Walt Disney World Diaries: Epcot

Walt Disney World Diaries: Epcot

 

For the third addition to my Walt Disney World Diaries series, I’ve moved on to Epcot. As a child, this was my least favourite park as it has the least rides but it has moved up in the ranks. I now love exploring the different pavilions and taking advantage of Epcot’s photo opportunities.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Lion King topiary
Topiary of The Lion King, Epcot.

 

One of my favourite things about visiting Epcot at the time we did (May 2019) is because of the Flower and Garden Festival. I’m fortunate enough to have experienced this on two occasions and it’s so interesting to see all of the different topiaries in the shape of Disney characters. Not only does it mean more photo pass spots, but also more characters to discover around the pavilions.

Beginning at Mexico

Mexico, World Pavilion
Mexico at Epcot

I prefer to begin the World Showcase in Mexico, which has improved a lot since I last visited. Inside of this beauty is filled with Coco themed merchandise, sugar skulls and the Three Caballeros ride. This is one of the most beautiful pavilions in my opinion but not many people think to look inside and explore.

Let it go

Frozen ride at Epcot
Frozen ride, Epcot

Frozen was my first FastPass as it is one for the whole family and it’s a ride I hadn’t been on. My dad was obsessed with the Norway area. My sister and I had a photo opportunity in front of the Elsa and Anna topiaries before moving on.

Characters around the park

Photo with Goofy at Epcot
Goofy at Epcot

As you move forward through the world pavilion each country has its own charm and own characters for example in Germany you can meet Snow White and drink German beer. In China, you can meet Mulan and explore a Chinese garden. In between all these exciting places we found some of the main characters such as Mickey, Goofy and Pluto through one of the side lanes and although photo pass photographers weren’t there, it’s a good way to get a photo and avoid queues. 

Reminds me of a place I’d been before

Morocco, Epcot
Morocco, Epcot

One of the most photogenic and beautiful countries featured in the world showcase is definitely Morocco. After visiting the city of Marrakesh on my volunteer trip last year which you can read here, some of the pictures bare similarities. However, the Disney version was much cleaner and safer. You also get to meet Princess Jasmine here if you missed her in Magic Kingdom.

Not my England

England pavilion, Epcot
England, Epcot

Although the Morocco pavilion is quite similar, the England pavilion, in my opinion, is very far away from my England. This may be due to the North/South divide and myself residing the in North but Sunderland certainly is not this pretty and peaceful. 

Your personal healthcare assistant at Epcot

Baymax meet at Epcot
Baymax meet, Epcot

After exploring the World Showcase we headed back to the other pavilions. The other FastPass I had for the day were Soarin’ which was at the land pavilion and then we went to the sea pavilion and rode the Nemo ride. The sea pavilion is especially good for kids interested in marine life as it has real sea creatures and a Bruce the Shark play area. We then went to Nero’s workshop and I met Baymax and there’s also the option to meet other characters such as Vanellope, Wreck-It Ralph and Joy and Sadness from Inside Out. 

Finish the day with Fireworks

Fireworks at Epcot
Fireworks at Epcot

After meeting Baymax we walked over to see if we could get on any of the bigger rides which were Test Track and Mission: Space. Unfortunately, this time around we couldn’t but they are both rides I have done in the past. This park is very difficult to get FastPasses for as there are not many rides so I’d definitely prioritise which of the more popular rides you would prefer. In this instance, we had chosen Frozen and Soarin’ as we had not ridden either of these previously but when I visit again I will make sure Test Track is on my list as this is probably my favourite in the park. We then ended the day waiting for the fireworks and the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is the show currently at Epcot which is being replaced in October 2019 by Epcot Forever so keep your eyes peeled!

This concludes the third edition of my Walt Disney World diaries. If you would like to read about the other parks you can click here to view my post on Magic Kingdom or here if you’d like to read about Hollywood Studios. Be sure to look out for my final addition featuring Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Walt Disney World diaries: Magic Kingdom

The second park, Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom is hands down one of my favourite places in the world. It basically says what it is on the tin and if you ever get the opportunity to go, you should. On this trip the second park we visited was Magic Kingdom and if you would like to read the first part of the Walt Disney World diaries series you can click here

Beginning at Adventureland

An image of Adventureland, Magic Kingdom
An image of Adventureland, Magic Kingdom

There are two ways in which people usually venture around Magic Kingdom you either begin at Tomorrowland or Adventureland. Due to Adventureland normally being the least busy we began there. I immediately got early FastPasses for Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Carribean and The Haunted Mansion. In Adventureland, you will find a series of rides and the shops are mainly featuring characters such as Aladdin and Moana. There’s also an Aladdin and Jasmine meet near the Magic Carpet ride.

Tangled at Magic Kingdom

The Tangled bathrooms, Magic Kingdom
The Tangled bathrooms

Between Adventureland and Frontierland we rode Pirates Of The Carribean, you also have the option to meet Jack Sparrow. Next, we headed to Frontierland which is home of Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain before then heading to Liberty Square. Liberty Square is home to my sister’s favourite ride, The Haunted Mansion, which we usually ride several times if possible. Magic Kingdom was so busy our only option was to keep booking fast passes as the queues were enormous.

We stumbled on an area which was not there the last time we visited and was of particular interest to me as I am a huge fan of the Disney film Tangled. Right next to the Haunted Mansion I noticed horseshoe prints with the name Maximus, if you have seen the movie Tangled you will know this is the name of the horse. As we got closer to the top of the bank I saw a Tangled theme bathroom and the Tangled tower along with several hidden Pascal’s you can find around the area.

It’s a small world after all

It's a small world, Magic Kingdom
‘It’s a small world’ ride, Magic Kingdom

After the Tangled area, we had a fast pass booked for an old school classic – It’s A Small World. This ride is in the Fantasyland area which also features the Peter Pan ride, Winnie the Pooh, The Little Mermaid, Mad Tea Party, Carousel, Phiharmagic and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This area is also full of character meets with Disney Princess’ so a lot of photo pass opportunities are available. I also really like the Beauty and The Beast area in Fantasy Land. This features the Be Our Guest restaurant, where you can dine with the beast. There is also a meet with Gaston as well as the Tales with Belle attraction.

Tomorrowland

Stitch meet and greet, Magic Kingdom
Stitch meet and greet, Magic Kingdom

We ended the day visiting Tomorrowland. Although, we did visit the small circus area for some snacks which I will show you in another post. We immediately headed to the Stitch meet as he is my sister’s absolute favourite and she was eager to get a photo. This meet was my favourite as the cast member really interacted and we got a lot of good pictures. We then headed for the Buzz Lightyear ride which is one of my favourites. Similar to Midway Mania in Hollywood Studios, it is a competitive shooting game. You also get a photo pass on the ride.

Buzz Lightyear space ranger spin, Tomorrowland
Buzz Lightyear ride, Magic Kingdom

I will suggest trying to get a ticket including a memory maker. Our tickets were from FloridaTix and it was included in with the price. This means you get all ride photos, meet and greets and photo opportunities within the parks.

At last, I see the light

Tangled photo pass opportunity, Magic Kingdom.
Tangled lantern photo pass, Magic Kingdom

We finished the evening with my favourite photo pass opportunities across Disneyworld – the Tangled lanterns. There is also Happily Ever After which is a show projected on the castle with music and fireworks.

Top Tips for Magic Kingdom

Cinderella castle, Magic Kingdom
In front of the Cinderella Castle

If you are visiting Magic Kingdom, go early. There are lots of attractions, meet and greets, photo opportunities and it will take all day. In my experience, this is always the busiest park so it’s definitely worth utilising fast passes or spreading it over several visits. There are also some incredible snacks, some of which I will show you in a future post. Also, just take the time to look around at some of the incredible theming, find the hidden mickeys and the tiny details that make the park so special.

I hope you enjoyed this post and if you missed my previous post about Hollywood Studios you can click here. If you want to read the next addition and head to Epcot you can find that here.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

New York travel guide Day 3: The American Museum of National History and Central Park

Welcome to part three of my New York travel guide all about Central Park and The American Museum of National History! If you would like to revisit part one or part two of my New York travel guides please do so by clicking them! We decided to visit both of these locations in the same day because they were both very close to each other and both take a while to explore!

The American Museum of National History

Outside the American Museum of National History
Outside the American Museum of National History

This museum is gigantic so I’d thoroughly reccomend getting a map from the reception upon entry, it’s very easy to get lost. It covers animals from different countries, people from different countries, dinosaurs, historical figures along with biology and space. Most of the museum is included with a ticket but you may need to pay more for special exhibits. 

In front of the elephants in the African Mammals exhibit
In front of the elephants in the African Mammals exhibit

You could easily spend the whole day in this museum it’s so big but we decided just to pick out some of the exhibits we wanted to visit. The animal exhibits were definately a firm favourite as as well as the animals being so realistic, the settings and greenery were too which was a far cry from the New York city outside!

The huge whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.
The huge whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life

In the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life a huge 94 foot whale is suspended from the ceiling and 122 foot long skeleton of a Titanosaur stands in the dinosaur exhibit. There’s some really amazing things to look at and see and I can imagine this being the most amazing school trip for the kids that live in New York. I’m sure the class I work with would love to visit here!

The titanosaur
The titanosaur

You can also visit the famous Num Num from the movie Night At The Museum which was actually set in The American Museum of National History, in New York!

Num Num from Night at the Museum
Num Num from Night at the Museum

Another top tip for the museum is to pay what you want! Obviously there is a suggested donation amount but if you are only calling in for a particular exhibit or for a small amount of time it’s worth offering your own donation it also means you can avoid using your city pass and save it for another place. However, this does not apply to the special exhibits so you may need to pay more in order to visit those. If you would like to find out more about the museum, I have linked their website here.

The mammoths
The mammoths

Central Park

Bow Bridge at Central Park
Bow Bridge at Central Park

Central Park is a gigantic park in the middle of New York which has been regularly featured in different movies and TV shows. This particular part is Bow Bridge which was in one of my favourite teen movies, Uptown Girls.

Squirrel in Central Park
Squirrel in Central Park

The park featured a lot of squirrels which darted around and lots of different greenery. I also visited the John Lennon memorial and the statues of Alice and Wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson. It was a great way to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. There is also a zoo which I didn’t visit but apparently the other New York zoo’s are higher on reccomendations. 

Central Park
My sister and I in Central Park

Although I enjoyed Central Park it does take a WHILE to walk round, it’s so easy to get lost in here and the majority of it is just an actual park so I’m glad we were also able to fit something else into our day as a lot of people opt to spend the day here. 

Thank you so much for reading and check out my next post coming soon which is part 4!

Lots of love,

Cara x

New York travel guide Day 2: Brooklyn Bridge, DUMBO and 9/11 Memorial Museum

Welcome to part two of my New York travel guide, if you haven’t read part one yet then click here and you can read about getting there, my hotel and the sights I saw on day one of my trip.

Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO

The view of New York from Brooklyn
The view of New York from Brooklyn

To start our second day in New York, we got the subway over to Brooklyn heights and explored DUMBO which is the underpass. It was such a hot day and the view of all the skyscrapers was amazing from the other side of the water.

A photo of at the DUMBO underpass with a view of Manhattan Bridge
Photo spot at DUMBO with a view of Manhattan bridge

We walked around for a little while and found the place where a lot of people decide to take Instagram shots in the middle of the road with the Manhattan bridge behind them. I of course, had to join in and get mine took although the sun was very bright and in my eyes so it was hard to get a reasonable shot. I was also very boiling in that coat.

Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn bridge was very very busy when we walked over it. Although I can imagine you are able to get some great shots on the bridge it’s very difficult due to the number of people crossing and also the number of people stopping dead in front of you in the middle of the bridge to get a photo themselves. Be nice and find a spot to the side.

The view walking across Brooklyn Bridge
The view walking across Brooklyn Bridge

Staten Island Ferry and The Statue of Liberty

The view of Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry
The view of Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry

We then took another subway to get to the Staten Island ferry.  We weren’t too bothered about actually visiting Ellis Island, we just wanted to see the statue so we opted for the free ferry. It doesn’t take long and gives you a pretty good view of the statue but you need to be quick to get off the boat at Staten Island and then back on another boat to return.

The Statue Of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty

9/11 Memorial Museaum + Ground Zero New York

Inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum
Inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum

This museum and general area of New York is really really upsetting and I can see why some people choose not to visit but it was probably one of the highlights of the trip as I found it absolutely fascinating. 

The 9/11 Memorial Pools
The 9/11 Memorial Pools

We first went to the memorial pools which were placed where the twin towers were and had the names of several people who had lost their lives during 9/11.

Fire engine at the 9/11 Memorial Museum
Fire engine at the 9/11 Memorial Museum

My dad and I then went into the museum which was so interesting and moving, it included lots of information about 9/11 and all of the people involved such as the fire service, police force, ambulance services, animals and all of those who worked in the building

Fire truck 9/11 Memorial Museum
Another fire truck 9/11 Memorial Museum

With my dad actually being  a firefighter we were so captured by the damaged fire trucks and stories of the firefighters that assisted during the fire and it was sad to think that everyone involved woke up to a normal day without any idea what was ahead.

Sirius the police dog, 9/11 memorial museum
Sirius the police dog, 9/11 Memorial Museum

I was also really touched by the story of the police dog, Sirius who was killed during 9/11 and they had a photo dedicated to him. The saddest part was definately the room filled with all the photo’s, items and stories of those who lost their lives which was an exhibition where photo’s were not permitted.

9/11 Memorial Museum
9/11 Memorial Museum

The above photo of the blue tiles also had a touching story behind it as each shade represents one persons memory of the colour of the sky that day. You can find more details on the 9/11 memorial museum here.

My top tips

Subway: A kind homeless man called Austin made us aware of not buying passes for everyone and this saved us a lot of money.  The passes are 40$ per person but buying one card that you can top up saves a lot of money. Up to 4 people can use a card and each journey is 2.75$ so you’re only really paying for what you need.

Free entry to 9/11 Memorial Museum: Visit the museum on a Tuesday just before 5pm and you are allowed to enter for free. They do suggest making a donation and every donation above 5$ you get a free wristband which is a nice thing to remember the place by.

I hope you all enjoyed the second edition of my New York travel guide. Please check out part three here which includes the Museum of Natural History, Central Park.

Thanks for reading,

Cara x

New York travel guide Day 1: Top of the Rock, Grand Central Station and Empire State Building

Recently I took a trip to the big apple with my family as an early gift for my mam’s 50th birthday. The trip lasted 5 days and was completely exhausting so this has took me a while to put together. When researching New York I found most of my help and recommendations came from online websites such as Pintrest, Instagram and other blogs so here is the first part of my five part travel guide to New York city!

Travelling to New York

Outside the Wyndham A New Yorker hotel

My family and I travelled to New York using Norweigan airlines on a direct flight from Edinburgh Airport to Stewart Airport. We travelled from Sunderland to Edinburgh by car and then from Stewart Airport to Manhattan we got the bus which was 20$ each. I will explain more about my flight experiences in a later post but my journey there was tolerable althought the aeroplane had no Wifi or entertainment which was very dissappointing as we were expecting it.

We stayed in the Wyndham A New Yorker hotel on 8th avenue which I was pleasantly surprised with. Although a 3* they were very accomodating, the kind lady at the front desk, Julia, upgraded us to a larger room the second night which had a fantastic view of the Empire State building. I also found the other front desk and security staff very friendly as well as the mail room staff who helped me with my Halloween costume order!

First day in New York

New York Public Library

View of the New York public library
Outside the New York public library

Firstly, we started the day mainly sightseeing and getting our bearings in mid-town which was the area we were staying in. One of our first photo stops was the New York public library which was featured in the popular film, Ghostbusters.

Top of the rock

Ice rink in Rockefeller plaza
Ice rink in Rockefeller plaza

We then headed over to Rockefeller plaza, home of the Rockerfellar centre along with NCB News and various shops and restaurants. We decided our first excursion would be the Top of the Rock, a fantasic view of the New York city skyline. 

View from Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller centre
Views from Top of the Rock

I took a lot of photo’s on Top of the Rock as the view was phenomenal. One side you could see how huge central park is and the other was mainly the large buildings including the Empire State building which you can see above. It’s best to get here early so expect to que both for the tickets and to get into the actual attraction as it’s super busy, I’d also recommend making sure you go on a clear day or you wont see a thing. My family used a New York explorer pass which you can find here on Expedia for 3,4,5 and 7 New York attractions.

Pumpkins in Rockefeller Plaza
Pumpkin decor in Rockefeller Plaza

After that we had a wander around Rockefeller Plaza and visited some cute shops, I really loved the Kawaii shop! My sisters firm favourite however, was definately the Nintendo shop as she went to New York with two soft toys and came back with eight!

Donkey Kong in the Nintendo Store
Statue of Donkey Kong in the Nintendo Store

My favourite meal in New York

Pizza burger from Black Tap New York city
Amazing pizza burger!

After stumbling upon them on their Instagram which is linked here, I could not come to New York and not try Black Tap on my first day. The food completely lived up to the hype and the que outside. I ordered the pizza burger which is above which arrived with the most amazing pizza sauce EVER. The two servers we had which were Daniel and Samantha were also very attentive and since it was so busy they regularly updated us with how long we were expecting to wait.

Cookies 'N' Cream milkshake from Black Tap NYC
This cookies’n’cream milkshake was the best!

I then finished off with this absolutely amazing cookies ‘n’ cream milkshake which had oreo pieces and a huge cookie sandwich on top. The milkshakes here were absolutely amazing and I was so torn whether to opt for this one of the standard cookie milkshake but I would have enjoyed both. My dad also opted for one of these but his was the fruity pebbles version and he also finished that. Although the bill was quite pricey here at 15$ for the milkshake alone it was well worth it and I’d highly recommend you visit if in New York. It also is enough to fill you for the full day as I couldn’t eat anything else!

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station

Our second photo stop was Grand Central Stations. Although not much to do here it’s worth a see and a photo due to it being so famous. There’s a few little shops inside too but they are rather pricey, typical for a train station.

Grand Central Station
Grand Central Station

Empire State building

At the Empire State Building view of New York at night
The view from the Empire State was amazing

We decided to visit the Empire State building by night which was amazing as it was a magical experience seeing the city all light up at night. We decided to go at night as I saw many blogs and Instagram posts recommending it and it was a great recommendation as there was barely any ques! We once again used our New York explorer pass for this and it was our second attraction.

New York at night from the Empire State building
New York at night from the Empire State building

First look around Times Square

Times Square at night
Times Square at night

We ended the evening by having a look around Times Square which was full of people shopping, dining and visiting the theatre. We sadly did not go and see a show because the tickets were very expensive and we couldn’t agree on which one we wanted.  Harry Potter and The Cursed Child would be my choice which was the most expensive (still looks amazing, I will see it one day).

M&M world
M&M world Statue Of Liberty

We did however, visit the M&M’s world which was similar to the one’s I’ve been to in London and Florida and we got bags of the one’s we couldn’t get in a standard pack as it wasn’t worth getting the standard M&M’s as it was around 7$ per half a pound! We also saw a gigantic teddy bear and some other cool shops around Times Square.

I hope you enjoyed the first of my four part travel guide and are looking forward to the next post. Next week I will tell you all about the 9/11 memorial museum and Brooklyn Bridge so keep watching! What’s your favourite place in New York?

You can find part two of the guide here.

I have also added part three here.

Thanks for reading,

Lots of love

Cara x