Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 22nd

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 21st

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 20th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 19th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 18th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 17th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 16th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 15th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 14th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 13th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 12th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 11th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 10th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 9th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 8th

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 7th

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 3rd

One of the best experiences we had as a family at Disney World was at Epcot and in the end we went back three times to visit.  Whilst Epcot may not have as many thrill rides as some of the other parks and some may consider it to be more educational we had a great time there!

Our favorite pavilion was Canada and I could watch O'Canada over and over again!  This is one of my favorite shows at Disney World.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Disney Advent Calendar - Dec 2nd

Toy Story Midway mania was one of our most anticipated attractions when we recently visited Hollywood studios. We loved the theming of the whole area, the walk through on the way to the ride was really interesting and our kids loved interacting with all the props and photos opportunities.

Disney Advent Calendar 2015 - December 1st

As we start our countdown to the big day we begin our journey in the Magic Kingdom.  I love this iconic photo of the castle.  Despite the cloudy and overcast sky this was a really hot day and we were plastered in suntan lotion.

Come back tomorrow for our second window on Walt Disney World.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Saturday, 24 October 2015

First looks at Disney Infinity 3.0

I really love Disney Infinity 3.0.  

After watching a couple of reviews I finally decided to buy Disney Infinity 3.0.  My first impressions are really positive and am having lots of fun with it.

Check out this video.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Candlelight Processional Narrators 2015

Walt Disney World have announced today their list of Candlelight Processional narrators for 2015.  There is a great list of names this year including some real favourites of mine.  Whilst the lineup is still subject to final change it is:

November 27th thru 29th 
Gary Sinise

November 30th thru 3rd December
Neil Patrick Harris

December 4th - 5th
Whoopi Goldberg

December 6th - 8th
Joe Morton

December 9th - 11th
Ana Gasteyer

December 12th - 14th
Meredith Vieira

December 15th - 17th
America Ferrera

December 18th - 20th
Chandra Wilson

December 21st - 23rd
Daniel Dae Kim

December 24th - 26th
Edward James Olmos

December 27th - 28th
Blair Underwood

December 29th - 30th
Amy Grant

The processional is held every night at the Wold showcase at 5pm, 6.45pm and 8.15pm.  A valid Epcot park ticket is required.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Connecting with Walt - a new podcast from The DIS

Living in the UK I know that it is going to be a long time before I can head back to Orlando to visit Disney World again. To make up for this I listen to lots (and I mean lots) of Podcasts about Disney and Disney World.

One of my favourite series come from The DIS Unplugged from Dreams Unlimited Travel in Orlando.

They have a number of great podcasts including:

- The DIS unplugged
- The DIS unplugged Universal edition
- The Trip 

They have recently launched a new series called Connecting with Walt. This podcast hosted by Craig Williams and Michael Bowling aims to tell more of the history of Disney. 

Rather than just simply telling a history story they are also relating current  ideas and innovations to the ethos and ideals of Walt Disney himself.

The first two episodes "One little spark of inspiration" and "You can't top pigs with pigs" have been a real pleasure to listen to. I have really enjoyed hearing both the history but also more about the ethos and beliefs of Walt Disney.

The plans are to release a months worth of episodes every three months. This will definitely make it a special series to look forward to.

Checkout all the details by following the link here.

I am definitely going to be a regular fan of this show and can't wait to see how the rest of the episodes pan out. If you are interested in the wealth of Disney history, fascinated about the man himself or just love Disney World tune in.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Disney parking charges to rise to $20

Updated Tuesday 6th October 2015

In a not very surprising move it has been announced that Universal Orlando will also be increasing the parking fee from $17 to $20.  Source: Orlando Sentinel 

Disney have announced a rise in parking charges from $17 to $20.  

Having visited most of the Disney World parking lots during the summer I do think this still represents good value for money.  With good signs, clear traffic management, friendly transportation staff and plenty of parking spaces, parking at Disney was not too stressful.

Top tip for parking (particularly for tourists)

Parking in such a big parking lot can feel like a daunting experience for the first time visitor but here are a few tips.

  • Use your mobile phone and take photos of your car, your parking lot, your space and the end of the row so you know where you have parked.
  • When you collect your hire car at the airport take a photo of the number plate and make a note of the details.
  • Bring a soft plush toy on holiday with you and place it in the back window of the car.  This will make it much more easy to find later when you are walking around the park.
  • If you have any problems with your car, simply raise your hood and wait for assistance.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Duffy meet and greet to end at Epcot

It has recently been announced that the Duffy meet and greet at Epcot will be ending soon and replaced.

Duffy is currently doing the meet and greet near the World Showcase Plaza in Epcot and when I was there in August had a short line for photos.

Duffy is a real hugger and seemed to have as many adults as children meeting him!

It looks like Duffy will leave the park on the 3rd October and won't be making a comeback any time soon.  I personally love Duffy and although he has been a controversial character I think he is cute.

Who is replacing Duffy at that spot - I've heard it might be Daisy Duck!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Memory Maker - is it worth it?

For the first time in forever I have holiday photos with me in them thanks to using the Memory Maker package.

We decided to purchase Memory Maker before we went on vacation and paid the $169.

My tech gear I took

Being an avid photographer with a fairly decent DSLR (Canon EOS 70D) and GoPro a couple of friends wondered why I would pay for photos when I can take my own.  The main advantage for our vacation was simply the ability to have me in the photos, particularly at the character meet and greets.

Why Memory Maker and not just PhotoPass?

Memory Maker gives you the additional added benefits of:

  • Attraction photos and videos
  • Magic shots
  • Dining photos

Reading various blogs about the PhotoPass photographers you can easily get a mixed message about the value and quality of their work.

This is our experience.

  • Without fail, every single PhotoPass photographer was polite, helpful and keen to take our photo.  We never felt rushed to have a photo taken (apart from when meeting characters)
  • Whilst most of the photos are standard shots taken at each location with standard settings we asked a couple of times for specific shots and the photographers were happy to help.  We wanted one photo of just our MagicBands which they were happy to take.
  • We do not appear to have any missing or lost photos and all the photos were seamlessly added to our account.
  • It was really good looking at the photos (via the website) on mobile devices whilst in the parks.  Since coming back from our vacation, there is now good integration of the PhotoPass system into the My Disney Experience Mobile App - it would have been brilliant if that had been available while we were away.
  • The attraction and rides photos worked well and after an initial confusion about selecting your photo from the screen with our Magic Band it all worked well.  We love the couple of ride videos - they were lovely.
  • The magic shots are nice.  We felt a little odd at times holding a strange pose but the photos are very sweet.  This is a nice touch.
  • The extra photos you get added each day of characters and the parks are good.  If you do visit the same park more than once you will get multiple copies.
  • The PhotoPass website works well and the level of customisation of photos is good.  You can add borders and other effects.  It is nice to see your photos grouped by date and park.
And now for the disappointing part ....

  • Downloading your photos as a ZIP (or multiple) files is relatively straight forward and we were able to do this easily when we got home.  I like to organise my photos and make good use of the metadata.  The additional meta data does include the date and time the photo was taken but this is not incorporated into the filename or date created.

In conclusion I am really glad we used Memory Maker and would definitely use it again. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Disney snacks and tasty treats

One of things I really enjoyed at Disney World was the food.  We unfortunately didn't get to eat at any table service restaurants but we did experience some of the fine counter service and outdoor food.

Here are some of our favourites .....

Corndogs and a BBQ Slaw Dog from Casey's Corner at Magic Kingdom.  We loved the food in here but found it a much nicer experience when eating outside.

Currently the Corn Dog Nuggets cost $5.99 and the BBQ Slaw Dog (topped with pulled pork, coleslaw and BBQ sauce) costs $10.29 (does include fries)

This was my first experience of Corn Dogs and instantly loved them!

The Mickey Pretzel was a huge hit, and we still can't quite believe how big they were!  They come in a couple of varieties but we loved the salted ones with the warm cheese dipping pot.  Whilst considered a snack these are very filling and will definitely keep you going.  They currently cost around the $4 price point.

Another very tasty treat, this time from Animal Kingdom was the giant Mickey cookie.  I think it was somewhere around the $5 price point.  Again, this was a lovely and very filling tasty treat.

I bought these in Magic Kingdom hoping to bring them back home to the UK but they got eaten straight away.  These Resort Delights Coconut Patties were surprising big and very tasty.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Meeting a trainee Snow White

We were very fortunate to have a private family character meet with Snow White at Epcot with no line or Fast Pass.

How did this happen I hear you say?

We were wandering around Epcot World Showcase heading out of England towards France and we saw Snow White surrounded by four Cast Members.  We thought that she was probably heading to a character meet so we didn't try to get a photo.  

The Cast Members called us over and asked if we would like a photo taken with Snow.  We did and she was a very good Snow White.  Standing behind me were the Cast Members giving her directions on how to interact with guests in the park.

It felt a very special moment being with a character for one of her first guest interactions in the park.  There was no photo pass photographer, as it was just a training session but one the Cast Members offered to take a few photos of us on my camera.

It is great when these extra moments of magic happen at Walt Disney World.

She was a lovely Snow White and I hope she does well.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Main Street Trolley Show - Magic Kingdom Photoblog

I love the smaller scale entertainment you find at Disney World.  One piece I really enjoyed was the Main Street Trolley Show.

"Watch these citizens pour out of the trolley to dance and sing as they welcome you to the most magical place on earth!" 
The show lasts about twenty minutes and is currently on at 9.15am, 10.10am and 12.00pm.

Lots of energy and wholesomeness! 

Definitely one not to miss.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Travelling with a child with allergies to America with Virgin Atlantic

We hope that this blog post will be useful to people as we share our experience of travelling to Orlando with a child with nut allergies.

When we first started planning the trip last year we were surprised about the lack of information regarding taking medicine including an Epi-pen on a flight.  Judging by the number of post on Netmums this is clearly an important issue.

Our child is allergic to both walnuts and pecans and avoids eating them and coming in contact with them.  Following a bad allergic reaction requiring hospital treatment when he was younger he carries a bottle of Piriton (antihistamine) and an Epi-pen with him.

The main questions we needed help with were:
  • Will there be any issues taking Piriton (a liquid) and an Epi-pen on a flight?
  • What documentation should we take with us?
  • What information should we tell the airline?
  • Will this affect our travel insurance?
This is what we found out and a summary of our experiences.  We would definitely recommend your own research before you travel.

Will there be any issues taking Piriton (a liquid) and an Epi-pen on a flight?

Before we travelled we requested a new prescription for the Piriton as his old bottle had expired.  Conscious of the 100ml rule we didn't want to take the standard 150ml bottle on the flight.  Our local pharmacy were more than accommodating in splitting the bottle into two 75ml batches in smaller 100ml bottles.  Both were clearly labelled with all the relevant information.  We also requested a second prescription to take with us incase we had to buy more.  We put both bottles into small zip-lock sandwich bags and both myself and my wife took one bag each in our hand luggage.  We also put the epi-pen along with a duplicate prescription in a zip-lock bag and had in our hand luggage. 

What documentation should we take with us?

In addition to the duplicate prescriptions we obtained a letter from our GP outlining the medical condition our son has and the required medication.  We had to pay £25 for this.  We took photocopies of all our prescriptions and made sure that we both had copies in our hand luggage.

What information should we tell the airline?

Approximately two months before we travelled we emailed Virgin special assistance at special_assistance@fly.virgin.com where we outlined our son's issues.  We had a very nice reply back.  They double checked that we had requested a nut friendly meal for both the outward and return flight.

Will this affect our travel insurance?

We took out travel insurance with Tesco travel insurance and this did not complicate or change the premium for us.  We were asked the standard questions of which we were able to say "No" to everything.  At the end of the questions we explained about our son's allergy and because it did not answer "yes" at any point it was not considered an issue.  We definitely think you should mention any issues like this even if it is not flagged up by the questionnaire. A simple visit to the ER for a child could easily cost more than $2000.

Our experience of the flight

Outward travel through Gatwick was simple and we experienced no delays at security.  With the liquids being in 100ml bottles and the Epi-pen clearly visible we were not stopped or even questioned about it.  The Virgin crew came and checked which child was having the nut friendly meal and these were served separately.  The staff were very careful about checking with us at every food serving.  The only downside to the nut friendly meal was not being able to have the children's meal.

Coming back from America

We had no problems at all coming back through the TSA security checks at Orlando airport. The TSA agents didn't ask us for any documentation and were very happy for us to carry through the medicines in our hand luggage.

Final thoughts

We were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to take our son into America even with his Epi-Pen and his medication.  I do think the key to this is preplanning and having everything you need with you.

Check list

  • Eli-Pen packed in hand luggage in a zip-lock bag
  • Liquid medicine in bottles less than 100ml
  • Spare prescription and photocopy 
  • Doctor's letter
  • Email airline

This is based on our experience and research.  It is always worth discussing this with your own doctor.

Monday, 7 September 2015

An extra bit of Disney Magic happened at Animal Kingdom

I am a firm believer in the old saying of treat others as you would like to be treated yourself.  We made a real point of always saying "Please" and "Thank you" whilst we were in the parks.  It was obvious from a number of cast members reactions that this is not always the way that guests treat cast members.

Whilst we were at Animal Kingdom we caught the end of the end of the "Flights of Wonder" bird show in Asia.  Being an avid photographer I put my camera into high speed shutter mode and took lots of photos of the birds in flight.

As we were leaving the show I simply said "thanks" to the cast member and told them how much we had enjoyed the show and how I was pleased with the photos I had taken.

The cast member then told us to wait behind if we had a couple of minutes to spare.  It turned out that they were about to do some training with one of the younger birds and needed a family to simulate a small audience.  We were then treated to a small private training session for about five minutes.  It was really good to see how the training was carried out, but also to feel special that we were able to see it privately. 

You never know when an extra special moment of Disney Magic is going to happen, and we certainly didn't set out aiming for this to happen!

I do feel that cast members do appreciate good manners in the park and especially when guests say thank you after a ride or an experience.  

Have you had a moment where you have experienced an extra special bit of Disney magic? 

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Jurassic Park River Adventure at Islands of Adventure POV

One of my favourite rides at Islands of Adventure has to be the Jurassic Park River Adventure.

There is a great amount of theming which anyone who either loves the original films or Jurassic World will appreciate.

I had an interesting experience on this ride, despite walking past several cast members and being safety checked before the ride started we were told-off for wearing the GoPro towards the end of the ride.  If you listen carefully you will hear an announcement telling me to take off my GoPro or the ride will stop!

Did you know? When the ride was first opened the 85 foot drop was one of the largest in the world for a water ride.