Friday, 28 September 2012

A 3 day extension

So I rang the travel agents to try and extend our 14 day trip to 16 as with almost 2 days of traveling it seems like a 12 day holiday. Problem being, that I hadn't realised that it would mean arriving in London on a Sunday and this would mean less connections available to bring us back up home. 8 hours in Gatwick, jetlagged and with 2 kids was a no no, but rather than just make do with the 14 nights we've ended up with 17! This will of course mean saying offsite for those 3 extra nights, but we found a really good price for the Holiday Inn Resort LBV, and means having to juggle our 14 day expiry park tickets but who cares, an extra 3 nights away from a dreary and frozen Britain and I'm sold.

So we now have 7 nights in Jambo House at the Animal Kingdom Villas, 7 nights on The Boardwalk and 3 nights at the Holiday Inn in LBV.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Updates you don't like?

This morning I have the Tiki Room song stuck in my head... 'all the birds sing words and the flowers croon, in the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room' and this got me thinking. The first time we visited WDW was in 2005, and at this time it was The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management. As a family we loved the Tiki Room attraction and Zazu and Iago but now Disney have returned it to it's original show and we've been left very disappointed by it. An attraction that was a must do on our list is now way less entertaining.

What update or change of attraction has left you, let's say underwhelmed?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

If I was an imagineer...

Today the idea of a Monsters inc themed hotel came to mind. Now if I was an Imagineer they wouldn't be looking to me for drawings of anything, so don't laugh!

For some reason even though the image is saved as landscape it puts it in here in portrait!

Anyway, as you can see by my very talented picture, ha... this would be the lobby, this is as far as I got. As you can see the idea is very much multicoloured, all railings and decor are a mix of colour and varying textures. The check-in desk is Sully based with blue and purple fur, and the seating areas are monster based with textures and toenails/ claws which provide extensions to the seats themselves.
The elevators would be open for viewing and the actual lift would resemble the scream collection pods. Rooms would all have different door designs and be highly colourful. Fun, fun, fun

Have you had any ideas? if you were an Imagineer what would you propose?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Always thinking of the next trip

We've just had a birthday in our house and this left me with the empty cardboard wrapping paper tubes. This gave me a new idea for saving, yes we all by the penny jars and savings tins but I though why not use these. So I've taped up the end of the tube and have begun collecting £1 coins left from that day, I think I'll also go to the bank and change whatever I make from eBay sales, clothing weigh-in's like the 'enviro-clothes' places etc into £1's and pop them in here, eventually it'll add up and you can get a hell of a lot of coins in one of those tubes.... the cheap or even free savings jar and easily decorated with some leftover paper. Previously I had done this using the giant cordial bottles that Robinson's used to sell but with change. This will add up and unless I start and think now about how we'd afford another trip I fear it may never happen

Here's a few of the places I've managed to make money from:

  • Envirophone - exchanging old phones for cash (also linked with quidco cashback)
  • Music Magpie - exchanging cds, dvds, bluray and games (also linked with quidco)
  • - recommended on theDIBB, I've just ordered my bag to try them out
  • Ebay and Gumtree - easy way to have a clear out, gumtree has free listing too
  • Ramsdens/ Tesco Gold? Hatten Garden metals - old jewellery sales, but do check prices online first

Please, please if you know of anywhere to make cash easily add it as a note and I'll add it to the list

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your suggestions and success stories

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Thought's on Hollywood Studios aka MGM

So, the latest DIBBcast (podcast found in itunes) asked a few questions that got me thinking... 1. which character are you most like? 2. If you could choose one attraction to get rid of which would it be, and what would you replace it with?

Which character am I most like? - that's simple right, head always in a book (currently Wuthering Heights) or singing, I love singing, so it'd have to be Belle. It's quite fitting really as Beauty and the Beast is my all time favourite Disney movie.

The other question that really got me thinking was getting rid of an attraction, and it's replacement. Now during the show most said they'd get replace the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and I'm very tempted to agree. We've been visiting WDW since 2005 and having seen the show then I can say it hasn't changed one bit, having seen the show every single trip as it's something the kids always want to see I sadly begrudge having to sit through it, if there were back rests I have a nap. It's old, only funny the first time you see it, and the 'stunts' are pretty lame and performed during our last trip half-heartedly. I get that Indiana Jones has been a big seller and has a place in movie history but why not replace it with something more exciting, if they insist on keeping it then why on earth have they not changed it or updated it with parts of another of the collection. Nevertheless each and every time we visit the stadium is always packed, these must all be first timers and I'll be doing my best to avoid it next time we go!

But the other thing I find lame is the Lights, Motors, Action show which as a bit of a petrolhead is a pathetic car show, ruined even more by them telling you that the shell is on the car backwards and thus it has taken zero skill whatsoever to perform the 'stunts'!

For me, despite Rockin' Rollercoaster and Toy Story Mania, the Hollywood Studios or MGM as it will remain to me, is my least favourite of the parks, and one that we can completely finish in just a morning. The studios are definitely lacking the variety and number of attractions that the other parks have, with the rumoured opening of a Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, I'm praying some sort of Monsters Inc simulator/ coaster ride.. oh, and I'm convinced the appearance of a Carsland like Anahiem, I wait with bated breath for a reason to spend a full day in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Check out for friendly advice on planning your trip to the mouse and find the DIBBcast on iTunes

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Under which roof?

In my previous posting I mentioned where we were staying on our up coming trip, we've been going to Florida since 2005 and though we do tend to stick with what we know, we have tried out a few different resorts.

So, as I've already said we'll be spending this trip between Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House and The Boardwalk, our absolute favourite resorts...

Before buying into DVC we had stayed mainly offsite with both International Drive and Lake Buena Vista, Hotel Plaza Boulevard. Now if you cannot afford to stay onsite at Disney, then Hotel Plaza Boulevard is the answer for you, it's positioned along Downtown Disney making it walkable within 10 minutes max from each resort along the road. Most Downtown Disney hotels are also listed as Disney's good neighbour hotels and so provide complimentary (though the drivers do have a tips box) shuttles to the parks throughout the day, and a bus to the Downtown Disney area after 6pm.
Also, in 2006 we stayed at Disney's All-star Music resort and loved the place, having stayed at many cheap motel/ hotels I was very impressed with Disney's cleanliness, this for me is an absolute must for accommodation - add this to Disney's 'Mickey' carpets and I'm perfectly satisfied.

Since buying into DVC we've begun trying out the different resorts though we absolutely must stay at 'home' AKL on each and every trip. So we've stayed in Jambo house, The Boardwalk, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West - we have tried for Wilderness lodge before but for those that understand how DVC works our waitlist didn't come through, for those that don't get it - essentially Wilderness Lodge was booked out during our dates. Currently, the Yacht and Beach club doesn't appeal to me, I'd rather stay on the Boardwalk though I guess as the boys get older and can go in the pool without us then Stormalong Bay will become a must do...

I'll give you my very brief opinions on each resort, these are just my opinions and are not meant to cause any offense or make you think twice about staying at a specific resort, after all this is Disney, they don't do things by half!

The Boardwalk, the absolute appeal of this place is the night time entertainment, the resort is so relaxed throughout the day but at night it completely comes alive, and it's fantastic if after a whole day in the parks you want to relax at tea time and then wander along to Epcot to watch Illuminations before crawling into bed. The decor is nice, don't get me wrong and I know it has theming but to me - it's just not themed... this is maybe because this is what I love about the Animal Kingdom Lodge...

The Animal Kingdom Lodge with it's African theming is just amazing! You're surrounded by animals whether you've paid for the savannah view or not (something we've only ever done once) as there are viewing platforms and windows all around the resort, including the night vision - you've guessed it, at night. Around tea time cast members begin telling stories and playing games with the kids, teaching them tribal songs and dancing. The resort has 3 restaurants, Boma a buffet restaurant that I must say we've only tried for breakfast - every trip, Jiko a more formal place with dress code which, having 2 young boys we've never had the opportunity to try, and the Mara, downstairs by the pool is a counter service diner where I've always been happy with the prices and the number of options throughout the day, you can also take your meal back up to your room which is very handy with the boys when they're tired and whingy.

Saratoga Springs resort, the bonus of this place was that we could walk to Downtown Disney in minutes, but we chose our location that way. We used this resort when we first purchased DVC and having received the previous years we opted for the 1-bed size room. The 1-bed comes with a kingsize bedroom with jacuzzi bath and a sleeper in the lounge, while this room size does come with full kitchen and laundry facilities I found that it wasn't good use of our points as we'd much rather eat out while on holiday, and members have free use of DVC laundry. We probably wont stay in anything other than a studio again, and save the points for further trips.
Our choice of room was miles away from anything else, we found that with the kids we had to take the car across to the dining and stores, however this was our choice of location and is not the case for the entire resort. I did also find the decor a bit plain here. The counter service restaurant was all that we tried here and with a family of fussy eaters there were fewer options here than an other resort counter service we've tried. I didn't hate this resort, I just didn't love it... however, I'd pick it over Old Key West...

Old Key West, I was begrudged to book this place but when we booked I needed 2 studios for a full week at a time and there just wasn't the availability at other resorts I had enough points to book. I know many owners at Old Key West but I just don't like the look of the place, for me it was just like a non-Disney apartment complex, it had no Disney feel that I've grown to love. Having requested to be close to the boat jetty and store we couldn't be placed further away, I asked again at check-in only to be told that was the only place that had space, though the resort didn't look too busy to me!
Our rooms was shabby, I thought they'd finished refurbing this place but our room must have been one of the few that hadn't been done. We were right out next to the freeway so at night found it to be noisy, this wasn't helped by the fact that our balcony door didn't close tight. Our balcony opened onto the aircon fans and this added additional noise but the foliage was so overgrown that no light came through the canopy, no sun on our balcony - might as well have not had one! the room wasn't filthy but it could have been cleaner and the bathroom was incredibly dated. I was not happy staying here at all and I wouldn't be happy to stay here again, the only way I will is if we cannot get a booking elsewhere. But, like I say I know many who stay here over and over and love it

One thing I can say about every resort we've stayed in is that if you have a door adjoining to the next room along your neighbours may drive you nuts. Now being in a hotel I do my best to keep my boys quiet, not silent but just not screaming at the top of their lungs - we've found that others are not so considerate and we have had kids waking us up morning and night with no sound of an adult telling them to keep the noise down!

Richard, my husband would love to try Baylake Towers, he loves the look of it, but the only appeal for me is having a view of the fireworks at night, I'd much rather stay in the main part of the Contemporary Resort. I'd like to try the Wilderness Lodge too - for no other reason that I like the look of it from the pictures I've seen, we've never been in but we do have a dining reservation at the Whispering Canyon for our upcoming trip.

That leads me to my next post I guess, dining that we've tried and want to try... you don't have to break the bank eating when in Orlando, we tend to stick to what we know but I'll give a post a go

Thanks for reading, and happy planning