Rosemary’s favourite thing today, a visit to a waterpark!
Seems strange to be going to an outdoor water park just a couple of days after Christmas! But it was a beautiful day with bright blue skies, so it seemed like a really good idea and out first water park of our trip.
We whizzed into the park really quick with our Magicbands.
We got changed and went to find a locker for our stuff. The system for lockers had changed since our last visit and it is now done on a touchscreen. Bit confusing and took us a couple of goes to get it right but got sorted in the end. So grabbed the GoPro and we headed for to the beach area. Blizzard Beach allows inflatable rings into the main beach, Melt Away Bay, and there is a wave machine running quite a bit of the time.
After bobbing around for a bit on the rafts Rosemary decided to grab a life jacket and do some swimming about. We headed into the deeper area closer to the cliffs so we could really get hit by the wave machine.
After a good while swimming about we went exploring around the park and spent a little time in Tikes Peak, where there are some kid friendly stuff and Rosemary tested out some of the rides.
The ring ride was quite popular with her and she had a good few goes on that, but the waterslide was a complete failure and apparently the slowest, most boring slide she’d ever been on. She had to shuffle off the end of it just to make it all the way down….
There was also some cargo nets which you use to cross over some “ice bergs” which was quite challenging.
The lazy river at Blizzard Beach is called the Cross Country Creek and we spent some time in that as well. As the theme of the park is that it snowed in Florida and melted quickly there are water falls round the river, which are really cold. Rosemary did find a way of avoiding them though.
We had a very chilled (no pun intended) day although unfortunately towards the end of the day we had got changed and were just getting some drinks and doughnuts when I checked my phone only to see that Carrie Fisher had died. Rosemary was very upset by this as she had dressed as Princess Leia at a recent Star Wars show. Took the shine off our day a bit.
We had dinner at Perkin’s Diner that night and treated ourselves to deserts.
Off to Animal Kingdom today. We’d planned out our trip in advance and this was going to be our only day at the park, so we had a list of things we wanted to try and fit in and had our FastPasses all sorted out for the big ticket rides.
On arrival we go the tram to the entrance and had to collect our tickets which had been pre-ordered. We had already connected our tickets to our MagicBands online, so didn’t need to do anything other than pick up the tickets themselves, just in case anything went wrong with the MagicBands (they are 18 months old so didn’t know how long the batteries would last).
The Christmas Tree was all set up at the entrance.
We went straight in (and our MagicBands worked fine) and started making our way through Discovery Island. On the way we met the Tree Lady.
Rosemary was a bit nervous of her I think but posed for a photo and waved goodbye.
Our first FastPass was to meet Favourite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost. That’s Mickey and Minnie, which we thought would be a great way to kick off our visits to the Disney Parks. And they were even dressed in Christmas themed clothes.
We had some family photos taken as we had a PhotoPass and MagicMaker included as part of our tickets (it was a freebie at the time we bought them), so wanted to make the most of having it.
As we came out we spotted Tarzan and Terk with a small queue for him. Never met him before so Rosemary queued up and got autographs and photos with them. One piece of advise we read somewhere was never to walk past a character you’ve not seen before (assuming you want character photos and autographs) as some don’t come out very often. No idea what the deal is with Tarzan but we’d never seen him out before when visiting Animal Kingdom.
We were going to try and make best use of the PhotoPass system and got some family pictures done (so hard to get all 3 of us in them when someone has to take the photo).
We wanted a snack at this point so picked up a couple of iconic Disney snacks. We first went to the Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery and got a Mickey Cinnamon Roll. Not as good in my opinion as the ones at Gaston’s Tavern at Magic Kingdom, but still pretty good and more than enough for us to share.
And Rosemary got a Dole Whip from Tamu Tamu Refreshments.
We next had FastPasses for Dinosaur so started heading that way by heading towards Asia with a plan to cut down through Discovery Island and found Baloo and King Louie doing a meet and greet at a great spot with a view back towards the Tree of Life. There was a slightly alarming sign there though.
I hope the alligators and snakes can read and stay away. But after a short wait and no attacks from alligators or snakes (so they must be able to read) we met them both and got an autograph from Baloo. As their minder told us “King Louie doesn’t do paperwork”.
From there we headed down to Dinosaur in Dinoland USA and used our next FastPass to get on there.
Straight through the long line to the front of the queue. Managed to get a picture of the pipes around there which are labelled up. Apparently they are the formulas for ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.
The ride was great fun, although very rough. Noticed a few tweaks to the ride with new animations on the sides of small dinosaurs running along. Rosemary never looks too sure in the ride photos but always says it was great afterwards.
When we came out Donald was doing his meet and we joined the (quite short) queue to see him. He’s one of Rosemary’s favourite characters so she always looks forward to a meeting with him. Shame he never seems to do it with Daisy at the same time. That would be great.
We always seem to find unique things in Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures, so went to have a look round. Nothing this time but the dino at the entrance was decorated for Christmas.
We stopped for more snacks at Dino Bite Snacks and got a couple of Mickey pretzels with melted cheese dip. They were bigger than Rosemary’s head!
We then headed back into Africa to catch a performance of the Festival of the Lion King show. Last time we got so lucky and Rosemary was picked to go onto the floor and we got front row seats. So check that Blog out for better pictures and video. This time we joined the queue as normal and got seats about 2/3rds of the way back in the giraffe section (same as last time).
After the show I wanted to take a look over the hoardings to see how the Pandora area was coming along. You can see the floating mountains and some of the lights which will illuminate the paths. Will have to visit again once it opens.
We had FastPasses for the Kilimanjaro Safari from 4:20 so wanted to kill a little time before that. Some performers were just coming out so we stopped to watch and Rosemary joined in a little bit with them.
And then we saw It’s A Bugs Life. It was nice and cool inside the Tree of Life and it was good to have a sit down from a little while. Packed show though, seemed busier than normal as it’s usually relatively quiet.
Our FastPasses for Kilimanjaro Safari were active by this time so we jumped through the FastPass entrance and past everyone else who had been queuing up. Wait time was 90 minutes, so did feel slightly guilty, but not much. Seemed to be a good time to go on it as there were a lot of animals out and about, presumably getting ready to sleep as it would be dark relatively soon.
This was the last thing we wanted to do in the day, although we did want to stay and see the lighting on the Tree of Life as this was new since our last visit. We headed to Pizzafari for dinner. It was very quiet, with no queues to speak of, and we got food and a table straight away. Food was pretty decent for quick service, although I’ve never really had an issue with the quick service in the parks.
So after eating we walked the short way back to the Discovery Island area to get a good view of the Tree of Life. The projection shows were excellent and we stayed for a good 3 or 4 different ones.
We just stopped on the way out for a picture of the Christmas Tree at night and the entrance (which I’d forgotten to take on the way in, but it’s prettier at night in any case).
Off to Animal Kingdom today and our last full day in Orlando, so looking forward to it. Our last trip to Animal Kingdom changed our mind on it a bit (previously we’d found it hot and crowded, with limited interest) and I’ll state now that the events of the day have turned this around completely as we had such a fab day and such a nice way of ending our trip.
On arriving we saw that Daisy Duck was out for a meet-and-greet, and as she is someone that Rosemary hadn’t met (we got close at Hollywood Studios but no prize) we joined the queue. Which was remarkably short.
After this we headed towards the Kilimanjaro Safari, which we had a FastPass for. It was a great ride and we saw loads of animals. There is a full video of the ride on YouTube:
We even saw a baby rhino with it’s mum.
After the ride we took a walk around the Harambe Wildlife Reserve and saw some of the animals there. It’s a nice walk and the animals were relatively visible because it was early in the day.
As we came out of this we sat down for a bit in the Harambe Market area and got our timing just right as they were about to open and looking for someone to help open the market. They asked Rosemary if she would ring the bell and she got a great little experience and a certificate.
While sitting in the market we all had a snack and Rosemary had a stripey, Mickey rice cake.
After this we headed over to the Festival of the Lion King show. We were a little late getting there and I was parking up the buggy when we were approached by a cast member who offered to help seat us. She took us straight past the entry queue and in through a side door (this is a bit weird we’re thinking, we must be super late), and down to the bench at the very front of one of the blocks. So we’re sitting on the floor level at the very front… Well it turns out they had picked Rosemary out to take part in the show (I guess they must have spotters out). We think it was her bright elephant print dress that caught their eye.
So during the show Rosemary got to go up and walk around with the dancers and at the end of that she was the only child who got to go up and meet Timon at the stage. An absolutely amazing experience for her and she was very brave to do it.
I was videoing the show (it was daft not to as we were sat so close) and got Rosemary’s bit on the camera as well. A GoPro isn’t the best for low light, so it’s not an amazing recording but a very nice record of such a special occasion. The video is on YouTube:
Rosemary was treated to a cuddly Simba (she’d been eyeing him up the entire holiday each time we saw him) for being a brave girl.
Our next FastPass was coming up, which was for the Dinosaur ride. It is on the opposite side of the park so we headed over. We were the last ones in our group to be let through so snapped a quick picture inside the loading area with no else about.
It certainly was Fast, a Blast and in the Past. Really rough ride!
We stopped for ice creams and got Dirty Ice Creams. Basically ice cream with crushed Oreos and gummy worms.
This was just by the dinosaur ride so we spent a little time there and in the shop by the Din-O-Rama, which always has good stuff. After that it was the last FastPass at the Finding Nemo the Musical show. No need really for a FastPass here, but might as well use up the allocation.
And after that just a quick visit to It’s a Bug’s Life (as there was no queue and it was straight in).
Off to Blizzard Beach today, which we’ve never been to before so not sure quite what to expect. Time to unpack the GoPro and get it into the waterproof housing!
On arrival we found out where you get changed and headed into the main pool, which is called Melt-Away Bay. There are rubber rings in this area which you can grab and then ride the waves. These are way more gentle than the tidal waves you get at Typhoon Lagoon but very fun when you’re in the rings.
Rosemary used the gentle waves for a good bit of swimming practice and had loads of fun swimming around. She had a life jacket on the whole time so was enjoying the freedom to swim but in complete safety.
After spending quite a while in the pool we had a little go round the lazy river, which is called Cross Country Creek.
But we didn’t stay in long as we headed out to get something to eat as we came round to the main area. We had something in Lottawatta Lodge. One thing we did was to reactivate the mug we got at Typhoon Lagoon so we could use the filling stations around the park. Once again though there was very little in the way of still drinks (Rosemary doesn’t like fizzy drinks) and the only option was Powerade.
After lunch and a bit of a play in the kids area we went back into Cross Country Creek for a few more trips around the park.
We didn’t go on any of the rides, the queues were just too long and we didn’t want to waste time waiting around when we could be in the water.
And finally for the day we had a little extra time back in the wave pool.
After this we got changed and took some photos around the park.
Finally, Rosemary had an ice lolly, which melted so fast because of the heat that she couldn’t keep up.
Wasn’t surprising as the car was roasting when we got back to it.
There is a video I put together from the day which is on YouTube:
Great day out at a park we’d not been to before, which was great as well. Not sure which I prefer between Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, as each have their own merits. For us the wave pool at Blizzard Beach was probably better for Rosemary but I think the lazy river and the rides available at Typhoon Lagoon had the edge. So, easy really….just do both!
Edging towards the end of our visit and we used up the last day on our 5-day Disney ticket with a visit to Animal Kingdom. Now this hasn’t been our favourite park on previous visits. We find it to be busy and the pathways, especially through the animal areas are very narrow. It’s always been baking hot as well during the time we have been before.
So we went with a degree of trepidation and a plan to see the shows rather than the animals.
Each park had a Christmas Tree at the entrance and the Animal Kingdom one was nice because it was all animal themed.
We headed towards the Lion King stage area to see the show. But first we visited the characters who were there in their little areas. Rosemary was very pleased to see Donald Duck, as she hadn’t met him and she really wanted to.
There was also Chip and Dale.
The Lion King show was excellent, sort of a bit like a Cirque du Soleil show. Were were in the Lions which was very nice.
Click here and here to see some videos of the show.
Rosemary got an ice cream afterwards.
We walked around the park a bit after this, not with any great plan, and just had a look at things as we went. We ended up in the Dinosaur area.
And had an ice cream cookie sandwich.
We wanted to see “Finding Nemo the Musical” so went there next.
It was a really great show and you could imagine it being a full musical on stage somewhere.
Day was winding down by this time but we had wanted to meet Pocahontas earlier (she was with Donald and Chip & Dale) but she was on a break. So we went back just as her session was starting.
And just time to go and see the It’s A Bugs Life show, which is a 3D film with added effects like smoke and water. Plus they have really cool 3D glasses.
And finally just a couple of shots in front of the Tree of Life.
So back to start the day at the Magic Kingdom. This is the 4th day’s useage of the ticket we bought, so we have 1 more day to use on it before it runs out.
As mentioned in previous posts the Kingdom was really dressed up for the holidays and this included the shop window with Christmas Minnie and Mickey.
As we weren’t going to be staying that long today (but it was our last visit this trip the Magic Kingdom) we made sure to get some shots in front of the Castle.
We went on the Haunted Mansion ride after this but would you believe it broke down. Now look at the date of this visit and I can tell you it was a Friday. So Friday 13th struck and we were in the ride for ages, and eventually they turned all the lights on and walked us out. Bit of a shame but we got a free Fastpass and got to see how it all worked. Mainly wires in case you were wondering.
So we headed to the Princess Fairytale Hall again, this time to meet some other Princesses. They have one advertised as being there but the second one isn’t revealed until you get in. You had the choice of Rapunzel (who we met on our previous visit) or Cinderella. And today was Cinderella’s turn.
And with her today was Sleeping Beauty.
She was so nice and gave the biggest hug.
We then went over to Adventureland to see Tinkerbelle. The queue was pretty bad and we had to wait 45 minutes, which is about the longest wait we’d had at that time. Pixie Hollow is entered through some magic doors which shrink you down to pixie size.
And with Tinkerbelle was Periwinkle.
One thing I hadn’t mentioned previously is that all the characters (or nearly all) were giving out Christmas wishes. These were little cards with a picture and their autograph on them and a little wish. Made a great keepsake.
Next door to the Princess Hall there was Peter Pan and the queue was really small, so we went on that.
And same for It’s a Small World.
We decided to use our Fastpass for the Pirates of the Caribbean. Rosemary really enjoyed this, even the drop to go down to the main bit. Pretty sure this is only a few feet but it felt huge and we both lunged for her to keep her from falling out. Completely unnecessary though…
And at this point we passed out again….
We drove over to Downtown Disney to go to T-Rex Cafe.
Rosemary was still quite sleepy but soon woke up when we were inside.
Here drink had flashing LED lights in it which was fab.
Wont upload too many pictures of the dinosaurs, but I did particularly like the mammoth.
Today we had a quiet day and in the evening we went down to the Grand Floridian hotel, which is one of the really swish Disney resort hotels at the Magic Kingdom. Really amazing place.
We had booked to have dinner at 1900 Park Fare where you meet Cinderella and the family.
First up we all had our photos taken together. We don’t get many family shots so we did purchase the photo.
The food was very nice. There is a large buffet and you can help yourself pretty much constantly to the food. But the main reason you come is to meet Cinderella.
The first person we met was Prince Charming.
Cinderella then came to the table.
After this we were visited by the step family, who were really funny and joked with us. Actually thought they were the highlight of the meal rather than Cinderella….
After our meal we had a walk around the hotel. It was really amazing and maybe one day we’ll get a chance to stay there. The Christmas tree was massive (something like 3 storeys) and dripping with decorations.
Even the smaller ones were amazing.
And they had a full size gingerbread house.
The hotel itself looked really nice at night all lit up.
The park was really decorated for Christmas. We’d been in October once before and there was a lot of Halloween decorations out then, so we were expecting it to be quite spectacular.
The first thing we did was go to Mickey’s Philharmagical show (we had to grab Fastpasses for later right beside there and there was no queue, and when you see something you want to do with no queue-you do it). It’s a 3D show with extra bits like getting squirted with water. You have to wear your 3D glasses though, not a look everyone can pull off.
Back near the castle we bumped into the Fairy Godmother who was doing a short meet and greet.
Rosemary’s favourite Disney film is Tangled and her favourite princess is Rapunzel so we had to go and visit her tower.
And we were pretty impressed that the level of detailing included the men’s toilets where there are frying pans instead of mirrors.
We walked through to New Fantasyland, which is a major extension to the park which was still in the process of being completed. You go past the Be Our Guest restaurant which has an illusion of Beast’s castle over it.
And headed to Gaston’s Tavern. They serve the biggest warm cinnamon rolls I’ve ever seen and we had that with the strongest coffee I have ever drunk.
We were so hyped up on caffeine and sugar we braved sitting in Gaston’s chair.
We then went on the Under the Sea ride, which is based on the Little Mermaid.
And from there up to the top of Fantasyland to go on the Dumbo ride. They’ve changed this so you get a buzzer when you go in and then the children can go off and play. You’re buzzer goes when it’s your time to join the queue for the ride itself. Great idea and far less boring that standing in line.
We then used our Fastpasses I’d got earlier to go to the Princess Fairytale Hall. At this point Rosemary didn’t know what we were doing next. We were of course going to meet Rapunzel. She was a bit speechless and awe struck I think.
We also got to meet Snow White at the same time.
We queued up for what seemed like a very long time to see Merida, but she was really lovely and her New Jersey accent only slipped through a couple of times (could have been what she thought a Scottish accent sounded like though).
A snack was in order by this time and we had Cheshire Cupcake Cake Cup at the Cheshire Cafe. It was sort of a cupcake with cream swirled in. Went down very well.
We were staying for the fireworks in the evening and fortunately Rosemary decided to have a nap so we went to the shops to have a browse.
There were soft toys galore.
The night-time parade was just before the fireworks and was amazing.
But nothing like the castle which was covered in lights for Christmas and were all constantly changing colour.
And the fireworks were stunning as well. We weren’t in the best place to see them but it was relatively quiet and we still got an excellent view.
After that there was nothing to do but cope with the vast crowds who were all leaving at the same time to get the boat back to the entrance and then the tram back to the car park. Think it took about an hour just to get out….
In the trips we have made to Orlando we have never visited Epcot in the past, although not really sure why. But we really enjoyed it and I think it’s now our favourite park.
Coming in we took the compulsory picture of the big ball, although we didn’t go on the ride inside it.
Instead we headed over to “The Seas” area where we went on the Nemo and Friends ride.
This ride takes you through the story of Finding Nemo (although very compressed) and out into the aquarium. There are some very large tanks which are full of fish and even some dolphins as well as smaller tanks with tropical fish and some manatees.
Couldn’t resist a picture with Bruce the shark before we went and did the Turtle Talk with Crush bit. This is an interactive session with a computer generated Crush which is fun as the kids get a chance to ask questions to Crush.
As we were leaving this section we went into the Mickey and Pals section where we got to meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie. Rosemary seemed to be getting the hang of these character meet and greets now and wasn’t in the slightest worried about them, and actually keen to meet the characters.
As we were nearly halfway through the day we decided to head into the World Showcase and start visiting the various countries. We’d heard that you can get a passport which is stamped in each country and found them in the giftshop at the entrance to the area. Finding the stand to get them stamped was sometimes a bit tricky but we did get them all done.
Before we got very far we stopped in Norway for a snack. I got some of mine at least.
In Germany we got to meet Snow White. This was Rosemary’s first Princess encounter.
I can’t remember if this was in China or Japan now…
While the Morocco area has some amazing tiled courtyards.
There were some great views from the lake.
In France we got to meet Belle.
And we had an ice cream before meeting Princess Aurora.
We stayed on for the Illuminations show on the lake, which was very good.
One thing was that the park was relatively undecorated for Christmas. The majority of the decorations were around the central area where the fountains are. Still very pretty.
So a great trip but a massive park that really needs more time to explore properly.