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!
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
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.
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.