Thursday 24 April 2014

WDW Summer 2013 - Day 11

Well let's get back to what we got up to on our last visit to WDW.  I can't believe it's now over 6 months since we were last in my happy place and as I type we have no plans for another visit any time soon - the disadvantage of living over 4000 miles away and the subsequent travel costs!  But I continue to keep my Disney passion alive by reliving and sharing my memories.

So Day 11 - what did we do??

Well, we had a relatively slow start to the day with a full breakfast at our hotel before heading off to Blizzard Beach.  But we weren't going for a splash about, no we were going for the golf to be exact.  It was time to visit Winter Summerland mini golf course;

..and having played the Winter course during our previous vacation in 2011 we decided that it was only right to play the Summer course this year;
We had great fun playing the course, although Molly did get a bit grumpy when her brother won!!  Although I did manage to get a couple of hole-in-ones!  Honest!!

Victory celebrations!!!
One unusual occurrence for us though was that it didn't rain, we seem to have a habit of playing mini golf in the rain but this time it stayed hot, dry and sunny.

After golf we hopped on a bus and headed over to Coronado Springs Resort; this was the resort that we should have been staying in before we got our unexpected hotel upgrade.  But as I'd done my pre-trip research all about Coronado Springs we thought we'd stop by and see what we were missing.
The Three Caballeros!!

Some beautiful views around the resort and around Lago Dorado
And I just had to have this photo taken... 'running' around Lago Dorado...OK fake running!!  Well I did say that was one of my must do's for this vacation...unfortunately the hotel upgrade kind of got in the way of me achieving my goal for real ;)

It was lovely to walk around the resort, it really is beautiful.  The main pool area looked amazing although Molly was not happy at being made to look at it and not be able to use it as it had been one of the things about the hotel that she had been looking forward to. Although, one thing I will say is that the pool is very exposed to the sun, in that there is not much in the way of natural shade, so anyone thinking of going needs to bear this in mind, especially if with very young children who are prone to getting sunburnt!

I will agree with a lot of the reviews which I'd read before the vacation which made reference to the size and layout of the resort.  It is a big, spread out layout which could mean your room being a good distance from the main building and amenities.  I would guess it took us, with a leisurely stroll, about 20 minutes to walk around the circumference of Lago Dorado which could mean for some people that walk on a morning to have breakfast in the resort could add a bit of extra time onto your day.

One of the reasons that I have always loved Port Orleans French Quarter is for its relatively small size and compact layout when compared to other moderate resorts.  But smaller size may mean you miss out on things like table service really is a case of weighing up what's important to you on a vacation when you make your decision. For us a 'bit of a walk' to the main buildings at Coronado Springs didn't really bother may have changed the way we did things though.  I wonder if we may have been more inclined to get on a bus early and have breakfast in the parks rather than take the extra time at the resort...who knows?  Maybe on our next visit we may have to give Coronado Springs another try!

Having explored the resort we then headed over to Disney's Hollywood Studios for the afternoon stopping for lunch at one of my favourite quick service eateries the Backlot Express.  Now I will admit it's not the best place for choice of food; it's your typical burger/hot dog/nugget type of establishment but it is big, and airy, with some great theming and free refills of soda!!

Once we were refuelled it was off into the park.  Molly took the chance to 'meet & greet' with Phineas and Ferb...

...which was followed by re-visiting 'The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow' following our failed attempt a few days earlier.  I have to say for a walk through attraction I really quite enjoyed it.  I wasn't expecting much in fact if truth be known I thought it might have been a bit lame and was only really doing it as it was a 'new' addition to the park since our previous trip. The whole experience was worth it of only for the amazing projection of Captain Jack at the end; brilliant technology at play.

We then had a brief stop for ice-creams...Mickey shaped of course...

...before we headed towards Animation Courtyard.  But as we approached we heard the sounds of the Monsters University Pep Rally and so took a slight detour to see what was happening; this resulted in me becoming the embarrassing parent...apparently it's not cool to dance along to 'The Cha-Cha Slide' in front of your teenage kids...who knew ;)
Ethan ignoring me, Molly trying to stop me dancing!
After embarrassing the kids we decided to venture into Animation Courtyard in hope of a new 'Meet & Greet' and sure enough we got to meet the stars of 'Wreck-It Ralph'.

As we made our way round to Rock 'n' Roller Coaster we bumped into friend and podcast co-host Michelle.  So whilst us ladies had a chat and a catch-up the rest of the family got thrown around on Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.  We all then headed out of the park but not before taking advantage of the Disney Photopass+ to get a group photo...
Don't ask me how but we ended up with this pose! It's a hidden Mickey!!
Next we headed over to Swan & Dolphin resorts via boat..
...and then walked over to The Boardwalk.  Both Michelle and I had it on our respective 'To Do' lists to go into the Boardwalk Inn resort in search of a working carousel model that we had both heard about listening to Lou Mongello's WDW Radio, and look we found it!
Beautiful and it was working when we saw it.

Molly getting a little too comfy in an armchair inside the Boardwalk Inn lobby!!
And would you believe it the kids wanted yet more who can resist a stop at the Seashore Sweets...well our two can't!!
How big???
Having filled the kids up with ice-cream we headed over to Epcot to finish off the evening in World Showcase, but this was the sky that greeted us as we made our way from the Boardwalk...
...yes you guessed it a sudden downpour occurred!!

Once we made it over to Epcot (and relatively dry too!) we headed to the World Showcase and more specifically Norway.  I had a couple of foods I'd heard about that I wanted to try over at the Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe...first the Roast Beef Sandwich followed by Rice Cream and both of which were lovely.  I think this eatery may become one of our must do's in future years.
Enjoying the Rice Cream - kind of a rice pudding topped with strawberry sauce
By now it was getting late and time to take the bus back to our hotel, time for feet up with a hot chocolate and then time for bed - night all!

Monday 21 April 2014


OK so I think it may be confession time.  When I started this blog the idea was to document not only my love of Disney and all the planning that goes into a Disney vacation but also my venture into running - hence the initial tag line of 'Blogging, Jogging and Planning my way to the Magic Kingdom'.

Once we had last years vacation to Walt Disney World booked I gave myself the goal of running around the lake at Coronado Springs Resort where we would be staying.  Not a massive goal but one that I felt very achievable; I'm not a natural runner and felt with the time I could put in before the vacation this was realistic.

However due to the unexpected hotel upgrade we received when we arrived in WDW last year (we were upgraded to the Wilderness Lodge - see my previous post WDW Day 1) I never got to run around Lago Dorado...not that I minded too much.  After all the unexpected upgrade more than made up for it.

But the knock-on effect seemed to see me fall out with running.  I think a combination of straight back into work and then the dark evenings of Winter all contributed...or should I say gave me the excuses I needed not to run.  Initially after our vacation I managed to get out and get a few runs done but as the time between runs became longer and longer I eventually realised I'd not been out in months.

I am ashamed to say that I used the excuses of work, life, other commitments, bad weather and dark evenings to give me the reasons to not go out for a run.

So my confession is that I haven't run for nearly 6 months :(

BUT I have decided to do something about it.  So around late February time I decided that if I couldn't get out and run (because of all the excuses above!) I could at least walk and make walking part of my normal day.  So I started to walk to and from work.  Now work is only a couple of miles away (takes me around 30 minutes) but I figured it was better than doing nothing.  So I aimed to walk at least 3 times a week and I am pleased to say that I have been able to achieve this and it was a lot easier than I was telling myself it was going to be.  In fact I am now at the point if I can't walk to and from work I feel cheated.

And then 12 days ago at the start of my Easter break I decided that enough was enough, no more excuses I needed to get running again.  So 12 days later I have 4 runs under my belt.  Simon has always said that once you've run your body knows what to expect and you kind of pick up from where you left off; and you know what he's right!  Now after my first run I thought 'what have I done?' my knees hurt and my legs ached so much but I was pleasantly surprised at how long I was able to run for and the pace I achieved.  So I left it a couple of days before run number two and this time the aches and pains weren't anywhere near as bad as after the first run.

So 4 runs in and I'm glad I've got back on the 'treadmill' so to speak.  I am still in the run-walk-run pattern but I am quite happy with that at the moment.  My pace seems consistent across all runs, and I'm covering a good 2.5 miles each run.  And you know what I'm not bothered about being the fastest, or going the farthest distance I'm just bothered that I'm doing it for ME.  I'm the one getting out, I'm the one running as best as I can, I'm the one doing something and it's for MY benefit.

Here's a couple of photos taken today on my usual running route...

So as I type this I have not long finished run number four, and am eating a home made, freshly prepared, fruit salad and am feeling pleased with todays efforts but also feeling motivated.  Motivated to keep at this running lark but also motivated to have a healthier lifestyle. 

I recently watched a documentary movie called Fat,Sick & Nearly Dying which follows Joe and then Phil as they tackle their weight, illnesses and their lifestyles.  The film is definitely worth a watch, not necessarily for the approach taken, but for the motivation it can give you, as you watch two unhealthy, ill and overweight guys completely change their lives for the better.

So that's what I intend to do; get fit, eat better, make healthy choices and enjoy life doing it.  Simple!

Sunday 6 April 2014

WDW Summer 2013 - Day 10

Well it's been longer than I thought since I last posted so I thought I'd better get my writing head on and let you know what we got up to on Day 10 of our last vacation to WDW last Summer.

Well the day started a little later than I think we'd intended; we all slept really well!  So first order of the day was breakfast in the sunshine at Wilderness now we were getting rather used to this start to the day and loving it everyday :)

When we finally got ourselves out and about it was over to the Animal Kingdom and a day that turned out to be all about autographs.  Molly decided that today was to be full on character spotting, photos and autographs.

Molly autograph book in hand!!
I think this was as a result of walking into the park and discovering Mickey and Minnie's new meet and greet as we strolled along; we noticed there was no wait time so thought that can't be right???  Anyway as we approached we were greeted by a couple of lovely cast members who welcomed us in and said 'come along, they're all yours, no-one is waiting'.  So much to our surprise we walked straight through the queue area and right into the meet and greet area.  We had a fantastic time and were able to take as long as we wanted, and we got some fab photos with Mickey and Minnie in their safari get-ups!

Throughout the rest of the day we managed to get photos and autographs with some of the major players; Pluto, Goofy, Donald, Chip & Dale, Pooh and Tigger which meant Molly was a happy girl.

We also hit some major rides today, well I say we...but not all of us did all of them!  First up was Expedition Everest which the kids and Simon enjoyed whilst I decided to take in the scenery and the themeing and a little window shopping followed by trying to predict which train they would be on to catch them on camera and failed!

The themeing around here is amazing - just love it!

We then made our way round into Dinoland USA and rode a family favourite Primeval Whirl...the kids had a higher tolerance level for this ride than me and Simon so we grabbed a drink while they rode it time after time.
I lost count how many times they rode this, the queues were mega short so the kids took advantage.
We also took a ride on Dinosaur, a ride that we hadn't done for a few years and one which Molly had never done.  In fact the last time we had ridden it Simon and Ethan had gone on it alone and whilst on the ride vehicle realised that one of Simon's work colleagues was sat behind them - now that really does make it a small world after all!

Anyway back to this year...we joined the queue which moved at a reasonable pace and it wasn't too long before we boarded our vehicle.  We had just moved out of the loading area and were about to venture off into the time of dinosaurs when our car came to an abrupt stop...nothing happened...then the lights came on and we sat there...and sat there. Then technicians came up to the vehicle, walked around it a few times, looked at it, messed about under a panel and then walked away.  Back they came again and still we sat there...I was waiting for the inevitable 'really sorry but there's a problem we're going to have to close the ride'...but no we were in luck.  All of a sudden all the lights went off and we were plunged into darkness and in a few seconds our vehicle was on its way with thankfully no further interruptions.  Was it our vehicle that was at fault?  I don't know, but what I do know is that all the cast members were brilliant; they kept calm and just got on with the job at hand of getting us moving again.

Before we left Dinoland USA we managed to get in a photo op!

Then it was lunch at one of my favourites; Flame Tree BBQ, can't pass up the chance of a pulled pork sandwich! Followed by full on character meet and greets!

We ended our day at the Animal Kingdom with the kids taking full advantage of quiet lines for Expedition Everest riding it back to back at least four times...maybe more!
Actually managed to get a shot of the kids on the ride...honest they are on there, about two thirds back!
While Simon and I took the time to explore the Serka Zong Bazaar (the shop into which you exit the Expedition Everest ride)...
Again, awesome themeing!!
As it was coming to the end of the day for the Animal Kingdom we decided to head over to the Magic Kingdom for the evening.  So we took a bus over to the TTC (Transportation and Ticket Centre) before taking the ferry over to the Magic Kingdom.  We then decided that a third mode of transport was needed as we boarded the Walt Disney World Railroad for a trip around the park disembarking at New Fantasyland.  In need of a drink we decided that Gaston's Tavern was the ideal place and a chance to try LeFou's Brew...
Inside Gaston's Tavern

Posing with Gaston!!
Whilst enjoying the brew (apple flavour and sweet) we watched the Gaston 'Greet and Meet' going on just to the left of 'Bonjour Village Gifts'; it was so funny to watch.  Gaston was brilliant and such a poseur, I would love to see the results of the photos because the guests were totally unaware of the poses being pulled behind them.  It was a pure joy to watch and be entertained by.

After a quick ride on Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid - which I love - we headed over to Pinocchio's Village Haus for a spot of food followed by a ride on the Haunted Mansion.  By then it was time to make our way over to Main Street USA to watch the Main Street Electrical Parade. But on the way over there we just had to pick up a dole whip, well it would have been rude not to ;)
It was then a case of find a spot and wait for the parade to begin...

Technology keeping the kids occupied
The obligatory selfie!

And the parade begins
And of course after the parade we watched Celebrate the Magic before one of my all time favourites and must-do's - Wishes Nightime which I always shed a tear or three, I'm such a softie!
Waiting for Wishes :)
We rounded the night off with a visit to Starbucks for a chocolate cookie crumble frappuccino...
Starbucks and Walt Disney World - what more could a girl ask for ;)
And that was the end of another full day at Walt Disney World...who said vacations were a chance to stop and chill...not us!!