Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Taking a leap

So Disneys 24 hour opening is well under way and to say I'm jealous is an understatement! I would love to be in the parks today, though I'm not sure if I could say on my feet from start to finish I'd definatly give it a good go!

My advice to anyone lucky enough to attend the One More Disney Day event? Take a break late afternoon, grab something good to eat and get a good nap in back at the resort! Then you can head back out in the twilight hours and experience the magic into the early hours! That's what I'd be doing. *day dreams*

For those of us who can't be at the parks today we can still get our little fix of pixie dust!

  • Disney Store UK are offering 20% off any order placed before 11.59pm tonight and if you spend over £50 you'll also recieve free shipping. Did have a look on Disney but can't see any similar deal. 
  • Lou Mongello of WDW Radio will be broadcasting live from the Magic Kingdom at 7.30pm ET (Thats 00.30am for us in the UK!) and I'm hoping to stay awake long enough to hang about in the Box!
  • Mouseplanet are bringing live updates including lots of pictures and information on crowds, closures, merchandise and more. 
  • Zannaland has got some great ideas for what you could do with your One More Disney Day! 
  • Disney Parks Blog will also be updating and has some great pictures and videos of the parks at opening! Really makes me wish I could have been there!

Enjoy your 24hours of extra Disney Magic!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The wheels on the bus...

The Walt Disney World bus service is impressive if you ask me. I’m not one for being fascinated by transport, I only watch Top Gear for the gags! But there is something about it’s size and efficiency that really intrigues me. I’ve never often stopped to think about the busses, after all I am used to just having them turn up and take me to and from the parks! Have a look at some of the facts I’ve found out, after this little investigation I’m already more appreciative of the free transport Disney put on for it’s guests!

·        Walt Disney World runs over 230 busses, with just over 1000 drivers employed to operate them.
·        Each WDW bus covers around 52,000 miles a year. That’s around 12 million miles all together!
·        Each bus covers enough miles to go around the world at the equator twice!
·        The majority of busses run from point A to point B without the need to transfer, resulting in an average 20minute wait between busses.
·        There are over 300 lane miles of road that the busses travel along each day.
·        The oldest busses in service are the RTS-04, most noticeable by their orange interior.
·        That infamous purple interior came into use around 1996.
·        Ever seen a Disney bus being towed? Me either. When a bus breaks down, a service vehicle is dispatched to the site, carrying all the tools the mechanics need for minor to major repairs.
·        Busses start running 60 – 90 minutes before a park opens, providing for guests with early morning in park reservations.

Just give it some thought the next time you board!

Until next time,

Monday, 27 February 2012

Undiscovered Magic - Streetmosphere!

During your Walt Disney World holiday, be it your first or just one of many, it's still easy to plan only for what's in front of you on the park maps and times guides. Over the years I have noticed so many magical moments and experiences around the parks off the regular track and not mentioned on the maps. I thought this could make a great little feature here at Saloca in Wonderland. There's more to Disney than parks, parades, shows and turkey legs after all!

Street Entertainers at Disneys' Hollywood Studios.

It's surprising how many people I speak to who have never noticed the street entertainers who pop up around the Sunset Boulevard area of Hollywood Studios! During the day, several times, different groups will appear from backstage, colourful charismatic characters who are wired to cause mischief and mayhem as they go about their show business!

I have to give it to the Cast Members who are a part of these shows, they are so quick witted and fire back unscripted lines to partaking guests. Strolling out of attractions and shops, you never know what 'stars' you will bump into (or who will bump into you!) These performers bring about all the glitz and glamour that was Hollywood in the 1930s - 1940s, the vintage tinsel town. Their goal is to encance the atmosphere of the park and really emerge you into that old Hollywood atmosphere, giving their show the overall title of 'streetmosphere'. (They've also been known to take the streetmosphere to the windows above the stores along Sunset Boulevard!).

The Citizens of Hollywood include starlets, wannabes, directors, journalists, tinsel town stars and more. Step into their world for some guaranteed fun, gags and classic chaos. With such a large cast and many different guests, no two performances are the same!

Have you had any interaction with the Citizens of Hollywood?

Until next time,

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Noteworthy Notes!

"If you could tell a newbie just one thing that they had to be sure and pack for their Disney trip, what would it be?"

When you're looking at your packing list, there are several must pack items that you can't leave home without;

  • Comfortable, well worn in shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • First Aid kit (including bite relief, antihistamines, painkillers etc)
  • Phone and camera chargers (or spare batteries)

And so the list could go on! But when asked the above question, I wanted to try and come up with something a little less obvious than a zip-lock bag or an extra pair of I took a look at my own packing list and came up with...*drum roll*

A notebook!  (plus a writing tool of your choice)

There is something very 'determined' and 'official' I think about writing things down physically and keeping a small notebook handy has always been really helpful on trips to Walt Disney World!

If you're wanting to write a trip report upon your inevitable return home, you can jot down highlights, reviews, suggestions etc, as you go, those little memories that you always forget once you get home. With it all set in 'stone' you have a great resource for filling in the blanks once you are home!

I love shopping whilst I'm at WDW, but over the years I have often seen a 'must have' item - then failed to find it ever again! Noting down what park and shop I found it originally, I have a specific location to head towards. A few trips back I found a purse in a little shop in Hollywood Studios which I decided to buy on the last day of the trip. Could I find that purse anywhere else on property? Nope! Downtown Disney? Resort gift shop? The Emporium? They all epically failed me! It took much running around and brain racking to finally find my way back to the shop in Hollywood Studios and get my hands on the purse! I could have saved a lot of time and effort if I had just wrote it down in the first place!

Something specific you want to do on another day of your trip? It's worth jotting it down just in-case you forget the next time you're back in that park! 

The uses of a little pocket book are endless, from to-do lists, memories, shopping lists, even keeping you busy in long lines etc or passing your contact details along - if you go without one, you'll find so many occasions calling for one!

What's your less than obvious must pack item?

Until next time,

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Left, left and left again!

I was asked recently about what my top tips would be for a first timer at WDW. Sure, making ADR's, scouting out the perfect parade/fireworks spot and understanding the fast-pass system are all golden pieces of advice, but settling on just one ultimate tip? That's a tough one (and a little impossible if you ask me!)

So I got my thinking cap on and looked back over all my past trips, wondering about the tips, tricks and advice I've learnt over the years. What's the one thing I've learnt that I always stick to every single trip? Every time I enter a park? Surprisingly, something did come to mind! It's actually a pretty 'recent' tip I picked up from a long serving Cast Member in Magic Kingdom who said if he could only give a guest one piece of planning / park touring advice, this would be it;

"Always go left"

You're scratching your head now, huh? Let me explain...

Do some guest-watching the next time you're at Magic Kingdom, or any other park for that matter, at rope drop. Take a step back and just observe their behaviour, how the majority all seem to move in the same direction, they move towards the right. There are probably some very fancy scientific studies about this, something to do with the right side of the brain, or being right handed etc, but it's true. The majority of the crowd (ok, Toy Story Mania might be the exception to this rule as it's on the left of the park!) all start their day on the right side of the parks!

If you stand at the bottom of Main Street USA facing the Partners statue, look left at the Adventureland entrance way, then look right at Tomorrowlands' bridge. Notice anything? The Tomorrowland bridge is significantly wider than the Adventureland bridge, purposefully so as to handle the large number of guests moving in that direction during the earlier hours of the day! 

By starting your day on the left side of the park, the crowds that went right to begin with will have gradually thinned out as you begin to make your way over to that side. So you'll get more rides in earlier in the day,and have little to no wait once you make your way to the other side of the park!
Now of course, during the busy season and on some special event days this plan is flawed, but during the general 'I can still see the floor' season, it's worked a treat for us!

Give it a go next time you're at WDW and see for yourself!

What's the best tip you would give a first timer to WDW?

Until next time, 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

And so the Storybook unfolds...


Disney Parks Blog announced today that WDW will finally start to open up sections of Storybook Circus, a section of the new Fantasyland expansion. Opening late March, guest will be given access to the once Goofys’ barnstormer, now the Great Goofini, one of the Dumbo the flying elephant carousels, and the Fantasyland train stop. I’m exited they’re starting to open up the area, but I was really hoping for something a little ‘newer’. I’m surprised they’re only opening one Dumbo too!

The expansion is the biggest to any park in WDW history, with many more areas, restaurants, rides and shops to open, as well as some remodeling to what’s currently left of Fantasyland. I’m sad to see Snow Whites Scary Adventures go though, it’s been so long since I last rode it and I’m regretting having not done it at least one more time! The ride will close May 31st 2012 to make way for a new Princess area, ‘Princess Fairytale Hall’ a ‘meet and greet’ spot relieving them of their duties over at City Hall. I wonder if the meet and great fastpass system will follow them to their new home? The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will ensure that Snow White isn’t lost completely from Fantasyland.

Lesson learnt from the Fantasyland expansion? Aim to ride all WDW rides at least once a trip, just incase it isn’t there the next time I go back!

The expansion is set to be completed by the end of 2012, so I’m eagerly anticipating what elements of it will be newly opened when I turn up in September! I’m really looking forward to the Beauty and the Beast area, especially the be our Guest restaurant, Gaston’s Pub, and Journey of the Little Mermaid!  

What are you most looking forward too?

Until next time,

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

10/10 oh my, oh my!


If you can’t see the floor, that’s when Disney say it’s a ‘busy’ day! Over the next couple of weeks, WDW is going to get a little…’busy’. Crowd levels will be at level 10 from early March to mid April due to Spring Break and Easter. Next to Christmas, this is probably the busiest time to visit WDW! So if you’re booked, packed and ready to go, here are a few quick tips to help you manage and/or survive the crowds!

  1. Accommodation
If you’re doing more Disney than not on your holiday, I’d opt to stay at a WDW resort. The reason? Extra Magic Hours! The morning ones especially are going to give you the best chance of riding the big attractions without having to brave the 180+ minute queue time later in the day. Hit the parks early then retreat back to the resort for some pool lounging or Downtown Disney for some shopping!

  1. Fastpass
First timers should get to know the system before they go, then use FPs as much and as often as possible!

  1. Advance Dining Reservations
Hopefully you’ll have made the majority of these 180 days out from your trip, if not, it’s still not too late! Making an ADR secures you a table (if available) at your chosen table service restaurant, as walk ups during this time period will be either impossible to get or you’ll sit around so long waiting for that beeper to go off you’ll end up gnawing on a turkey leg!

  1. Stop
You may think it should be all go, go, go on these trips but remember to stop a while, grab a bench on Main Street and just relax, take in the atmosphere and the sounds going on around you. Spend a day at the pool soaking up the Vitamin D, sipping on glow-tinis and snacking on Zebra Domes. Just because the crowds are charging forwards doesn’t mean you have to be pulled along!

How do you survive the busier days at WDW?

Until next time,

Monday, 20 February 2012

Rainy Days


"So you are at WDW with your family on vacation and one of the days you are there it rains (tropical downpours) most of the day. What do you do for fun?" 

I’m in a park…

Hopefully, I’ll be in Epcot if it rains as there is so much more to do indoors, such as exploring Innovations or stopping by Character Connection. MouseGear is also one of my favourite stores on property so I could easily fill the time! The Coco Cola stop would also be a great idea, a refreshing Beverly anyone?

Magic Kingdom, I’d probably head for Fantasyland as the majority of lines and queues are indoors. Or, wander up and down Main Street through the stores (they all connect on the inside so no need to leave until you need to cross over!)

Hollywood Studios I’d probably head for One Mans Dream. Tower of Terror and Rock n Roller are both indoors but everyone seems to dive in more so when it’s wet out!

Animal Kingdom, if you’ve got your ponchos already on, or have already had a good soaking, now’s the perfect time to jump on Kali River Rapids, much more fun when you don’t care about getting wet!

I’m not in a park…

Hanging around the hotel is more fun than you might think, especially as I’m usually staying onsite at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Wandering about and exploring the lobby, chilling out in the resort bar, or just kicking back on my balcony is perfectly relaxing. If I really want to get out and about, I’ll head for Downtown Disney and get my shop on! Darting from store to store, or catching a film at the AMC!

How do you like spending rainy days?

Until next time,

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Getting Fit for Florida!

One of my main resolutions this year was to really (and finally!) improve my fitness.  I’d never really say I’ve struggled getting around the parks, making mad dashes to Toy Story Mania or standing in line for over an hour to ride Soarin. However, I think if I was to improve my fitness, I’d definatly have more energy during the trips and probably get to the Toy Story Mania fastpass machine before all the morning passes are gone!
Whenever there’s a trip on the horizon, Disney or otherwise, I always say I’ll start early, far enough out so that when the time to fly out comes, I’m in tip top shape and good to go…so of course, this never happens! Starting a week or so before take off has little to no effect at all!

So this year (217 days to go!) I’ve started early! I wouldn’t say I’m making and drastic lifestyle changes, but, I have signed up for an annual swim pass and am making a more conscious effort to get a few extra steps in each day. I am already feeling better for it, so fingers crossed that by time the trip comes around I will be feeling 100 times fitter than I do now!  

My problem in the past has always been perseverance, so here’s hoping I can make it stick this time! Though a Disney-incentive makes everything more promising!

Do you have a get fit for Florida plan you implement pre-trip?

Until next time,

Saturday, 18 February 2012

218 days to go...

A few trips back, my family and I took the Keys to the Kingdom tour around Magic Kingdom. A 5 hour walking tour, including lunch, rides, a journey through the Utilidors and lots of fun facts and stories, we had a brilliant time! It was a completly different way to experience the park!

With our next trip peeking over the horizon, I'm searching around for something similar to add to our itinerary that hopefully won't break the bank!

I've heard good things about the Wild Africa Trek, a 3 hour wildlife adventure in Animal Kingdom, but the price has shot up recently to $189 pp! Ouch! The more pocket friendly Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom ($34 pp) sounds like a great way to wander a near deserted MK before park opening but the few reviews I have found havn't had me reaching for the booking line! Opened in 2011, it's one of the newest tours available. It sounds a lot like the Inspiration: Through Walts Eyes tour at HollyWood Studios, which comes in at $99 pp.
Unfortunatly, anything a top a Segway is out of the question, as not all our party will happily ride one - I've always wanted to take the Around the World on a Segway tour at Epcot - maybe one day!

There’s still much to look into, but I’m definatly keen on the tour idea, I just can’t decide which we’d get the most out of!

What would you recommend?

Until next time,

Friday, 17 February 2012

Top 5 Character Dining!

As I’ve said before dining is a big part of the WDW holiday! Even though we don’t travel with young children, we still love character dining, so for this weeks top 5, I bring you my top 5 character dining locations!

  1. Chef Mickeys @ Contemporary Resort
This was the first ever dining experience I had at WDW so it will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s a lively, loud atmosphere! Buffet style, here you can meet the Fab 5, along with Chip n Dale.

  1. O’Hanas @ Polynesian
It can be a little hit or miss depending on where you are seated, but if you time it just right, you can dine and watch Wishes at the same time! Served family style, characters include the Fab 5, Lilo and Stitch.

  1. Cinderellas’ Royal Table @ Magic Kingdom
The chance to dine inside the Castle? Breakfasting with the Princess’? I might not have been completely sold on the breakfast offerings but just being in the castle was enough to put this on my list! Served plated.

  1. Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom
Fantastic views of the Castle and a brilliant breakfast buffet (try the salmon!). Characters include Pooh and friends.

  1. 1900 Park Fare @ Grand Floridian Resort
A more pocket friendly way to dine with Cinderella, Prince Charming and the Ugly sisters (who are hilarious!), the evening buffet is delicious! I highly recommend breakfast too with Alice, Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Pooh and friends, buffet style.

What are your favourite character dining locations?

Until next time,

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

So pretty!
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, a new interactive park experience where guests get the chance to save the Magic Kingdom from Hades and his Disney villain friends. This is all a-buzz around the DC (Disney Community) right now as it’s been going through soft opening for a few weeks, it looks set to open fully very soon!

Much like Kim Possible in Epcot, guests’ race around the park on different missions (20 – 30 minutes long) using magical spell cards to fend off the Disney villains, eventually going up against Hades himself. The artwork on these cards is stunning and they are set to be the latest collectable/tradable offering. Some will be rarer than others etc, possible even a few Limited Editions? Even the game maps are wonderfully designed. Though the designs might be lost on the youngsters, the older guests will certainly see their value and appreciate the designs.
I’m happy that they chose Hades to be the lead villain, Hercules is one of my all time favorite Disney movies, so hopefully this will lead to more Hercules merchandise in the parks? *fingers crossed*
WDW is on RFID (radio frequency identification) implementation frenzy at the minute that does not look set to stop anytime soon. From resort mugs, to guest RFID wristbands, interactive artwork onboard the cruise ships, and now adventures around the parks, Disney is going digital on a completely new level!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Q&A - Common mistakes?

"What are the mistakes that you see or hear about people making the most? What would you warn first timers against?"(source)

There is such a thing as too much planning! You don’t want to miss out on any magic by trying to see everything in one go! Your first WDW holiday should be all about the experience, soaking up the atmosphere, really enjoying your time there.


Yes, you should know the difference between counter and quick service, and that going for Christmas will be magical mayhem! Knowing all about fastpass and photopass comes in handy too. But do not overkill your itinerary! Frog marching from park to park and sticking to a regimented schedule means you will be missing out on many magical moments. Take a seat on Main Street USA with a bucket of popcorn on your knee listening to the Dapper Dans. Spend a whole day away from the parks, lounge around the hotel pool, go for a round of mini golf or explore the other Disney resorts.
You need to have some knowledge and an idea or what you want to do, but for the better part of the trip just go with the flow. Bogging yourself down with guidebooks and touring plans leaves you feeling as though you’re studying for a Disney Degree! They can tell you all you need to know, but the magic is in the experience!
If your itinerary says you’re heading to Epcot the next day, but you really fancy going to Animal Kingdom – do so! Head off the beaten guidebook track and start creating your own magical memories!

Don’t forget – have fun!


Monday, 13 February 2012

Changes @ Saloca in Wonderland!

Kostas Tsipos
I have decided to do things a little differently around here from now on!

I have been thinking a lot about this blog since day one, and with thinking comes new ideas!

Be on the look out for the new changes, starting tomorrow! I have a whole list of new ideas for posts that I can’t wait to share with you all! Saloca in Wonderland will be going live seven days a week, offering you a daily dose of Disney magic:

·        Planning
·        Reviews
·        Read-a-longs
·        Disney philosophy
·        Crafts and tutorials
·        Top 5s
·        Park news
·        Spotlights and more…

All delivered to you daily!

That's daily tips, tricks, fun facts, history and more. Read it on your coffee break, catch up as you wait for your train, or pass the time as your kettle boils! How much magic can we find in such a short space of time? I say plenty and much more!

My goal here at Saloca in Wonderland has always, and will always be, to share the Disney magic with you in my own little way! So favorite the blog, follow me on twitter and blogger, sign up for email notifications, and be a part of the magic, here at Saloca in Wonderland!

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality”
- Walt Disney -

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Hand Luggage - The Inflight Survival Kit!

No matter how comfortable they try and make those seats, or how fancy and shiny the in flight entertainment system is, I never board a plane for any length of time without my tried and tested hand luggage survival kit. It’s got me through long 9hour flights, delays, and when there are just no movies taking my fancy on board!

1. Bag in bag!
My usual hand luggage bag is a blue sports bag I’ve had for years. It has an adjustable strap, zip pockets on either end, one inside and sits nice and cosy a top my suitcase when I’m wheeling it around. But, inside my hand luggage is my real hand luggage bag. A plastic drawstring bag from a previous Virgin flight. It fits nicely into the seat back compartment, or tucks tidily under my seat. I keep my survival kit in this bag, meaning any extra goodies or layers can be left in the sports bag, up in the over head out the way. I have everything with me that I need in one neat and tidy bag and I don’t need to fight inside the over head with my sports bag when I’m looking for my headphones or a hair tie!

2. Essentials : Entertainment
    PRS300 <3
    Pre-e reader days, I would always treat myself to a new book in the airport, usually some thick tomb of a novel bought after check in so it will not affect the weight of my bag! Now I have my e reader, I will load that up in the days before the trip with a few good books, some old some new, and make sure to give it a full charge before we leave. A few magazines always make for a good read too!

  • Headphones are necessary. There is nothing wrong with those free ones they give you on the planes of course, when they have enough to go around and when both ear buds work! I like having my own, they work with the planes own IFE (In flight entertainment) system and I know where they’ve been! I like being able to listen to the music and podcasts on my iPhone, both during a flight and chilling out of an evening on holiday.

  • Speaking of my iPhone, I load it up with various podcasts, music, play lists (yes, there is a playlist on their called ‘traveling to the airport!’), games etc, it is my portable IFE! Just remember to put it on airplane mode before you take off!

  • You can’t beat a good word search, crossword or suduku, in fact, any of those little paper activity books you pick up next to Readers Digest in the WHSmiths for 99p, it easily passes some time on the flight!

3. Essentials: Toilitries
Remember, you can’t have anything over 100ml, but that’s more than enough for me! I keep all my toiletries for the flight in one of those little clear bags they have you use when passing through security. Simple things like a travel brush and hair ties, sanitizing gel, lip balm, tissues, perfume, hand cream or an all-purpose balm, etc really do make a difference on those long flights. It’s nice to keep yourself feeling fresh, and those trips to the bathroom to freshen up are a great way to stretch those legs! Other ideas to carry on board would be toothbrush/toothpaste and mouthwash, especially on an overnight flight!

4. Essentials: Medical
I always take a few painkillers and throat lozenges in my survival bag as the recycled air on the plane really dries out my throat no matter how much water I drink! If I’m unfortunate enough to get sat near the screaming baby (every flight has one!), then those painkillers come in handy too! Decongestants are ideal if the plane air leaves you feeling bunged up and stuffy and you can also buy some great dissolvable vitamins to give you a boost on board. If you suffer from travel sickness, make sure you pack some anti-sickness tablets!

5. Essentials: Snacks

Now this would improve an inflight meal!

Lets face it, no matter what they do to try and improve the plane food, until they start serving Dole Whips and Mickey waffles, the plane food is never going to be a totally satisfying meal! I always take a few sandwiches, crisp, sweets etc to snack on during the flight to tie me over before I can let loose at the Boma buffet!

6. Misc
To finish off the kit, I always pack a notebook and pen incase the creative muse hits me mid flight. I also like to take along a copy of our itinerary incase there’s anything amiss or we decide to change around (the planning never ends!). I sometimes like to take my Nintendo DS along too, I always get a craving to boot up an old Pokemon game when I travel!

So that’s it, basic really isn’t it? Nevertheless, it’s saved me from the boredom beast on several flights and will continue to save me in the future.

What are your hand luggage essentials?

Until next time,

Friday, 10 February 2012

Top 5 Reasons I Love Animal Kingdom Lodge

We all have our favorite resorts at Walt Disney World for a variety of different reasons. There's always that one special place that you find yourself returning to time and time again. Animal Kingdom Lodge is that place for me, so I thought I'd use today’s top 5 blog to give you just a few reasons why!

 1. Theme

Light fixture in Jambo House lobby

From the minute you arrive, you're no longer in Orlando Florida, you're not in Walt Disney World, you're not even in the USA, your transported to Africa, wandering the wooden floored, thatched roof game lodge in the middle of a Savannah. From the authentic trinkets and treasures, to the tribal masks, baobab trees and rich, lush foliage along every walkway - you're on an adventure!

2. Savannahs
View from our room in 2010 - So many animals all of the time!
Bongos, giraffes, wildebeest, zebra, gazelles and more, all just a short walk away, some even on the edge of your rooms’ balcony! Watching the animals wander about, eat and play is such a unique experience every time you look. There's nothing more relaxing that sitting back in a rocking chair, hot chocolate in hand, and observing a mother and baby giraffe wander the savannah, or see a heard of wildebeest on the move.

3. Uzima pool
Map of the centre of the hotel - outside.
Located in the heart of the resort, the Uzima pool is a large, zero depth entry pool that offers you the perfect spot to have a little fun in the sun away from the parks, or to wind down after a long day of play. You get a great view of the hotel and are a stones throw away from the savannahs, so close you can hear the animals. The slide might not be anything spectacular, but it doesn't need to be. With such a buzz in the air, the atmosphere is wonderful!

4. Authentic Africa
One of the many 'info' boards along the corridors
In a way, you can feel as though you are in a rich, historical museum as you wander about the lodge. Filled with artifacts, statues, carvings, artwork, rugs and more, all created and brought over from Africa. The Lodge is filled with culture and history, taking you on a vibrant journey around it's home land. You can also experience some authentic African foods and flavors at the hotels restaurants and quick service (be sure to try the African Stew!)

5. Smell
Did you expect to see that come up on the list? I don't know what it is (and if it's some sort of animal by product please don't tell me!) but from the minute you step off your coach a smell that can only be found here at the lodge hits you. Everywhere you go in the Lodge you can smell it. It's not the food, the floor polish or (hopefully!) not the animals. It's something unique, something that triggers you brain to recall all the reasons why you love this place so much. Nowhere else have I found this smell except here, and when I smell it, I know I'm truly home!

What resort has a special place in your heart and why?

Until next time,

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Snapshot Wednesday...Hair-cules!

Decided to have a little look through the photos from my first ever trip to Walt Disney World back in 2002. I've always enjoyed getting pictures with the characters, but when I came across this snapshot I realised something!

1) Whats going on with Hercules' hair?
2) Where did he go from the parks?

I don't think I've seen him since that trip!

What characters have you noticed go missing from the parks over the years?

Until next time,

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Tune for Tuesday...don't you dare close your eyes!

Another pre-Valentines Day song for all the romantics out there!

Aladdin - A whole new world

Let me share this whole new world
with you...

Monday, 6 February 2012

Magical Memories and Me Monday

This week I decided to dig as far back as possible and take a look at the trip that started it all! Back in 1999, I got my first real taste of Disney holiday magic and havn't looked back since!

In the beginning...

I was around 12 when my parents told my brother and I we would be going to Blackpool for a 'little trip'. But from the beginning I knew that something was up! I'd rather you call me inquisitive, but in all honesty, I was just a nosey little kid! The things Mum kept buying, suitcases for example. Why did we need those to go to Blackpool? Then they tell us we'll be going on a coach, unusual because every other time we had gone in the car. Then, we're told we will be leaving at...! Blackpool is roughly an hour or so drive away, there was no way we needed to leave so early! So of course, I quizzed and questioned, the infamous, 'But why?' challenged their every answer.

Convinced something was going on, I was relentless, unlike my little brother, happy to go along with it all, completely oblivious. I am not really sure how long mum and dad planned to keep the secret, probably a lot longer than I let them! Looking back, I wish I could tell the younger me to just hush up and go along with it all! Finally, the cat was out of the bag, though after the enormous Mickey head luggage tags went on the cases, the game was up! We'd be taking the coach to Disneyland Paris, first to Dover, then a ferry to Calais, then the coach the rest of the way. We'd never been on a plane before and mum wasn't too keen on flying (my how things have changed now!) so the coach was the only way to get us there!

We trundled along, all bundled up, at 4am to board the coach in the city centre. It had a few more stops to make before we would be underway. It was to be a very memorable trip! To start with, the coach driver got lost in Birmingham, driving around in literal circles looking for a family...that had already boarded the coach! Then the toilet broke. Our coach was full of families, most with young children and the driver was determined to make up for lost time, aka, toilet stops were out of the question! He did however, make frequent stops for the smokers, conveniently located nowhere near a toilet 90% of the time!

We made it to the ferry just in time, waved goodbye to England and went off to explore the ship. I'd never been on a boat before, and all was well and good until my stomach realized I was in fact on a boat, going over somewhat choppy waters! I remember a room filled with squishy armchairs, curling up in one and willing the boat to go faster! The short crossing felt like a lifetime! Back on the coach, the driver promised us all a stop off along the way at some chocolate factory/warehouse, which got all the kids of course, we didn't end up stopping there! The chocolate factory became a booze warehouse and we wasted a huge chunk of our time waiting around as the driver tried to juggle suitcases and crates of wine in the hold!

After a whopping 14hours, we finally pulled up outside the Hotel Cheyenne, it was pitch black outside, exhausted and a little grumpy, we wanted nothing more than to be off that coach. The downside was, we'd be back on it in less than 48 hours! The trip was a 2 night - 1 day deal my parents had found in the local paper, who could have guessed what that would lead to 10 years on! It was like walking into a Clint Eastwood movie, horseshoes above the swinging saloon doors and a roaring log fire. I have the most vivid memory of my little brother tottering off, puling his little suitcase behind him. The wheels clacked and banged on the wooden floor and he just kept going, still wrapped up in all his layers, eager to explore!

Back in 99', Disneyland Paris only consisted of the Magic Kingdom Park and Disney Village (their version of Downtown Disney). We headed straight into the Disney Village that night and I was amazed with the fairy lights, strung across the entirety of the village, giving the permanent illusion of a twinkling night sky! The next day we awoke before dawn, chowed down at the hotel buffet ad got the park for rope drop. We did everything! Nonstop from opening to close, rides, shows, characters, one after the other after the other! Looking back, I still can't believe we managed to fill a day there and still leave feeling like we could have done so much more! That night my little brother curled up in the bottom bunk bed with a Winnie the Pooh light spinner he'd been bought in the park, he kept spinning it, lighting it up and staring, completely mesmerized. He'd had that look on his face all day! All these years on, I think, secretly, he still has that spinner somewhere! He then made the announcement, his legs were so sore; he thought he'd left a muscle in the park! Guess that meant we'd have to come back someday to retrieve it!

The next morning as we filed onto the coach each one of us realized we'd been bit by the Disney bug and holidaying has never been the same since! We've only been back to Disneyland Paris twice since that trip, having experienced the magic on a grander scale at Walt Disney World, we find it hard to even consider a trip to Disneyland Paris now. What Disneyland Paris did, is show us that there's a different way to holiday, a way that includes each and every member of the family, just like Walt intended! It was our first experience of a Disney holiday, of pin trading, cast members, guest service, characters and dining and it has since lead to so, so much more! 

What was your first Disney trip experience?

Until next time,

Friday, 3 February 2012

Top 5 Last Night Traditions

In response to last weeks Friday 5, this week I'll be looking at my top 5 last night traditions of a Walt Disney World holiday! Now, we don't want to be looking at the end before we've even started, but I'm all about getting as much out of my time at WDW as possible! That last night is the opportune moment to squeeze out those last few moments of magic to take home with you the next day.

1. Four Parks - One day!
Ok, so this is more of a lasy day thing (and I'll be going into more detail on this at a later date!) but if you have a park hopper, then hop till you can hop no more! I love hitting all the parks on the last day, heading for my favourite rides for one last go and picking up and last minute souvenirs! It also leads on nicely to my next tradition...

2. Flash-Photopass!
As we hop, we snap up as many photopass shots as we can. As we tend to pre-order the photopass CD, we want to get as many photos of our holiday on there as possible. Group shots, singles shots, posing shots and 'special' shots. Everytime we see a photographer we jump in the queue! It's a great way to bulk up your photo cd, especially if you have spent a few days off-site!

3. Last supper!
I love picking out of favourite meal of the holiday and making an advanced dinner reservation for the last night. When you’ve enjoyed something so much, you just have to go back one last time. Usually it’s pretty hard to choose because we have so many great meals at WDW, but there will always be one that stands out just that bit extra! Chances are, you’ll already know what you’ll be ordering without even having to look at the menu! Making the ADR also means it is easier to plan your day around the meal, so you’re not left hanging around wasting precious park time trying to get a walk up booking!

4. Wishes
What better send off could you ask for than watching Wishes at Magic Kingdom? It is, without question, my favourite show of all time and I shed a little tear every time I stand and watch! I’m also betting that any other time you may have watched it during the holiday; you will have had a camera in your hand? Use this last night to watch it with your own eyes, not the LCD camera screen and really experience it! Take your time strolling down
Main Street
after the show, grab a cookie from the bakery, wander through The Emporium and catch the goodnight kiss from the top of the castle before you leave!

5. Door-shot!
Every family has their own quirky traditions and this is one of ours. Ever since I was a little girl, every new school year brought with it a new uniform, and so I had to have my photo taken on the first day of term in front of the living room door. This became customary for any and all special occasions and eventually found its way into our holiday traditions too! Suitcases packed and the room door shut for the last time, we take it in turns to have out photo taken in front of the door, trying to get the room number in view too! It looks great in the scrapbooks and is an ideal way of recalling a specific room if you are looking to make a room request for future visits!

Do you have any last night traditions?

Until next time,