Maleficent Adventures

Travelling Around the World

Author: hollymagoolagan (Page 1 of 5)

2019 Disneyland Paris Summer Food Festival – Menus and Reviews

Also known as the ‘Le Rendez-vous Gourmand de Disneyland Paris’ this summer/Halloween food festival takes over the Walt Disney Studio Park at Disneyland Paris.

This year it ran between July 10th and 13th October and seems to be coming an annual tradition, which I hope stays in the years to come.

To see how much the festival has changed since its inaugural fest, two years ago see my previous article for more details. Each year it keeps coming back bigger and better, a trend I hope continues.

 

The food huts themselves are split into two sections 1) if you head towards Ratatouille: The Adventure you’ll encounter food showcasing different regions of France and their delicacies they are known for.

Starting near the ride entrance leading you into Toy Story land you will find as follows:

Bretagne, offering you fresh crepes made how you like it (just ask if you don’t want mushrooms like I did!).

Alsace, has a more German flare offering pretzel and sauerkraut.

Eclaire & gourmandise, looked just as delicious as it sounded, I think of this one as the dessert hut.

Les Antilles hosted more Caribbean influences.

Le bar a vin (no explanation needed there 😀 ).

Savoie, will be Malificears first stop as they offer raclette, her favourite French cheesey potato goodness.

 

Whilst this is the end of the French offering there are more food stands to search out! From here head towards studio tram tour. Food down here comes from different countries around Europe. Except for, the Vegan Kitchen, whilst obviously not an actual country, it’s really good to see these kinds of offerings in the park.

 

Greece

I really liked these gyros.

Belgium, those waffles…

Spain, paella for daaaaaaays!

Italy, had its own pizza oven built in!

Le Bistrot De l’ete or more commonly known as a bar  😀

 

There were plenty of live performers throughout the day, which is great to see more of in the French parks as I feel it really adds to the atmosphere, similar to that felt in the US parks.

I’m heading back to DLP before the end of the month and I plan to work my way though more of the offerings – wish me luck!

Bon Apetite!

Where to find all the Halloween snacks at Disneyland Paris

Want to know where all the Halloween treats are at Disneyland Paris? Then look no further!

I took a solo trip to DLP in early October, so I’ve managed to get the down low on all the snack locations, mainly at the request of my sister Maleficears. I’m heading back with her for a Disney Halloween Party trip and we will be ready to hit the ground running with all the #DisneySnacks.

I’ve grouped them into lands/areas which I hope makes it as easy as possible to follow😊

Let’s start with the Disneyland Paris park

Main Street USA

Visit Cable Car Bake Shop in the middle of Main Street for a one stop shop for tasty treats

Here is the full menu of offerings

I can vouch for both the chocolate cookie and the chocolate muffin. The cookie was freshly baked, gooey goodness and I’m definitely going back for it. The muffin was a great late-night treat before bed!

Head down main street towards the castle, and just off the central hub (to the right hand side when facing the castle) is a popcorn cart.

Here they have the infamous Poison Apple steins, available with or without popcorn (with discounted refills available).

 

Frontierland (Home of Halloween fun)

To the left of the entrance you’ll find a wagon cart selling the Oogie Boogie popcorn bucket as well as a host of treats – I’ve got my eye on those tomb stone treats next time!

Here is a complete list of all items available at this location.

As you walk into Frontierland, opposite the cart, is a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream stand.

Here they have Halloween donuts!

This is on my list again, whilst the queue was long and slow, I wasn’t disappointed!

If you’re looking for a creepy themed sit down menu, the Lucky Nugget is the place to go.

This black hamburger comes with a special Maleficent themed dessert which looks delicious. I’m still not sure how I feel about a black burger bun though …

Moving through Frontierland towards Big Thunder Mountain as you approach the exit to Adventureland you’ll see this wagon.

Here you can get the beetroot potion (soup to us mere mortals) and more sweet treats.

 

Adventureland

Moving into Adventureland from Frontierland you’ll hit Cool Post, for your first and only Halloween treat stop in this land.

Here they are doing Halloween style food, in the form of a cheese toastie.

Honourable mention

Whilst not Halloween themed, I’d never seen Café de la Brousse open before and the chicken bites almost made me go back again in this trip! Located down some steps opposite Restaurant Hakuna Matata

But don’t just take my word for it…

 

Fantasyland

Near Sir Mickeys Shop is L’arbre Enchante a permanent drinks location  –  currently busting with treats!

Here they have the beetroot raspberry bites (another one on my list I’m going to try this time) a good one, of few, vegan options available.

Moving towards the back of Fantasyland located near the tea cups and the entrance to the labyrinth, is the March Hares house.

Here is another opportunity to bag for those tasty donuts and try a Maleficent hot chocolate.

 

Discoveryland

Swinging around to the final land in the parks, head to Café Hyperion for another spooky set menu.

Another lunch/dinner spot – the pumpkin dessert looked just as good in person as the picture (next time)

For the last item head out the parks into the Disney Village.

 

Disney Village

Annette’s Diner is the final spot before leaving to get something Halloweeny.

An upgraded version of the Lucky Nugget Meal, this tasty burger with “potato pops” whatever they are!

 

This doesn’t include all the Halloween drink options but I’m back for the Halloween party on the 26th so I’ll be sure find these out for you. I’m sure my sister will make it her mission to locate all Halloween themed cocktails.

I hope this is useful a guide to help you find all the snacks you are after – please let me know how your trip goes!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

This hidden gem should be done by all Magic Kingdom goers. There aren’t many things you can do inside the park without waiting in the queue or spending money. We found it perfect for the middle of the day when we had no FastPass and ride queues were long, you can experience this extra bit of magic whilst you are there and most people don’t even know it exists.

 

What is it?

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is an interactive game where you explore the Magic Kingdom on foot, defeating Villains using spell cards through magic portals.

Guided by Merlin (Sword in the Stone) you must quest to protect the Magic Kingdom from Hades (Hercules) who is hell bent to take over it by stealing magic crystals.

It is great fun and you find unique parts of the park you might not otherwise come across. You can do it at your own pace, taking breaks where needed and it is suitable for both kids and adults.

 

How to play

Head to Firehouse at Main Street USA, Magic Kingdom, this is located on the left as you walk into the park next to City Hall.

Here you wait in line to sign up to become Merlin’s apprentice and they set you up with instructions on how the games work and give you all the tools you need.

You’ll be given a key card (or they will link it to your magic band) which will access the magic portals. You are also given your own pack of spell cards (one pack per person in your party – see below), these are what you will use to fight the Villains. Each card has a different hero and spell on, which you use when told to at the portals.

The more you use one card the more powerful it becomes, if you look along the side of the card it will give you an indication of what the power will be.

Top Tip: Parents – make sure to get yourself a pack of cards too, each player gets a set, which is around 6 cards. If you don’t feel up to it (doubtful), it just means there are more cards to go around and more spells to try.

 

You’ll get a map marking where all the magic portals are found in the lands. Currently there are only four lands in which to play – Main Street USA, Liberty Square, Adventureland and Fantasyland.

Once set up and you’ve run through your training with Merlin himself, he will tell you where to go next. Simply follow the map to get there, be sure to use the building shapes on the map to help navigate to the portals, as some of them are tucked away.

When you get to the magic portal use your key (or magic band) to open it up to start the story or continue your previous mission.

There are symbols on the floor to show you were to stand to get the best experience possible.

There are 9 different stories, but you only need to complete four to become a “Master Sorcerer”. Keep a hold of your cards as you can reuse them again and again, some people collect them in special binders or boxes.

 

A few helpful hints from me to you

Each mission will take around 20-30 minutes, and you only do one mission per land before you move on to the next one,  you cannot move lands until your current mission is complete.

As I mentioned before, get as many spell packs as possible as there are loads of different characters to try. There are a few overlaps within packs, but you can always swop with fellow Apprentices.

You can play with as many cards and people as you want, but I would recommend maximum four people per group, due to size restrictions at some of the portals. You can hold up multiple spell cards at once and this will combine your spells together –  its awesome!

Register your spell card by pointing it at the window, there will be two cameras facing you which are used to capture it. Hold it around chest height and give it a little wave if it doesn’t register right away.

On our last trip one of the portals wasn’t working which meant we got stuck, unfortunately there isn’t much you can do other than inform a cast member (and presumably reset back at the firehouse).

There are 9 different Villains so if you keep going throughout the lands you’ll get to see them all. Also, don’t be surprised if you cross paths with other sorcerers who are on a different part of story or different villain, it is randomised to spread people around the park

 

I hope this was helpful and that you are successful in helping Merlin defeat Hades and save the Magic Kingdom. Good luck Sorcerers!

 

Top 9 Snacks to Have in Walt Disney World Orlando Florida

Last month we went to Walt Disney World for a week-long vacation to celebrate my mum’s 60th birthday. Our package included a dining plan, which meant we enjoyed loads of snacks during our holiday (as there are two a day included in the plan). Obviously, we can’t include them all here, but we thoroughly enjoyed and would highly recommend using snack credits to buy food dishes during Epcot festivals.

Here are our top 9 snacks in Walt Disney World:

 

  1. Beef Brisket Burn Ends and Smoked Pork Belly Slider (Smokehouse – Flower and Garden Festival, Epcot)

Whilst I wouldn’t call it a snack because it was so big, it was snack credit eligible, and the tastiest treat I had all trip! Found near the American pavilion in the World Suitcase, this beauty was on my hit list after reading the Flower and Garden Festival food options and I’m glad to say it didn’t disappoint!

I got a lot of jealous looks whilst tucking in to it!

 

  1. Night Blossom (Pongu Pongu, The World of Avatar – Animal Kingdom)

Not only is this a very instagramable drink but it was also cool and refreshing, perfect for those hot days. I wasn’t too sure about the Boba balls, but it really worked. I’m a real slushy fan so this was right up my street.

 

  1. Cinnamon Rolls (Gaston’s Tavern, New Fantasyland – Magic Kingdom)

For those of you who don’t know I’ve recently added cinnamon rolls to my list of favourite foods, so much so that for the first 5 days in Disney I had a cinnamon roll everyday… I don’t regret it! My favourite had to be the giant one from Gaston’s Tavern, they heated it up and drizzled icing all over plus the theming at Gaston’s was incredible.

Sunglasses for scale

These were more bread-like compared to the pastry versions sold in Starbucks which really made it stand out from the rest, the pastry to sauce ratio is better on the Starbuck’s versions, but I still found them to be quite dry.

 

  1. Corn on the Cob (Harambe Fruit Market, Africa – Animal Kingdom)

Now I know what you are thinking, why am I putting something healthy in this tasty treat #top9 but honestly it was amazing! And I’m a bit of a corn connoisseur so you know it’s true! Located near the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris, they flame-grill the corn on the cob right in front of you. Definitely order it with the spices on it, it’s so soft and fresh, I’m already thinking about getting this again when I next go back.

 

  1. Premium Mickey Bar (Majority of ice cream locations and stands)

It wouldn’t be a Disney snacks top 9 without some mickey shaped foods in the mix, and the premium Mickey ice cream bar is a clear winner. This offers something sweet and cold on a hot Orlando day, and gives you exactly what it says on the tin.

 

  1. Strawberry Slush (Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn, Frontierland – Magic Kingdom)

True these are found throughout the park I’d recommend this refreshing drink. Be careful not to give yourself brain freeze but this one came with a free Disney straw.

 

  1. Dole Whip (Aloha Isle, Adventureland – Magic Kingdom)

While I didn’t get a chance to have any this trip rest of my family did and seems to be a fan favourite with everyone including my sister Lucy! She was “convinced” into having one with dark rum on (in Africa – Animal Kingdom) and she looked pretty smug about it. “When the Dole whip melts to the right consistency you have once very tasty cocktail” direct quote from our whip connoisseur.

 

  1. Werther’s Caramel popcorn and chocolate flavoured drizzle (Karamel Küche, Germany Pavilion – Epcot)

Another snack Lucy swears by (read: dedicates her life to), it was so tasty she wouldn’t save any to share with me! Found in the Germany pavilion, home to other tasty treated these are freshly made in house too, available in the white bags on the counter in either large or small.

 

  1. Coffee and Hot chocolates (Starbucks – all parks and Disney Springs)

We took advantage of our snack credits by getting a Starbucks coffee most days, situated in each of the Disney parks, this gave us Brits a lovely respite from the horrors of “half and half”. I just want milk in my coffee! You can also find Orlando locals – Joffrey’s in each of the parks and at Disney Springs, which was just as delicious (Let us know your opinions on the Starbucks/Joffrey’s debate!).

 

Like what you see? We also have a Top 9 Snacks in Disneyland Paris article, so be sure to check it out and message us on social if we have missed out your favourite park snack!

Disneyland Paris for first timers – Top 9 things you need to know

The first time Holly went to Disneyland Paris was back in 2001, and since then we have gone pretty much every year (or every other year) without fail. Here are some tips and tricks we hope will help first timers enjoy their trip to the parks.

 

  1. Get the showtime listings and a map on arrival
    This is now handily available the Disneyland Paris app and is key for tracking what’s going on; opening hours, magic hours (for those in Disney hotels) and wait times. I’d still recommend picking up a paper copy of the show times at the entrance to the park to save on phone battery and to help visualise locations better.

Be sure to make time for the parades and fireworks, they are award winning and one of the reasons we come back year after year. We went to the Halloween celebrations last year, for the first time; some of the parades, including Goofy’s Skeletoon and Mickey’s tricycle gang were so good, we saw them several times. They’re easy to catch if you know the route and rough timings so make sure you keep in mind where you need to be and at what time.

 

  1. Book a Disney hotel
    Whilst they are slightly more expensive than the surrounding hotels, you do get extra benefits. Magic Hours allow you early access to the parks an hour before anyone else, whilst the rides that are open during this time are limited, it’s perfect if you want that empty Main Street photo or picture in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle with no one blocking your view. Other benefits include excellent theming (see Hotel Cheyenne’s Toy story themed rooms) and Disney dining plans at reduced rates if you book when the best offers are on.

 

  1. Keep an eye on the Disney deals
    Both through TV advertising and their website Disneyland Paris launch different deals through the year. This could include free dining or a free night stay at your hotel depending on the duration of your trip. Keep an eye on the Disneyland Paris Offers page and Magic Breaks to try to save as much as you can before you go.

 

  1. Plan your travel to Disney ahead of time
    There are plenty of ways to get to Disneyland Paris: plane, train or drive. Some of these options won’t land you at the parks doorstep (e.g. flying/Eurostar to Gare du North), so it is worth thinking about how you are going to get there. Make sure to weigh up the cost of transport against how much your time is worth, for instance a 10-minute train from Charles du Galle to Marne la vallee is 25 Euros each way, whereas a 1hr 30minute train journey was just 7 Euros! If you are on a tight budget then opt for a regular train. If time is money, and you want to maximise your park time then pay the extra!

 

  1. Learn how the FastPass system works
    Don’t be caught out having to wait in hour long queues for rides, getting a FastPass is your way to queue jump into the major attractions. See it all explained here.

If there is a particular ride you know you can’t miss out on, then head there as soon as the park opens (this is highly recommended for Crush’s Coaster).

 

  1. Make time for the little details
    Don’t rush from ride to ride with your face in your phone, make sure to take a look at the amazing theming put in by the Disney Imagineering team. Some of our favourite things can be found by walking through the Arcades either side of Main Street USA. There is so much to look at, and you can view at your leisure whilst sheltering from the weather and avoiding the big crowds on Main Street.

 

  1. Go shopping
    Each store has its own wonders to offer – remember not everything is available in every store! If you see something you like, you might not find it elsewhere (e.g. some of the more niche items can be found in the Thunder Mesa Merchantile). One place to put on your list to visit is Boardwalk Candy Palace on Main Street USA. They have freshly made treats including fudge and cupcakes that change seasonally.

 

  1. Be prepared for all weather
    After all this is France! Be prepared for changing weather conditions. If you are visiting in October – March make sure to bring a coat or a poncho as they are an extra expense in the park. Waterproof, comfortable shoes are a MUST, to see what else we recommend packing click here. Sun cream is essential in the summer months, as well as clothing to keep yourself covered in case you are queuing in the sunshine (there’s nothing worse than a day in Disney with sunburn).

 

  1. Bring an empty water bottle
    There are water fountains at all restroom locations throughout both parks and Disney Village so save yourself some money (and the environment another plastic bottle) and refill your drinks container there.

 

Most importantly, have fun! We love Disneyland Paris and with all the expansions coming up in the next few years we are excited for what the resort is going to become.

Have we missed anything, or do you disagree with our top 9? Get in touch on social we’d love to hear from you.

Top 9 Restaurants in Disneyland Paris

You may be new to the parks, or looking to try something new; so here are our top 9 restaurants in Disneyland Paris Resort.
There are lots of eating establishments around the park, but for this article we have concentrated on table service locations, for much needed respite on a long park day.

1. Walt’s – An American Restaurant – Disneyland Park
This decked out restaurant runs along the top of main street, really making it feel like you’re in someone’s living room (maybe even Walt’s!). Each individual room is themed after a land within the Disneyland Paris park, make sure to have a look around whilst you are waiting for, or after you have finished your meal.

One of our favourites has to be this Cheese burger with fries and Walt’s personal favourite – chilli. The burger is made from a really succulent and well braised piece of beef that just melts in your mouth

 

2. Vapiano – Disney Village
We go on about Vapiano A LOT, but with good reason. We have visited it on our last 2 trips and are yet to be disappointed by our food choices. Italian food at its best, its not super fast but it is always delicious. The restaurants décor creates a lovely calming atmosphere, a nice haven away from the manic quick service counters in the parks.

 

3. Bistrot Chez Rémy – Walt Disney Studios Park
This is probably the best themed eatery in the entire resort. The excellent detailing in this restaurant means that no matter where you sit there is always a treat for the eyes. Not just that but there is also some exquisite French cuisine on offer; particularly the dauphinoise potatoes, steak and of course… their signature ratatouille.

 

4. The Steakhouse – Disney Village
Located towards the back of Disney Village near the lagoon is The Steakhouse. Hidden inside a Chicago warehouse this steak joint is usually easy to get into if the crowds are big in the village. The steak is always en pointe, as you can see pictured below the sides are ample, and they have a great wine list. They also have a number of great choices if you are on a dining plan.

 

5. Buffalo Bills – Disney Village
This Wild West show has everything – action, excitement and some delicious cowboy cookout. All you can eat! Which is good, because prices can be steep. It is definitely worth a go if you have never been before. The show includes some great stunts and performances as well as audience participation. Beware that people with animal or hay fever allergies will not fare well.

 

6. Rainforest café – Disney Village
Personally, this is Holly’s favourite place to eat. Who doesn’t love eating amongst animals with a tropical thunderstorm going on, and don’t get us started on the famous VOLCANO dessert.

 

7. Auberge de Cendrillon – Disneyland Park
Head through the castle into Fantasyland, and you will see Cinderella’s restaurant on the right hand side. With a beautiful pumpkin carriage outside, providing the perfect photo opportunity for your little princes and princesses. The food here is top notch, and only doesn’t score higher up on the list because we are not fans of character meets. This is a fantastic place to go if you are celebrating a birthday as you get treated like royalty and you might be visited by a princess or two!

 

8. Captain Jack’s – Restaurant des Pirates – Disneyland Park
Newly rebranded from the old ‘Blue Lagoon’ restaurant, Captain Jack’s is located alongside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. With authentic cuisine from all parts of the Caribbean, this is definitely something for those with a more exotic palette. It is the perfect date location as you can get a table by the river and watch the pirates of the Caribbean boats go by. But beware – you may even get a visit from Captain Jack himself!
Note: We have never had good service in this restaurant, the waiters are always overloaded with tables and it really suffers from this as it is hard to get attention when you need it. So, it is worth a visit, but don’t head there with plans to leave early!

 

9. Annette’s Diner – Disney Village
Who doesn’t love burgers and rollerblades? Within this great themed diner, the servers all skate around bringing your shakes straight to your table. The food is fresh and served fast – perfect for a quick lunch in the village before shopping!

Have we missed any restaurants, or do you disagree with our top 9? Get in touch on social we’d love to hear from you.

To Infinity and Beyond Disappointment – My First Disney Annual Pass

Let me begin by saying it isn’t all that bad, but I have been constantly frustrated with my experience so far. I have been thinking about getting an Annual Pass for myself for a while now, and when asked what I wanted for Christmas this year I mentioned it to my (extremely) generous father and he approved the idea! Great, I thought, this is going to be the best year ever!

However, quickly I realised there was little to no information, and what information I did find was contradictory or patchy, so I thought I’d fill in the gaps for anyone else thinking of treating themselves!

 

Buying the Annual Pass

I go to Disneyland Paris every year and I’d done the research as to which Annual Pass would be best for me. I finally settled on the Disney Infinity Pass, it’s main draw was the great discounts it offered: 20% off Disneyland Paris shops and -15% off restaurants.

Great, now I’ve decided what Pass I want, how do I sign up?

From here you have multiple options:

  1. You do it over the phone
  2. You send off an Annual Pass order form
  3. Or you do it when you are in the park

The first thing I want to start with is, DON’T use the order form option. This entails you printing out, filling in and posting a form to France. Before you even start filling in the form, look at the bottom –  payment for the Pass means sending your card details through the postal system… Secure? I think not.

After discovering this, I decided to sort it out over the phone. Much to my dismay, after being on hold for some time the operator said I was unable to do so (this is the opposite to what is stated on the website). This leaves me with the only option: pay at the park.

After a bit more snooping (I like to be organised and wanted to get the Pass sorted before we booked a family trip), I found that I can actually do it online, but only through the French site.

I use Google Chrome as my home web browser, which is great as it has an in-built translation tool. This makes me wonder why the Disney site doesn’t just have an option to convert it to English itself.

 

I’d made it through a good chunk of the booking journey before I came across the following message:

This translates as – “if I sign up on the French site all communication to me will always be in French”.

My French extends to “Bonjour”, “Au Revoir” and “Merci”, so realistically I don’t want all the details sent to me in French. I wanted to doublecheck this so I rang the phone line again (same number) and the operator confirmed I wouldn’t be able to change the language afterwards.

Disney operator: “Why don’t you just do it over the phone?”

Me: “Because I was told I wasn’t able to.”

The time between this and the first phone call (to the same telephone number), was approximately 20-30 minutes earlier…

Disney operator: “Oh you must have got an operator out in the US, they can’t do it over there”.

Correct me if I am wrong in thinking that if I was paying £300+ to buy a product and you can’t do it, you would just transfer me to someone who can? Obviously, I was going around and around in circles but managed to sort it out over the phone and they said it would arrive in the post in the next few weeks.

 

My Pass information arrives

Less than 2 weeks after I applied a very exciting package came through my door.

It was only after I had opened the letter I realised that it wasn’t as magical as I thought it would have been.

All I got was an invoice. Where was the fanfare? Where was the congratulations? Most importantly, where was my Annual Pass?!

What I hadn’t realised was they had sent me a normal paper park pass which had fallen out without my realising as I opened the letter. But what do I do now and where was my shiny Annual Pass I see in so many Instagram photos?

Valid for 1-day 1-park pass

The operator had mentioned that I needed to go to the park within the first 6 months of buying my pass to swop it to the card version. Luckily for me I had planned to go away for my birthday weekend in January.

 

Retrieving my Pass

The first day we arrived at the parks headed to ‘Bureau Passeport Annuel’, which is located in Discoveryland on the left as you enter the land from Main Street USA.

Lights were all on and there was a staff member outside so all was looking good, even better there was no queue inside!  I headed up to the staff member and told them I was there to get my Annual Pass sorted. They asked me to wait in the queue outside in the rain. At this point I am beginning to wonder why I thought an Annual Pass would be a good idea, because so far I was £313 down, and wet. Why couldn’t we wait inside? No idea.

When I was eventually let inside, there were two queues to join but no indication as to which was for what. It wasn’t just me who was struggling, I saw two other families having to ask Cast Members where to go.

I was eventually guided into the right queue and wait for a desk to open up. Because there had been so little information available to me up to this point I had come with a list of questions about what my benefits were and how I claim them.

Note: Make sure you take photo ID (passport) when picking up your Annual Pass

They didn’t warn me before about this, but luckily I had brought mine. They scanned my passport, I was asked to write down my address, email and phone number as well as asked if I wanted to opt in to information about discounts and event details which would be sent through to me. Obviously, I said yes! Who wouldn’t want to receive discounts and invites to special events?

I was presented with a welcome booklet with all the details about the Infinity Pass, however, once again it was all in French. I wasn’t hard for me to whip out my Google Translate App, all members of staff speak French and English, so how hard is it to translate one simple booklet?!

I tried to go through my list of questions but my server didn’t really understand what I was asking (even though she was trying really hard – I appreciated the effort) so I left it for the day and headed off to meet the rest of my group and to get warm and dry again.

 

Using my Pass

This was the most exciting part, heading into the park to use my Annual Pass for the first time.

This is when I really when I started to get to grips with all the benefits. If you want more details on the current discount you receive with your Annual Pass see the Disneyland Paris website, here I have highlighted a few of my favourites.

With an Annual Pass you get an exclusive entrance at both parks, which is at the far-left hand side.

 

Magic Hours

You have access to the Parks’ Magic Hours and you can take guests in with you.

Note: They must have tickets bought through your Annual Pass.

This was one thing that should have been made clearer, I asked when I picked up my pass if my family could come in early with me and was told yes. It was not until we arrived at the park entrance ready for our magic hour that we were told we were only allowed in with Annual Pass friend tickets.

With the Infinity Pass you can get your friends 1-day park hopper tickets for 35 Euros. This is restricted to 20 a year, and you can only use five per week (Monday-Sunday). If you use all of these up, you can still get -20% off the normal ticket price.

 

PhotoPass+

One of the great features of the Infinity Pass was that we got a free PhotoPass+.  You can pick this up at any photo sales point. I got mine from New Century Notions Flora’s Unique Boutique on Main Street USA.

Any photos taken by the official photographers within the park (during peak months), at character meet and greets and all ride photos can all be added to your card. Simply type the code into their dedicated app or get them to scan your card.

 

Disneyland Paris restaurant discount

This trip we ate very well with meals at The Steakhouse and two of our favourite places to eat in Disneyland: Walt’s and Vapiano. With the Annual Pass we got 15% off all food and drink. Don’t be fooled by what it says online “Disneyland Paris restaurants” means any eating establishment not just those with table service! The only restrictions include alcoholic drinks and only certain locations within the Village accept the discount. These included Annette’s Diner, New York Style Sandwiches, The Steakhouse and Café Mickey (basically all properties owned by DLP themselves).

Don’t miss out on your free “non-alcoholic aperitif” at table-service restaurants. On arrival, present your Annual Pass which will be scanned by your server and returned with a house cocktail right to your seat.

Note: This is only for the Annual Pass holder not their accompanying guests.

 

Disneyland Paris shops discount

Now the biggest discount – souvenirs, just scan the card at the till and 20% will come straight off your bill! This last trip I wasn’t planning on getting a new suitcase but it was a steal! (55.99 Euros instead of 69.99!)

The discount is apparently restricted, and some items are not included, but so far I haven’t bought anything that wasn’t discounted. (This may apply to items on sale?).

 

VIP seating for Disney Illuminations Show and for the Parade

I was interested to find out about the VIP seating, and like the cocktail offer, only the Annual Pass holder can access this benefit.

This is where it gets complicated. You can’t reserve your space on the day, it has to be at least 24 hours in advance. This cannot be done in City Hall, you need to ring the dedicated phone line for Infinity Pass holders (choosing an English or French speaking option) and here they will check to see if there is any space and provide some kind-of of voucher. On the day you take this to city hall where they give you an actual ticket to get you into this area. Yes, it really is this complicated. I didn’t do it this trip because I wanted to share the fireworks and parade experience with my family, but next time I will definitely be trying this out.

 

Free use of guest storage for the day

On our final day in the parks, we had our suitcases as we were staying in Magic Circus and wanted to save time getting to the station later that afternoon. Next to the Disneyland park entrance (right hand side) is a luggage store where you can keep items for a day. With the Pass you can store 3 pieces of luggage for free! As there were four of us, we split the cost of the remaining suitcase, which was only 5€ for the day.

 

Total savings

Arriving back after a great trip to Disneyland Paris I began to think about whether the Annual Pass was worth the money. The simple answer to this is YES. Whilst the overall experience of actually receiving your pass is poor, once you have it you’re good to go and you can’t beat the discount value! We went for 3 days, staying in the Vienna Magic Circus Hotel and between the 4 of us the discount saved paid has off the Pass already.

Whilst we didn’t stay in a Disney hotel this time, as we got such a good deal on a partner hotel (50€pp for 3 nights, including breakfast: hotels.com), next time I plan to stay in a Disney hotel and I’d be interested to see how much of a discount we get on a room only booking.

 

Invitation to special events (film screening, preview events, etc.)

My last complaint is that I was looking forward to getting special offers and communication about my Infinity Pass through from Disneyland Paris. However, after still not receiving any information a month after returning and seeing lots of talk on Twitter and Facebook about a new event many people had just had emailed, I decided to chase this up.

I rang the phone line and they had recorded my email address wrong, and couldn’t resend the communication so I had missed out on this particular event. I look forward to receiving my first one going forward, now that they have hopefully amended my information.

The event in March is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

I felt one part missing from the Annual Pass experience is the magic, feeling special and being treated well. I look forward to the changes I’ve seen in other people post which include special Annual Pass merchandise and pins.

The experience didn’t start off great, but it hasn’t deterred me and I will be looking forward to future trips now that I know much more information.

Would I recommend an Annual Pass to other people? Yes! But I hope this article prevents anyone else from having as stressful time as I did, trying to get to grips with my pass!

Top 9 Things to Do in Disneyland Paris when Pregnant

We had a lovely weekend away with our sister and sister-in-law – who have just announced that they are having a baby! We are both thrilled for them and can’t wait to start the baby’s Disney education!

We also thought an article about what to expect when you’re expecting in Disneyland would be useful for any other prospective mothers out there that have a trip coming up and might be worried!

 

  1. Get your access pass
    This is a must, as soon as you’ve entered the park head to City Hall (or Studio Services), where they can give you the latest information on what is suitable to do whilst in Disneyland. They can also answer any questions or concerns you may have.
    They provided a list of rides suitable, as well as an Easy Access Card which allowed us to wait in virtual queues saving the mum-to-be from standing for long periods of time.

How it works: If we arrived at Buzz Lightyear at 12:00, and the current queue time was 40 minutes, we would be issued 12:40 as a time to return. If the queue time is less than 10 minutes you are allowed straight in.

Note: You need to have some kind of proof in order to get this pass. Our sister-in-law used her maternity exemption card issued to her by the NHS.

Sitting room in city hall – mothers can have a quiet sit down, lots of seating throughout the parks

 

  1. Ride some rides!
    Whilst you can’t go on Big Thunder Mountain, you can still go on It’s a Small World so it’s not all bad news! For a paper copy of appropriate rides head to City Hall or alternatively download the Disneyland Paris App where you can filter: “Suitable for Expectant Mothers”

Rachel’s favourite ride is Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, which fortunately was on the pre-approved ride list! We probably went on it 6 times over the 3 days…!

 

  1. Hop on the train!
    Take is easy by taking a trip around the park on the Disneyland Railroad. The good thing about the train is you can stay on for as long as you want, and avoid any adverse weather that might be occurring.

 

  1. Eat some good food!
    There are lots of really good eateries around the parks, in the hotels and Disney Village so don’t let them go to waste! For great theming try Toad Hall in Fantasyland, The Golden Nugget in Frontierland and Walt’s on Main Street USA. Our new favourite is Vapiano, an Italian located near the entrance of Disney Village with fresh, fast food at not bad prices for Disneyland!

The Golden Nugget – Frontierland

Hakuna Matata – Adventureland

Pineapple Upside Down at Walts – Main Street USA

 

  1. Drink some tasty drinks!
    Whether it is a Sweet Main Street cocktail at Walts, a slush puppy at Sequoia Lodge or a limited edition 25th Anniversary non-alcoholic cocktail you’ll find lots of options throughout the resort.

Sweet Main Street at Walts

 

  1. Take it easy!

When some people think of Disney they think of rushing around but even with so much to see there is something to be said about taking it leisurely. Take the time whilst you are around the park – one of my favourite things is to walk down Main Street and to look at all the windows both at and above eye level.
Another great feature (perfect for pregnant ladies) is scattered throughout the park are lots of benches and covered areas e.g. Arcades on Main Street USA so you’ll be able to take a quiet moment to relax.

 

  1. Experience the Shows

Currently the Studio park is better to head to for shows with two big theatres Animaque and Cinemaque, as well as Stitch Live! and Art of Animation. Obviously, we have to mention the amazing night time shows which Disney produce. On our latest trip, it was the Season of the Force and the projection mapping on the legendary Tower of Terror was incredible.

 

  1. Take a drawing class

This hidden gem is housed within Art of Animation where you can watch two films on animation and the process of developing a character. Once you have left the final theatre, on your left hand side there is a drawing class set up. Each class gives you the opportunity to draw a different character, which they announce at the start of the class. Characters rotate, so you can come back at any time to do a different one, ideal for when the rest of the party want to go on a thrill ride.

 

  1. Meet some characters
    Disney is teeming with characters at designated meet-and-greets but if you are lucky you can interect with them as they wonder the park! We watched poor Captain Jack Sparrow’s minder have his handful as he was lurking in the caves in Adventureland!

Overall, we found the staff very helpful and knowledgeable making the trip painless and easy. Being able to do virtual queuing meant no long periods of standing up which kept our mother-to-be’s energy levels up and was able to manage whole days in the park (don’t worry we didn’t drag her round everywhere!). We would like to give a big shout out to Rachel our sister-in-law for allowing us to share this magical occasion with her, we can’t wait to be the best Disney Aunties ever!

 

Top 9 Things To Eat in New York City

As a follow up to #Top9ThingsToDoInNYC, Lucy felt it important to guide you towards foods that made her trip, and where to find them. Included in each point is a location, but some of these are just generic NYC eats your trip desperately needs.

 

  1. Pizza – Picasso Pizzeria, 303 South End Ave, New York, NY 10280. http://www.picassopizzany.com/

This specific location I would highly recommend, because it was perfectly located between getting off the ferry from Ellis Island and heading to the One World Observatory. The service was friendly and fast, and for three slices and a drink it was less than $15 (can’t remember exactly). Have you even been to New York if you haven’t eaten pizza by the slice?

despite my expression, I am in my happy place

 

  1. Breakfast Diner food – Juniors https://www.juniorscheesecake.com/

Juniors was recommended to me by our older sister who visited New York in November. We went out of courtesy, as she was adamant we should go there, and now I press it’s importance this onto you. There are two locations in Manhattan, and we tried them both! The 45th street restaurant is smaller, but they both provided us with outstanding service and delicious fresh breakfasts. Filled with locals fuelling up before a day’s holiday shopping, so you know it’s good. Reasonably priced at $40 set us both up for a day of exploring, I think it was a bargain. We didn’t need to eat again till late afternoon despite being on our feet all day!

The theming is very 1950s and very neon, and apparently their cheesecake is legendary.

 

  1. Beer – Heartland Brewery/Jimmy’s Corner/Brooklyn Brewery

Trying local brews is an important part of our holidays, if we can also squeeze in a brewery trip then that’s a win! Here are a few places we found that had a great selection of beers:

  • Heartland Brewery: right next to the Empire state building. It was a great place to people watch (we had a seat right next to the window), but also the basement is huge so even at its busiest I think you could still get a table. It’s the perfect place for a pitstop during a busy day of sight-seeing.

  • Brooklyn Brewery: highlighted in our previous article, this place had a great selection of delicious beers, brewed on site. Hipster vibes and comfortable surround made it a nice break on a rainy day.

  • Jimmy’s corner: our hotel was right next door, so we had passed this place a few times and when it was suggested as a good place to go in our Lonely Planet guidebook, we couldn’t resist it any more. It was everything you would expect from the outside, a bit grotty, but mostly just a homely place to sit and have a drink. Beers here cost half the price of those in the Hard Rock café, only 100m away!

 

  1. Pretzel – Any stand

This is a no brainer, they’re on every corner of every block, they’re fresh and they make for a very affordable and filling dinner!

 

  1. Italian food – ViceVersa, West 51st Street, New York, NY, USA

Over 14% of New Yorker’s are Italian American, so it makes perfect sense that the city has some amazing Italian food. We decided to go out for a nice meal one evening, consulted our guide book, verified on Instagram and went to ViceVersa.

Everything we ate was amazing and authentic (see: arancini, lasagne and ravioli), the service was perfect and the cocktails were also delicious!

 

  1. Southern Style – Fat Bird, 44 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011.

Fried chicken, onion rings, mac and cheese, Brussel sprouts and coleslaw, a hangover heaven.

This place was somewhere we stumbled upon by Chelsea Market, slightly hungover and wanting some comfort food. This really hit the spot and the service, was almost too good. Is there any better feeling than finding the perfect mac and cheese, when you need it most? No.

 

  1. Donuts – Donut Plant, 220 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011.

Festive mint chocolate filled donut – AMAZING!

This is a good location for a pitstop if you are headed downtown, or walking back towards midtown. It had a great selection of treats to try, and we popped in after we had walked off our Fat Bird (see above), the perfect dessert before bed!

What do you get when you cross a cinnamon roll with a donut?

 

  1. Coffee – Bluestone Lane

What better way to start your day than a fresh coffee? This was just what we needed before we traversed across the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

  1. Sweet Treats – Carlo’s Bakery

We couldn’t resist visiting one of America’s most famous pastry chef’s establishments to see what all the hype was about. Don’t be put off by the queue, the staff work tirelessly to take your order and process it in minimal time, getting you to your pastries in no time at all!

Everything was delicious, but very rich so make sure you go with an empty stomach and a sweet tooth!

I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as I enjoyed eating it, I would love to know any of your recommendations for our next trip!

Top 9 Tips for your Walt Disney World holiday

As it is only 120 days till we head to Orlando Florida and to Walt Disney World with the family, we thought we’d put our top 9 tips for things to you should consider when booking and before you head off to the happiest place on earth

  1. Shop around for the best deal before booking
    Booking a trip to America can be expensive, especially for a family but be sure to shop around to get the best deal. If you book 18 months before, between April and November, Disney often have deals which include $200 Disney dollars and free dining plans included in your package price.

We shopped around and have booked with Virgin Holidays this year, and they even threw in free access to their V-room at Manchester airport. It pays to compare deals and push your rep into a bargain!

 

  1. Get your food reservations in early (180 days before)
    180 days may seem like overkill, but if there are certain places you want to eat at when you go to Walt Disney World you need to book that far in advance. We managed to walk straight into ‘Be Our Guest’ (the beauty and the beast themed restaurant) when it was still new in 2013, at Holly’s last trip they were laughed out the door. Knowing we were going to be a party of 10 this time round, we booked in advance (and still have to eat at 16:15 on a Wednesday!!).If you have a meal plan booked, be sure to look to see what is included and where this is accepted. We’ve watched a lot the videos from the Disney Food Blog as they are easy to watch and full of great tips!

 

  1. Arrange Fast Passes (60 days before)

For some of the popular rides, you can skip the queue with Disney’s FastPass system. This can now be done through their app, My Disney Experience, up to 60 days in advance.

Our top suggestions for FastPass are:

Magic Kingdom:

  • Big Thunder Mountain
  • Space Mountain
  • Dwarfs Mine Train

Animal Kingdom:

  • Expedition Everest
  • Avatar Flight of Passage

EPCOT:

  • Test Track
  • Soarin’
  • Frozen Ever After

Hollywood Studios:

  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • Tower of Terror
  • Star Tours

 

  1. Make a rough plan of what park to do on each day
    This is something Holly normally puts together to keep the family in check. She looks at park opening hours and makes sure there are rest days by the pool to make sure we don’t over do it. If you are in a large party this will give you some structure, so if some of you take it easy one day, you know which park everyone else has headed off to to catch up later.

 

  1. Add a bit of Disney Magic to the trip
    Is it someone’s birthday? Or anniversary? Disney have loads of ways to make your trip extra special. First off, head to city hall or guest services at the front of the park to collect a ‘First Visit’ or ‘I’m Celebrating’ badge. You can even arrange to have a special treat put into their room with Disney’s reservation line.

Booking a tour is definitely something we would recommend; we have done a few at Disneyland Paris, and Holly has been on the backstage tour at Walt Disney World, which shows you the hidden magic that goes into the Disney parks.

Not just backstage gossip, but special edition pins too!

 

  1. Download the ‘My Disney Experience’ App
    This app is great to get you started, you can access your hotel bookings, book restaurants, FastPass reservations and more!

 

  1. Plan to experience more than the Disney parks
    If you are staying for a week at Disney there is much more you can do than just the theme parks. There are three great miniature golf courses: Fantasia Gardens by the Swan and Dolphin hotel and Winter Summerland at Blizzard beach.

Over the last few years Disney Springs has been updated to home loads of great shopping outlets, bars and restaurants, well worth an afternoon of browsing followed by dinner.

Want more adrenalin? Just a short 30-minute drive from Disney is Universal Studios Orlando Resort home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Or further afield, in Tampa, is Busch Gardens.

Another day trip we would recommend, is going on a fan boat to see some alligators and the Kennedy Space centre.

 

  1. Accessories for the parks
    Most highstreet brands (H&M, Primark, Next etc) are chock full of Disney merchandise, giving you the opportunity to style yourself appropriately on a budget. Whilst in the park you’ll want to pick up the latest merchandise, but save yourself a little dough by getting all your holiday clothes before you go. For our recent trip to Disneyland Paris, Lucy has made us all personalised Minnie ears, she enjoyed making them so much she has opened an Etsy shop MaleficEars! We are all putting our orders in ready for May!

 

  1. Customize your Magic Band
    If you are staying a Disney hotel whilst in Florida you will be provided with a Magic Band included in the price, which will function as your room key and park pass. You can also attach a card and use this as a payment device, and it stores all your food credits (if you have a dining plan) as well as FastPass entries. Up to 7 days before you go you can pick the colour of the band and the name on it. There are up to 8 different default colours you can choose from for free, or buy yourself a limited edition one… Holly has her eye on a Haunted Mansion wallpaper one!

Best of luck planning your holiday! Any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to us on social media!

 

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