food

How I do Walt Disney World and Universal on a Budget

People tend to ask me how do I go to Walt Disney World twice a year, and I am forever explaining mine and my families methods so I thought I would share some of our tips to you lot!
We are huge Disney fans and we have such a huge passion for the Disney Parks, especially Walt Disney World. When we visit the parks, we always find more hidden facts about the park, we like to hunt down Hidden Mickeys (I’ll leave a link to explain these here) and get up to date on the latest construction of lands and rides within the parks!

1. Annual Passes – that’s right, Walt Disney World have an annual pass option when it comes to tickets which works out as very beneficial to US residents and especially Orlando visitors. It is such great value and you definitely can get your money’s worth out of this ticket. Here is a link to all the information on Annual Passes.

The tickets are $829 this year, I believe and in the past years this has definitely been beneficial for us with the exchange rate of GBP and USD.
When you usually go to Walt Disney World, you will pay at least £299 minimum for a 14 day ticket (and more, if it includes the Water Parks).

As we go at least twice a year, it use to work out as you either break even, save slightly or have saved quite a bit of money from having the Annual Pass.
If you already have a 14 day ticket, you can always upgrade your passes at the parks to an Annual Pass.

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2. Cheap Flights and Accommodation – We tend to go through a travel agent in the past on icelolly.com and usually end up travelling with purpletravel. These fly with Virgin and Thomson I believe and they have some incredible packages! So definitely give them a browse on ice lolly.com and purple travel through ice lolly. We tend to get flights and accommodation for £450-500pp for two weeks with luggage included and then we rent a car on top of that which is must easier for us.

3. Non-Disney Accommodation – We think of it as ‘we get up super early in the mornings and don’t come back until midnight each night whilst at Walt Disney World. So does it really matter what hotel you have? As long as it is decent, clean, has the necessities that you need and isn’t too far from the parks then it’s great!
The Disney hotels are really great and are so lovely to go to. We stayed at the All Stars Movie Resort when I was 7 years old, but it does really bump up your holiday price unless you can find an amazing deal!

We tend to stick with one of our favourites now which is Celebration Suites in Old Town, Orlando. It is a 5 minute drive to Walt Disney World or maybe even less! You drive straight out of the hotel, down the road for 60 seconds and you’re straight onto the right entrance for Walt Disney World!

At the Celebration Suites, depending on how many of us are going we usually get one bedroom, a kitchen, bathroom and a living area that has a pull-down bed or if you go for the deluxe rooms, you will get three bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a living area.
It is so affordable here and we are always going back, unless we feel like going somewhere different and have found an amazing deal with the Radisson Blu Celebration which is also such an incredible hotel but a bit more pricey again!

4. Food – We don’t go crazy on food at the parks as we know that they can be very expensive, so we usually eat a huge breakfast at iHop or Golden Coral before we head to the parks. We are so full from having a huge buffet breakfast, that we don’t want to eat again until the evening! Some nights, we might still not feel like a huge meal so we will get something small to eat in the parks or a snack. I also completely adore Taco Bell, it is suppose to be Mexican food although Americans tend to say it’s the ‘McDonalds of Mexican’ food but I love it and it’s super cheap and affordable when you order a snack box!
Other days, we will then decide to have food at the parks and keep it as if it’s a special occasion for the bigger restaurants or dessert parties. (Check out my post on the Wishes Dessert Party!)

Every now and then, we really enjoy visiting Tony’s at the Magic Kingdom especially as we usually go to WDW when it’s Father’s Day or somebody birthday!

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5. Souvenir Cups – Take advantage of some of the souvenir cups that WDW and Universal sell. In the past, Universal use to sell a red tall cup that was $10 and you could get unlimited refills for just $0.99 each time! But, there was never anything saying that you couldn’t reuse the cup so people would always take them back each day and it was ALWAYS a huge must for us to remember our cup each year to go into the suitcase!
Usually Orlando Informer‘s website always has the ins and outs of everything and provide so many amazing tips and I would recommend going over to TheTimTracker’s YouTube for more tips and videos on updates at the parks!

6. Annual Passholder Discount – If you own an Annual Pass, do not forget about the discounts that you receive at the parks! We use to forget all of the time or just weren’t aware of them and now we’re getting on top of them more and more each year!
You can get discounts at Pandora, all of the merchandise stores, Starbucks, restaurants, at Disney Springs (previously known as Downtown Disney) and on hotels, I believe..
Here is a link to all of the Annual Passholder Discounts for you to browse at!

We didn’t know until Christmas time, that you can get discount on the bottles of Coca Cola that you purchase but only at merchandise stores, not from the little kiosks selling snacks and refreshments around the park!

7. Disney Transportation and Parking – Take advantage of the free Disney Transportation System! There are buses that run from Disney Springs to all of the hotels, then from the Disney hotels they have buses that take you directly to the parks. In the past, we parked at Disney Springs if we were browsing around for a bit or getting something to eat and then we would hop on a bus to another park.
I am assuming that Disney frown upon doing this as it will take up the parking at Disney Springs (which is now improving) but use this at your own risk, incase they put anything in place from now on!

Also, again with your Annual Passes you will gain free parking into all of the theme parks if you show it at the main gate to the parking lot (this goes for Universal Studios, Sea World and Busch Gardens too!). Each year that I have visited Walt Disney World, we have seen the prices of parking shoot up! It use to be $12 when we visited around 2007/2008 and now it’s up to $20 per day for a standard size car. Anything larger is more expensive like a shuttle/limo/camper/trailer/RV..

8. Additional Discounts on Food Outside the Parks – Don’t forget to look through the coupon booklets that you will see everywhere in Orlando. At restaurants they will have stands of them and also at Tourist Offices and Ticket Sellers. 99% of the time, you will find a coupon for the big named restaurants such as Ponderosa, Golden Coral, Red Lobster, Crab Shack, Chick-Fil-A.. Most of these coupons will be 5-10% off your bill or a ‘Kid eats free’ voucher.

I know it’s only small but if you add everything up from each day, you will see what a difference it makes! We like to write down how much we have spent each day and then we will use the extra money to splash out on gifts for ourselves or family and friends, any extra activities or restaurants we want to visit!

I tend to join up to certain restaurants mailing lists too, for example at iHop they give you a free stack of pancakes on your birthday and usually other large events throughout the year like Pancake Day!

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9. Snacks – I always highly recommend taking snacks with you wherever you go. As you will find out, the theme parks can be quite pricey for snacks although we do tend to purchase these as it’s easier than taking a bag. The snacks are really good at the parks and this is what we tend to spend on at the parks, but you can always bring your own in.
We really enjoy going to Walmart and purchasing a huge 1KG bag of mini size Nerds, Laffy Taffy, Gobstoppers and Sweetarts. We also purchase things like Capri Sun’s to have at the hotel (they get a bit too warm in the car), cereal (always Lucky Charms to get those sugar levels soaring through the roof!) and fruit to eat in the morning at the hotel, cereal bars to easily take with us wherever we go and always bags of Cheetos as they are my favourite and you never know when you need to munch in the car!
We basically just keep a carrier bag of snacks in the car, so we can eat them there or take them out somewhere with us.

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And I feel like that is it for now until some more tips come to my mind! I might end up doing a Part Two to this post if I find enough additional tips for you but if you have any questions then feel free to comment down below and I’ll reply to them!

I really hope you enjoyed this post and I hope that it helped in some way for you all!

Have a magical day!

If you want to check out more Disney related posts:

Wishes Fireworks Spectacular Desert Party Review

Christmas at Walt Disney World

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Review

My Disney Jewellery Collection

Video: I Surprised My Mother at Disney!

Disney Theme Park Vlogs

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Christmas At The Grape Event

I was very fortunate to be invited to the #ChristmasAtTheGrape Blogger Event at Grape & Olive Swansea to taste their brand new Christmas Menu!

We had such an amazing night here and got to taste so much incredible food!

It’s safe to say that this event has definitely kicked in the christmas vibes and now the christmas countdown can start from here for me!

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You can choose from a 2 Course or 3 Course Menu and whether it’s going to be the Christmas Festive, Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Years Day which all have a variety of meals which are outstanding! Not forgetting that you’ll be getting a spectacular view of Swansea, including Mumbles from the 28th floor of the Grape And Olive.

Here is what the tables would be set out like, if booking a Christmas meal at the Grape And Olive Swansea:
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We got to sample some of the amazing courses from the menu and here’s a few images of examples. When it comes to the mains, I thoroughly enjoyed the Roast Fillet of Hake – such a creamy texture to the mash potato also! It was so good! (Writing this is making me hungry again..)


I personally feel that the Chocolate and Orange Fondant was definitely the highlight of the night for me – it was just incredible especially for a chocoholic like myself, but so full of flavour and the orange really stood out! Hands down my favourite!

I had such a great time at the Grape And Olive and I got to meet some lovely bloggers some that I have met before, and some new faces to me! I can’t wait to see what Grape And Olive are going to do next! I’m definitely returning, especially for more of the Chocolate and Orange Fondant!

Thank you so much to Ffion and Gavin for this event, and a huge thanks for my first christmas card of the year!
xx

My Top Tips for visiting Disneyworld & Universal Theme Parks! (Part One?)

So, me and my dad have been to Orlando for quite a few years in a row now.
Just the two of us go as my mother doesn’t really enjoy thrill rides and she’s always working at that time of year. But, since we have been going for the past few years, we have discovered a few tips – not insane, mind-blowing ones, but ones that will definitely help you save money and time in the parks!

– At Epcot, visit ‘Club Cool’. It is a small building that has Coca Cola drinks machines, that you can pour your own beverages from, unlimited amount of times! Although, these flavours are completely different to what you’ve seen before, as they are different drinks from around the world!

– If you visit Universal Studios or Islands Of Adventure, definitely consider purchasing the $8.99 refillable cup which you can purchase at every refreshment stand, most shops and even some food places. This cup lets you get 99 Cent refills all day long, you can even bring this cup back into the parks with you time after time, as they technically don’t have a date on them! We have used ours for at least 3/4 years! You can also purchase the same from Seaworld and use it in their sister park, Busch Gardens. Saves a lot of money on the refreshments!

– If you don’t mind going on the rides on your own, then definitely jump in the ‘Single Rider’ queues! They are the best thing that I found when I visited the parks, they save you so much time! The idea is that people who don’t mind going on their own, get to jump the queue when there’s an empty seat on the ride (for example, when there’s a family of 3, there’ll be a spare seat..). It’s such a good idea as there’s nothing worse than waiting for hours for your favourite ride, when you could’ve already ridden it 4 times over! Also, half of the time, you’ll pretty much be a row behind your friend/family member or sometimes when the staff are lazy or the queue has gone too slow for them, they’ll put you on together! It’s definitely worth a try, as within an hour, we can ride about 3 rides! (The Harry Potter ‘Forbidden Journey’ Ride also has a single rider queue, but it’s hard to see as it’s so dark in there – so definitely ask a staff member!).

– Save on the steep car parking prices! For the majority of people, they will either have an annual pass (which contains free parking all year round) or they will end up paying at least $10 a day for parking in one park alone. A good idea, if you have the patience, is to drive to Downtown Disney and park your car there. You will be able to get a free Disney public transport bus to any of the Disney hotels, then catch the free bus or monorail again to any of the parks! People even sell their parking passes on ebay for certain seasons as they aren’t using them – so definitely check that out.

– One major thing we like to do, have a massive breakfast before going into the parks! We always opt for something big and filling, so it’s either Ponderosa (plenty of them around, do a cheap and cheerful buffet breakfast for under $10 including a drink!) or iHop, if you aren’t going to stuff yourself silly with cookies, ice cream and bacon for breakfast! The prices at the parks can be steep, even for snacks. The food is good in the restaurants though, but personally we get fed up of the fast food they mainly provide!

– On the opposite, definitely try the snacks in the parks like the churros – and taste the Chilli Cheese Fries in Universal Studios in the diner! Incredible and cheap!

– There’s two different versions of Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Personally, I would say to opt for the frozen versions it’s incredible and a lot sweeter than the liquid version you can get! Although, since last year I think there’s another variety again now – along with Butterbeer Ice Cream.

– Definitely try to seek out the hidden mickeys that are planted around Disneyworld – these are little hidden icons of the outline of Mickey Mouse’s head, there are hundreds of them around the park! You can purchase books which have clues to where they are on rides, at shows, on the walkways, buildings.. or you can simply google them and then attempt to find them yourselves! My favourite is on Pirates Of The Caribbean, as there’s a cat standing but whilst you pass it, it’s shadow creates a Mickey’s head shape.

– Look up some facts on the parks and impress people with your knowledge! There’s lots of secrets behind certain things on rides, such as human skulls being used within Pirates Of The Caribbean and the meanings behind the Bride’s jewellery in The Haunted Mansion. Even little quirky things, like on Splash Mountain there’s a character that pops out and shouts something along the lines of ‘GO NSU’ as one of the technicians

So, that’s all I have got for my Part One so far, if you enjoyed this then let me know and I’ll think of some other tips that we like to do whilst in Orlando! Let me know!
I know that this seems a little off topic, but I hope that this helped some of you!
x

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Want more Disney related blog posts? Check out some of these:

Christmas at Walt Disney World

How I do Walt Disney World on a Budget

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Review

My Disney Jewellery Collection

VLOG: I Surprised my mother at Walt Disney World!

VLOG: Walt Disney World

Tips on visiting the Disney and Universal parks!

Melbourne Trip!

A little unexpected trip to Melbourne – which was so much fun!
I had a job interview with one days notice, so I booked a flight straight away and luckily it was on my two days off of work! So, I headed straight for Melbourne!

On my first day, I decided to walk all the way up to Queen Victoria Markets and get some food there as I was starving since the plane! I then strolled around the streets of Melbourne looking for some cool coffee shops and stores – I even came across H&M at GPO!
I did so much stuff in one day, I ended up going to ACMI (Australia Centre of Moving Image) which was free and a lot of fun to see! It is about technology, how film, games and television became! They had a lot of interactive stuff too, for people that are more hands on too!

After ACMI, I visited Sealife Melbourne as I have a Merlin Unlimited Pass in Sydney which lets me visit any of them in Australia. So I went here for a browse as it was chilly outside! It was a lot of fun and I had a lovely surprise when I saw that they had some adorable penguins!

The next day, I went to my job interview (got the job!) and came back for a stroll around the city again. Turns out, one of my friends from the hostel was in Melbourne for a few weeks – so she decided to show me around and to take me to some cool places like Manchester Press which is a really cool, out of sight cafe/restaurant (amazing bagels!).

After Issy showing me all of the cool graffiti and coffee shops, I sadly had to go to the airport to fly back to Sydney – although I loved Melbourne, I still miss my little Sydney hostel family! But all in all, productive last minute trip, got a job and a great experience there!

Have you been here before? Recommend me some cool places to go, when I go back! 🙂
I will be posting a video of Melbourne up here soon!
x
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So, let’s catch up on my life!

What have I been doing recently? I’ve disappeared for a while on the blogging front as I got so busy!
I have now finished work for good, got a new job which I’ll reveal after I’ve done it as it’s only for three weeks and now I’m just enjoying Sydney whilst I’m still here!

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We have had birthday parties in the park with speakers, food and lots of glitter.
Even more birthday parties, with lots of cake.
Group gatherings at work, which makes me miss the people that I worked with – going to miss them lots!
Found some really cool places with amazing food!
I went to Melbourne for two days for a job interview, got the job and had a browse around there too! (Blog post and video to come!)
And then this morning, me and Ceri went to watch the Six Nations at 7am – sadly Wales lost, but it was still a good shout and a lot of fun!

Have any of you been doing anything fun recently? Let me know!
Show me some photos, especially of your seasons as everyone seems to be having different weather everywhere recently!
X

I have arrived in Hong Kong!

I got here yesterday and was so tired to function! We went to see the Tian Tan Buddha, went on a cable car, got stuck and got crammed into a ridiculously small taxi!

Today we will be visiting Stanley Market, the harbour and see the laser light show. Then onto a boat for a fisherman harbour tour!

I’ll keep trying to post more photos as I go along!
x

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Alice In Wonderland Themed Restaurant – Shibuya, Tokyo.

I thought that I would share a review on the Alice In Wonderland Themed Restaurant that we visited in Shibuya, Tokyo. It was amazing there!
Before we went to Tokyo, we decided to look up the crazy themed restaurants that are around Tokyo. There were Alcatraz themed, prisons, Thunderbirds, Under The Sea, Vampires and even a Robot Restaurant!
We decided to go to the Alice In Wonderland one, as it seemed the most impressive – and I must say, it certainly lived up to it’s hype online!
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The food was amazing, not that pricey but definitely brilliant quality and dedication on a plate! All of the dishes and drinks on the menu were themed around Alice In Wonderland, not only by name but by the little touches in appearance.
Not forgetting to mention the menu.. It was presented as a large storybook which was illustrated on each page, with the listings! It was gorgeous!
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I decided to get a cabonara pasta (of some sorts, can’t really remember what it was) – it was gorgeous, but they also created a playing card out of the ‘cracker’, or whatever it was! It was such an adorable touch! They even brought us a small starter in a teacup, that had a card which said ‘Eat Me’ on it!
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Desert was definitely the highlight of the night! I ordered something along the lines of the caterpillar – it was some sort of a swiss roll which was green to form the caterpillars body. He then had two blueberries for eyes, cream for the head and two chocolate twirl tube things for antennas! He also came with a miniature top hat, which was the most amazing chocolate mousse that I have ever tasted, with chocolate formed as a hat on the top! To top that off even more, they wrote ‘Eat Me’ on the plate in chocolate sauce which was extremely adorable!
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If anyone is going to Tokyo, I would very highly recommend this restaurant! Their uniforms were ridiculously cute too – I am sold, I totally want one! We all thoroughly enjoyed it here and would love to go back to this amazing restaurant!