your own.

Sadly Hollywood Studios doesn’t have anything like this currently but what with Disney adding new things all the time who knows what may be there when Star Wars Land opens in a few years.

I love these little extra things that add to the magic, not only do they allow you to have a new experience when you’ve been to the parks before they also give you some really cool keepsakes you can take home with you.Β  And lets face it any souvenirs that are free are a good thing!!