Things are slowly getting back to normal since coming home. No matter what I tried last week, I couldn’t get back into my old blogging routine. This week has been a lot better, and I’ve started getting a few extra posts written and starting visiting blogs again. I’ve let things slide since the beginning of the year, so I hope to get back to normal as soon as I can!
I finally have my holiday pics ready to post! I had hoped to have them ready last weekend, but I think I was suffering from post-holiday blues (Is that a thing?? If it isn’t, it should totally be a thing) and looking at the all the pictures made me want to go back!
My Book and Disney Haul
Every time I go to the States, I end up in a shopping mall with a bookshop. Some might say this is advanced planning… I call it a bookworm’s instinct! The bookshops in the States are usually at least triple the size of my local shops in Dublin, so I could easily spend an hour in one section alone! I tried my best to stay within both budget and baggage weight limits, and I just about managed it. (Yep, I’m a little proud of myself for my restraint!)
Sadly, we didn’t get to Universal Studios. I’d have loved to visit Hogwarts, but the ticket prices for one day in both parks were just too expensive. I kept an eye out to see if I could find some official Universal merchandise, and once I spotted this Griffindor scarf, I knew it should be mine! Show a little House Pride and all!
I got lots of the usual touristy things in Disney – pens, notebooks, keyrings and all that, but I was looking for one thing that I usually wouldn’t buy. We visited Downtown Disney on our last day, and when I spotted this Alice in Wonderland picture frame, it was exactly what I was looking for. I love it, and it looks awesome on my bookshelves at home! :D
My Disney Trip
It’s been almost five years since I’ve been to Walt Disney World, and I missed the vibe so much! I have been to Florida since then, but between one thing and another, we didn’t make it to Disney. We’d been thinking about going to Florida since Christmas past, but it was only the beginning of February when we began to seriously considering going for real. That left less than two months to plan and book flights from Ireland, accommodation, car hire and everything else that needed to be done – not a lot of time! To make it a little trickier, I got a brainwave after I’d booked our flights: what if we actually stayed on Disney property?! We’ve never done this before, so we decided to try a value resort for a few nights, and then move on to our more usual haunts. I don’t think I’ve ever done as much research for a holiday in my life before, and I haunted every Disney website I could find! My biggest surprise was the change in the Fast Pass system… but that’s an argument for another day!
We had a bad start to our trip – from our flight leaving Dublin being delayed, ridiculous queues doing through Emigration and security, some of our checked baggage going missing when we arrived in Orlando (and giving us a heart-attack) but turned out they were rerouted on the next flight from Atlanta, and a problem with our Magic Bands once we arrived at our hotel – we began to expect the worst for the rest of our stay! Thankfully, I think we got everything bad out of the way that first day, as all our other plans went off without a hitch.
We were staying at Disney’s All-Star Music resort, and true to Disney, the theming was so well done. Each block is themed around a different music style: Calypso, Jazz, Broadway, Country and Rock. I was secretly hoping we’d be staying in Rock … but we were put in Country Fair.
I read a lot of warnings that the guest rooms are very small, but they weren’t nearly as tiny as I was expecting. My only slight issue was a lack of proper storage space, but considering we were there for a short stay we could make do. The in-room safes are a quite small, and the depth of the safe could pose an issue if you bring a lot of electronics. An iPad or two would fit, but a laptop would take up every bit of space (and don’t even consider bringing a widescreen laptop – it ain’t gonna happen!)
The food court was nice, and I loved the updated décor. The breakfasts were pretty good, and I’d highly recommend getting a Mickey Waffle! They are delicious! Or, if you’d prefer more variety, get a Bounty Platter – a mini-Mickey Waffle comes with it. Since we had breakfast at 6am most mornings, and my brain doesn’t wake up until 10am at the earliest, (I am NOT a morning person!) I completely forgot to take pictures in the food court!
As you can guess, we got up early to take full advantage of Extra-Magic hours. Before we left home, I managed to get reservations for lunch at Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom on a day with morning Extra-Magic hours, so we were up at 5am, (I might have resembled a zombie), eating breakfast at 6am, and on the resort bus to the Magic Kingdom at 7am. (And I was under the impression this trip was a holiday?!) Magic Kingdom opens at 8am, and we were there
at what felt like the crack of dawn for rope drop and the welcome show.
No matter how many times you visit the Magic Kingdom, the first time you see Cinderella's Castle will make you feel like a kid again. And emotional! I got all choked up this time!
Sacrificing a few extra hours in bed is so worth it when you’re in Disney. We managed to get all the rides we wanted done by 10:45 am. Conveniently, our lunch reservations were at 11am! I was afraid it would be too early for lunch, but I was starving by this point and the prospect of food was glorious. I LOVE Beauty and the Beast, so to eat in Beast’s castle… *cough* I might have turned into an eight year old fangirl…
It was every bit as awesome as I expected it to be! The décor was AMAZING! The restaurant is split into three areas: the Grand Ballroom (which is EXACTLY like the ballroom in the movie!), and two smaller areas, the West Wing and the Gallery. I could have spent ages taking in all the little details in each room! We chose a table in the Ballroom, and the atmosphere was awesome. To make things even better, the food was excellent!
We also tried three types of cupcakes for dessert – from left to right: The Masters Cupcake (with Lumiere’s Grey Stuff as the icing!), Lemon Meringue Cupcake and Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake.
We got doubles of some of the cupcakes, so everyone could try them all. I had assumed I’d love the Masters Cupcake the most (CHOCOLATE!) but… it was my least favourite. The grey stuff, while nice, was a lot blander than I was expecting. In contrast, I absolutely LOVED both the strawberry and lemon cupcakes – I can’t pick a favourite out of the two. If I ever go back, I'd be very tempted to order BOTH so I wouldn't have to choose!
On one of our non-park days, we visited some of the other resort hotels on Disney property, and we ended up in the Grand Floridian. I’ve seen the outside of the Grand about a zillion times, but I’ve never actually visited it before. And HOLY, erm… it’s quite posh. So, naturally, I waltzed in wearing shorts and a t-shirt while everyone else was in semi-formal wear.
With all the construction happening in Animal Kingdom, and virtually nothing we wanted to do in MGM- *cough*… Hollywood Studios, we decided we’d skip those parks, and enjoy Epcot. The Flower and Garden Festival was on while we were there, and I’ve never seen the park look so pretty! Topiaries and flowers are everywhere, and I took loads of pictures… but I think I’ve flooded this post with too many images as it is! These are just a few of the pics I took:
I LOVED staying in Disney, and I wish we’d taken a chance and stayed a little longer. But, all good things come to an end, and we had to say goodbye and move on further south. I’ll admit I missed the vibe and the Disney bubble so much! But… daydreaming by this lake for a week helped quite a bit!
Thanks for reading this far, I know this is one heck of a long post!
Hope you have a fab week, and happy reading!