Why I’m Not Going to See Toy Story 4 in the Cinema

So apparently I want to branch out from already being a ‘bad’ blogger to also being a ‘bad’ Disney fan, but hear me out on this one.

I think we can all agree that this has been a mega year for new movies. From Avengers Endgame already smashing a tonne of box office records to the highly anticipated Star Wars Episode IX coming soon, film boffs will most likely be spending more time in the cinema in 2019 than ever before. And out of all these films, I think Disney has had the most fingers in the pie than any other production companies, with some huge films having already hit the big screen and many more still to come.

This is all very exciting for Disney fans; we’ve seen some of our favourite animated classics have a reimagining as live actions, and also some pretty huge sequels, one of which closest to the hearts of my generation being Toy Story 4. 90’s kids like myself have grown up with the adventures of Andy’s toys, many of us sobbing FAR too many tears over *that* scene in Toy Story 3, so we were all good and ready when a fourth film was announced to be hitting our screens.

I was ready to go and see it, don’t get me wrong, and I am excited for when I finally do see it, but I’m not going to the cinema for it, and here’s my reasoning..

While the experience of some films is heightened by seeing it on an enormous screen in a pitch black theatre with surround sound and no talking, I personally think that other films are somewhat ruined by it, and Toy Story 4 is one of those for me. Give me all the action and adventure on the big screen, give me stunning cinematics and world class special features, but when it comes to a feel-good family animation, to be quite honest I’d rather be curled up on my sofa at home with a blanket and pile of snacks, being able to laugh out loud when I want to without getting evils from the rest of the guests.

And as awful as it sounds, I truly do get bored watching some films in the cinema. If its not a super gripping storyline or visually incredible, I find myself sat in the dark wishing it would hurry up and be done with sooner so I can get out of there, which I probably wouldn’t be thinking if I was watching it at home – y’know, unless it was a rubbish film in the first place.

So there’s one hell of an unpopular opinion for you I’m sure, but its something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and honestly, I stand by it. Anyone else feel the same? Let me know in the comments!

Mission Breakout vs Tower of Terror

Ok guys so here’s a controversial one for you..

On my trip to Disneyland last month, I finally got to experience the new Guardians of the Galaxy, Mission: BREAKOUT ride that has taken over from the Disney park classic ride, Tower of Terror. I have thoughts. LOTS of them.

To set the scene, I’ll tell you about my relationship with Tower of Terror. Obviously, we go way back, and in fact one of the few memories I have from going to Disney as a young child was being on Tower of Terror looking out over Hollywood Studios at night, everything lit up. I don’t remember hating the ride as a child, as many kids do, but as I was reintroduced to it as an adult, things got a little iffy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scared of the ride and I will always ride it at least once a trip, but I describe it as a love/hate thing. The drops I love, but the build up to and mystery of the first drop drives me insane. I spend the whole queue time on edge, plus the initial part of the ride where you stop and watch the scenes, because the random sequences of the ride mean I never know when that first fall is going to happen and I do not like that. Once we’ve dropped once, happy days, I’m good from then on, but I always have that initial worry at the back of my mind when I think about the ride.

Fast forward to last month. Now I really love Guardians of the Galaxy, so I was actually really excited, and I was curious to see how the overlay would work on essentially the exact same ride, and more importantly, whether I would still hate it in the same way I hate Tower of Terror. Now if you watched my Instagram stories while I was in the parks, or read this blog post, you’ll already know the outcome: I LOVED IT. I got a slightly nervous feeling in the line waiting to get on, but my excitement took over and I was mainly just super keen to see it all. Even the wait for the first drop was bearable because I was so distracted by what was going on around me.

Now you might think that this was just first-time excitement, but every single time we rode Mission: BREAKOUT I loved it more. I went on it way more than I would ever ride Tower of Terror in one trip and I might even go as far as to say its one of my favourite rides in Disneyland AND I would happily see it rolled out to more Tower of Terrors across other Disney parks.

Why doesn’t it strike fear into me though? While I’ve never considered myself particularly spooked by the spiderwebs and bellhops of Tower of Terror, I guess subconsciously the theme of the ride does put a little bit of tension into me, and that translates into me clinging onto the handlebars on the chair until my knuckles go white, meanwhile the Awesome Mix soundtrack and flashing lights of Mission: BREAKOUT put me right at ease as I’m being thrown up and down so much I can’t actually tell what direction I’m moving in.

Who knows for sure, but I am very interested to see how I fare going back on Tower of Terror while I’m in WDW next week and whether I’ve been cured completely by the Guardians, or whether its the theme that really has me on the edge of my seat, metaphorically of course..

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8 Amazing Things That Happened on Our First Day in Disneyland

So I know that I usually live blog my Disney trips, but today I didn’t feel like it was right. We took a pretty chilled out approach to the day and I felt like despite it being an incredible day for us, it probably wouldn’t read as well for others, so instead I thought I’d try a slightly different format to tell you some of the AMAZING parts of our first day in the happiest place on earth.

1. We had a whole boat to ourselves on Pirates of the Caribbean

This is my traditional first ride of any trip, and as is fairly normal first thing in the morning, it was a walk-on. But then, to our great surprise, we got into the front row of the boat and realised that no one else had been put into our boat with us, so we got to do the whole ride without other people! I joked that this was a sign of amazing things to come, but little did I know how true this would be..

2. Mickey Celebration Cupcake

Sarah bought a cupcake for the ‘gram, which turned out to be this incredible chocolate chip cookie/cupcake kinda combo which was super yum and quite probably the best Disney cupcake I’ve ever eaten. 11/10 would eat again every day of my life.

3. ‘ Share Your Ears’ Cheeseburger

On the subject of food, we also split the 3-piece Mickey-shaped burger for lunch over at Smokejumpers Grill in DCA and it was so good! Definitely a great option to split between two people.

4. I got to see Pixar Pier for the first time

As it’s been almost 2 years since I was last at Disneyland, there were a lot of changes for me to experience, the main one being Pixar Pier. We only spent a brief amount of time on it today, but I loved everything I saw and I can’t wait to take more of it in over the next few days.

5. Mission Breakout!

I have also never been on the new(ish) Guardians of the Galaxy ride that took over from Tower of Terror in DCA, and so I got to experience that for the first time and I LOVED IT. I have a real love/hate but mainly hate relationship with ToT but Mission Breakout blew my socks off and I thought it was incredible – I can’t wait to do it a few more times this trip!

6. We saw the Disneyland cats

I had no idea this was a thing but apparently the pair of cats that seem to live in DCA are a common sight for guests – who know right? They were really cute though and clearly just wanted some piece and quiet away from screaming guests. Don’t blame them..

7. Tow Maters

I normally skip the smaller ‘kiddy’ rides but we decided to go on the Tow Mater tractor ride and it was actually such a blast!

8. I finally met Mickey as Steamboat Willie

My dream meet for such a long time now has been to meet Mickey as Steamboat Willie, and completely by fluke today it happened and I am still not over it. This meet takes place in Meet Mickey in his house in Toontown, but it’s totally down to chance as to whether he’s on set for Steamboat Willie, or if he’s doing others things that day, and I’ve only ever seen him in his traditional tails and red trousers, but this knocked me for six and I am SO HAPPY.

It’s just been a truly unbelievable first day of what I know will be the most magical trip!

My Top Tips for RunDisney Challenges

This week was the bib-only registration for this year’s RunDisney at Disneyland Paris, and after taking last year off, I’m super pleased to be back and participating in the 36K challenge!

This will be my 5th RunDisney challenge, having previous run Disneyland’s Rebel Challenge (2016) and Pixie Dust Challenge (2017), Walt Disney World’s Glass Slipper Challenge (2017) and Disneyland Paris’s 31K challenge (2017), so this is not an unusual thing for me, but having only ever done challenges that involve a 10K and half marathon, throwing in the extra 5K will be a little different!

All of these previous events have given me a lot of experience in how I face these weekend challenges, and while I must REALLY reinforce the fact that everyone is different when it comes to their training, approach, recovery etc, I just thought I’d share some wisdom that might be of use to anyone who might be facing their first challenge, or just want a little nosey at how I do things.

Training is SO key

I consider myself notoriously bad at training, and you’ll probably frequently see me tweeting about how little training I’ve done for various races, but my body is so used to doing these races and these distances that I can get away with winging it a little. If you are not a regular runner, or these will be your first events, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you do some training, including running back to back days and take training advice from professionals and experienced runners only.

Do NOT expect to do it all

Running every day is DRAINING. The Paris races aren’t too bad as they start at 7am, but if you’re participating in a WDW event, you’ll have to be awake at 3am at the latest to get to your events, and this has a huge impact on your day. The most important thing I have learned is to take it completely easy in the day before the bigger races, eg after the 10K and before the half marathon (or before the marathon if you’re literally and running Dopey). Have a super chilled day in the parks, or spend some time relaxing at the pool, let your body recover and rest up and you’ll be much happier, trust me.

Take the shorter races easier

You might think that the shorter races are your time to shine and want to run them full pelt, but in reality you probably want to take the opposite approach. Going all-out on a 5/10K could put you in a much worse shape going into your longer races, and believe me you want to be feeling fresh and ready for them!

Walking breaks are your friend

Jeff Galloway, the official RunDisney training expert, absolutely SWEARS by run-walk-run, and whenever I’m doing a challenge weekend I always have this in mind. Taking walking breaks reduces the risk of injury, give you a chance to enjoy your time in the parks and help you breakdown the long distances if you’re finding things hard.

Don’t put pressure on yourself, and remember to have fun!

The races will put enough pressure on your body, don’t go piling on anymore! RunDisney events are incredible things and I have never done a race I didn’t enjoy, so just go out there to have a good time, and whatever you do will be amazing.

Who else joined me in registration this week?

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The Walt Disney World Marathon

Sunday 13th January 2019

On the morning of the marathon I was up at 3am. Luckily, I’d actually slept pretty well that night, unlike most nights I have before races, so it didn’t feel too awful. As I was staying at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, I had to get the monorail to Epcot – there were no buses on for monorail loop resorts so it wasn’t as busy on the roads – but the building we were in, Moorea, was so close to the Ticket and Transportation Center that it was quicker for me to walk there and just get the direct monorail to Epcot than it was for me to get the monorail from Poly.

Getting the monorail meant I did arrive at Epcot earlier than I was used to and the corrals weren’t even open yet, so after I walked from the station to the RunDisney stage area, I sat down for a little bit so that I wasn’t on my feet for too long, then once the corrals were open I made my way to G and sat back down for the wait. To give you an idea of the scale of this event, by the time I’d got to the start line I’d already done 5,000 steps.

While the race officially started at 5:30am, my corral didn’t actually start until 6:10, by which time I was bursting for the loo having drank a bottle of water while waiting to begin, so I had to stop at the first portaloo on the course, which was about three-quarters of a mile in – although on a full bladder it felt A LOT longer than that!

The course took us straight up to Magic Kingdom, which we entered just after mile 5, and those first 5 miles flew by for me, with the highlight seeing Leah at mile 4 cheering me on. The sun was just rising so the castle looked totally beautiful while we were running down Main Street, and in every RunDisney event I’ve done in WDW, this is the moment I look forward to the most. The Magic Kingdom stretch always goes far too quickly as well – it was actually just about a mile – but just before leaving the park via a backstage area we reached the 10k mark.

For some reason in basically every marathon photo I am holding a banana (and no, they’re not all the same banana)

The next stretch of the route was the part I was looking forward to the least; it was a full 10k again before we’d reach Animal Kingdom. Despite dreading it, however, this part went almost as quickly as the first quarter of the race. It was all road with very little entertainment, and it was starting to get hotter as the sun had properly risen by then, but I was still in my stride and feeling good, so it didn’t seem like too long until the course took me into Animal Kingdom. We came in at the top of the park, running over the tracks for the train that normally runs guests to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, then down through Africa, into Asia and past Expedition Everest before leaving the park through the back of Dinoland USA. The park was open by this point, and some runners were making the dash off the route to ride Expedition Everest, for which the single rider queue was open exclusively for. The half marathon mark was also inside the park, and despite thinking I would have a little cry at that point, I was focusing all my energy on pushing forward – everything from this point onward would be the furthest I’d ever run before.

In my head, the next stretch of the race wouldn’t be so bad – it was less than 10K until we got to the next significant part of the course at ESPN Wide World of Sports. In reality, this was the hardest part for me. Between mile 16 and 17 my wireless headphones ran out of battery, meaning I no longer had the Hamilton soundtrack to distract me from the blazing sun and 25C+ temperature with no shade, or the fact that being back on the roads meant there was absolutely no shade. This was also about the time that my ankle gave out, and suddenly it felt like each mile had trebled in distance. When I finally did get to ESPN, I thought the time would go by a little faster, but my feet felt like they were dying and there were actually almost 3 miles to run around the grounds, and those 3 miles felt like 30.

From ESPN the course took us up towards Hollywood Studios, where we ran in through the top of the Fantasmic theatre, to the bottom of Tower of Terror and then along Sunset Boulevard and out of the park through the main entrance, and from there we ran along the path that links Hollywood Studios to Epcot via the Boardwalk Resort area. By this point I was so ready for the race to be over, but I was still plodding along as best I could, thinking that once the route took me into Epcot at the UK pavilion, I’d only have a short bit of the World Showcase to run before leaving the park for the finish line. I was wrong. Turns out, we were running around the World Showcase the long way..

Despite having very little of the route left and still running, albeit very slowly, I found the World Showcase incredibly irritating. Epcot guests were in full swing by this point, so only half of the width of the path was coned off for the runners, but guests were still cutting into the running course, and a lot of the other runners were walking by this point, so I was having to do a lot of weaving, which was the last thing I wanted to be doing as I was nearing 26 miles. The course continued to be super crowded and blocked up by walkers almost right up to the finish line, so I was having to dart into any available space until it finally opened up at the finish line stretch.

I’m not even sure if I can put into words how I felt crossing the finish line. I expected to burst into tears but it had been so hot I don’t think I had any water left in my body to cry out. The whole thing didn’t feel real, and I’m not sure it even does now, because running a marathon is not something that I ever imagined I would be capable of doing in my lifetime, let alone with the year I had leading up to it. But I did it.

The plan and motivation for this race was wanting to run a marathon before turning 25, which I will be in October. I’ve always said that it would be my only marathon and that I would definitely never put myself through it again, but now its over, I wonder if I’ve caught the bug..

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Walt Disney World Days 5 and 6

I’m combining two days into one post purely because I didn’t do too much myself!

After a lie in as a reward for the 10K the previous day, we headed to Animal Kingdom and went straight to our first fastpass at Dinosaur, and from there we went to meet Chip and Dale in their Dinobash outfits which were super cute!! It was pretty much lunchtime at this point so we went over to Satuli Canteen to eat (because I can’t live without cheeseburger pods).

After lunch, Chelsea and Sammy had a Flights of Passage fastpass so Sarah and I just wandered around Africa taking photos while they were in Pandora, and then we went back to Satuli Canteen to meet up with David, Megan and Leah quickly. I was planning on leaving after that to go back to the hotel, but our little meet took us up until our Expedition Everest fastpass so I figured it would be rude not to ride!

I spent the rest of the afternoon resting at the resort in preparation for the marathon, with the exception of going to Disney Springs for dinner at Blaze, and then got myself an early night for the next morning..

I won’t go into all the hairy details of the marathon just yet, but I DID IT!!!

It was hot, it was hard work, but it is over now and I’m so happy. I went straight back to the resort afterwards for a good soak in the bath and some feet up time, and then we drove over to Wilderness Lodge for dinner at Artist Point. It was the new Storybook Dining experience which is Snow White themed, and although the setting and characters were very cute, the meal itself was a little disappointing – although I hardly had the energy to eat anyway.

Matthew and I went back to Polynesian while the girls spent the rest of the evening in Magic Kingdom, but we did watch Happily Ever After from the beach at the resort, and I think I was asleep before 9.30pm..

My next post will be a more detailed look into the marathon, but we’re about to set sail on the Disney Dream so I don’t know if that will be posted tomorrow or a few days time!

Walt Disney World Day 4

Friday kicked off with the first RunDisney event of our trip: the Walt Disney World 10K. For me this technically counted as a warmup for the marathon, but it was Chelsea and Sammy’s first RunDisney event and it was really great. We stopped to meet Ralph and Vanellope, Chip and Dale as the Rescue Rangers and Jiminy Cricket, and I’m so proud of how they did and happy with how they paced me.

After we’d showered, changed etc, we went back to Epcot in time for our lunch reservation at Teppan Edo. It was my fourth time eating there and it never fails to disappoint! After eating, we went round to Norway to meet Anna and Elsa and then used our fastpass for Frozen Ever After. When we came out from there, we saw that Soarin had a 25 minute wait time so we bombed over there, but actually I don’t think we waited more than 15 minutes to ride. We then hit some Epcot walls, then went to Starbucks and Club Cool for drinks, then went to meet Baymax and Joy and Sadness, and then went back to Mexico to meet Donald.

With our little legs all feeling the long day, we finished up the day in Epcot at Mouse Gear before catching the monorail back to the resort for an early night and the best nights sleep of the trip so far!

Walt Disney World Day 3

So I’m now running a day behind, but hey ho!

Thursday morning we headed into Magic Kingdom around about opening time, and as we walked into the park Chip and Dale were just heading out to meet, so as they had no queue yet, we were basically the first people to meet them, then we walked towards Frontierland and rode Big Thunder Mountain, then picked up some breakfast and hit up Its A Small World.

From there, we went back to Main Street so Chelsea could get a Starbucks and Sarah could get a balloon, and then visited the purple wall for some quick pics for the ‘gram. Chelsea and Sammy had fastpasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, so they went off to do that and Sarah and I just hung out at the castle which is where they met us and we went over to Space Mountain for another fastpass.

A quick snack and some shops later, Sarah left to nip back to the hotel for a jacket and the rest of us had a quick wander through Fantasyland and then rode Big Thunder one more time, this time with a fastpass, and then left the park, meeting Sarah on the way out, and got the bus to Art of Animation.

The bus to AoA broke down, so we ended up having to be transferred onto a new bus, but it didn’t take too long for that to be sorted! We had some food at the resort and an explore, and then we got an Uber to ESPN Wide World of Sports for the RunDisney expo where we picked up our race bibs and shopped the merch for the race weekend, then grabbed another Uber to Hollywood Studios, which is where we finished up the night watching Fantasmic before going back to get a good nights sleep in before the 10k!

Walt Disney World Day 2

This morning we got up bright and early so that we could get to Animal Kingdom. Due to not booking our fastpasses at the 60 day mark, we didn’t have a Flights of Passage fastpass, so we were attempting to rope drop it, and it was actually a success! Although the queue looked scary as we walked all the way down to Harambe Theater, we hardly stopped moving and actually did the ride in under an hour – plus as I’ve only ever done fastpass for it before, it meant I got to see the cool inside queue for the first time.

Once that was done, we could relax a little and got breakfast at Creature Comforts, then we took some photos at the Tree of Life before going to meet Russell and Dug. It was possibly the cutest meet I’ve ever had, and as it was my first time meeting Dug I was really excited, especially as they loved our Wilderness Explorer outfits. After that, we went over to Expedition Everest and rode it twice, once as single riders and the second time using our fastpasses, then we wandered around for a bit before settling on having lunch at Yak and Yeti (QS).

We ended up sitting at Yak and Yeti for quite a while, just enjoying some shade and time off our feet, and then from there we went over to Africa for Festival of the Lion King, then went back to Dinoland and practically walked onto Primeval Whirl, then met Donald in his Dinobash outfit, before going to meet Micky and Minnie, which we had fastpasses for.

After that, we happened across Pocahontas meeting near the Tree of Life while we were heading back to Africa, so we stopped to meet her, and then went on to our final fastpass of the day at Kilimanjaro Safaris – although our ride was somewhat delayed due to the animals blocking vehicles on the roads – but we did get to see the lions really clearly and hear them roar!

Once we were off the ride, we had a mad dash back to the hotel to meet Chelsea who had arrived while we were being held up by rhinos or whatever was delaying the safari! We headed into Magic Kingdom for some dinner, a quick spin on the Peoplemover and a look through some shops, and then got the monorail back to the resort ready for some rest and recovery!

Tomorrow we’ll be hitting the RunDisney Health and Fitness Expo as well as the parks, so stay tuned!

Walt Disney World Day 1

Well gang, it’s been a hot minute since I’ve blogged a Disney trip, but would you believe in the last few months I’ve done two trips that I haven’t blogged? So unlike me, right?

Well, I’m now back in Walt Disney World for some magic and some running, and I’ll be back blogging the whole thing, starting with today..

So we’re staying at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, our DVC home, which meant that this morning was far more chilled out as we only had to hop on the monorail to get to Magic Kingdom, and did security at the resort so didn’t have to queue at the park. There had been an early morning magic event on so the park was already a little busy, but we went down to the castle for the welcome show, and then Sammy wanted some breakfast so she grabbed a Mickey waffle at Sleepy Hollow, took a trip to the Tangled toilets and then went for our first ride of the day: Pirates of the Caribbean.

On our way from there to Fantasyland, we met Mary Poppins and the ugly stepsisters, and then met Rapunzel and Tiana in Princess Fairytale Hall, and then headed for Haunted Mansion for our first fastpass of the day. By that time it was pretty much lunch time – Sarah and I hadn’t eaten breakfast either – and we ended up going to Pinocchio Village Haus so that we knew there would be vegetarian options for Sammy.

After lunch, we had to spend a little bit of time at guest services sorting out our annual pass magic bands, and then headed back to the castle to watch Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire and from there grabbed a parade spot. Once the parade was over, we grabbed a quick Starbucks, and then did our second fastpass of the day, Buzz, and also did a lap of the TTA Peoplemover.

The My Disney Experience app was telling us that Big Thunder Mountain had a 35 minute wait time, so we headed over there, but unfortunately so did everyone else in the park.. The cast member said the queue was at least 70 minutes when we got there, so that was a no, and instead Matthew and I got in the queue for Splash Mountain, but after a while we realised that the queue was going to be too long and we would miss our Seven Dwarfs Mine Train fastpass, so instead we grabbed a Mickey waffle and headed over to Fantasyland.

I’ve never done Mine Train in the dark before and it was so good!! Because most people were camping out for Happily Ever After by this point, the queue for Big Thunder had dropped to only 20 minutes, so we practically ran back to Frontierland, and had the best time riding the back of the wildest ride in the wilderness. With a little bit of time before HEA, we got some food at Cosmic Ray’s, and then got our spot to watch the show – despite showing up just as it was starting, we got a decent view!

On our way out of the park we hit the shops and Main Street Confectionary, and then we decided to forgo the monorail in favour of the ferry back to Poly, and the Electrical Water Pageant was going so we got to see a lot of that while we were waiting which was really cool because I never stop to watch it when I’m leaving Magic Kingdom.

We’ve got day 1 feet right now, so we got back into quickly and are just spending the evening chilling in the room ready for Animal Kingdom tomorrow!

Preparing for A Disney Cruise

Today is a very big day, Pascal!

No, I’m not leaving for a Disney cruise today, but I will be this time next week, and I can’t wait to be back on the sea, sailing on the Disney Dream.

This will be my second Disney cruise, and having had the experience from my cruise last year, I feel somewhat more prepared than I did last time. I know what to expect now, I know what I wish I’d done differently on my last cruise, and I’m ready to have the best time at sea feeling fully ready for it! If you’ve never done a Disney cruise before and need a little guidance, or are just interested in seeing how I do it, here are a few of the things I’ve done to get ready for this sailing:

Deciding how to decorate the stateroom door

The stateroom doors on Disney cruise ships are metal, so anything magnetic sticks to them and people really take advantage of this by decorating their doors to the max! We didn’t decorate our door last time, so I really wanted to get involved this year, and ordered some personalised decorations for our group so that we have even just a little something! It also makes things so much easier when you can’t remember what number room you’re in and all the floors and doors look them same..

Researching ports

For our Mediterranean cruise last year, I didn’t do ANY research on our ports or excursions, and relied purely on the rest of my group to decide what to do. Sure, I still had a great time and I was pretty happy doing whatever, but this time I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos of Castaway Cay in preparation!

Packing important things

As well as the usual holiday essentials, and the cruise booklet that you are sent in advance of your trip, there are a couple of things that I would highly recommend packing for a smoother cruise experience. Pack a lanyard or passholder for your room key if you don’t want to carry a bag all the time, I like to bring a travel cup (like the refillable ones you get at the parks, or a travel mug type) to fill up with drinks on deck so you don’t have to use a paper cup every time, and if you are going to decorate your door, don’t forget the decs!

Download the Disney Cruise app

Although it doesn’t do much before your cruise, once you’re onboard the ship and connected to the wifi, the Disney Cruise app becomes your guide to the boat, with daily schedules and timings, plus it has a cute messenger feature where you can chat to your group on the boat!

Plan your outfits

Even if you don’t meticulously plan your holiday wardrobe like I do, there are a couple of things you should prepare for. Every Disney cruise has a Pirate Night, where dressing up is highly recommended – seriously, everyone does it! – so you won’t want to miss out on that, and some sailings also have optional formal or semi-formal nights so plan accordingly. I’ve also planned a special outfit for the sailaway party as ours was cancelled on the last cruise so I want this one to be more special!

Have you ever done a Disney cruise before?

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Disneyland Paris AP Mouse Party Review

Its so crazy that one month ago today I was having the maddest day in Disneyland Paris! I’d flown out the night before so I could spend just one day in the parks, and so that I could go to my first ever annual pass holder event, which was to celebrate the 90th birthday of Mickey Mouse himself.

I’ve seen to many of my friends go to these types of events before and I was feeling a mixture of excited, nervous and also just not knowing what to expect completely, and now I’ve done it, what did I think?

Character meets

I think its safe to say that the majority of Disney fans go to these events for the opportunity to meet rare characters, and this definitely showed. Some of the queues were INSANE. DLP had had the good sense to split each queue into two, so that you knew which of the two characters at each location you were going to meet, instead of queuing with the hope of one, and then there being a switch as you get to the front, but it wasn’t very clear in the run up to the event that each meet would be separate. Sure, there were a few meets where I didn’t expect both characters to be together, but when the meets were billed as ‘Nick and Judy’ or ‘Carl and Russell’, a lot of guests were expecting to be meeting with both characters, not one or the other, especially as the queues were so long for most.

The only characters I saw with a minimal wait queue were Clarabelle and Horace, but after I’d spent almost the first hour of the party waiting for Vanellope, I decided that I didn’t want to spend all my party time in lines.

Shows and parades

There were a couple of shows and ‘parades’ on throughout the evening. I use ” in regards to the parades because it was essentially just some dancers and characters dancing down Main Street before going up on the stage, and the song for said parade was REALLY irritating – not everyone shared this view, but several people I was with did and it was so repetitive.. The other stage shows that were on through the evening were honestly a bit take it or leave it. I caught part of one of them and wasn’t massively impressed, especially considering how good the Surprise Mickey show that takes place in the parks during the day is, I just think the bar was set too high for me by that show.

The show that everyone was there for was the one night resurrection of Dreams, the firework and castle projection show that was replaced a few years back, and I must admit that it was GOOD. I’d only seen Dreams maybe 2/3 times back when it was on, so I didn’t have too much of a memory of it, but I enjoyed every minute of it! There was also another castle projection show towards the end of the party which was entirely Mickey themed and that was also amazing.

Rides

A lot of the rides were open to guests during the party, including Big Thunder Mountain, Its a Small World and Star Tours, and from what I heard, none of them had more than a 5 minute wait – probably because so many people were queuing for characters. The only ride I actually managed to fit in was Star Tours, which was a walk on AND there were only 8 people in the whole ride which was so cool.

I think for future parties, I’ll forgo characters in favour of rides because I loved riding a practically empty ride and not having to queue at all for that privilege, plus I found the character meets a little stressful given the number of guests and not-so-great organisation.

Organisation

I went into the party with a fairly open mind and no exact plan for anything that I really wanted to do, so I was fairly chilled for the most part, but there were some places were I thought Disneyland Paris really let guests down, and I feel a little ashamed to say that its not something I would have ever thought about before, had I not been with a friend of mine who was in a wheelchair.

The party was not disability friendly. There was no separate line for wheelchair users, so anyone in a chair had to be pushed up and down through the queue barriers under the Disneyland Hotel before the party, and then be crushed by the mobs of people trying to get into the park and run down Main Street. The lines for characters were also not clearly communicated. In the queue for Vanellope, we were told by one cast member to wait outside the line while he organised an alternative queue space, but meanwhile another queue had been created, and despite us being the first there, other cast members then tried to get us to move the the back of the now-insanely-busy queue. I hate how ignorant I have previously been to these matters, but I hate more how Disneyland Paris do not cater to all abilities.

Aside from this, however, I didn’t think the organisation was too bad. After being let into the park, each guest was handed a programme for the night and a limited edition print as a little gift, and there were cast members lining Main Street USA cheering and high-5ing guests as they walked in, I guess as also a little bit of crowd control!

And as far as I’m aware, everything else went off without a hitch! I had a good night with good friends, and I think I’ve learnt a lot about how to handle these events in the future. I don’t know if I would go to every party they hold but I’d definitely go back for another!

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What I Got For Christmas 2018

I don’t know if its too late to write this post and for people to still be interested, but if you fancy a little nosey at my Christmas gifts, then this is the post for you!

Part of the reason that this post is coming a little late is because for the first time ever, I spent Christmas away from my family, so I only exchanged gifts with some people yesterday when I was in Bournemouth for New Years, so now I finally have a full collection of wonderful gifts, and here they are:

For starters, who doesn’t LOVE the Lush Christmas products? My year revolves around when I’ll be able to get my hands on some Snow Fairy again, and because Matthew knows this, he bought be the BIGGEST bottle of Snow Fairy shower gel I’ve ever seen (its bigger than my head), as well as the new Snow Fairy body spray so I can smell like a Lush store all year round. I also got a couple of other bits from both Matthew and my mum, including the Rudolph jelly face mask which I can’t wait to try out! And what’s that in the corner you ask?

That would be my ADORABLE new activewear from Chrissa Sparkles! I’ve had my eye on these sprinkles leggings for about a year now, and back in November they announced that they would be discontinued, so I begged Matthew to buy them for me before they left, and I’ve had the torture of knowing that they were in the house but I couldn’t have them until Christmas Day. I’m so ready to look like a cupcake threw up on me at the gym.

Of course there was a healthy helping of Disney goodies, including a Disneyland Paris spirit jersey from my parents, the beautiful Sorcerer Mickey Pandora charm from Matthew and the Mickey Mouse Museum book from my nan which is full of amazing Disney artwork from through the years.

The little Potter nerd in me LOVES these beautiful books of the Fantastic Beasts film screenplays, and this little rat is, in fact, a Scabbers lip balm – I mean who knew that existed, but I’m here for it!

Finally, something else that I can’t wait to play with is the Chasing Rainbows palette from Colourpop, because look how pretty it is!! Discovering Colourpop was basically just the greatest thing to happen to my makeup drawer and I already know that this will be as amazing as everything else I own from them.

All these gifts, plus some other little bits like DVDs and chocolate have made me one super happy chappy! What was your favourite Christmas present?

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UK Small Shops for Your Christmas Shopping

Although we’re already fast approaching Christmas, like me, you may still have a little way to go on your Christmas shopping. I’m also trying my best to shop from as many small businesses as I can this Christmas, because as a small business owner myself, I know how important sales at this time of year are, so with that in mind, here are a bunch of UK based small shops for you to check out this holiday season who are still open for Christmas orders.

*At time of publishing, these shops are still accepting pre-Christmas orders, but please check their last order dates directly before purchasing*

CoconuTacha

Remember the amazing wrapping paper I showed you a few weeks back? Well its still available! You can also buy some amazing stickers, prints, greeting cards and enamel pins in a huge selection of beautiful designs from this wonderful Wales based store! Shop here.

RockPaperSisters

Whether you want a super cute tees, sweatshirts or tote bags, RockPaperSisters have got you covered for all your fandom and pop culture favourites. They have a HUGE range of designs, inspired by everything from your favourite Disney films, your favourite bands like BTS, TV shows, movies, girl power.. You name it, they’ve got it and you’ll love it. I already have a bunch of their tees and they are so comfortable, such amazing quality and the girls behind the business are also super lovely! Last Christmas order dates for the UK is Monday 17th December. Shop here.

Alice Vitrum

For any fans of Disney or Studio Ghibli, Alice Vitrum has you covered! Patches, pins, prints, stickers and tote bags, all in the cutest designs and you can order up until 9pm on December 12th! Shop here.

Teeq

For cute Disney inspired embroidered tees and sweatshirts, Teeq has got you covered, and they also have a cute selection of matching enamel pins too! Shop here.

Hopefully this will give you a little bit of gift inspiration, or pointed you towards some great small shops even if you are done shopping!

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The Happiest Wrapping on Earth*

Honestly, November has FLOWN by. Its now officially less than a month until Christmas, and I’m feeling super unprepared, but one thing I have got under my belt now, courtesy of the wonderful CoconuTacha, is some incredible Disney inspired wrapping paper, so at least when I do get my Christmas shopping done, the paper is all wrapped up, if you pardon the pun..

Tacha is an incredibly talented UK based graphic designer, and I love the unique style of each of the park icons featured on this wrapping paper. In each set you get 3 A2 size sheets of wrapping paper, plus 4 gift tags, so you’re completely covered for all your wrapping needs.

The paper is a really high quality – way nicer than your regular supermarket roll! – with a glossy finish, and its so beautiful that this is the kind of paper that you’ll want to unwrap carefully so you can keep it again! Also a great secondary use would be as a photo backdrop for blog photos – I may just keep a sheet for myself for this very reason!

And if you’re on the hunt for a cute little stocking filler, Secret Santa gift or just something to treat yourself with, Tacha also has this limited edition ‘Magic Castle’ enamel pin available on her store. Its so pretty and so different from any other castle pins I’ve seen and the colours are stunning together, and for £5 its a steal!

Cute wrapping idea: attach a pin to the gift tag of your present!

There’s currently 10% off both the wrapping paper and pin until the end of today so if you like what you see, head on over to Etsy now, and even if you’ve got your wrapping paper sorted, you should definitely check out Tacha’s designs on both her Etsy store where you’ll find an amazing selection of stationery, planner stickers, art prints and more, and also on Redbubble where you can get her designs on everything from t-shirts to phone cases.

Are you Christmas ready yet?

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*The items featured in this blog post were sent to me, but all views are my own.

Smells Like Magic* – Maple and Whisky Candle Review

I can’t believe that exactly one year ago Matthew and I were having the most magical time in Walt Disney World! I mean, I know we’ve had the craziest and most incredible year since then, but it still sucks.

In the crazy last year we’ve had though, we did buy our first house, and we’ve spent a lot of time turning it into the home that we love, with a big part of that being adding magical touches throughout to remind ourselves of our favourite places.

Maple and Whisky produce the most incredible scented candles inspired by your favourite Disney memories, including park foods like Mickey Waffles, rides like Soarin’ and resorts like The Grand. Quite frankly, if there’s a smell in a Disney park that you love, chances are, they’ve got it!

I’ve been a lover of Maple and Whisky for a few years now – I’ve got a constant stock of their wax melts on hand! – and they were super kind recently to send me three candles of my choosing to review, which meant I could fill the new house with some magical smells, although the hardest part was choosing just three! I took the opportunity to try two scents I’ve never had before, and to also get a new jar of my favourite M+W scent, Campfire Singalong.

Campfire Singalong smells truly of just that. Imagine toasting marshmallows and melting chocolate on an open fire at a Disney resort, and that’s what this is in a jar – its heavenly! For me, this is the ultimate autumn/winter candle as it fills the room with a wonderful warm scent and glow, but be warned, may cause chocolate cravings!

The second scent I chose was Beach Club, inspired by its eponymous Walt Disney World resort, and I chose it because our of all the resorts in WDW, this is my dream resort which I would absolutely LOVE to stay in one day! The smell is fresh and clean and it really does make me feel like I’ve just stepped into the air-conditioned lobby while taking a walk around the Boardwalk resort loop.

Finally, I picked Spirit of Aloha, which is inspired by the smell of the lobby at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. This time last year when we were in WDW was when Matthew and I joined Disney Vacation Club, and Polynesian is our home resort, so I wanted a candle to remind us of our second ‘home’! Not being the biggest fan of pineapple (and not having a super clear memory in my head of what the resort smelt like), I was slightly worried that I wouldn’t like this one, but actually its lovely! The pineapple is there, but its not at all in your face and is nicely balanced with hints of coconut.

Maple and Whisky offer candles in two sizes, 8oz and 12oz, as well as wax melts, room sprays and reed diffusers. The candles I received were the 8oz size, and they last a good long while! They’ve recently changed the design of their labels, so these aren’t exactly what they look like now but the new labels are even better!

What I absolutely love about these over other scented candles is that not only do they smell amazing up close, but they actually fill the whole room with their glorious scents, and that happens almost instantly, whereas even some big brand candles only smell when you stick your nose into the jar! I would absolutely recommend these candles, and as well as these scents some of my favourites are Adventure is Out There (grape soda scented), Butterbeer (for the Potterheads), Rice Krispie Treats and Sugar Rush! Head on over to their Etsy store to see more!

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*I was sent these candles for the purpose of review, but all words and views are my own.

Colourpop x Disney Designer: My Buys and Swatches

I think this has possibly been the best collaboration to come out of 2018, if not the best beauty collaboration I’ve ever seen. Two of my favourite brands, Disney and Colourpop coming together to release a whole collection of beautiful makeup? Yes please.

I was poised and ready the minute the collection dropped, and even being there as the clock struck midnight (metaphorically, it was actually 6pm but hey it would’ve been midnight somewhere), I still missed out on a couple of items that I wanted – the two highlighters from the collection, which sold out instantly – but I was still so happy to know that I was getting my hands on what I knew would be amazing products. Better still, Colourpop have now updated their site to include tax when shipping to the UK, so no more hideous customs charges, yippee! I was also pleasantly surprised at how quickly I got my dispatch email and how soon these beauties got to me, and the struggle of waiting until I had photographed them before I could have a play was real guys.

So out of the collection, I bought the It’s A Princess Thing pressed powder shadow palette, three of the Supershock shadows, shades Heigh-Ho, So This Is Love and Be Our Guest, and the Ariel Creme Lux Lipstick, and I did a little squee when I unboxed every single one of them.

For starters, the packaging is GORGEOUS. The collection features around just six of the Disney princesses, Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine and Tiana, and they all feature on the front of the eyeshadow palette, plus their autographs are plastered over most of the packaging. I love the gold and black and the low-key extravagance of it all.

Now I have a couple of Colourpop palettes and Supershock shadows already, so the product I was most intrigued by was the Creme Lux Lipstick, as I’ve not tried a Colourpop lippie before. I chose Ariel as it looked like a shade that I would get plenty of use out of, being more of a nude shade, and what I love about the Colourpop website is that they don’t just show the product and a swatch on an arm, they actually show the shade on lips, and on a range of different skin tones, so you can actually gauge if it’ll suit before you buy.

Again, I loved the packaging, and while the tube is plastic, it actually feels expensive. As for the product itself, I was SO happy with it. The shade is PERFECT, its soft and smells amazing, and even though I put it onto my already fairly dry lips, even up close it didn’t look dry and I didn’t find it drying over time.

The Supershock shadows also did not disappoint. They came in the same style pot that the regular Supershock shadows do, but in black with a gold castle on the lid. I’ve written a proper review on Supershock shadows before, so I won’t go into the nitty gritties, but they’re beautifully buttery shadows, and the pigmentation blows my mind.. I was actually only going to buy one, but when the highlighters sold out, I needed to top up my order to get free delivery, so I grabbed two more, and I’m really glad that I did.

Top to Bottom: Be Our Guest, So This Is Love, Heigh-Ho

Of course the centrepiece of the collection was the It’s A Princess Thing palette. It looked stunning in the photos that I saw prior to the release, and it was even more stunning in person. This is my third Colourpop shadow palette, so I expected good things, but it wasn’t until I swatched the colours out that I realised just how incredible this palette is.

The pigmentation is so unbelievable; photos don’t do justice. The shimmery shadows practically turn into foils on the skin, I’ve never seen powder eyeshadow look so flawless. All of these swatches are one swipe with a finger and the colours are so vivid. The only shade that didn’t do too much for me is Chip, which is the lightest matte shade, but I think that’s only because its not as bold as the others, and I reckon I’ll actually use it quite a lot nonetheless.

Top to Bottom: Chip, Juju, Grumpy, Triton, Abu

Top to Bottom: Prince Charming, Ray, Fair Godmother, One Kiss?, Thingamabob

Top to Bottom: Enchanted Rose, Poison Apple, Magic Carpet, Beast, Midnight Curfew

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve got anything bad to say about this palette; I may go as far as saying that I think the quality is better than that of other Colourpop palettes that I own and love. As well as these swatches going on so well with a finger, the shadows apply beautifully with brushes, they blend perfectly and have good staying power even unprimed.

This collection, like a Disney princess, is flawless.

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The Perfect Cabin Suitcase

For someone who travels quite a lot, I’m almost ashamed to say that I have never used a cabin-sized suitcase until now. Whenever I’ve travelled hand luggage only I’ve kept myself to backpacks and holdalls, and while that has always been fine for me as I don’t do it often, I figured that as I now have the advantage of using Matthew’s staff travel to get super cheap flights, I’ll be going hand luggage only quite a bit more from here on out!

Another thing that swayed me was how adorable this suitcase is, so I decided to treat myself to the Minnie Mouse suitcase by American Tourister from the Disney Store website, and isn’t it a beaut?! I already have a large American Tourister case which I got for Christmas last year and I LOVE, so I knew that it would be a great investment.

Its a hard shell case with four wheels, and a built in 3-digit combination lock that the zip pulls click into, so you can secure it without having to worry about having a lock that needs a key.

The inside of the case it just as pretty as the outside, with its pretty pink and blue lining and details, and what I love about the AT cases compared to other brands I’ve seen is that it was a proper zipped divider that fully separates the top section of the case, and also has a big pocket built into it, which is the perfect size for 3-4 pairs of Mickey ears. The main compartment also has a little side pocket, which is perfect for charging cables and other little bits, and the strap keeps everything nicely packed in place!

The first outing of my case was my Disneyland Paris trip last month, and I easily managed to fit all my clothes and other bits for 4 days and still have a good amount of space, which given that I was packing summery clothes means I don’t think I’d have any problems packing 3-4 days of thicker wintery clothes.

The size of the case of course meets the size requirements of a cabin bag with most, if not all airlines, and I had absolutely no problem fitting it into an overhead locker on my EasyJet flight. The case wheels like a dream so walking through airports is no problem at all and it is just the cutest case ever, so if you do ever check it into the hold then you’ll have no problem spotting it on a luggage belt!

American Tourister do quite a big range of Disney designs, as well as normal styles, which you can usually get cheapest on Amazon. As I mentioned earlier, I also have a large Donald Duck suitcase which is the perfect size for a 2 week trip and just as amazing as this one, so I definitely sing the praises of all of their cases!

If I don’t make another little trip before then, the next trip this case will make will be to Walt Disney World in January!

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My Mini Disneyland Paris Haul

Did I even go to a Disney park if I don’t talk about it endlessly while I’m there and then continue talking about it endlessly when I’m back? Oh, and if I don’t post a haul?

Well, I didn’t actually get that much from my trip to Disneyland Paris last week, but I still wanted to share what I bought as I got a couple of things that I’ve never seen in the parks before, and so maybe you haven’t either!

First up, and becoming a strange habit of mine seeing as I’ve never really been interested in them before, I bought two pins: one I think must be a regular design, this simple Steamboat Willie, and the second is a design that was only released about a week before my trip, which is this ADORABLE Winnie the Pooh and Piglet Halloween pin. I’m a sucker for Pooh and he’s in this adorable little pumpkin suit and his honey pot says ‘BOOH’ and I just can’t..

Another little purchase was this Donald Duck spatula – now I’ve got quite a few Disney kitchen utensils, all in the classic Mickey style, but I’ve never seen Donald ones before and you all know I LOVE Donald! Plus now we have a house and only one spatula in it, this seemed like a semi-necessary purchase.

The final buy was this Mickey inspired washbag, which I was drawn to as it can be hung using the little hook at the top, which is perfect for Disney cruises due to relatively little bathroom space! It has a little mirror at the top too, and two storage compartments, both of which can actually be detached as they have velcro fastenings. I also love the little Mickey ears at the top, and the whole thing folds up to a decent sized washbag for travelling with, and is held together with magnetic fastenings.

I may or may not already be planning my next trip back to Disneyland Paris, so watch this space!

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Disneyland Paris Day 4

This post is coming a day late because Friday was such a long day and I needed yesterday to recover, but anyways!

This morning I left Matthew behind in the hotel (he had some work related stuff to sort out, I’m not just a mean person) and headed into the parks for early magic hours, bypassing the big queue of Disney hotel guests by using the designated annual pass holder entrance! As I had limited time before going back to meet Matthew, I decided that I only wanted to queue to meet Donald, and then spent the rest of the time taking advantage of the park being much quieter for taking photos.

At 10am, when the park opened to the rest of the guests, I left to head back to the hotel so that we could finish packing and check out – I had planned to get the shuttle bus but didn’t check the timetables so rather than waiting 25 mins for the next bus I walked back, which did only take 20 minutes so I was pretty impressed with that, plus the weather was lovely!

Once we’d checked out, we headed back to the park with our cases, leaving them at guest storage by the park entrance for the day, and then we went back into the Disneyland park. We started with Pirates of the Caribbean, which was basically a walk on, and then walked through Fantasyland, grabbing lunch at Bella Notte, and then went for one last ride on Star Tours before switching parks and going to Studios.

There, we walked onto Flying Carpets, and then also walked onto Studio Tram Tour before doing Tower of Terror for one last time.

We then decided to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring, as Matthew has never been to any of the Disney hotels, so we walked through Disney Village and did a lap of the lake, stopping to poke around Sequoia Lodge and Newport Bay Club, where we sat and had a drink and a snack in one of the lounges, before finally going back to collect our cases from storage and head back to the airport.

It might be a see ya real soon moment, but now we’re annual pass holders I think soon will probably be very soon, DLP!

Disneyland Paris Day 2

This morning’s plan was to start off at Walt Disney Studios Park, and we arrived just as it was opening, having decided to sleep through magic hours. We headed straight for Crush’s Coaster, which had its typical hour wait but we did it nonetheless – in fact, midway through the queue we had the dreaded break down announcement, but it cleared up quickly and we waited no more than 10 mins more than the displayed wait time!

After Crush, we went to grab fastpasses for Ratatouille, and then decided that was it was well past 11am that we’d skip breakfast, do one more ride and then have lunch. The ride in question was one of my favourites, although it seems massively underrated: RC Racer. I was pretty amazed at how busy the park was, as when we walked by Studio Tram Tour the queue was actually out of its designated area and going down past Tower of Terror!

For lunch I had the Spider-Man burger, which was actually really good and so big I couldn’t finish it, and then we went back to Ratatouille for our fastpass time. After that we had planned to swing by Tower of Terror to grab fastpasses for later on, but after we’d got them we saw the wait time was only 15 mins so decided to standby it there and then. Matthew then went off to do Rock’n’Roller Coaster, which is one I tend to skip these days (that made me sound super old but oh well) and I just sat outside and waited because that only had a 10 minute wait time.

We then decided to head out from Studios, and walked into Disney Village – via World of Disney to buy some pins – and grabbed a Starbucks and a sit down before going into Disneyland. We did Pirates of the Caribbean with a relatively short wait time, and then walked through Fantasyland, and by the time we’d got to It’s a Small World it was only a few minutes until Stars on Parade was due to start. I didn’t get the best spot, but did the trick of waiting by the rope that was still due to close, so I was only one person back and she stayed crouched with her kid so I had a fairly decent view. Still not Magic on Parade though, amirite?

As I saw the parade was ending, we made a run for it before the rest of the crowd left, and took as many back ways as possible to get ourselves back down Main Street and out of the park while the parade will had everyone’s attention! We hopped on our hotel shuttle, but stayed one more stop to get off nearer Val d’Europe, where we then spent a few hours exploring (I’ve never been before!) and finished up buying some bits from the supermarket to take back to our room for dinner, to give out feet a rest from the parks as mine were about to drop off!

We still have two days in the magic so there’s plenty more fun to be had!

Introducing My First Kickstarter!

Hey gang! Today’s post is something a little bit different, but I just wanted to take a little bit of time to tell you all about something that I launched over the weekend.

As some of you will know, earlier this year I branched out into designing enamel pins, and on Saturday I launched my first ever Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a whole collection of cupcake pins inspired by everyone’s favourite Pixar movies.

The campaign launched on Saturday evening, and hit the initial funding goal for the first pin design within an hour, and not even 48 hours later, pledges have unlocked two further designs and put as well on the way to the next target!

If you’re not familiar with how Kickstarters work, its basically a way of securing funding for projects by pledges from the public, and its ‘all or nothing’ so if you don’t hit your target goal within the set time limit, then no one who pledges gets charged anything. Pledges can be purely voluntary for no reward, or as most projects are done, pledges receive ‘rewards’ based on how much they pledged, usually in the form of the product that they are funding. For my project, you can pledge anything from one pin to all nine, and obviously the more you pledge, the more designs get unlocked so the more choice you have to get your favourite design!

My project has another 28 days to go, and based on its initial interest I’m really hoping that we’ll be able to unlock every design before the 30 days is up, but as the initial funding goal has already been met, every unlocked design will go into production even if we don’t unlock them all, so I’m super happy about that! If you’d like to pledge, you can check out the campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/782349729/the-other-studio-cupcake-enamel-pins – you will have to provide your card details to pledge, however you won’t be charged anything until the end of the project period, so it will be October 8th before anything gets taken!

Even if you don’t want to pledge, I appreciate any shares for my projects so if you know someone who would love this, be sure to tell them about it!

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My DVC Bucket List

Its so crazy to think that its been over 9 months since Matthew and I became Disney Vacation Club members, and we’ve already had one amazing trip as members, with another trip creeping up at the start of the new year. Its safe to say that we’re loving it.

Joining DVC not only opens up all of the resorts that we never thought we’d be able to afford to stay at, but it also gives us some pretty cool exclusive opportunities that I’m dying to start taking advantage of, and as I’ve been spending an unhealthy amount of time on the DVC website lately, I’ve curated a little bucket list of things I would love to do now I’m a member*.

  • Stay in all of the DVC resorts – I think this is a total given, but I want to get ticking things off the list! So far I’ve done Polynesian and Aulani, but I’ve got all the other WDW resorts to work through, plus Disneyland’s Grand Californian, and then there’s Vero Beach and Hilton Head Island so I guess its a good job its a 50 year contract, right?
  • Watch Happily Ever After from the Top of the World Lounge – The Top of the World Lounge is a DVC member lounge located at the top of Bay Lake Tower, and apparently its an amazing spot to watch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom.
  • Soarin’ Around The World tour – On select mornings, there’s a free, first-come, first-served hour long behind the scenes tour of Soarin in both Epcot and Disneyland’s California Adventure park. I’m totally fascinated by Soarin’ so I’d love to see everything that goes into making the ride so amazing!
  • Moonlight Magic – I mean, an after hours park event with character meets and so much more isn’t really something that anyone would pass up, right?
  • Fitness in the Park – I really hope that when I’m in Disneyland next year that this is on! Its a free pilates class that takes place in Disney’s California Adventure park on select mornings before the park opens and that’s got my name all over it!
  • Member cruising – Each year, there are a couple of exclusive DVC cruises and while there’s a part of me that can’t imagine anything worse than being on a ship with thousands of other DVC members (ya know, the super entitled ones), I do love a Disney cruise..
  • Get some merch! – Aside from our freebie joining tote, I don’t have any DVC exclusive merchandise, so that’s gotta change – even Matthew is ahead of me with a set of DVC pins! I’ve got my eye on the Alex and Ani bracelet to add to my collection for starters, but who knows what else might take my fancy!
*These are all benefits available to members who buy direct through Disney, so may not be available to resale buyers.

I guess I better get started, right?

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Paris, I’m coming back!

Happy Thursday y’all! (I had to check that it’s actually Thursday because working from home means I have no sense of what day of the week it is!)

I’m in a pretty great mood today because last night Matthew and I booked ourselves a little trip to.. Disneyland Paris! Eeek!

Believe it or not, I actually haven’t stepped foot into a Disney park at all this year, and I honestly have found it much harder than I thought I would – especially after spoiling myself with so many trips over the last few years! Anyway, with Matthew officially starting with easyJet on September 17th, we had wanted to get away on a little trip in the week before then, and had played around with the idea of a couple of places in Europe, then last night he called me up and said he’d found a pretty good deal on 4 nights in Paris, and next thing I knew it was booked!

We’re staying offsite, which I’m actually quite excited about because I haven’t actually stayed offsite before, and as I’m getting an annual pass (yay!), I plan on squeezing in a whole bunch of trips in the next year and doing them as cheaply as possible, I know that offsite is gonna be the way to do it. I’m so psyched to be becoming an AP holder again, especially now I’ll be able to take advantage of Matthew’s staff travel to fly super cheap and go more often than I have done before!

It’ll also be our first trip to Paris together, and believe it or not, only actually our second time in a Disney park together! I haven’t been to Paris in almost a year, and as that was for a RunDisney weekend it wasn’t really a proper park trip, so I can’t wait to just be in the parks with my favourite person and not have to worry about running a half marathon the next morning!

Oh, and did I mention it’s only 25 days away?! I’m so excited!

DIY Porg Meringues

Its not May the 4th, and its not any time around a film being released, but I figured I actually didn’t need an excuse to share what I feel like is one of the cutest baking posts I’ve done in a long time. Well, it is actually the first time in ages that I’ve done a baking post, and its my first time baking in my new house, so ok, there’s the excuse!

Like them or loathe them (but seriously, who doesn’t like them?!), Porgs sorta stole the show in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Fun fact: the porgs were actually created as the island that the scenes were filmed on was populated with a whole load of puffins, and it was easier to CGI the porgs over all the puffins than it was to remove the puffins from the shots, so porgs are basically just space puffins. But I digress..

I’ve had the idea for these cute little sweet treats in my head for a little while now, and here they are – they’re a super simple bake and only 4 ingredients too! I always use the BBC Good Food Ultimate Meringue recipe for meringues, as below, but if you have your own go-to meringue recipe you can use that!

You will need:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 115g icing sugar
  • 100g milk or dark chocolate

Preheat your oven to 100C, and line a couple of baking trays with greaseproof paper. On the back of my greaseproof paper I drew a porg template ready for piping later, but you don’t have to do this.

Whisk your egg whites using a hand or stand mixer until they form stiff peaks, then up the speed a little and add the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time, waiting a few seconds between each spoonful. Once the caster sugar has all been added, your mix should look nice and shiny! Sift the icing sugar into the egg mix  one third at a time, and fold in gently using a metal spoon until smooth.

Now how you shape your porg is totally up to you, I used a piping bag but I imagine you could do it no problem using a spoon. Pipe/spoon your porg shapes onto the greaseproof paper leaving a little bit of space between each one – don’t worry about them being too peak-y or being all the same shape, it gives them character! Bake for 1 hour 30 mins, and then leave them to cool on a cooling rack.

To give yourself a nice flat canvas to work on, flip your meringues so that the flat side is the front of your porg, and now you’ve got yourself an army of little meringue porgs, you’re gonna want to melt down your chocolate. As you’re gonna be dipping, I suggest doing this in a fairly small bowl so that you’ve got some depth.

Take a porg, and working from wing to wing, dip and turn your meringue to create a chocolate border around your porg, then place them onto greaseproof paper to dry. You can then use either a piping bag or toothpick dipped in chocolate to add facial features. Pop your porgs in the fridge to allow the chocolate to harden, and you’re all done!

The meringues can be stored in a sealed container for about a week, if they last that long..

Things to do on Disney Cruise Sea Days

I’m in shock with the realisation that it’s been almost a whole year since I went on my first Disney Cruise. Where has that time gone?! Disney Cruise Line opened my eyes to a world of holidays that I’d previously considered boring, and now I’m just buzzing to get back on the next ship in January!

One thing that I’ve been asked quite a few times is ‘what do you even do on a cruise when you can’t get off?’, and to be honest I always used to think the same before I actually experienced DCL, and now I live for sea days and all the fun that comes with them. Disney ships are a Dream, full of Magic, Fantasy and Wonder (see what I did there), and there are so many things that you can do on board, aside from lounging at the pool, to fill your days from waking up to passing out.

Character meets

Sea days are the best days for character meets, as they’re the days that they put the most characters out during the day. As well as the standard meets that you’ll be able to find the times for on your navigator, there are often special meets put on which you can book in advance of the cruise, such as Frozen and princess meets.

Kids club openings

While normally I wouldn’t want to go anywhere near a room full of kids, the kids clubs are without a doubt the coolest places on the ships, with themed areas like Andy’s Room, Pixie Hollow and Mickey Mouse Club. These clubs are strictly kids only, but during scheduled ‘open houses’, anyone can go inside to see what’s going on and admire the adorableness!

Catch a movie

If you’re in the mood for a movie, you can either hang out by the pool and watch what’s on the big screen at Funnelvision, or if an outdoor screening doesn’t take your fancy, you can go to the onboard cinema! It’s bigger than most of the screens at my local cinema, and it even plays some of the newest film releases.

Fill your boots!

Sea days are the best days for food. Well, you’ve got more opportunities to take advantage of all that free food that’s included in your booking. You could snack on nuggets and pizza between buffet meals, and don’t forget the self-serve ice cream machines..

Try out the gym

After all that food, you might not want to move, but if you haven’t lived on ice cream all day and fancy it, the onboard gym is fully kitted out for your workout needs.

Pub? Pub.

Pub quizzes, bingo, talks and so much more goes on in the pubs and clubs on the ships, so there’s always something going on for you to do.

Exploring the ship

Sea days are the perfect time to just explore these amazing ships, so have fun!

My RunDisney Medal Collection

So I know I have been totally AWOL for the last two weeks, but moving house is insane y’all! I honestly thought I’d only be away from blogging for a few days to maybe a week but I have had NO TIME lately with sorting the house out.

But I’m back! And as today is registration day for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my existing RunDisney medal collection! I managed to get registered on Tuesday in the DVC early registration window, which I’m so happy about, and I wish everyone registering today the best of luck!

Walt Disney World races

2016 – If you’ve been following me for that long, you’ll know that I started doing RunDisney events in 2016, and every single race has been an amazing experience for me. My dad and I started off in the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend , taking part in the 5K and the half marathon, which was actually our first half marathon. Back then, 5K medals were 2016 rubber ones (you get a proper metal one now), so Pluto here was our first RunDisney medal. The half marathon was one of the hardest races I have ever done because a few days before I developed a chest infection and I honestly felt like I was going to die before we’d even hit mile 4, but we did it and it was so worth it.

2017 – Running solo for the first time, I started off the year with the Princess Half Marathon Weekend in February. By this point I had the bug for challenges, so I did the Glass Slipper Challenge (10K and half marathon). The races were all Beauty and the Beast themed that year, which I was so happy about as I had already planned to run as Chip before the medal designs had been released, although the challenge medal was still glass slipper themed.

Disneyland races

2016 – The week after doing the marathon weekend in 2016, we left Florida and flew across to California to take part in the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend, and this was where we completed our first race challenge, Rebel Challenge, which was completing the 10K on the Saturday and the half marathon the next morning on the Sunday. By this point my chest infection had cleared up, and I actually set my half marathon PB on this course.

2017 – In May I did the Pixie Dust Challenge at the Tinkerbell Half Marathon weekend. I saw a lot of hate on social media over these races but I had a total blast. The Disneyland 10K course is my all time favourite RunDisney course (RIP California races) and I think my favourite medal was from the 10K, although they are all so stinkin’ cute!

Coast to Coast

Both in 2016 and 2017 I earned a Coast to Coast medal for completing a half marathon* in both Walt Disney World and Disneyland in the same calendar year, but in 2017 I got a bonus of the ‘pink’ Coast to Coast, which was for doing the Princess and Tinkerbell weekend in the same year. The medal was essentially the same as the normal Coast to Coast, just in a pinky colour palette instead! 2017 was also the 10 year anniversary of the Coast to Coast challenge, so the blue medal was extra special!

*to earn a Coast to Coast medal, a minimum distance of half marathon must be done in each park!

Disneyland Paris races

In 2016 I took part in both the inaugural 5K and half marathon in Disneyland Paris (there was no 10K in the first year), and then in 2017 I did the 10K and half marathon, earning the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Challenge medal! Both years I also got an additional challenge medal, the Castle to Chateau Challenge, for completing races in the US as well as Paris – the medal was the same for both years, just with a different ribbon.

Virtual Running Shorts

I only did the virtual shorts in 2016, which was the first year RunDisney did virtual races, mainly because its quite expensive to do considering you don’t get an actual event, but I loved the medals I got because they were huge!

This year has been totally RunDisney-less for me, which has been really sad, but I’m also quite happy as I’ve had so many injuries to deal with! I’m also still a little heartbroken that the California races have been cancelled until further notice, but I’m just praying they’ll return soon and I’m so excited to get back into training for the marathon next year!

Have you ever done a RunDisney event?

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A Look Around Aulani’s Deluxe Studios

Staying at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii has been an absolute dream of mine for years now, and part of me still can’t believe that I’ve actually ticked it off the great Disney bucket list now.

During our stay in paradise, we actually stayed in two different rooms, both of which were Deluxe Studios, which is the second level of room at Aulani after a standard hotel room. There are several options in terms of the view you can have – standard view, garden view, pool view and ocean view – and we spent 6 nights in a standard view and our last night in an ocean view. Put simply, the better the view, the more you pay, whether that’s in cash or DVC points.

Each deluxe studio sleeps up to 4 people, with a regular double bed and a sofa that converts into a double bed, and there’s a large bathroom and a little kitchenette which is equipped with a fridge, microwave, coffee maker and toaster. They also all have a balcony/terrace area with chairs and a little table so you can sit out and enjoy the sunshine.

Of course this is still Disney, so the decor of the rooms perfect, including the amazing Mickey table lamp and hidden Mickey bedspread..

But also just look at the view that we had from our ocean view room on the last night:

Can I go back now please?

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My Favourite Disney Accessories Right Now

I feel like this post is a little moot as I haven’t actually stepped foot in a Disney park this year, nor do I have a park trip planned for this year, but they say absence makes the heart grow fonder and I’ve definitely felt that.

BUT you know me and a lack of a trip doesn’t really stop me from shopping, and as someone who loves to include Disney style in my every day life as well, I’ve been adding to my stash of Disney accessories lately, and there are some particular favourites of mine right now that I thought I would share!

I’m a self-confessed ear addict, but as I already have more pairs than I know what to do with, not to mention the fact that those bad boys really can only been worn in the parks, I’ve had to curb my ear buying this year, and instead I’ve fallen in love with these cute little knotty headbands from Crittear Country. They’re super cute, really comfy and, style dependant, very subtle!

On the topic of hair accessories, I’m also still loving these Mickey ear headbands from Closet Geek which are another current favourite method of keeping my hair under control!

Ok, so I had never really understood the hype about the little plushie passholders that are all the rave in Tokyo Disneyland until I bought my Gelatoni one in Aulani. I swear that thing was surgically attached to my neck the whole time we were on that trip and it was the most useful thing! They’re such an easy way of carrying cards and money, and even my phone (iPhone SE) fit in it, meaning I never really had to carry a bag, and I swear this is a game changer for when I hit the parks again next year!

I’ve always been an Alex and Ani girl, but feel like I can only really wear those in the parks, whereas my Lillian and Co bracelets are the perfect subtle addition to an everyday outfit. All three quotes mean so much to me and I’m so in love with these at the moment!

Another of my most recent purchases was this beret from Just Peachy because it’s DONALD. This is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen and as soon as it was announced I knew I had to have it. It’s got an embroidered bow at the front, but also a little tail at the back plus a little ribbon and you bet I’m going to be coming up with every excuse to wear this from now on!

What are your favourite Disney accessories?

Why Disneyland Is So Special To Me

On this exact date last year I arrived home from the most amazing trip to Disneyland, and I’m feeling a little bit sad about that. If I could go anywhere right this second it would be there.

One of the questions I get asked the most when I tell people that I’ve visited every Disney park in the world is ‘what’s your favourite?’, and I always decline an answer as its impossible to single out just one park as being better than all the rest, but Disneyland is the park that has a special place in my heart; the sort of place that has me crying when I enter and when I have to leave.

I was fortunate enough as a child to spend a lot of time in Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris, even making more than one visit some years, right up until I was about 5 or 6 years old, and then the Disney trips stopped. My sister and I were old enough to appreciate what the rest of the world had to offer, and so that’s exactly what my family did, and I wouldn’t change that for a second, but it meant that I actually had very few Disney memories other than what I’d seen in pictures or could vaguely remember.

In 2008, we went to California for the first time, and part of this visit was to go to Disneyland. I was just coming up 14, and I remember both my sister and I being ridiculously excited when my parents told us. This was where my first ‘adult’ Disney memories were made. We went back again in 2010, and again I remember just feeling so excited and happy, and at home when I stepped through those gates. There was magic.

As I’ve grown older, and my love of Disney has quite clearly grown also, I’ve come to realise other reasons why Disneyland is so special to me. This was Walt’s park, although he would say that Disneyland is our land *stifles a sob*, and you can feel that nostalgia through the whole park. He walked down Main Street USA, he stood in front of that beautiful little pink castle, and you just know that this was exactly what he created, his vision.

There’s a different feel to Disneyland than there is to WDW. It feels calmer, more effortless. From the Disneyland park to California Adventure, there’s not a single fault in my eyes, and even though it was 10 years ago now that I saw it all for the first time, I feel like I’m seeing it with fresh eyes every time.

Disneyland, you are perfect.

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Staying Onsite as a Disney Vacation Club Member

After joining Disney Vacation Club back in November, our recent trip to Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii was our first experience of staying in a Disney resort as members, and it would be an understatement to say that I was pretty excited for that.

DVC members get a slightly difference experience when staying on site to other guests, whether that’s in Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or Disney’s Vero Beach or Hilton Head Island resorts, and although there can be further variations in this treatment depending on where you are, there are some things that DVC guests do and don’t get.

Welcome Home

You know when you arrive in a Disney park and feel as though you’re finally back where you belong, as you technically own a teeny tiny part of the magic, DVC members are greeted by cast members by a signature ‘welcome home’. This might seem totally insignificant to many, but I think its a really nice way of acknowledging membership without too much fuss.

There are a few different ways that cast members can identify you as a DVC member: in Walt Disney World, when tapping your Magic Band against the scanner, after the initial green light, the scanner will flash with purple, and in Aulani guests are given a special shiny version of the daily pool wristband, and of course your room reservation will also show as DVC to cast members at the front desk.

Mousekeeping

So part of the deal with being a DVC member is that you sorta have to sacrifice some of the perks of staying in a hotel. That means no daily room clean, and in fact in some resorts your rubbish won’t even be collected, and no clean towels until the 4th day of your stay – only recently has this been updated to daily trash and towels in WDW resorts only. Personally, I didn’t really mind this, especially staying in Aulani where we were popping back to the room so often that I doubt there would have been time for anyone to clean it, but also if you’re staying in a 1 bedroom villa or larger, you’ve got a washer and dryer right there in your room if you do want to clean your towels/sheets more often, and even if you’re not, laundry facilities are in every Disney resort.

Oh, and say goodbye to calling mousekeeping for a bunch of extra free tiny Disney toiletries – you can do it, but they now come with a price tag if you request more!

Comforts of home

In any DVC room, whether its a studio or a 3 bedroom grand villa, you’ll have some sort of kitchen facilities. Studios have a sink, fridge, microwave, coffee maker and toaster, along with disposable plates and bowls, cutlery and glasses all as standard, and you also have the opportunity to request additional items such as a blender should you want one. In larger rooms, you’ve got a full kitchen with all of these things, plus fridge-freezer, rice cooker, oven and hob, and all the relevant cooking tools. This means that you can make one quick supermarket trip (or even get groceries delivered to the resort), stock up on as much – or little – food and drinks as you want and know that you can avoid steep park prices by doing a lot of the catering yourself.

Most rooms also come equipped with a DVD or Blu-ray player, and if they don’t you can request one, and you can even borrow films too, although we (and several DVC members I know) actually good our Amazon Fire TV stick which meant we could watch Netflix, Prime Video and everything else – not that on a Disney trip you spend too much time in front of the tv!

Parking

Disney’s decision to start charging resort guests for overnight parking was quite a controversial change, but DVC members are in the clear, not having to pay for parking at resorts or at the parks.

Pool access

Although pool-hopping can be done by most Disney resort guests, there are a few resorts, such as Beach and Yacht Club and Boardwalk, where the pools can only be accessed by guests of that particular resort.. oh and DVC members! We can hang out at any pool on site, unless said pool is already at capacity.

I’m really excited for our first DVC stay in WDW in January, we’ll be staying at the Polynesian, which is also our home resort!

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My Aulani Haul

I swear the only things that I actually unpack when I get back from a Disney trip is the stuff that I bought, and I leave the rest as long as I possibly can before I finally tip it out of my suitcase.

Now I was pretty impressed with Aulani merchandise. I’d read somewhere while I was planning for this trip that about 90% of the merchandise sold there is Aulani exclusive, but I sorta didn’t believe that, thinking that as its still in the USA there would be a lot of the stuff that you see in most of the parks, but I was proven totally wrong. Aside from a tiny handful of products – classic Minnie ears, some keychains and a few kids things – the stores were stocked with totally unique stuff, or if the product itself wasn’t unique, it would have a little variation such as an Aulani print fabric.

Another great thing about Aulani is that quite a high percentage of guests are Japanese, so they’ve tailored their merch to be a little more in keeping with some of the wonderful things you can find in Tokyo Disneyland.

So what did I get?

Well, I couldn’t go all the way to Aulani and not get the spirit jersey to prove it, right? They had two styles of spirit jersey, this one and a green-y patterned design, but I liked the font on this one better and I’ve never suited green anyway!

My smaller purchases were the Aulani ear hat and exclusive tsum tsums, plus this adorable Shellie May pin and the most used buy of my trip, the amazing Gelatoni passholder which stayed firmly round my neck pretty much any time I wasn’t in water.

I also couldn’t resist this beautiful sundress, the fabric is so pretty and even though its got the Aulani logo all over it, the untrained eye would never spot it, or the hidden Mickeys for that matter!

The last purchase of the trip was the Shellie May backpack. I ummed and ahhed over it for the whole trip, and then on our last day I was filled with a serious feeling of merchandise FOMO and had to rearrange my whole suitcase to make it work, but I’m so glad I got it! This also has a unique Aulani fabric for the bow and the lining, and its so soft and I just love it!

One other purchase from my trip, although not from Aulani, was this cute little patch from the Walt Disney Family Museum. They didn’t have that much in the way of museum specific merchandise there, and as I’m not the biggest pin person I was about to leave empty handed until I spotted a couple of patches at the checkout so I treated myself to this one.

Not bad going for a non-Disney park trip, right?

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Ocean View

So there wasn’t a blog post yesterday as Matthew and I were both a little unwell, so all we really did all day was hang out and relax, which was pretty nice because it meant I spent most of the day drawing and designing, it just wasn’t really enough to write about!

This morning, we got up and packed up the room in preparation for changing rooms for our last night. There wasn’t a full week available in the standard view studios when we booked, but there was a night in an ocean view room which we wanted to see anyway so it was sorta win-win!

I left Matthew to finish packing and I headed down to the resort’s Laniwai Spa as I had booked myself a massage as a little treat from me to me. I got to the spa an hour before my time as they have a relaxation garden, which is an area of outdoor hot pools, loungers and other wonderful relaxing things which is only accessible to those having spa treatments, so I got to hang out there before I was called for my massage.

Now I have to admit, this was my first ever massage, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but wow has that set the bar.. I was made to feel so at ease by all of the staff, and the massage itself was incredible.

After I was done, Matthew and I took our bags to bell services to hold until our new room was ready, and we went to Ko Olina to get some pizza for lunch. When we got back, our room was ready so we collected our bags again and went up to the room.

Unfortunately, a lot of the afternoon has been spent dealing with a bit of an issue with our room charges, so that’s made things a little stressful this today and they’re not yet resolved, but hopefully we should get them sorted tomorrow, and we’re still here for most of the day tomorrow so we can fit in the things that we didn’t have time for today.

Our evening was spent enjoying the ocean view room and watching the sun set from the balcony. I don’t think I’m going to be ok leaving this place..

Hawaiian Rain

Today was the first day that we actually managed a lie in. Cue hallelujah chorus.

When we did get up, I went straight down to the pool, while Matthew had a bath. I got us two sunloungers by the resort’s infinity pool, and took in as much sunshine as I could until my heat rash started flaring up again, then had to cover it up with a towel – bah humbug – but we stayed there pretty much all day, so I don’t really have too much to report!

What we did experience for the first time, however, was Hawaiian rain. This hit us just after lunch, and much like Florida rain it just bombed it down nice and heavy for a bit, and then cleared up again, and then a few hours later did the same again. Being British, we were totally unfazed by the matter, especially as we were under an umbrella that was keeping all but the end of our loungers nice and dry, but other guests were grabbing all their stuff and running indoors! I mean, it was still pretty warm, so I don’t really get this reaction, but it did make the pool nice and quiet for us.

At about 5pm we went back to the room to shower and change then made a quick visit to the resort’s Laniwai Spa so that I could book myself in for a massage on Saturday, then we went over to Ko Olina Center for some dinner and ice cream. As the sun started setting, we walked back to the resort and took up a spot by the large fire pit to watch it disappear behind the palm trees.

At the fire pit we listened to Uncle Ophi tell a traditional Hawaiian story, then we went for a quick walk down to the now dark beach to look at the stars – there’s no light pollution here which is so nice. And that was pretty much it for our evening!

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

What can I say, it’s been another day in paradise!

This morning was the latest I’ve woken up all week, thank goodness, and I started off my day with a trip to the gym. Call me crazy but I love visiting gyms in Disney resorts, so this was another tick off the bucket list, although surprisingly I wasn’t overly impressed by this one as I thought it lacked some equipment that other gyms have had. The great thing about Aulani, however, is that they have a whole bunch of fitness classes, a lot of which take place on the beach, and while I won’t be able to take part in all the ones I had hoped to thanks to the recovering broken ankle, I plan on doing a few before we leave.

We had breakfast on the terrace again, and then headed down to the beach where we set up camp for the morning. The typical blogger in me spent a good amount of time utilising the beautiful scenery to get photos for some upcoming blog posts, much to the confusion of onlookers who were probably thinking ‘why is that girl arranging makeup in the sand?’ but hey ho.

Our plan for lunch was to eat the leftover pizza from yesterday, but on the way back to the room I had to stop for a Mickey snow cone! I mean, it’s shaved ice with some flavouring so it hardly spoiled my appetite for the pizza and it was so cute!

I accidentally had a little nap after lunch, although I’m starting to realise that this sort of thing is totally acceptable on a beach holiday. For the afternoon, we headed down to the pool, and it was so warm I could practically see my skin tanning by the second. We spent the rest of the afternoon and into the evening by the pool, just hanging out, drawing and doing a little planning, then finally headed back inside, via the shop, of course..

As well as my tan, I seem to have developed a kinda nasty heat rash down the side of my left leg, so I’m hoping that subsides by the morning!

Lazy Days

This morning started off with eating blueberry pop tarts for breakfast on our little balcony/terrace in the sunshine and it was wonderful.

After breakfast, we went for a walk around the lagoon to see the resort from a whole new angle, and wandered back slowly around the pool area before going to the market in Ko Olina again as we’d already run out of sun cream.. The market also has a huge range of hot food available to order, so we picked up a pizza to share, which we took back to the room to eat.

Considering I was up at 2.30am this morning, and then again at 5.30am, I thought that after lunch would be nap time, but I actually felt pretty awake, so I left Matthew to nap and I went to explore the resort with my camera. As soon as I stepped out of the building, there was Shellie May hanging out in the garden, so I stopped for a photo with her – my first time meeting one of the bears!

I spent a good amount of time exploring the resort taking photos, and also walked back around the lagoon and took a peek at the neighbouring lagoon, which was just as beautiful. I missed out on meeting Goofy at the pool on the way back, but there’s always another day for that! Of course I stopped by the shop on the way back to the room, y’know, just in case the stock had changed from yesterday..

When I got back to the room, Matthew was up and we packed a bag to take to the pools. We snagged some sunloungers in the adult only section of the resort, but then headed to the lazy river for a bob around in rubber rings to stay cool, and then got out and went to the adult only hot tub, a two tiered infinity pool looking out over the lagoon – bliss..

Back to the sunloungers to chill out, and after an hour or so of relaxing in the quiet over the 18+ zone, we got some dinner from Mama’s Snack Stop, sharing some coconut shrimp by the pool. We also decided to invest in a refillable resort mug to share because it seemed like a lot to get one each considering we don’t really drink many fizzy drinks, but the stations have iced tea options too so we figured it would one would be worth it.

I headed down to the beach for a little bit just before sunset – most of the families had left by then and there was only a small handful of people left in the water! As it got darker, we headed back to the room as finally my crazy early start was getting to me!

Discovering Paradise

You guys, Aulani is so beautiful. I keep pinching myself.

Jet lag had me up before 5am, despite trying to force myself to keep sleeping. We started the day with the only activity we had booked in advance, which was the character breakfast at the Makahiki restaurant. After checking in for our meal, we were sent to line up for a photo with the main mouse himself, then taken through into the restaurant. We were seated right next to a huge koi pond at the edge of the outdoor seating area and the view was just stunning.

Breakfast was a buffet, with everything from Mickey waffles to fried breakfast items, even pre-stacked little eggs Benedicts, but there were also more traditional Hawaiian dishes available too. Needless to say it was all delicious. While eating we were visited by Minnie and Pluto, and there was also live entertainment from a lady who sang and did some audience participation with the kids and families in the restaurant.

After breakfast we left the resort to head to the shops. The area we’re staying in is called Ko Olina, and it’s basically just resorts, a golf course and a few holiday homes, but there’s a little ‘town center’ of a few shops and restaurants, and we just wanted to go to the market to stock up on some food for our stay. In our room we have a fridge, microwave and toaster, so we bought all our breakfast items for the week, plus a few snacks.

Once back at the resort, we had a couple of annoying back home things to sort out – we exchange on our house this week so we had to get home insurance sorted. I left Matthew to read the fine print and headed to the gift shop for a bit of shopping, then when we were both done we finally headed down to the beach.

Now the beach at Aulani is actually open to the public, but unless you’re staying at one of the nearby resorts it’s not really easy to get to, and you’d never know from how quiet it was. I mean, Bournemouth beach back home is probably busier on a sunny day in April! We got some sunloungers then headed straight for the water as it was pretty hot out, so much so that the sand was burning out feet!

The water was fairly still, being more of a lagoon than an open beach, so the waves crashed on the reefs in the distance but there was hardly any rippling where we were. We spent the next few hours alternating between our loungers and the water, then got a little peckish so headed back inside for some snacks and a cool down.

I’m finding the concept of a relaxing holiday quite difficult to get my head around as I’ve pretty much never done the whole ‘go somewhere warm and just lay out in the sun’ sorta holidays, so I keep feeling like I should be doing more, but at the same time I’m loving it. I had a little nap as my early start was getting to me late afternoon, but when I woke up I wasn’t feeling very well (probably heat, tiredness and dehydration all hitting me at once) so I ended up going to bed at about 9pm, but I have to keep telling myself that that’s ok, I’ve still got a week of this paradise.

Aloha Aulani

This morning we were up super early once again to get to San Francisco airport for our flight to Hawaii which was at 9am. We boarded our United Airlines plane, got ourselves settled for the 6 hour flight, and then the captain announced that there was a problem with one of the engines of the plane, and while it was still legally acceptable to fly with this minor problem, he was refusing the aircraft and we all had to disembark.

Now United have had a lot of bad press lately, but I would just like to say how incredibly impressed I was with how everything went from that moment onwards. Within minutes of us all getting off the plane, trolleys of bottled water and snacks appeared at the gate for passengers to help themselves to while awaiting further information. As there was no immediate update, we asked to be transferred onto a flight scheduled for later in the day, but the lady we spoke to was kind enough to not only book us onto that later flight, but also keep our booking for this flight open so that when an update came out, if our original flight would take off earlier than the new flight, we could still get on it, which was amazing.

Luckily, a new aircraft arrived for us in just over an hour, and despite taking off 3 hours later than planned, we arrived in Honolulu only 2 hours after our original arrival time, so we didn’t miss out much at all. As we came in to land, we actually flew over Aulani, so my first sight of the resort was from the air and it was stunning!

We got an Uber to the resort, where we were greeted with fresh flower leis and cool citrus infused water and checked in by some lovely cast members who made sure we got buttons. For the first six nights of our stay, were in a standard view studio, then our last night is in an ocean view studio, so from this room we don’t have much of a view besides some greenery and a little water feature, but we do still have a little balcony type patio.

After checking out our room, we realised how starving hungry we were, so went off to explore and find somewhere for some dinner, opting for the Off The Hook Bar And Grill and some Disney classic chicken tenders which we ate in the shade with a view of the pool. The resort is so stunning, I can’t believe I’m actually here and I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it.

After eating we did a quick scope of two of the gift shops, and I’ve already spotted a few things that I want.. Then we headed back to chill in the comfort of our room with the sun still shining in, relax in the softest dressing gowns ever provided by a hotel and get an early night to recover from the long, slightly stressful day of travelling.

I can’t wait to update you with what we get up to tomorrow!

Disney Fan Theories – The Best and The Worst

As with every major fandom, the Disney world is filled with theories and fan fiction, and they range from surprisingly plausible to utterly ridiculous, fuelled mostly by the internet.

Now I haven’t come up with any of these theories myself, they’re all ones I’ve seen online or heard from others, and because they are so spread over the goo ol’ world wide web, I can’t credit the original person because I simply have no idea who that might be, but here are a few of my favourites, and some of the theories that really grind my gears.

The Best

Riley has gender identity conflicts (Inside Out)

During the 2015 Pixar movie, we get to see inside the heads of two characters other than Riley herself, and that’s Riley’s parents. Both parents have the same 5 emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust – that Riley does, but in Riley’s mum’s head, all of her emotions have female personas, and Riley’s dad’s emotions all have male personas. Nothing unusual about that, right? Well no, except Riley’s emotions take on both male and female personas, and the theory behind this is that Riley doesn’t identify as one specific gender, and this is Pixar’s little nod to all those people in the world who feel the same. I personally really hope that this is true.

Emily from Toy Story 2 is Andy’s mum

In TS2, we hear the sad tale of how Jessie is abandoned by her kid, Emily, but some fans believe that Emily grew up into our favourite cowboy-loving kid’s mum. You see, the cowboy hat that Andy wear as he plays with Woody is the same style as that sported by cowgirl star of the second film, and its possible that this hat belonged to his mum, or was at least bought by her in a nostalgic moment. I just love thinking that not only did Jessie find a loving home after Emily, but that she did actually make it back into Emily’s life.

The Worst

Tarzan is Anna and Elsa’s younger brother

Personally I find the whole ‘Anna and Elsa’s parents were going to Rapunzel’s wedding when their ship sunk’ thing a little bit overplayed, but when I read an addition to this theory that suggested that they did, in fact, survive the shipwreck, and washed up on the island as per the opening scene of Tarzan, making him their younger brother, I just thought that this was too much. For starters, the Tarzan ship went down in flames, on relatively still water, rather than the crazy storm shown in the movie dragging the ship under, but also Tarzan was a baby at the time of the crash, and unless the queen gave birth onboard the ship, in which case we would have seen that she was pregnant as she left, they would have had the baby before leaving, which they did not. Sorry, I’m not buying it.

Carl died at the start of Up

So some people believe that Carl actually passes away before the big adventure of the movie takes place, and that from the balloons going up, we’re actually following Carl’s adventure into the afterlife. I’m sorry, but that’s a big ol’ nope from me, this film is already sad enough.

Hit me up with your favourite (or least favourite) fan theories!

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My Aulani Must Dos

Credit: disneyvacationclub.disney.go.com

So I can officially say that I go to Aulani THIS MONTH now, and its actually only like two weeks away which is crazy and I feel somewhat unprepared, but mainly just so stupidly excited that I spend a lot of time squealing. I’ve wanted to go to Aulani for so many years now and I honestly never thought it would happen, or that it would be a once in a lifetime trip, but now Matthew and I are DVC members, I’m so happy that I can actually visit this paradise on earth without selling a major organ.

Planning wise, we’ve kept it fairly low-key. Although it wasn’t originally intended to be, this trip is our pre-moving-house relax and refresh before everything goes completely mad, so I don’t want to have every second planned to a tee, but in the last few weeks we’ve been doing a bit more research on what the resort and surrounding areas have to offer, and I’ve compiled a list of a few things that I want to make sure we do while we’re living it up in Disney paradise.

Mickey shaped snow cones

The most iconic food in Aulani will get in my belly (you know, once I’ve got the perfect Instagram shot)

Go to the spa

So I have never actually been to a spa or had an actual massage, and I feel like I’m seriously missing out on this experience, so where better to do it for the first time than in Aulani’s full service spa? I feel more relaxed just thinking about it..

Sunrise and ocean yoga

I’m that super weird person that loves to check our gyms and fitness options wherever I go on holiday, and I cannot stay away from a Disney resort gym, but Aulani not only offer yoga classes held on the beach at sunrise (which I’ll definitely be doing), they also have a yoga class held on the lagoon floating on surfboards! I mean, I’ll probably fall off, but I’ll be giving it my best shot.

Exclusive merch

Y’all know I’m a sucker for some good Disney merch, and apparently about 90% of the merchandise sold in Aulani is exclusive to the resort, so I can’t wait to buy some unique beauties. PS. I’ll be doing a giveaway or two after my trip, so stay tuned!

All the water activities

Matthew and I have already scouted some amazing looking activities to fill our days with, including nearby Wet’n’Wild waterpark and Maunalua Bay for parasailing, banana boating, jet skiing and more, so while we’ll be chilling big time, there’s also gonna be a lot of fun going on!

Photos galore

I always take so many photos when I’m in a new place, and I can’t wait to explore the resort and document it in photos, not to mention the fact that Matthew is going to have to put up with being my personal photographer so that I can also appear in a bunch of these photos – I mean, Insta needs and all

I’m just so buzzing to get out there and get some sunshine and warmth and Disney magic!

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March Small Business Buys and Ones To Watch

Given that the spending ban I put myself on was technically only for January and February (even though I broke it on more than one occasion), I figured this month I could not only treat myself to some fab new things, but in doing so I’d be supporting some of my favourite small businesses. I also tend to use my own small business earnings as my way of giving back to the small business community, and I’m so happy with everything that I’ve got!

Firstly, I couldn’t not get these adorable headbands from Closet Geek – Bel has really outdone herself with making these the cutest way to show my Disney love in an almost subtle way! I actually bought three, with the other one being a red version of the mint Mickey pattern, but that one’s already been used so many times that it basically lives in my handbag. As well as set designs, there’s also a custom option, and I chose the Lilo print especially for my trip to Aulani next month!

Now personally I think I’ve been pretty good in curbing my ear buying habit, but these wire ears from Ears by Erin just called out to me when I saw them! They’re part of the three way collaboration with Magical Thunder Press (who designed this incredible fabric) and Thrift Co and they’re just so perfect – the fabric has so many tiny details that I didn’t spot in the photos but now I have them I’m amazed to be finding little hidden Mickeys and Disney details, plus I love a big bow.

Because I ordered these ears from Thrift Co while she was running a special offer, Danielle also included a mystery pocket t-shirt, which turned out to be this Alice in Wonderland inspired design, and that’s not the only thing I’ve bought from Thrift Co this month..

I fell in love with this Moana fabric when it was first released, but waited too long to order and it sold out, so when Danielle announced a restock, I was on it so quickly and I’m so glad I did because its so cute! Her pocket tees are so well made and they’re always packaged up with a little surprise too which is always super exciting to uncover.

Now I’ve had to steal this photo from their website because mine hasn’t actually arrived yet, but how adorable is this little embroidered Wall-E?! I have a real thing for that film, and as soon as I saw that Teeq were releasing these shirts I knew I’d be buying one. I went for the baseball tee style, and I can’t wait for it to arrive because I’ve heard such good things about them, so I’m hoping it turns up this week!

Ones to Watch

I love seeing small businesses grow, and these are just a handful of stores that I see amazing things coming from, so go over and check them out right now (I mean it):

  • Quackers and Co – I’m a little bias because this is the brainchild of my amazing friend Sammy, but I’ve seen some of the things she’s got coming and I just know you’re gonna want to own them – I already love my San Fransokyo beanie and have got my eye on a few more!
  • Chasing Childhood – if you’re on the hunt for some ears that are unique and sparkly as anything, Karina is your girl! I guarantee you won’t find anything like her creations elsewhere and you’re gonna love them.
  • Disney Beanie – not only is Charlie such a lovely person but she makes the cutest little handmade pins, and I see things really taking off for her if she keeps doing what she’s doing!

If you’ve got a small business, or have any favourites feel free to drop me the details in a comment and I’ll check it out!

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Matthew’s Pin Collection

For pretty much as long as I’ve known Matthew, he’s talked about the pins he collected on his Disney World trips as a kid. I say talked, because in all the time we’ve been together, neither of us have actually seen said pins.. You see, they were somewhere in a box in his mum’s loft, and despite searching on more than one occasion while visiting, he’s never managed to find them, and it was only when she moved house a few weeks ago that the pins were finally found.

He wasn’t kidding when he said he had quite a few. All of his pins are from 2008 or further back – you know, back when the exchange rate was much better and pins didn’t cost more than about $6-7..

There’s a bit of a running them with the pins. Its either single characters..

Or park pins..

These three are all a little spinners which are super cute and I’ve never seen ones like them before – although not being much of a pin person myself I may just miss them on the racks! He has three packets of the four park pins, one of which actually has an MGM Studios pin instead of Hollywood Studios!

But my favourite out of the whole collection is this amazing Sorcerer Mickey hat pin, and despite not being a pin person, I actually love so many of them!

Who knew I had such a pin-head of a boyfriend?!

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Tokyo Kawaii Club Magic Mailer Haul

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Tokyo Disney has the best merchandise. I’m sorry, but you just can’t compete with the Japanese on this sort of thing.

When I visited Tokyo Disney in 2015 (wow, was my trip almost 3 years ago now?), I wanted to bring home absolutely everything, and if you’ve read my haul post from that trip, you’ll know that I did bring back a lot, but not a day goes by that I don’t see something new and adorable on Instagram and have to fight the urge to jump on a plane to Japan and blow my credit card balance in that happy place.

So when I discovered that Tokyo Kawaii Club make amazing little packages of magical merchandise and ship them to all over the world, I couldn’t resist treating myself to a little taster to tide me over until I can get out there again. I ordered the Magic Mailer back in early January, and my package arrived last weekend, although I did have to collect it from the sorting office because I had to pay a customs charge on it, and I was so excited that I ripped it open as soon as I got home. So what did it contain?

Firstly, I got this AMAZING Donald Duck diary. I love Donald and I’m a sucker for a cute notebook and this is just perfect for me. Its got a double-page calendar spread for each month, and then pages at the back for notes and doodles, and each page has a little Donald sketch in the corner.

I also got a cute little Pluto keyring, which having just had Lunar New Year and bringing in the Year of the Dog, which is also my year of the Chinese zodiac, it was perfect timing, plus I got this sweet little heart-shaped Donald and Daisy button.

Speaking of heart-shaped, how sweet is this little tin? Its full of individually wrapped chocolates with a little Mickey imprint. I also got a set of Tiana notelets which fold up into little paper princesses!

Finally, the biggest item in the mailer was this Belle tsum tsum. I’m not sure what its official size is called because its much bigger than a mini tsum tsum but about half the size of the medium tsums that I have, but its still super cute!

Tokyo Kawaii Club offers a few different mailer options, and you can even set up a repeat order and have it as a monthly subscription! Michael did a really great job of personalising my mailer with my favourite characters, so I’d love to see what he would conjure up another time for me!

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Things I Broke My Spending Ban For

After having a bit of fun in the January sales, I put myself on a rather strict spending ban a few weeks ago in an attempt to pay off what’s left of Christmas, January birthdays and stuff for my holiday in April. I mentioned in Wednesday’s post that it’s inevitable that whenever I go on a spending ban, I always end up spotting things that I want more than when I’m free to spend what I like, so of course in the last month there have been a few little exceptions to the ban.

Disney Store picked the most unfortunate time (for me) to release the first month of their limited edition Mickey Memories collection, and it was just my luck that January’s release was the one I wanted to get my hands on the most. I thought maybe I could wait to buy this adorable little Steamboat Willie Mickey, but FOMO got the better of me and I was there on the website at 7:55am waiting for the launch to drop online, and I’m so glad I did because I know a lot of people who missed out on this limited edition cutie, and I’ve already seen some going on eBay for £50-60, when he was only £25. What I am happy about, however, is that I paid for him using some of my Etsy earnings from January, so my bank account didn’t actually see the effects of this spend at all!

My friend Rachel makes the sweetest fandom inspired coffee cozies, and having bought my first one back in December and loved it, I was keen for more. Then she brought out a Porg cozy and I was absolutely sold, plus I bought it when she was running a buy one, get a surprise one free offer, so I also got another design that is also been eyeing up, this little Mickey glove. I love supporting small businesses, so this was well worth breaking the ban. You can buy her darling creations here!

I actually popped into Clintons looking for the next item, not knowing it hadn’t actually been released in stores yet, but while I was nosing around the store I found this amazing vintage Disney poster patterned notebook and I couldn’t not get it.. But the bonus was when I got to the checkout, it actually scanned up cheaper than the label – winner!

Last, but certainly not least, I have been waiting to get this amazing Winnie the Pooh dish for months. Clintons dropped spoilers for this collection back in November and I’ve patiently waited since then to buy it, but as soon as it released on the website it sold out, and I just knew how unlikely it was that my local stores would stock it. Luckily, the lovely Clintons Twitter team were nice enough to notify me when it came back in stock online, and I snapped it up within minutes! This was also paid for with Etsy earnings, so another little victory!

Worth breaking the ban? I think so..

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How Disney Vacation Club Actually Works

So back in November I shared the massively exciting news that on our recent trip to Walt Disney World, Matthew and I joined the Disney Vacation Club, and since then there’s been a lot of interest in me writing this post, so here goes!

Simply put, DVC is a timeshare, but its so much more than your typical 2 weeks in Spain every summer kinda thing. Yes, its a proper deed so officially you own the land and there’s a lot of official documents to sign, but essentially what you pay for is points.

Points

Getting points

So the price you pay for your membership depends the number of points you get. We own Disney’s Polynesian Resort, so this becomes our ‘home resort’, and our contract is for 130 points, which means every year we get 130 points to use within its allotted timeframe.

Using points

Every room at every DVC resort has a certain number of points, which varies based on the resort, the room size and the season – typically the bigger the room, the more expensive the resort if paid cash, and the higher peak seasons = more points. We chose 130 points per year as that’s the number of points it takes to have Deluxe Studio in Poly for 1 week during the season that we would typically travel, which is Oct-Nov time, but for the same amount of time in a Savannah View Deluxe Studio in Animal Kingdom Lodge, its only 88 points, so there’s a lot of variation which means we can be really flexible too.

Points do not have to be used every year, but if you aren’t going to use them, you have to ‘bank’ them by a certain time within your use year, and that means that if you want to do a longer or more expensive trip in 2 years time, you could bank this year’s points, and then use them on top of next year’s. You can also borrow points from the following year, for example, for our Aulani trip this April, we’ve borrowed 10 points from next year’s allocation, and then if you do need any extra points on top of banking and borrowing, members have the option of purchasing up to 24 extra points for a cash value.

Selling off

Your contract length varies depending on when you buy it, but if you’re purchasing direct from Disney, you’re looking at about 50 years. However, if its not working out for you, you can sell your contract back to Disney or sell it privately, as well as being able to transfer it into other people’s names, for example if you wanted to pass the contract onto your children.

Resorts

DVC covers every Deluxe resort or villas in Walt Disney World, plus Grand Californian in Disneyland, and also Disney’s Vero Beach, Hilton Head Island and Aulani resorts, so you can use your points at any of these places, plus they also have the RCI Network of thousands of hotels all over the world that you can use your points to pay for.

Booking resorts

Earlier I mentioned Polynesian being our ‘home resort’, and not only does this mean that this is the resort we actually own, but it also gives us the opportunity to book this up to 11 months in advance, while every other resort becomes available to us at the 7 month mark, and vice versa, those members who own other resorts cannot book Polynesian until the 7 month mark, so we sorta get a head start. Booking can be done directly through the DVC website, similar to the WDW website, or over the phone with DVC cast members.

DVC members can also book stays for anyone, so if for example we weren’t going to go one year, but my parents wanted to go, we book the stay for them using our points and our name doesn’t have to be on the booking at all, so gifting points is really easy. A lot of members also use this perk as a way of renting points out for monetary value, and there are a lot of Facebook groups and pages dedicated to point rental.

Staying in resorts

There’s no real difference between staying in a resort as a member or a regular guest, however while the rubbish is collected daily, the rooms are only serviced every 4 days, although you can request extra visits for a surcharge. However, DVC members do have the added perk of being able to use the pools in any DVC resort, even those that are normally off limits to guests not staying at that resort.

Paying for DVC

Membership cost

The cost of membership can be paid in full or Disney also offer financing, although there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from finding finance elsewhere. For US residents, finance is offered depending on credit searches, but if you’re from the UK, you’re automatically approved for finance through Disney at a rate of 12.5%. One of the great things about this, however, is that while it is a loan, because they cannot set up a direct debit with a UK bank account, the payments have to be made from a credit or debit card, and this means that it will not show up on any credit searches done in the UK, so this loan will not affect your credit score or affect your ability to get other loans of mortgages.

Dues

On top of membership fees, every year members pay resort dues, which is a one off payment in January that goes towards the upkeep of your home resort. Again, the amount of these dues varies depending on your resort, and typically the newer resorts have higher dues, but the dues also vary from year to year based on the work that’s predicted to need doing.

Member benefits

There are a tonne of perks that come along with being a DVC member. From the moment you sign your contract, you have access to a digital membership card to keep you going until your real one arrives, and that means that you can start to take advantage of the 20% discount off all WDW merchandise, 10% off dining and access to the exclusive DVC lounges such as Bay Lake Tower’s Top of the World Lounge straight away.

There’s also a whole bunch of other discounts available at other shopping and dining locations in Disney Springs, discounted park tickets, DVC exclusive events such as Moonlight Magic, and exclusive merchandise, plus early registration to RunDisney events.

Don’t worry folks, you’ve come to the end of my ramblings now! I hope this has been informative to anyone curious about DVC, but I’ll leave you with one little nugget of wisdom before you go. If you’re considering Disney Vacation Club, I thoroughly recommend that you go to a DVC open house and hear all this again from the experts – I’ve been to two open houses and I can honestly say that there is no one more knowledgeable or passionate about what they sell than the DVC reps, plus they do not pressure you in any way. If you have any more questions for me, feel free to drop me a comment and I’ll be happy to help!

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The Disney Favourites of my Childhood

I was born in 1994, which was the year that The Lion King was released, and my first Disney trip was actually while my mum was still pregnant with me, so its pretty safe to say that Disney has been ingrained in me from birth.

I was lucky enough to be born at a time that meant my childhood was filled with some absolute Disney bangers, and I remember watching so many of them, although at that time it was all VHS. The films and the characters from this time all still hold a really special place in my heart, and many of them are still firm favourites of mine, but there are a few in particular that stand out for me.

Sleeping Beauty

Aurora was my favourite princess while I was a kid. I let this slip from my memory a little but my mum reminded me a few years ago and it all came back to me. I remember having a Sleeping Beauty towel (which may still be in our garage somewhere) and I had an Aurora doll, in the pink dress, although I’m firmly Team Blue, and think I may have been as a child as well. Aurora may have been replaced as my favourite princess (oh hey, Rapunzel) but I’ll always remember this.

101 Dalmatians

Animal lover from the start, those spotty pups were particular favourites of mine, and I even had 101 Dalmatian wall stickers all over my bedroom walls and door – in fact, the ones on my door stayed there right up until I redecorated in 2009.

Esmeralda

I loved The Hunchback of Notre Dame as a child, and I had a playset that had the festival tent and various other props, as well as an Esmeralda doll which I adored. Of course at that age I had no idea about some of the darker aspects of the story, I just thought Esmeralda was the best.

Meeko

I seem to recall Pocahontas being a favourite of both mine and my sister’s, but the love affair with Meeko was all mine. I remember being so incredibly excited meeting him in what I’m guessing must have been Wilderness Lodge, where this iconic photo was taken after I pretty much rugby tackled him to the ground.

To this day I have such a strong attachment to this little raccoon.

Pluto

We did a lot of Disney trips when I was little, and although thinking back on it, it would possibly be construed as animal abuse, every time I met Pluto I had to pull on his big red tongue. He never seemed to mind though!

Hercules (but mainly Meg)

A truly iconic film of my childhood, if you ask me. I wasn’t so interested in Herc himself, but I loved Pegasus and Meg, even if I didn’t appreciate her sass as a kid. Does anyone else remember the Disney Channel Hercules series? I remember being so upset that Meg wasn’t in it!

And of course there’s not a single photo of me and Mickey where I’m not grinning my little dimples off! Are there any characters you remember strongly from your childhood?

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What I Got For Christmas

I’m kinda not over the fact that its already been a week since Christmas, but hey, that means just another 51 weeks til the next one! No? Just me..

Anyway, I know I’m a little late in posting the classic ‘what I got for Christmas’ haul, but as I was having my little Christmas break from blogging, I’m just extending the festive period so that I can share with you all the wonderful gifts I received on the big day.

Let’s start with the present that was too big to fit under the tree – say hello to my new suitcase! Bit of back story here, my current suitcase is about 15 years old and has two wheels, and all these new-fangled suitcase have four, which I’m not a huge fan of but apparently its the thing now. Well Matthew figured that the only way to get my over my dislike of four wheels was to make it Donald themed! Super excited to take this bad-boy to Hawaii in April to test it out!

Matthew also got me the Fitbit Flyer headphones, which I’m already super impressed by but I can’t wait to put them to good use when I start my marathon training, and a book on how to get the best out of my iPad Pro, plus a cute kitty mug, unicorn slippers and a onesie! I hate the phrase ‘boy did good’ but it seems fitting here..

Now I have no idea how she managed it for a second time, but after the incredible surprise of a CoachxDisney wristlet on my birthday, my mum shocked me with another item from the collection, this time a purse. I’m quite jealous as I had no luck finding any of the collection in the outlets, yet she’s done it twice – she also nabbed me this Mickey sweater!

How gorgeous is this Fiorelli gym bag? I actually picked this one out myself but I still had to wait until Christmas to get it.. I suspect my gym will be packed this month with New Years resolution-ers, but I’ll be ready to fight for all the good machines now I’ve got a bag to fit all my kit in.

Other goodies in my stocking included Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Gilmore Girls, a little collection of Lush products, a couple of gift cards and a pretty Beauty and the Beast bracelet from Couture Kingdom from Matthew’s mum, so it’s safe to say I’ve been incredibly lucky this year!

I hope everyone else was spoilt rotten, and if you want to share what you got for Christmas please leave me a comment so I can be nosey!

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We’re Going to Aulani!

Someone pinch me, because I can’t believe this is really happening.

Credit: disneyvacationclub.disney.go.com

Disney’s Hawaiian resort has been on my ultimate bucket list for I don’t even know how long, and being able to visit this absolute paradise was a big selling point when Matthew and I joined the Disney Vacation Club, so much so we were determined to make it our first DVC trip.

We’ve spent the last few weeks trying to familiarise ourselves with the DVC booking system, and checking day in, day out for availability in the weeks we were hoping to make the trip, but it was all starting to look a little impossible. We’d either have to change rooms every other day, or end up having to buy extra points on top of borrowing points from our next year, and suddenly our lovely relaxing holiday was turning into a stressful booking experience.. Until last night, when for some bizarre reason, Matthew was awake at 2am and decided to check the DVC website, and by some miracle a whole week was suddenly open and he booked it on the spot!

So we’re going to be in paradise at the end of April, and as well as doing a week in Aulani, we’re gonna spend a few days in San Francisco, which is one of my favourite cities in the world. I’m absolutely squealing just thinking about this trip and better still its less than 130 days away!

I’m so ready for another adventure!

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Be Our Guest – Which Meal Is Best?

Be Our Guest Restaurant is one of the most popular dining spots in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and tomorrow actually marks 5 years since the Beast’s castle opened its doors to guests.

Situated in Fantasyland, the restaurant opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and each meal offers guests a different dining experience. I recently ticked breakfast off the list of meals I’ve had here, so now I’ve done the set, here’s the low-down on what each meal offers!

Breakfast

BOG is one of the three restaurants in Magic Kingdom that opens for breakfast at 8am, meaning that if you can get a reservation then you get early access to the park, and the perks that come with that AKA empty Main Street and castle photos! Now don’t let the word reservation fool you – while advanced reservations are usually for table service meals, breakfast is actually quick service, so a worthwhile use of a QS credit if you’re on the dining plan! That said, however, while you do visit a counter to pay for your meal, the food is brought directly to you at your table. And to add more magic to the experience, you can actually pre-order your food on the Walt Disney World website so that you don’t have to even worry about deciding what to eat on the day! As for the food..

This is the Croque Madame, which was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had in WDW, but there are a few options from classic breakfast dishes to sweet options, and every table also gets a selection of fruit and assorted pastries to tuck into as well!

If you’re not on the dining plan, entrees are $25.

Lunch

Lunch is also a quick service meal, but as with breakfast its highly recommended that you get a reservation, but if you can’t snag one, try to get to the restaurant for when it opens and you stand a good chance of a minimal wait! Again, while being technically classified as a counter service, you order at a booth but the food is brought to you wherever you choose to sit, whether that’s in the West Wing, the Ballroom or the Gallery.

The menu is primarily sandwiches and salads, but there are some soup and other veggie options. I tend to stick to the Croque Monsieur, which is basically a ham and cheese toastie but it comes with a good helping of fries and definitely worth a quick service credit!

Entrees at lunch are all around the $17 mark.

Dinner

I did dinner for the first time here in February this year. Dinner is table service, and as such guests receive a bit more of a magical experience, including each party being given a Lumiere to light their way to the table. The restaurant is a little more packed in during dinner (or at least it felt like it the one time I was there!) so it can be a bit louder.

The food is also a lot fancier, which you’d certainly hope for with a table service meal. I really enjoyed the food – I mean when do I not? – but compared to other amazing meals I’ve had in WDW it was average, so personally I don’t think I’d do dinner here again if I wasn’t on the dining plan.

That said though, once you finish your meal you get to experience the other magical moment that having dinner here gets you, and that’s meeting the Beast himself!

Dinner entrees range from $22-36, appetizers are $10-15 and desserts are $5.

Good things to know

With it being such a popular destination, the restaurant can be pretty noisy, especially during the quick service mealtimes, but if you get breakfast early it can be quite quiet, depending on the time of year. The restaurant is also well set up with plenty of different table sizes, including big round tables that can fit a party of 10.

What I cannot fault about the restaurant in any way is the decor, so be sure to explore each of the three rooms of the restaurant, including seeing the Enchanted Rose in the West Wing! My favourite room is the Grand Ballroom, and I love watching the snow fall outside the window.

Whatever meal you choose, you’re in for a magical meal and its an absolute must for any Beauty and the Beast fans!

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Owning the Magic

So Matthew and I kinda did a crazy thing when we were in Florida..

I’ve been to a Disney Vacation Club presentation before; Dad and I went to one on our trip back in 2016 for the sole reason that we were sucked into talking to a rep, who offered us a $50 gift card and some free fastpasses to give up an hour of our time, and we figured why not?

Well Matthew and I did the same thing. There was a $100 gift card offered this time, and I knew the presentation was quite interesting and not pressured, so when Matthew showed some interest in wanting to go, and we knew we had a day that was relatively unplanned, we let the nice rep at the booth in Epcot talk us into it.

To cut a long story short, we were sold. We crunched a gazillion numbers, double and triple checked all of the information that was given to us, and at the end of it all it seemed like the right decision for us. It was way more affordable than we had originally thought, and we know that with the trips we’d like to make over the next few years, we’d end up saving a LOT of money. We didn’t rush into anything – in fact, we actually walked away from the first meeting and booked to go back another time so we had a few days to properly mull everything over, and that was definitely the right thing for us to do. Everything made sense and now..

WE’RE DISNEY VACATION CLUB MEMBERS!

So we now own something silly like 0.2% of Unit 65 at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, yay! Poly will be our home resort, meaning we can book stays 11 month in advance, and stays elsewhere 7 months in advance, but as well as Walt Disney World we have big plans for our membership points, including Disneyland California and my absolute dream of going to Aulani, Disney’s Hawaiian resort!

I’m excited for all the adventures that this will bring for us, as well as the fact that technically this is the first property that Matthew and I own together!

Stay tuned for more!

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