Wednesday, 14 November 2012

'Tis the Season

For all my years visiting WDW I have never seen the Christmas decorations there in person. I've seen them at Disneyland Paris and Disneyland but never at the set of Disney Parks that I visit the most. I blame geography entirely. I feel incredibly fortunate that 2012 has allowed me to see the Halloween decorations already and in a few days time I'll be experiencing the Christmas festivities as well.

Of course the decorations aren't the only things that have been appearing at WDW recently. New Fantasyland has been in previews and it is one of the trio of December 6th attractions (Test Track and Jack Sparrow) opening/reopening. Bit of an odd decision to have things in different parks opening all on the same day but maybe its for crowd control.

So much has been announced recently by both Disney and Universal that I'm beginning to lose track but for me one of the most exciting has been the acquisition of LucasFilm, not least because it makes my Disney/Star Wars phone case look even more awesome. Those who aren't too keen on this merger have clearly never been to Star Wars Weekends at Hollywood Studios. From what I've seen Disney has historically shown a huge amount of respect for the Star Wars Universe. For me, the fact that there is now the potential for A Star Wars theme park to exist is incredible and it would be way more exciting than any other film franchise that has been linked to Disney theme parks, (yes Avatar I am thinking of you). So far the only thing announced has been Episode VII but I can't wait to see how the imagineers run with this.

As during my last trip I shall post trip photos to my flickr page so keep an eye out for those. I don't know exactly what they'll be of yet but expect Mickey's Christmas Party, Candlelight Processional, New Fantasyland and Harry Potter at the very least.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Episode 42: This is Halloween

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Saturday, 18 August 2012

Technical Difficulties

Apologies to anyone expecting to see the post I wrote yesterday. For technical reasons it failed to post. I intend to rewrite and repost it shortly.

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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Trip Report

Hello everyone!

Once again I'm writing to you from onboard an aircraft. Whenever I read Disney Park forums Trip Report posts appear where people either delve into the inane details of their family vacation or provide an in depth criticism of the current state of the parks. I hope this trip report doesn't sound like that.

The last time I posted I was genuinely excited to be getting back to Orlando, visiting the parks and seeing friends. And so I did.

I went to Star Wars Weekends, which by the way is consistently one of the best events I've been to in a Disney park. I can guarantee that you will never see so many grown men get excited about a parade anywhere else.

I managed to get lost while driving. I've got to say I was petrified of driving in Orlando. If I had filmed myself on my first morning driving solo you would have seen me give myself the most epic pep talk of all time. Other than getting lost on the way to TGI Fridays and ending up at the Magic Kingdom I think overall I ended up doing rather well and thoroughly enjoyed being able to just drive everywhere instead of being reliant on Disney buses. It led to a far more relaxing and time efficient experience.

Side note: I LOVED having an annual pass to both Disney and Universal. It meant that I didn't have to find money for parking each day. On this trip alone I would have spent in the region of $150-200 just on parking. It also meant that I could go to the parks for a few hours everyday and not worry about using up a day on my ticket, useful when the majority of the people you're at the parks with are getting in for free.

Over the last 25 years, I've thought of Orlando as being a second home. This trip that changed. This trip I realised that emotionally Orlando has become my first home. Now I realise that probably sounds a bit pathetic to have formed a strong emotional attachment to what is essentially a giant tourist attraction but there you go. I actually wonder how I managed to go 9 months without visiting Orlando and I was counting down the days until my trip like a small child. 2 weeks ago I had already planned a trip to Orlando for November, which was part of the reason that I went for annual passes instead of the specially priced UK residents ticket or relying on friends to get me in for free. That would be an Orlando-free 5 months, significantly less than the gap between my ICP and this trip. If I didn't come back again until the following summer that would be 7 months between visits. So about halfway during my trip, when I was having a depressed moment at the thought of leaving I started researching flight costs for January, after all I already had park tickets and knew a place I could stay for free. The moment you realise that such a trip becomes feasible the excitement level starts building again. Unlike the kids in the Disney commercials on tv I wasn't excited about seeing Mickey, or the castle, just hanging out with my friends. It's like a dose of magic that helps keep me sane for the rest of the year.

That's enough of the old for the moment, let's talk about the new.

The first two parks I visited were Hollywood Studios (DHS) and Animal Kingdom (DAK), and there really wasn't anything new there (or so I thought) other than the yeti looking more off colour than usual. Personally I think it's because she missed me.

Universal. Well, on the positive side the mini golf courses look awesome and the Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem was a lot of fun (BANANAS!). The new HD graphics in Spider-Man were a great improvement, especially with the various Marvel-related cameo appearances. And then there was Harry Potter...
Those that have seen my vlog episode from 2 years ago will know what my original reaction to that area was and I really do want to like it ... but ... well ... I avoided the stores completely, mostly because the traditional sweet stores in Cornwall have more ambiance (and probably need my money more) and also because when you go with people that live in Orlando everyone avoids the shops. So we just did the bit that I did like the first time around: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Well, I think Harry Potter and the Broken Journey would have been more appropriate because that's what happened. The one good thing was that it didn't break down in the Aragog section, which as an arachnophobe I was quite grateful for. So...yeah...Harry Potter still leaves me a little cold.

Moving swiftly on... The Magic Kingdom. Well let's see there's Sorceror's of the Magic Kingdom which was pretty fun (I did the Fantasyland section fighting Maleficent), then there's Storybook Circus which felt much more permanent in style than its Toontown Fair predecessor. I loved the poster work and train station in particular. Peering over the barrier into the Fantasyland expansion I could see the Beast's and Prince Eric's castle which are looking really good. The whole area feels really open. I'm not sure how open it will feel once the mine train ride is in there too but we shall see.

Epcot had two new things: lots of cast members I didn't recognise and the Agent P attraction in World Showcase that has replaced Kim Possible. They were testing it when I was there so I didn't get to experience the attraction myself and, if I'm honest I don't think that Agent P's colleagues have as much style as Kim Possible's. Still, I'm looking forward to experiencing it once it's open.

What else can I say about my trip? Well, it turns out I know A LOT of people in WDW. Way more than even I realised. The moment you go and see a movie with friends and see at least 8-10 additional, completely unrelated people that you know it begins to sink in.

Writing this, I am now less than 2 hours away from Heathrow and 78 days from returning to Orlando. "78 days?" I hear you cry, "That's not 5 months!". Well...I decided to plan a completely financially unrealistic trip to Orlando instead of going to Cornwall in September. Two reasons: 1) I am insane and 2) I was heavily exposed to a reggae version of the Halloween music that they use in MK (long story). So while everyone else was packing to leave I was making a spreadsheet trying to work out what such a trip would cost, after all I do already have my annual passes - right? It was looking like a Blue Sky dream as I flew from Orlando to Washington feeling teary-eyed. I was staying in DC overnight and I guess I wished upon a star once upon a dream because this morning....

I was sat at the airport gate with the Sub I'd bought for my flight (icky plane food) and I got called to the desk. They'd overbooked the flight and needed to bump me onto a later flight. On the one hand I was gutted that i could have stayed in Orlando an extra day and hung out with the super awesome people I know there, on the other there was the compensation.

I've been bumped off flights before for 24 hours and ended up with nothing but a $3 meal voucher and a 30 minute bus ride to a Holiday Inn, but today (SUPER HUGE SHOUT OUT to United Customer Service for this one) I got $30 dollars worth of meal vouchers (waaaaay more than I needed) and an $800 flight credit that I can use for any trip as long as I book it in the next year. You know what $800 buys me? Only a return trip to Orlando in September! Hello to THAT Magic Moment! It works out as being about $80 per hour I was delayed which is pretty sweet. I'd have probably flown United again anyway but now I definitely will!

While I remember... I want to say a big THANK YOU for all the comments on the Facebook page throughout my trip. I do read them all even if I don't reply and some of them were really sweet. I've been trying to uploads one of my favourite photos from the trip to my Flickr page each night so feel free to check them out there if you want to see more than what's on the Facebook page.

Blog you real soon!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Over the Atlantic

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Blogging in the air

I always feel a little weird taking photos on planes when you're in close quarters with other people so imagine this:
Right now I have 2 seats to myself and I have turned my little corner into the equivalent of the old style business class cabins, the ones when they didn't have flatbeds. I'm staring at a cheese and pickle baguette from Pret and a can of Coke from America (yes it tastes different) while typing away on my iPad which has a larger screen than both of the ones in the seats in front of me.

Personally I think every flight should be this empty. There's. No worrying about disturbing the person next to you or vice versa and the staff on board become 10 x more pleasant.

There are a few people doing Camp America on board which reminds me of my flights to Florida the last two summers, looking forward to 3 months in another country and what they may bring.

I know that today is sandwiched between two ICP arrival dates. Some people will have flown out on Tuesday and then others are flying on Saturday. I have no idea if any of you are reading/ have read my blog in preparation but I wish you all the best. I'll be keeping an eye out for any Brits with the "Earning My Ears" tag. Just remember to work hard and play hard and you'll have an amazing summer.

Time for some Big Bang Theory with my sandwich!

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Location:Somewhere over the Atlantic

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Disney World Is...

To me Walt Disney World is...

- sunshine
- rain
- thunderstorms
- friends
- family
- food
- fireworks
- parades
- music
- magic
- adventure
- familiar
- evolving
- home

I worked there but it never felt like work. I can't decide what I'm most excited about doing or seeing. Every time my departure date approaches I get the same feeling of excitement that I've had about WDW since I can remember. It may be shocking to most people but the place never gets repetitive. There's always something new to discover or see. I can't wait to see Everest and Towers again, and the progression of the Fantasyland Expansion, and have Dole Whip on the Beach of the Polynesian.

This year I'm going to try to do several things I have never done before. If/when they happen there will be blog posts. The first thing is drive in America and quite frankly if it doesn't happen then I've completely wasted renting a car. The other things shall remain a mystery ... for now!

Observant readers will notice that I've now added a link to my Flickr Page on the right and that's where I'll be posting all my photos from now on!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


My last program ended 9 months ago and I still haven't finished unpacking. It's my way of pretending it never finished. But alas it did and what remains is a half full suitcase and a lifetime of memories.

Next week will be my first time going to Disney World as a guest in 3 years which seems completely crazy to me. More so than last year I cannot wait to see my friends again. Actually scratch that. I can't wait to see my family again.

I know some readers have been eagerly awaiting the videos from last summer and I promise they do exist so please bear with me they will be uploaded eventually.

The online gallery will be going offline at the end of June so if there are any photos you want to look at then look now. (link on the right).

Photos from my upcoming trip will most likely get posted to instagram where my username is helium7suz and also to the Facebook page.

Looks like I better start unpacking so that I can ... errrrr ... pack!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Parlez-vous Anglais?

Last night I returned from my fabulously awesome and entirely hysterical trip to Disneyland Paris and my next few posts will be entirely dedicated to some of my observations from the trip.

Aujourd hui is all about … the FOOD!!!

You don’t need to have seen Lumiere dancing on the dinner table to associate France with some pretty amazing food but theme parks, on the other hand, tend to have a pretty bad rep for it. I had visited a couple of unofficial sites dedicated to the food at Disneyland Paris to get an idea of how many euros I should be taking with me and I was fairly horrified by the prices. The stuff’s expensive in WDW too but in France the exchange rate is a bit more of a killer for me, especially when some of the main courses are priced at 30€ each. One of the other food-killers, if you will, is the fact that during the week the parks close at 6pm, pretty much straight after the parade ends, resulting in two things:

1) Everyone leaves the parks at the exact same time.

2) Everyone is forced to either have dinner in their hotel or in the Disney Village

This means some food planning is required and i’m not kidding when I say that every day started with us discussing what we were going to be doing for lunch and dinner.

If you’re planning on eating every meal as a quick service option then good luck because outside of the parks that leaves you with 2 options: McDonald’s and Earl of Sandwich and as much as I love the Earl (we ate there twice) this could leave things getting pretty repetitive.

All that being said there was only one meal where I was left feeling disappointed, and it wasn’t the sneaky Big Mac from McDonald’s!

So now, for your viewing pleasure je presente le cuisine de Disneyland Paris!

Ludwig’s Castle

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Apparently this place is modelled on the castle of one of the Disney Princesses (we still can’t decide which one) and we think (because of the discount vouchers they gave us) that it has some ties to the Rainforest Cafe. It’s basically a cross between French and German cuisine with lots of pictures of knights everywhere. Like pretty much EVERY restaurant (including the quick service ones) there was a set menu involving a creme brûlée dessert (which was pretty good actually) and it seemed to be the only restaurant with Onion Soup on the menu. I believe I shunned the set menu option so that I could have Apple Strudel for dessert and then had a vegetable pasta thing (which was pretty tasty) for my main. We ate here on Friday night at around 6ish and the place was dead. 30 mins later it was significantly busier but you still could have walked in without a wait. Gives you an idea of how busy the parks are on weekdays in January!


Pizza Planet!


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This is a real life, totally like in the movie, Pizza Planet restaurant!!! I'll just let the photos do the talking…


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Oh yeah and it was a buffet costing about 17.90€ per adult which included soft drinks, salad, pizza, pasta and desserts in unlimited quantities.


La Confiserie des Trois Fees


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Ok, so this is actually a sweet shop rather than a restaurant but some of the stuff in here was crazy so I had to mention it. First of all there's a cast member that stands outside making candy floss (aka Cotton Candy) and also selling Candy Apples (with the red sugar coating) and then inside they sell things like this…


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Yeah, that IS a pack of Haribo with Sorcerer Mickey on!


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Words cannot describe the size of the Mickey marshmallow monstrosity!


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Marshmallow sandwich anyone?

Then there was kinder chocolate and all sorts of other sugary treats.

The Blue Lagoon

This restaurant has it's equivalents in Disneyland and Epcot but this is the first time I've ever eaten in a restaurant that's been part of a ride. The Blue Lagoon is part of Pirates of the Caribbean and as a result the inside is an extremely pleasant temperature (particularly when it's FREEEEEEZING outside :P). It's also quite dark so if you want to see the food you're eating then this possibly isn't the place for you. This was, by far, the nicest restaurant we ate in and had the best quality of food I've eaten in a theme park for a long time. I was lucky enough that this is where I got taken for my birthday lunch. One of the unusual things about Disneyland Paris is that they serve alcohol so there's quite an extensive range of cocktails available. Look away now if you're feeling hungry…


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It's a Flaming Creme Brulee!!!


In Other News


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Why would anyone think Cheeseburger Crisps is a good idea? (and no I didn't buy any!)

What follows next is one of the greatest battles to have ever taken place…EVER!!!!

It all started when we decided to have a lie-in…such an innocent act but it resulted in us getting to breakfast about 3 hours later than usual. Now i know what you're thinking - so what? - right? Well that late breakfast meant that we had a late lunch (finishing at about 3pm). That late lunch was also a buffet, a French buffet, that had so many delicious foods that it would take me too long to mention them all. Well by the time the parks closed at 6 we weren't even close to being hungry and wanting any dinner so we decided to head back to the hotel shop and have some snacks instead. The savoury options were pretty much limited to the cheeseburger crisps (which are just ridiculous) so we went for the more sugary options: Haribo, chewy things, sour things and finally…………………


Now if you've ever been to a Disney Park then you've probably seen one of those round, colourful, sugary treats that are made from the same stuff as candy canes. They look so tempting don't they? I always remember my parents telling me I wasn't allowed them because I would never finish it and this was my chance to finally have one! So after examining the packaging Gina and I worked out the different flavour variations and then both picked the purple and grey one which had a Pirates of the Caribbean logo on the wrapper. (If anyone's interested it was Apple and Blackberry flavoured). We returned to the hotel room and then I suggested a challenge: a race to see who could finish theirs first without biting into it. That basically means tongues only. This was my lollipop after about an hour and a half…


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Note that I'd basically created a tongue shaped imprint in the lollipop because I was just licking the same spot constantly.

Over 2 hours later, we still weren't even close to finishing but had gone completely insane from the combination of sugar, hunger and Camp Rock 2 (which had been showing on Disney Channel). By mutual agreement it was decided that we would stop for a dash to McDonald's which by then (11pm) was pretty much the only place to get food. Refreshed we battled on for another 2 hours, watching the loop reel of the "Top 10 things to do at Disneyland Paris" starring Sophie who, quite frankly, was even more insane than we were that night.

I can't even describe how exhausted my tongue felt by 2am and I was completely out of saliva with over half of the lollipop left to go. A decision to scrap the no biting rule was made and within minutes the competition was over with Gina left as the victor (although I'm pretty sure that by that point it was really the lollipops that had won).

I was reliably informed the following morning that much of our conversation during the Great Sugar Spike was completely ridiculous. I vaguely remember saying something along the lines of Eric being the best prince because he's the only one that dares to show his ankles along with other ridiculous insights.

Let me conclude today's post with the following statement:

If I ever buy another giant lollipop again it will be too soon!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Suzie, you've just graduated. What are you going to do next?

Now, I know what you’re thinking…long time no see. Right now I’m sure there’s a whole new bunch of people getting excited about their upcoming adventures in Orlando, Florida while I have been blissfully uninvolved. I say blissfully because in many ways this point in the adventure would be full of ups and downs as you try to book flights and insurance and worry about when your Disney folder will be arriving and so on. 

So what have I been doing since my last post in October? Well mostly been a grown-up Mouseketeer and working but on my days off I’ve been able to hang out with a couple of CPs from my Epcot days in London. Every now and again Disney comes bounding into my life - a colleague playing Disney songs, someone spotting my Mickey Mouse watch, Sherpas from Everest appearing on This Morning and so on.

Last week I finally graduated from university having first started my excursion into Higher Education back in September 2005. With the things I’ve done since I wouldn’t have had it any other way but still 6 1/2 years is a very long time. Shockingly, despite all the time I donated to the cause my graduation gown excluded a hat (Vivienne Westwood designed gown, health and safety, yada yada yada) so in protest I took along my own, and got a few jealous looks as a result.

So what’s next in my Disney themed adventures? Well I’ve got a few things lined up, the first of which is….

Disneyland Paris!

I’ve been twice before when I was 10 and 14 which means it’s been over 10 years since I was last there and back in my day there was only one park and no Earl of Sandwich. So what could make a trip to Disneyland Paris better than just being a trip to Disneyland Paris? 3 things:

1) I get to go with not 1 but 2 awesome WDW Cast Members that, quite frankly, help make every day more magical than the one before.

2) No flying. Well I actually kinda like flying these days but no flying means driving and driving means…. ROAD TRIP!!!!

3) It’s my BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve always been jealous of people that have their birthdays conveniently located during school holidays because they potentially could be spending it somewhere really cool, like a Disney park, but  I’ve spent most  of mine in a classroom (with the odd exception when I was sick or it was a snow day) so this year will be the very first time that I will be celebrating my Birthday in a Disney park and I … can’t … wait!

Last time I was there my family didn’t own a digital camera, so unfortunately my computer is extremely lacking when it comes to photos of DLP so I’m sure that this is something I will have to make up for. 

So until then, here’s a photo of me on a roller coaster. 

As always, if you have any questions about Disney parks or the Disney International College Program then send me a message either via the comments section, the Facebook page or twitter.