After a late night watching the fireworks at Epcot we had a late start and a “doing very little” day. We’d also had 4 days in a row at the parks so needed to have a day off really.
We started with breakfast at Perkins on International Drive before going on to the outlets at the very top of I-Drive.
Had a look around the various shops and got some things, although nothing very much. Just chilled out and took it easy. Maybe a bit too easy, or maybe just bored.
For the evening we went to Disney Springs and had dinner at T-Rex. The queues (even though it was early) were already big with 30-40 minute waits for tables. We were offered to eat at the bar though and decided to take this option. Was actually quite a nice spot to eat and Rosemary liked it because she felt grown up on the big barstools.
Rosemary had a pizza, which was really cheesy and very tasty.
Afterwards we went to the Build-A-Dino store which is at the back of T-Rex Cafe. It’s basically Build-A-Bear where you choose an unstuffed teddy bear, have it stuffed and then choose clothes for it. The twist here is they are all dinosaurs. As this is (almost) unique to Disney Springs we thought we’d give it a go. Rosemary chose a pink dino who was named Orlando.
Afterwards she was introduced to the other dinosaurs.
There is a video for the evening at T-Rex and Build-A-Dino which you can find here:
Off to the park again today (we’ve never attempted so many days in a row at a park although Typhoon Lagoon did feel a bit more relaxed). So we’ll see how the day goes. Epcot is a big park so, as we’re going twice this visit, we decided to split it into 2. So today we’re just staying round the bottom end of the park, in Future World, and not going anywhere near the World Showcase.
As we arrived Pluto was doing his meet and greet. We’d never met him before so joined the short queue to see him.
Rosemary got a huge hug from him and he tried to eat her head (see the video at the end as I didn’t catch it on the stills camera).
We had the morning free of FastPasses etc and just wanted to look round and see what happened. The Character Meet and Greet at the Epcot Character Spot was quiet, relatively short queue anyway and it had air-con and it was a blisteringly hot and humid day. So we joined what turned out to be a slow moving queue but did get through to see the characters.
First off the Mouse himself.
And we got a family photo all together. We get so few of these and we really didn’t make the most of the opportunity with PhotoPass. Should have got more taken throughout the parks, but we learnt that lesson and will do better next time.
Next up is Goofy. We were just behind someone in the queue who were there because their son was playing Goofy that day and they wanted to see him and get photos with him.
And finally Minnie, who seemed very impressed with Rosemary’s outfit for the day.
Afterwards we had a mooch around the shops and visited Club Cool where you can taste a range of international drinks.
There were some which were absolutely revolting but some others were really nice and wish we had them in the UK. Rosemary liked Kuat (at least I think that was the one she liked), which is a Brazilian drink. I quite liked the berry one from Zimbabwe.
We then headed off for our first FastPass, which was to Spaceship Earth. Bit unnecessary to be honest as the queues weren’t exactly huge but we were only doing 1 big ride today and just used the others to save a little time here and there.
We’ve never done this iconic ride before so we were looking forward to it. No photos inside as it’s too dark but was very enjoyable if a bit dated. At the start you get your photo taken and asked questions and at the end they show some things about your future. Julia apparently had set up home with someone else (she was in a separate car to me and Rosemary though).
And I was still having breakfast with Rosemary.
Good ride and a vision of what they thought the future would be in 1970.
Couldn’t leave the area without some shots with Spaceship Earth though.
We got some lunch at the Electric Umbrella restaurant (burgers again I’m afraid…really must eat a little better). And then went to use up our second FastPass in the Seas area.
The gulls are great there. One of my favourite bits from Finding Nemo.
Again the queues weren’t huge for “The Seas with Nemo and Friends” but saved a little time. Quite selfie in the car (don’t think Rosemary realised what I was doing and was more concerned with the ride).
Towards the end of the ride they project the Finding Nemo characters into the actual tanks and Crush appeared.
At the end of the ride you come out into the tanks, which are very impressive. The first ones we visited were the manatees, which Rosemary loves.
There are some huge marine tanks with schools of fish and a sea turtle.
There are also quite a few smaller tanks with tropical fish and the like.
We even found Nemo, or at least some really small clownfish.
And assume this is Marlin.
And Dory as well. She looked lost though.
Unfortunately Rosemary was eaten by Bruce during our visit. Managed to pull her free though.
But Bruce’s mate, Chum, had a go as well.
After finishing on The Seas area we went opposite to The Lands.
Our first stop was Soarin’, which we’d reserved with FastPasses. I didn’t know quite what to expect and as I’m not a fan of rollcoaster rides etc was a bit nervous. No need to be as this is a gentle ride and it was just the unknown that got me nervous. Rosemary thought it was fab.
Afterwards we went on the boat ride for Living with the Land. This was very quiet and we were straight on. It was actually a good ride, bit educational but very interesting and highlights some of the work going on at Epcot to develop new farming techniques.
After this we had dinner at Sunshine Season’s restaurant and got some vegetables and salmon for Rosemary which was very good and we had some very spicy noodles. Recommended place to get away from the burgers. Was also extremely quiet and plenty of seating was available.
We got desert at Starbuck’s with a coffee for us and a cupcake for Rosemary.
We were waiting at the park for the fireworks show, IllumiNations, so did a bit of shopping and sat down for a bit before walking upto the lake. We found a nice spot just in front of the Canada pavilion and sat down for the show. Very good show and well worth waiting in the park for.
At the end we waited back for a moment to let the surge in the crowd go, as virtually everyone is leaving the park at this point, and then headed to the exit. Of course, stopping to take a picture of Spaceship Earth lit up.
We walked back to the car (it’s much quicker and easier if you can) and Epcot is one of the easiest ones to do this at, headed back to the hotel and bed.
There are videos of the day on Youtube, which have the daytime and fireworks parts separately.
Off to Disney’s Hollywood Studios this morning. The weather forecast wasn’t looking too good for the afternoon so we weren’t planning on staying too long. But we had FastPasses booked and also a lunch reservation, so off we went.
On arrival there was a massive Frozen sand sculpture which sets the theme that there is going to be a lot of Frozen stuff in the park.
First stop of the morning was to watch the Frozen Royal Welcome Parade (yes, Frozen again). We really lucked out and got a bench with the Indiana Jones Stunt Show behind us and just opposite the ABC Sound Studio. Meant we could sit down and wait for the parade to come along. As we had a little time before that happened I took Rosemary off to watch the Jedi Training, which was on, while Julia waited at the bench.
The Padawan’s were just fighting Darth to gain their Jedi status.
After Darth went the Stormtroopers were left behind and provided some good comedy.
Looked like lots of fun and would probably sign Rosemary up next visit. Took a picture with the AT-AT which sits over the Star Tours entrance.
At this time the parade was starting and we nipped back. First off Anna cam out followed by some dancers.
There was even some snow (or at least some foam).
The parade also included Olaf, Kristoff and of course Elsa.
After the parade we used our first FastPass for the Frozen Sing-A-Long. This features two narrators who whisk through the story of Frozen. They spent a while at the start of the story and then whizzed through the end of it. Good show though, although even with our FastPasses we were a long way back and not sure it gave us any advantage at all. Everyone is let into an ante-room and then there is a mad race to get into the theatre. Would have been nice if the FastPass got you into the theatre rather than just the ante-room so you could get closer to the front.
When the show finished we were close to our lunch reservation time and headed off to the Sci-Fi Drive-In Diner. This is a large mocked up Drive-In Cinema where the cars are really tables and you have lunch while there are 1950’s sci-fi movie clips playing. Was a good novelty. Rosemary wasn’t that bothered by it but the food was actually pretty good.
Only complaint I would have is that we were there an hour and the movie reel started again in that time. I would have thought it could go a little longer than that to be honest as no-one is likely to be in an out that quickly.
When we came out the weather was turning a bit and it was starting to rain. Our next FastPass was for the Toy Story Midway Mania ride. We’d tried to get onto this before but never managed it because the stand-by time is usually around 90 minutes. Armed with FastPasses we were straight in this time.
Lots of fun. I went with Rosemary and Julia went behind us on her own. Think she won and got the most points.
The weather was definitely on the turn so we decided to us up our last FastPass and actually managed to bring it forwards through the iPhone app. So we joined to queue for Star Tours.
You can see the rain running off the AT-AT.
FastPasses really pay off on this one as well getting you through the queue way quicker. Only disadvantage is you whizz through the queue area and miss a lot of the interactive stuff like C3P0 and R2D2 prepping the ride.
You do get very cool 3D glasses for this ride though.
With a break in the weather we called it a day and decided to head back to the car. We had just cleared the park entrance when the heavens opened and decided to empty themselves onto us. We were absolutely drenched by the time we got back to the car. I threw my poncho over the buggy to try and keep that and Rosemary dry, which more or less worked, but did result in getting very wet but the clothes would dry off and we were finished for the day anyway.
Slightly more relaxing day today than yesterday, with a later start as we are going off to the water park today at Typhoon Lagoon. But started the day with the breakfast buffet at the hotel. Finally got a chance to make some waffles and considering it’s the very first time I’ve ever tried this I think it came out pretty well.
Rosemary was very happy with it! Before covering it in copious amounts of syrup.
So after breakfast we headed off to the water park. Although once again the sat nav took us all round the world and it took way longer than it should. Our hotel is about a 5-10 minute drive from Disney Springs and that’s where Typhoon Lagoon is pretty much located. But because I didn’t check the map before leaving we ended up going miles round. Got there eventually and parked up (no parking fee…woo hoo!)
This was our very first visit to a Disney water park so we were quite sure of the routine but it’s all pretty simple. Get yourself a locker, get changed and start swimming.
The park is quite green and there is lots of planting.
The main feature of the park is the surf pool (you can actually surf the waves) which has absolutely enormous waves on it. We didn’t go in too far (Rosemary is a bit little we felt) but even on the edge you get knocked off your feet. I’ve added a link to a video at the end of this post which has some footage taken in the wave pool.
When we came out we spotted Lilo and took the chance to get a photo.
We saw Stitch as well but he was just heading off for his break (knocking down a Jenga stack in the process….guess he just can’t help being naughty). Unfortunately the meet and greets are random I believe and we didn’t see him again during the day.
After this we went into the lazy river (Castaway Creek) for a bit of play time and relaxation.
We didn’t stay in very long but got out to have a ride on Gangplank Falls, which is a family raft ride. You sit together in a large raft and head down the ride. My GoPro failed unfortunately and didn’t record the ride. It was fun but lasts about 30 seconds and the queues were pretty big.
We got some lunch (I think we stopped at Typhoon Tilly’s but I can’t 100% be certain now) and as we started to eat there was a massive thunderstorm. Fortunately we managed to get under some shelter to finish our lunch and wait out the rain.
We had a bit of a play in the children’s area at Bay Slides. One water slide was possibly the slowest I’ve ever seen (no chance of anyone getting hurt on that) but the water ring slide was lots of fun for Rosemary.
One tip is to use the PhotoPass photographers during the day. The 2 above were both taken that way along with the ones with Lilo. Just blip them your MagicBand and you can get the photos online after your holiday. I think it’s $149 to download them all, so if you’re using the service make the most of it (not sure we did but would definitely get more next time).
We found a giant set of shark teeth around the park.
We then spent a bit more time in Castaway Creek and the Surf Pool.
I think Rosemary may have been a little too relaxed!
Another tip we found was to get the refillable mug. We got 1 between us (it was around $10) and it gives you unlimited drinks all day with the cup having a chip in it which activates the machine. You don’t realise how much you can dehydrate in the heat and having lots of regular drinks is an excellent idea. Only thing was there was very limited non-fizzy drinks and Rosemary doesn’t drink fizzy drinks. Powerade as the only option.
We got changed and called it a day. Just time on the way out for a quick picture at the entrance and with Lagoona Gator.
And link below to a video shot on my GoPro during the day:
An early start today as we want to get into the Magic Kingdom for the actual park opening time (or rope drop as it’s known), so we just grabbed a few muffins from the buffet and jumped in the car. Our sat nav decided to take us on a tour of the back roads around the park to a car park entrance that didn’t actually exist but we eventually arrived at the right spot and parked up. As it was early we could walk to the main entrance rather than get the tram and once in the entrance area we got the boat across.
Do wish it was just a little easier to actually make it into the park itself.
We were at the entrance about 15 minutes before 9am and there is a little ceremony with Mickey and some characters to mark the park actually opening.
Our reason for getting there particularly early, apart from we hoped to get dinner not too late and go for a swim, was that we had been unable to secure FastPasses for a visit to see Anna and Elsa which was Rosemary’s top thing she wanted to do. They go instantly 60 days beforehand apparently and as we were staying off site we could only book our FastPasses 30 days ahead. So we headed directly to the Princess Fairytale Hall in the hope of getting ahead of the queues. Our strategy worked and we got in without too much waiting.
We met Anna first who was constantly chatting and quite goofy.
Then onto Princess (or should that be Queen) Elsa who was much more formal.
With our priority out of the way we took a few minutes and had some brunch at Sleepy Hollow. Waffle and Funnelcake with strawberries.
Went down very nicely.
And a quick picture of our MagicBands. We got these yesterday at Disney Springs and they worked really well. Might add a little separate post about them at some point.
We headed off to go on It’s A Small World and found a pressed penny machine, the first of what no doubt would be many.
It’s A Small World (despite being infuriatingly annoying with the incessant song) is the only thing we’ve been on with Rosemary each time we’ve visited the Magic Kingdom so might become the one must do ride in the future to keep that going. And it was just an annoying as always…
The queues were starting to build by this time (it was probably about 10.30) and we thought we’d probably manage a couple more things before it was time to start using up our pre-booked FastPasses. The queue for the Carousel was very small so I took Rosemary straight on for a ride.
That was lots of fun and then we hit up our first FastPass, which was a visit to Ariel in her underwater grotto. She’s in mermaid form there and Rosemary didn’t get to see her on our previous visit. Nice setting but could have been a bit more detailed I thought, just seemed a little sparse.
And as the Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid ride was next door we decided to tick that off as well and used our FastPasses to do this. No really good pictures from the ride this time.
Deciding it was time to seek out some food we walked back through FantasyLand without any great plan beyond that we were heading towards AdventureLand for our third and final FastPass of the day. On the way we went past Rapunzel’s tower and rediscovered the decoration in the toilets (frying pans from the Tangled movie).
We ended up at Peco Bill’s for lunch and managed to find a relatively quiet area upstairs where there were a few tables. Place was packed and is huge.
Unfortunately the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was closed during our visit for a major upgrade so no chance to go on this time.
And so onto our third FastPass of the day and what we thought would likely be our final thing as well, the Jungle Cruise. The queue for this is always crazy on stand-by and a FastPass is a real must for it. With the MagicBands blipped on the way in we were straight to the front and on the boat within a few minutes. It’s just as nutty as I remember it, with awful jokes and puns from the Captain. Great fun!
The heat and humidity was massive by this time. One tip we had read which was brilliant was to just go upto any kiosk or counter and ask for some ice water and you will get a cup for free. We did this regularly throughout our trip and it a) saved a fortune on soft drinks and b) keeps you hydrated. When the water was gone we’d add the ice to our water bottle to keep that cold. But we did get some Dole Whip (much to Julia’s delight as she had missed out the last few times) and I tried the Citrus Swirl, which was very nice.
So at this point we thought we’d probably be leaving the park (about 2:30 I think) but as we were wandering out via a very indirect route we spotted that the Haunted Mansion had virtually no queue. So “never miss an opportunity” is a good motto at Disney and we went in. Last time we went on this it broke down (on a Friday 13th no less) so fingers crossed we’d have no such trouble this time. Rosemary remembered this though and was a little hesitant to get on it. No such problems this time and we had the Hat Box Ghost in a Doom Buggy at the end.
We were sort of getting a second wind by this point and there was a Princess encounter just about to start in the Heritage House with Tiana. It was lovely and cool inside so we sat down in there and waited the 10 minutes or so for Tiana to arrive. She was very nice and it was another Princess who Rosemary hadn’t previously met (that was 4 today).
But by now it really was time to leave as we had left the hotel before 8am and were still a bit jet lagged. But couldn’t believe how many things we;d got done in a single day.
Just time on the way out for some photos in front of the castle.
We headed back to the car, eventually after going on the monorail and walking back through the parking, and grabbed a quick dinner at Perkin’s close to the hotel.
Long post but a busy day!
If you would like to watch a video of some of the day it can be found on YouTube.
And finally for the day, a quick swim at the hotel:
Taking it easy today to get over travelling tiredness and get used to the heat. So we had breakfast at the hotel, which was very good for a free buffet, and headed to the Vineland Avenue outlet shops (which are the closest ones to the hotel). We had forgotten that it was a Sunday though and the shops didn’t open until 10am, so we had a bit of time to kill as we had arrived earlier than this.
Did take a picture of the teeny tiny car we had though. We did think that the colour would mean we wouldn’t lose it in the massive car parks at the parks though! Turned out it was so small that it was usually hidden behind something else.
One warning sign that shows you’re in Florida was interesting:
Weren’t as many bargains to be had as in the past (seems to getting less each time we come, although the exchange rate this trip was one of the worse we’ve had at $1.5=£1, so guess everything seemed to feel a bit more expensive). But did get some things for Rosemary, as normal!
After shopping we decided to go to Downtown Disney, now known as Disney Springs. Parking was a bit of a hassle as we ended up across the road in the staff parking area and on the minibus shuttle back to Disney Springs itself. We didn’t have any great plans although we wanted to get some Magic Bands today so we would have them ready for the parks tomorrow. So we took a wander through.
The Candy Cauldron looked as good as always and definitely going to get some this trip.
And we did what every Star Wars obsessed fans do (and even Rosemary is a bit of a fan) and tried on all the hats in the shops.
We went to get our Magic Bands (picture another day) and chose the ones we wanted. We thought we were going to have to set them up at magic Kingdom and endure the queue but the very friendly man in Disney Pin Traders told us we could get our tickets, which had been bought from the UK at the Guest Relations desk at Disney Springs which we didn’t know. So picked up the credit card style tickets from them in 5 minutes flat and back to Pin Traders. All set up for us and linked to our Disney Experience accounts so all our reservations etc were all linked up to our Bands. Very helpful!
We weren’t feeling particularly hungry at this point but it was dinner time and we wanted an early night ready for Magic Kingdom tomorrow. So we got a sandwich from the Earl of Sandwich. And turned out to be just what we wanted. We’ve never been in there before (we’re from England, we have sandwiches all the time and why would we want one on holiday) but enjoyed what we had and added to that it was pretty cheap.
Yes, we’re off again to Florida. We’ll be out there for 14 nights and left a pretty wet and gloomy London as you can see from the wet tarmac.
One advantage with Rosemary getting bigger is we no longer needed a full car seat, but just a small booster. We picked one up for £5 in Halfords rather than hire one out there and it just hooked over my rucksack, so we could take it onto the plane if needed. As it turned out we didn’t use it, so probably put it into the luggage next time to avoid having to carry it.
So about 10 minutes into the flight Rosemary settles in for the long haul with her headphones on, a movies and snacks. Just got on with it and happy as anything just to sit and watch some films.
Guess we should have expected this as we worked out when we got home that these 2 flights bring her airmiles upto once round the world, so pretty experienced for a 5 year old.
We had an uneventful flight into the Orlando International Airport. Customs was pretty quick as normal, although the queue always seems to be huge, and used the automatic machine to check ourselves through. This meant we got to see the awful pictures the US Customs hold of us. Guess being up for so long isn’t a good look!
We picked up our car (Budget rentals this time) and amazingly no hard sell to get a a bigger car. Had booked an economy car and we ended up with an economy car. This was the smallest car we’ve ever had in the US (a Mazda 2) and maybe in hindsight was a bit too small. We did manage to get one case in the boot but the other had to go on the backseat. Will be interesting how we get the third case (at this time inside one of the large ones) in when it’s time to leave. Still it’s just for one short journey, so we’ll work it out somehow.
This time we had booked a room at the Hampton Inn Orlando/Lake Buena Vista, which is quite close to Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs). As Rosemary is getting bigger we decided to save on the room and not get one with a separate bedroom but go for a standard room with 2 queens instead. This was substantially cheaper, although we did get a massive bargain last time which we just couldn’t replicate.
We went for the Hampton Inn because they just seemed to get such consistently good reviews on TripAdvisor and are very highly rated. Their rates are also very competitive, so we thought we’d take a chance (although not a big one) and booked this.
Bit shocked when we arrived to check in that we were the guest of the day at the hotel.
We got a little complementary basket with some snacks and drinks.
First impressions of the hotel were very good and we had a room right at the end of the corridor on the top floor which was possibly the quietest spot in the whole hotel.
We had a quick meal at a local Perkin’s that evening and straight to bed.