Epcot (Florida, USA)
I have recently returned from 2 magical weeks at Walt Disney World in Florida. Walt Disney World is situated in Orlando and includes 4 theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot), 2 water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) and a number of different resorts. We stayed in one of the Disney ... resorts and visited all of the Disney theme parks and water parks. We visited Epcot on day 7 of our holiday. Epcot was the second Disney park to be built at Walt Disney World and first opened in 1982.
Our park tickets were included in our package, so we didn't have to worry about entry costs to any of the parks. We could come and go as we pleased. However park prices are generally very expensive at Disney. A one day adult pass (10+ years) at Epcot costs $89.00 and a one day child pass (3-9 years) costs $83.00. These prices are quite high but I still think it's definitely a park worth doing. Parking is available for $14.00 per day.
The park opening times vary throughout the year. During our visit the opening hours were 9am - 9pm. If you are staying in the Walt Disney World resort, then you are entitled to 'Extra Magic Hours'. Extra Magic Hours allow you in to all the Disney parks either an hour before the parks open to the public or a couple of hours after the parks close to the public. Extra Magic Hours are definitely worth taking advantage of. We used a lot of our Extra Magic Hours to get on rides that usually have huge queues. Another perk definitely worth taking advantage of is Fastpass. Fastpass is a free service that is available to everybody visiting the Disney parks. The majority of the most popular rides and attractions allow you to use Fastpass. They have Fastpass ticket machines outside - just pop your park ticket inside and you'll get your ticket back, along with a Fastpass ticket which gives you a time to come back later on in the day and jump straight to the front of the queue. We used Fastpass on most of the big rides which normally have 1+ hour long queues! I recommend using Extra Magic Hours or Fastpass for Sourin' and Test Track at Epcot (Fastpass is also available on Living With The Land, Mission: Space and Maelstrom).
Each Disney park has an iconic structure - Magic Kingdom has Cinderella's Castle, Animal Kingdom has the Tree Of Life etc. Epcot is home to a giant silver ball called Spaceship Earth. Epcot is split in to two halves - 'Future World' and 'World Showcase'. Future World is quite varied and focuses on things such as imagination, space, technological advancements and much more! World Showcase is set around a big lake and is home to 11 different countries (Canada, France, Germany, China, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Japan, Norway, UK and US).
When we visited the International Flower & Garden Festival was on. This runs from March to May (I think it's on every year but I'm not too sure) and I would definitely recommend visiting when the Flower & Garden Festival is on. They had hundreds of beautiful topiary sculptures of different Disney characters scattered throughout the park. They looked absolutely stunning and included Snow White & The Seven Dwarves, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Toy Story characters (Buzz, Woody, Lotso), Bambi characters, Lady and The Tramp, Tinkerbell fairies, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Tik Tok Crocoidle, Mike and Sully from Monsters Inc, Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars, Belle and The Beast, Lion King characters. I could go on! It was very impressive.
Our day at Epcot began in Future World with a ride called 'The Seas With Nemo & Friends'. It was a slow moving ride in which we sat inside clam shells. It's a lovely ride for children and fans of Finding Nemo. There is a part where you pass by a real-life giant fish tank and the actual Nemo characters can be seen 'swimming' around inside the tank! There is also a nearby attraction called 'Turtle Talk With Crush' which is a 15 minute long interactive show with Crush (the sea turtle from Finding Nemo). It uses advanced real-time technology which allows people to talk to Crush, ask him questions and hold conversations with him. Each show is completely different and is so much fun - it's a must do in my opinion. Outside both of the Nemo attractions is an area with shark facts scattered around, as well as statues of all of the sharks from Finding Nemo. You can even have your photo taken inside Bruce the sharks mouth! There is also a Finding Nemo gift shop for all your fishy needs.
Next we used Fastpasses to ride Sourin'. Sourin' is unlike anything I've ever experienced before and is a ride that I highly recommend. You sit in rows and when the ride begins, the seats lift up and you are suspended in front of a giant screen. It's similar to a simulator ride and makes you feel as though you are flying on a hang-glider. Scenes change throughout the ride and include the Golden Gate Bridge, river rapids, snowy mountains, the ocean and even Disneyland! Wind blows through your hair and you get different smells at different points of the ride - I absolutely loved the smell of pine trees when flying over a forest and the smell of oranges when flying through a field of oranges! I thought this was quite a thrilling ride and actually rather beautiful in places too. Other attractions around this area include Living With The Land (a boat voyage) and The Circle Of Life (a short film featuring Lion King characters), which we didn't get round to doing. There are a couple of nearby restaurants too.
There is small section of the park called 'Imagination'. This is home to 'Journey Into Imagination With Figment' and 'Captain EO'. Journey Into Imagination With Figment is a slow moving ride, set inside a big pyramid shaped building. You sit in carts and take a tour through sensory labs (which include sound, sight and smell) with a funny little dragon called Figment. This ride is all about imagination and is really fun for little ones. Us adults enjoyed it more than we expected too! There's a part near the end (which I don't want to spoil for anyone) which I thought was very clever. As you exit the ride there is an interactive area called ImageWorks. Here children are encouraged to use their own imaginations and can take part in various activities, including making their own music by jumping on squares on the ground. I had a hard time trying to remove my daughter from this area! Captain EO is a 3D show featuring Michael Jackson. It originally opened at Walt Disney World in 1986 and closed in 1994. The attraction was replaced by Honey I Shrunk The Audience for a number of years, until Captain EO reopened in 2010. It tells the story of Captain EO (Jackson) and his space crew who are captured by the rather evil 'Supreme Leader'. It's full of singing, dancing and seat shaking! I remember this attraction from when I was a child which made me really enjoy it. However for those who have no memory of it, it may seem a little too retro and dated (the pre-show is quite long too).
One of my most favourite rides in Epcot is Test Track. This was another ride that we Fastpassed. I thought the build-up to the ride was a little bit drawn out, but my daughter seemed to enjoy it. You are required to use a computer to design your own car before you board the ride. You can give the car different features and save it on to your park card. When you board the ride, you then swipe your card and your car is put in to action. Your statistics (how well your car done) are given to you at the end of the ride. You are strapped in to race cars (of up to 6 people) and test out your car against different elements. Suddenly you then find yourself zooming off outside and doing a lap around the test track, reaching speeds of up to 65mph! It's very fast and really thrilling, particularly on the turns. We all really enjoyed this ride. At the exit is a Chevrolet showroom with a bunch of cool cars for the men and some car themed activities for the kids! Nearby Test Track is a little Cars themed playground. This is a good place for young children to play whilst adults/older children ride Test Track (although I suspect most children would prefer to be riding Test Track!). My little one enjoyed playing on the playground for a little while whilst I rested my poor feet!
There is a ride inside Spaceship Earth (the big silver ball). It takes you through our past, up to our present and shows you how life and technology has changed and evolved through the years. I didn't really like it - it felt a little long, boring and dated. My daughter didn't seem too keen either (although she was ecstatic to be inside 'the big ball'). There was a brilliant part at the end of the ride which we all enjoyed very much though. I don't want to give away the surprise but it's interactive and you are the star! Other attractions in Future World that we didn't get round to doing include Ellen's Energy Adventure and Mission: Space (in which you feel as though you're blasting off in to space. Really wish we had done this one but my daughter was a little too small unfortunately).
Characters can be found throughout Epcot, so don't forget to bring your autograph book! My daughter managed to meet Alice (in Wonderland), Mulan, Donald Duck and Silvermist just whilst wandering the park. There is also a 'Character Spot' where you can meet a number of different characters in one place, although the queues seemed quite long during our visit.
We began our trip through World Showcase at Canada and ended at Mexico. I really enjoyed this area of the park. It doesn't rely on rides or attractions, it focuses on atmosphere. There are a few slow moving rides and 360-degree films in some of the countries, although we decided not to do any of them. We were quite happy to just walk around and see the sights. Most of the countries are easy to identify, although you can also pick up a park map to avoid any embarrassment! Each country serves traditional cuisine. We ate in Mexico and the US (I couldn't help it!). Each country also sells their own traditional merchandise. I particularly liked the merchandise in China which included lucky cats, fans and Bonsai trees. This area of the park is likely to appeal to adults more than children. My daughter seemed to enjoy herself but got quite tired with all of the walking and seemed to enjoy Future World more. I remember visiting Epcot as a teenager and not really appreciating it as much as I did as an adult (I must also point out that Epcot has improved a lot since then).
Overall we had a great day out at Epcot. It's a very varied park, with lots to see and do. I'd say it's one of the better parks for adults and older people (although there is a lot of walking involved). However it's also very enjoyable for children and I'd say that children 5-10 would probably most enjoy Epcot. Some teenagers may find it a little boring (due to the educational aspects and such) and may want to seek bigger thrills in the other Disney parks. I remember Epcot not having very many exciting attractions and I still don't think it's the most thrilling Disney park, however I think newer attractions such as Test Track and Sourin' (and the Nemo attractions) are now appealing to wider audiences. I'm excited to see what future plans Epcot has up its sleeve! On the flip side there are also a few attractions which aren't so impressive and could do with a bit of updating. There were so many different dining options, we were spoilt for choice. There were also plenty of places to do a spot of shopping. Although we visited on a weekend, the queues weren't bad at all (although we did Fastpass the 2 most popular rides) and we managed to walk straight on to many of the rides. I would highly recommend a trip to Epcot, Orlando.
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Disneyland Paris - Parades
One of the things that you most look forward to when you visit Disneyland is seeing the parades I think! Both my friend and I were so excited to be able to see the parades and thankfully we managed to fit them all in over the few days that we spent in the parks. I will try and go through our experience of each of them in a little detail! ... When you visit Disneyland it is really important to pick up one of the park guides which changes weekly and will keep you updated with the times of parades, character meet and greets and such like. This was a real help when we were in the parks and we managed to use these to ensure we saw each of the parades at least once.
==20th anniversary celebration train==
This was the first parade that we actually saw in the park and we stumbled upon it by chance actually the first time and so it was quite lucky. Basically loud music comes on and then a lovely bright colourful train starts moving around Main Street and there are lots of characters on there dancing and waving at the people lining the street. The characters that can be found on this train are basically Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy, Goofy, Chip and Dale and such like and this actually happens every hour on the hour (or did when we were there at least!) so there are plenty of opportunities to see it.
Characters will get off the train after the short parade and this tends to result in masses of people diving around them wanting a photo with the characters. One thing that I will say though for the bulk of the characters we met is that they won't choose those diving around them and pushing and shoving to get a picture with them but will choose those that are standing nicely waiting and as such my son did manage to meet Goofy and Chip (or Dale?!) as a result. We didn't try and meet any further characters from this parade as we had met Mickey and Minnie in the hotel a few times. We would have liked to Meet Donald Duck but he was nowhere to be seen!
There is also a nice photo opportunity when the train is stopped and the characters are off it just to take a picture in front of the 20th anniversary train which is something I would recommend.
==Disney magic on parade==
We saw this show on the weekend and so it was on in the middle afternoon as oppposed to 5pm during the week. This is what I think my friend and I classed as the "proper" Disneyland parade and I would recommend that everyone who comes to Disneyland sees this parade. The pavements of Main Street will get really busy and so we made sure that we arrived around forty minutes before the parade was due to begin and just picked a spot on the curb of the pavement and sat down to rest our legs. Being there were two adults we were able to save our spot should one of us want to pop in one of the shops or whatever and I would definitely recommend getting there early to get a perfect spot to get a great view and wonderful photos.
This parade begins down at the bottom of Main Street near the Disney castle and works it way up Main Street. This parade is the one that I think most people would see as the main event and I for one really loved it. It begins with fairies skirting around and dancing and they are soon followed by beautifully decorated floats featuring characters such as the Disney Princesses with their Princes, Toy Story, Winnie the Pooh, The Lion King, Peter Pan and Fantasia as well as many more. There are some characters which dance around and sing in between the floats and this just makes it a real feast for the eyes.
I actually got really emotional when the Lion King float came along as it is my son and I's most favourite Disney film and seeing his face as he saw the characters there in front of him was just priceless. In fact seeing my friends little girls face when she saw the Disney Princesses that she loves so much was equally as moving.
The show is fun, loud and entertaining and whilst the whole thing is probably over in around fifteen or twenty minutes it really was worth the long wait to make sure that we had a brilliant space in which to view the show. People say Disneyland really know how to do magical and I think in this case this really reminded us of why we had saved so hard to be able to take our children there.
Disney dreams is the special 20th anniversary night time show which I was really looking forward to seeing. I would have liked to have seen it more than once but as it was so very cold when it went dark in France we decided to not put the children through it! The show begins not long after the park closes so the time of this does depend on the season really. They have extended the 20th anniversary celebrations again and so I think that this show will probably continue too.
The show is popular and in a way I wish we had turned up earlier and got a better spot because sadly there are a lot of adults who will happily come and stand right in front of a child! I did try to pick my son up for some of the show but he is almost eight now and heavy!
Basically this show is a spectacular event in which lights are projected on to the Disney castle and it tells a story about Disney. I really wasn't prepared for how amazing this show would be and I loved the Disney songs which were being blasted out. Some of them were in English, others in French I think but the enjoyment was still there anyway. Along side the lights projected on the castle there were amazing fireworks, lights and water fountains being sprayed out. As I watched this show I found myself becoming really emotional on a few occasions and really tearing up at the sheer amazement at how wonderful the show was. The only word to really describe it is spectacular and if there was only one thing I could choose to do again in Disneyland I think it would be to see this show again. If you have plans to go to Disneyland see it....if you don't check out you tube because it is bound to be on there and it is beautiful!
==Stars and Cars==
Stars and Cars is a parade in the Studios part of the Park and again we managed to time it quite well that we arrived just in time to see the Parade go by. In this parade you get to see characters such as Donald, Snow White, Mary Poppins, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, some baddies, Toy Story two, Monsters Inc and Ratatouille in respective cars. They all have little extra characters in plastic or whatever in the cars too and it makes it a really fun parade to watch. We managed to get a spot close to the edge of the pavement and put the children in front of us so they could see well because again some adults really do not consider children when they are in Disneyland!
I really enjoyed watching this parade to be honest as we got to see a few characters that we didn't see in the main parade so that was nice to see. I do love Sully from Monsters Inc so I was over the moon at seeing him!
You can't go to Disneyland Paris without taking in the parades and I would totally recommend seeing all of the parades that are on offer. We have so many photos to look back on now from our holiday and I know the memories will last a life time.
Thank you for reading my review!
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Disney's Blizzard Beach
I have just returned from 2 magical weeks at Walt Disney World in Florida. Walt Disney World is situated in Orlando and includes 4 theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot), 2 water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach) and a number of different resorts. We stayed in one of the Disney ... resorts and visited all of the Disney theme parks and water parks. We visited Typhoon Lagoon first and Blizzard Beach second. I absolutely loved Typhoon Lagoon (and also wrote a separate review of it) so Blizzard Beach had a lot to live up to. We reached Blizzard Beach by bus. If you are staying at a Disney resort, you are able to catch free buses to all of the Disney parks.
Our park tickets were included in our package, so we didn't have to worry about entry costs to any of the parks. We could come and go as we pleased. However park prices are generally very expensive at Disney. A one day adult pass at Blizzard Beach costs $52.00 and a one day child pass costs $44.00, on the gate. These prices are quite high (especially for a water park) but I still think it's worth doing (although if you want to choose between the two water parks, I'd probably choose Typhoon Lagoon). You can park at Blizzard Beach at no extra cost.
The park opening times are usually 9am - 5pm or 10am - 6pm. Orlando has all year round warm weather, so any time of year would be a good time to visit. We visited in April and it was very hot. The water is heated so is suitable for everyone. It is best to get to Blizzard Beach as soon as it opens to secure yourself a seat/lounger. Seats and loungers are free to use and there are lots of them, however Blizzard Beach gets absolutely packed (from early and throughout the day) and finding somewhere to sit down is extremely hard. You should find somewhere that provides some shade (keep in mind that the sun will move!), like under a tree or next to a rock. Don't forget to put on your waterproof sun cream too, I got very burnt! Unfortunately there are usually wait times for most of the slides, which can be a bit of a downer. Unlike the Disney theme parks, Blizzard Beach doesn't have a Fastpass system which means you cannot skip any of the queues. My advice would be to do the most popular attractions first. The most popular attractions are Slush Gusher, Summit Plummet, Chairlift and Downhill Double Dipper. You can leave your possessions on your loungers whilst your explore the park but if you have valuables it would probably be a good idea to rent out a locker. Lockers cost $13.00 - $15.00 to rent for the day and require an additional $5.00 deposit. You can bring your own towels or rent them for $2.00 each. The park also has plenty of toilets, showers and changing areas.
The theming of Blizzard Beach is very good. It has a more 'fun' theme than Typhoon Lagoon, so may appeal slightly more to children. It's set up to look like a ski resort/winter wonderland and everything is covered in 'snow'! The park plays a bizarre mix of music throughout the park, ranging from summer classics to Christmas songs! The story of Blizzard Beach (according to the park map) is:
'What do you do when a freak snowstorm hits Florida? Build a ski resort, of course! But as our lift went up, so did the temperature, leaving some of the world's fastest, longest, slushing, gushing, downhill thrills and fun for the entire family'.
The park is quite large and you may find yourself getting lost a few times, although there are sighposts and maps scattered throughout (you should also pick up a park map at the entrance).
As you walk in to the park you will find children's flotation vests. These vests are absolutely free to use and come in different sizes. These were a god send to me as my daughter cannot yet swim and she hates wearing her arm bands. It fitted well and she felt confident in the water whilst wearing it. If you want to take advantage of the free flotation vests you need to get to the park early. The vests went very quickly during our visit. I never thought that the Disney water parks would have characters to meet, but they do. During our visit, we saw Goofy near the entrance (I'm sure there were others throughout the day). The queue to meet him was very small too, so make sure you bring along your autograph books!
You can find a number of stalls and kiosks (food and general gifts) at the front of the park, around the entrance. There is also a fast food restaurant, a large shop (which sells anything you could possibly want) and even a 'Polar Pub' inside the park! The restaurant and kiosks accept the Disney Dining Plan (a dining plan which you purchase prior to your trip). We didn't eat at the park.
The main pool is called Melt Away Bay, which is a wave pool. You can use rubber dingys in the pool. You need to wait around for a spare dingy to become available, it didn't take us very long to acquire a couple. The waves aren't constant and run every 20 minutes or so. The waves are pretty easy going but fun. Cross Country Creek is a lazy river that runs around the entire outside of the park. There are a number of entry points to enter and exit the attraction. You can ride a rubber dingy, which you need to wait for until one becomes available (we didn't have to wait for long). Cross Country Creek is suitable for everybody and I found laying back and soaking up the Florida sun very relaxing indeed!
There is a great little childrens area called Tike's Peak which is suitable for children under 48". Children over 48" should probably avoid this area as they wont be allowed to use the main slides. Tike's Peak has a little pool, an area where water spirts out, lots of tiny slides for toddlers, a 4 person slide (the only slide that adults can ride with their children), a rubber dingy slide and larger slide. My daughter absolutely loved this area as she loves going swimming but isn't very confident in the water. She could ride all of the slides and I felt I had very little to worry about. There is a separate area for older children called Ski Patrol Training Camp. This area has a number of larger (but not too scary) slides, as well as a pool with floating icebergs and a net over the top for children to maneuver their way across. There is also an excellent looking zip line. I didn't spent much time here as it was too young for me and too old for my daughter.
Teamboat Springs is a good slide for families and groups, as you sit in giant dingys of up to 6. It's not the most exciting slide in the world (seemingly more exciting for little ones) but it's good fun, especially as it's an experience shared with others. Another slide which you can ride with others (2 at a time) is Runoff Rapids, but we didn't get round to doing this one. Toboggan Racers is a 8 lane slide, with dips all the way down. The slide is higher than you realise when you get up there! You are required to lay on a mat (on your stomach, head first) and race down the slide alongside everybody else. It's good fun and you go very fast, although I felt it was over very quickly. The slide next to it is called Snow Stormers. You ride the same mat (on your stomach, head first) but this time you ride individually. There are 3 different slides to choose from and they twist and turn until you reach the pool at the bottom. I admit, it was a lot faster and vigorous than I expected!
The biggest slide in the park is called Summit Plummet which is a 120 foot vertical free fall slide. It's absolutely huge. You go down the slide and in to a cave, although the slide is disguised as a ski slope and it looks as though the rider will fly off the end of the ski slope! Unfortunately I didn't get round to doing this slide, although I would have really liked to. The second biggest slide is Slush Gusher which is long and bumpy (not vertical). This is a really thrilling slide. It's really fast and I even came off the slide on one of the bumps! I wouldn't recommend wearing a bikini for this one and I would recommend wearing goggles if you don't like getting water in your face!
There's a lot of walking to be done and stairs to climb if you want to reach the big slides. However the easiest and most fun way is by Chairlift. The Chairlift offers one-way transport to the top of Mount Gushmore (where Summit Plummet, Slush Gusher and Teamboat Springs can be found) and looks like the kind you would take to the top of a mountain whilst skiing. There was a constant queue for the Chairlift during our visit but the queue seemed to go down fast, and it's definitely still worth doing.
Just outside of Blizzard Beach is a mini golf course called Disney's Winter Summerland. It's themed to show where Santa goes on holiday! We had a look around (it's quite lovely) but didn't play any golf. There is a charge for this but you don't need a park ticket as it's situated outside of the park.
Overall we had a great day out at Blizzard Beach. The theme was brilliant, the slides were excellent and both the kids and adults loved it. I would definitely visit again and would highly recommend it to others. However I must admit that I did prefer Typhoon Lagoon slightly more. The slides at Blizzard Beach are more exciting but I preferred Typhoon Lagoon's tropical theme, plus Typhoon Lagoon has a superior wave pool in comparison to Blizzard Beach (you can also swim with sharks at Typhoon Lagoon).
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Theme Park / Zoo International
Theme Park / Zoo International / In the midst of landscape designed to resemble Monument Valley sits the 197' butte that is the centerpiece of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Set during the gold rush days in the flooded mine town of Tumbleweed, this runaway mine car roller coaster features 20 Audio-animatronic figures ...
Theme Park / Zoo International / One of the Magic Kingdom's major attractions is Splash Mountain. Based on the 1946 Walt Disney film, "Song of the South", this ride features the antics of Brer Fox and Brer Bear's attempts to catch the wily Brer Rabbit as he looks for his laughing place. Over 100 Audio-animatronic figures ...
Theme Park / Zoo International / Zoo located in the heart of Fuengirola - Zoo located in the heart of Fuengirola
Museum / Theme Park / Zoo International /theme park of optical illusions.
Theme Park / Zoo International /
Address: 37012 Bussolegno / Theme Park / Zoo International / Verona / Italy
Address: 7007 Sea Harbor Drive / Theme Park / Zoo International / Orlando / Florida / 32821 / USA
Address: 7007 Sea Harbor Drive / Theme Park / Zoo International / Orlando / Florida / 32821 / USA
Address: Jumeirah / Theme Park / Zoo International / Dubai / United Arab Emirates
Address: Disney MGM Studio / Theme Park / Zoo International / Orlando / Florida / USA - Enter into the virtual world of disney!
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