10 Things You Need to Know about Cove Bar

If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland and looking for the most Instagrammable places to eat or drink, then Cove Bar should probably be at the top of your list. Located on Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure park, it boasts a menu of stunning cocktails as well as some pretty delicious looking food, and the most amazing views over Paradise Bay.

If I’ve just sold you, or it was already on your to-do list, here are a few things to know before you go!

There can be a really long wait, and someone has to stay in line

Depending on when you go, there can be a longer wait time than for some rides! When you get to the queue, a cast member will take a name and give you an idea on wait time, but at least one person from your party needs to stay in the queue the whole time, because if your group is called and you’re not there, then you’ve missed your chance!

You can choose where to sit

When you join the queue and give your name, the CM will ask you if you have a table preference, so if you want those Instagram worthy photos over the pier, be sure to ask for a waterside table. Other options include the bar and tables closer to the pierside.

The prettiest drinks aren’t on the menu

While you’ll be handed a menu by your server, be sure to check out the secret menuThis is where you’ll find Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Neverland Tea and more!

And the cutest drink isn’t even alcoholic

Don’t be put of visiting if you’re not that into cocktails, the cotton candy lemonade is so delicious and refreshing, plus who doesn’t want a lump of cotton candy in their drink?!

You can take drinks to go

If you want to sample the cocktails but don’t fancy the wait, you can order drinks to go. They come in plastic cups so aren’t quite so cute but I’ll bet they don’t taste any different!

Water is free-flowing

For obvious reasons, the servers are keen to keep all guest hydrated, so you’ll find your water glass topped up constantly.

There’s more than just cocktails on the menu

Although its famous for its cocktails and speciality drinks, there are some great lounge food options, including buffalo wings, sliders, nachos and more! I didn’t actually eat here, but I saw some of the food and it looked amazing and smelled SO GOOD.

Be sure to bring your passport

In the event of being ID’d, a UK driving licence isn’t acceptable in Disney. Your server may let you off, but I’ve had experiences where they have refused to accept anything but a passport, so I wouldn’t chance it.

Don’t be shy about taking photos

Literally everyone in the bar is trying to take those oh-so-Instagrammable photos, so don’t feel shy about holding your drink over the railing to get that perfect shot with the fun wheel in the background. Also if you’re not sat at a waterside table but want those photos, just get up and go over there – no one minds!

Please drink responsibly!

Servers have the right to refuse you at any time, and during my visit I saw a few guests that were probably about to get cut off.. Be sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated, especially in the summer months when its super warm!

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My Top Tips for Disneybound Planning

While the concept of Disneybounding has been around for a while now, it seems to be growing in popularity more and more over recent years, and its something that I especially love to do on my Disney trips.

What is Disneybounding? Quite simply, its when you use everyday fashion items to create a look that reflects a particular Disney character, like so:

Disneybounds can vary from the very subtle to the very obvious, and I love spotting people bounding in the parks because styles can vary so much and its pretty cool to see how others interpret their looks! Its also amazing when other people, especially cast members and the characters themselves appreciate your Disneybounds – the characters get so excited and it always makes for a great interaction.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I go about planning my Disneybounds for each trip, so I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks that I use when I do my outfit planning!

Google your character

You might know your character’s style inside out, but do a quick Google image search. You might find that there are slight variations on your character’s outfit, or come across some great fan-art that inspires a look that you didn’t think about originally

Scroll Pinterest

I am constantly scanning Pinterest for new Disney outfit ideas. You don’t have to copy anything like for like, but there’s a world of inspiration out there!

Colour filter your searches

My first go-to site is always Asos, because it has such a vast array of clothing of brands. I hit each item (skirts, dresses, tops, shorts, trousers etc) then filter the search by the colour of the product – eg. for Rapunzel, I’d search pink and purple. Anything that catches my eye goes into my saved items list, where I can them compare them all in one place.

Look for the little details

Bounding as a princess who wears an off-the-shoulder dress? Try and find an off-the-shoulder top. Is there a particular pattern in the fabric? Try and find the best match. You don’t have to get every detail perfect but sometimes including little extras can make an outfit even better!

Accessorise!

Hair bows, Mickey ears, shoes, bags, the works! I love an excuse to find cute little extra pieces to bring a bound together!

Make it yourself

If you’ve got a vision in your head that you can’t seem to get right from what’s available, why not bring that vision to life with a creation of your own? And if you can’t..

Hit Etsy and shop small

Etsy is packed with small businesses that are just dying to help make your Disney outfit dreams a reality. You might find that missing piece for your look, or find a talented person who can bring your vision to life!

Have fun with it and make it your own!

The great thing about Disneybounding is you can totally put your own spin on a particular look. I’m talking steampunk princesses, gender-bends, vintage styled looks, whatever you want, you can do it!

Feeling inspired? Here are a few of my personal favourites:

I’m always happy to help with any Disneybound queries, so drop me a message if you’re in need of any advice!

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Things to Know Before Visiting China

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

The Great Wall of China

Visas

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

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

Transportation

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

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

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

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

Toilets

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

Social media and VPNs

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

Language

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

General tourist stuff!

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

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

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Top Tips for Great Character Interactions

The more trips I make to the parks, the more confident and excited I am to meet characters. I’ve also found that the more confident I am, the better my interactions are getting, and that’s really spurring me on to meet more!

Loads of people recently have been asking for tips on great character interactions, so I thought I’d do a little post to share some of mine!

Don’t be shy!

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You’ll have the most fun with characters when you get into it; if you just stand there awkwardly and don’t say much, the characters can’t open up and it can be pretty disheartening for them too! Characters can tell when you’re not into it.

Bring something to play with!

Disneyland Paris bunnies

On my last trip to Disneyland Paris, I decided to take a selection of tsum tsums with me to show to the characters, and not only was it fun, it also meant I got some adorable photos!

Have something to talk about

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Don’t be afraid to introduce a topic of conversation. You might want to ask Rapunzel how she looks after all her hair, or chat to Peter Pan about the Lost Boys, but it gives the characters an opportunity to really be themselves and you’ll love some of the responses you get.

Ask for what you want

meeko

If you want to twirl with the princesses, ask them! Want to pose like a bunny with Peter Pan? I’ve done that too! They’re always so obliging!

Dress to impress

Disneyland Plaza Inn

If you’re going to meet your favourite character, why not wear a shirt with them on, or themed Mickey ears? It always brings the characters so much joy to see how much they mean to you, and it can be really special.

Show some love

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Get those hugs in! A hug from your favourite character is like no other hug, and I always come away smiling from ear to ear.

The truth of it is, as long as you have fun with it, then any interaction is going to be great!

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Top Tips for Road Trips

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

1. Spring for public car parks

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

2. Split your money up

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

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

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

4. Know and set petrol limits

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

5. Prepare for tolls, or plan around them

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

6. Get breakdown cover

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

7. Know your own limits

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

8. Embrace the unknown

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

9. Know your speeds

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

10. Fully prep your car

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

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

xo

Top Tokyo Disney Tips

Being in Tokyo Disneyland is a totally unique experience, and expecting a regular Disney park experience could leave you a little out of your comfort zone, so here are some of my top tips for doing Disney Tokyo-style!

Language and Culture

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– Do not expect English – I’m serious! While there may be the occasional announcement in English or clip of English singing, all of the shows, parades and attractions are in Japanese, and most of the cast members speak very limited English, if any, so be prepared to mime, signal and act out your conversations, and embrace it – everyone has a laugh over it! Also don’t stress over not knowing the language, all you really need is hello and thank you, and you’re pretty much set.

– Everyone is really friendly – cast members are literally everywhere, and their job is basically to wave and say hi. Smile and wave back, and you make their day!

– Generally, the Japanese are pretty small – if you’re short (like me!) its ideal, say goodbye to watching parades on tip-toes! If you’re fairly tall, however, you may be asked to move at times, purely to be considerate to other guests. Similarly, the seats on rides tend to be a little smaller than on their American counterparts.

– Personal space isn’t a big deal – you know when you’re waiting for a lift and its a little crowded so you decide to wait for the next one? Yeah that doesn’t happen so much in Japan, so be prepared to be a little out of your comfort zone if you like your space.

Park Life

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– Tokyo Disneyland utilises the classic Fastpass system – going to the machine, getting your pass, and only holding one at a time. Be sure to make good use of these, Fastpasses are taken pretty seriously and you get to skip a lot of the line, and it could save you some major waits.

– Characters randomly appear around the parks throughout the day, rather than at specific places and times, and they tend to have a slightly more eclectic range: The Rescuers, Wolfgang Puck, Jiminy Cricket etc, and you’ll be hard pushed to find a princess! They’re also not big on autographs, so although they’ll sign them, you won’t find anywhere to buy an autograph book.

– There’s no running, but expect a stampede – at park opening, cast members are everywhere to remind guests not to run, but that doesn’t stop it! Expect stampedes heading to the most popular rides: Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror etc

– Do not be afraid to dress up – people in Tokyo Disney go all out, from matching outfits to Disneybounds, and everyone has at least one thing Disney in their outfit

– Don’t expect wifi – unlike Disney World where you get free wifi everywhere, there’s no wifi connections available in the parks.

– There’s no Photopass option – with the exception of a few meet and greets, there are no dedicated photographers in the parks, and no Photopass option. You can buy your ride photos, or order prints from your character meets, but that’s pretty much it.

Shows and Parades

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– You can reserve your spot for a show or parade up to an hour before, and bringing a plastic mat to put down will save you burning on the hot concrete

– Some shows have priority seating – you can take part in a lottery to win these priority spots once per show each day, so be sure to pick up a show guide to find out where these lotteries are held

– Be prepared to be asked to remove hats and Mickey ears – if you’re standing to watch a parade or show, or even in attractions like Country Bear Jamboree and Philharmagic, you’ll be asked to remove any hats or ears so as not to block the view of those behind you.

– Take the ‘get wet’ signs seriously – if you’re in one of these zones, its not a maybe, its a promise. We watched crowds get seriously soaked in these areas!

Hotel, Tickets and Travel

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– If you’re staying in a Disneyland resort, you get access to the parks 15 minutes early – don’t turn your nose up, it can mean the difference between a 20 minute wait and a 90 minute wait!

– The easiest way to get to your hotel or the parks is by train – the Japanese train system is flawless, and the JR line has a train station at Ikspiari, from which its less than 5 minutes walk to the Disneyland or Tokyo Disneyland hotel, or you can transfer onto the monorail.

– Like in the parks, don’t expect wifi, but ask just in case – we asked about the wifi, and were told there wasn’t any, but they provided us a little router for our room

– Parkhopper tickets are only available to guests staying at Disneyland resorts – otherwise its one park per day

– The monorail isn’t complimentary – you’ll need to buy a pass!

– All of the partner hotels are right near a monorail stop, and there are also resort buses to take you to the parks

– The swimming pool at Tokyo Disneyland hotel is pretty small – don’t expect Floridian flamboyance!

– There’s a Bibbity-Bobbity Boutique in Tokyo Disneyland hotel for your little princesses

– Don’t forget your handstamp – if you’re leaving the park for a while, to parkhop or popping back to your hotel, don’t forget to get your hand stamped as you leave so you can get back in! Its a UV stamp, so don’t worry if you don’t see anything on your skin, and its pretty tough so washing hands/swimming won’t rub it off

Food and Drink

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– Don’t expect Western food everywhere – while there are some Western options, most of the food is very much oriental based, and the Western options are a little odd: pizza with seafood etc. Portion sizes are also smaller than in American parks, but still very filling!

– There’s no dining reservations, but there is priority seating – similar to Fastpass, head to the restaurant first thing, and you’ll be given a ticket with an allocated time to return

– There are water fountains everywhere, and its the norm for people to bring in their own bottles to fill up

– Beware of the coffee – I’m not a drinker, but my mum and sister both hated the Japanese coffee, apparently its crazy bitter. Also, some bottled drinks in the vending machines look like fruit teas, but are actually iced coffees.

– On the subject, you won’t find a lot of milk or milk-based products – around 90% of Asians are lactose intolerant, so milk for tea and coffee, ice-cream etc is fairly limited.

– Also beware of the popcorn – there are popcorn stands everywhere, but you’ll only find salted in a few locations. Flavours include honey, curry and soy sauce!

– People save tables, and its taken pretty seriously – if you see a bottle or a jumper left on a table, don’t move it and sit there. Everyone does it, and everyone respects it, so find somewhere else.

Shopping

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– The same merchandise is everywhere – don’t stress that you might have missed an opportunity to buy something, chances are it’ll be in the next shop you go into!

– There’s a Disney Store at Ikspiari, which is the shopping centre on the monorail loop – it has different products to what’s available in the parks

– There are biscuits everywhere – souvenir biscuits are a big deal in Japan. They come in millions of shapes, sizes, fancy tins etc, and there are entire shops dedicated to them, so don’t resist!

Weather

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– Be prepared for all conditions, and possibly all at the same time – it can be burning hot and bucketing down with rain and blowing a gale simultaneously!

– Because of how extreme the weather can be, shows and parades can be cancelled with little notice, or modified for the safety of the cast members and guests

– Carry an umbrella – not only will it keep you dry during those mega downpours, but it will also provide great sun protection, and don’t worry about looking silly, loads of people do it

– Don’t expect air-con – while most buildings are cooled during the summer months, its not always that instant super-cool feeling you might expect; more like a comfortable temperature once you’ve adapted to it

Tokyo Disney is a totally unique experience, and the most important piece of advice I can give is this:

Just do it. Go, experience it all for yourself, and you’ll have an incredible time, I promise!

°o°

Disney World in Large Groups

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

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

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

2. Be prepared to split up

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

3. Use Memory Maker

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

4. Link everyone

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

5. Utilise free transport

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

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

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

7. Allow a little extra time

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

8. Try and be a little early too

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

9. Be considerate to others

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

10. Just have fun!

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