Flashback Friday – Hollywood Studios December 2007

 

These were taken back in 2007 when the Mouse ear water tower and Sorcerer Hat were still in position and the Osborne Lights were the holiday lights of the season.

Sadly the Osborne Lights finished last year and we were lucky enough to view them for one last time.  However, don’t be down because this year at Hollywood Studios they suspended Symphony of the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular and introduced a new entertainment – Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! just for the holiday season.

Running from November 14th to December 31st, Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! is a time to reminisce by watching unforgettable Disney moments combined with festive music, special effects, fireworks and even a little snow!

Food & Wine Festival – Epcot

This year the Food & Wine Festival runs through to Monday 14 November.  Over the years the festival has been expanded and now features additional ‘happenings’ including Beverage Seminars, What’s Cookin’ with, Mix it, Make it, Celebrate it, Cheese seminar and Culinary Demonstrations in the Festival Centre plus Festival Dining Events in the World Showcase.

I think the majority of visitors attend to stroll around the world sampling the festival exclusive foods and wine.  There are an additional 38 marketplace stands as well as the usual eateries.  This year features 5 new marketplace stands including the Chocolate Studio and the Islands of the Caribbean – where we got a rather nice frozen mojito!

We also enjoy the Eat to the Beat series of concerts and have been lucky enough to catch Chaka Khan and Boyz II Men.

The only downside if there is any is that you may find your waistline increases and your spending money decreases – as there are a lot of tasty temptations along the way.

One of our favourite annual Disney events – we definitely recommend it

Winter Park – Orlando

Taking Exit 87 off the I4 and head along Fairbanks Avenue to the Orlando suburb Winter Park.  It has some excellent independent shops as well as some chains, nice bars and some wonderful restaurants.  Add to that some museums and an entertaining boat ride and you have a good half/full day of fun away from the Theme Parks.

Heading along Park Avenue you will see plenty of shops, trendy wine bars and restaurants.  Some of our favourite stops include Alex and Ani – which is an American brand jewellery store which specialises in eco-friendly handcrafted expandable bangles, chain necklaces & rings, Peterbrooke Chocolatier and the Ancient Olive.  My partner also likes to visit Performance Bicycle which is actually over by the Winter Park Village shops.

Restaurant wise we have tried a few a couple of favourites being Luma on Park, Park Plaza Gardens and Prato (best pizza in Orlando?).

Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour will show you the wealthiest sections of Winter Park – running since 1938 it’s part nature tour and part local history lesson – always entertaining.  It can get very hot so make sure you bring a hat and some water.  It departs from Morse Street which is about 15 mins walk from Park Avenue.

On Saturday mornings the Winter Park Farmers’ Market is more of a social gathering than a serious farmers market with dirty vegetables!  Good fun though and worth a visit it does sell vegetables as well as potted plants, preserves, baked goods and fast food.

Throwback Thursday -Serengeti Safari, Busch Gardens

Back in 2008, my friend and I decided we would like to join the Serengeti Safari at Busch Gardens Tampa so we could feed the giraffes.

As reservations were ‘encouraged’ we pre-booked online and back then it cost $33.99 on top of your entry ticket.

It was February so the temperatures were warm rather than Florida hot which worked in our favour as there were lots of animals out on the Serengeti Plain.  We checked in at the Serengeti Outpost in Nairobi and joined our tour.  Even before we left the Outpost we could see one cheeky giraffe poking her head over to see if the food truck was on it’s way.

This giraffe was Dolly – she was a lovely girl, 28 years old then I believe and not at all camera shy.  It probably sounds ridiculous but I had no idea just how big giraffes were.  You travel in the back of an open top truck while a guide tells you about the animals in the safari and then stopping to feed the giraffes.  We were exceptionally lucky as due to the cooler February temperatures we also got to see close up and feed the Bongos – which are usually nocturnal and very shy.

During our safari we also got to see zebra, rhinos (with calves) and ostriches.

It was an amazing experience, I absolutely fell in love with Dolly the Giraffe. Highly recommended.  Children must be 5 or over.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Tickets for Disney’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party which is held annually at the Magic Kingdom are now on sale.

We love going to the Halloween party as it is a separately ticketed event – so you don’t have to have a ticket for Disney – just the event.  Officially the event opens at 7pm, however, you can gain entry from 4pm and as the tickets are usually cheaper that the day ticket with entrance numbers limited it is a great way to see the park, experience the main rides, enjoy special extras like trick or treating and a special Halloween parade.

Even as you enter the park you start to see all the beautiful little extra details – pumpkins, ghosts, autumn displays – all tastefully done and fun so as not to scare the younger children.

Having said all that this year I have noticed that there has been a large uplift in prices for some of the dates – depending on which day you decide to attend, you may pay significantly more than previously.

The Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2016 ticket prices range from to $72-$105 for adults and $67-$100 for children (ages 3-9) without tax. Children under 3 are free.  Disney have added an additional 4 dates this year with the party running on select dates from September 2nd to October 31st

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party 2016 dates are as follows:

September 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29, 30
October 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party Advance Ticket Dates By Price

$72 adults/$67 children: September 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 25

$79 adults/$74 children: September 29, 30

$85 adults/$80 children: September 23

$86 adults/$81 children: October 2, 6

$91 adults/$86 children: October 4, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 27

$95 adults/$90 children: October 7, 14, 21, 28, 30

$105 adults/$100 children: October 31

The cheaper the ticket, the quieter the day as a general rule with the 31st October understandably being the busy day of all.

So what can you expect and is it worth the money?  For us the answer is yes.  If you only have a few days in Orlando and want to just do one park, why not consider just doing this event – it would be cheaper and less busy?

Get there for 4pm, the entrances are divided at that time for general admission one side and Halloween party admission at the other.  You receive a wrist band on entrance and are given a bag for your trick or treating (the trick or treating does not begin though until 7pm when the event officially opens).

From 7pm all the main rides remain open, you cannot fast pass them, but as the numbers are controlled there is generally no need to.  There are 2 parades – Boo to You!  which start with a headless horseman – the parade is worth viewing and the quieter of the 2 is the 2nd one.  The Hallowishes Fireworks display is extremely good too.  When we have visited the event we have never experienced any long queues and have never queued for longer than 20 minutes for anything!

Trick or treating is available all night and the queues are a lot quieter towards the end of the evening.

The final and key thing to mention is about the wearing of costumes.  Late 2015, Disney instituted tighter security procedures for entering the parks (we have been asked to go through the metal detector on a couple of occasions now) and banned costumes for adults. The guidance for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party have now been published and are as follows:

  • Disney may deny admission to anyone or remove anyone who is wearing attire that is considered inappropriate or could detract from other guests’ experiences.
  • Guests may dress as their favorite characters, but cannot pose for pictures or sign autographs.
  • Costumes must be family-friendly and not obstructive, offensive, violent or objectionable.
  • Costumes must not contain weapons that resemble or could be mistaken for real weapons.
  • Costumes may not contain sharp or pointed objects, or materials that might strike another guest.
  • Guests who do not abide by the guidelines may be refused entry or removed unless their costumes can be modified to acceptable standards.

For guests ages 14 and up:

  • Layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body are strongly discouraged and subject to additional security screening.
  • Costumes may not reach or drag the ground.
  • Capes should not go below the waist.
  • Themed T-shirts, shirts, sweatshirts and hats are OK to wear
  • Transparent wings, plastic light sabers, toy swords and tutus are OK. Headwear must not cover the face.
  • Masks are not allowed.

For guests ages 13 and under:

  • Costumes and some masks may be worn

So there you have it – more information can be found and tickets may be purchased at MNSSHP