Saturday, 28 November 2015

Florida November 2015 Recap - Day 3 at Animal Kingdom

I'll be doing a recap for each and every glorious day of our last Disney vacation (14 days worth so in the words of Scar, be prepared)...

On Thursday morning we had a character breakfast booked at Tusker House in Disney's Animal Kingdom that we were super excited for. Unfortunately our excitement didn't translate into the speed in which we got ready because oops...we were very late. I spent the whole journey to the park nervously chewing my hair and worrying that they wouldn't let us in and that somehow we'd still be charged. We finally arrived at the park, ran all the way to 'Africa' where the restaurant is located, and headed straight to the maître d' ready to rattle of our apologies and excuses - the bus took ages, the monorail wasn't running, the ghost of Walt Disney appeared and stole our watches! But before we even had a chance to say sorry, the lovely cast member at the reservations desk simply said "Hakuna Matata...come on in" and showed us to our seats. Only at Disneyworld!

I'd never experienced a character meal before so I wasn't sure what to expect, but as usual with Disney everything about it was amazing - the food, the service, the character interactions, the whole atmosphere was great. It was a buffet style breakfast so we loaded up with scrambled eggs, sausages, beautiful crispy American bacon (drool) and not to forget the main staple of any Disney breakfast...Mickey shaped waffles!

We were also plied with coffee and the nicest juice I've ever had - Jungle Juice! - which I believe was a mix of orange, passion fruit, and guava juices, ughhh delicious. Due to the fact that we were late for our reservation, they started to put out some of lunch buffet while we were there, so I was also able to enjoy some roast beef with my breakfast food...a classic combo I'm sure. I had an excellent experience at the carving station as the man carving the roast told me I suited my Minnie Mouse ears even more than Minnie herself - hands down the best compliment I've ever received! Sometime during our meal we were visited at our table by Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck who were happy to pose for photos and hug us! Mickey was also floating around the restaurant somewhere but we ran out of time to wait for him as we had a fastpass that was about to expire.

Once we had finished breakfast we headed straight to our first fastpass which was for the Kilimanjaro Safari. This was a great choice for right after all that food as you get to sit down in the safari bus for twenty minutes and let everything digest! During the safari we managed to see lots of cool animals, but the ones I remember (and managed to get semi decent photos of) were rhinos, elephants, giraffes and lions!

After the safari adventure we had an extra special experience lined up at the Festival of the Lion King. On my last trip to Orlando my family and I made friends with a lovely couple that we met during some 4th July celebrations, and one of them just so happens to work as cast member in Disneyworld, more specifically, in the Festival of the Lion King show. When he found out that I was back in Orlando he invited us to meet him before the show that day and set us up with VIP front row tickets and an exclusive cast meet and greet after the show. Not only was the show phenomenal, but getting whisked away at the end by a member of staff to meet the cast all still in costume was so exciting. They were all so nice to us and happily posed for our photos! So a huge thanks to Scott Smith for making this an extra special experience for us!

Still buzzing from the show and meet and greet, we grabbed a frozen drink to cool off before heading into It's Tough to be a Bug, the A Bug's Life 3D attraction. Again, as usual with Disney, the 3D aspect was great, as were the 'special effects', but as someone that hates bugs, I was really creeped out by the whole thing - particularly when the wasps were released! By the time we recovered from this, it was time for our reservation at the Rainforest Café where we enjoyed the standard American huge portions and watched the animatronics come to life around us.

We then headed for our next fastpass rides, first up was the Kali River Rapids where I got gladly soaked in the 30 degree heat!

Next was Expedition Everest, a really fun forwards and backwards rollercoaster featuring great views from the top of Everest as well as a cameo from Bigfoot! After our fastpass for this we noticed that the stand by queue was pretty short so we rode it again and really improved our ride photo poses...

Once we'd had our fill of Expedition Everest we explored the shops and market stalls. As well as stocking the usual Disney fare, they also had loads of cool African and Asian trinkets for sale - they even had live wood carvers carving animal statues and totem poles!

We finished the day with our usual jaunt to the Magic Kindom for our favourite rides and some ice cream sundaes before heading back to the hotel for some much needed sleep!

¡Por favour manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Florida November 2015 Recap - Day 2 at Hollywood Studios

I'll be doing a recap for each and every glorious day of our last Disney vacation (14 days worth so in the words of Scar, be prepared)...

We woke up bright and early that morning keen to find out if our suitcases had been delivered overnight, and praise the lord above - they had. Having access to more than one pair of shorts - not to mention make up!!! - felt totally indulgent, and it was pretty difficult choosing which coordinating outfit to wear first! Knowing that we were headed to Hollywood Studios which has quite a large Pixar presence, we opted for our matching 'to infinity and beyond' t-shirts.

Once we had gotten dressed, we grabbed a frozen coffee from our hotel's Starbucks (so basic) and headed for the bus (no free rides this time though). Once again, by the time we actually got into the park we were ravenous, so we headed straight for some more hot dogs (I'm starting to notice a pattern here...). Although we were originally planning on hitting some big rides after we had eaten, we decided to play it safe and went on the more leisurely Great Movies Ride to let our food digest. 

Now it was time to get straight into the action. First up - the Aerosmith Rock 'n' Rollercoaster! Accelerating from 0 to 58 mph in under 2.8 seconds and featuring some loops, this is one of Disney World's biggest thrill rides - let's just say we were glad we waited after eating those hot dogs..

This was quickly followed by the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which ties with Splash Mountain as my favourite Disney ride! Set in a creepy old hotel, you are seated in an elevator which takes you to the top of the tower before dropping you down, then taking you back up and dropping you down again and so on and so forth. The drops are so sudden and intense that your bum is very rarely on the seat, and the anticipation of the fall is just as 
exhilarating as the fall itself. I could go on this ride again and again and never get sick of it!

I'm pretty sure we went on the Tower of Terror at least once again straight after coming off it, but once the queue got to big for us to rejoin, we decided to grab a snack and take a nice stroll through the 'Streets of America'. After posing for some photos in front of the cool backdrops, we spotted Mr Gold's shop front! For those who don't know, Mr Gold is a fictional character played by Robert Carlyle on one of my favourite shows - Once Upon a Time - so this was really cool to see.

We then headed over to see Muppet Vision 3D mostly because the line was short and we needed to kill a wee bit of time before our next fastpass - but it was actually really enjoyable! Next up was Star Tours - the Star Wars simulation ride. As someone who hadn't at the time seen any Star Wars movies all the way through, I really enjoyed this as it feels so realistic - as I find most Disney simulator/3D attractions to be. We spent a little while in the gift shop of this ride as both of our boyfriends are pretty big geeks...

After this we were just casually walking about when we noticed one of the green army men from Toy Story - with our matching Toy Story t-shirts on we figured this would be a great photo op. We waited for the people children in front of us to finish up and headed in for handshakes and hugs. During our photo session the green army man noticed our t-shirts and knew exactly where we needed to be... So he took us both by the hand and skipped us all the way over to Pixar Place to meet Buzz and Woody!

All of the excitement of the character interactions had made us work up quite an appetite, so we headed down to Disney Springs and to Planet Hollywood for dinner. The restaurant is huge with actual film props all around you, so there's loads to see while you wait for your food. The food itself was tasty..if not a little bit too 'American'. Where else on the planet would you get deep fried lasagna?? Not even Scotland would make that mistake...

I'm not sure how we managed to even stand up after the size of the portions at dinner, but somehow we made it back to the Magic Kingdom for a quick whirl of our favourite rides. As our bus stop was located so close to the Magic Kingdom it always made sense to us to jump in even for just an hour or so after the other parks! This meant that we packed in A LOT during each day, and may have resulted in me almost falling asleep on the bus home most nights, but still - no regrets!!!

¡Por favour manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Florida November 2015 Recap - Day 1 at Magic Kingdom

I'll be doing a recap for each and every glorious day of our last Disney vacation (14 days worth so in the words of Scar, be prepared)...

Despite the fact that we didn't have any of our luggage (and no clean pants!) we woke up on our first official day of our holiday beyond excited to get going. Dressed in our delightful Walgreen's apparel, we started off with the healthiest of breakfasts to set us up for the day ahead.

After successfully avoiding the lure of a "creepy foreign taxi" we not only managed to navigate the Orlando bus system all the way to Disney World, but managed to blag our journey for free on account of our sweet excited faces - pats on the head for Carly and I please. The bus journey took around an hour in total but I'd like to mention that due to the sheer scale of Disney World at least 65% of the journey took place within its grounds. We didn't mind at all though as we were gladly taking in all the magical sights and signs around us, just look at our enchanted little faces (we hadn't even reached the Magic Kingdom yet!)

Soon we were within sight of Cinderella's castle and our trip finally began to feel real. Slowly walking down main street we took in the sights, sounds and smells and wondered where to start. Well, in true Jordan and Carly style our first thought was food and to Casey's Corner for hot dogs we went! Not only was our hunger satisfied, but it was a great spot to just take in all of the magic unfolding in front of us and let everything sink in.

After devouring what would be the first of many hot dogs of our holiday, we noticed none other than Mary Poppins popping on to the courtyard and after spotting how short the queue was, we decided to go and say hello. This was particularly exciting as just a few days before I had dressed up as Mary Poppins for Halloween!

(I showed her my costume and she told me to tell my Chimney Sweep hello - my Chimney sweep was of course delighted)

Next it was full steam ahead as we done nothing but rides rides rides - Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, Space Mountain, Buzz Lighyear's Space Ranger Spin, Monster's Inc Laugh Floor, the Tea Cups, It's a Small World. I won't bore you with the details of each one but the three mountains quickly became our favourites that we would ride about 1000 more times over the following two weeks. Sometime in between those rides we did take a break to grab a frozen raspberry lemonade, and squeezed in some photos in front of the castle. 

Also during this time we had what I can only describe as an extremely traumatising, nerve shattering near death experience. While innocently taking in a parade (Vamos! Vamos!), the cheery music was interrupted by a blood curdling shriek and everything around us blurred except for the sight of an elderly lady hurtling towards us on an out of control mobility scooter. Her even more out of control husband was quick on the scene 'yelling' at everyone to MOVE OUT THE WAY NOW in his deep American voice. The situation somehow resolved itself, I can't quite remember how (not because I was doubled over about to wet my pants laughing at the calamity of it all). Honestly we were lucky to be out of there alive..and with all 10 toes..I was wearing flip flops for God's sake! Anyway...

Once we had explored for a while and hit a few more attractions our stomachs were rumbling once more so we headed for a quick and easy bite at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café in Tomorrowland. We enjoyed cheeseburgers,fries and chocolate cake - complete with a mesmerising view of the castle!

By the time we were finished and had grabbed a coffee to perk us up it was getting dark and the park had quietened down quite a bit. This made for the perfect time to check out the Haunted Mansion and sneak back on Splash and Big Thunder Mountain for a few more goes. Once we had satisfied the thrill seekers inside it was time for our favourite thing of all - the evening castle show and fireworks! 

For those of you that have yet to experience the wonder of the Celebrate the Magic castle projection show and Wishes fireworks, I'm not convinced that my words will be able to do them justice. There are several youtube videos of each, and as enjoyable as they are, nothing quite lives up to watching them happen right in front of your star sparkled eyes. Let's just say there were tears. Lots of tears.
That pretty much sums up our overwhelming first day at Disney, be sure to come back for Day 2 - Hollywood Studios!

¡Por favour manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Florida November 2015 Recap - The Journey

I'll be doing a recap for each and every glorious day of our last Disney vacation (14 days worth so in the words of Scar, be prepared)...
After a rather restless night's sleep - caused by 90% excitement about going to Florida and 10% anxiety about the looming fog threatening to affect one of our flights - I was up bright and early double and triple checking that I hadn't forgotten anything and that all my last minute things that needed to be packed were tucked safely in my case. My cousin/best friend/travel buddy/Disney diva Carly picked me up around 7am and after obliging to my mum's request to pose for photos in our matching Mickey/Minnie hoodies we were off en-route to the airport.

I'm not going to lie, despite Carly's constant fog and flight updates and warnings, I was still pretty confident that our flights would be fine. A slight niggle of worry was there…but that was all. I was far too excited to be heading to the happiest place on Earth to be overly concerned. Once we got our cases checked in we headed for a pretty chill airport breakfast complete with mimosas (we were on our holidays after all ;) ) - all the while totally confident that our journey would be undisrupted as there was less than an hour until take-off and no delays had been mentioned…yet.

After boarding the plane with still no warning of a delay, the pilot shattered our hopes and kindly informed us that due to the fog we wouldn't be cleared for take-off for another two hours and that we'd have to wait it out on the runway - just in case by some miracle we were allowed to leave before that time (we weren't). With less than 30 minutes between our new Gatwick arrival time and Orlando departure time things weren't looking good for our connecting flight, but in true Disney spirit we refused to let the delay get us down. We explored the cockpit (don't worry we were still on the ground!), drank some wine, and took some selfies…

Although we physically landed with about 25 minutes until our Orlando flight was meant to depart, by the time we were actually allowed to leave our little plane that window was down to about 10 minutes…which is really not a lot of time to get from one side of Gatwick airport to the other! Due to this time restraint, and fuelled by white wine spritzers, we sprinted as fast as two moderately unfit girls can sprint all the way to our check in desk. My heart actually leapt when I saw our plane still on the ground and the tunnel bridge still connected…until the super rude woman working on the check in desk abruptly ripped our hearts out and told us that check in was closed and that no exceptions would be made. She even had the cheek to tell us how important it is to be on time for your flight! Let's just say she was a bit of a Disney Villain.

 For the next hour and a bit we were passed from pillar to post along with around forty other angry Scottish folk that shared our situation. The whole airport was chaotic as the bloody fog had affected tons of other flights as well as our own and nobody seemed to know what to do with us. There were no flights to Orlando for the rest of the day and word was spreading around the grumpy Scots that it could be up to three or four days until they got flights for everyone. Carly and I tried to put on brave faces for each other but deep down were totally gutted at the prospect of losing a few days of our long awaited Disney vacation.

 With our spirits and bodies slumped on the floor we were just about ready to accept defeat when the most unimaginable thing happened. Finally a member of British Airways staff who really seemed to know what was going on approached the group with some truly unbelievable news. Just as the plane we were all supposed to be on was taxiing and preparing to take off, a passenger on board who was terrified of flying, took a panic attack and demanded to be let off of the plane. The crew had spent a good while trying to calm the passenger down but ultimately they wanted to leave. A shame for the passenger having the panic attack, but by some twist of fate this delay allowed us to board our original flight and before we knew it our journey was back on track!

Despite getting off to a very bumpy start, the flight was enjoyable with plenty of movies to watch, some surprisingly yummy plane food, and did I mention….complimentary alcoholic beverages??? Yes that'll be seven wines please and thank you.

By the time we arrived in Orlando we were pretty buzzed (in more ways than one), pretty tired, but also pretty damn grateful to be there just a couple of hours later than scheduled rather than a couple of days. The only other hiccup was that our luggage wouldn't be arriving until the following day, but with $50 each in compensation we were happy to just be there and get on with things. After finally checking into our hotel we made a quick dash to the local 24 hour Walgreens for some cheap clothes for the next day and some hotel room necessities such as Lucky Charms and mini M&Ms. Finally we grabbed a Pizza from Pizza Hut, stuffed our faces in bed, and crashed out with pizza grease still fresh on our faces, dreaming of the day at Disney world ahead of us.
¡Por favour manténgase alejado de las puertas!