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.
For this trip we decided to visit all four of the Disney parks, and bought a 5 day ticket. So to kick off our visits we decided to go to Hollywood Studios (we had also tried to plan out visits using one of the crowd planners so we would be at each park on quieter days). We’d never been here before, so this would be our first visit.
The park is all 1950’s Hollywood themed and there is a entrance street running up from main ticket entrances. There are really tall palms on most of the streets to add to the California look.
At the top of the street is the Mickey Sorcerer’s Hat which forms a stage and most of the rest of the park radiates out from here.
We decided to go into the Art of Animation area first which is where there are a number of character meets and greets. Rosemary had never done one of these before so we weren’t sure how she would react. When we visited Peppa Pig World she was a bit freaked by the Peppa there (as she was “bigger than I thought she would be”). While waiting to see Mickey we weren’t too sure.
But when she actually got there everything was fine.
After seeing Mickey we really wanted to see Minnie as well. Initially we were really confused as to where she was. Mickey was in the hall and there was also Mr Incredible and Frozone in the hall (although we didn’t meet them). But no sign of Minnie anywhere. We asked a cast member and were told where to go, which was a queue by a door. Turns out Minnie has her own dressing room to meet guests in which was really lovely and meant it was really private as well as it was just you in there.
After we left we went to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show which was just outside. This is a live action show which whizzes through the film at some speed. Was a good show though.
And then we went onto the Backlot Tour. This starts off with some stunt effects which you watch. There are a lot of water effects and felt sorry for the volunteers as they got drenched.
The tour then goes onto a tram which takes you round some exhibits including cars and planes from movies, and a couple of props from Star Wars.
We stopped for a snack at the Writers Stop, Mickey gingerbread man for Rosemary and coffee for us.
We had hoped to get Fastpasses for the Buzz Lightyear Midway Shootout but they were basically gone by the time we got there. But we did catch a few more shows during the day, including the Muppets 3D.
And we got a few more Meet and Greets in as well. Queues weren’t too bad, although took sometime to see Mike and Sulley.
Goofy was great and loved my t-shirt, calling over the photographer and “minder” to see it. It was great that he was all dressed up for Christmas.
We continued our walk around the park, including seeing the AT-AT near the Star Tours ride. Rosemary was too small for that so we’ll do it another time.
We got something to eat at Rosie’s All American Cafe (seemed appropriate) and then went to see the Beauty and the Beast show. This is a big production with lots of singing and dancing. Rosemary loved it.
And finally we headed back to the Streets of America where the Osborne Family Specticle of Dancing Lights was on. This was really amazing, with Christmas lights absolutely everywhere.
There are a couple of videos of it on my Flickr page which can be found here and here.
The lights are also meant to work with the new Mickey hats which have light up ears and the ears and meant to sync together. Couldn’t really see this happening and they all looked like they were flashing independently, but they were nice.
And with that it was time to leave as it was getting very late and we were all pretty exhausted.
Heading towards the end of our trip and we took a trip to visit the Magic Kingdom. We had just bought a 2 day Disney ticket, having used our first day at Animal Kingdom, and this was the second use of that ticket.
Magic Kingdom seemed to be a long way off and driving in we finally got a hint we were going the right way.
Though of course even once you park your journey isn’t at an end and you still have to get the tram from the parking lot to the entrance and then the boat or monorail into the park itself. But we eventually made it just when there was a Dance Party happening.
After that we took a few posed pictures in front of the castle. Think Rosemary was happy to be here.
We weren’t planning many rides but thought that one ride was a must, which was “It’s a Small World”.
We had a spot of lunch at the Cheshire Cat Cafe and had some cereal which went down very nicely.
After that we had a walk around the park taking some photos and seeing the sights. Particularly liked this one of the balloons.
We caught the afternoon parade which was a lot of fun and got a really nice viewing spot just opposite the Hall of Presidents.
We did a spot of shopping and trying on some ears after the parade.
After that Rosemary flaked out and we decided to call it a day at the park.
For dinner we headed back to Red Lobster and had a very nice started of Lobster, Gruyere and Spinach dip which went down very well with the red tortilla chips.
Julia was more keen on the giant cocktails! Unfortunately I was driving….again!
We headed out towards Lake Buena Vista today to visit the Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom park. We went there on our previous trip and as Rosemary is very keen on animals we thought she would get a lot out of a day there. The queue for tickets (we hadn’t prepurchased our tickets for Disney as there was no saving in doing so) was pretty long and we had to queue for quite some time. As we were going to Magic Kingdom later in the trip we got a 2 day pass which saved a grand total of about $4).
Unfortunately a lot of the things we might have wanted to go on (the Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition for example) were really busy with long waits even on the Fast Pass ( a 6 hour return time I noticed at one point). Plus we weren’t really clear if she was too small or not. Sure it would have been fine but didn’t want to queue for ages and then find out. So we really concentrated on the animal exhibits.
The park was very busy (it was Spring Break in the US) and the walkways weren’t really wide enough for the amount of people in the place. So we were constantly dodging and trying to get through tight spaces. Not much fun with a buggy (sorry stroller!). We decided to head off the “Conservation Station” on the “Wildlife Express Train”.
They have an “Affection Section” there which is basically an animal petting area. There were some pigs, goats and (behind fences) donkeys and llamas.
Inside the “Conservation Station” they have a number of smaller animals, mainly behind glass such as frogs, reptiles and insects.
While out at this area (which was reasonably quiet because the only way in or out was by train) we sat down and Rosemary had a lolly.
We headed back to the main area on the train and then went for a walk around the “Pangani Forest Exploration Trail” which is a pathway leading you through an African animals exhibit. There was a large tank of cichlids which Rosemary liked.
There were more cichlids in the large pool with the hippos.
And there is a large gorilla enclosure.
After this we headed to the “Maharajah Jungle Trek” which is an equivalent walk-through for Asian animals. The settings had all been very well done and there was lots of interesting details. The tigers had disappeared though (it was a hot day and they must have been on their siesta), so no pictures I’m afraid.
In one viewpoint there was a colony of fruit bats. I hadn’t realised that the windows had no glass in them and nearly dropped Rosemary through. Guess the narrow bars (although big enough for a child to fit) are enough to stop the bats flying through!
The theme is maintained in each area. This one was in the Asia area as well.
Next stop was the Dinosaur area. We popped into the Boneyard briefly but it was full of much older children and I think Rosemary felt a little bit intimidated by them running around.
We stopped to try on some Mouse Ears as well. Rosemary does a great mouse impression.
As it was time for the parade by then we headed to a relatively non-busy area (by chance just by on of the shops on the main island) and watched that. No good pictures as I was holding Rosemary at the time.
It was getting to late afternoon by this point so we decided to call it a day, as Rosemary was pretty tired by then and we were getting fed up with the crowds, and head back to the car via a quick photo opportunity in front of the “Tree of Life”.
We couldn’t leave without some animal print ears and a Minnie Mouse though. Although not sure Rosie was that bothered at the time.