February Disney Trip Day 4

Jambo friends! Today we’ve been exploring the Animal Kingdom, and I’ve become a Wilderness Explorer!


We got into the park just as it opened, and headed in the direction of Kilimanjaro Safaris as we had an early fastpass, but on the way over we managed to randomly meet Flik from Bugs Life and also Tarzan, where we were basically rendered to awkward teenage girls but he was really nice. We then hopped on Simba-1 for a safari, and were lucky enough to see a baby elephant and a young giraffe as well as the other amazing wildlife on the ride.
One quick breakfast later, we hopped on a train up to Rafiki’s Planet watch as Sarah had never been before, and met the main mandril himself, and also caught the It All Started With A Mouse show which was really cute and something I’ve never seen before, or even knew was a thing! A quick train ride back, and we walked over to Asia for our Expedition Everest fastpasses, and we got to ride right at the back which made the whole ride seem more extreme and awesome!

A few Wilderness Explorer stops later, and we headed to Yak and Yeti for lunch. I’d not eaten there before, and I know I’ve probably said this about every restaurant so far but the food was so good and the service was amazing! I had a chicken tikka masala and cheesecake for dessert and I was super happy the whole time.

After lunch we went to meet Pocahontas, which had a fair bit of a queue, then walked across into Dinoland for our Dinosaur fastpass, via a few more WE stops, then after the ride went to meet Russel so I could show him how great I am at exploring the wilderness. Then, with time closing in on me to complete all 31 stops for my badge, the pressure was on, and we spent the next half an hour or so rushing round so I could get my Senior Wilderness Explorer badge before the cut off of 5.15pm – AND I DID IT!


While I went to collect it, Sarah got in the queue to meet Mickey and Minnie at Adventurers Outpost, and I joined her, sticker badge proudly on my chest! From there, we dashed back to Africa for the last Festival of the Lion King show of the day. We got there with only a few minutes to spare, so we were sat really high up, but I still thought the view was pretty good and the show was it’s usual standard – monkeys tumbled, fire baton man batonned..


With the park now fairly quiet, we took the opportunity of a 10 minute wait time on Everest, although we probably only waited 5, and riding that in the dark was pretty awesome, then all the way back to Africa again for another safari – this time in the dark. OH MY GOSH THATS WORTH DOING. I’ve always sworn by early morning safaris, but we saw 3 lions in the evening – and I’m talking up moving around lions, not just the standard one lying on a rock that I’m used to. We were also so close to a white rhino it was incredible!

I’m so happy Animal Kingdom is being kept open later cos it just seemed to make the whole day more enjoyable. I feel like a total cliche because I feel like every day I’m telling you all that it’s been an awesome day but they all really have been! We’re back to the hotel now for a pre-race dinner and an early night as I’m up at 3:30 in the morning (which is actually before this post will even go live) to run the Princess 10K, so keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram for updates!

February Disney Trip Day 3

So after our crazy early night last night, we ended up awake super early this morning. Typical.Our plans for the morning were to hit the RunDisney expo so I could get my bib and tshirts, so we had a fairly chilled morning at the hotel, grabbed some breakfast there and jumped on a transportation bus to the ESPN centre. Because Sarah had never been to an expo before, I was pretty excited for her to see what they were really like.


We got my bib and race shirts, and collected the pre-ordered pin I got for Sarah and my event jacket, then got stuck into the official merchandise, before getting into the 40 minute queue to pay. Yes, 40 minutes.. We also had a quick look around the main expo hall, but with fastpass commitments looming, jumped on a bus back to the hotel so I could dump my stuff, then hopped on another to Epcot.

Our only fastpass of the day was for Soarin’, a ride I haven’t done here since 2014 as it was being refurbished last year, and the new update is incredible! Honestly if you do no other ride in Epcot, do this.

 

Having seen that she meets in the French Pavilion on the World Showcase, I decided to bring my Aurora themed outfit forward, so we dashed from Soarin’ to the 2:30 meet, and while we were in the queue we overheard rumours that Belle would also be out in her blue dress, so after Aurora we got in the mystery line to meet Belle. She was super lovely, and it was my first time meeting her in her blue village dress, and another princess off the list!

Onwards, we grabbed a Starbucks and jumped onto a monorail across to the Magic Kingdom, then a bus across to Fort Wilderness for Mickey’s Backyard BBQ..


You guys, I cannot put into words how much fun Backyard BBQ was. There will be a full review in the coming weeks, but OH MY GOSH. There was amazing food, incredible entertainment and we just had the best time dancing with Mickey and the gang! 100/10 would recommend, and yes, that is 100 and not a typo.

From Fort Wilderness, we got the bus back to the Magic Kingdom, rejoiced at the park being much quieter than Tuesday, and took a good spot to watch Once Upon a Time and Wishes. The whole area between the partners statue and castle was sat down which was amazing. That was, until about 5 minutes before it was due to start, when the whole front of the audience decided to stand up. Ugh. We actually ended up leaving midway through in order to make our fastpass for Buzz, but having already watched it this trip and knowing we’ll see it again, it wasn’t really a problem.

After Buzz, we had our last fastpass of the day at Haunted Mansion, then as we still had 10 minutes til park close, we decided to run over and get on Big Thunder Mountain because the queue was pretty short, plus I love riding Big Thunder in the dark – it just seems to make it more fun!


Now past park close, we walked through a fairly empty Liberty Square back to the castle, and decided to hang out until Main Street emptied out a bit to get some photos in front of a clear castle, and we managed to sneak a photo shoot with one of the remaining Photopass photographers on Main Street. We eventually left the park about 11pm – an hour after park close – and got back to the hotel about 11.40, now pretty wiped and ready for a good nights sleep!

Today:

– Characters met: 7

– Total steps: 20,226

– Total distance: 8.46 miles

Tomorrow we’ll be in Animal Kingdom!

February Disney Trip Day 2

Still can’t really believe we’re actually here, and still can’t get over yesterday, but today is an Epcot day!


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We got into the park just as it opened, and after a quick chat with guest relations regarding my failing Memory Maker, we headed to meet Baymax – and waited probably all of about 30 seconds – and then jumped into the shortish queue for Sadness and Joy! Three characters under our belt, we made our way to The Land so Sarah could do Living with the Land, which she’s never done before, and then grabbed some breakfast in Sunshine Seasons. Then a wild Milly appeared!

It was so lovely to see Milly after so long, and we sat in Sunshine Seasons for ages having a catch up before she left to go to work, but we’ll see her later in the trip! After buying ponchos, courtesy of the now pouring rain, we headed out and to the World Showcase – first stop Donald, I mean Mexico..


If you didn’t know my love of Donald, I planned my whole outfit for today around him, and he was so sweet! I’m so happy I got to take photos with him inside the temple because it was too wet for him to go outside! After that, we did the Gran Fiesta Tour, then headed round to Norway and met Anna and Elsa in the Royal Sommerhaus with only a 15 minute wait! Then it was time for our fastpasses for Frozen Ever After, which was cute, but I definitely wouldn’t queue as long as some people were in standby!

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With the rain dying off a little, we headed round the World Showcase towards Japan, where after a wander around the big Japanese shop, we stopped for our lunch at Teppan Edo. Despite having already eaten here before, I was still blown away by the meal. Our chef was super funny and really talented and the food was, of course, incredible!


Tummies full of food, we headed back towards Future World via the rest of the World Showcase, and had our fastpasses for Character Spot, meeting Mickey, Minnie and Goofy, then courtesy of the awful rain, Snow White was also meeting by the exit to Character Spot, rather than her usual place in Germany, so we saw her, then dashed to China to meet Mulan inside the Great Temple.

After meeting Mulan, we practically waded back to Spaceship Earth. NB: drainage in Epcot sucks after bad rain! We had Spaceship Earth fastpasses, then headed over to The Seas with Nemo and Friends, then did Turtle Talk with Crush, which was hilarious as usual cos some kids say the stupidest things..


I always have to say hi to the manatees of The Seas when I visit Epcot, so we did that, then wandered across to Journey into the Imagination with Figment, which we walked straight onto, then dashed quickly into the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival to avoid the rain which had started yet again, and that got us both feeling pretty sleepy, so we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel for the rest of the evening!

Today:

– Total characters: 12

– Total steps: 12,574

– Total distance: 5.25 miles

Tomorrow we’re gonna hit the RunDisney expo first thing so I can collect all my race gear, then we’ve got another busy day so stay tuned!

February Disney Trip Day 1

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I AM BACCCKKKKK

Today has been magical. Because we forced ourselves to stay up so late on Monday night, we slept right through til 6am with no troubles, and hopped on the resort bus into the Magic Kingdom for pre-opening entry, courtesy of our breakfast reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table. We did empty(ish) Main Street and castle photos, before heading round to the back of the castle to the restaurant. Oh my gosh, it was the most magical breakfast! Full review to come, but 5 princesses, amazing food, and well, WE WERE INSIDE THE CASTLE. Our server was also really lovely too!

We left the restaurant just after 9, yet the park was still pretty empty to we wandered to the Tangled toilets and then through to Liberty Square, where we stumbled across a pair of mischievous cowboy chipmunks, and we had such a fun play with them, before we headed over to my traditional first ride of Pirates of the Caribbean! On our way back through to Fantasyland, we spotted Mary Poppins at the gazebo, and had a chat and a few photos with her!

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From there, we had our Fastpass at Princess Fairytale Hall with Rapunzel and Tiana, then bumped into the Fairy Godmother just outside – 11 characters before 10.30! Next was a ride on Dumbo, and then Starbucks on Main Street #disneybasic.

We sat on the hub grass being classic WDW girls with our Starbucks and listened to the music from Move it, Shake it, and watched as the floats headed back up Main Street, and then Royal Friendship Faire began on the castle stage. I was super excited to watch it having last been here when it was Dream Along with Mickey, and safe to say I fell in love with it – Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Donald.. It brought a tear or two (I mean, I know everything at Disney does, but still) and I’m definitely looking forward to watching it again and hopefully getting some better photos with my telescopic lens! After the show, we had our Fastpasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, then walked through the now super busy park, and ended up in the Enchanted Tiki Room.

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Now in Adventureland, we came across Aladdin and Jasmine meeting in the bazaar, so we waited to meet them, and then headed to Tomorrowland and hit Carousel of Progress before our Space Mountain fastpass. It was then about 2.30 so we rushed back to Main Street for Festival of Fantasy, only to find it was packed and only got a mediocre view, but hey ho.. The park was HEAVING and queue times were ridiculous for everything, so we decided to beat the odds and get some food – also cos we hadn’t eaten since breakfast – at Cosmic Ray’s, since the busy park meant eating at a normal meal time would probably be absolute chaos.

One chicken club and fries later, we decided to do Philharmagic and then head to Tom Sawyers Island, only to find it was shut.. To console ourselves, we headed down Main Street and I dutifully watched Sarah buy her annual pass cos I’m a good friend like that. A quick walk through some shops, and 3 Vinylmations later (oops sorry not sorry) and we made our way back to Its a Small World for our final fastpass of the day.

Feet aching and tiredness setting in, we headed to the Tangled toilets to sit down for a little bit in the hope of a magical moment.. AND IT HAPPENED.


The legendary (or not quite) lantern that’s been the hit of Disney Instagram for the last week, that we were praying might still be a thing this week was!! All of a sudden the end of the day became even more magical than it already had been – and then we topped it off with Wishes!
I’m gonna round the day off with some stats cos y’all know I love numbers:

Total characters met: 12

Total steps: 22078

Total distance: 9.21 miles, and no, I’ve not even done any running yet..

Aladdin the Musical

Aladdin the Musical West End review

I might be late to the party, but I’ve finally seen Aladdin on West End! I was a little heartbroken when Disney replaced the show at the Hyperion in DCA, so when it was announced that it was coming to London, I knew it would be worth seeing. Matthew bought the tickets for my birthday months ago, and I’ve been patiently waiting and avoiding spoilers like no tomorrow in preparation for last weekend when I stepped foot into the Prince Edward Theatre!

‘Come for the houmous, stay for the floor show’

Something that made me really happy from the outset was the theatre itself. While I do love a big theatre, the Prince Edward seemed a lot more intimate, and the view from our seats was brilliant.

I’m a huge musical theatre fan, so there’s nothing I love more than that moment when the bands starts playing the opening number, and the compilation of classic Aladdin songs got me so excited for what was coming, and then the Genie appeared and the show began!

I should have known that the show would contain more songs than what’s in the animated classic, but they took me a little by surprise! If I’m being totally honest, I found them a bit hit and miss – I loved Babkak, Omar, Aladdin and Kassim and High Adventure, while Proud of Your Boy and These Palace Walls were a little bit meh, although that may be just due to not being able to hear the words particularly well!

That being said, I tend to measure how good the music is based on my goosebumps, and I had them right from the get go! Of course, the whole Friend Like Me scene was without a doubt the best number of the whole show, with Trevor Dion Nicholas absolutely blowing the whole audience away! I loved all the inside jokes, the Disney parodies and amazing dance numbers, and it had me in stitches at the same time as my jaw being on the floor.

‘Even the poor people look fabulous’

From the outset, the staging and the costumes blew me away. There was so much detail and everything was so sparkly and bright without being overwhelming, and the Cave of Wonders.. WOW. Also, can we talk about that magic carpet? Literally all I’ve done since seeing it is come up with theories for how that thing worked because OH MY GOSH.

Really, I just can’t stop raving about how good this show was, it was well worth the wait! It was witty and full of magic and everything hoped it would be and more, and I cannot recommend going to see it enough!

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7 Things I Love About the WB Studios Tour

 

While the UK is devoid of our own Harry Potter theme park, we Brits seek some solace knowing that as well as being the setting and home of Harry, JK and the magical world that we have all madly fallen in love with. It also means that we have the WB Studios tour – the home of the world we fell in love with in the movies

I first visited the Studios in 2012, when it opened, and last weekend I finally got to go back, having bought tickets for Matthew’s birthday present, and being back surrounded by the magic reminded me of all the things I love about this ultimate HP fan destination!

1. That opening bit

SPOILERS! The moment when you’re sat in the introductory theatre, and suddenly the screen disappears and you’re at the door to the Great Hall. JAW DROPS.

2. Neville’s cardigan

Is there anything more iconic than in the last film when Neville appears – no longer chubby and bumbly – wearing that knitted cardigan and ready to kick some Death Eater butt? You can see that cardigan like 4 feet away.

3. Trinkets EVERYWHERE

Literally every table and glass cabinet is crammed full of the teeny tiny props that you forget about when you think back over the movies – I could look for hours!

4. The Weasley clock

As well as the self-knitting scarf and the self-washing pot in the Weasley’s living room, I’m always drawn to the infamous family tracking clock, which is forever one of my favourite quirks of that family.

5. Buckbeak

Who doesn’t love a Hippogriff? Well, other than the Malfoys.. The animatronic magical beast makes me so happy!

6. Diagon Alley

On my first trip I spent ages looking at all the tiny details in the shop windows, and the signs and the brickwork – the detail is just phenomenal! I also love how small it is, because you can really imagine it being crammed with witches and wizards bustling around broom-shopping.

7. That scale model

Last week I was a little upset that there was scaffolding over part of the castle so Matthew couldn’t appreciate it in all its glory, but its just so perfect! In the films you can never really get a clear idea of the layout of the castle, only seeing little sections at a time, but its so stunning being able to see it as a whole.

I mean, these are just a few of the incredible experiences at the tour, and I love how the studios are still developing to include more of the parts of the film – the addition of the Hogwarts Express since my first visit was really cool!

Its such a fun day out for all, and if you’re not travelling by car, its really easy to get to using public transport – we got the train from Euston to Watford Junction, then hopped on the tour bus that runs directly from outside the train station for just £2.50 for a return!

Ever been? What did you think?

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Places I Never Knew Existed in Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

In the last 18 months, I’ve been to Disneyland Paris 4 times, and there’s nothing I’ve loved more on the last few visits than just exploring the little nooks and crannies. There’s been a lot of refurbishment within the last year, so almost every time I’ve been, there’s been some sort of scaffolding somewhere, but somehow on my visit last month, I discovered a bunch of places that in the previous 3 trips have never registered before!

Toad Hall Restaurant

Admittedly, I think I often skip past the back part of Fantasyland between Peter Pan’s Flight and Curious Labyrinth, but to not notice a WHOLE restaurant feels like quite an oversight on my part! It looks so cute as well, definitely one to try on my next trip.

La Chaumière des Sept Nains

Ok, I knew this shop existed because its right there in the middle of Fantasyland, but I’d never been inside before, and it has the whole Snow White cottage inside it! I only went in to escape the bitter cold, but I was so happy to discover this little gem!

La Confiserie des Trois Fées

Another place that I’ve probably walked past 100+ times, but aside from the little hanging sign outside, I never actually knew there was anything inside. Its a cute little sweet shop with adorable stained glass windows!

La Boutique du Château

I’m probably always too busy looking up inside the castle to notice the Christmas shop on the right hand side..

Toilets

This probably sounds like the weirdest thing to say, but I hardly ever notice toilets in DLP. Besides the ones by Phantom Manor and the one by Pinocchio’s in Fantasyland, I’ve never really spotted any others! Now I know there’s the ones by Bella Notte, and the ones by the entrance of Frontierland, but they don’t really stick out!

Am I the only one who’s never noticed some of these things?

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Hand Luggage Only Toiletries

Hand Luggage Only Toiletries

Have you ever booked a flight with a budget airline, only to gasp at the additional cost of checked baggage? When it comes to a weekend break, it hardly seems worth the additional £30-40 when you could fit all your clothes into a holdall or backpack.

The inevitable problem with that though? Toiletries. There’s nothing worse than getting pulled aside at security because you forgot to place all those liquids into a clear plastic bag, or worse yet, packed something over 100ml and now you’ve gotta wave goodbye to your bottle of conditioner or deodorant.

Sure, you can overpay for those little miniatures from the supermarket, but you’ve still got to fit all those little bottle into that tiny 20x20cm plastic bag, so here are a few ideas for reducing your liquid content while still packing everything you need.

Toiletries

Shampoo bars – I swear by shampoo bars day in day out, but they really come into their own when you’re travelling because not only do they take up a fraction of the space, they also last so much longer and hello, no liquid!

Roll-on deodorant – ditch the aerosol and opt for a solid version of your deodorant to save on smelly situations. You could even pack some dusting powder for extra freshness!

Tooth-not-so-paste – while I know many people who would never ditch their regular toothpaste for anything, Lush do a wide range of non-paste options, such as Toothy Tabs or Tooth Powder, both of which leave your teeth feeling clean and fresh, but without the worry of your liquid allowance.

Solid soap – rather than carrying shower gels, pack a bar of soap and sud yourself up the old fashioned way!

Makeup

Lipstick over gloss – it might seem silly, but just switching from a lipgloss to lipstick means one less thing for the clear plastic bag

Utilising samples – I collect sample products like they’re going out of style, for the very purpose of saving space when I’m going away. Perfume samples, foundation, moisturiser, anything I get from magazines or Feel Unique Pick’n’Mix gets put into a little basket which I raid when the time comes for me to pack.

Wipes – as much as I hate using face wipes, if it saves me having to pack a bottle of micellar water and a bunch of cotton pads, then I’ll make that sacrifice for a few days.

For me personally, I’d rather make a few changes from my regular products in order to save myself worry when I get to the airport!

Do you have any tips for travelling hand luggage only? Share them in the comments below!

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Disney’s Newport Bay Club Hotel

Disneyland Paris Newport Bay Club

There is something about nautical inspired hotels that just does it for me. In Walt Disney World, I’m obsessed with Beach Club Resort, and its a total dream for me to stay there one day. At Disneyland Paris, Newport Bay has always had my heart, and last weekend I finally got to stay there for the first time since I was a toddler!

I had intended to save money and stay at Santa Fe or Cheyenne, but when I phoned to book they didn’t have availability for my dates, and with thanks to my annual pass discount, I managed to snag 2 nights at Newport Bay for 60% off the usual rate – WIN!

Disneyland Paris Newport Bay Club

Disneyland Paris Newport Bay Club

Disneyland Paris Newport Bay Club

The hotel is enormous, and I’ve never really properly appreciated the size until I was stood in front of it. Following the recent refurb of the hotel, everything was so pristine and pretty! I had a standard room, which had two of the cutest double beds I’ve ever seen, complete with not so hidden Mickeys and nautical cushions, and I loved the wallpaper with the adorable porthole designs, and all the furniture was designed to look like trunks. I also squealed just a little when I looked out the window and could see over the lake.

Disneyland Paris Newport Bay Club

The hotel also has its own gift shop, located just off the reception area, and two restaurants on the ground floor. I had breakfast included, which was a buffet of both hot and cold breakfast items. While I didn’t use it, the indoor pool was open, located by the side of the lake, and understandably, the outdoor pool wasn’t! What I did use, however, was the fitness centre. It was fairly small, but there was plenty of equipment available, and its open 24hrs, so I could go down first thing in the morning before breakfast, and I had the place to myself! Its also got lovely big windows, and also looks out over the lake.

I had a lovely stay here, and the staff were wonderful! If my trip had been longer, I’d definitely have spent more time exploring the hotel and testing the facilities, but I guess that means I’ll just have to stay there again..

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Disneyland Paris Day 2

Disneyland Paris selfie

Now I’m not normally one to toot my own horn, but I absolutely bossed extra magic hours this morning! One of the first people into the park, first in line for Chip and Dale, then got though Pluto, Goofy and Pooh within half an hour and they were all adorable.After wandering Main Street and Fantasyland for a bit, I stopped off in Market House Deli to warm back up, then as I was heading back towards the castle, I saw a lady in a Meeko hat, so obviously I had to check every shop on Main Street to see if I could find it. With no luck, I figured it would probably be in Adventureland, so I got into the queue for Meet Mickey in the run up to 10am. Well the queue said 10 mins, but it was at least half an hour waiting before I got to hang with the boss.

At that point, I ducked out of the parks for a little bit and went back to the hotel to do some work for a little project I’ve got coming up, before heading back to the Disneyland Hotel to meet up with Mitch. There were a few characters in the lobby, so we hung out there for a bit, and then went to meet Pluto and Goofy in Frontierland. Pluto was extra excited to see us which was so lovely!

Next we headed into the Studios to hunt more characters, but really just ended up people watching for a little while, then a quick photo with some Stormtroopers before we started queuing for Moana!!!

Moana

Moana was everything I wanted her to be, it was so perfect. We talked about Pua and Samoa and wayfinding and had the biggest hug and I felt so happy! We then wandered back into the Disneyland park, where I grabbed a few sweet treats before settling down for Magic On Parade.

Post-parade we stopped in Discovery Arcade for some warmth and a sit down, then I left the group and headed over to Frontierland to meet up with Nancy from Le Ears, and she managed to sneak me into her Fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain. HOLY DISNEY that ride was worth the long refurb! It was so long and so good!! It was also freezing as it was dark out and I couldn’t feel my face but the ride well and truly made up for it!

Disneyland Paris Tower of Terror

I had the tough decision between Dreams and Star Wars Galactic Celebration for the evening show I could see, but given that I’ve seen Dreams loads, I opted for Star Wars, after inhaling an Earl of Sandwich. Studios was practically empty, so I was really happy I decided to go as it was so much less stressful than trying to watch Dreams on a crowded Main Street. I loved the show – it felt a little disjointed at times but I was watching the French version so I may not have understood the flow. The graphics were awesome and I loved having the characters on stage as well for a little extra touch! It was also so much easier to extricate myself from the park at the end, rather than being herded like cattle out of DLP.

It’s been a really wonderful weekend, and I’m so happy I came out and got to see so many lovely people. Now to get another early-ish night before flying home in the morning and straight onto a late shift at work!

Disneyland Paris Day 1

Bonjour! Today has been such a long day, but it’s been worth it! I was up at 4.30am to get to the airport, and after minor delays to my flight, followed by waiting for the Magical Shuttle in -5C temperatures, I was finally on my way to the parks.

Disneyland Park Paris

Despite being early, my room was ready when I arrived at Newport Bay so I ran straight up to my room – which is beautiful and looks over the lake! – dumped my stuff and skipped into the parks, where quite promptly I bumped into Cara and the gang. They offered for me to hang out with them for a bit, but as soon as I found out that Mitch and, more importantly, Donald were in the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel, that’s exactly where I was headed.

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After some character meets and hanging out with friends, my stomach was growling due to lack of any form of lunch, so I headed back into the parks solo, got some food on Main Street and watched the Frozen Royal Welcome, before starting an epic trek of photo taking through the park.

Yes, those are icicles on Skull Rock. It is that cold.

Yes, those are icicles on Skull Rock. It is that cold.

I met back up with Mitch behind the castle for some outfit photos he promised to take for me, then we waited outside Auberge to see what princesses would come out, and hit the jackpot with Belle, Aurora and Cinderella and Charming, got photos with them and then nabbed a spot for Magic on Parade.

Parade was extra special, having not only Belle and human beast walking behind the princess float, but also Aladdin and Jasmine and Ariel and Eric! We were all totally amazed and excited and it made the whole day feel more magical. After the parade, Mitch and I run our little frozen feet over to meet Mickey before it closed.

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A quick dinner at Hakuna Matata, and my tiredness was really setting in, so I headed out of the park, and back to the hotel via World of Disney. Just gonna chill out for a little bit, then get an early night ready for a full park day tomorrow!

My DLP Weekend Bucket List

So SURPRISE! I’m going to Disneyland Paris this weekend!

Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant

It was all very spur of the moment; my friend Nancy from California is coming to Paris for a few weeks and she’ll be in the parks that weekend, so I’m so excited to get to see her as its been over a year! There’s also going to be a load of people I know in the parks over the same weekend, so it all kinda fell into place!

And while it’s just a short weekend visit, there are a few things that I’m hoping to do, and here they are:

  • Explore Newport Bay Club – I had every intention of saving money and staying at Santa Fe, but Disney couldn’t fit me in over my dates, so I sorta upgraded myself to Newport Bay.. I haven’t stayed there since I was a kid and its such a pretty hotel I can’t wait to be there!
  • Meet Moana – I just HAVE to meet this beautiful new princess!! Its no secret how much I fell in love with everything about the movie, and seeing her will be an absolute dream!
  • Enjoy Season of the Force – I’m really excited for all the Star Wars stuff that’s going on at the moment, including the Galactic Celebration show in Walt Disney Studios!
  • Outfit shoots – is it really a Disney trip if I haven’t planned outfits?! I’ve got two Disneybounds that I’m really looking forward to wearing and taking photos in the parks so I can feature them on here in the next few weeks.
  • Hanging out with beautiful people – as well as seeing Nancy, I can’t wait to hang out with some amazing people who I know will be around, like the beautiful Amy and Cara, and also the fabulous Mitch!
  • Playing with my camera and new lens – I’m using this trip as a way to test run my new telescopic lens for my Sony A5000 so I know its good enough to take to Florida with me next month!
  • Eating Mickey shaped food – cos if you don’t do that, are you even in Disney?
  • Ride Big Thunder Mountain – after its been closed FOREVVVEERRRR, BTM has finally reopened, and while I imagine the queues will be ridiculous, I’m hoping to be able to get to ride it once over the weekend!
  • Surround myself in magic – I’m just really looking forward to being back in the parks for a few days and having as much fun as I can!

Be sure to follow my Twitter and Instagram for live updates from my adventures!

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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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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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Visiting Hobbiton

I can’t get over the fact that its been a whole 2 months since my trip to New Zealand! It was an incredibly special trip for many reasons, but one of the best things about NZ for me is that its the setting for one of my all time favourite stories, The Lord of the Rings. Better yet, staying with Matthew in Hamilton meant we were less than an hour’s drive from the most spectacular set from the movies: Hobbiton.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

I’ve really struggled to choose photos for this post, I took so many – the set is beautiful! What you see hear is what was set up for the Hobbit movies; the original LotR Hobbiton set was stripped down at the end of the filming, leaving just white wooden fronts to the holes, but when it was rebuilt for the latest films, they decided to keep it in all its glory, and its maintained daily by a team of staff. All the vegetables in the patches are grown seasonally, with the exception of potatoes, so everything you see is real!

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

The only way you can visit the set is by an official tour, where you are guided around Hobbiton and bombarded with amazing facts about the films, and no little detail is missed. You can join one of these tours from three locations: The Shire’s Rest, which is at the entrance to the farm location, the information centre in Matamata, or from Rotorua. If you start your tour at The Shire’s Rest, there’s a great little cafe to feed hungry hobbits, and a fab gift shop full of souvenirs. The tours leave here most frequently, every half an hour, whereas its only every 45 minutes from Matamata, or twice a day from Rotorua.  The group sizes are around 20-30 people, but you definitely don’t feel crowded at all cos there is so much to see!

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

While it is a walking tour, you get the opportunity for a little rest with a visit to the Green Dragon – there’s even a drink included with your ticket! You can have a sit down in front of a real wood fire, befriend Pickles, the local cat, or you can even dress up like a hobbit for photos, should you wish.. All the drinks available (3 alcoholic and 1 non-alcoholic) are brewed specifically for the Inn, so there’s nowhere else in the world you can get them!

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

And did you know you can get married here, while tours are going on, how crazy is that?!

Every Lord of the Rings fan needs to visit here, so if you’re ever in the area and in need of a brew of the brave and true, you know where you can get it from..

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Tangled Tree Tavern at Shanghai Disneyland

When Shanghai Disneyland was still under construction, a rumour broke that got me pretty excited for the park’s opening. Then in all my excitement for the trip, I promptly forgot all about it.

The rumour was that a Tangled themed restaurant would be featured in the park, and it wasn’t until I arrived in Shanghai Disneyland and saw ‘Tangled Tree Tavern’ on the park map that it dawned on me that finally I could visit The Snuggly Duckling for myself. Of course, I had to Disneybound that day..

Shanghai Disneyland Rapunzel Disneybound

Tangled Tree Tavern, Shanghai Disneyland

Tangled Tree Tavern, Shanghai Disneyland

Tangled Tree Tavern, Shanghai Disneyland

Tangled Tree Tavern, Shanghai Disneyland

Tangled Tree Tavern, Shanghai Disneyland

I didn’t meet any ruffians or thugs, but they clearly weren’t far away as their stuff was all over the place – helmets hanging from the ceiling, tankards left everywhere.. They’re probably out living their dreams, or just getting ready for the parade..

Its a counter service restaurant, and although we didn’t actually eat here, the food looked really good! All the seating is outdoors, but under cover so you can stay shaded from sun!

I love seeing my favourite films represented in the parks!

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DIY Travel Memory Frame

I’m a crazy sentimental person; I keep all kinds of silly things that remind me of certain places or days, and this is multiplied by a billion whenever I go on an amazing trip. These items will normally end up stuck to the fridge, or on a noticeboard, a great talking piece when people come round, but only occasionally glanced at the rest of the time, so when I came back from my recent trip to New Zealand, I knew I wanted a way of being able to keep the memories so that they didn’t end up as fridge fodder.

Taking inspiration from the lovely Kayley (@kayleymills89 on Twitter), I set about creating a shadow-box style collage of my trip!

DIY Travel shadow box fram

I used a Ribba frame from Ikea, but any deep photo frame would probably work. What goes in the frame is entirely up to you – they’re your memories! I’d already had some of the photos from the trip printed by Sticky9, and saved my boarding passes and tickets to places we’d visited, so I set about arranging these on the backboard of the frame and made sure I was happy with everything before sticking them down, then trimmed any overhanging bits.

DIY Travel memory box

Inside the frame, I stuck the little penguin USB stick that we got as part of our penguin experience, and added some confetti from my birthday present. I also bought a few stickers from Redbubble, and used the New Zealand silhouette sticker on the outside of the frame.

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Pop the backdrop into the frame, and voila!

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I’m so happy with how it turned out, and I definitely think I’m going to be making this a holiday tradition from now on! And if you love this idea but don’t fancy making it personal, check out Sammie’s Autumn inspired shadow box tutorial here!

How do you keep your holiday memories?

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Shanghai Disneyland Details

Its been three whole months since I walked the magic of Shanghai Disneyland, and I still haven’t had much of a chance to share my photos with you lot, so I thought I’d do a bit of a gallery post today to share some of the adorable little details that fill the park!

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland

I just love looking out for little hidden gems around the park; there’s so much more than just hidden Mickeys out there! Disney Imagineers are just incredible people.

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Things to Do in Bournemouth in Autumn

Despite often classifying myself as a travel blogger, a person who writes about places, I’ve never actually written a post about my hometown.


Famous for its award-winning beach, Bournemouth is an obvious destination during the summer, but just because we’re waving goodbye to the days of dipping our toes in the sea and deciding its far too cold to go any deeper, it doesn’t mean we’ve gotta sit around twiddling our thumbs until the sun makes another warm appearance next year.

Molly’s Den

Molly’s Den is a cornucopia of hidden gems under one enormous roof. Its an antique shop, vintage fair, art gallery and furniture showroom all rolled into one, kinda like an awesome indoor flea market. With its cute little coffee shop and endless maze of stalls and stock, you can easily turn a trip here into at least a half-day’s entertainment.

The Big Smart Quiz at Sixty Million Postcards

Every Sunday evening, grab a bunch of know-it-all friends and head down to 60MPC for the Big Smart Quiz at 8pm. Get down there early to snag a good table, order amazing burgers and think of a witty team name, and you’re all set for an awesome chilled and sometimes super-tense night where you could walk away with a wad of cash if you win!

Visit the penguins

If you are still heading in the direction of the beach, stop off at Bournemouth Oceanarium to meet its newest residents, 10 Humboldt penguins who joined the oceanarium gang in 2015.

Take a trip to Moors Valley

Put on some wellies and wrap yourself up for a day of leaf crunching and tree-top-trailling! Pack a picnic or treat yourself to a hot meal from the cafe while you warm back up from your outdoor adventuring.

Go to the beach anyway!

Just cos its not 20C+, doesn’t mean the beach is any less beautiful, plus its a lot quieter! Ok, so you don’t have to strip down to a bikini and lay out on the sand, but its a pretty, peaceful walk and sea air is good for you!

Fancy a day out?

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Three Months of Long Distance

Full story here

Hobbiton selfie

Each time I write one of these posts, I’m a little amazed that a whole month has past since the last, and that’s kinda cool. This month has obviously been a little different from the previous two; its been the best and the worst.

When I say the best, I am, of course, talking about my trip to New Zealand. It was a whole week of being together – the most amount of time we’ve ever been together – and it was perfect. We spent the first few days in Auckland, where we visited the zoo and sealife centre, ate an amazing curry and had a great night out at this little comedy club, before driving down to Rotorua, which was unfortunately where my jet lag really kicked in, so we ended up spending a lot of time watching tv in bed while I napped! We did get to do the luge though, which was a lot of fun and we got to see some stunning views of the area.

After Rotorua, we drove to Hamilton via a jet-boating experience in Taupo, and I finally got to see where Matthew is living and working which was pretty cool. He had to fly one day, which meant I got to have a lazy day of writing, reading magazines in bed and watching funny daytime TV, but we had the evening together so we went to watch Secret Life of Pets and had a Nandos – NB: New Zealand Nandos is not as good as UK Nandos! Monday was Hobbiton day, which was really awesome and I’ll be doing a separate post on that soon, and then Tuesday we headed back to Auckland for a penguin experience at the sealife centre (AMAZING), then spent the day walking around the docks and finished up at the Sky Tower to watch the sunset before driving to the airport. I won’t go into the details of that, but it wasn’t easy to say goodbye.

Since getting home, we’ve had to get back into our previous routine, which has honestly been harder to adjust to than the first time. With weather issues slightly hindering his training, its going to be a little longer until Matt is home, and that’s been difficult for me to get my head around, but I can’t change that so instead I just have to keep looking forward.

From the other side of the world, training for Matthew is really ramping up as he prepares for his first progress test; he’s moving on from the basics to more complex flights, introducing more techniques and more detailed planning, and despite weather recently, NZ is heading into Spring/Summer, so it will be better soon, and the more flights he completes, the closer he is to coming home.

Here’s to the next month flying by!*

*All puns intended.

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China: Chengdu Panda Research Base

If you go to China and you don’t see pandas, did you even go?

Chengdu Panda Research Base

But while a lot of the major city zoos in China do have panda enclosures for you to see your favourite black and white fur-pals, if you want a truly incredible panda experience, Chengdu Research Base of Panda Breeding is where you need to be. The base is in the north-east of the city, and about a 20 minute (£5-6) taxi trip from the city centre – probably the easiest way to get there!

Chengdu Panda Research Base

Chengdu Panda Research Base

First things first (quite literally!), to get the best experience you need to arrive early – about 8am – as that’s when the pandas are most active, before the midday heat drives them indoors to sleep! Its often quieter then too, so its a win win.

Chengdu Panda Research Base

Chengdu Panda Research Base

As well as adult pandas, the base has a group of yearlings, which are really fun and cheeky, and love playing together, and two delivery houses: Sunshine and Moonlight. In the Sunshine Delivery House, you’re a pane of glass away from tiny newborns in their incubators, ranging from the teeny pink babies to those developing their fur. Its a walk-by set up, so you can’t just stand and look at them all day, but their asleep pretty much all the time so you’re not missing out on much action!

Chengdu Panda Research Base

Chengdu Panda Research Base

If you’re looking for adorable action, head over to the Moonlight Delivery House as this is where you can see the babies and mothers interacting together. I could have watched them for hours! This is best visited between about 9-10am; the keepers tend to clean out the indoor enclosures at this point but the cubs are still in there and they get really playful with the keepers! After the cleaning is over, the mummies are let back in and playtime continues until everyone’s so exhausted that its nap time again!

Chengdu Panda Research Base

While the classic black and whites steal most of the attention, there are also red pandas living and breeding in Chengdu. The delivery house was closed during our visit due to the number of expecting mothers needing privacy, but we could still do the walk-through of the red panda forest; they can be pretty hard to spot but they’re so cute!

Chengdu Panda Research Base

Chengdu Panda Research Base

And if you too want to make like a panda and have a rest away from the heat of the day, there’s Panda Cafe! This cute little setup involves comfy sofas and stuffed toys, and serves a multitude of cold and hot drinks, including smoothies and milkshakes.

Adult entry to the centre is 58RMB, which is about £8 – a total bargain and worth every penny!

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My Travel Confessions

I was born with the travel bug, and I’ve been super lucky to be able to indulge my wanderlust frequently ever since, so I’ve got almost 22 years of confessions to share with you lovely lot today, uh-oh!

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If I’m nervous about having to order in a different language in a proper restaurant, sometimes I’ll just find a McDonalds

I did this more than I care to mention on my European road trip, partially due to fast food cravings and cheaper meals for my tight budget, but mainly to save myself the embarrassment of cocking up an order in a language I’m barely proficient in

I also love hotel room picnics

This is something we’ve always done as a family; I have memories of us hitting up 7/11s or Walmarts and getting the weirdest selections of snack food known to mankind before going back to our hotel and pigging out while playing card games.

I rarely bother to learn the language

I’m the worst. I might learn hello and thank you, but really if I try any harder than that I just make a fool of myself

I don’t place my bags in the overhead compartment

I’m a strictly under the seat in front of me kinda gal. I’m not being difficult – it always fits – its just that if I’ve packed something in my hand luggage, 9/10 times its because I want to be able to have it with me for the journey, so what’s the point in putting it over my head, then annoying everyone around me to get it down?

I think four wheeled suitcases looking stupid

You know those ones that people wheel along next to them and it remains upright? I just think they look silly.

I go mad on a breakfast buffet

If a hotel has a buffet breakfast, I will get my money’s worth out of it. I’m talking 2/3 courses of breakfast..

I will never not be a little nervous going through airport security

I’m just terrified of a Bridget Jones moment where unbeknown to me I’ve been smuggling something illegal without realising it. I’m exaggerating of course, but I once had an incident with a forgotten pen knife and it was mortifying.

I can be a brand snob

Unless I’m really strapped for cash, I’ll generally choose a better known company over a smaller, cheaper equivalent – especially with flights! I know that a plane is a plane, but I’d rather pay a little bit more for Virgin or BA, instead of taking a chance on a budget flight.

Duty Free doesn’t bother me that much

I know loads of people who get so excited by the thought of shopping duty free at the airport, but I tend to just march through without so much as a second look, unless I’m looking for something specifically.

Do you want to confess anything?

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Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel

There is nothing that makes a Disney trip more special than staying in a Disney hotel, and Hong Kong’s Hollywood Hotel is pretty special!

It’s the lower budget of the two Disney hotels at Hong Kong Disneyland, with another currently under construction, but oh my gosh is it beautiful!

Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel

As the name suggests, the hotel is theme is old school Hollywood, from the art deco style of the building itself to the hotel reception and every other little detail from the piano shaped swimming pool and neons.

Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel

The hotel has two restaurants, Hollywood and Dime – a quick service style diner – and Chef Mickey, a huge buffet which the boss himself visits at breakfast, and there’s also the Studio Lounge bar which shows movies on a big screen in the evenings. There’s also, of course, a souvenir shop in the reception area!

The huge garden area is home to the outdoor pool complete with a slide for the little ones, and there’s a small playframe tucked away in the palm trees and greenery.

Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel

Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel

The Hollywood theme continues into the rooms – I love the wall art of Mickey and Minnie! – and the beds were so cosy! There’s a mini drinks area with a kettle and ice bucket (ice machines down the corridor!) and there’s an area for hanging clothes but no proper wardrobe, and depending on the side of the hotel your room is on, your view is absolutely stunning across the gardens and the bay!

The hotel has shuttle buses that run frequently to the park transportation centre, each one of which is decorated to reflect a ride or land in the park. Sometimes the buses are shared with the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, but they’re so close together that it doesn’t really take too long to get back from a day in the park!

Aren’t Disney beds always the comfiest?

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Haidilao Hot Pot Restaurant, Beijing

This is a fun little story.

So it was one of the first nights we were in China, and we were in Beijing with no idea what restaurants were near us, so we did what all good tourists do: we turned to Trip Advisor, and lo and behold, #4 on the top restaurant list was literally just down the road, so off we trotted.

We come to the shopping centre that the restaurant is listed in, and take the escalators up and up until we eventually found it on the eighth floor..

Beijing Haidilao Hot Pot

It looked good, but when we arrived there was no English menu available for us to look at, so we decided to just take a chance and we lead to a table with a giant hole in the middle.. The staff were really friendly, but there only seemed to be one person who could speak a little bit of English, so ordering was interesting, especially considering we still didn’t really seem to know what was going on!

Here’s the deal: that hole in the middle of the table is filled with a big bowl of a soupy-stock, split into two halves for two different flavours. We were advised which options were spicy, so we opted for the mildest two: tomato and mushroom. This bowl is heated through the table, and bubbles away in front of you.

Beijing Haidilao Hot Pot

Next up, you pick what you want to go into your stock. We did this purely from the pictures in the menu, choosing beef, prawns, glass noodles, spinach and other veggies, and these are then brought to your table raw for you to add to the stock of your choice to cook yourself!

Beijing Haidilao Hot Pot

Beijing Haidilao Hot Pot

That’s right, you’re totally in control over what’s bubbling away in the hot pot! Because its so hot, most things take less than 5 minutes to cook, and then you have the fun task of attempting to scoop it out into your bowl without pouring soup all over the table – which I did every time.. They clearly knew we’d make a mess as they brought us aprons to wear and hairbands!

Haidilao Hotpot

Haidilao Hot Pot

The whole experience seemed really daunting at first, especially with the stress of understanding what it was we were ordering, but it turned out to be so much fun and the food was delicious! And how much did the bill come to for all of us? £20.

Interested? Check out the listing on Trip Advisor here!

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An NZ Update!

Hello lovely people!

I’m super jet-lagged and it’s about 5.30am but I just wanted to check in to let anyone who’s interested know that I am safely in New Zealand, yay!

Yesterday, which I think is still English Wednesday when this gets posted, was my first full day and Matthew took me to Auckland Zoo – you know how much I love zoos!

We got to see all the usual suspects – meerkats, giraffes, penguins etc – but also were lucky enough to see one of the red pandas, and also catch a glimpse of a kiwi, and I loved every second of it!

I’m still needing to nap to cope with the tiredness, but after a quick afternoon snooze we went out for dinner at this amazing Indian restaurant, then went to a comedy club for the night which, with the exception of one of the comedians, had me in stitches the whole time!


Tomorrow we’ll be doing some more fun stuff in Auckland, then driving down to Rotoroa, and although I won’t be updating you day to day on this trip (but there’s plenty of other posts going up daily!), I’ll might drop another update in a few days time!

Now I’m gonna try and go back to sleep..

The Great Wall of China

One of the real highlights of my recent trip to China was definitely The Great Wall. This might sound a little cheesy or predictable, but prior to actually visiting The Wall, it didn’t really hold any interest for me; it was something that I kinda felt just had to be done, and I did not expect to be blown away by it.

But I was.

The Great Wall of China

If you’re staying in or around Beijing, there are a few different section of the walls nearby, but my sister had heard from a friend that the quieter and least tourist-y area was Mutianyu, so that’s where we headed. The easiest way to get there is to hire a driver with a car, which costs around 500 yuan, or £50, which can take up to four people; this may seem like a lot but its almost 2 hours drive away and you’ll appreciate the air-conditioning, plus there’s no having to wait for buses!

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

After buying tickets from the information office, shuttle buses which run every 10-20 minutes will take you some of the way up the mountain, where you then get two options for getting up to the wall. Option number 1: you can walk the series of steps and slopes up the steep mountain side, or option number 2: cable cars whizz you up! And once you’re on the wall, you’ll just be blown away..

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

The Wall runs as far as the eye can see, over the peak of the mountains and beyond. Some parts are flat while others are crazy steep, and I suddenly understood why its such a challenge when people walk the wall for charity!

 

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

Mutianyu is one of the best preserved sections of the wall, and I would thoroughly recommend giving it a visit if you’re in the area. Plus, if you don’t fancy the cable car back down, you’ve got the option of a toboggan back down to the shuttle buses!

Is China on your travel bucket list?

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Not So Long Distance..

Read back on this story here


So you know how just over 2 months ago I was crazy enough to dive into a long distance relationship with a guy I’d only been on two dates with? Well that’s nothing compared to what I’ve done now..

Guys, I’m going to New Zealand. A week today.

Now I will admit that this wasn’t as spontaneous as I just made it sound; I booked the tickets a few weeks ago after weeks of pleading with my boss to give me the time off work, so it was a little bit orchestrated, but by my standards its way last minute! It will also be a relatively short trip (stupid work!) as despite being gone for 9 days, two days are lost in travelling, but a week is better than nothing, and I think if I had to go another two months my head might just explode! Eeeekk!

But a little closer to home, it really doesn’t feel like a whole month since I wrote the last instalment of this tale; the time has flown by!

As well as around 35 hours (yes, I did the math) of FaceTime and FaceTime audio – that’s just in the last month – we also had a cute little Whataspp movie date where we watched Mulan together, which was just something a little bit different and fun, plus its one of Matthew’s favourite Disney films!

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This month has been really difficult for me at times, but its been so much easier knowing that even from the other side of the world, Matthew is there for me through it all, and now I’m just so excited to be able to be there with him, even if just for a week.

Wish me luck guys!

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A Look Around Shanghai’s Disney Store

The Disney Store in Shanghai’s city centre is the largest in the world, did you know that? I certainly didn’t until we arrived in Shanghai, and at that point I knew I had to visit!

Shanghai Disney Store

Shanghai Disney Store clock tower

While the exterior of the building is fairly understated, this incredible clock tower is the centrepiece of a large forecourt full of hidden Mickeys and Disney magic, and as for the interior..

Shanghai Disney Store castle

Shanghai Disney Store

Shanghai Disney Store

A castle. A real little castle in the middle of the store. I squealed. The whole inside of the store was full of magical details, from chandeliers and trees to hot air balloons and pixie dust, and I could have spent all day wandering around that shop!

Sure, some of the merchandise was no different to what you can find in a UK or US Disney Store, but there were also some adorable exclusive and unique products to marvel over:

Shanghai Disney Store

Shanghai Disney Store

Shanghai Disney Store

Shanghai Disney Store tsum tsums

The store was actually celebrating its 1st anniversary with these beautiful limited edition tsum tsums – you may have seen in my Shanghai Disney haul that I got the set of mini Minnie and Daisy, but I’m too scared to take them out of the box, ha! They had a huge area of soft toys and tsum tsums, as well as the standard Star Wars and Marvel merchandise, and a whole wall of Disney princess dresses and toys.

Shanghai Disney Store

Shanghai Disney Store
And at night, it gets even prettier! The store is located right in the city’s centre, next to a big shopping centre – if you wanted to make a day of it!

Isn’t this just the prettiest Disney Store?

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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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Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

Being a shiny new park with shiny new everything surrounding it, when making our Shanghai Disneyland plans, there was only one correct answer to where we had to stay, and that was the big’un: Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.

There are two Disney hotels on site, the smaller (and cheaper) of which being the Toy Story Hotel, but I’ll save that one for a future adventure, ha! I wanted to see the main event.

Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

So classic, so beautiful. The reception has a real distinct smell to it (weird, I know!), like walking into Abercrombie and Fitch, but when you’re coming in from the heat outside, its a welcome rush of scent and air-con. The lobby is breathtaking, with artwork on every wall and cast members looking dapper behind every desk. Although you feel like you’re coming in on the ground level, its actually the third floor, with steps leading down into the gardens overlooking the park in the distance – yes, you can see the castle from the hotel!#

Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

The whole hotel has a bit of a Fantasia/Philharmagic theme, from the statue in the lobby to the room decoration. Oh, and you see those gorgeous wooden headboards? Find the Tinkerbell button by the nightstand and they light up with pixie dust and fireworks – AMAZING!

Although I never like making too much use of a tv in a hotel room, these were by far the best at any Disney resort, with on demand movies, kids bedtime stories and streaming of the nighttime spectacular!

Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

From the hotel, you’ve got three options to get to the parks: you can get a shuttle bus, a ferry across the lake, or you can walk it. The buses are possibly a tad quicker than the ferry – mainly due to trainee ferry drivers! – but they both drop you about the same distance from the park entrance.

There are also a few dining options within the hotel, including character dining at Lumiere’s Kitchen, and if you’re staying club level, you have access to a breakfast buffet, afternoon tea and cocktail hour on the 7th floor, where you can also watch the nighttime show from!

Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

It was just such a magical place to stay!

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How I Live Blog My Disney Trips

You may have realised for yourself, but I love sharing my Disney trips with you lovely lot, and for me the only way to do it is by live-blogging. It started all the way back in 2014 with my family trip to Walt Disney World, and I’ve been doing it with every trip ever since!

Live Blogging

Now while I’m all for making sure I share every moment of the magic, I never want to be too bogged down with writing to be experiencing it all for myself, and since a few people have asked me recently how I manage to keep up with it all, here’s how I do it:

Writing

If you ever see me tapping away at my phone while I’m in the parks, I’m probably not socialising. During the day, if I ever find a few spare moments – in a queue, waiting for a parade etc – I use the notes app on my phone to write each day’s diary on the go, then at the end of the day, when I have wifi again, I just do a simple copy and paste into the WordPress app and save it as a draft.

Photos

I love my camera. Its a good few years old now and I don’t know the model number or anything but its a Sony DSLR and I don’t go to the parks without it because although I can get decent photos on my iPhone, I just always prefer the shots I get from a proper camera. At the end of the day, I use an SD to Lightning adaptor to download a small selection of photos onto my iPad.

Editing and uploading

I must admit, I really don’t like using the WordPress app for editing and uploading my posts, so instead I use the actual website on Safari on my iPad. It’s as simple as opening the draft I saved earlier, formatting the text the way I like it, and then adding in the photos – which I don’t edit at all – and sorting out the tags and categories, and hitting that publish button!

Job done, post up; it rarely takes more than about 20 minutes at the end of the day – wifi speed dependant!

Have you read my recent Shanghai trip posts?

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Things to Know Before Visiting China

If you’re planning a trip to China, here’s a pretty comprehensive guide of things you might want to know before you go!

The Great Wall of China

Visas

Like many countries, you need to obtain a visa before travelling to China. The process involves filling out a pretty detailed form and sending it off with your passport, or you can go direct to the Chinese Embassy in London. Once you’ve got your visa, you’ve got 90 days in which to enter the country, and the visa only covers you for 30 days once you’re there!

One thing you’ll need to have sorted before applying for your visa is accommodation for the entire duration of your trip; you have to have full details for your application, and if you don’t then you’ll get rejected!

Transportation

Most of the major cities within China – Beijing, Shanghai etc – have excellent subway systems, which cost pence compared to the London Underground. You can pay per journey by selecting your final destination, and your ticket covers any line changes you’ll need to make to get there, or you can top up a pass.

If you’re considering hiring a car for your trip, let me give you a piece of advice: DON’T. The roads are absolutely crazy, with every driver in it for themselves! Driving through red lights is totally normal, beeping is constant and lane markings are more like guidelines..

Compared to a lot of places, taxis in China are real cheap! While some cities require taxis to have a meter by law – guaranteeing fair charging – some places, like Beijing, don’t, and you’ll need to agree a price with your driver before travelling. DO NOT settle for the first price they give you, even if it does seem fairly reasonable – you can haggle prices right down!

Oh, and those 9 million bicycles in Beijing? Yeah most of them are motorised now, but that doesn’t stop them from riding up onto pavements or the wrong way down the street.

Toilets

Even in big tourist areas, most public toilets are not western; yes, you’ll need to squat over a hole in the ground. Some places may have one or two western cubicles, but often you won’t be provided with any toilet paper, so you’re best carrying plenty with you at all times just in case!

Social media and VPNs

Think you’ll be able to go without social media during your trip? Great, you won’t be able to get on it anyway! Chinese internet blocks pretty much all social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc – and anything Google based, to name a few things. You can get around this by pre-purchasing a VPN, which routes your signal through a different country, allowing these servers to work no problem, but actually going without for a little while is a nice break! Hong Kong, however, is totally fine!

Language

Do not expect everyone to speak English, or even always understand our letter symbols. Try and print out a few key phrases in proper Chinese characters, and any hotel addresses, as this will save you a lot of time and confusion!

General tourist stuff!

  • A lot of tourist attractions discounted entry for students, so if you have student ID then its worth asking!
  • Queuing is not done very well – there will be people pushing in!
  • Umbrellas are used to protect from sun as well as rain, so everyone carries them pretty much everywhere
  • Selfie sticks are also everywhere!
  • Some places, including some tube stations, require security bag checks on entry – not unlike going through airport security!
  • Tourists can be a novelty for some, so you might find you’re approached and asked for selfies and photos! Some people don’t even ask though, I had my picture taken slyly on trains and in the street..

China is such a fascinating place, would you ever visit?

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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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Hong Kong Disneyland – Day 2!

It’s the last Disney day, waa!

With the park not opening until 10.30, we grabbed our Mickey waffles in the hotel instead, at Hollywood and Dine, before catching the resort shuttle to the park. It’s a lot busier today, but being hotel guests we get quicker access to security and ticket checks, so we could just swan on past the crowds and into the park. We actually missed rope drop due to doing some early shopping, but once we were done it was time for park action!

Hong Kong Disneyland 10th anniversary

We walked through the castle into Fantasyland, and decided to skip the hour queue for Dumbo in favour of going to Toy Story Land for Parachute Drop, which only had a 10 minute wait, then round to Mystic Point for Mystic Manor. Although it’s this parks Haunted Mansion equivalent, it’s actually a very different experience but a lot of fun all the same! From there we went back into Grizzly Gulch, and another go on the Mine Train, still only with a 5 minute wait, then back across into Fantasyland for another showing of Mickey and the Wondrous Book. Yesterday we managed to walk in with 5 minutes til showtime, but today getting there 20 minutes before it was a huge queue.

Hong Kong Disneyland Fantasy Gardens

After the show, feeling refreshed from half an hour of air-con, it was time for us to go and meet the boss, Mickey Mouse himself, in Fantasy Gardens, to complete our set of family photos with Mickey in every park. Now well past 1.30pm, it was time to find food, so we walked through Fantasyland back to Tomorrowland and grabbed lunch at Starlight Cafe, then got in the queue for Buzz, which was held up a little by a protein spill!

Hong Kong Disneyland Flights of Fantasy

After another successful mission, I shot off to get a spot for Flights of Fantasy, but within 5 minutes of the parade starting, had overheated and was fed up with people pushing their children in front of me, as well as battling to get photos over a sea of umbrellas, so called it a day early. At this point Mum and Hannah had also had enough of the heat, and decided to go back to the hotel for a swim, so Dad and I went to catch the next show of Mickey in the Wondrous Book, but finding it had already filled up, did Its a Small World instead.

With the park being much busier today, we didn’t want to chance another full theatre for Festival of the Lion King, so went straight across to that, because although it meant a half an hour wait, it was shady and there were fans, and then half an hours sit down in an air conditioned theatre. NB: I know I keep mentioning heat and air con, but seriously it’s 35C and not a cloud or hint of a breeze.

Hong Kong Disneyland City Hall

After the show, we queued about half an hour for Hyperspace Mountain, which may not seem like much in terms of most parks, but was actually the longest wait time we’ve had today! We planned to go from there to Storybook Theatre, but once again Mickey and the Wondrous Book had already filled up, so another miss! Instead we got a drink in Corner Cafe, then found a spot on Main Street USA for Paint the Night.

Hong Kong Disneyland Paint the Night parade

The parade felt much more laid back today; we sat further up Main Street which was a lot cooler and less crowded, so we didn’t cook as we had yesterday! To fill the time between the parade and the fireworks, we managed to sneak in two rounds on Buzz and get back to a good spot to watch Disney in the Stars for the final time.

Hong Kong, you’ve been a blast! See ya real soon!

Hong Kong Disneyland – Day 1!

I am so happy today guys! Not only am I in Hong Kong Disneyland, but I’ve finally completed one of my biggest bucket list moments – visiting all of the Disney parks around the world – and I’ve done them all in the last 13 months!

Hong Kong Disneyland

Hong Kong Disneyland is beautiful too! While it may be the smallest park, it is so pretty; it’s very much like Disneyland California in style and appearance, complete with baby Sleeping Beauty castle at the end of Main Street. It’s also so quiet!!

We got into the park just before opening at 10, and were able to see the rope drop by the castle, before going straight to Tomorrowland for Hyperspace Mountain – hello 5 minute wait! From there, we literally walked onto Buzz, then went back down Main Street for a Mickey waffle kinda breakfast.

Mickey waffle

Tummies full, it probably wasn’t the most sensible idea to go straight to Grizzly Gulch for the Mine Train – a slightly more extreme Big Thunder Mountain – but it was a 5 minute wait so we did it anyway! You’re probably getting a sense of how quiet it is now..

With Mum feeling a little delicate after waffles and rollercoaster, we took a quite walk through Toy Story Land and Fantasyland on our way to the Storybook Theater for the first performance of Mickey and the Wondrous Book. I was hoping for something spectacular, and I was so happy with it! It was like a cross of Mickey and the Magical Map (Cali), Forest of Enchantment (DLP) and had a very small amount of Frozen, making it just the right balance of everything! I love all Disney shows, but that was definitely a top contender!

Mickey and the Wondrous Book

Next stop was Its a Small World – a ride that was lacking from Shanghai, and by the time we came off that, it was time to make our way back to the castle for the 10th anniversary show. It was basically a marching band and Mickey and the gang having a little dance in front of the castle, but it was quite sweet. In desperate need for air con, we took a quick walk through some shops before heading to Festival of the Lion King in Adventureland. The show was a little different to its Florida counterpart, in that it was more of a narrative of the Lion King story, but it was still fabulous and the performers were amazing!

Hong Kong Disneyland 10th anniversary

Now coming up parade time, we shot across to the castle and hid in some shade for a little while, then found a spot for Flights of Fantasy! The parade actually uses the same music as Disneyland’s Soundsational parade, just with a few word changes, so I felt right and home! There must have been some minor malfunction as half way through all the floats stopped and they invited kids to dance with the performers, but it was up and running fairly soon. I’ve found parades both here and Shanghai tend to be a bit shorter than the Western ones, which is a shame because I love parades, but they’re definitely no less spectacular!

Cooking a little, we caught the train from Fantasyland back to Main Street – incidentally the longest queue we’ve been in all day – and ended up in Animation Academy to learn how to draw BB-8. Spoiler alert: I wasn’t very good at it. Having not eaten lunch, we were pretty hungry now, and looking at the map, Royal Banquet Hall seemed like an excellent choice. It had everything from burgers and pizza to sushi and dim-sum, so of course I had a bit of both!

Mystic Manorimage

From dinner, we did Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, then Jungle Cruise and Mystic Manor all in fairly quick succession, and then another galactic mission with Buzz. We also headed over to Star Wars Command Post with the hopes of seeing Chewbacca, but it wasn’t his meeting time so instead we went back to Fantasyland to watch Philharmagic to kill some time before finding a spot to camp out for Paint the Night.

After loving PtN in California back in January, I was so excited for this, and as soon as it began I felt the magic of it. Again, it was a little shorter than its American cousin, but no less fun and spectacular – although sitting on the ground to watch it felt like being stone baked! With not long to the fireworks, we stayed on Main Street and tried to chill out; it’s hard to do in 30C heat.

The fireworks were fairly short and sweet, but I really enjoyed the tribute to Mulan; Shanghai didn’t seem to acknowledge their national princess much so I was happy to see Hong Kong making an effort! I am now totally pooped, and ready for a good nights sleep before tomorrow’s adventure!

Shanghai Disneyland – Day 3!

Today was our last day in Shanghai, and after a lie in I was in a bit of a rush to get into the parks, worrying that we’d lost an hour by sleeping. What I’d forgotten was that being a Monday, the park didn’t open til 9..

Shanghai Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean

Mum and Hannah had decided not to come into the park today, so once Dad and I caught the shuttle bus over, and after bag and ticket check, still made it in just before 9am. We took a bit of a slow wander through the parks on our way to Pirates of the Caribbean, after which we headed back to Mickey Avenue to grab some breakfast at Remy’s Patisserie. There was a band playing in front of the Walt and Mickey statue, which we could watch from where we sat to eat.

Shanghai Disneyland Remy's Patisserie

Next on the agenda was the Dumbo ride, but with an hour wait, we didn’t really fancy that, instead heading back for a final ride on Pirates. If you’ve read the last two days as well, you’ll notice we’ve done this a lot, but it’s so good!

Shanghai Disneyland food

Only having an hour left before needing to meet Mum and Hannah in Disneytown, we wandered back to Tomorrowland, and finished our half-day with a final intergalactic mission with Buzz.

After leaving the park, we grabbed lunch in The Cheesecake Factory in Disneytown, before heading back to pick up our bags and getting a taxi to the airport for the next leg of our trip: Chengdu!

I’ll be of the radar for a few more days now, then once in Hong Kong I’ll be back with access to social media and will bombard you with updates from there, as well as blogging our time in Hong Kong Disneyland! See ya real soon Shanghai!

Shanghai Disneyland – Day 2!

Shanghai Disneyland castle

After sleeping in the comfiest beds, we were up bright and early for breakfast at 7, before catching the shuttle bus from outside the hotel to the park. With a game plan in mind, and having done Tron last night, we headed straight for the next big queue ride as soon as the park opened: Soaring Over the Horizon. Despite a supposed 60 minute wait, as well as having to deal with the queue jumpers, we were in and out within the hour!

Shanghai Disneyland

From there, we went on to Pirates of the Caribbean, which was only a 5 minute wait and still just as awesome a ride as it was yesterday – totally mind blowing! We wandered on through to behind the castle after that, and did the Voyage of the Crystal Grotto; a boat ride featuring scenes from classic princess stories, before going underneath the castle into the crystal grotto. It was a little bit Jungle Cruise-esque, minus the commentary.

Shanghai Disneyland Tangled boat

Next on the agenda was seeing the Baymax Super Exercise Expo, where Hiro and Baymax lead the audience of Tomorrowland through a Big Hero 6 inspired dance. Baymax was a real party animal! It was then time for Golden Fairytale Fanfare, the castle show, so we went to hang out in front of the castle for a bit before that begun; partly to sit down for a bit, and partly to make sure I got a good spot! The show was totally beautiful; the costumes were all amazing and the singing was a good balance of Chinese and English.

Shanghai Disneyland Golden Fairytale Fanfare

Now lunch time, we headed back to Fantasyland, stopping by the Tangled Tree Tavern – a nod to the Snuggly Duckling – so I could take a million photos, before deciding to eat at Pinocchio’s. I had Peking duck pizza, which was not only incredible, but also Mickey shaped! In the Mickey mood, it was time to go and meet the boss himself. He was suited and booted in his best Shanghai suit and we had a big hug!
That exited right by the Marvel Universe area, so we stuck our heads in – mainly so my sister could see what Captain America looked like – and ended up in a Spiderman drawing class, which actually turned out to be a Groot drawing class.. Long story short, I’m not very good at drawing Groot.

Shanghai Disneyland Marvel

With the temperature getting higher, we ducked out of the park for a little while via the little entrance to Disneytown near Tomorrowland. After a bit of air conditioning and window shopping, it was almost time for our Tron Fastpass timeslot, so back to Tomorrowland we went, only to find it was closed.. Basically, when the queue reaches its total capacity, they have to temporarily ‘close’ the ride, which means they stop anyone even entering the line, to let it work its way down a little.

Shanghai Disneyland Mickey's Storybook Express

So instead we did a quick Buzz and went to watch the parade – Mickey’s Storybook Express – which was fab but seemed to be running shorter than usual; I’ve seen photos of a few floats that we didn’t see today! By the time the parade was over, Tron had reopened, so we finally got to make use of our Fastpasses, although it was still about 40 minutes wait!

I was thoroughly sunburnt by this point, so we headed back into Disneytown so I could by all the things on the list I’d made earlier, then headed back to the hotel to aftersun up – I’m basically lobster coloured..

Today has had me a little tuckered out; it’s been a really hot day and I’ve not nearly had enough to drink so I’m not feeling 100%, so I’m signing out early tonight. We’re going to watch the nighttime show from the viewing platform at the hotel and get a proper night’s sleep so we’re raring to go for our last day tomorrow!

Goodnight!

Shanghai Disneyland – Day 1!

What a magical day!

So this morning we were up at 6.30am to get from our hotel in central Shanghai to the Disney resort area – although there was a bus that ran from nearby, we decided to get a taxi to save a bit of time, which was about £20 to the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.

From the hotel reception area we could see out across the lake, and there was the castle..

Shanghai Disneyland castle

I cried, obviously.

We caught the ferry across the lake, and spent quite a while in bag checks and ticket check queues, and then we were in! While the park doesn’t have a classic Main Street USA, it has Mickey Avenue which is full of charm and the most amazing little details. The castle show was just finishing, so we headed off to start exploring!

Shanghai Disneyland station

Unlike the classic US park set up, here Adventureland is on the right hand side of the castle, and Tomorrowland on the left, so we started an anti-clockwise loop, with the first ride being Pirates of the Caribbean – a bit of a family tradition. It was a Pirates like no other; completely raising the bar for all the other PotC rides around the world! I won’t spoil it too much, but it was way more than just a boat ride.

Shanghai Disneyland Royal Banquet Hall

From there, we headed into Fantasyland land, did the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride, and Pooh was actually hanging out outside the exit when we left so we got in a quick cuddle and photo! We then went on to do Peter Pan’s Flight, then went to explore the beautiful Enchanted Storybook Castle, where we were stopped and asked if we were interesting in lunch at the Royal Banquet Hall – the character restaurant inside the castle – how can you say no to that?! It was just the most magical meal; the food was incredible and the characters were in the cutest outfits!

Enchanted Storybook Castle

After feeling thoroughly stuffed, we queued up for the Once Upon a Time Adventure, an interactive walk up and through the castle, with the story of Snow White being told along the way. While I didn’t mind the fact that it was in Chinese – I mean, I know the story! – what really peeved me was the Chinese families pushing in line and children forcing their way to the front..

Star Wars Launch Bay Shanghai

Onwards to Tomorrowland, we queued up for Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, which sadly meant missing the parade, but the newer technology in the ride made it pretty awesome, and because my mum’s blaster didn’t work on the first go, they let us ride it again! We then headed to Star Wars Launch Bay, which is tucked right out of the way of Tomorrowland, which meant it was really quiet; hello 30 second wait to meet Kylo Ren and R2D2!

With the Tron ride queue over 2 hours, we headed back towards the gardens in front of the castle, with the intention of visiting some of the shops in Mickey Avenue, but instead detoured back into Adventureland to watch the Tarzan show, which was pretty incredible! After doing a few of the shops, we headed back to the hotel to sort out checking into our room!

A few Mickey shaped desserts in our tummies, and we headed back into the park for the nighttime show. We stood in the centre of Mickey Avenue to watch it, with a great view of the castle, but as soon as it began, the crowd just turned into a sea of phones in the air, which was a little saddening as no one was watching it, and none of the rest of us could see it properly, so I moved to the side of the street in the end. The show itself was a classic projection show, like Disney Dreams or Celebrate the Magic, with a few new clips from Star Wars and Mulan.
With most of the crowds heading out of the park, but with an hour of opening left, we pegged it back to Tomorrowland with the hopes of getting into the elusive Tron rollercoaster, and despite advertising a 70 min wait time, we were on and off within 40 minutes and WOW IS THAT RIDE WORTH THE HYPE!! Absolutely unbelievable, such a unique and incredible ride.

Shanghai Disneyland Tron ride

With 5 minutes til park close, we managed to sneak in two goes on Buzz (again) before taking a slow walk out of the park, and popping into World of Disney in Disneytown – the Downtown Disney equivalent area – before catching the ferry back to the hotel!

Shanghai Disneyland castle

I’m exhausted but it’s been such a wonderful day! Tomorrow we’ll be up nice and early to get into the park for opening, and another Disney day!

I’m blogging from China!

Well hey there, you lovely lot! Have you missed me?

Of course you haven’t, because I made sure there’s been plenty of other stuff for you to read while I’m away, but I just thought I’d check in and let you all know I’m still alive!

Due to the strict Internet restrictions in China, I’m not able to get onto Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, but luckily I don’t seem to have any issues with WordPress so, while I’m gonna keep it short and sweet, I’m just gonna share a few photos of the places I’ve visited so far!

I’m currently in Beijing, and so far have visited..

The Forbidden City!

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City

Tian’Anmen Square!

Tian'Anmen Square

Eaten crazy but amazing local food!

Haidilou Hotpot restaurant

The Great Wall of China!

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

Summer Palace Gardens!

Beijing Summer Palace

Beijing Summer Palace

Safe to say, there’s been a lot of walking!

I’m so excited to share more details of some of these amazing places with you when I get home, but that’s all for now folks! Hopefully I’ll be checking in with you next from Shanghai Disneyland!!

Lottie 🙂

Tokyo Disney Throwback

Exactly one year ago to the day, I stepped foot in Tokyo Disneyland for the first time. You can read my trip diary here, but today I thought it would be fun to share some of my unseen photos!

Tokyo Disneyland Station

There’s a slight upset among some Disney fans because Tokyo Disneyland doesn’t have a classic Main Street USA when you enter the park, replaced instead with the World Bazaar. The World Bazaar is a lot like Main Street in a lot of ways, just covered with a kind of greenhouse roof, and decorated with lanterns and flags.

Tokyo Disneyland balloons

Tokyo Disneyland World Bazaar

It does make the walk down towards the castle feel a little longer, and take a little bit of the focus away from the beautiful Cinderella castle, but its so interesting to walk through something a little different from Main Street USA

Tokyo Disneyland

First thing in the morning, you’ll get to meet quite the collection of characters at the end of the World Bazaar. My favourites by far were Bernard and Bianca from The Rescuers – so tiny and adorable! I’ve never liked Gideon and Honest John that much, but they seemed to like my camera!

Tokyo Disneyland Partner Statue

I just love statues in Disney parks, don’t you?

Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo DisneySea is a park like no other – quite possibly one of my favourite Disney parks of all time! It is totally unique and packed with amazing attractions and the most perfect tiny details, and I could walk around there all day without going on a single ride and still feel amazed by everything.

Tokyo DisneySea Tower of Terror

Unlike its Western cousins, the Tower of Terror in DisneySea isn’t sponsored by The Twilight Zone, and therefore has its own unique design and the story behind the ride is different – no spoilers, but its still as scary!

Tokyo DisneySea

There’s also a full-sized cruise ship docked in the park!

Tokyo DisneySea

If you’re a little mermaid fan, you HAVE to visit DisneySea just for Mermaid Lagoon. From the outside, you see the beautiful underwater city of Atlantica, just as it appears in the movie, but once you enter and journey under the sea (yes, you really go down!) you can play among the fishes til your heart’s content! Its a great place to avoid summer heat!

Tokyo DisneySea

You should also watch out for street rats in Arabian Coast – a practically perfect replica of Agrabah!

Tokyo DisneySea

Hmm.. I wonder where the imagineers got inspiration for this one..

Tokyo Disneyland Hotel

And I’ll just leave you with this absolutely stunning sunset over the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel!

I’ve got all sorts of Tokyo Disney posts, from trip tips to dining reviews, be sure to check them out here °o°

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China Trip Itinerary!

Well guys, today I’m getting on a plane and starting another crazy adventure, and because I don’t know how much I’m going to be able to update you on the trip while I’m away, I just thought I’d share a rough little plan of where we’ll be and when!


So tonight we fly out, and this is where we go from here:

July 11th – Arrive in Hong Kong, then catch another flight into Beijing

July 12-15th – Exploring Beijing and surrounding areas, before getting a train to Shanghai

July 16-18th – SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND OMGGGGG!!! Then we fly to Chengdu

July 19-22nd – Exploring Chengdu – which will involve lots of pandas! – before flying back to Hong Kong

July 23-26th – We’ll be staying in Hong Kong Disneyland Hollywood Hotel for the duration of our time in Hong Kong, but probably only do two days in the park, and then get the train into the city on the other days. We leave Hong Kong on the 26th, and after a 12 hour flight, arrive back in the UK only six hours later!

And then I’ll be back!

I’m hoping to be able to post my Disney diaries live, but I don’t know how reliable the internet will be in some parts of China, so if I don’t manage it you’ll hear all about it when I get back! I’ve got content scheduled for while I’m away, so there’ll be plenty for you to read in the meantime!

Smell ya later England!

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Hotel AmicitiA

I’m dipping into my travel archives a little bit to recommend a truly unique experience for anyone looking to do Amsterdam on a budget!

If the thought of a regular hostel doesn’t quite float your boat, then the answer is simple: float on a boat at Hotel AmicitiA! Permanently docked right in the city centre, this hotel on water is the ideal location for tourists looking to cram as much of ‘Dam’s sights and culture in as possible, while also being part of the culture itself!

Hotel AmicitiA

The boat has two decks; the upper deck being a communal area with a few kitchen-y bits like a microwave and cutlery, and also a stocked fridge of drinks that has an honesty-box style donation pot. Its cosy and a great place to spend evenings playing games or utilising the free wifi. I spent a rainy afternoon curled up in an armchair, reading, writing and watching the world go by; I had the whole place to myself and it was perfect! There’s also a few toilets and access to the outside deck.

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The rooms make up the lower deck of the boat, accessible only by a very narrow flight of stairs – worth bearing in mind if you have large suitcases! Each cabin sleeps two people in built-in bunk beds, and also has a little sink and a bit of storage. They’re small, but if you’re spending all your time in your cabin then I think you’re doing something wrong, ha! At the end of the corridor, there are showers and toilets; they’re pretty small and the water pressure was a bit dodgy at times, but they do the job.

The hotel has a slightly unusual set-up when it comes to staff; for the duration of the day, there’s no staff aboard, and access to the boat is by a door code, with room keys left out on the desk in named envelopes. If you have any problems, there’s a contact number – I actually had to call it as I was having a problem with the door code and they were really helpful! The owner is around in the morning for breakfast, which is a Dutch/continental style buffet, and this is when you can sort out payment (cash only!) and checking out.

Overall Pros:

  • Great city centre location – right outside NEMO
  • Nearby underground public car park – I think I paid about €12.50 for 24 hours
  • A short walk from the train station and ferry terminal
  • Super rustic and full of character
  • Great for backpackers
  • Facilities like free wifi, microwave

Overall Cons:

  • Not really suitable for families
  • All bunk beds
  • No staff around during the day
  • Showers were a tad unreliable
  • Not ideal if you can’t stand swaying a little while trying to sleep!

I honestly loved this hotel; I know there were a few flaws but I had such a lovely relaxed time on the boat that I really didn’t mind the dodgy showers and small cabin. It was just such a unique and fun experience, and I would 100% recommend it to backpackers and budget travellers!

Would you sleep on a boat?

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Long Distance Travel Must-Haves!

Its less than 10 days now until I leave for my trip to China, and being the uber-organised person that I am, I’m practically packed already!

Yes, I know it sounds a bit crazy, but getting stuff together early highlights any issues – clothes that need washing, discovering something has a hole in it etc – so you don’t have to rush around the night before your flight!

I’m also a bit of a packing pro; having been lucky enough for travelling to always be a big part of my life, I’ve learnt from many mistakes and gained a lot of wisdom over the years, and I’ve found especially for long distance holidays, there’s always a few key things that make the cut for every trip.

Long Distance Travel Must Haves

A super comfy romper

If I know I’ll be boarding a long haul flight, this is an absolute must. I can be a real fidget on flight, especially when I’m trying to sleep, so not having to worry about pulling things up, down and round while I move is ideal, and wearing something a bit baggy means I don’t overheat or freeze. Also, whether its a playsuit or a jumpsuit, you’ll generally find it pretty easy to adapt to difference climates depending on where you’re jetting off to!

This year, I’m wearing this Stitch & Pieces beauty!

Sunglasses

Would you believe that until 2014, I never ever wore sunglasses.. Four-eyes problems right? I finally decided to spring for a pair of nice prescription Ray-Bans for a trip to Florida, and its probably the best decision I ever made; I mean, its easy to pick up a pair of sunglasses anywhere, but not so easy if you’re blind as a bat like I am! Even if you’re unsure on the weather where you’re headed, it can’t hurt to be prepared!

Basic First Aid and Personal Products

We’ve all got our preferences when it comes to this sort of thing, so I’m not gonna give you a full run down on what I bring, but its always worth bringing your essentials, should you need them for any reason – painkillers, antihistamines, creams etc – and although they’re not hard to find in local pharmacies, I always bring plasters and blister plasters.

Girls, also don’t forget to do your period maths before your trip; I know we don’t like to think about it, but what’s worse: having to pack a handful of tampons or being caught out abroad?

Socks

This is something that I’ve learnt from my dad: you can never have too many pairs of socks. My sister and I used to resist this, but as we’ve got older and wiser, we’ve realised he really does know best! Yes, I know sometimes sandals and flip flops seem like the best footwear, but comfortable shoes and socks will always win out – I’m a Converse All-Star kinda gal!

Hairbands

Waist-length hair does not always travel well! Generally I’ll always have a hairband on my wrist, with about a million more in my suitcase, including scrunchies and headbands, so that I can get my hair out of my face for travelling, and also keep it under control should the climate be against it!

Is there anything you can’t travel without?

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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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Spring Disneyland Paris – Day 2

This morning we had to pack up our room before breakfast and checkout, then caught the bus to the parks for EMH after checking our bags at the concierge in the parks.

Disneyland Paris Spring Goofy and Pluto

First characters we queued to meet were Goofy and Pluto, together in their spring outfits. Sammy and Mallory wanted to queue for Minnie afterwards, so I caught up with Milly and we went into Studios in the hopes of getting on Crush’s Coaster when it first opened, only to find it had broken down. Fab.Instead we went to meet Spiderman, which was super cool – get it, super.. – before going back to Disneyland park.

Disneyland Paris Spring Bunnies

After grabbing some candyfloss for Milly’s breakfast, we went to meet the bunnies who were totally adorable and the absolute sweetest, and continuing on the Spring theme, got a spot for Goofy’s Garden Party.

Disneyland Paris Goofy's Garden Party Mickey

From there we grabbed some lunch at Hakuna Matata before rushing across to the first Forest of Enchantment of the day, then after that went back to Adventureland to meet Wendy and Smee, having seen Peter the day before. Having spent very little time there at all this trip, we wandered into Fantasyland, met up with Laura and just chilled out in front of Its a Small World for a little while, looking out for the princesses coming in and out of Princess Pavilion and got to see Rapunzel, Cinderella and Snow White, as well as catching a glimpse of Peter Pan and Alice and the Mad Hatter!

Disneyland Paris Its a Small World

Knowing my trip was due to end shortly, Milly and I walked up through the shops of Main Street, but believe it or not, I didn’t actually buy anything! I’m actually banned from buying any more mugs right now, and they were really all that caught my eye, so I decided I’d save my Euros for the next trip; I am an annual pass holder now, after all.. At 3.15 I met Eleanor outside City Hall, and we said goodbye to all of our wonderful friends and the magical park and went to pick up our bags from the concierge before finding Mallory and Sammy to get the train home.

Despite being incredibly brief, it really was such a lovely trip with a bunch of pretty magical people who made it all the more special! #EndofAprilCrew, you guys are awesome.

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Spring Disneyland Paris – Day 1

You know when you’re scared you’re gonna miss your alarm so your up waking up super early? Yep, that was me.

Disneyland Paris Spring 2016

After grabbing breakfast at the hotel – classic continental, if you were wondering – we headed to the parks for extra magic hours. I say that but given that I didn’t have a ticket, first up I actually had to buy my annual pass. At the park gates, they just give you a temporary ticket to get it sorted in the park later on, and we headed in to get some of the early character meets. We were really lucky to get a short queue to meet Donald and Mickey together, which was such a nice interaction, then down Main Street for a load of classic castle photos, then went for a ride on Buzz Lightyear’s Laser Blast.

Disneyland Paris Merida

After meeting up with a few others, we headed to the Frontierland rope drop and went straight for Merida’s meet and greet. She was fab; all four of us had a really fun time and I got to twirl with her in my new tulle skirt which was magical! From there, Sammy and I decided to queue to see which Aladdin character would come out while the others went to queue for Peter Pan, but when we saw it was Jafar, we couldn’t really be bothered so we joined the others, although Eleanor, Laura and I slipped out for a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean before the meet started. It turned out to be Smee, but was fun nonetheless.

Now it was open, Eleanor and I went to the Annual Pass office so that I could get it all sorted and enjoy my new card and the discounts it brings, then we shot over to The Chapparal Theater for the first Forest of Enchantment.There was no way I wouldn’t love it, but I genuinely squealed and gasped at several points, as well as a few tears..

Disneyland Paris Peter Pan and Smee

Afterwards, Milly, Sarah and I went back to meet Wendy Darling and Smee, but after being a little later than planned, it was actually Peter which was ideal, although rude cast members rushed our meet. We then went back for a second instalment of Forest of Enchantment, where we strategically sat on an aisle where we knew Rapunzel and Flynn would walk by us.

I stayed with Sarah and Milly for most of the afternoon; we caught the bunny flash mob and Minnie’s Spring Train, then headed across to Walt Disney Studios park so that I could be dragged on Tower of Terror.

We actually had the funniest time on ToT; the cast member running our elevator stole Milly’s ears and gave her his hat in return, and it had us in fits of laughter for the whole ride. At this point we were starving so we grabbed some lunch at Disney Blockbuster Cafe before going back to Disneyland.

Disneyland Paris Disney Magic on Parade

There was a planned meet up by the castle for 4.45, so we just hung out there for a little while, then after the meet we all headed to a spot to watch Disney Magic on Parade – where we all screamed at Flynn Rider and had the cutest time seeing Peter Pan – before fighting through the crowds to get over to the last performance of Forest. Yes, three showings in one day, no, we don’t care.

Having a bit of time before our dinner, we went to watch the Welcome to Spring show, which I found a little underwhelming, but hey ho, then we said goodbye to Sarah and headed to Disney Village for our Cafe Mickey dinner.

Disneyland Paris Cafe Mickey

After a nice, but long meal, we split up again and Milly, Sammy and I went back into Disneyland park for Dreams. We managed to squeeze ourselves to pretty near the front during the pre-show, so had a great spot for the performance. It was magical – apart from shoving crowds – and being the only time I’d be able to watch it this trip, I really appreciated it.

Absolutely pooped at this point, we made the walk back to our hotels and I basically crashed as soon as I hit the pillow!

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Disney-bound again!

Its been a while since I’ve done a chatty post, and all of a sudden I realised that I haven’t really told you lovely lot about the fact that this summer..

WE’RE GOING TO SHANGHAI AND HONG KONG DISNEYLAND!!

Little Green Men Mochi from Tokyo DisneySea

Little Green Men Mochi from Tokyo DisneySea

Those of you who follow my Disney antics a lot will know that this means I will have completed one of my life goals of visiting every Disney park, and I’ll actually have done all of them within the space of 13 months which is pretty incredible!

So we’ll be out there for two weeks, spending 2-3 days in Shanghai Disneyland (hopefully onsite!), as well as visiting some of the amazing sites of China, then finishing up with 2-3 days in Hong Kong Disneyland before flying home. My sister is currently travelling out in Asia (and taking after her little sister by blogging it), and our trip is coinciding with the end of her adventure, so she’ll meet us out there and fly home with us.

Shanghai will have been open for about a month when we get there, so hopefully they’ll have sorted any issues that they might find by then, although it’ll still obviously be PACKED with people, which is why we’ll be spending a few days there even though its only one park. I am SO excited to see that beautiful castle!

It’s going to be incredible and I can’t wait to share it with you all!

On another exciting note, at the end of April I’m going on a semi-spontaneous trip to Disneyland Paris!

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I’ve been wanting to visit DLP for Spring for a while now as everyone always talks about how much fun and how pretty it all is, and I definitely didn’t want to miss out on Forest of Enchantment, so when I realised how many of my lovely Disney friends are all going to be out there in the same week, I suddenly found myself booking the Eurostar..

I’m going out on the evening of the 27th, and staying at Santa Fe with a few of my Disney girls who arrive the day before me. Originally we were going to stay offsite at the Kyriad, but with Ellie’s AP discount, it wasn’t much difference to stay at Santa Fe so we thought why not! As well as Swing into Spring, I’m also really excited to buy an annual pass as Ellie is going to sponsor me, and I can’t wait to see so many of the lovely people who are going to be out there with me!

Have you got any Disney trips coming up? °o°

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A Disney Day in London

If you read my New Years Resolutions post, you would have seen that this year I really want to spend more time going on adventures, and meeting more of my lovely Disney friends, and a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to do both in one day!

After a massive amount of Twitter discussion, the lovely Eleanor managed to set a date for a trip to London for a get-together, and being that London is only a £20 return away by coach, it seemed like a day off well spent!

After an early morning start and a coach journey that I pretty much slept through, I arrived at Victoria slightly earlier than predicted, giving me plenty of time to get to the underground station and work my way to Oxford Street; I’d done the same trip back in December luckily so I knew where I was going! Our meeting place? The Disney Store, of course!

I arrived pretty much bang on 11am, and was soon found my Ellie and Jade, and soon enough the group grew to include Sophie, and as we migrated into the warmth of the store, the whole gang appeared: Lizi, Amy, Charlotte, Milly and Gracie. Obviously we all needed a good look around the two story shop, which is way bigger than my nearest Disney Store, and if you don’t get a photo in Cinderella’s carriage then it didn’t happen, right?

By the time we left the store – probably to the relief of the cast members – we were all kinda starving, so we made our way to Piccadilly and ended up in a Pizza Hut (that didn’t look particularly pleased to see a group of our size) for the lunchtime buffet, and ended up staying for well over an hour, just talking about Disney and life and Disney.. It was so nice to be able to discuss the magic with people who think the same as you!

After lunch, we headed back towards Oxford Street for some window shopping in Lush and h&m, then good little fangirls we are, got the tube to Kings Cross to visit Platform 9 3/4 and the Harry Potter shop there. The platform looks a little out of place in the modern new station building, and I had no idea there would be such a queue just for a photo, but we were all quite content looking at the merchandise and discussing what house we’d be in.

Somehow, we all seemed magnetically drawn to St Pancras, but we all claimed it was 100% to do with Starbucks and not at all to see when the next Eurostar to Disneyland Paris was.. The station was totally rammed with people due to two hours worth of train delays (YIKES), but there was just about enough space for the remaining members of our group and our hot chocolates! For me, this was the last stop of the day, as being totally terrified of missing my coach, or a repeat of the last time I got a coach from Victoria station (hello pickpockets), I said my goodbyes to all my lovely new friends, and Gracie and I caught the Victoria line back to the coach station for me, and Gracie went on to her station.

The coach trip home was a little longer due to traffic, but I had a blueberry muffin to munch on and I’d just had such a lovely day that I wasn’t too bothered! All the girls were so nice, and we had so much to talk about and it was just so great to have a day with people who share my intense love of all things Disney! Please go and check out all of their blogs/Youtube channels because they’re great!

I can’t wait for more adventures!

The ‘I Just Can’t Wait to go to Disney’ Tag

Its now 20 days til Dad and I leave for our Disney trip, so it was perfect timing when the lovely Lizi tagged me to do the ‘I Just Can’t Wait to go to Disney’ tag!

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1. How do you get extra excited for your Disney trips?

To be honest, counting down to my next Disney trip is always the most exciting thing, but what really make a countdown extra special is having so many supportive friends and followers who always seem just as excited for my upcoming trip as I am! I also love planning, so spending ages sorting out the details of my trip is actually so much fun for me!

2. How do you feel the few days before your trip?

Oh my gosh, I can’t even describe. There’s a lot of squealing and jumping around, and also a little bit of worrying about things I might have forgotten about, ha! Before my last WDW trip, I actually made myself physically sick with excitement, and the same thing happened when I arrived in Tokyo Disneyland, but I never let it hold me back for too long!

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3. What are the things you are most excited about?

Oh where to start! The magic always starts when you see the first road sign, then when you see the parks for the first time, then laying eyes on the castle and knowing that you’re back; that’s pretty much the best feeling! I also get so excited for parades and character meets, and for Disney park food!

4. When you see the park for the first time of your trip, how do you react?

Its a combination of butterflies and pure excitement, and there’s a lot of failing to fight back tears!

5. What do you like to do while travelling to Disney?

Depends on how I’m travelling. I drove to Disneyland Paris back in October, so I was busy concentrating on the road, but whenever I fly to Orlando or California, I pack out long flights with plenty of films, reading, writing and daydreaming!

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6. What do you pack when you go to Disney?

I have my special Disney backpack, which at all times contains my planning notebook, camera, autograph book, sunglasses, phone, purse etc, and usually a few changes of Mickey ears just to be on the safe side! My outfits are always carefully planned (and I’m not even the slightest bit ashamed to admit that), and sensible shoes are a must, along with all the relevant accessories. I also like to try and pack efficiently so I can maximise space for souvenirs to bring home!

7. Do you count down the days until your next Disney trip, and how?

Always, that’s what iPhone apps are for, right?! Since I upgraded to an iPhone 5S, my new app counts down to the second, which is super exciting!

If you’ve got a Disney trip coming up, I TAG YOU!

°o°

Top Tips for Road Trips

When I was planning for my European road trip, I thought I’d check Google for top tips to see what handy advice the internet would give me, so I was massively disappointed when the top results were massively wishy-washy, so much so that I can’t even remember half of these ‘great’ tips. So having done it all for myself, today I’m sharing some advice that could help you, whether you’re travelling alone or with company.

1. Spring for public car parks

In some places, public car parks can be stupidly expensive, but depending on whereabouts you are, and if like I did you’re leaving valuables in your car while you’re off exploring, its definitely worth paying a little extra for the protection of a ‘proper’ car park, rather than a dodgy little side street.

2. Split your money up

Its a good idea to have your cash in a few different places; you never know if you might lose your bag, or worse.. I had the majority of my money in cash for my trip, and while I did also have a credit card, I didn’t like to use it! I actually kept my money split in pockets in my notebook, to keep my tight budget, and only put what was needed into my purse for each day. I also kept a separate little coin purse in my car to pay for parking and any tolls along the way.

3. Pack food and drink, and take advantage of ‘free’ meals

No road trip is complete without snacks, but if you’ve got some long drives ahead, its handy to keep a little more than the usual amount, especially to save the cost of pricey service station food! If you’re staying somewhere that offers included meals, like breakfast, be sure to take full advantage and load up!

4. Know and set petrol limits

If you don’t know already, find out how far your car goes on a tank of petrol. Ignore the supposed miles per gallon, because so many variables can affect that, go out and do a proper test. For example, I found out that one bar on my fuel gauge would last me around 50 miles, or an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how I was driving. Once you know that, set yourself a limit on when to refill. After one worrying night drive where I was running seriously low with no petrol stations nearby, I always filled up when I dropped to 1/4 of a tank to be safe!

5. Prepare for tolls, or plan around them

There are more toll stations than you might think out there, and they all add up! I was lucky enough that my road atlas had toll roads marked, and my satnav also knew where they were, so I could choose a route without them, but be warned, avoiding toll roads can make your journey a lot longer!

6. Get breakdown cover

Its pretty self-explanatory; you don’t want to be caught out at any time, let alone in a foreign place where you don’t speak the language. Lots of companies offer cover to suit the duration of your trip.

7. Know your own limits

Personally, I found driving long distances a lot easier than I thought I would, especially given a lack of experience, but I still had my limits. Try and avoid the mentality of ‘I’m sure I can drive through the night’ or ‘once I’m behind the wheel I’ll wake up a bit’, because the fact is you’re only human, and there’s nothing wrong with needing a break.

8. Embrace the unknown

Turning down a wrong street will not mean you’re going to disappear off the face of the earth. Getting lost is all part of the adventure, just stay calm, get your bearings, and have fun!

9. Know your speeds

Wherever you are, make sure you know the speed limits, and be wary of any speed cameras that might be hidden. Also double check whether limits are in mph or km/h, and be straight on the conversions!

10. Fully prep your car

Get it serviced, pack spare oil, bulbs, a petrol can etc, and be sure to check if there are any legal requirements where you’re going. For example, for most of Western Europe you have to be carrying a safety triangle, breathalysers, a high vis jacket, and headlamp deflectors for relevant cars. It also helps to have a torch, blanket and first aid kit!

I hope these few nuggets of wisdom can help a few of you have an equally amazing road trip as the one I had, and if you haven’t read all about my trip, check it out here!

xo