My Top 10 Disney Vacation Tips…

So, I thought I would share some tips for my number one vacation spot…

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1. Virgins Downtown Disney Check in

For a fee (or free if you have booked your holiday through Virgin Holidays) you can check in at downtown Disney on the morning of your departure – giving you more time to enjoy your final hours in the most magical place on earth. You will receive your boarding passes and your luggage is taken to the airport for you. It also means you do not have to be at the airport quite as early as if you have to check in, but please be aware there can be big queues at security.

2. Luggage..

Buy a Luggage Scale, they are relatively cheap, small and light so won’t take up too much space but it means you can check your weight before checking in…potentially saving you quite a few pounds on excess luggage. If you know you are going to buy lots of goodies (like me!) pre book extra baggage as it is cheaper than at check in. We usually buy an extra suitcase from Walmart, so just pay extra coming home not both ways!

3. Take a trip to Walmart/Target/Publix

Stock up on breakfast goodies…buy a cheap toaster for bagels! This will save you so much money and time, especially if you want to get to the parks for opening.

Most Hotel rooms have a fridge so you can buy Water, OJ, Milk, Cream Cheese…

Walmart is also good for cheap clothes…you can return items with a receipt at Asda when back in the UK (although this is something I have never tried).

4. Hire a car

taxi

Disney World is humongous…you can’t really walk from place to place, so by hiring a car it means you can pop out of Disney much more easily to grab a non Disney Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner, there are so many fantastic, great value restaurants (I think this deserves a post to itself!!)

There are also several Malls and Outlet Shops which deserve a look in if you have the time.

Mall at Millenia
Florida Mall
Orlando Premium Outlets (2 locations):Vineland Road and International Drive. Vineland Road is closest to Disney.

5. Don’t try to fit everything in…plan plan plan and plan some more

So you have booked your vacation, now the excitement begins…where to go, what to do??? “Lets go to Disney World and Universal and  Busch Gardens and Seaworld and Discovery Cove and Legoland and Gatorland and Kennedy Space Center…oh dear, I don’t think we’ve got enough time!” There is so much to see and do…the list is endless, I bet you feel exhausted just thinking about it!!

Try to work in some pool/quiet time, even if it is a morning or afternoon every few days. Some days you will want to stay at the parks late for the fireworks, this is a good day to spend the morning by the pool. The waterparks are also a good ‘rest’ day, you just have to decide which one to pick; Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Aquatica.

6. Buy your park tickets before you go

Disney have a special Ultimate ticket which is only available in the UK so buy before you go…if you are planning on visiting Disney the most on your vacation it is definitely worth the cost. It gives you 14 (or 21) days in all 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, Disney Quest at Downtown Disney, ESPN Wide World of Sports and one round of Mini Golf a day.Virgin Holidays have recently launched ticket bundles which seem to be excellent value for money and include a range of parks in Orlando.

There are many discounted ticket websites, some offer real tickets, others you will receive a voucher which can be exchanged at guest services at any of the parks.

7. Use Virgin Holidays

If you don’t want to book all the bits of your holiday separately I would highly recommend Virgin Holidays, you get extra perks and I have always have great service using them in the past. If you do like to book things separate, again check Virgin Holidays for hotels, some of the hotels receive extra perks, such as free parking.

8. Disney’s Boardwalk Area

Boardwalk

This is our favourite non park location. It is a perfect hotel location (although very pricey). There are 5 resorts in total, 3 Disney (Yacht, Beach & Boardwalk) and 2 Non Disney (Swan & Dolphin). There are a few restaurants and ESPN Club which has hundreds of TV’s showing all different kinds of sports. These are the only resorts which are in walking distance to TWO Disney parks, Hollywood Studios (my favourite park!!) and EPCOT. There is also a Water taxi if you feel the need to rest your weary legs!!

9. Raglan Road Bar

It is a great place to have a bite to eat, you can usually find a spot at the bar, they have live bands and Irish dancers on too. Kevin’s Ham is a firm favourite with my other half!

10. Make Advanced Dining Reservations

If there are Disney restaurants you really want to eat at I would highly advise that you make reservations in advance. Disney’s Advance Reservations can now be done online. Most restaurants now require a credit card guarantee when making the reservation. You can make a reservation 180 days in advance of when you want o dine, if you are a Disney resort guest it is 180 + 10 days. Some Advanced Reservation tips from WDWInfo.com.

Finally…

Two of my favourite books, even as a ‘Pro’ I buy the updated editions regularly.

Brits Guide to Orlando
The Unofficial Guide to DisneyWorld

Great Websites I visit on a regular basis

Disney Parks Blog
DisBoards
WDWInfo
Offical Disney Website

Happy Planning

Emma & Winnie the Pooh x

wiinie

Lightroom

So, as I mentioned in a previous post I have started a photography course at college, I have been trying to use every opportunity to practice taking photos, using Manual mode of course!! You may also know that I am a geek and just love watching the planes take off and land at Manchester Airport. I have now got Adobe Lightroom so decided it was time to venture into the unknown and open it up and see what it can do.

With the help of an Anthony Morganti’s YouTube video I had a go at editing a photo. Here is the result.

Before

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After

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I think it is a very good first attempt, although the plane does look a little ‘stuck on’, especially around the tail. Any feedback is welcome.

After coming back from college I had a quick go at another photo:

Before

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After

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I like how the buildings stand out more on my after photo, it doesn’t look as ‘flat’ as the original, what do you think?

Happy Snapping

Emma x

Date & Walnut Bread

I made bread again today, there is nothing like the smell of home-made bread coming from the Kitchen.

I decided to be more adventurous and make wholemeal bread this time, then when I was in the home baking aisle of the supermarket I suddenly thought…why not add dates and walnuts to it too!! Whitworths do chopped Dates and Walnuts in a packet which I thought would be perfect.

To speed up the process I use Allinson Easy Bake Yeast, I also used the recipe for basic bread off the side of the tin. Today however I have tweaked it slightly…hopefully it will turn out!!

Before making my bread I had a look at a BBC Video on Kneading, as last time I don’t think I kneaded by bread properly/or long enough as it was a bit dense! So hopefully this time there will be some improvement on last time.

ingredients

My Ingredients

bread

Here the dough had been left to rise for about 15 minutes – looking good!

Here is the recipe, as mentioned this is the basic bread recipe from the tin of Easy Bake Yeast (I cannot take credit for it!), however I omitted the sugar as I thought the sugar from the dates would be enough to sweeten the dough.

Recipe

Ingredients

500g Strong Wholemeal Flour
1½ tsp Salt
15g Soft Butter or 15ml Vegetable Oil
7g Easy Bake Yeast
Approx. 300ml Warm Water (1 part boiling, 2 parts cold)
Dates and Walnuts (I used about 70g but you can add more or less to suit your taste)

Method

Add the flour and salt to a large bowl, stir in the yeast, then rub in the butter (I used oil and stir it in). Add enough water and mix to form a soft dough.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for up to 10 minutes – or until smooth and elastic. I then kneaded in the Dates and Walnuts until they were well mixed.

Shape the dough on a baking tray (or you can put it in a tin), cover and leave to rise in a warm place until dough is doubled in size for 30 to 45 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 230°/gas mark 8.

Bake the bread for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven to 200°/gas mark 6 and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until bread is risen and golden brown.

Ta-dah!

bread_done

Well I have to say it tasted as good as it looked! I am very impressed with how it came out, especially as I didn’t follow a recipe specific for this combination. There is still room for improvement on the kneading front, however it was much better than my first attempt. I will definitely try out more new ingredients in the future.

What other types of bread do you make, and does anyone use a bread maker ? Are they any good, or is the traditional way the best?

Emma x

Day Tripping

I’ve been dying to try out my new camera lens (Canon EF-S 55-250mm ) since I bought it the other week at the Photography show, I was hopeful of some nice weather last weekend…however although it wasn’t particularly cold it was a very overcast Saturday when I decided to visit the Runway Visitor Park at Manchester Airport…my favourite place of the moment!! I love watching the planes coming and going from far flung destinations…I just need a radio so I can listen to the tower…what a geek I am!!!

With my new lens I can now zoom in much more and get better close-up shots of planes moving from the terminal to the runway and also planes coming into land.

planes1

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I am still learning how to use my camera but I try to shot in Manual as much as possible, however this does mean my photos are not as great as they could be. I feel like they are a bit boring and don’t really have any pizazz…any feedback is welcome in the comments 🙂

Then, on Sunday my hubby woke me up early and said we had to get up and go out now to make the  most of the day!! So up we got, I made some sandwiches and off to Malham, North Yorkshire we went…when we left home it was glorious blue skies…as we drove further north it got cloudier and cloudier, not really what we were hoping or prepared for, hubby was in shorts…everyone we saw had woolly hats on!!! Anyway we set off from the Car Park following the directions on the map we had printed at home…but were soon lost, well not lost but not on the route I had planned! We ended walking, or should I say hiking about 7 miles.

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Emma x

Is Spring here…

I am lucky enough to work in a small village right next to the fisheries…so for the first time this year I was able to sit outside and have my lunch 🙂

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It makes all the difference getting some sunshine even for half an hour, trouble is now I don’t want to go back to work!!! I even had some friends!!

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Here’s hoping for more sunny days like today 🙂

Mmmm…Pancakes!

A day late but hey they were still delicious. I now go to college on a Tuesday so there just wasn’t enough time to have them on actual shrove Tuesday and as I love them soooo much I wasn’t going without!!

I have to admit I did cheat a little as I used Aunt Bessie’s mix in a bottle…

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All you do is add water and shake…hey presto Pancake mix…what a fab invention 🙂

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I am a sweet person so I had the traditional sugar and lemon juice, some with syrup and Nutella and Haagen Dazs Ice Cream.

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So now I have to decide what to give up for Lent…hmmm I have given up Chocolate for the past 2 years but I am not sure I can do that again, I love it too much.

Emma x