Maleficent Adventures

Travelling Around the World

Author: hollymagoolagan (Page 2 of 5)

Top 9 Christmas Markets in Hamburg

Here at Maleficent Adventures we love Christmas markets, each year we go away with our sisters to a different European Christmas market for the weekend. This year we travelled to Hamburg for a weekend filled with mulled wine, bratwurst and good times.

We went to so many Christmas markets over the weekend that, in true Maleficent Adventures style, we decided to rank our top 9 and here they are:

 

  1. Rathausmarkt
    This is the largest market (we found) in Hamburg. Nestled next to the majestic and historic town hall, this market is packed with stalls selling everything from decorations to local delicacies and is a must see for all visitors to Hamburg in the festive period.

Käthe Wohlfahrt is by far always our favourite stall which specialises in Christmas decorations. It is filled with hundreds of very delicate ornaments to suit every taste, and whilst we had to queue to get in the door, this meant once we were in we had time to browse and weren’t rushed by the large crowd of market goers. It’s a winter wonderland!

 

  1. Mönckebergstrasse Christmas Market
    Along the streets of Hamburg, these market stall facades reminded us of wild west saloons. Regardless of the size this was a great place to pick up some tasty food and drinks with much smaller crowd then in the squares

 

  1. Christmas market at the church of St. Petri
    Located near the Rathaus this market snaked round the back of the historic church. It was nice and quiet during the day for perusing the stalls and had a few good places to perch with a hot beverage.

Look, even the cups match each individual market!

 

  1. Gänsemarkt market
    Nestled in a small square was Gänsemarkt Christmas market. All the stalls were designed to look like Gingerbread houses and whilst we were there it continued to snow making a magical backdrop for a cheeky mulled wine.

 

  1. Fleet Christmas Market
    We came here in the evening, the large marquee complete with chandeliers, provided a warm and relaxing atmosphere whilst we sipped mulled wine whilst overlooking the river.

 

  1. WinterWald
    Who doesn’t love drinking a toasty mulled wine whilst sitting in a Forest? Towards the back of the market was an area cleared just for drinks stalls and was lined with Christmas trees, very magical.

 

  1. White magic on Jungfernstieg
    Found across the road from Europa Passage shopping centre, beside Binnenalster lake, is the Jungfernstieg Christmas market. It is definitely one of the fancier markets we have seen, but this came with a higher price tag! Glasses of gluhwein were the most expensive here, but at night this really was very pretty. They even had exclusive fire pit booths available for hire.

 

  1. Winter Pride
    We stumbled across this area one night, we wouldn’t quite describe it as a market as it only had a few bar stalls and 1 food venue serving bratwurst. However, it was very lively, with good music and great atmosphere perfect for a night on the tiles!

 

  1. Santa Pauli
    Located in Hamburg’s right light district, this Christmas market is publicised as Germany’s best x-rated market. We actually didn’t get a chance to go into this market as it wasn’t open whilst we were there. But we think this would have been well worth a look in if you are passing by and into niche markets! Probably not suitable for families.

Honourable mention: not a Christmas market but we also visited Altes Mädchen the bar/restaurant attached to the Ratsherrn brewery for a few hours which we would strongly recommend. It stocked a wide selection of beers on draft (with a great beer flight to get you sampling some of them), tasty food and with a warm and welcoming environment. The staff were great and service was very efficient to say it was a busy Saturday. This was the reason we did not make the aforementioned erotic market – too busy drinking beer!

We all had a fantastic weekend, do you have a different order? Reach out to us on social media, we’d love to hear about it.

Top 9 Tips For European Christmas markets

Each year we go on a European Christmas market trip with our sisters. Coming home from our fourth annual trip we have put together our top tips on how to prepare for a great festive weekend:

  1. Think about logistics ahead of time
    If you are planning a trip abroad and therefore flying or getting the Eurostar, book early. We cannot stress this enough, the later you leave it, the more expensive it will be. We booked our latest trip to Hamburg in February! You may scoff, but flights and accommodation were £200 all in. Be sure to check your arrival and departure times as this will help maximise your market times and remember on a weekend there will be bigger crowds so you may want to think about heading midweek.

 

  1. Map out the markets before you go
    Whilst you have time and Wi-Fi at home take note of what Christmas markets the city offers and where they are located. You want to make sure you hit the biggest and best ones in the time you are there. Lucy saved us loads of time by pinning all the markets in Hamburg to her Google maps so it was easy to navigate through the city.

Top tip: some markets are only open select weekends – and during certain hours.

 

  1. Dress in layers and stay warm
    Make sure to pack comfortable shoes and supportive socks, in most cities the markets are spread out and if possible get waterproof ones! Waterproof shoes are best where possible because we are yet to have a 100% dry weekend! Hats, gloves and scarves are a godsend when you’ve been stood too long drinking mulled wine!

 

  1. Keep an eye on the weather
    This is both before you go and whilst you are away; try timing indoor activities with predicated spells of bad weather so you aren’t caught out. Our first trip to Berlin we managed to time ducking into a beer hut avoiding a heavy rain fall with lightning.

 

  1. Have a light breakfast or go hungry
    There are so many good food options at Christmas markets, make sure to leave space as you’ll want to try everything!

 

  1. Have a break from Christmas markets

This might seem a little strange but, taking time to warm up and see whats good in the area can be just as rewarding. During our latest trip to Hamburg went out of our way to visit the wonderful Ratsherrn brewery, which hosted homebrewed and local beer with over 20 tipples on draft.

 

  1. Go back at night
    Whilst evenings can draw a bigger crowd than lunchtimes, the warmth of mulled wine and sparkle of Christmas lights create a more festive atmosphere after dark.

 

  1. Try the local delicacies and Christmas specialities
    No two markets are the same either in the same city or country so keep an eye out for unique items. Berlin invented the Curry Wurst and Hamburg is famous for Frazbrötchen, similar to a cinnamon roll, and these were things we were glad we didn’t miss out on.

 

  1. Pick up a souvenir mug
    For every drink, mulled wine or otherwise, you normally have to pay a 2-3 euro refundable deposit. Every market has its own different mug, sometimes even for each year, so why not commemorate the occasion with a cheap souvenir which can be used again and again.

Top Tip: Feeling tired and cold? Most cities in Europe now have a Nespresso store, we’ve used these on our last few trips to have a warm up and a free coffee for an additional pick me up mid-afternoon!

 

So far, we have been to 4 different European markets (excluding the UK): Berlin, Brussels (where we did a day trip to Brugge), Stuttgart and Hamburg. Berlin has hands down been our favourite city, not just for the markets (there are over 50!) but because the city itself is so rich in culture.

We look forward to planning next year’s trip – where would you recommend? Get in touch through social media.

Top 9 Things to do in Disneyland Paris For Grown-ups

As a family, we have gone to the Disney Parks since we were little, and each trip has been different. During our trip in October we put together our #Top9 things for grown-ups to do in Disneyland Paris Resort:

 

  1. Scream on the rollercoasters

Not all rides are suitable for small children – so this is our time to shine. Get your adrenalin fix on some of the most imaginative rides in the world, our favourites include the Tower of Terror and the newly updated Big Thunder Mountain.

 

  1. Dine well

Being in Disneyland Paris doesn’t mean you need to eat only burgers and fast food. Two places we would recommend is Bistrot Chez Rémy in Walt Disney Studio Park and the newly opened Vapiano in the Disney Village, an exciting diffrent approach to fast service Italian food.

 

  1. Take a tour

Head to City Hall and book on one of the tours around the parks. Get a behind the scene look at some of the attractions, learn about the theming and all the hidden Disney gems waiting to be found.

 

  1. Try the speciality drinks

Each bar has a signature drink, during our last trip we went to several bars throughout the resort. We really enjoyed the glowtini available at most hotel bars and the Redwood lounge and bar in the Sequoia Lodge had some unique choices using sap liqueur.

 

  1. Go shopping

Disney Village is the main shopping district, perfect for picking up gifts and park unique merchandise. We love going into The Disney Gallery; Holly is currently collecting the old-style attraction posters, which can regularly be found here. You’re a grown up responsible for your own finances – go treat yourself.

 

  1. Ride the rides during parades and fireworks

Disney fireworks are amazing, but if you are staying for more than one day, take advantage of empty lands and queues. Big Thunder Mountain becomes much less crowded once everyone takes their places for the fireworks, so we take advantage and ride till we die. We also did some evening shopping on Main Street USA during the fireworks on one of our evenings. The shops were empty, and it was so relaxed, much nicer than the usual exit from the park frenzy.

 

  1. Bar crawl through the resort

The Disneyland Paris Resort isn’t as big as you would think! The Disney Village is full of great bars and each hotel has a bar worth visiting, so discover more on foot.
Don’t worry we’ve already done the legwork, see our route.

  

  1. Rock your accessories

Dressing up is not just for kids. However, you are not able to wear full costume within the parks, except at the Halloween ticketed event. A neat way around this is you can go Disney bounding (e.g. theming your clothing around a character), or simply accessorise! There are plenty of items you can buy in high street shops that can ‘Disneyfy’ your style. This trip Lucy handmade ears and personalised them for each of us. These were a hit, and we were showered with complements, including impressed cast members (which meant a lot – as they must see it all). This spurred her on to open a shop to share the magic with you all.

These ears are reversible!

 

  1. Take time to enjoy hotel facilities

Take full advantage of all that is available where you are staying. Within the Disneyland Paris hotel there are spa facilities and most hotels in the resort have a swimming pool. Be sure to rest your feet after long days in the park.

Disneyland Paris Bar Crawl

This was the first Disneyland-style park to serve alcohol when it was added to table service menus in 1993, because guests expected it as part of the “French experience”. You can even pick up a bottle of beer with your hotdog at Casey’s Corner! Never-the-less, keeping up the Disney tradition (see drink around the world at EPCOT), we have formulated a fool proof plan to tick off seeing what the other hotels have to offer, a bit of a rest whilst the parks are busiest in the afternoon and sample the signature cocktails along the way!

During our trip in October we wanted to take it more leisurely and also view some of the hotels we had never stayed in before. We thought we’d put together this route to highlight all the great bars around the resort, each has a unique cocktail so be sure to scour the menu for what’s different in each place.

Our trail starts from the Parks, through the Village, around all the Disney hotels and back to the Village ready for you to dance the night away!

Have a fun morning in the parks, but when the crowds start to grow, escape and relax in these lovely bars.

First stop:

  1. Sports Bar – Disney Village

Always a good place to grab a quick drink and snack to set you up for the day. There are always plenty of tables outside and European football is always being shown – if you have a fan in your midst.

Recommended drink: Grimbergen d’Abbaye blonde (Belgian lager)

 

Next: Head along the lake to Newport Bay Hotel.

  1. Captain’s Quarters – Disney’s Newport Bay Club

Just down the corridor from the reception, Captain’s Quarter is a cosy bar which faces down onto the Lake which is a perfect accompaniment to the relaxing atmosphere.

Recommended drink: Black Pearl

 

Next: Head round the side of the lake towards Sequoia Lodge.

  1. Redwood Bar and Lounge – Disney’s Sequoia Lodge

In keeping with the hotel, the Redwood bar is based on a Californian ski lodge, complete with a huge central fire which, when lit, just adds to the cosy ambience. The bar really is breath taking, and absolutely reminded Lucy of her trip to Mammoth Lakes (CA).

Recommended drink: Alba

 

Next: Now wind your way down the scenic pathway, keep the “river” on your left and head to Santa Fe.

  1. Rio Grande Bar – Disney’s Hotel Santa Fe

Although this Route 66/Cars theme is simple it still hits the spot, nice enough to stop to put your feed up and take a break.

Recommended drink: Sweet Velvet

 

Next: Head across the bridge to the wild west and Hotel Cheyenne.

  1. Red Garter Saloon – Disney’s Hotel Cheyenne

Hotel Cheyenne, themed like a wild west town, is home the beautiful Red Garter Saloon. Whilst we were there Cheyenne was experiencing some renovation, so the full experience wasn’t there but the bar seemed cosy and perfect for a tipple.

Recommended drink: Cheyenne

 

Next: Keeping the “river” to your left, continue back towards Disney Village to New York.

  1. New York City Bar – Disney’s Hotel New York

As the name here suggests, this is themed like a New York city bar! Cosy chairs and friendly bar staff welcome you here. This was the first place we went for a drink on our first night as we had heard good things, and we were not disappointed.

Recommended drink: Glowtini and the 25th anniversary special drink – lumière de l’étoile.

 

Next: Head back to the Village.

  1. Billy Bob’s Country Western Saloon – Disney Village

Disney Village is home to a few bars but we believe Billy Bob’s has the best theming. With live country music performers most evenings and indoor and outdoor seating it makes for a party!

Recommended drink: Kronenberg 1664

 

Next: Head to the Disneyland park entrance and hop inside the Disneyland Hotel. Up the main central staircase and along the corridor and you’ll find yourself at Café Fantasia.

  1. Café Fantasia – Disneyland Hotel

With pictures depicting scenes from Fantasia on the walls, this bar just oozes elegance and class. Whilst we were there for Halloween there they had an incredible violinist and pianist playing “This is Halloween” from Nightmare Before Christmas along with other wonderful classical Disney tunes. It was really lovely, and although this bar is closest to the park it felt very removed from the hustle and bustle.

Recommended drink: Signature Gin and Tonic – especially with a grapefruit tonic.

 

Next: Exit through the lobby to the Disneyland park entrance; this is the final stop hopefully you’ve made it this far!

  1. Head back into the park for fireworks

You could even pick up a beer at Casey’s if you’re still standing!

This is something we will definitely do again as it was really great way of exploring the resort which isn’t actually big as you would think. The longest walk we had was between Sequoia Lodge and Santa Fe, but we welcomed a nice cool breeze and a relaxing stroll.

Plus everywhere gives you snacks! Free peanuts and olives for everyone!

Top 9 Rides Disneyland Paris Resort

This list is obviously our opinion, and we are slightly sensitive to being thrown upside down too much. Rides like Space Mountain (Or Hyperspace Mountain) and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith did not make the cut because when we exit those rides we have to sit down for 20 minutes afterwards. Maybe we’re getting too old – but we think it’s because of the bone rattling qualities of these rides, they are not smooth. Don’t get us wrong, we enjoy thrill rides (note: The Hulk (Islands of Adventure, Florida) and Air (Alton Towers)), but we enjoy something a bit smoother on the old cranium.

 

  1. Big Thunder Mountain

‘The wildest ride in the wilderness’: Big Thunder Mountain is one of our favourite rides in any park. It was closed for quite a while for renovation, and our last trip was the first time we had experienced it’s new form. The Paris version is definitely the best, it is the only one to go underwater – using the same technology as the Euro tunnel. So glad it got the upgrade we experienced at the California resort, the updated graphics and much needed polish has definitely improved the experience.

 

  1. Ratatouille: The Adventure

This is one of the newest rides within the Walt Disney Studio Park, shrinking you down to the size of a mouse to explore Remy’s restaurant kitchen. This is definitely a 4D ride, with all the sights and smells really enhancing this experience.

 

  1. The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror

Check into this Hollywood hotel and enter the Twilight Zone to discover what happened on that night in 1939. This is another ride that never gets boring, there are a few different scenarios to keep you guessing when the drop happens.
Top tip: Make sure you redo the ride after sunset to see both parks lit up at night, it’s beautiful!

 

  1. Crush’s Coaster

Ride the East Australian Current on Crush’s shell as you explore the wide open ocean. This thrill ride used to be the best thing about the Studios park, it is so immersive and beautiful and yet still keeps you terrified and clinging to your seat. It’s only flaw is the queuing system – so head there first if you want to ride it without waiting 90 minutes!

 

  1. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

Updated in March 2017, this ride got a facelift including the introduction of 3D technology and the addition of extra scenes now Disney own the rights to Star Wars. There are 70 different missions, so no two rides should be the same. Our mother took it upon herself to test this riding it three times in a row – and every version was different (including the five times she rode it total over the weekend).

 

  1. Phantom Manor

999 happy haunts welcome you to this haunted house, take a journey to the underworld and discover the story behind the jilted bride of this grand mansion. Despite riding this countless times, we still are weary and will never opt to be the single rider if the group number is uneven! It’s great for resting weary feet, and the queue is never very long so it’s the perfect ride when everything else in Frontierland is packed. What would make it perfect is a Nightmare Before Christmas makeover like the California version gets, giving it a little revival and love!

 

  1. Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

Earn your Star Commander Rank by helping to defend Sector 9 from the evil Emperor Zeug. This is great for target practise and never gets old, because of the competition element it gives. Take on the rest of your group with a head to head, make it interesting and say winner buys the next round of snacks! Whilst our heart lies with Toy Story Midway Mania – this will satisfy our needs… for now.

  

  1. Le Carrousel de Lancelot

Because who doesn’t love a carousel? Adding a touch of old-worldy class, we love this ride. Each horse comes from old working carousels, and are beautifully decorated. For an extra thrill climb on top of one of the big horses on the outside, it can get quite high!

 

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean

 

Also recently renovated, this ride is always worth a go. The new effects are great and we particularly the new addition of feminism – the Red Head is now a pirate – well done Disney. Excellent theming throughout the queue also keeps you occupied in case you have to wait.

Is there anything we have missed? Reach out on social and let us know!

 

Top 9 Snacks in Disneyland Paris

We really slaved away on this one, arduously trying anything we could get our mitts on. It is worth noting that some of these will only be available during the 25th anniversary celebrations, and some were special Halloween snacks so may not be available year-round. However, get them whilst they’re good!

We’ve had a few disagreements about this so we are actually going to do two lists, everyone’s tastes are different and everyone’s opinions are valid.

Holly’s list: 

  1. Cookies and Cream Bat Cupcake – Boardwalk Candy Palace

I ate this on the plane back home, a nice little treat to ease the Disney blues. Good ratio of icing to cake which was soft, nice to go out on a high.

 

  1. Frozen Marshmallow Lollypop – Frozen Kiosk by Chaparral Theatre

White chocolate dripped marshmallow on a stick, simple, delicious and gone. I almost managed to eat the whole thing before Lucy noticed!

 

  1. Cactus Sugar Cookie – Fuente del Oro Restaurante

Perfect with the Mexican/Day of the Dead theme. This biscuit was light and fluffy, easy to eat one or two or three….

 

  1. Triple chocolate fudge – Boardwalk Candy Palace

Freshly made each day, the Boardwalk Candy Palace has so many different flavours of fudge to choose from. My favourite of the flavours I tried was the triple chocolate, it wasn’t too rich and I didn’t get bored of the flavour. This is definitely on my list to of must have park treats for our next visit.

 

  1. Churros – Fuente del Oro Restaurante

I’m a big fan of churros, and now with my new-found love of anything cinnamon – this was perfect for me. Light and fluffy inside and crispy on the outside; the generous portion is enough to share (but still manageable if you don’t want to).

 

  1. Princess Leia Meringue – Boardwalk Candy Palace

How can you not enjoy a Star Wars themed treat? These are few and far between in Disneyland and it was out of this world ?.

 

  1. Halloween Pumpkin Cupcake – Boardwalk Candy Palace

Garnished with a hidden mickey, this cupcake was a perfect Halloween treat. The frosting had a slight orange taste, but the design alone gets it in my #top9.

 

  1. Roasted chestnuts – 25th Anniversary stalls in the Disney Village

Normally found at Christmas markets, I was very excited to see them in the village. I purchased the smaller size, and it was huge! Which means there was, more than enough to share (especially important when they say they don’t want any when you asked before buying, and they start tucking in anyway).

 

  1. Chocolate donut – Cable Car Bake Shop

I couldn’t finish my list without putting a donut on. I love donuts, I can’t get enough of donuts. Everyone should get this donut. Did I say donut enough?

 

Lucy’s List: 

  1. Mickey Star Nutella biscuit – Cable Car Bake Shop

I really didn’t expect this one to be as marvellous as it was. The biscuit was beautiful, and if you’re a big fan of Nutella you’re going to LOVE this.

 

  1. Mint Chocolate fudge – Boardwalk Candy Palace

All fudge at Disneyland is pretty spectacular, but the mint chocolate one really is the ka-buiznezz.

 

  1. Cactus biscuit – Fuente del Oro Restaurante

Bought on a whim, having been stood waiting to place my order for a while staring at the biscuit adverts. This was actually really good, the biscuit is like a sugar cookie, green icing was pretty standard but wedged between the two was a surprising (and uneven) layer of white chocolate – which was what made it perfect!

 

  1. Chocolate donut – Cable Car Bake Shop

We were questing for the 25th Anniversary celebration donuts at Cable car when we had to settle for these. They were great, just a really tasty fresh donut (and definitely not frozen like the ones at, ironically, the Frozen cart).

 

  1. 25thcelebration red toffee apple/ pomme d’amour – Stand by Sir Mickey’s Boutique

Since visiting Disneyland Resort in California, I have been obsessed with their ‘Candy Apples’ and was very excited to see them appear at Paris. However, they aren’t caramel apples but the generic European toffee apples. The difference being American candy apples are a rather decadent caramel topped with chocolate whereas we just have a hard sugar casing to ours. Nevertheless, it was still tasty and therefore made the list! Also the decoration was very pretty.

 

  1. Halloween Pumpkin cupcake – Boardwalk Candy Palace

Seasonal treat which was very tasty, I really liked this one because I thought the icing had an orange/pumpkin flavour and was more marshmallow-y than the cookies and cream cupcake. Despite what I had previously heard about Disneyland Paris cupcakes, it was well baked, fresh and moist.

 

  1. Churros – Fuente del Oro

The first churro I have ever had – that I enjoyed. Not at all a greasy mess, these tiny churro loops were very tasty and really complimented the Mexican food we had at Fuento del Oro. These were also an impulse buy because mum wanted a hot drink – so we got them cheaper as part of the ‘Delicious Treat’ deal.

 

  1. Frozen Marshmallow lollypop – Frozen hut by Chaparral Theatre

This did exactly what it said on the tin, strawberry marshmallow covered in white chocolate – what’s not to like? Nothing. Simple and delicious.

 

  1. White glazed 25thanniversary donut with Nutella filling – Frozen hut by Chaparral Theatre

This is bottom of the list because it was quite dry, and cold – which leads me to believe it was frozen and thawed out (this was a morning purchase). Definitely not as soft and fresh as the chocolate donut from Cable car, but the nutella filling was great so I can see how nice it would have been if you’d managed to get a fresh one.

 

Snacks we tried that were disappointing:

A couple of the items where dry and cold (potentially frozen and defrosted), like the 25th Anniversary donuts.

The Frozen chocolate cake lollypop with coconut white chocolate topping was confusing and none of us really took to it. Eating off the coconut white chocolate was pretty tasty, but the cake inside was flavourless and dry.

I was very excited to try a Jack Skellington chocolate apple (again, hoping for a caramel apple reunion) however this was just a green apple covered in a thin layer of white chocolate. At the very least put a layer of toffee in there! This at best, is instagrammable, not delicious.

We hope you snack lowdown, did we miss any? Reach out on social and tell us your favorite Disneyland Paris snack is!

Tips On Pumpkin Carving

Anyone can carve a pumpkin. Here a few things you should think about so your hard work doesn’t go to waste!

What you need:

  • One pumpkin
  • A flat surface
  • Newspaper/ old magazine/ table cloth
  • Knife/pumpkin carving kit
  • Bowl
  • Design

Pumpkin carving kits can be found at most supermarkets around Halloween or on Amazon. They usually consist of mini saws (to help cut your design), a scraper scoop and some design stencils.

Finding the right fit

I believe the most important thing is choosing the right sized pumpkin. It can often work out better to choose your design before you pick your pumpkin, so you can get one that suits. Try not to buy a pumpkin too far in advance of when you want to display it, because sometimes they can spoil before you’ve even cut into them. Check the bottom and the sides to make sure that it isn’t wet, this is a good sign that it’s already going rotten.

Once carved, the pumpkin should last a few days, although this can vary. We have heard that applying Vaseline to the cuts can help preserve your design for longer. As it is bio-degradable just take the light out in the middle and put it in your compost/garden waste bin. The whole pumpkin doesn’t have to be perfect, all you need is one clear straight side to carve into.

 

Getting started

Place newspapers down on the surface you are going to work on. Take a damp cloth or a piece of kitchen paper and spray with a disinfectant and wipe down your pumpkin. You’ll often find there are bits of dust or mud which are easy to take off, and this also helps to preserve your pumpkin. Now start by cutting the top off. There are a few ways of doing this:

Cut straight across your pumpkin. This is often the easiest method, using a bread knife, although you will find the top might slip off after you try to replace but you can use cocktail sticks to stabilise this.
Note:
Light may come through where you have cut so you’ll be able to see where you have been.

Cut at an angle around the top. When you cut through the pumpkin make sure the angle of the knife is around 45° as this means you will be able to prise off the lid easier.
(If you cut vertically down you risk the lid falling in).
Note: Make sure that you cut a hole big enough to fit your fist through, I’ve done this before and gotten my hand stuck! I had to cut my way out, not ideal!

Top Tip: Whilst cutting the top, put a notch or cut out a shape so you can easily find the position in which the lid sits

 

Take out the guts

Get a bowl ready to pull out the flesh inside. Using a spoon or scoop (from your carving kit) and take out as much of the middle as possible. First remove the seeds and stringy bits, then carve away at the flesh to make the sides thinner so carving is easier.

Lucy also makes sure she has a second bowl, the first one collects the guts and seeds and gross bits, whilst the second bowl can be used for pumpkin flesh that can be used for baking! She usually makes a pumpkin pie or these amazing pumpkin brownies. This year she made this Tesco recipe, see the results here. Make sure there aren’t any strings of pumpkin left as this could set on a fire when you ignite your tea lights.

 

Sculpt Your Piece Of Art

There are lots of designs online for inspiration and often  pumpkin carving kits include patterns to try.Transfer your design to your pumpkin, by freehand or by attaching the image using tape or pins. This can be tricky if your pumpkin is curved, you may have to fold parts of your paper to mould to the pumpkin.

 

Slice It Up

The Lorax Pumpkin Carving

Think about the order in which you cut parts of the design. It is very easy to not pay attention and cut through and lose the detail, e.g. an eye, it happens to the best of us! I would recommend starting with the smallest detail first as the more you cut the less you have to lean against and you could capsize the walls!

I cannot emphasize enough about investing in a pumpkin carving kit, they usually only cost only a few pounds and can make your life so much easier. They are safer for children to use rather than knifes and give you more control to cut out your design.

Once you have cut out all your design, try to clean up the inside of your pumpkin where you have cut. The cleaner the cuts the more light will get through and the better the design will look.

 

Can’t Take The Heat?

Some people don’t realise that although tea lights are small, in a confined area – like a pumpkin, it can generate some serious heat. If the flame is too near the top, i.e. in a small pumpkin, the heat can cause the lid to shrink and you will start to see small burn marks. This isn’t a major issue it just means your pumpkin might not last as long and in some cases your lid might fall in.

Equally, if your design isn’t big enough then heat will escape through the top of your pumpkin, rather than the sides. An easy way to fix this is to pierce holes in the top/lid of your pumpkin using an apple corer or cut a shape in the top i.e. a star.

Alternatively, a battery operated candle is a great idea if you have little children or you want to minimise fire hazards. It also means that if you are putting them outside on a windy night they won’t blow out.

 

Relax

Light it up, stand back and enjoy the effect. Take photos as you go through so you can watch your pumpkin take shape.

 

9 Top Tips When Packing For A Disneyland Paris Break

  1. Pack comfortable shoes (and a spare pair!)
    Each Disneyland Paris park is around 20 km2 and you’ll easily do 15,000 steps a day. If you aren’t used to walking this much it will be tough on your feet. Be sure to take lots of breaks and make sure you have practical shoes. We swear by Sketchers as their memory form soles are heaven on your feet – like squishy clouds! A couple of extra pairs of socks wouldn’t go amiss either.

  1. Make sure you have enough t-shirts
    This might seem a little over cautious, but with lots of walking and the interchangeable weather conditions in Paris, you’ll be glad you have a spare back at your hotel to change into.

  1. A camera and its charger
    Disneyland Paris is so picturesque you’ll want to snap endless photos to remember your magical holiday by. With Sleeping Beauty’s gorgeous castle, Big Thunder Mountain, the Hollywood Tower Hotel and endless unique character opportunities you won’t want to forget these memories!
    Note: FitBit/Fitness tracker chargers, laptop cables, tablet chargers – all essential!

  1. Prepare for all weathers
    Let’s be real, Disneyland Paris isn’t blessed with the climate California is, the weather can be beautiful but it can also be unpredictable. Check the forecast before your trip but prepare for every eventuality by packing a rain mac and some sun cream. This would be an excellent time to remember a poncho from a past visit – feeling smug I remembered mine!

  1. Disney merchandise
    Don’t forget your purchases from your last visit! If you’re like us, you’ll have an extensive collection of Disney merchandise such as pyjamas, t-shirts and hats. Lots of stores including H&M and Primark stock reasonably priced Disney clothing, so for those of us on a budget this is the perfect way to show your Disney side whilst saving your pennies!

  1. Backpack for the park
    You can take your bag on the rides so don’t worry about storing it. Get a comfortable bag which you don’t mind carrying all day, with compartments for easy access to tickets and money as these are what you will need most in the parks.

  1. Don’t forget your plug adaptor
    The last thing you need is to be stuck not being able to charge your camera or worse, phone! How will you let everyone know you’re at Disneyland? If you are from within the EU (with the exceptions of UK and Ireland) your plugs will work fine. For the rest of us (and guests travelling from USA), you can pick up a cheap EU travel adaptor at most supermarkets or pharmacies. If you do forget to pack an adaptor or charger most hotel shops stock them, however they will come at a premium.

  1. Leave room for souvenirs
    Probably the most important point, leave room for souvenirs! Holly always comes home with a new jigsaw and the latest pins whilst Lucy invests in more practical items such as kitchenware… and candy apples. Don’t miss out as they could be gone before you get a chance to come back.

  1. First Aid Kit
    The last thing you need is for your day to be ruined by a blister or a headache, take care of yourselves and your family by packing essentials such as: lip balm, plasters (normal and blister), ibuprofen, paracetamol, cold sore patches (a must for our family), rehydration sachets (in case of stomach bug – but also great in case you become dehydrated after a hot day in the parks) and tiger balm (to soothe aches after a long park day – also great for insect bites).

Honourable mention: Whilst we don’t have children we do have an adorable niece. A good idea (and one we are going to put into practise for our family trip to Orlando in May) is to purchase your child an outfit before you arrive. You can find preowned Disney princess dresses on eBay for a fraction of the price or even kit your kid out in Primarks finest. This way you are sure to make them feel special with their own outfit, but again is a great way to save money (some outfits in the parks can cost 80 Euros all in!)

We hope you find this useful, and enjoy your holiday – and don’t pack anyone by accident!

FanDaze: What we know so far…

Announced on 1st October, Disneyland Paris will be holding its first ever original fan event. Taking place next year during the first weekend of June, Disney are pulling out all the stops to get fans from around the world to visit the parks.

They have already announced a star-studded line up including:

  1. Parades and shows
    Their website already hints at a Duck Tales parade and a stage show featuring Goofy’s son Max.

  1. One of a kind and rare Disney character appearances
    If the characters present at the announcement are anything to go by, we should expect characters from Zootopia, Inside Out and Big Hero 6. I would love to see Baymax in the park as he currently is only in Disneyland Shanghai and Epcot at Walt Disney World.
    At the event there will be over 50 characters including classics such as Roger Rabbit, Bolt and Clarabelle.

  1. Exclusive evening event
    The FanDaze inaugural event will kick off with a party at Walt Disney Studios Park.

Photo Credit: Electroland Facebook

  1. Limited edition souvenirs
    The event will bring a whole host of exclusive, one of a kind souvenirs from pins to t-shirt and kitchenware. As an avid collector, I’m very excited for the opportunity to get access to some unique pins.
    I loved the exclusive merchandise at the Harry Potter fan event, hopefully Disney will match this opportunity.
  2. Disneylicious Treats
    Disney never misses the opportunity to release unique themed food and drink for any occasion (see Halloween, Christmas and birthdays), we can’t wait to track and try new treats around the park.

We are excited about this announcement, as lifelong Disney fans and of the Disney parks. They even encourage guests to come dressed as your favourite character I might go Maleficent and Lucy is looking for an excuse to pull out her wedding dress to come as Princess Tiana.

We look forward to keeping you updated and seeing you all there!

Five things Disneyland Paris has learned and five things it can learn from the US parks

What you may not know is that Disneyland Paris, much like Disneyland Tokyo, isn’t solely owned by the Walt Disney company. In its early days, Disney sold shares to investors in order to keep the park afloat during difficult times. This year the Walt Disney company increased its ownership of Disneyland Paris to 85.7% and they are starting to push more money and changes into the park

The Ratatouille ride, which opened in 2014, is a prime example of how more investment and attention to evolving these parks can draw in more visitors. As a mark of how successful this ride has been, early this year at D23, it was announced that the Ratatouille ride is coming to EPCOT world showcase.

 

With Disney investing and developing more in Disneyland Paris we can already start to reap the benefits. Here are five things that have already been actioned:

  1. Disneyland Paris Food Festival
    This September, Disneyland Paris hosted Le Rendez-vous Gourmand de Disneyland Paris, a two-week food festival held within the Walt Disney Studios park. The festival showcased food and drink from 6 different regions of France similar to the Food and Wine Festival, held in EPCOT each year.
  2. Electroland
    Probably one of the first time a hard-ticketed event has been seen at Disneyland Paris; Electroland, a concert at the base of Hollywood Tower Hotel in Walt Disney Studios, took place in July 2017. The concert had a whole host of world famous DJs including Steve Aoki, alongside a stunning projection on the Hollywood Tower Hotel.

    Photo Credit: Electroland Facebook

  3. RunDisney
    Now on its second year, RunDisney hosts a 5K, 10K and half marathon event in September. Participants get a chance to run through the Disneyland Paris parks, an exhilarating Disney experience.
  4. Updates to the Disneyland Paris App
    This might not sound like the most exciting update, but for those of us who have experienced the ease of being able to see what rides are open, wait times and parade show times at the touch of a button in the US parks cannot wait to have this at our disposal in Paris. It still isn’t as sophisticated as the US App, where you can make dinner reservations or book FastPass time slots, but hopefully that will soon follow.
  5. Star Wars: Season of the Force
    Star Wars has been slowly creeping into the park since the first (or 8th) film was released. Firstly with the update of Star Tours, rebranding of Space Mountain to Hyperspace Mountain, Jedi training sessions and character meet ups. Now it has its own special event: Season of the Force takes place between January and March each year and includes: an evening show projected onto the Hollywood Tower, an action-packed live show, the first order march, more character interactions and additional scenes in the Illuminations night time spectacular.

 

We have visited Walt Disney World several times and within the last two years have both been to Disneyland in California. They offer so much more than Disneyland Paris as they have been around such much longer and are much more of an institution to America. Here are the 5 Things we would like to see come from the US Disney Parks to Disneyland Paris:

  1. More hard ticketed events
    These events provide unique opportunities, often exploring the parks after normal closure times. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, is an afterhours trick or treating event in the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. As well as being allowed to dress up as your favourite character whilst gorging yourself silly on free candy, you can also enjoy stunning night time shows, a ghostly parade and the best firework display we have ever seen (ever!)

    Other hard ticket events include: Mickeys Merry Christmas, a Christmas celebration including all you can eat cookies, hot chocolate, eggnog, snow cones and spiced apple cider depending on where in the park you are; and Fireworks dessert Party providing unique sweet treats with prime viewing areas for the evenings fireworks.
  1. Food variety
    We often find when the parks are busy it is difficult to find food which isn’t fast. The US parks have really upped their culinary game, with EPCOT’s Food and Wine Festival each year showcasing the best food from countries around the word, and its newest land, Pandora, has shown us the amazing food items you can create that can still be completely on theme with the land they reside in. We often visit DLP out of season, and find again food choices to be limited because half of the outlets close.
  2. Immersive hotel experiences
    Announced at D23 earlier this year Disney are opening a Star Wars hotel in Walt Disney World Florida by the Hollywood Studios. This will provide a unique cosplay live-in experience you can’t experience anywhere else. It was also revealed that Disneyland Paris’ Hotel New York in getting a reskin, turning into the Worlds First Marvel Hotel, but we’d like to see more effort put in rather than just a superficial design overhaul. It sounds as though it will be more of a façade showcasing props and costumes from Marvel movies, rather than a whole new exciting place to explore.
  3. New Lands
    The question on most people’s mind is – will Disneyland Paris be getting a Star Wars land? In both of the US parks construction is underway for a 2021 opening but will this come to Europe? Or will there be an extension on one of the current lands? New fantasyland at Walt Disney World is a great example of this. Over time here they have updated the area to include a new eateries (Be Our Guest and Gaston’s Tavern), rides (Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid and Enchanted Tales with Belle) and the Story Book Circus.

    Be Our Guest Restaurant

  1. More diverse characters in the park
    We’d like to see some of the newer Intellectual Properties (IPs) come to the park. Seeing Mickey and the gang is always good but we’d love to see them shake it up a bit – although since the 25th Anniversary celebrations commensed we have seen a whole range of characters including Moana, Max (Goofy’s son) and the gang from Emperor’s New Groove, we hope they keep this up!

We hope some of these changes are just around the corner, if Mickeys Not-So-Scary Halloween Party came to Paris we would booking our flights and tickets without hesitation (like when they announced the inaugural runDisney half marathon weekend!).

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