Backyard with Mickey

Mickey's Backyard BBQ outfit

Mickey's Backyard BBQ outfit

Mickey's Backyard BBQ outfit

One of the things I’m most excited for on my WDW trip next month is going to Mickey’s Backyard BBQ! Buffet food and dancing with Disney characters – what is there not to be excited about?!

With a slight cowboy theme in the air, putting together an outfit was pretty easy, and a combination of some of my favourite things: flannel shirts and denim shorts. Keeping with Mickey’s black, yellow and red colour scheme, it had to be a classic red shirt, paired with the Oh Boy v-neck tee from The Happiest Fitness Coand I customised my classic Levi shorts with iron-on patches that I bought from Depop. Add some Converses and my favourite black sparkly ears from Tokyo Disneyland and I’m ready to line dance with the gang!

If you’ve ever been to Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, let me know what you thought of it, I’m so excited!

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My February Park Bag

What's in my WDW park bag

I’ve never written a post about what I actually carry with me when I’m in the Disney parks, and seeing as I now have the most adorable new park bag – this pastel beauty of a backpack from Pack the Magic – I’m after any excuse to show it off! I usually carry a much bigger backpack, and find myself filling it with all sorts of rubbish that I never actually need or use, so I’m challenging myself to keep a more minimalist approach on my trip in February.

First off, I ALWAYS carry a notebook. This isn’t just a park thing, I carry a notebook with me everywhere I go, but on Disney trip I’ll have copies of all my booking references and timings in my notebook just in case, and its also handy in case I feel the need to jot anything down – blogger problems. Another absolute must is, of course, my camera. I’d normally have my SLR, but in the interest of keeping things light, I’m taking my new-ish Sony A5000 compact, for which I’ve ordered a telescopic lens for parade shooting. I’m finding it hard to get used to, what with preferring to use the viewfinder rather than display screen, but its a fab little camera and I look forward to playing with it more

Inside my magical backpack, you’ll also find my bag of pixie dust. This will have anything from makeup to painkillers and plasters, spare hairbands and suncream – whatever might be needed at a moment’s notice! I also like to keep my passport to hand, just in case I need any ID, as thanks to the wonders of Magic Bands, I don’t need to carry my purse at all, saving me the hassle and worry of losing it.

Finally, the last few bits of tech to keep the magic going! My powerbank can be a godsend should I ever be caught out without charge on my phone or camera, and I try to always remember a spare memory card just in case anything should happen to the other, or y’know, I fill it up with parade photos..

What’s in your park bag?

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Tea with Pooh

Another year of Disney trips has begun, yay!!

I feel like I’ve been looking forward to my trip next month forever, so now I can officially say that its this year is so exciting!

Hot Topic Pooh outfit

Hot Topic Pooh dress

I really wanted a pretty dress to wear on the day that we’ll be visiting the Grand Floridian for breakfast, and I found this beauty on Hot Topic. The pattern is so pretty and subtle, and its got a lace up back which is a nice little detail too! Instead of classic ears, I’ve paired the dress with my yellow bowler hat – technically they’re cat ears, but I think they’ll work as bear ears too!

I’m extra excited to explore the Grand Floridian; I’m not sure I’ve ever actually been inside it before and its such a dreamy place. I predict hundreds of photos will be taken, and I have no shame about that!

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Amigo Donald

Its another Disney outfit day, and today’s is a Disneybound with a slight difference!

My love of Donald Duck is well known among my friends, and I’ve done a Donald-bound before, but something I’ve never done, and always wanted to do, is meet Donald in his Mexican pavilion outfit at Epcot, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do this trip!

Mexican Donald Disneybound

The inspiration for this whole outfit actually came from the ears, which were made by the lovely Maggie from Elephant and Mouse, who I was lucky enough to meet back in January, and thus the outfit idea was born!

I found the skirt in the H&M sale months ago – its a little large, but it matches Donald’s poncho so well, so what’s a little alteration! I’ll be pairing it with a blue top and my favourite yellow and white Converses, and the amazing fluffy ears to complete the look!

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Team Minnie

Every outfit post means I’m another week closer to my next Disney trip, and that makes me so excited!

Team Minnie Disney Outfit

I love a character breakfast, so I’m really looking forward to trying one I’ve never done before: Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Its hosted by Minnie Mouse and her friends, and who doesn’t love Minnie?

This outfit is two-fold. Firstly, the blue skirt matches the theme of the restaurant, and secondly, it reminds me of a cheerleaders skirt, so makes the Team Minnie t-shirt from Primark even cuter! I’m not sure if I’ll be wearing these ears with this outfit or not yet, but as they feature Minnie they’re kinda perfect for it!

Beach Club is my favourite resort, and hanging out on the Boardwalk after breakfast will be a dream!

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Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Tulle

I leave for Walt Disney World in 10 weeks. 10 WEEKS!!

Its become part of my trip countdown tradition to share the outfits I have planned, but this year I decided to try something a little different in the set up of these posts because a) it saves me having to go outside and take countless outfit photos and b) I’m hoping to get lots of photos of these outfits on the trip, and they’ll look much better in situ in the parks than they would in my back garden.

So instead, I’m gonna rock the flatlays!

Bibbidi-Bobbidi Tulle Disney Outfit

Day one of our trip is going to be super magical. We’ll be twirling down Main Street first thing on our way to breakfast reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table, so I’ll be leaving the glass slippers at home and opting for Converses instead, but I still want to be a princess nonetheless. Sarah’s planning a Rapunzel-bound which also involves a tulle skirt, so it was a perfect excuse for me to dig out mine again!

The t-shirt is from Redbubble (as you’re probably aware most of mine are!), and I made the ears to match – any excuse for new ears! I also always look forward to being able to wear my Alex and Ani bracelets again when I go on Disney trips – I think they’re so beautiful but I don’t like wearing them when I’m not in the parks.

I can just imagine the day being full of princess meeting, twirling and happiness, and I’m so excited!!

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February Disney Trip Update!

I did a little squeal yesterday as the countdown to my trip to Walt Disney World with Sarah dropped into double digits, eeek!

I always struggle between the 180 day ADR booking and the 60 day Fastpass booking because there’s not much to do in terms of planning in that time, so I generally use this time to sort out my plans in terms of what park on what days, and also my outfits for the trip, which is one of my favourite things to do! There is, however, something quite exciting that has happened..

Thanks to a bit of surprise Disney magic, we’re going to be extending our trip by one day, and we will be spending our last night in..

Disney's Polynesian Resort

Disney’s Polynesian Resort!

I still can’t really believe that this is happening, and its going to be such a perfect end to our trip! It came totally out of the blue, and its just making my excitement for this trip go through the roof!

Not quite so exciting, but equally as important, I’ve finally booked my flights for the trip. I got a really great deal on a British Airways flight through American Airlines, booked in the nick of time as the prices have rocketed since! I’m also well on the way to having all my outfits for the trip planned, and I’ve finally decided on my running costumes for the races: I’ll be running the 10K as Nala from The Lion King – an often forgotten princess! – and the half marathon as Chip from Beauty and the Beast, and making all my own costumes this year! I’ve also submitted all my proof of times for corral assessment.

 

Now we’re into the double digits, its not long til we can sort out Fastpass+ bookings, then its just a case of paying off our booking (which is on Boxing Day, ha!) and we’ll be on our way!

EEEKKKK

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Best Rest Rides at Walt Disney World

Speaking as a person who has not only had to do WDW parks on major jet lag, but also after being up since 3am and running a half marathon (hello RunDisney life), I know that there are always those days where you need to chill out, but also don’t want to miss out on any valuable park time, so I’ve got you covered!

Tomorrowland TTA People Mover

Magic Kingdom

TTA People Mover

Has anyone ever actually had to queue for PeopleMover? I don’t think I’ve ever been on it and not been allowed to ride around and around for ages because there’s no one else waiting. Its the perfect way to still experience MK while keeping your feet up.

Walt Disney World Railroad

One of my favourite things to do sometimes is just get on the train and ride a loop or two around the park!

Epcot

Ellen’s Energy Adventure

Hello 45 minute sit down! I will admit to drifting off while riding this one time..

Living with the Land

This educational little boat trip is one of my Epcot favourites; I love looking at all the plants and trying to spot hidden Mickeys, plus I normally follow it up with a trip to Sunshine Seasons for Mongolian beef and a red velvet whoopie pie!

Spaceship Earth

Its iconic Epcot, plus a nice relaxing trip through history and into the future!

Hollywood Studios

The Great Movie Ride

I don’t care if people think its a little cheesy, but its a nice gentle ride and I always like waiting to find out if I’m in a gangster or bandit car!

Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris

So I always try to make this a morning ride, but its the perfect way to ease into a day in the park, plus you never get the same experience twice!

What do you do on your down days in the parks?

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My Top 5 Most Underrated Places in Walt Disney World

It feels like forever since I’ve written a post about WDW, all the amazing other parks in the world have been busy getting in the way! But as it currently stands, my next Disney countdown is ticking towards my trip with Sarah in February, and I’m getting super excited to start properly planning again.

I know everyone has their special places in WDW, the places that they love over anywhere else, and we can’t possibly understand why not everyone shares our immense love for them, and here are mine:

1. The Boardwalk

Walt Disney World Boardwalk

It genuinely upsets me that there are a tonne of Disney World goers who have never discovered that little area of beauty that branches off of the World Showcase at Epcot. I love resorts, I love the peace and its just so damn pretty!

2. Japan

Epcot World Showcase Japan

Japan is definitely my favourite country on the World Showcase. The architecture is amazing and I love the huge shop of Japanese goodies; its so true to the country itself and it always gets me really excited.

3. Sleepy Hollow

Walt Disney World Sleepy Hollow

For starters, there are amazing waffles. For mains, the view of the castle is just stunning and its an awesome photo spot, plus its always been really quiet when I’ve eaten there. And for desserts, the waffles again..

4. Africa

WDW Animal Kingdom Africa

So often people overlook the incredible detail in Animal Kingdom, but I think this is truest in Africa. Disney Imagineers blow my mind.

5. Hollywood Boulevard

WDW Hollywood Studios

I know Hollywood Studios is considered a bit of a dunce park right now, what with all the development, but there’s just something beautiful about looking down the street and seeing the Chinese Theater at the end. It just feels like being transported to the era of classic movies and Hollywood glam!

Where are your favourite areas in WDW?

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The Ultimate Six Park Comparison

I’m not gonna lie, the fact that I visited all six of the world’s Disney parks within a 13 month period is probably one of my greatest life achievements, and I’m fully aware of how lucky I am to be able to have visited them at all! That said, there is a question that comes with this achievement which I hate: ‘what’s your favourite park?’.

I hate picking favourites, end of, but this is one I will never ever be able to answer, because every park is different and there’s no way they can be judged on the same level, so instead I’m gonna break down the park pros and cons, and hopefully give a proper and fair analysis!

Disneyland, California

Disneyland California

  • Number of parks: 2
  • Park yays:
    • Compact area – its only about 100m between the two parks, with Downtown Disney right outside
    • Lots of nearby offsite hotels, and easily accessible on foot
    • Plenty of random character interaction opportunities
    • Large Downtown Disney area including branded stores like Sephora and Lego Store
    • While temperatures can vary, rain is very rare!
    • Current shows and parades include: Mickey and the Magical Map, Frozen the musical and Fantasy Faire, Soundsational Parade
    • Parades and nighttime shows in both parks
  • Park nays:
    • Not many direct transportation options from LAX
    • No dining plan
    • During off-peak times, some performances and parades get cut-back to weekends only
  • Why this park is special to me:
    • Disneyland was the first park I visited as an adult, so with the exception of vague early childhood images, all my first proper Disney memories were made in Disneyland. It also makes me so happy knowing that this was Walt’s park, and this is where he walked and where the whole Disney park legacy began.

Walt Disney World, Florida

Walt Disney World

  • Number of parks: 4 plus 2 water parks
  • Park yays:
    • The most advanced Disney parks, with features like Magic Bands, Fastpass+ and My Disney Experience
    • So many entertainment options – something for everyone!
    • Amazing transportation links, including Magical Express to airport
    • Dining plan is great value for money
    • Current shows and parades include: Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo the Musical, Beauty and the Beast, Fantasmic, Festival of Fantasy
    • So many resort options!
  • Park nays:
    • Parks can get really packed during busy periods
    • So many strollers..
  • Why this park is special to me:
    • WDW is the ultimate Disney experience. If you stay onsite, you are completely encased in the magic, and reality and problems disappear!

Tokyo Disneyland, Japan

Tokyo Disneyland

  • Number of parks: 2
  • Park yays:
    • Local guests are so polite and considerate
    • Hardly any strollers or scooters
    • So many unique areas (basically the whole of DisneySea!)
    • Best merchandise of any Disney park!
    • Designated train station for transportation into Tokyo
    • Everything is clean and well kept
    • Current shows and parades include: Happiness is Here, Electrical Parade Dreamlights, Fantasmic
    • No Downtown area, but has Ikspiari, a large shopping centre with restaurants and Disney Store
    • Monorail link between the two parks
    • Lots of rare character meeting opportunities
  • Park nays:
    • Not many cast members speak English, and most shows are done in Japanese
    • Rather than Extra Magic Hours, guests staying in Disney hotels only get to enter the parks 15 minutes before other guests
  • Why this park is special to me:
    • Tokyo was my first Eastern Disney park, and I was just blown away with how much I loved it. DisneySea is just such a unique park, definitely one of  my favourite parks of all time, and I live for the merchandise!

Disneyland Paris, France

Disneyland Paris Spring 2016

  • Number of parks: 2
  • Park yays:
    • Designated train station for links to airport and Eurostar
    • Good range of hotel options, both on and offsite
    • Current shows and parades include: Mickey and the Magician, Frozen Singalong, Disney Magic on Parade
    • Lots of seasonal events eg. Swing into Spring and Halloween
  • Park nays:
    • Guests don’t stick to designated smoking areas
    • Walt Disney Studios park doesn’t have as much going on as Disneyland
  • Why this park is special to me:
    • DLP is my local park, I’m an annual pass holder, and I’ve made so many recent memories here, including my 21st birthday and my first Disney trip without my family back in April. I think the park has come such a long way in recent years and I can’t wait to celebrate the 25th anniversary next year!

Hong Kong Disneyland

Hong Kong Disneyland

  • Number of parks: 1 (for now!)
  • Park yays:
    • Designated train station for easy access from the city
    • While still being fairly close to the city centre, the area feels very secluded
    • Most cast members speak English really well
    • Current shows and parades include: Paint the Night parade, Festival of the Lion King, Mickey and the Wondrous Book, Flights of Fantasy
    • Fun twists on classic rides
    • Depending on the time of year and day of the week, the park can be really empty!
  • Park nays:
    • No offsite hotels nearby
    • Local guests use umbrellas for shade, so it can be hard to watch parades
    • No Downtown Disney area
    • Fastpasses only available for a few rides
    • Merchandise was quite expensive compared to other Asian parks
  • Why this park is special to me:
    • Hong Kong was the last Disney park I visit on my six park adventure, and I fell in love with it. I love how similar the park is to Disneyland California; its so pretty and classic!

Shanghai Disneyland, China

Shanghai Disneyland castle

  • Number of parks: 1
  • Park yays:
    • So many incredible new rides
    • Located really close to Pudong Airport, and also has a designated station on the city’s underground tube system
    • Disneytown is ride next to the park, and you can use the second entrance at the end to re-enter the park by Tomorrowland
    • Current shows and parades include: Tarzan the musical, Mickey’s Storybook Express, Captain Jack Stunt Show Spectacular
    • Just the most beautiful castle!
  • Park nays:
    • Local guests aren’t very into queuing, and lots will push past
    • Quite a bit of rubbish around the parks
    • Queues for Fastpasses can be longer than queues for some rides at times!
    • Currently still very much in a trial stage, with some technical problems still occuring
  • Why this park is special for me:
    • Being able to visit a brand new park within a month of opening was so special for me, and the experience was totally magical.

Wow, I really struggled writing this; I hate finding negatives in things! I’ll probably come back to this a million times and change and add things when they spring to mind!

What do you love about the parks you’ve visited?

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February Dining Plans!

Yesterday marked 180 days til my trip to Walt Disney World with Sarah (Belle’s Moments), and that means we had the excitement/stress of booking our dining reservations!

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Personally I think I’m so lucky to be friends with Sarah as we’re so like-minded on all things Disney, so choosing where we wanted to eat was a piece of cake as we both had the same must-dos, so once we’d decided on days, it was as simple as waiting until the dates opened up, and being able to share the load made everything so much easier!

So here’s what we’ve got:

Breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table

I’ve always wanted to eat inside Cinderella Castle, and the best part about breakfast is that if you book it early enough, you can get into the park before opening – hello empty Main Street photos!

Lunch at Teppan Edo

Although I ate here back in January, I loved it, so when Sarah asked if I’d be interested in going again I couldn’t say no!

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ

This I am so excited about! A dinner show with characters in country outfits, music, dancing and plenty of food – I can’t wait!

Yak & Yeti lunch

The food here looks so good and I’ve heard lots of amazing reviews!

Breakfast at Cape May Cafe

Not only is this restaurant in my favourite WDW resort, Beach Club, but its another fab looking character breakfast hosted by Minnie and her friends! It’ll be the perfect recovery meal from the Princess 10K in the morning!

Be Our Guest dinner

We got the infamous reservations! I cannot wait to have dinner in Beast’s castle, especially as I’ll be celebrating finishing the Princess Half Marathon and be adorned in medals!

Breakfast at Grand Floridian Cafe

I think the Grand Floridian resort is so beautiful, I’ve been dying to visit! I booked it for 9.20am in the hopes that we can watch the Magic Kingdom welcome show before jumping on the monorail and whizzing on round!

Dinner at Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room

We’re heading back to the UK for the night, in the hopes of getting to see the beautiful Milly, who’s currently out representing us Brits on the CRP, and I’ve never eaten here before so why not?

Be Our Guest lunch

As well as our dinner reservation, we also were sure that we wanted to eat lunch here as well; I’ve done Be Our Guest for lunch before and it was one of the best meals I’ve had in WDW so yay!

I’m so ready for our trip now! All we have to do is book our Fastpasses and that’s everything sorted, yay!

What are your favourite Walt Disney World restaurants?

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The My Disney Experience Mobile App*

It’s magic at your fingertips! Plan, capture, and share your Walt Disney World vacation using this official app from Disney!

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If you like visiting Disney as much as I do, this will definitely come in handy. Let’s take a closer look at My Disney Experience’s features:

Explore the resort with ease

The My Disney Experience Mobile App allows users to explore the Walt Disney World Resort using the interactive, GPS-enabled map. The map isn’t just a plain one that points users from point A to B; it’s fun to use as it’s filled with cute designs that shows guests where they can find certain attractions and restaurants.

In addition to its awesome directional features, the interactive map allows users to find Disney characters’ greeting locations and times. It also shows the time for fireworks and parades. How awesome is that?

Plan your vacation

The app allows users to buy theme park tickets with ease. Bought tickets are stored in the My Plans section where information can be shared with friends and family. An alert will go off when your trip to Disney is getting close.

Make your trip memorable

This is where the app truly shines. Users of My Disney Experience can preview, purchase, and share Disney PhotoPass photos and videos. To the uninitiated, PhotoPass is a tool that allows guests to view and purchase photos taken by Disney photographers online and at theme parks. Whenever visitors have their photos taken, they’re issued a PhotoPass, which has the web address and a 16-digit ID number printed on it.

Apart from PhotoPass, users will be able to shop for authentic Disney merchandise with quick links to the all-new Shop Disney Parks app.

Thanks to technology, Disney is able to reach out to more people. With this app, first-time guests of Walt Disney World will have a convenient and magical stay.  

Apart from making apps, Disney seems to be quite active in the creation of new games as well.  Aside from its Disney Channel that has integrated games, Disney also partnered up with Yepi and the Club Penguin page — sites where the latest Disney games are now hosted. In the past, Marvel, which is now owned by Disney, used to have games hosted on the Pocketfruity site but that came to a halt when Disney decided to adhere to its family-friendly policies and pull all games from gaming sites. All of Disney’s games are now suitable for players of all-ages both online and offline.

Give the app a go by downloading it either on iTunes or the Google Play Store!

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*This post contains guest content.

10 Reasons Magic Bands are Awesome

Technology is great sometimes. Its brought us Snapchat filters and 3D TVs, and if you’re a WDW goer, technology doesn’t get much better than your Magic Band.

Why Magic Bands are Awesome

‘Why are they so awesome?’, I hear you say. Well I’m glad you asked..

1. They’re your room key

If you’re staying on Disney property, say goodbye to the days of those plastic key cards that you could never put into the slot right the first time round.

2. They’re your credit card

Leave your wallet in the room, you can link your credit card to this colourful little accessory and not have to carry cash at all!

3. They’re re-sizeable

If your little ones find the band a little on the large side, you can remove the grey outer strip (like the red band in the photo!) to take away some of the bulk and make it more fitted to smaller wrists!

4. They’re customisable

As well as being able to choose the colour of your Magic Band, you can also purchase different style from the parks, or customise your own with stickers and cute little charms. Back in January, I turned Dad’s magic band into a monorail using My Fantasy Bands vinyl stick-ons

5. They’re collectable

If you stay in a Disney resort on every trip, you’ll get a new band every trip! Having a band in every colour is a dream of mine – not all the ones in the photo are mine!

6. They’re reusable

You can link bands from your previous trips to your new reservations! My lovely friend Sarah re-uses all of hers so she can match them to her outfits, ha!

7. They’re your Photopass

If you decide to buy a Photopass, or have a Memory Maker linked to your reservation, this can all be set up on your band for quick and easy photo zapping.

8. They’re your Fastpass

No more losing your little paper Fastpasses, its all saved to your band!

9. They’re waterproof

Yes! No having to worry about wearing them in the shower or the pool, so you can float around the lazy river worry free!

10. They make great souvenirs

Once your trip is over, the band is all yours to do with as you wish! I keep mine displayed in my bedroom!

When is your next Disney trip?

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More Disney Plans!

I very much doubt that me announcing more Disney trips is much of a shock to my regular readers anymore, but I just love sharing my plans with everyone!

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Now I’ve already shared my big plans for this year, including Shanghai, Hong Kong and Disneyland Paris, and with this year already packed with magic, I’m now starting to sort my 2017 adventures!

Brace yourselves.

I have already booked Walt Disney World for February with the lovely Sarah from Belle’s Moments, eek! We’re going to be staying at Port Orleans Riverside for 10 days to coincide with the Princess Half Marathon weekend, where I’m hoping to be doing the Glass Slipper Challenge – 10K Saturday and half marathon Sunday! I say hoping because race registration doesn’t actually open until next month, which is actually when I’ll be in China so fingers crossed I can get it sorted ok! So that’s one trip down..

Keeping on the race theme, in May I’m hoping to be able to go out to Disneyland for the Tinkerbell Half weekend, so that I can run the Pixie Dust challenge, and also qualify for my Pink Coast to Coast medal – fingers crossed that stays on into 2017! Right now nothing for this trip is planned; my parents might join me but it all depends on their plans for the year, but I’d love to go out for a week and maybe do Universal Studios out in LA too!

That’s it, right? NOPE

Hello September, hello Disney Cruise Line booking! Once again I’ve booked with Sarah for the 7 night Mediterranean trip, and what’s even more exciting than going with her is that another one of my absolute favourite people is booked on the same cruise with her family, so its going to be the most fun! I have done a cruise before, but not a Disney cruise and I think there’s gonna be a stark comparison between my previous cruise memories and this one! Sarah is a Disney cruise pro, so I’m hoping she’s going to show me the ropes, and I’m really interested in all of the stops we’ll be making on the way!

Three big trips, yay!

I also have my Disneyland Paris annual pass now, so I’m hoping to visit there a few more times this year and next, including the Halloween Soiree this year!

EEEEEKKK °o°

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Baking Magic – The Grey Stuff

If you’re in the know on Walt Disney World secrets, you’ll know that if you dine at Be Our Guest, you can order the infamous Grey Stuff from the song itself.

Photo courtesy of Amy from http://www.paintpotted.co.uk

You also might know that there’s already a whole bunch of copycat recipes for it on the internet, but if, like me, you’ve read them all, you’ll notice that a) they’re pretty much all exactly the same and b) they all involve ‘instant vanilla pudding mix’ which is prevalent in the US, but something that we don’t really have here in the UK, so this is where this recipe has come from today; a UK friendly, real ingredient version!

The Grey Stuff Recipe

1. Melt 175g white chocolate in a bowl over hot water, or in the microwave. While its melting, crush up 4-5 oreo cookies into a fine powdery crumb, then stir half of this into the melted chocolate. Pour this into a glass bowl and set aside.

The Grey Stuff Recipe

2. In another glass bowl, whisk 2 egg whites until they’re stiff, and fold this into the chocolate mix with a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Be fairly gentle so as not to beat out all the air!

The Grey Stuff Recipe

3. Whisk 225ml double or whipping cream until fluffy and firm, then fold this into the mix and add the remaining oreo crumbs in. Looking pretty grey-t, right? (I’m hilarious)

The Grey Stuff Recipe

4. Put the mix into the fridge for about an hour to set, then scoop into a piping bag with a wide star nozzle, and pipe out onto your serving plates. Once you’re happy, get the plates back into the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

The Grey Stuff Recipe

Try it, it’s delicious!

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Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort

It’s been 3 months since Dad and I began our journey home from our incredible RunDisney trip, and I think its about time I told you what I thought of our stay at the resort!

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Location:

POFQ is right across the road from Epcot, which puts it pretty central to the whole WDW area. Because all of the RunDisney races start at Epcot, this turned out to be ideal for us, meaning we could afford another half an hour or so in bed!

As well as being able to get to Epcot and Hollywood Studios fairly quickly, the bus trip to Magic Kingdom was fairly short too, and you’ve got the added bonus of being able to catch the water taxi straight from the resort to Disney Springs! Its also only a short walk to Port Orleans Riverside on the river path if you fancy a bit of an explore!

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Layout:

I really loved how seemingly compact this resort is. The reception, concierge, shops and restaurants are all located in one central building, with the bus stops just outside, which is probably no more than a 5 minute walk from any given point in the resort, and the pool and laundry services are right in the middle too!

Set out like the streets of New Orleans, the room buildings are laid out around squares of pristine grass and cobblestone roads, each of which has a cute name like Rue de Baga!

Having stayed at Caribbean Beach back in 2014, where everything seemed like quite a walk away, this was such a nice, close-knit place to be.

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Rooms:

I’ve generally found that rooms in moderate resorts tend to be set up fairly similarly, but its the little touches that magic each resort unique! The mardi gras theme of POFQ is continued in the rooms with purple and gold accents, and classic little Disney details.

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Dining:

The main food court, Sassagoula Floatworks has a range of counters serving different quick service offerings, as well as takeaway pizza, ice cream and famous beignets!

There’s also Scat Cat’s Club by the reception area, a bar with live music, and Mardi Grogs by the pool.

Activities:

The pool at POFQ is quite something; its got this huge alligator slide and all sorts of poolside water activities for the little ones, as well as a hot tub for the grown ups. There’s also evening movies on the grass squares between the room buildings, and an arcade near the pool.

You can also use the river path to Port Orleans Riverside resort as a running track.

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Overall Pros:

  • Nicely compact, so you don’t need to worry about having to drag tired little ones back to your room late at night
  • Great proximity to pretty much everywhere
  • All amenities are central and easy to get to
  • Walking distance from Port Orleans Riverside
  • The whole theme is so much fun, and the cast members love going the extra mile to keep the mardi gras spirit alive!
  • Great pool for kids
  • Water taxi to Disney Springs
  • An ideal location for RunDisney race participants

Overall Cons:

  • During quieter times, park buses share a route with Riverside, so you may have a slightly longer ride than expected – this is generally only during the day, after park close there are normally separate buses

I think that pro/con list reflects pretty well on how I feel about this resort – we really liked it! I definitely think its my favourite moderate resort (so far!) and would happily stay here again!

Have you stayed at French Quarter?

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Baking Magic – Butterfinger Cupcakes

I’m just gonna prefix this post by saying that this is definitely more of a lazy person’s guide to the butterfinger cupcake due to the fact that my kitchen currently has a giant hole in the ceiling, so I’ve had to make do with the ingredients and space that I had!

Disney park cupcakes are the best, right? Apart from the fact that they’re often too big to finish in one go, YES. Today I’m taking on a Disney World classic, the Butterfinger cupcake.

Now Butterfingers are an American candy bar, and although you can get them in some UK retailers, I’ve made these as totally butterfinger-free butterfinger cupcakes. I feel like I’m totally cheating today, but I’m gonna pretend that I’m just making this recipe accessible for novice bakers.. BUT LOOK AT THEM YUM

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Right, here we go!

1. Start off with a batch of your favourite chocolate cupcake recipe, and to get a proper WDW experience, fill the cases a little more than you normally would! If you don’t have one, cream 125g butter and 125g caster sugar, add a dash of vanilla extract and 2 eggs, then mix in 20g cocoa powder and 105g self-raising flour and bake at 190C for 15-17 minutes. Ta-dah!

2. Once cooled, take a sharp knife and cut a hole into the centre of the cake, like a classic butterfly cake, and pop this to one side for the time being. It doesn’t matter if they get mixed up and you can’t remember which centre belongs to which cake.

3. (Cheat 1, coming your way). Well now you’ve got a hole in the middle of your cupcake that needs filling, so find either your favourite chocolate and peanut butter spread, or just a regular chocolate spread or frosting, and fill that hole all the way up. I recommend spread or frosting for this because its a little gooier than buttercream!

4. Those little cake centres, sit those back onto the cakes on top of the pool of chocolatey goodness to make a little peak.

5. Now grab some vanilla buttercream, or make some using a 2:1 icing sugar to butter ratio and a splash of vanilla extract. To replicate WDW buttercream, thicken it up with a bit more icing sugar – this will help it hold better when we load it onto the cake in a minute. Pop it into the fridge for a minute while we get a few more things ready.

6. Has anyone else noticed that basically every recipe I share involves crushing something at some point? Yep, we’re doing it again.. If you’re one of my American readers, grab yourself a butterfinger and crush it up nicely. UK friends, find yourself a peanut butter KitKat and a few cookies and stick them in a food processor to crumb them down nicely.

7. Grab your buttercream from the fridge, and using a knife or metal spatula, pile it onto your cupcake, then smooth it around the little peak you created earlier. Now grab your cupcake by its case and roll the buttercream mountain around in those crumbs until you get a nice covering.

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Is anyone else drooling?

Headed to the parks? You can get the original Butterfinger Cupcake from Starring Roles Cafe in Hollywood Studios!

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WDW Transportation Links

Walt Disney World spans a crazy 40 square miles, did you know that?

With that in mind, your holiday can double as a logistical operation as you maneuver getting from park to park and back again, especially if, like us, you don’t have a car to get about. Fortunately though, Disney have thought all of this through, creating a bunch of different ways to get about, and on our January trip, Dad and I did a lot of exploring via some of the lesser known transportation options, and today I’m going to share all these wonderful links with you!

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If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can get to and from the Magic Kingdom by buses that run direct from your resort to the park entrance

Monorail

The monorail services the Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Polynesian resorts, and also runs from the Transportation and Ticket Center if you do drive to the park.

Boat

Boats to and from the Magic Kingdom run from the Ticket and Transportation Center and Disney’s Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian resorts, as well as Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness Campground.

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Buses run regularly from all Disney resorts

Monorail

If you’re at the Magic Kingdom or monorail loop resorts, you can get the monorail to the Transportation and Ticket Center and transfer to a monorail that travels direct to Epcot’s park entrance

Boat

If you’re at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Yacht and Beach Club resorts or Swan and Dolphin hotels, you can travel by boat to Epcot’s International Gateway, where you can enter the park via the World Showcase

On foot

You can also walk to the International Gateway from any of the above resorts, and also from Hollywood Studios – a path runs between the two via The Boardwalk

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Resort buses regularly travel to Hollywood Studios and back again.

Boat

You can travel to the park by boats from The Boardwalk Inn, Yacht and Beach Club resorts and Swan and Dolphin hotels. You can use these boats as a way of transferring to Epcot too!

On foot

You can walk to Hollywood Studios from Epcot via The Boardwalk – during peak seasons, this walk is quicker than any other transportation!

Animal King

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Bus

Because its so far out from the other parks, the only way to get to the Animal Kingdom via Disney transportation is resort bus, and sometimes these routes travel to Blizzard Beach too.

Disney Springs

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Bus

All Disney resorts have buses that run to and from Disney Springs. If you want to travel from the parks, I recommend getting a resort bus to Saratoga Springs which is right next door, then you can either walk from there or catch a bus

Boat

A fun way to get to Disney Springs if you’re staying at Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter, Old Key West or Saratoga Springs (including the Treehouse Villas) is by boats that run every 20 minutes or so to and from the Marketplace jetty. You can also get boats from The Landing to West Side.

Love these Disney inspired underground logos? They were made by the lovely Lizi and you can buy prints here!

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Beaches and Cream

A gorgeous 50s style diner in Walt Disney World? Look no further than Beaches and Cream!

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Possibly the cutest little table service restaurant, Beaches and Cream is tucked away from the crowds at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, just a short walk from Epcot via the International Gateway, and across from the beautiful Boardwalk area.

Now when I say little, Beaches is probably the smallest table service place in WDW, so its definitely worth making those reservations as early as 180 days in advance, although if you’re just looking for one of their famous ice-cream sundaes, you can get one of them over the counter. The decor is the prettiest of pastels and 50s flair, complete with a neon jukebox, and the cast member uniform is the cutest too!

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As for the food offerings, its classic diner dishes: burgers, hotdogs, shakes and sundaes. Expecting American sized portions, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my burger wasn’t ginormous and came with a manageable amount of chips, and I could finish the plate without feeling stuffed beyond belief – very kid friendly!

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But its not burgers that Beaches is famous for, its those unbelievable ice-cream creations! There was no chance we were going to be able to manage the famous Kitchen Sink between the two of us, but we ordered a sundae each, and in hindsight, we could have shared one of those..

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This is a Fudge Mud Slide – ice-cream, brownies, hot fudge sauce with a heavy portion of whipped cream and a cherry on top! I probably only managed a third to half of it, but it was AMAZING, and given that this was our post-half marathon treat, I savoured every bite. (Oh great, now I’ve got a huge craving for this)

I definitely would eat here again, it was everything I had hoped it would be when I booked it! I’d also love to stay at the Beach Club Resort as well, its just all so beautiful!

Where’s your favourite place for a good ice-cream in Disney World?

What is there for Star Wars fans in the Disney parks?

We’ve all heard the news: Disney is going to be taking us to a galaxy far, far away with the announcement of two Star Wars lands, one in WDW and one in Disneyland. Now all we’ve got to do is wait another who knows how long for them to be completed. Ugh.

The problem is, with the recent release of Episode VII, Disney has just created a whole new generation of Star Wars fans eagerly awaiting the next installment, and of course these spectacular new areas of the parks, and, clever little people that they are, they have made sure that these fans are not disappointed! So what have they got going?

Star Tours

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Star Tours is a travel company offering destination holidays to everyone in the galaxy, but unfortunately due to some issues on Flight 1401, your trip turns into a bit of a mission, uh-oh! Its a 3D simulator, and the rides have been in the parks for a few years now, but those wonderful Imagineers have given them a little tweak!

Now including scenes from Jakku, and a message from Finn and BB-8, the ride actually has 50 different variations; there are slight differences in the opening scene, ending scene, and a few differences in the middle, and there’s no telling which one you’re going to get! In January, we had about 4 different experiences, I wonder how many times you’d have to ride before you saw them all!

You can ride Star Tours in Hollywood Studios in WDW or Tomorrowland in Disneyland.

Star Wars Launch Bay

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The Launch Bay is one of the newest Star Wars additions to the Disney parks. Inside you can see memorabilia from the movies, such as Rey’s speeder, collections of lightsabers and models of your favourite spacecraft, as well as being able to meet some of your favourite characters.. Was that a wookiee I heard?!

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As well as Chewbacca and Darth Vader, you might also run into a bounty hunter or have an encounter with a trading Jawa, and you never know, Kylo Ren might make an appearance!

The Launch Bays can be found in both Hollywood Studios and Tomorrowland in Disneyland

Jedi Training Academy

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If your little ones dream of joining the lightside, you can sign them up to take part in the Jedi Training Academy shows which happen throughout the day at both Hollywood Studios and Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. Its adorable; first each little Jedi gets given a robe and a lightsaber and are walked out to the stage area in a big procession. Once on stage, they’re taught a fight routine which they’ll suddenly have to use against Darth Vader or The Seventh Sister, and the moral of the story is to stand up to your fears.

Each show has limited spaces, so sign up early in the day to avoid disappointment. Your child must be present when you sign them up, and its open to all between the ages of 4-12.

Path of the Jedi

Path of the Jedi is a short film essentially telling an abridged version of the initial six Star Wars films, and a series of non-spoiler clips from Episode VII, summing up the history of the Jedi, and what the future may hold!

Hyperspace Mountain – Disneyland

Disneyland’s Space Mountain has been influenced by the force with a little revamp, and a lot more adventure! Its the same ride as before, but the addition of lights and projections within the ride have transformed this in-the-dark rollercoaster into a rebel mission against the galactic empire, and watch out for those tie-fighters!

Don’t forget to grab a Fastpass early in the day to shorten your wait time!

Force-filled Food

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Disneyland is ahead of the game with their Star Wars inspired food, dedicating a whole restaurant, Galactic Grill, to it. The menu includes First Order burgers and Darth by Chocolate dessert, and you can even have your meal served in a Han Solo in Carbonite bucket!

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Hollywood Studios has a good range of Star Wars cupcakes, but that’s about it for the moment!

Merchandise

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As expected, Star Wars merchandise is everywhere throughout all the parks, everything from clothing and accessories to comic books and annuals, you can even buy a 4ft tall Stormtrooper! As well as being in most shops, there are dedicated stores such as Watto’s Grotto and Tatooine Traders in Hollywood Studios and Mickey’s Star Traders in Disneyland.

Are excited for the new Star Wars lands?

Teppan Edo

If you’re looking for Disney dining with a difference, look no further than Epcot’s World Showcase for a huge selection of international cuisine, and after my trip to Japan last summer, I couldn’t wait to eat here.

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Teppan Edo shares its location in the Japan pavilion with Tokyo Dining, which is a regular sit-down dining experience, but offers guests a much more unique experience as your meal is cooked right before your eyes on the table in front of you!

Each table sits eight people, so as a party of two, we were sat with another family – small groups be prepared for this – but we were so immersed in the experience that it was totally fine, even though the other family was a little dramatic at times..

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We ordered our drinks and starters first, which were brought out to the table really quickly while we waited for our chef to arrive. I had ordered assorted tempura which I shared with Dad, who had ordered sushi which was prepared by the chef when she arrived.

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For the main course, all of the dishes had the same udon noodle and vegetable base, and then you chose the meat – steak, shrimp, chicken, swordfish or a combination – or the vegetarian option, and then they also come with a bowl of rice and a selection of dipping sauces. Our chef prepared the noodles and vegetables on the hot plate in front of us, while simultaneously cooking each of the different meats to perfection AND performing tricks like making an onion volcano; it was completely amazing to watch, and it was delicious!

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Now a few things I will mention if you’re thinking about eating here:

  • Firstly, this is an experience that takes time – it was maybe half an hour to 45 minutes before our main course was served, not that you noticed the time, but if you’re starving hungry I can imagine the wait would be a little torturous!
  • They don’t offer any substitutions – one of the dramas of the family we were sat with was that one of the girls was super fussy and wanted regular steamed rice instead of the rice on the menu, and unfortunately that couldn’t be accommodated, so double check the menu before booking with fussy eaters.
  • As well as being sat with other people if you’re a small group, if you’re a group larger than 8, you will probably be split between two tables.

Now all that said, it was one of our favourite meals of the whole trip – 100% unique! If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, it counts as a table service meal, and if not you’re looking at about $40pp excluding tax and gratuity. Oh, and don’t forget to make those reservations 180 days in advance to avoid disappointment!

What’s your favourite World Showcase pavilion?

Dressing for Walt Disney World in January

Die hard Disney-goers like myself rarely visit the parks without carefully coordinated outfits, complete down to the matching Mickey ears; its probably one of my favourite parts of trip planning. I like to believe that if I have one skill in life, its putting together a good Disney outfit, and lord knows I’ve got the wardrobe for it!

Now if you’re visiting WDW any time from March-November, you can rest assured that it will be warm, if not stonking hot, and while there may be rain, its Florida rain – big, heavy and warm raindrops that will dry within minutes of the sun reappearing – so you can still wear what we here in the UK consider to be summer clothes without having to worry too much, and therefore booking a trip for early January posed a slight conundrum for me.

Being Florida, it was always gonna be warmer than it was here in Bournemouth, I could count on that for sure, and after looking up average temperatures in Orlando, I quickly discovered that it would be about the same as a cooler summer day here in England, around 18-20°C, and that became my starting point.

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Long story short, you know those summer evenings when you might warm up an outfit by throwing on a cardigan or a pair of tights? Yep, that’s essentially it right there. I spent pretty much every day in tights and dresses or skirts and shirts, chucked a cardigan on top of whatever I was wearing, and maybe a jacket on cooler days.

We looked a little silly compared to some people; so many people were wrapped up in hats and scarves, but some (including the locals) its pretty cold compared to what they’re used to!

When is your favourite time to visit Walt Disney World? °o°

My Disney Trip Haul!

I’m home, I’m jet-lagged, and something I always hate about coming home from holidays is the dreaded unpacking of the suitcase, am I right?

What made it a little more bearable for me today though was knowing that my case was full of Disney goodies, and who doesn’t love a good haul post?!

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Now a fair amount of this is RunDisney stuff, so that’s where I’ll begin!

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To start off, our medals and race shirts were all included in the entry fee; for the 5k it was just a regular cotton t-shirt, and the 10k, 2 halfs and Rebel Challenge shirts were all long sleeved performance tops. The medals are all 100% awesome, and pretty chunky – weighing just under a kilo for all six!

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As well as our free shirts, we picked up a few extra goodies at the RunDisney expos. To surprise Dad, I had pre-ordered the limited edition WDW race weekend jackets for both of us, and we both ended up wearing them for the majority of the rest of our trip because they were so nice and warm! We also got a Coast to Coast shirt each, because you only get a medal for completing it, and also the Rebel Challenge ‘I did it!’ t-shirts, which also had a map of the courses we ran on the back, then I got a couple of headbands – two WDW half marathon ones and a Rebel Challenge.

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If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I was pretty desperate for a pair of the limited release New Balance trainers, so of course I was super psyched to get my hands on a pair of the Red Carpet Minnie Mouse ones, which also came with a pair of gold shoelaces and clip on bows.

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I was pretty restrained in only buying two mugs, (I had my eye on quite a few!) but Chip was top on my list, and I fell in love with the pastel Disneyland beauty. Obviously I bought the first Cogsworth I found because I had to bring him home with me, although I discovered mine is missing his pendulum yesterday when I unwrapped him, so fingers crossed the lovely Disney team with magic up a new one for me!

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I’m a huge collector of Vinylmations, and somehow came home with 9, oops! I did get two of them at Disney’s Character Warehouse, the outlet store, for only $3 each so that was a bonus.

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Isn’t my new BB-8 dress amazing?! Its by Her Universe, but was sold all over the parks and Disney Springs, and I’m obsessed. I actually wore it to Hollywood Studios one day, and bumped into some Stormtroopers, totally panicked and said ‘this isn’t the droid you’re looking for’..

And lastly, I was really lucky to finally meet the lovely Maggie from Elephant and Mouse, who was staying in the same resort as us and was kind enough to meet me with an order of ears so I didn’t have to pay international shipping! I got two different fluffy Donald Duck pairs, and a pretty purple galaxy pair. She makes incredible ears, so go and visit her Etsy shop here!

Oh, and not forgetting this cutie!

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We came home with a family set!

Are you heading to Disney anytime soon?

°o°

WDW Day 9 – and onto Disneyland!

Today we said goodbye to the Magic Kingdom *sobs*

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After a quick run, and fighting with our suitcases before checking out of French Quarter, we headed into the Magic Kingdom; overnight all the Christmas decorations had disappeared, so Main Street USA was looking a little bare. First up was Pirates of the Caribbean, followed by breakfast at Liberty Square Market, then Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain and the TTA People Mover before our Haunted Mansion Fastpass time.

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With some time before our next Fastpass, we wandered back into Fantasyland and caught the railroad, doing a full loop of the kingdom, before getting on an entirely different train: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. High speed rides out of the way, we stopped off at Pinocchio Village Haus for lunch.

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A final ride on the carousel, and it was back to French Quarter to catch the Magical Express to the airport, and a 5 hour plane journey and a drive to Anaheim, and we’ve just checked into our hotel! We’re now 3 hours behind Florida time, so 8 hours behind UK, and off to bed for us!

WDW Day 8!

Today was our last full day in the parks, can someone tell me where that time has gone?!

The plan was to have a little bit of a lie-in, then get to the Magic Kingdom for the rope drop. Well, we missed the rope drop, but we did get to do Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder and Space Mountain all within the first hour of park time, so that was pretty impressive in any case! Fast rides out of the way, we stopped at Sleepy Hollow for breakfast: fresh fruit waffle sandwiches in the sunshine, right next to the castle as the first Dream Along with Mickey show was on – kinda perfect, am I right?

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After our late breakfast, we caught the monorail to Polynesian Village; the lobby was under construction on our last visit, so we were curious to see the changes for ourselves, and it made the perfect stop to hop across to Hollywood Studios for the afternoon. First on the agenda was Star Wars Launch Bay to hang out with Chewie and Darth, and we even got to see a rogue Jawa hanging around! After another Great Movie Ride (gangster this time, in case you were wondering), we finally caved and bought ourselves a BB-8 sipper cup each as well as some popcorn to see Beauty and the Beast live on stage.

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After the show, we headed across to Star Tours, but as we were a little early for our Fastpass slot, we decided to watch the Jedi Training Academy show, which was pretty adorable. You might have caught my tweet about how it’s been updated to include some TFA stuff, but we asked a CM today and it turns out there are 50 different variations of the simulation, crazy!

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Next up some Muppet Vision 3D, followed by late lunch at Studio Catering Co, then One Mans Dream (all the feels!) before out Tower of Terror Fastpass. You may have heard me talk about my love/hate relationship with this ride before, and it’s pretty simple: I hate waiting for the first drop, after that I’m totally cool, and it works fine because I know that it doesn’t drop until you reach the top and look out over the park. Nope, not this time! The first drop was done totally in the dark; I felt betrayed, but at least it was over. After that we made our way to Fantasmic nice and early because of our Fastpasses, and to avoid the mad rush that happens so often. It was magical as per, when Mickey comes out on the boat as Steamboat Willie..

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After the show, we made our way to our favourite spot to watch Symphony of the Stars for our last time this trip. It was no less magical the second time; you can physically feel the bangs pass through you!

Tomorrow is our last day here (waa!), but I’m getting so excited to return to Disneyland!

WDW Day 7!

Well that’s Four Park Challenge off my bucket list!

We started this morning with Extra Magic Hours in Animal Kingdom, and first stop was obviously Expedition Everest – did you catch it on Periscope? Rollercoaster out of the way, we stopped off at Creature Comforts (the AK Starbucks) for hot drinks – yes it was that cold – and breakfast pastries, then onward to Kilimanjaro Safaris where we got to see two baby white rhinos playing, eek! We decided that for our challenge, we would get photos with Mickey at each of the parks, so we stopped off at Adventurers Outpost to see him and Minnie before catching a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge to park-hop.

From AKL we transferred onto a bus to Hollywood Studios, where we first stopped off to see Mickey, this time in his classic Sorcerers Apprentice costume. On a character meet roll, we also got a selfie with a green army man, and went to see Mike and Sully, but as we’re headed back to Studios tomorrow, we decided not to queue for any rides.

Now midday, we caught another bus onto Wilderness Lodge, for a quick look around but also so we could transfer to the Magic Kingdom by the boat that runs direct from the resort, handy right? Again, first things first, we went to see Mickey in Town Hall Theater, then grabbed lunch at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Would you believe we’ve never done Astro Orbiter before? Well we have now! With that experience under our belts, we got a spot near the castle for Festival of Fantasy, which was just as magical as it always is, and finished up out MK time with an obligatory Its a Small World.

 To throw another form of transportation into the works, we obviously had to take the monorail across to our final park, Epcot, and actually it wasn’t Mickey we went to first, it was Baymax. Yes again, no we don’t care. Mickey was next, at the Epcot Character Spot, then we went across to Journey into the Imagination. We had a Fastpass, but there wasn’t much of a line to bypass! Not quite hungry yet, we stopped off to watch Circle of Life in The Land, before dinner at Sunshine Seasons, probably my favourite quick service in the whole of Walt Disney World. From there we went to Spaceship Earth for our Fastpass, but again there was no line so we didn’t even bother scanning them. With time before the fireworks, we figured a 40 minute wait at Test Track (which we discovered a love for the other day) would keep us warm and indoors, but we actually waited less than 10 before we got to the design stage, then another 10 before the ride itself. In fact, we ended up doing it twice! That took us right up to our last Fastpass for the day, for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, which was beautiful as always. It was pretty chilly, so as soon as the display was over, we joined the brisk hoard of people leaving the parks and jumped on our last bus: back to the resort!

How’s that for a busy day?

WDW Day 6!

I slept a solid almost 11 hours last night, and it was so good!

This morning our first port of call was a Disney Vacation Club viewing; we had been talked into going by a representative in Epcot a few days ago, and were mainly in it for the free food, Fastpasses and $50 Disney gift card! Don’t get me wrong though, it was interesting to look at!

From there, we headed outlet shopping at Orlando Premier Outlets, about a 10 minute taxi ride away, and snagged some mega bargains, including new Asics trainers and some Vinylmation from Disney’s Character Warehouse. After dropping our haul back at the resort, we caught the boat to Disney Springs for lunch and the Cool Down Party.

The Cool Down Party is basically a bunch of the stores and restaurants in Disney Springs doing discounts and special offers for anyone who ran this weekend, so long as you wear your medal! This meant we got 10% off lunch at T-REX, and I also got 15% off some goodies from Basin, yay!

Still with plenty of the afternoon ahead, we decided to catch a bus to the Walt Disney World Swan hotel, then the boat from there to Hollywood Studios, as we’ve never done that before, and we had no idea how quick a ride it was! Straight away we headed to Rock’n’Roller Coaster, and passed the hour wait using our DVC Fastpasses, then we managed to catch the last showing of Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular, getting to see some of the scenes we had missed the other day.

After that we did another Star Tours, and as luck would have it, the wait time for Toy Story Midway Mania was only 25 minutes, so obviously we were all over that, and in fact, we only waited maybe 5. With a little bit of time until the fireworks, we went back to the Star Wars Launch Bay to watch the film showing we had skipped before, then headed out to get a good view of the Symphony in the Stars fireworks.

Wow. I might go as far as saying it was the best firework display Disney has ever imagineered. Just phenomenal, the way they synced the fireworks to the music and how each rocket represented something.. I could go on but I won’t!

Instead I’m going to bed, goodnight!

PS. No photos from today, too busy seeing through my own two eyes!

WDW Day 5 and RunDisney Half Marathon!

Has anyone ever run a half marathon with a chest infection? No? Just me..?

Yep, today was the big day, and the cold I’ve been battling since arriving in Florida was rearing its big ugly head, manifesting in my chest making every single breath hurt. Throw in the stress of all this setting off the weird little heart palpitations I get from time to time after about 9 miles, and I was not exactly fighting fit..

But we did it. It was not a record time, and I couldn’t even muster a sprint finish, but it was still epic. Looking back on it, now 12+ hours later, it was even more epic, mainly because I can breath properly now but still! There was a tonne of great entertainment, the cheering crowds were incredible and some of the sights were phenomenal.

We started once again in the Epcot parking lot, and from there ran up to the Magic Kingdom, down Main Street USA and right into Tomorrowland, then into Fantasyland and through the gloriously lit castle, before heading through Frontierland and out backstage. We then took a fairly straight route back down towards Epcot, finishing up with a loop down to the World Showcase and back, and finally that magical finish line was in sight!

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To celebrate, lunch was at Beaches and Cream, and included an sundae the size of my face – not that I could finish it! From there we walked into Epcot via the International Gateway so we could catch a monorail to the Magic Kingdom ticket centre, then decided to get the ferry boat to the park from there.

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Despite exhaustion, we still packed a fair amount into our afternoon: Philharmagic, character meets, a ride on the train, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain etc, but the rain began to pour down so we didn’t fancy sticking around to get soggy on a Jungle Cruise, and having been up since 3am, we settled on an early return to the resort so we could get some washing done.

Hello bed..

WDW Day 4!

Today was a successful day!

After an early start yesterday, we had crashed out by about 8-8.30pm, putting us in good stead for my 5.50am alarm. No, this wasn’t another race alarm, this was so I could join the virtual queue for limited edition RunDisney New Balance shoes. Back to sleep for another hour or so, and we headed over to the expo for my allocated pick up time slot. Yes, I got the shoes, and Dad got a pair too!

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Our park for the day was Hollywood Studios, and when we arrived it was raining Florida-style – warm-ish but fairly heavy. We arrived in time for our Star Tours Fastpass, and were super excited to discover it’s been updated to include some TFA scenes now! Keeping on theme, we went to see Path of the Jedi, a new attraction essentially showing an abridged storyline of the Star Wars prequels, then a few non-spoiler clips from TFA, before running through the rain to catch a showing of the Indiana Jones Stunt Show Spectacular. The rain meant it was a little cut down for safety reasons, but it was still great!

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After our second Fastpass, for Muppet Vision 3D, we grabbed lunch at Pizza Planet, one of my favourite QS restaurants, themed after the Toy Story classic. Beauty and the Beast and The Great Movie Ride next, then onto our final Fastpass, the ever popular Toy Story Midway Mania, which had a 95 minute wait! Even with a Fastpass we waited maybe 15-20 minutes, and unfortunately Dad did beat me by a few points but never mind.. From there we caught the last performance of Lights, Motors, Action, followed by Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and from there the force pulled us towards the Star Wars Launch Bay..

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It was awesome! We met Chewbacca and Darth Vader, and despite queue times saying about 50 and 40 minutes, we did the two in less than an hour and they were perfect! The launch bay has taken over the old Animation Academy, which I was sad to see go, but it has most definitely been put to good use! Now dark, we had a little walk around in the hopes that the Osborne Lights might still be lit (not wishful thinking, the lights were all still up, just not lit), and made our way back to the resort to prep for tomorrow!

WDW Day 3 and RunDisney 5K!

3.55 was the dreaded alarm for this morning. First race day was here!

Why so early? Well for starters, the races are all super early, today’s being 6am, and to ensure we had enough time to get to where we needed to be, we had to be on a bus to Epcot by 4.30, yikes!

It wasn’t so bad really; we were in bed about 9pm last night so we got a solid amount of sleep, and we were just so focused on the event that tiredness didn’t factor at all. The bus took us from the resort to the Epcot parking lot where all the race start and finish lines are. It was a huge area – had to be for 20,000 participants – and just like the expo, it was seamless; we could see exactly where we had to go, there were no queues for anything!

We were in Corral C, which meant we were set off about 10-15 minutes after the first group, but we were right at the front which was awesome! The count went down, the fireworks were set off and off we went! The course took us around the side of Epcot from the parking lot, underneath the Test Track course and into the park through Mexico, before running around the World Showcase, down the stretch to Future World, a quick detour by The Land and back out of the park by Spaceship Earth and to the finish line!

After the race, we went through the classic routine of collecting medals, water, Powerade and a cute little snack box of crisps, Oreos, a banana etc, then to the only queue: the wait for the bus back to the resort!

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Quick shower, change and snacks and we were back at Epcot just after park opening. We started off with Spaceship Earth, then went to meet Baymax(!!!) before doing the new Pixar short films show, and Living with the Land before starting on the World Showcase, this time in daylight! For lunch we had a reservation at Teppan Edo, which was awesome, and we to let that settle before going on Test Track, we stopped at China to watch the acrobat display. After TT, we did our last two Fastpasses for the day: Character Spot and The Seas with Nemo and Friends, and totally exhausted from our early start, we headed back to the resort to recover!

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Did you catch us on Periscope?

WDW Day 2!

Good morning!

I say good morning because while it’s still the evening here, the time difference means it’s about 2am back home!

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Today was our Animal Kingdom day; we got up about 7ish, had a leisurely breakfast and got a fairly quiet bus to the park. Despite being earlier than opening time, we were let in to head down to the tree of life and wait for the remaining areas to open at 9am, before we joined the crowd making a beeline for Expedition Everest. Quite honestly, today was a really lucky day for wait times, and we hit all the big ticket attractions – Kilimanjaro Safaris, Festival of the Lion King, It’s Tough to be a Bug – with minimal waits, and pretty much walked into Flights of Wonder and Finding Nemo the Musical! In fact, despite having three Fastpasses booked, we only used one of them, for Dinosaur. We also went to hang out with Rafiki at Planet Watch for a little while.

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After feeling we were done for the day, and with the prospect of the races looming, we grabbed a cab to the ESPN complex for the RunDisney expo. Having no idea what to expect, I expected the worst: huge crowds, long waits, lots of pushing and shoving.. Nope. I honestly don’t think it could have been any easier. After picking up our bibs, then our race shirts and the commemorative jackets I had pre-ordered, all of which took maybe 15 minutes tops, we hit the main expo area. There were tonnes of great exhibitors with cool products, including the official RunDisney merchandise area, and the oh-so- popular New Balance, and we even got to meet Jeff Galloway, former Olympian and official ‘coach’ for RunDisney; it was cool, there was a selfie. Apart from a few little RunDisney bits, we didn’t really buy anything, although I’ve got my eye on a pair of the limited release New Balance shoes..

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From the expo we went back to French Quarter to drop our race stuff and hang out for a bit before we caught the boat to Disney Springs for a bit of light shopping and dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express, before calling it a day and boating back to the resort to get ourselves together and properly rested for the race.

So tomorrow is the 5k, which is really a no-pressure run, and it kicks off at 6am – 11am for my UK supporters. I’ll try and Periscope a bit of it, all depends on our wifi signal, but in any case, wish us luck!

WDW Day 1!

Ok Mouseketeers, we’re just coming to the end of our first day in the most magical place on earth, and you all wanna know what we got up to, right?

Thanks to jet lag, we were up well before the alarm was due, which meant we could sneak a little lie in before grabbing a snacky breakfast and jumping on a bus to the Magic Kingdom. We had the great perk of being allowed into the park before other guests, not because of a breakfast reservation, but because we were going on the Keys to the Kingdom tour, which began at 8.30am. Now the park didn’t open til 9am today, so Main Street was looking pristine and beautiful, before we watched the hoards of other guests descend.

The tour was incredible – a solid 5 hours long including lunch, and we got to see and learn so much, but we weren’t allowed to take any photos, waa! I’m also not going to go into any details due to spoilers (although I may write something on it another time).

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It was about 1.30pm when we finished up, so we headed into Adventureland to do Pirates of the Caribbean, which is one of my favourite rides. I think it was actually the longest I’ve ever waited to go on PotC in any park before, around 30 minutes. That was followed by the glorious feeling of skipping past a 2 hour long queue for Big Thunder Mountain because we had a Fastpass, then we waited for the Festival of Fantasy parade in Liberty Square. Its my all time favourite parade, and before now I’ve only ever watched it from Main Street, and honestly, Liberty Square didn’t do it the justice it deserves!

After fighting through post-parade masses we moved through into Fantasyland, where I picked up Cogsworth and Chip from Village Gifts (yay!) before going on Dumbo the Flying Elephant. From there we did a Carousel of Progress before going back to Fantasyland for our Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Fastpass, which you might have watched on Periscope!

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Starting to flag, and also feeling a little chilly, we walked through the now beautifully lit castle, and headed down through the shops of Main Street, before catching the early viewing of Main Street Electrical Parade from a great spot, thanks to a lovely cast member! A quick, and dare I say disappointing ride on Buzz Lightyear Spaceship Spin and we caught a monorail to Contemporary a Resort for our dinner reservation at California Grill.

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While initially booking so we could look out over the Magic Kingdom, we were actually seated at the opposite end of the restaurant, so we ended up seeing the Epcot fireworks, and also a bit of Fantasmic pyrotechnics, and the food was amazing!

Exhausted, full of food and content, we bussed it back to the resort. Catch you tomorrow!

RunDisney 2016: The Final Checks

We leave tomorrow. WE LEAVE TOMORROW.

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In 4 days time we’ll have finished our first race, 6 until our second. This time next week we’ll be celebrating the end of the first week at the Cool Down Party. ISN’T IT CRAZY?!

I wrote my first RunDisney post on January 28th 2015, and since then I’ve written 38 training updates, and it all comes down to the next two weeks. This is insane. Can you tell I’m excited?

This week was for tapering, the word that most runners simultaneously love and hate; the cutting down of training run distances to prepare your body for an upcoming race. As per usual, we ran three times this week: a 5k, a 7k, and another 5k, which we did today. The next time we run will be in Florida!

So we’re all packed, or at least I am at this stage in the day. Four running costumes, plus spares, and one pair of running shoes, because I only trust one pair of my shoes at the moment! I’ve got a roll of Dynamic Tape and spray for my knee, Dad’s stocked us up with painkiller gels galore, and of course I’ve packed probably too many pairs of Mickey ears, which means I must be ready!

Tomorrow is going to be crazy long, starting at 5am UK time with a 4 hour coach journey, a 9 hour flight and finishing in EST, so we will be categorically pooped by the end of it all, but I’ll be in Disney World and it will be 100% worth it.

If you didn’t catch it yesterday, you can read our itinerary here to see what we’ll be getting up to, and I’ll be live blogging every day! You can also keep up via Twitter, Instagram and I’ll be streaming some of our trip on Periscope, so be sure to follow me @lottiedoesdisney!

Are you ready for the fun to start? I AM

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My Disney Trip Itinerary!

You know who I love? Disney lovers.

My Disney friends just get me; instead of the classic ‘you’re going to Disney again!?’ that I get from my colleagues and non-Disney friends, whenever I’m getting ready for a trip, I know I’ve got a team of people that are just as excited for what I’m going to get up to as I am, and that always makes me so happy.

If you’re one of these people, you’re awesome.

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So given that I leave on Monday, I just thought I’d share our rough plan for our trip:

Monday 4th – arrive in Orlando, check into Port Orleans French Quarter. It’ll be quite late and we’ll be exhausted, so probably dinner and bed, maybe a quick trip to Disney Springs!

Tuesday 5th – Magic Kingdom day, starting with the Keys to the Kingdom tour, and ending with dinner at California Grill.

Wednesday 6th – Animal Kingdom, then over to ESPN Wide World of Sports for the Run Disney Expo where we’ll be picking up all our race packs, eek!

Thursday 7th – RunDisney WDW 5K at 6am, followed by a day in Epcot with lunch at Teppan Edo

Friday 8th – Hollywood Studios, and an early night..

Saturday 9th – RunDisney WDW half marathon at 5.30am, yikes! We’ll be recovering with lunch at Beaches and Cream, then heading into the Magic Kingdom to celebrate our first week of races being over!

Sunday 10th – start the day with a recovery swim, then spend some time in Disney Springs for the Run Disney Cool Down Party. We’re gonna need some down time!

Monday 11th – after a day of rest, Monday we’ll be attempting the Four Park Challenge, wrapping up with a Fastpass for Illuminations at Epcot!

Tuesday 12th – a bit of Epcot in the morning, and over to Hollywood Studios for the afternoon, finishing with Fantasmic!

Wednesday 13th – we’ll be saying goodbye to WDW in the Magic Kingdom, before we head to the airport for our flight to LAX. We’ll be arriving pretty late again, and checking into the Paradise Pier hotel in Disneyland.

Thursday 14th – we’ve got to go to the RunDisney expo to pick up our race packs and park tickets before we go into Disneyland!

Friday 15th – breakfast on Main Street USA, then we might hop across to California Adventure.

Saturday 16th – RunDisney Star Wars 10k first thing, then more park time!

Sunday 17th – RunDisney Star Wars half marathon, and we’re done with all our running, YAY! The rest of the day will probably be spent in California Adventure, and I’m hoping we can meet up with my lovely friend Nancy in the park! To end our trip, we’ve got a dinner booking at Ariel’s Grotto and preferential seating for the World of Color show!

Monday 18th – as we’ve only got a 4 day park ticket, today will be for outlet shopping and hitting up Walmart before our flight home in the evening, then Tuesday we’ll be back on British soil..

  I’M SO EXCITED!!!

I’ll be live posting the whole trip, hopefully everyday, and don’t forget to keep up with me on Twitter (@lottiedoesblog) and Instagram (@lottiedoesdisney)! I’ll also be trying my hand at Periscope (@lottiedoesdisney), so give me a follow for our live streams!

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My Disney Trip Shopping List

No big deal or anything, but this time next week I’LL BE IN DISNEY WORLD!!!!!

I am 100% too excited to think about anything other than Disney at this stage, and we all know how much I love planning right(?) so I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m gonna blow my spending money, and today I’m going to share some of the pieces I’m hoping to pick up on my trip!

Cogsworth clock and Chip mug

When we were in Disney World back in 2014, I was desperate for one of the newly released Chip mugs, but they were sold out everywhere waa! Now they’re not as new and Disney have picked up production, hopefully I won’t have any problems picking one up! The problem might be with Cogsworth, who was only released a few months ago, but I’m determined to bring him home with me to go with Lumiere, who I bought in Disneyland Paris.

I have a few Alex and Ani bracelets already, all bought on eBay; I have a Rapunzel one, as well as 3 of the 4 WDW park ones, so I need Epcot to complete my collection, and I might see if I can pick up the Disneyland ones in California too!

Disney parks are the only places where I actually like Starbucks, and I’ve been kinda lusting over the park ‘you are here’ mugs, but at $15 a pop, I may rethink that once I get there!

Back in 2014 I bought the Thomas Kinkade Tangled box canvas; it was beautiful and although a little pricey, but it meant something for me to be able to buy it. I’d love to get another one, but I don’t know how I could choose!

I’m also going to be keeping some money aside for the RunDisney Fitness Expos. They partner with New Balance to release limited edition trainers for the events, as well as having a bunch of exhibitors selling cool stuff, so its an excuse for me to do some more shopping!

And honestly, I think that’s it for me! Well, in terms of planned purchases anyway, no one with a credit card can resist Disney merch really!

Do you plan what you want to buy on your Disney trips?

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January Disney Trip – What’s done, and what’s left!

Would you believe that yesterday marks exactly 8 weeks until Dad and I leave for Florida, kick-starting our awesome RunDisney tour of Walt Disney World and Disneyland California? Well I can’t! I’m beyond excited; its so close I can practically taste the Mickey waffles!

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Being in the last stages of preparing, there’s been lots to do these last few weeks, so this is where we are:

• Our WDW stay has been 100% paid off

• We’ve checked into our hotel online, and personalised our Magic Bands

• We did our ADRs at the 180 day mark, so they’ve been long sorted, but last week I had the nasty early morning alarm to book our Fastpasses!

• We’ve booked our spot on the Magical Express

• Our coaches both to and from the airport are sorted

• I’ve got two out of four running costumes ready

We do, however, still have a few things left to do:

• Pay the final balance of our California booking

• Get our American visas – kinda super important!

• Dining reservations for California, as they can’t be made until 60 days prior

• Sort out car hire in California

• Get packing!

We’ve only got 55 days to wait! Do you have any Disney trip preparation rituals?

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Friday Favourite Five – Instagrammers of Disney World

I spend WAY too much time on Instagram, and at least 90% of the time I’m looking at Disney stuff, with some of my all time favourite accounts being those of Disney World goers, whether they’re Cast Members, Annual Passholders or just regular visitors, these are my top five Instagrammers of WDW:

1. @ferdalump

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I got tagged by a few people to share 20 facts about myself, so here you go: I'm 3 years old ✨I have an annual pass to Disney and we go about once or twice a week (sometimes just for an hour or two because we live close)✨I was born in Florida ✨The first time I went to Disney was my 1st birthday. ✨Mommy made my first costume (Harley Quinn) before I was born.✨I had my second costume when I was 10 days old ✨The first Disney movie I watched and really had a reaction to was Tangled. ✨If asked, I say Aurora is my favorite Princess and she was the very first Princess I ever met ✨I LOVE books and always have to take one to bed with me ✨I love horses ✨I'm scared of spiders ✨My best friend is 'finger' who I talk to all of the time. Finger also has a brother named 'Brother' ✨I love playing with my doctor kit and love to play 'check-up' ✨I have a lot of boyfriends, but Anakin Skywalker is my favorite.✨I love mini M & M's but I will not eat red ones. ✨I'm named after Lois Lane (but Mommy and Daddy also loved the characters named Lane on both Gilmore Girls and Mad Men.) ✨I love music and watching music videos ✨I love painting (on paper, my nails, anything!) ✨I have a fish named Beast and a dog named Tater✨ I'm very detail oriented and if a costume is missing a detail (a hat, gloves, etc) I let Mommy know about it. (And I'm not sure if those who tagged us wanted my facts or Mommy's so she may post her's on her IG later today.) 😊PC: @disneymint 💕

A post shared by Lane's Mommy and Daddy (@ferdalump) on

Princess Lane has very quickly become a Disney World superstar; the whole internet follows and loves her, and I’m definitely no exception! In fact, meeting her is on my Disney Bucket List.

2. @disneyworlddelights

Probably the most talented photographer ever, I fell in love with this account after stumbling across her Festival of Fantasy shots, and I’m continually amazed by every new photo!

3. @disney_frump

The Disney World adventures of a beautiful DCP cast member; so sweet and pretty, a real Disney princess!

4. @reallifedisney

Another WDW cast member, Taylor is the perfect combination of positivity, sass and Goofy loving!

5. @thedisneychicks

The Disney Chicks is a combination of two amazing accounts, @thedisneyworldgirl and @lifeatdisneyworld, both of which I love.. Oh, and they’re a mother-daughter pairing! I also love keeping up with these girls on Periscope!

Are you an Instagram nut? Follow me on @lottiedoesdisney!

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Friday Favourite Five – WDW Table Service Restaurants

It always amazes me how unique every dining experience at Disney World is. Sure, you sometimes might find yourself eating similar meals in a few, but every table in every restaurant gives you a totally different memory!

On our last trip, we tried to fit in as many table service meals as our dining plan would allow, and we had some incredible meals, but for now, here’s my favourite five:

1. T-REX

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If you’ve never been, imagine Rainforest Cafe, but instead of wildlife, its dinosaurs that run the show! Yep, dinner, dinos and delicious food; we had an awesome time here.

2. Tusker House

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Probably one of the best meals from our last trip! We made this booking following a recommendation from friends, but had no idea what to expect, so when we walked into a restaurant with incredible decor, a vast range of amazing food and character visits, we were blown away.

3. Crystal Palace

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You cannot go wrong with Crystal Palace. Magic Kingdom, check! Pooh and friends, check! Buffet including Mickey waffles, check!

4. Sci-fi Dine In Theater

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It probably doesn’t get more unique than eating dinner in a classic car and watching old movies on the big screen!

5. Chef Mickey’s

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A Disney World classic, and a great excuse to ride the monorail across from the Magic Kingdom. Fill your plate with grub, and get your napkins ready..

What are your favourite table service restaurants?

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180 days to go!

Can you believe it? We’re already at the 180 day mark! So..

Did I get my reservations you ask?

YEP.

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I was a bit back and forth between whether I should make them by phone or online; reservations open at 7am Eastern Time, which was midday here in the UK, but I thought I’d be a little cheeky and try and see if they opened earlier online, to no luck.. at first!

Yeah ok, I knew I was never gonna get away with it hours early, but as I was waiting for the clock to hit 12pm to dial the reservation line, I hit refresh on my browser at about 11.40 and BOOM, I was in!

Top priority was California Grill – its a fairly fancy place, very popular with regulars, and Dad really wanted to eat here, so any time would have been fine, but for me it was key to get a time that puts us there in time to watch Wishes from the viewing platform, and I’ve only gone and done it!

Our other booking scores were Teppan Edo and Beaches and Cream, both for lunch on the days we’ll be running in the morning – key refuelling!

Tomorrow, with any luck I’ll be booking us onto the Keys to The Kingdom Tour, and then we’ll be all set until Fastpasses become available in November!

EEEK

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ADR Planning

Now that we’ve bypassed the 200 day mark, the next big milestone in trip planning is 180 days to go, because that means we can start making our Advanced Dining Reservations – I wrote a proper guide to this last year.

Due to our trip being (supposedly) primarily about fitness, Dad and I made the decision not to upgrade to the Disney Dining Plan, which includes table service, and instead just stick with the Quick Service Plan that came free with our booking, so we’re not actually going to do so many table service meals, but there are a couple that we’ll be hoping to snag when our reservations open up in July:

1. California Grill

Dining room of California Grill

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California Grill is inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort, with views of the Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon, and Dad really wants to eat here so I’m hoping to snag reservations for the first proper day of our trip. Ideally, I’d love to get a time that means we’ll be able to watch Wishes while we eat, but I’m not fussy!

2. Teppan Edo

Rosewood tables, rice-paper light fixtures and an image of Mt. Fuji embellish this restaurant’s interior

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Located in Japan around the World Showcase, Teppan Edo is a unique dining experience as chefs prepare your meals before your eyes! With any luck, after our upcoming trip to Japan, we’ll be pros at the cuisine!

3. Beaches and Cream

Colorful dining area of Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney's Beach Club Resort

Picture from the Disney World website

I’m really excited about the chance of eating here, I really wanted to on our last trip and we never got the chance. Its part of Disney’s Beach Club Resort, and famous for The Kitchen Sink dessert, but I don’t think Dad and I will be able to tackle it between the two of us!

On top of these, there are loads of Quick Service restaurants that I’m excited to try out, and that’s before even thinking about the restaurants at Disneyland, so I think its a good job we’re gonna be running so much!

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Caribbean Beach Resort

I’m FINALLY getting round to writing my review of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, a whole 9 months after our stay!

Location:

Caribbean Beach is basically bang-slap in the middle point of Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney, so after a late night in the parks, or exploring the nightlife of Downtown, you can enjoy the bonus of a short bus ride back to bed, but it does mean its quite a long haul to and from the Magic Kingdom!

It does, however, mean you are lucky enough to be able to catch the fireworks from both Epcot and Hollywood Studios from pretty much anywhere around the lake, and pretty much all of the many swimming pools!

Layout:

The resort is centred around Barefoot Bay, a huge lake surrounded by beaches and palm trees, and the rooms are split into six villages, each representing a different Caribbean island, and each with their own swimming pool at the centre, and own stop for the buses into the parks.

The resort’s reception is actually a little way away from the rooms themselves, on the other side of another small lake, so a bit of a trek for those staying at the other side of the resort, but there is an internal shuttle bus that runs around the outer rim of the resort.

The main hub of the resort is Old Port Royale, with its many food counters, souvenir shop, guest services and table service restaurant: Shutters. Just outside of Old Port Royale is the main swimming pool of the resort, equipped with towers and slides, perfect for families!

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Rooms:

We stayed in a standard room, which was nice enough considering we didn’t spend much time in our rooms at all. The rooms are equipped with a fridge, which was great for keeping snacks and drinks in, and there were two sinks, ideal for families.

If I’m being totally honest, I was a little disappointed with Mousekeeping.. When we first arrived there were no toiletries in the room, and it took a few calls and about a day and a half before this was rectified.

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Dining:

Old Port Royale has a number of food counters, serving a selection of food from snacks to burgers to pizza to burritos, and a great range of breakfast options.

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Activities:

As well as the seven swimming pools around the resort, there are endless activities on offer from evening movies by the pool and campfire marshmallow toasting, to bike rentals and pirate adventures. The path around Barefoot Bay is 1.2 miles for a scenic stroll or jog, and some of the beaches have volleyball facilities.

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Overall pros:

°o° At the lower end of the Moderate resort price range, its great value for money!

°o° Its pretty magical being able to see fireworks from the swimming pool!

°o° Close proximity to Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Downtown Disney

°o° Great facilities for families with small children, especially with every room having a nearby pool

°o° Beautiful scenery and design!

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Overall cons:

°o° Its a large resort, so lots of walking to get around!

°o° Quite a long trip to and from the Magic Kingdom

°o° For a large resort, its often very busy and buses can be very crowded!

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Being the first people in The Magic Kingdom

So I always knew that I wanted our trip last year to be as magical as possible, given that it was a) my first time back in 15 years, b) the girls first ever visit to Disney World, and c) probably the only time both families would be able to do this holiday together, and with that said, I wanted to make it as magical as possible for everyone.

My first priority was making sure that the first time everyone stepped into the Magic Kingdom, it was totally perfect, and in my opinion, the only way to do that was to be the first people into the park, and to see it all without the hassle of weaving through hundreds of other guests.

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Now you could do this by waking up super early, rushing down to the park to be the first in line at the entrance, and waiting for AGES for the ropes to drop and make a dash before the surge of people behind you also converge onto Main Street.

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Or, you could do it the easy way!

Yes, ok, you do still have to get up early, and there’s a tiny bit of queuing, but its worth it, and its as simple as breakfast, quite literally.

Be Our Guest, Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table all offer breakfast reservations from 8am, when the park doesn’t usually open until 9am, and if you have a reservation for any time before the park opens, the gate for you opens just before 8am!

With this in mind, we managed to get reservations for Crystal Palace at 8.15, giving us the opportunity to stroll down Main Street, get some uninterrupted photos and absorb all the early morning magic before we made our way to our fabulous breakfast booking, which you can read more about here!

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Disney World in Large Groups

Disney World is the perfect location for a big family trip, but its not always easy being a large group!

1. Save a fortune on your phone bill by utilising the free wifi

There’s free wifi throughout the parks, so set everyone up on a group message on Facebook or Whatsapp to communicate without the cost.

2. Be prepared to split up

Splitting up the group at times can mean you can cover more ground, get better seats or just give you a much needed break from the madness!

3. Use Memory Maker

The last thing you want after a big family trip is going through photo after photo with someone missing in every one. Memory Maker is great value for money, but in a large group its even more so; just get everyone linked to it and you’ll have hundreds of photos of the whole family.

4. Link everyone

As a large group, we were split into 3 rooms and therefore 3 separate bookings, so our My Magic+ wasn’t linked, but one trip to guest services, and we were all connected for all our Fastpasses and meal bookings.

5. Utilise free transport

In a large group, taxis or car hire is gonna get really pricey, so be sure to use Disney World’s expansive bus system to move around.

6. If you don’t book in advance, eat at unusual times

With Advanced Dining Reservations, you’ve got no problems, but if you haven’t made bookings, try and eat at off-peak times; we were a group of 9 and managed to walk in to the usually super busy T-Rex at about 4.30pm and were seated almost straight away!

7. Allow a little extra time

Being a bigger group is always going to slow you down a little, so be sure to leave a little earlier if you need to be somewhere for a specific time.

8. Try and be a little early too

Especially when it comes to shows and parades, being early gives you the added advantage of not having to split up to fit into remaining seats

9. Be considerate to others

The parks can be packed, so try to think about your impact on those around you eg. if you walk in a long chain, you might be blocking other guests who want to get around you etc

10. Just have fun!

You’re lucky enough to be in the most magical place on Earth, with a whole load of your favourite people, so just appreciate it and have a magical time!

RunDisney 2016 Update – we’re in!

Today I am happy happy happy!

If you’re up to date with me and my Disney life, you’ll know that today was registration for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, which is our first event of our RunDisney January tour, and we got our places in both races! Aahhh! So we’ll be running the 5k on Thursday 7th as a sort of warm up, before we do the half marathon on Saturday 9th!

This was really the feather in my cap of a great last week or so. Last week not only did we book our flights for this trip, but we also scored a room at the main Tokyo Disneyland hotel for our July holiday, even though the website said they were fully booked, so that’s all super exciting, and meant the only thing that was really left to do was book our resort and park tickets for January, and securing our race places.

Well yesterday I finally made my mind up and paid the deposit on our Disney World resort/park tickets/dining plan etc. We’ll be staying at Port Orlean’s French Quarter, which I chose because it looks beautiful, and is really well positioned for us; our races all start in Epcot, which is just across the road basically! We knew we wanted to stay at a Moderate Resort because of the great deals they have for 2016 – free quick-service dining plan, $200 gift card and free Memory Maker – and given that we stayed at the Caribbean Beach Resort last year, which is the cheapest moderate, and didn’t want to spend too much more, POFQ seemed ideal!

So yeah.. Its still a while before we can really finalise specific plans for January (ADRs, Fastpasses and such), but everything now is really complete for the Florida side of our trip, and we don’t need to worry about California until June, so we’ll just keep running, and see where we get!

Anyone else running in January? °o°

Guess who’s planning again?!

This week I’m starting to get my Disney buzz back as our Tokyo trip is less than 3 months away, so we’re starting to get into details like itineraries and booking hotels, and also because with sign up a week away, Dad and I are starting to make our arrangements for our Run Disney trip in January.

Buzz buzz!

So as far as Tokyo Disneyland goes, its totally un-chartered territory for us. Planning-wise, my expertise are in Disney World, so I really am a fish out of water, which is exciting and a little scary for me as I’m terrified of not being able to fit everything into the 3 days we’ve got set aside for the parks. Now I’m very much a DIY person, and have never been one to turn to guidebooks for advice, but in this instance I decided to, so I bought two – Top Tips for Visiting Tokyo Disney Resort, and Elijah’s Ultimate Guide to Tokyo Disney Resort 2015 – just to be on the safe side!

Quite honestly, I chose them because they were the first options that came up on my Amazon search, but I’m pretty happy with my choices having them read through them; they both cover different things which is ideal. Top Tips is very much a planning guide, which covers everything from picking a hotel to useful Japanese phrases. Its full of great information on the important park stuff like Fastpasses, dining, transport and shopping; for a little book its packed to bursting!

Elijah’s Guide is more of a breakdown of the parks: rides, restaurants etc. It covers a little about choosing when to visit the parks and other planning basics, and then launches into a blow by blow review of each attraction. It splits everything into its area (Disneyland>Area>Attractions/Restaurants/Shops>individual reviews) and Elijah gives every attraction a rating, a bit of information (when it opened, who its aimed for etc) and a short description.

Our main issue at the moment however is the language barrier. While you may not think it, speaking English isn’t a priority for the Japanese, so we’re struggling to book hotels as not all the staff at the other end of the phone are capable of understanding my dad.. We’ll work it out though!

BUT..

Dad and I booked our flights for January today! Eeeek!

I am so excited. Now we’ve booked flights, we know how long we’ve got in each place, which means planning can begin! We’ve yet to pick and book our Florida resort to stay at as we’re waiting to see if we’re booking through the Run Disney travel company, or just directly through Disney, but by the end of the week we’ll have a plan and right now we’re in no rush to worry about the California leg of the trip just yet, but I am BUZZED.

This is happening, stay tuned for more!

°o°

Photo Parade – Festival of Fantasy

If you’re following me on Instagram (@lottiedoesdisney) or Twitter (@lottieanddisney), you’ll see that recently I’ve been suffering major Disney blues in the last week or so. I realised the other day its been over 6 months since I was last at Disney World, and that seems like too long to me, especially as, at the moment, I won’t be going back until January.

So to cheer myself up I’ve been reading my Disney Trip Diaries and going through my endless photos, which inspired this post, the first of a mini series where I’ll be re-living my favourite shows and parades in my photo memories, starting with my absolute favourite: The Festival of Fantasy.

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Ok, so I know its a long post, but considering each time I watched this parade I took around 200 photos, I don’t think I’ve done a bad job of cutting it down! To call it amazing would be a total understatement, it honestly brought me to tears, but then again so did quite a few of the parades and displays..

I just love Disney World..

°o°