Posted in Florida 2015

7th August 2015 (Day 15)-Magic Kingdom and Going Home

Our last day in Orlando!

hampton_inn_logoOur time at the Hampton Inn had been great.  The staff there were absolutely fantastic and so very friendly.

I’ve copied below my TripAdvisor review:

We booked the Hampton Inn because it appeared to be highly rated on a number of different review sites although we were a little worried that due to it’s low price it might be a bit tatty. I’m glad to say that we had a great stay and will definitely highly consider staying there again.

The staff were extremely friendly which made it feel especially welcoming. And a big thank you to Patrick who checked us in and was always extremely welcoming when we returned from a long day at the parks.

-The room was very clean and well maintained, with daily cleaning to a very high standard.
-Breakfast could be busy but there was a good selection, although our daughter wanted the Mickey waffles every day anyway.
-The pool isn’t huge but was always quiet in the evenings and most times we had it virtually to ourselves.
-Location is very close to Downtown Disney and not far from any of the parks (Magic Kingdom is furthest away and is about 20 minutes drive time).
-There are restaurants close by (mainly in the Crossroads complex) as well as being relatively close to those on International Drive.

We had a room on the 5th floor at the end of the corridor so was extremely quiet and we didn’t get disturbed once, but I would imagine that the ground floor (especially in the rooms between reception and the lifts) could be noisy.

Highly recommend this Hampton Inn and thank you to all the staff there for making our stay so enjoyable.

Hampton Inn
Hampton Inn
Hampton Inn
Hampton Inn

So we were really quite sad to leave.  Just took a few shots of the hotel on the way out.

Hampton Inn
Hampton Inn
Hampton Inn
Hampton Inn

magic-kingdom-logoWe had decided to spend a little time at the Magic Kingdom this morning and after packing everything into the teeny tiny car we had, which was quite a task as we now had an extra suitcase to get in, we headed down to the parks for the last time this trip.

The weather was a bit suspect so we had fingers crossed that it would be OK.

We had FastPasses for Dumbo as our first thing and headed through the park to get there. It was straight through the line and onto the ride, which in some ways was a pity as there is lots of play stuff inside the big top.  But we didn’t have lots of time in park today as we’d have to leave for the airport, so it meant we could spend time doing something else.

Dumbo
Dumbo

After the ride (I rode separately and ended up two behind as someone charged in front of me and grabbed the closest elephant). We had a look in the big top area and at the amazing cakes and candy apples.

Hmmm...cake
Hmmm…cake

Julia and Rosemary decided they wanted to ride Goofy’s Barnstormer, so I left them to it and took some pictures from the sidelines.

Goofy's Barnstormer
Goofy’s Barnstormer
Goofy's Barnstormer
Goofy’s Barnstormer

Our second FastPass was for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.  And Rosemary drank lots of blue Powerade.

 

Powerade
Powerade

To be honest I had no idea what we were meant to be doing, but we had lots of fun on the ride and tried to shoot pretty much everything we could.  Rosemary ended up in Zerg prison.

Zerg!
Zerg!

We got some lunch at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe and as we sat down the rain started.  And it came down heavier than probably any other point during our stay.  It kept going for quite some time as well and everyone was coming in to shelter.  We had a third FastPass for the Enchanted Tales with Belle and were beginning to think we wouldn’t make it there without being soaked, but it did stop and we managed to get to our slot.

Rosemary played Belle’s father and had to pretend to be in prison.

Enchanted Tales
Enchanted Tales
Enchanted Tales
Enchanted Tales

And that was the end of what we could squeeze in for the day and for our stay.  Just time to take a few last minute photos of a very wet Magic Kingdom on the way out.

Enchanted Tales
Enchanted Tales
Rapunzel's Tower
Rapunzel’s Tower
Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom

We headed from the park to the airport and dropped off our car and headed into the airport.  The security line and customs was all very painless and we flew out on time.

On our way home
On our way home

A great trip as ever!

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Posted in Florida 2015

6th August 2015 (Day 14)-Animal Kingdom

 

220px-Animal_Kingdom_TPark_ColorOff 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.

Daisy Duck
Daisy Duck

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:

Kilimanjaro Safari
Kilimanjaro Safari
Kilimanjaro Safari
Kilimanjaro Safari

We even saw a baby rhino with it’s mum.

Kilimanjaro Safari
Kilimanjaro Safari

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.

Harambe Wildlife Reserve
Harambe Wildlife Reserve
Harambe Wildlife Reserve
Harambe Wildlife Reserve
Harambe Wildlife Reserve
Harambe Wildlife Reserve

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.

Harambe Market
Harambe Market
Harambe Market
Harambe Market

While sitting in the market we all had a snack and Rosemary had a stripey, Mickey rice cake.

Snack Time
Snack Time

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.

Festival of the Lion King
Festival of the Lion King
Festival of the Lion King
Festival of the Lion King

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.

Simba
Simba

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.

Dinosaur
Dinosaur

It certainly was Fast, a Blast and in the Past.  Really rough ride!

Dinosaur
Dinosaur
Dinosaur
Dinosaur

We stopped for ice creams and got Dirty Ice Creams. Basically ice cream with crushed Oreos and gummy worms.

Dirt Ice Cream
Dirt Ice Cream

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.

Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo

And after that just a quick visit to It’s a Bug’s Life (as there was no queue and it was straight in).

It's a Bugs Life
It’s a Bugs Life

And that was us, worn out.

Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
Posted in Florida 2015

5th August 2015 (Day 13)-Blizzard Beach

blizzard-beach-logoOff 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.

Blizzard Beach
Blizzard Beach

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.

Swimming
Swimming

After spending quite a while in the pool we had a little go round the lazy river, which is called Cross Country Creek.

Cross Country Creek
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.

Tikes Peak
Tikes Peak
Tikes Peak
Tikes Peak
Ice Gator
Ice Gator

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.

Melt Away Bay
Melt Away Bay

After this we got changed and took some photos around the park.

Blizzard Beach
Blizzard Beach

Finally, Rosemary had an ice lolly, which melted so fast because of the heat that she couldn’t keep up.

Lolly Time
Lolly Time

Wasn’t surprising as the car was roasting when we got back to it.

100oF
100oF

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!

Posted in Florida 2015

4th August 2015 (Day 12)-SeaWorld

SeaWorldOff to SeaWorld today!  Unusually this will be our only visit this trip as we were using our Disney tickets to the maximum usage we could.  We normally come at least twice because you can usually get the second day for free if you visit the Guest Relations booth on your way out.  But in any case we had been to Discovery Cove on the last 2 trips and that gives you access to SeaWorld in any case.

Rosemary wore a highly appropriate dress for the occasion.

Fish Dress
Fish Dress

Our first event for the day was the Blue Horizon show.  We wanted to make sure we squeezed in all the shows we wanted to catch in the one day so were a bit careful about our times.  Blue Horizon is a dolphin show, but there is a lot of acrobatics as well and the dolphin element is actually relatively small.

Blue Horizons
Blue Horizons
Blue Horizons
Blue Horizons
Blue Horizons
Blue Horizons

There is a video of the whole show which I shot on YouTube:

We briefly went to the Pacific Point Reserve to see the Sealions.  They were remarkably quiet that day.

Pacific Point Preserve
Pacific Point Preserve

Next on our list of “must do” things was the One Ocean show, the killer whale show.  This is going to be discontinued now, which is probably a good thing.

One Ocean
One Ocean
One Ocean
One Ocean

We stopped to get an ice cream and bite to eat and Rosemary had a weird thing which was little frozen balls called Dippin’ Dots.  Kind of OK, tasted a bit weird though.

Weird Ice Cream
Weird Ice Cream

We then wanted to get in the last of the 3 shows so we could have the rest of the day free to see a few of the other things around the park. This was the new Seamore and Clyde show, Sealion High.  We’d not seen this before so looking forward to it.  The premise is quite fun but the animals were not really behaving that well on the day, with one of the sealions being sent for a time out during the show…

Sealion High
Sealion High
Sealion High
Sealion High
Sealion High
Sealion High

There is a video of the whole show which I shot on YouTube:

After this we could take our time a little more.  And went to have a look around some of the shops and then to see the manatees.  It’s always a bit quieter around them, not sure if it’s their relaxed movements which calm everyone down, but certainly less activity there.

Managed to get this amazing shot of Rosemary interacting with one of the manatees.  We hung back when everyone went through into the Turtle Trek show and were the only people in the exhibit at the time. They had their nose pressed right up against the glass.  Maybe it was the bright dress which was attractive.

Manatee!
Manatee!

In the next tank are some rescued turtles and with no one about managed to get some better shots of one of them.

Turtle Trek
Turtle Trek

We had hot dogs for tea from Captain Pete’s Hot Dogs. Rosemary had a plain dog and I had a chilli dog, and Julia had a veggie one.

Hot Dog!
Hot Dog!

Still plenty to do as it was right by the hot dog place we went to the stingray pool.  I think this was the first time Rosemary had plucked up the courage to touch the stingrays and was surprised at how soft they are.

Stingrays
Stingrays

We also went to the aquarium which is slightly hidden away underneath the Manta ride.  It’s an amazing one and well worth spending time in, with a large tank with rays and fish, as well as smaller display tanks.

Manta Aquarium
Manta Aquarium

We carried on with our (second) journey around the park, going through Antartica.  The queues were crazy for the ride there and although we would have liked to have seen the penguins it wasn’t worth the +45 minute wait time.

Antarctica
Antarctica

We then went into the Shark Encounter and the great aquarium there.  We once again repeated a picture we’ve done each time we’ve been.  Here is the latest version:

SHARK!
SHARK!

And from December 2013:

Scary Shark
Scary Shark

And March 2012:

Shark
Shark

Quite fun to do the same one each time to see the changes.

We stopped by to say “Hi” to Shamu as we went past the Shamu Stadium (didn’t get to do this last time as it was all closed off).

Shamu
Shamu

And then obviously had to have a Shamu ice cream.

Shamu Ice Cream
Shamu Ice Cream

And finally for the day got to ride on Shamu himself.

Shamu
Shamu

That was pretty much us exhausted for the day by then.  Just took this one on the way out of the park as it was the 50th anniversary of SeaWorld.

50th Anniversary
50th Anniversary

Finally I put together a video of our day at Seaworld which you can see on YouTube:

Posted in Florida 2015

3rd August 2015 (Day 11)-M&M World and Downtown Disney

7891_logoWe had plans to go to a water park today but we were a bit uncertain because of the weather and decided to give it a miss and instead do a few quiet things and have a relaxing day.  So we started off by heading to the Florida Mall. The route our sat-nav took us was quite convoluted and we saw some of the grottier bits of Orlando on the way.

When we finally arrived we headed to the M&M Store.

M&M Store
M&M Store

It’s easy to find from the car park with a giant M&M outside.  Got a few bits and pieces, including some things for future Christmas presents at prices which were much lower than the UK.

They also do a meet-and-greet in the store.

M&M's
M&M’s

We had a mooch around the shops and then went from the Mall to Downtown Disney.  We managed to park in the actual car park this time rather than across the road and get the mini-bus.  Again it was a mooch around the shops and built light sabres in one of the stores.  Did get some candy apples though from the Candy Cauldron.

Candy Apples
Candy Apples
Candy Apples
Candy Apples
Candy Apples
Candy Apples
Candy Apples
Candy Apples
Posted in Florida 2015

2nd August 2015 (Day 10): Magic Kingdom

magic-kingdom-logoBack to the Magic Kingdom again today!

Our second visit having come a few days ago. Planning a relatively low key visit though as energy levels were a bit low and the weather was still not ideal, with quite a bit of rain. We had booked to have an early lunch at Be Our Guest so wanted to just get a couple of things in before that and then spend some time afterwards on some rides.

We went towards Fantasy Land first and went on the Mad Hatters Teacup ride, which Rosemary loves and just wants to spin faster and faster (in the video at the end so no photos of this).

Unfortunately the weather turned on us again after this after visiting a few shops we headed over to Be Our Guest for our 10:55am reservation.  We booked this quite late so this was all that was available as would have preferred a little later.

The entrance was really impressive.

Be Our Guest
Be Our Guest

Ordering is a little confusing for a first timer.  You queue up and choose and then pay at the till.  We’re then told to go and find a table and our food will find us.  We had read that you get a Rose to put on the table, but no such offer.  So bit confused we found a good table in the main ballroom.  And pretty quickly our food appears.  Found out they find you from your Magic Band.  Big Brother Mouse truly is watching!

The Ballroom
The Ballroom

Rosemary had chicken and Julia had the French Onion Soup, which was excellent.  I had the beef sandwich.

Be Our Guest
Be Our Guest
Be Our Guest
Be Our Guest

And of course we had to have the Grey Stuff cupcake.  We’d heard it’s delicious.  It was!

Grey Stuff
Grey Stuff

The Ballroom is amazing and was Julia’s favourite of the 3 rooms.  I preferred Beast’s room where there is a holographic rose.

The Ballroom
The Ballroom
Rose
Rose

We all thought it was an amazing place to have lunch and really glad we booked it.  The level of detail is just so high, including the picture which changes when there is lightning in Beast’s room.

After lunch we went to Mickey’s Philharmagical show and then used our FastPasses to do another princess visit.  This time Cinderella and Rapunzel in the Princess Fairytale Hall.

Cinderella
Cinderella
Cinderella-Autograph
Cinderella-Autograph
Rapunzel
Rapunzel
Rapunzel-Autograph
Rapunzel-Autograph

Both fantastic, as you would expect.  Rapunzel saw Rosemary’s dress and declared that she wasn’t needed and sent Rosemary over to her meet-and-greet spot while she stayed back with us.

We then used our second FastPass for the Peter Pan ride.  Only ever done this once before because the queue is crazy, but with the FastPass we were only in a few minutes.

Peter Pan
Peter Pan

We headed back through the park to Tomorrowland as we wanted to do an absolute classic attraction which we have never done, the Carousel of Progress.  It’s sort of hidden away in the back and we thought it was about time we saw it.  Well, we’ve done it now anyway.  Kind of OK, quite dated and the music gets under your skin.

Carousel of Progress
Carousel of Progress

When we came out Buzz Lightyear was doing his meet and greet under a bit of shelter just to the side.  He even came out and gestured for everyone to come under the shelter so they didn’t get wet.

To Infinity
To Infinity
Buzz Lightyear-Autograph
Buzz Lightyear-Autograph

After seeing Buzz it was emptying again so we went around on the Carousel of Progress for a second time.  Took the opportunity to have a quick nap.  But then it was improving again and we went to go on the River Boat as a nice little trip and, again, an opportunity to have a sit down.

Liberty River Boat
Liberty River Boat

As we came back we caught the very end of a parade, so stayed for a few minutes to watch.

Parade
Parade

And finally on the way out we used our final FastPass to see Tinker Bell.  She had moved since our last visit and was now at the Town Hall.  I thought the previous location was better and it’s now just Tink (last time you got another Fairy as well, which was Periwinkle when we went).

Tinker Bell
Tinker Bell
Tinker Bell-Autograph
Tinker Bell-Autograph

So, that was the end of the day at Magic Kingdom.  Weather has been a bit bad for the last couple of days but we hadn’t let that spoil anything and just moved our plans around to suit.

Posted in Florida 2015

1st August 2015 (Day 9): Epcot

Off to the Epcot again today (second visit this trip, having been a few days ago) and an early start as we had breakfast reservations at Akershus for a Princess breakfast buffet.  I think we had a table at 9:35am and Epcot opens at 9am.  So we got there for the park opening time and went in a couple of minutes before 9am.  There was only a small group waiting to get in (not like the big crowds at Magic Kingdom).

We weren’t in a huge rush so walked slowly upto the World Showcase entrance.  This area doesn’t open until 11am but as we had reservations we were allowed through.  It felt like we had the whole park to ourselves.

Empty Epcot
Empty Epcot

Just us and some squirrels.

Empty Epcot
Empty Epcot

We got to Akershus a bit before our reservation and were taken straight in.

Akershus
Akershus

In hindsight we should have waited because we were in the middle of the princess interactions rather than the beginning.  Would recommend waiting for your seating time to get the most out of it, although we did get to meet all the princesses and Rosemary got to do the parade with them and totally enjoyed it.

First up you are greeted by Belle.

Meeting Belle
Meeting Belle
Belle-Autograph
Belle-Autograph

We then got some breakfast from the buffet and hot food arrived as well.  Food was excellent.

Breakfast Buffet
Breakfast Buffet

The other princesses then started to come round to see us and sign autographs.

Cinderella
Cinderella
Cinderella-Autograph
Cinderella-Autograph
Snow White
Snow White
Snow White-Autograph
Snow White-Autograph
Jasmine
Jasmine
Princess Jasmine-Autograph
Princess Jasmine-Autograph
Ariel
Ariel
Ariel-Autograph
Ariel-Autograph

All the children then get to join a princess and parade around the restaurant with them to a Disney song.  Rosemary joined Jasmine and got to carry the flower basket.  I think this was the best of the interactions I saw (those with Cinderella were sat back down before Rosemary had finished dancing with Jasmine).

Princess Parade
Princess Parade

After finishing our breakfast (loads to eat and we asked for a coffee to take away with us) it was just before 11am, so the World Showcase still wasn’t open.  But by the time we walked back to the entrance to it they were taking down the barriers.  Our plan for the day was to spend time in the World Showcase, starting in Canada, which is where we headed to first. We watched the 360 degree show and visited the gift shop.  Nice planting there but not a lot else to see.

Canada
Canada

Next round (we were heading anti-clockwise for some reason) was the United Kingdom.   We met Alice there, who was frightfully posh.

Alice
Alice
Alice-Autograph
Alice-Autograph

And had a quick walk around the area.  Unfortunately Mary Poppins wasn’t coming out on the day we were there.

United Kingdom
United Kingdom

We took a short break on leaving the UK and sat down for a moment where the boat launches leave and arrive from various resorts.  We just missed seeing the Evil Queen, who was off to cast a spell on someone no doubt.

Evil Queen
Evil Queen

Next up was France. Just visited briefly really and had a quick look round.  Didn’t stop to see princesses here (Belle and Aurora) as we’ve done that before and there were long queues.

France
France

As we headed out the skies started to darken and it looked like more rain was coming in. The view back to Spaceship Earth was pretty threatening.

Incoming Storm
Incoming Storm

By the time we reached Morocco it was pouring and we took shelter there.  Are worse places to spend a little time though.

Morocco
Morocco

While we were waiting we went to visit Aladdin, who was very friendly, very chatty and made Rosemary laugh a lot.

Aladdin
Aladdin
Aladdin-Autograph
Aladdin-Autograph

She also got the chance to colour in a Duffy and had her name written on the back in Arabic.

Arabic "Rosemary"
Arabic “Rosemary”

After waiting a good while and it looking like it wasn’t going to stop anytime soon we headed out into the rain and the gift shop in Japan.

Japan
Japan

We stopped for something to eat in the American pavilion, eating at the Liberty Inn, before carrying on.  Unfortunately still raining.

Through Italy

Italy
Italy

and into Germany.

Germany
Germany

Things were improving by the time we reached China and I joined the queue with Rosemary to see Mulan.  One of her princesses she still hadn’t seen and this is (I think) the only place she does a meet-and-greet.

Mulan
Mulan
Mulan-Autograph
Mulan-Autograph

Once we had finished things were much better and it had stopped raining completely.

China
China

We were most of the way round the Showcase area by now, and stopped in Norway for some afternoon cakes and coffee.  Rosemary had a Frozen Fever cupcake and we had school bread (as recommended on the Disney Food Blog).  They were excellent. And the coffee was very strong (as it seems to be everywhere at Disney).

Cupcake
Cupcake
School Bread
School Bread

Just Mexico to go.

Mexico
Mexico

We went inside the zigarat and went on the Gran Fiesta starring Donald Duck ride.  Lot of fun and nice sit down boat ride.

Gran Fiesta
Gran Fiesta

And we got to see Donald, who Rosemary absolutely loves.

Donald Duck
Donald Duck
Donald Duck-Autograph
Donald Duck-Autograph

And so, having walked all the way around the world it was time for us to head out of the park.  Our last visit to Epcot for this trip.

For dinner we went to Red Lobster at the Crossroads of Lake Buena Vista for some excellent Lobster, Gruyere and Spinach dip.

Red Lobster
Red Lobster