Honeymoon Day 4 – Disney’s Epcot & Hollywood Studio’s!

A mega early start but no sore heads from the night before, must have been the excitement of heading to Disney!

We got the shuttle bus from our hotel to Epcot at 8am, meaning we got there for opening, but as you can see, the queues were already pretty big!

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Epcot is split into two sections. Future World which opens with the park and World Showcase which opens at 11am. So we began the day at Future World.

First priorities were buying the biggest Minnie Mouse ears I could find and then joining the queue for Test Track. It’s quite fun designing your car whilst in the queue and within 10 minutes we were on the ride. Perks of getting to the parks early!

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When in Disney!

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We spent the rest of the morning trying to go on as many rides as possible before the queues got crazy busy. Only stopping once for a quick sit down & snack as we hadn’t eaten breakfast.

We enjoyed The Seas with Nemo & Friends as we love the film but it is best suited to the little ones. We had a leisurely look around the aquarium afterwards but didn’t bother waiting for Turtle Talk with Crush, which seems very popular¬†with the kids.

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Space Ship Earth (located in the giant Epcot Ball) is another slow-moving ride through the history of Earth. Starting with cave men through to modern-day. A little dated but iconic, looking up at the stars at the end is my favourite bit.

Journey into Imagination with Figment, in my opinion was terrible. It is just so dated and boring. No wonder there was no queue, not even the children wanted to ride it. Hopefully they turn this into something new soon!

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Another Higgins! ūüėȬ†

I really enjoyed Living with the Land – A boat ride through all the laboratories and green houses in Epcot, finding out how Disney produce their own food. Matt however found it boring. To be honest I never realised how educational Epcot was and Matt was starting to get a bit fed up with it all. Luckily best was yet to come. As finally it was time for Soarin’ and this ride was truly amazing. You sit in what feels like a real hang glider and are raised 40 feet in the air, where you then ‘fly’ over the World’s most iconic attractions and locations. I would have loved to have gone on again, as I felt like I didn’t take it all in on the first go. But the¬†queue was an hour-long and there was much more of Epcot to explore!

As we had done everything we wanted to do in Future World and it was nearing lunch time, we decided to head over to World Showcase. Grabbing some buffalo blue cheese popcorn for the walk, deliciously weird!

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The Epcot Food and Wine Festival was taking place while we were there, which made the park even busier than usual. Especially the World Showcase area, as this is where all the food and wine stalls are located.

I was excited to be visiting during this time as it’s quite an iconic festival and I had heard so many great things about it, but to be honest I couldn’t deal with how busy it was and adding the heat to the amount of people, I started to get a bit grouchy!

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It doesn’t look busy here (or hot!) but if I had taken a photo of either side of me, you would have seen we barely had space to walk!

We gradually made our way around half of the showcase countries (Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy & The American Adventure) popping into a few shops along the way and then finally taking a break in Japan where we had lunch reservations at Teppan Edo. It was also nice and quiet again in Japan!

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Teppan Edo was great, sitting around a Teppanyaki table the traditional waitresses took our orders and then we waited for our personal chef to arrive, to cook our dishes right in front of us.

To start we decided to share the assorted tempura and edamame and then for mains I went for Ueno which is chicken and shrimp stir fry and Matt went for the Asakusa which is steak and shrimp stir fry. All washed down with orange mojitos! Yum!

It was mesmerizing just watching the chef at work, his knife skills were incredible and the food was delicious! For dessert they kindly presented us with a slice of mango mousse cake, with a candle in and sang us a traditional Japanese song to wish us luck and happiness for our honeymoon/married life. A lovely gesture!

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I could have easily stayed here all afternoon, yummy cocktails, tasty food, great atmosphere, wonderful staff  but we had so much more to see!

Originally the plan was to spend the afternoon leisurely walking around the rest of World showcase, seeing what the festival had to offer Рdrinking cocktails, trying new foods, mooching around the shops and trying to get onto the new Frozen ride in Norway (the queue was always 2+ hours long!)

But after such a nice lunch (and rest!) neither of us really fancied battling the crowds again and we were so stuffed from lunch that we couldn’t even think about eating anymore food! So instead we decided to take the free Disney boat from the International Gateway in Epcot over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It was nice to have a bit of a breeze and nose at Disney’s Boardwalk and other fancy hotels along the way.

When we arrived it was a lot quieter than Epcot had been which was a nice surprise. It also felt a lot smaller than all the other parks, but in a good way!

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On the boat over I had managed to get us a couple of fast passes for a few of the attractions, so to begin we made our way over to Toy Story Mania! This ride was so much fun, you travel around Andy’s Room playing carnival games all in 3D. Probably one of our favourites of the whole trip and we did get a bit competitive (Matt won this one!) Just like Soarin’ we would have loved to have gone on this one again, but the normal queue was out the door and I’m shocked I even managed to get a fast pass the first time around!

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We then watched the India Jones Stunt show, it was quite fun and interesting to see all the stunts and there was a lot of audience participation, however it started raining heavily half way through so they had to finish the show a little earlier than expected, but understandable as safety should come first.

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After the show, we¬†found ourselves outside of Star Tours – The Adventure Continues. Matt and I aren’t Star Wars fans (if you are, you need to visit Hollywood Studios as it’s Star Wars crazy!) but as it¬†only had¬†a very tiny wait time, we thought we may as well give it a go. Even though it’s only a motion simulator ride it was pretty full on and a lot of fun, shocked to say I really enjoyed it. Just a shame it’s Star Wars themed ūüėČ

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Now Matt and I love The Muppets…like really love The Muppets. So we couldn’t wait to see Muppet Vision 3D, however we needn’t have bothered with fast passes as there was no queue at all!

I’m sad to say though that I was pretty disappointed by the whole thing. The waiting room video is way too long and then the actual film itself has an annoying non Muppet character the whole way through, which doesn’t really make any sense. I loved the actual Muppets theatre though, but I feel like they need to redo the whole thing. Online I’ve seen lots of people saying similar things and not enjoying this attraction either and I’m worried that Disney will get rid of it altogether as it doesn’t seem very popular. I really hope that isn’t the case, I think it just needs some love and attention and a bit of a rethink!

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We had a look in a couple of shops including the Disney Christmas shop, where we brought some lovely ornaments for our tree!

Then finally we joined the queue for The Great Movie Ride, in the rain! I think this was probably the longest queue we joined all week, but I really wanted to experience the ride.

I enjoyed the cinema area, which is the last section you queue in before the ride begins and they show a film of great moments in movie history and all the different genres, through the years, we spent a long time watching this film as we queued for so long, but meant we learnt quite a bit!

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However we were both a little confused as to why all the film clips and things we had just watched and been told about were exactly the same things on the ride. Seemed a bit weird/silly to listen to and watch the same thing twice! I’m glad¬†we did the ride though as it is well done, I just don’t think it would be one I would rush back to and certainly not one to queue over an hour for!

By the time we finished the ride we couldn’t believe it was dark and gone 7pm! So we made a quick dash to the boat to get back over to Epcot and were treated to Hollywood Studio’s Star Wars themed fireworks while sailing back which was a nice little bonus!

Back in Epcot and feeling a bit peckish, we found a quick service pizza window in Italy. So fuelled on a deliciously gooey pizza slice as big as my head, we walked back around World Showcase to Mexico, as we had pre-booked tickets for The Epcot Dessert Fireworks party.

(You’re allowed to eat all the yummy but naughty foods in Disney as you end up walking so much every day!)

We were pretty exhausted by now so we couldn’t wait to sit, enjoy some yummy desserts, toast our honeymoon and watch the fireworks which started at 10pm.

We had a prime viewing spot for the fireworks, overlooking the lake, with a beautiful table set up for us. But the only thing I have to moan about is the fact that they offer no seating options. We both just found this really odd, especially as they know how many people will be there as you have to pre book tickets and there wasn’t hundreds of us. Chairs or bar stools would really be welcomed and we could hear we weren’t the only ones mentioning it. After a long day at the parks everyone just wants to sit down and chill, so it was a bit annoying having to stand or sit on the floor (which I did end up doing!)

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Excuse the curly hair, I had been rained on a lot!

We couldn’t fault the party though. We made our way through the mini desserts selection which were all delicious, but my favourite was the Baklava, so yummy! And we made the most of the free drinks, not just sparkling wine, but spirits and cocktails too. The fireworks were amazing, focusing on the World Showcase they weren’t Disney themed but still just as magical and the rain managed to hold off right until the very end.

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A tiring but amazing, Disney filled day!

Love, Chloe xx

Honeymoon Day 2 – Universal Studios!

Even though I had an amazing sleep my body still decided to wake me up at 6am! So I decided to go for a little explore. I wanted to check out the breakfast options, always my main priority when staying at a hotel and I also wanted to book us onto the free shuttle bus which dropped hotel guests off at some of the parks. Although we had the car, some days we decided it would be easier to use the free transportation on offer, especially if we wanted to stay at the parks all day and would be tired or wanted to have a couple of drinks.

The staff were more than happy to help me, even at that time of day! I found a couple of options for breakfast and was told we were welcome to visit the neighbouring Marriott Hotel to use their facilities and restaurants too, which was good to know.

We decided to try out¬†Highball & Harvest¬†for breakfast,¬†which was a restaurant and bar area in our hotel. It offered an √† la carte¬†menu as well as the all you could eat¬†breakfast buffet. It was pretty pricey but I guess that’s to be expected in the type of hotel we were staying at, but the food was super fresh and delicious so made up for it. Matt even finished off his breakfast with an American frosted doughnut! When in Rome….

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Even at 9am the mixture of heat and humidity was fierce! Waiting outside for the shuttle bus to collect us, I was already melting and the day hadn’t even begun.

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Such a tourist with my backpack!

We arrived at Universal Studios ready and raring to go, map in hand, our plan was to visit both parks (Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure) in one day. Some people might think we were crazy but we just didn’t have enough time to do it any other way. Due to this we upgraded our tickets to the Express tickets, which meant we could skip the queue once at each ride or show. This was actually really useful and worth the money as it meant we could do all the rides we wanted to without getting stressed or rushing around. The only attractions these tickets didn’t work for though were the Harry Potter rides.

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Phew I’m tall enough!

Now, I could easily talk about all the attractions in great detail and go through step by step every single thing we did, which is what I originally started doing when first writing this post, but it was going on forever and I just thought you would get a bit bored! So I’m going to try to condense it all as best I can and just show you a lot of photos instead!

We started the day at Universal Studios which consists of 7 themed areas. Production Central, New York, San Francisco, Hollywood, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker’s Kidzone and finally The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley. We made our way around all these areas apart from the kidzone and went on the rides, looked in the shops and just enjoyed the atmosphere and excitement of being there.¬†I must admit though I hate big rollercoasters which is annoying for Matt who loves all rides, so he did have to go on a few alone ūüė¶ Sorry Matt!

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One of Matt’s favourite films – Back To The Future

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This ride was so good!

One of my favourite rides in this Park was probably Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, it’s really well done and quite funny, plus Matt and I are such big kids who love anything Minions! I also loved the Simpsons ride and the whole Simpsons area. It was pretty cool to be able to go into Moe’s for a drink, Krusty Burger for food or to the Kwik-E-Mart for gifts!

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A couple of the areas didn’t have much going on, as they were either working on new rides or had just demolished old ones. I get that they constantly need to be working on new ideas and attractions¬†but I’m not sure how I feel about the new, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon¬†ride which opens in 2017. I appreciate he’s a big deal in America but just sounds weird to me and I don’t see how it relates to Universal, also I think it’s going to be yet another 3D or 4D Ride! Personally I really miss the old school rides like Twister, Earthquake and Jaws. I really wish they would bring some of those kind of attractions back!

Now this may offend some people haha, but I am not a Harry Potter fan. I have never read the books and have only seen tiny snippets of the films if my sister, dad or Matt have had them on, I just don’t get the hype. So before we visited¬†The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I must admit I wasn’t really bothered or excited about it. In all honestly I was actually annoyed when they started building the areas as I just couldn’t understand why they had to take over the Universal Parks. Why couldn’t they just build a whole new Harry Potter theme park of its own?

Vent over I promise.

As when I actually stepped foot inside HP World it really did look pretty impressive, even though I had no idea of what shops, streets, people I was looking at, I could still enjoy it and embrace the wizarding experience. Plus the rides are really good too!

 

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Trying Butter Beer – Matt was very disappointed when he realised it wasn’t real beer!

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As we had been on everything we wanted to go on and seen everything we wanted to see, we decided to take the Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross Station over to Hogsmeade Station, located in Islands of Adventure.

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Universal’s Islands of Adventure is also split into 7 sections. Port of Entry, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, Seuss Landing and finally The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.

We were flagging a bit by the time we made it over to this park, so we decided that our first stop would be lunch at Mythos Restaurant. We needed time out of the heat and we just needed a sit down after all the walking! We opted for a light lunch which arrived quickly and was tasty.

Fuelled and raring to go again, we went out to explore what this park had to offer. Starting with HP Hogsmeade. Again this area was visually stunning and the main ride was full on. Not at all what I was expecting!

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Sorry Matt for making you ride alone!

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The newest attraction at I.O.A which is pretty impressive

Our favourite rides more often than not are the water rides. So by the time it got to late afternoon and we were absolutely sweltering from the heat, we decided it was time to cool off and Toon Lagoon seemed the place to go. Starting with¬†Dudley Do-Right‚Äôs Ripsaw Falls which I was quite scared to go on, the reason I don’t like roller coasters is due to the drops, so when I saw the height of this log flume I panicked but Matt basically forced me to go on and I’m glad he did as I loved it, even though my face tells a different story…

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This photo will forever make me laugh!

Then we found¬† Popeye & Bluto‚Äôs Bilge-Rat Barges which is a rapids ride. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much on a ride before. We got absolutely drenched through, but this was by far my favourite ride of the whole day. We even went¬†on for a second time which we filmed on the GoPro.

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Drenched from the water rides!

We made The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man our last ride of the day as it was about 6pm and we were uncomfortable in our wet clothes. We ended up getting changed in the toilets ha, but I was just happy I was dry! I’m so glad we brought a change of clothes and shoes which we kept in our backpacks inside lockers when we were on the rides, as this meant we could then carry on the evening without having to head back to the hotel.

We then spent the evening at Universal CityWalk which is located just outside the entrances of both parks. We mooched around the shops, brought some amazing macaroons at The chocolate Emporium and then finally treated ourselves to cocktails and burgers at Hard Rock Cafe.

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The Texan: Hickory-smoked pulled pork, chipotle barbecue sauce, cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese, crispy fried jalapenos & onions all on a toasted brioche bun. Yummmm!

An amazingly fun but long day!

Love, Chloe xx

 

Honeymoon Day One – Travelling!

Ever since we booked it, I felt like an excited child counting down the sleeps until both our wedding and honeymoon.

For our honeymoon we had planned a week in Orlando, Florida, followed by¬†a week in The Bahamas and we couldn’t wait. Neither of us had visited The Bahamas before, but¬†I had visited Orlando once, 15 years ago! I kept wondering how much had changed or how much of it I would remember. I also wondered how it would feel, visiting as an adult with my husband rather than as a child with my family.

I was so excited for our honeymoon that I had planned our itinerary months in advance. Matt thought I was a crazy lady but¬†for those who don’t know, Disney planning is full on! You need to plan out what days you are visiting each park and even what rides you want to go on and where you want to eat! Of course you don’t have to be this organised, but then you will end up queueing for hours for attractions and you won’t get to eat in any of the table service restaurants. Luckily Matt let me plan a crazy busy week, fitting in as much as humanly possible knowing that we had a relaxing beach week to look forward to afterwards.

For Disney¬†Parks, you can book reservations for shows and restaurants from 180 days in advance of your trip and believe me you need to, especially for the popular places such as Be our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table and The Crystal Palace restaurants. Included with your park tickets you also have the use of FastPass+ which means you can pre book times for your favourite attractions from 30 days in advance.

I found that the best way to book all these things was to download the My Disney Experience App to my phone. You link your tickets to the app and then you can easily make selections and bookings. Then when you are actually at the parks you can keep track of ride wait times and it will tell you when your FastPass+ reservations are along with so much other stuff. Very handy and all the parks have free WiFi so no need to worry about data charges.

Universal Studios also has an app which we downloaded, however they don’t do their FastPass+ the same way and most of their restaurants you can easily book, there’s no mad rush like at Disney!

The countdown seemed slow to start with but then before we knew it the weeks were flying past, the wedding was sadly over and finally the day had come to begin our honeymoon!

We live very close to Gatwick Airport, which is a bit of a bonus and means we rarely experience that crazy holiday madness of actually getting to the airport. I still woke up like an excited 5 year old and annoyed Matt by constantly talking about our honeymoon plans and what I couldn’t wait for us to see/do/experience together, he probably couldn’t wait to get on the plane and put his headphones on!

 We purchased a Go Pro as we wanted to film on as many rides as possible and then we chilled with a late breakfast and bubbles, finally toasting the start of the next two weeks adventures! Unfortunately about half an hour before we were due to board, it was announced that our flight had been delayed by roughly 3 hours, bit annoying, however it did give us time to figure out how the Go Pro worked!
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Finally on board we had a nice flight. We had a tasty lunch, I opted for the chicken salad and we both watched a couple of films. Bad Neighbours 2 for the both of us which was OK but not as good as the first, but then when are they ever as good as the first? Then I watched Sisters, which I hoped would be really funny as it had the dream team of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler however it wasn’t the best and Matt watched Money Monster with George Clooney, which he said was pretty good.

 

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On the Plane

It must have been about 5 hours into the flight when the turbulence started and I hate turbulence! I start panicking, I go clammy, I fear we are going to fall out of the sky, all the while Matt stays in the same position as he has been all along like nothing is happening. It makes me laugh as I really wish I could be the same but I can’t help but cling onto his arm as soon as the plane starts shaking. I always hope it’s just going to last a few minutes and then pass, but this time it probably lasted on/off for around an hour and at times it was so bumpy our drinks were spilling and even the cabin crew were told to sit down.

We landed in Orlando around 8pm and were treated to¬†some huge lightning strikes on landing which, if we weren’t landing I would have freaked out about, however it looked really pretty as it fully lit up the sky and I was just happy we were almost off the plane!

We decided to hire a car for the week as we weren’t staying at a Disney or Universal resort hotel, so thought it would be the easiest way to get around and give us the freedom to explore as much of Orlando as possible. We decided to go for a Convertible Mustang, wanting to make the most of the Florida sunshine, but after collecting our luggage and making our way over to collect the car we started to worry that our luggage wouldn’t actually fit in it! After a bit of a shuffle and the bonus of me being short we managed to squeeze it all in and we could finally make our way to the hotel.
The next task was actually finding our hotel without a sat nav, as well as it being dark, driving on the wrong side of the road and both feeling pretty tired! Kindly the car hire staff printed us out the driving instructions and Matt got us to The Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes.
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It was a beautiful hotel but I felt completely out of place looking dishevelled and tired in my comfy travelling clothes. But the staff were super friendly and got very excited when they realised it was our honeymoon. We made our way up to the 12th floor and both crashed onto our huge king sized bed¬†exhausted but excited for the next day’s adventure.

Love, Chloe xx