A slight obsession with books

Reading and Fibrecrafts


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WDW holiday, 5th Oct – Universal

Thursday

We had a lazy morning today (yes, another one), mostly ’cause it was pouring with rain, and got down to the Islands dining room for about 10.30am. We ate there last year and were rather impressed with it so we were keen to try it again. We had the buffet and it was just as good as we remembered. The scrambled eggs were just right and the biscuits and gravy were delicious. There was a lovely selection of fruit as well as lots of other goodies.

The plan was to pop back to our room and grab our stuff to go over to Universal Studios to activate our tickets and do a few rides. When we got back to our room though, we looked out of the window and saw that it was pouring again. We waited an hour and it seemed to have slowed right down so we thought we’d risk it and set off. It’s only a short walk to City Walk from here, and from there you can access both parks.

We started off at Universal Studios and had a brilliant time. Our room keys act as express passes so we just have to flash them to get in the fast lane. We went on Transformers, Harry Potter, Men in black, The Simpsons and Shrek.

Universal does have its own version of PhotoPass but we didn’t go for it as we didn’t think we’d get our money’s worth like we do at Disney. We took lots of photos of our own though and I got Stephen to pose for some ‘silly’ shots.I couldn’t resist getting my photo taken with Beetlejuice as it’s one of my favourite films.There were lots of Halloween decorations, but they were a more adult theming than at the Magic Kingdom.

Universal was closing at 5pm because of the Halloween party so after Shrek we took the Hogwart’s express to Hogsmeade in Islands of adventure. There we did the other Harry Potter ride plus Flight of the Hippogriff. We took quite a few photos in Hogsmeade too after we’d sat and had a butterbeer. 

We strolled down to the front of the park, stopping to take the odd photo as we went.We were getting peckish at this point so we exited the park and picked up sandwiches from City Walk. We took them back to our room and had a picnic while watching some tv.

We were really lucky with the weather once we did venture out. There was a tiny bit of drizzle and a couple of showers while we were on rides but we stayed completely dry.

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WDW holiday, 4th Oct – Royal Pacific

Wednesday

We had a bit of a lie-in this morning after our late night yesterday. We were moving today but it didn’t take me long to pack. I don’t bother to do it properly when we’re just moving between hotels. I bung all the toiletries into a carrier bag.

Stephen loaded up the car and a short drive later we arrived at Universal’s Royal Pacific resort.

We stayed here for a couple of nights in 2014 and really liked it. It’s a lovely hotel and is just a short walk from the parks. You get into the park an hour earlier than non-resort guests and once the parks are open to all guests, you get express access to the rides, which is brilliant.

I checked in while Stephen was parking the car and settled down in the lobby to wait for him. By the time he arrived, I’d had an email to say that our room was ready. We came straight up and our luggage arrived a few minutes later so I unpacked before we headed back out to find food.

Our room is lovely. It’s quite a good size with two huge beds. Both beds have a switch for those lights between the beds, plus there are reading lights on the far side of each bed.

The cabinet in-between the beds has a USB port plus power sockets. On the opposite side of the room is a dresser with more USB ports and power sockets, plus the TV and drawer unit.Between the two rows of drawers is a cupboard containing the fridge on one side and drawers with the coffee maker and coffee on the other.The bathroom is small compared to Kidani, but I think anywhere would struggle to compete with there. It’s big enough though and the shower is nice.

Stephen fancied going to IHOP so that’s what we did. I’m always up for pancakes! Stephen had a Split the difference breakfast and I had a combo with pumpkin pancakes, which I drizzled with pecan butter syrup. It was all absolutely delicious. We followed it up with Gingerbread hot chocolate for Stephen and a Pumpkin spice coffee for me. Yum.

Split difference breakfast @ IHOP

Pumpkin pancakes combo @ IHOP

It was raining quite hard when we came out so we decided to do a bit of shopping instead of heading for the parks. Stephen had a cold so wanted some meds for it and we thought we’d get a few snacks in to take advantage of having a fridge in our room. While we were out we spotted a Petsmart so went in and got some presents for the cats.

Stephen was feeling a bit rough so we went back to our hotel after that and had a relaxing evening. We’re hoping for an early start tomorrow to do early entry.


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WDW holiday, 3rd Oct – Mickey’s not so scary halloween party

Tuesday

Today we knew we’d be having a late night so we had a lazy morning and went out to pick up our hire car at about 1pm. We’d arranged to pick it up from the Dolphin so we got a bus there via Animal Kingdom, (the first bus that came). There was a massive expo at the Swan & Dolphin and the place was rammed with business people. I’ve never seen it so busy. The front of the Dolphin must have been blocked off as the bus had to drop us off at the Swan. We had to walk over to the Dolphin to do the paperwork, and then had to walk back over to the Swan to pick up the car. We got the car without any difficulty and got upgraded, probably because they didn’t have any economy sized ones. We got a nice red Corolla, which has lots of clever features that our own car doesn’t 🙂

We drove to the Magic Kingdom, as that’s where we planned to end the day, and then got the monorail to Epcot to use our FastPasses. First though we went to get something to eat. We went to Sunshine Seasons and both had Sweet and sour chicken with jasmine rice. It was nice enough and was quite filling so it hit the spot.

Our first FastPass was on Test Track and was great. I love the bit where you design the car, and I really love the bit where you whizz round the outside track. It really blows the cobwebs away!

Next was Mission Space and once again we went on the less intense, green section. I don’t know if the spinny orange section would make me travel sick, and I don’t want to find out. We were in with a really nice couple and had a good laugh with them.

Finally we went on Spaceship earth. Stephen loves it so we usually go on it a couple of times during our visit.

Then we needed to get a wiggle on and head for the Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s not so scary Halloween party. We were looking forward to it as there were going to be some great photo ops, a parade and shorter lines for the rides.

The first thing we did once we’d got our party wristbands was head for the line to see Captain Jack Sparrow. We had hoped to see Jack and Sally but the line for that was massive so we didn’t bother. We waited over an hour to see Jack Sparrow and that was long enough, although worth it as we got loads of photos taken and had a good chat with him. He was brilliant and had all the expressions and mannerisms down to a tee.

We found several more photographers as we went round the park, including one that took our photo against a blank wall, while another photographer walked behind us with a tall flashing light. We had no idea what the result would be but when it came through, we thought it was really cool.

I love this animated shot too.

We got a magic shot with the grinning ghosts. One photographer had a lantern for people to pose with. Stephen really got into the spirit (excuse pun) of it. We did several rides too, mostly with waits of less than 20 minutes and some with just a five-minute wait. We did Big thunder mountain, Peter Pan, Haunted mansion and Seven dwarves mine train. That one is brilliant in the dark. 

We were eating while the fireworks were on so mostly missed them. We were too hungry to wait so had burgers in Cosmic Ray’s. We did see the parade though and it was brilliant. I love the Halloween parade.

We finally got back to Kidani at about 1am and after a quick look at the night’s photos, we were out for the count.


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WDW holiday, 2nd Oct – Animal Kingdom & Magic Kingdom

Monday

This morning we’d intended to do Early entry but we also wanted to stay out a bit later too so one of those plans had to change. We just don’t have the stamina to do both these days. We decided to do the later evening, as we hoped to see Rivers of light again, so had a lazy morning and got to Animal Kingdom at about 11am for our first Fast Pass of the day on the Safari.

You may have noticed that we spend more time at Animal Kingdom than any other park, and in that park, we spend more time on the Safari than any other ride. We just love seeing animals, and learning about them and about conservation. I think it’s the main reason that we keep coming back to Disney World, and we love staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge and having all that available to us in our resort.

The safari is different every time you ride so you can never get bored with it. On this ride the hyenas were walking around near to the front of their section, and as I had the best seat (front row, left hand side), I had a brilliant view of them.

I got a good view of the Sable antelope for the first time this visit and thanks to my new camera, with better zoom than my last one, I got a reasonable photo.

The new camera helped me get great shots of the lioness too. She was tucked away but I managed to zoom in on her.

Stephen got several lovely photos of this elephant playing with a stick.

We even got a good look at the mandrill monkeys! I think that’s the best photo of them that I’ve managed in all the years we’ve been going to Disney World.The white rhinos were out again. And the Nile Crocodiles were looking quite photogenic too. After our Safari, we went over to Pandora and managed to get the Banshee Magic shot from a photographer.

It really is beautiful there. I love the way they’ve used real plants and added the make-believe ones in among them. The details are amazing. I could spend all day there just looking. We got a couple more PhotoPass pics done too, while we were there.

Next we had our second ride on Flight of passage. We were very lucky to get two FastPasses this year as they were one of the hardest ones to get. The second ride was just as amazing as the first. It’s an incredible experience.

After that we were ready for lunch and although we’ve been trying to eat at different places this year, we couldn’t resist going back to Satu’li canteen as the food there is brilliant. I had exactly the same as last time, the Chicken bowl with raw veggies and black bean dressing. Stephen had the beef bowl again, with the same base of sweet and red potato hash, but had the chimichurri dressing instead of the black bean. We resisted dessert this time but planned to make up for that later.

While we were relaxing after eating our lunch, I checked the time of our next FastPass at Dinosaur but it had vanished from the app. I checked my emails, and sure enough there was a message to say that Dinosaur was down and we could use that FP on a different ride, although not either of the Pandora rides.

At least we found out before walking all the way over to Dinoland this time and as we used the FP on another go on the Safari, we weren’t complaining.

This time on the Safari, we saw the lion and as we were stationary for a few seconds, I managed to zoom right in to him.

We also saw the baby elephant with his family and I got a shot of my favourite view in the Safari.

The flamingos, the water, the palm trees. The safari truck with the elephants in the background. I just love it.

The scimitar-horned oryx were out where we could see them. They’re often quite shy. They’re so beautiful. Next we headed to the Magic Kingdom as we had three multi-park FPs to use and wanted to get on the 7 dwarves mine train. We were disappointed to be told, while we were queueing for it, that we couldn’t use the FP on the ride. We’d been told when we were given the FPs that there were no exclusions at Magic Kingdom so that was a bit annoying.

At one point we stopped for drinks at the Main Street bakery. I had the Strawberry & crème while Stephen tried the Vanilla bean crème. Both yummy. We also split a Spiced pumpkin muffin.

We stood and watched the Move it! Shake it! street party for a while. 

It was really busy in the park so it took us ages to use the three FPs. The FP queues for Buzz lightyear, Haunted mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean were huge. I think we spent between 20 and 30 minutes in each line. We did manage to get a Magic shot outside the Haunted mansion though.

We decided to head back to our resort after that. It was really hot again and we were getting quite weary. On the way out, walking down Main Street, we spotted Luke and Jake again so stopped for a chat. When you consider the size of Disney World, it’s a miracle to bump into someone once let alone twice.

I had a couple of hours nap time when we got back as I was getting a migraine. I’ve had a few since we got here, but have been controlling them well with medication. This one was being a bit more stubborn but I felt better after a nap and having something to eat. (crackers and cream cheese.) I spent the rest of the evening reading. I’ve started the latest Flavia de Luce book and am really enjoying it.

 


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WDW holiday, 1st Oct – Hollywood Studios & Epcot

Sunday

Disney do a thing called Extra magic hours for resort guests. The parks have early entry or later nights on a rotating schedule. I always plan to do some but we rarely get up in time to do early entry and are usually too tired to stay and do the late nights.

Today, however, we managed to get to an early entry park before it even opened. We were at Hollywood Studios for 7.45am. Amazing! We  headed straight to Star Tours to do that first and then walked over to Rock’n’Roller coaster which we got on with just a short wait. That one really wakes you up, and as a bonus, there’s a ride photo.

It started to rain a little as we came off that so we took shelter until it eased a bit and then made a run for Tower of Terror for our first FastPass. I love that ride! It’s exhilarating. We had a brilliant time on it. As we were walking through the gift shop, on the way out, we noticed the rain had come back with a vengeance. It was hammering it down, so we had a really good look around the gift shop until it eased off.

Next up was breakfast time. You notice we got the really stomach-churning rides out of the way first? We headed over to Bill and Min’s dockside diner and got the breakfast burritos. They were really good and excellent value for money.

We had a bit of time before our next FastPass so went for a wander round looking for photographers. I wanted to get as many Magic shots as I could as they’re so much fun.
Not a magic shot, but we liked it.

Our next ride was Toy Story Midway Mania. I don’t think we’ve ever done this without a FastPass, as the queues are so long, but it is a fun ride. I got the high score for our vehicle and more importantly, I beat Stephen 🙂

Our last FastPass was for Star Tours but as we’d already had a go on that, we didn’t wait for our window as we were worried it was going to rain again and we had plans to walk over to Epcot. Our favourite artist, Larry Dotson, was going to be in the Norway pavilion, signing prints. We got two from him last year, to add to the two that we already had, and we hoped to get a couple more.

It was a very hot walk over to Epcot. Stephen had wanted to take the boat but I thought it’d be good to have a nice stroll and take advantage of it not raining. We needed a rest when we got over there though so sat by the Boardwalk for a while, just chilling.

Eventually, we made it to Norway, via France for some more photos.

We had a chat with Larry and picked out a couple of prints. I’d had a pretty good idea what I was looking for. We already have one from the Beach Club and two from Jambo House plus one from Animal Kingdom. I wanted another AK one, preferably showing the Safari, and maybe one of Kidani Village. We found both, and got them signed by Larry so I was well chuffed.

While we were paying for them, we spotted a cast member holding this.

She’s called Kitten and is something to do with Frozen. (a new film about Olaf?) She’d just arrived in the store and sort of followed us home…

After the excitement of shopping we stopped for iced tea to cool us down and then headed for the bus stop. We made it back to our apartment by 3pm and I used the afternoon to catch up on the laundry as we won’t have a washing machine once we move to Universal in a couple of days, and we generally just chilled. Stephen was out for the count by 7.30pm. All this fresh air and heat is wearing him out!

Just in case you’re missing seeing photos of the animals, fear not as we’re back at Animal Kingdom tomorrow.


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WDW holiday, 30th Sept – Animal Kingdom

Saturday

Today we planned to see Rivers of light, the night-time show at Animal Kingdom. We had the dining package, which meant that we would eat at Tusker House and they would give us tickets to a special seating section to view the show.

Because we planned to be out late (for us anyway), we had a later start after spending the morning relaxing in our apartment. We got to Animal Kingdom with plenty of time to spare before our lunch, so we used our FastPass tickets from yesterday to do a Safari first. It was brilliant. There were some giraffes blocking the road so we were stationary for about ten minutes. Plenty of time to take lots of photos of the giraffes, including the baby one. He was so cute. We’ve been in a Rhino road block before but it was our first time in a giraffic jam 😉

We also got quite a good look at the hippos. After our Safari, we strolled over to Tusker House to check in for our lunch. We made it just before the rain started. We had to wait about thirty minutes before getting our table, but at least it was under cover. It was a character meal so we got to see Goofy, Donald, Daisy and Mickey. We haven’t made a point of seeing any characters this time so it was nice to finally do so.

Usually I love the food there but I felt the standard had dropped a little. The main dishes were pork and salmon. The pork was very fatty and the salmon didn’t have much flavour. There didn’t seem to be as much of a selection of other dishes that I remembered from our last visit, but overall we did enjoy our meal. It just didn’t live up to my memories of other trips there.

We ate quite a lot, always a hazard at a buffet, so went for a wander round the Tree of life gardens to try to walk it off before our next FastPass. We spotted a few animals plus DiVine.

Then it was time for the one that we’d really been looking forward to – Flight of Passage in Pandora. We’d heard that it was amazing and a very realistic simulation of flying. We were a bit worried that it would be down as it had had problems for a couple of days but it was working fine and we had a brilliant time on it. It was incredible! I loved every second. You really felt like you were riding a banshee.

I’d been messaging with Luke, a friend from when I worked at the airport, as he was in Animal Kingdom too that day. When we came out of Flight of Passage, I had a message to say that he was sitting down by the drums with his fiancé Jake. We went straight over to find them and had a lovely thirty minutes chatting to them both.

It’s been lovely meeting up with friends while over here. Amazing that you can come all this way and see people who you know.

Next we went over to the Dinosaur ride for our FastPass on that and from there, straight to the Safari for our second trip of the day. This was a night safari so not good for taking photos, but brilliant for seeing some of the animals being more active than in the daytime. We saw the hyenas walking about as well as several other animals.

It was dark when we came off, and raining again. It was quite heavy this time and we had a bit of a walk to get to the entry point for our Rivers of light seating. Luckily we’d brought the ponchos with us so although we did get fairly wet, bits of us stayed dry. It was very hot and sticky under those ponchos though as it was still quite hot.

Rivers of light was lovely. I’m sure I’d have liked it more if it hadn’t been raining so hard, but we did still enjoy the show. There were boats, and floats and dancing water and beautiful lighting effects. It was really pretty. I didn’t take any photos, partly because they wouldn’t have come out brilliantly in the lighting conditions but mainly because it was bucketing down. I have access to some Disney stock photos though, through the PhotoPass website so am using one of those to show you how pretty it is.

It took a while to exit the park but we timed it perfectly for the bus back to our resort. We were very, very happy to see that bus as we were feeling very soggy and just wanted to get back and get in a warm shower.

It didn’t take long to get back and we were soon dry and tucked up for the night.


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WDW holiday, 29th Sept – Animal Kingdom

Friday

We had a late start today as our FastPasses were for the afternoon. We spent the morning relaxing. I read on the balcony for a while, with the occasional break to take photos of the animals below.

We got to Animal Kingdom just before 1pm and headed for Pandora. On the way we spotted a photographer so had a photo taken. She was doing magic shots but we had to get our Wilderness Explorer flamingo badge first by doing a quick quiz. It was fun!

From there we nipped to Africa to grab another magic shot that I’d heard about. It has hyenas 🙂

Finally we went into Pandora to use our first FastPass for the Na’vi river ride. Unfortunately the ride was down, and was going to be down all day. We were told that we could use our FP for any ride so went on the Safari instead.

We were getting quite hungry after the Safari so went back to Pandora to try the new Satu’li canteen that I’d been reading about. They do a sort of mix’n’match bowl. You pick a base, a protein and a dressing from a selection. I had the chicken, quinoa and veg, with the black bean dressing.

Chopped Wood-Grilled Chicken Bowl

Stephen had the beef, sweet and red potato hash, and he had the black bean dressing too.

Slow-Roasted Sliced Grilled Beef Bowl

The bowls of food were amazing. Mine had lots of raw veggies such as kale, carrot, spinach, and cauliflower. The chicken was delicious and there was plenty of it and the dressing was lovely. I really enjoyed it.

There are two amazing-looking desserts so we got those to split between us.

Chocolate Cake

Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse

The desserts were to die for. I think we’ll definitely be going back there.

Stephen had a beer too. It was green! I had a sip and it was very nice. Stephen seemed to enjoy it 😉

Hawkes’ Grog Ale

As we came out after our lunch, it started to rain. It was light to start with but it soon got heavier. We made a dive for a cart and bought ponchos. Once outfitted with those, we made a beeline for the Safari. It’s great in the rain as the animals get more active and we had a great time. Also the wait line is all under cover 😉

We saw plenty of animals. The Elephants were playing in their pool and even the Cheetah looked alert, although we were on the wrong side of the truck to get a photo of him. When we came off, we noticed that the queue had really gone down so we went round again for another go. This time we saw the black rhino and some bongos. They’re both usually quite elusive so we were chuffed with that.

After that it was time for our next FastPass, which was for the Safari. We’ll happily ride that all day so we went back in and got to the load area really quickly. We then stood there waiting to load, and waited and waited. Forty minutes later, and after watching many empty trucks go past without stopping, they told us the Safari wasn’t going to be running any time soon and gave us paper FPs to use. They’re good for tomorrow too so we’ll use them then.

We then paddled over to Dinosaur for our last FP. The rain was coming down really hard by now but we were ok in our ponchos, apart from my feet. I was wearing Crocs and my feet were sliding about inside them as they were so wet.

When we got to Dinosaur, it was down. Three out of three not running! We were told that we could use our FPs on any ride but as there wasn’t a lot left running we decided to call it a day. It was just after 6pm and getting dark and very wet.

On the way out we stopped at guest services, where I expressed my disappointment. I know what it’s like when customers complain so I kept it pleasant and polite and asked nicely if there was anything they could do. A few people were in there with the same thing and were being given a couple of extra FPs to use on a different day. We got three FPs to use at any park on the 2nd October, plus VIP tickets to Rivers of Light. We were very happy with that.

We’d still had a fun day, with a great lunch and a couple of goes on the Safari and now had some extra FPs to use so all was good.

We spent the evening chilling in front of the TV, watching back to back episodes of The Big Bang Theory.