Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Pictures

If your an animal lover and not crazy about Disney princesses you’re going to love Animal Kingdom. This park is dedicated to natural environment and animal conservation. It showcases animals from Asia, Africa, the conservation efforts by Disney and the animals of the past. It was also probably the least busiest of the parks, although the day was so hot it was easy to see everything.

My favourite entertainment was the Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo – The Musical. The Lion King showcased amazing African singers, beautiful costumes and high energy dance troupe. Finding Nemo was probably the best combination of puppetry and acting I have ever seen. The actors performed for both the puppet and themselves. The storyline followed the movie on point. Both were really enjoyable and I recommend the Fastpass for these shows, for better seats. The evening show, Rivers of Light was probably my least favourite of all the parks. Maybe we were just tired after 5 whole days of Disney, but I could of skip it for a nice dinner.

Our favourite attraction was definitely the Kilimanjaro Safaris. We did a couple of times, so we got to see different animals and as we were taken on different trails. It’s amazing how animals have created their own African habit by treating the land as they would back at home. The reserve that the animals live on is so extensive, so they have plenty of space between each other. I also enjoyed cooling down on the Kali River Rapids. I really didn’t enjoy Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. It was themed really nicely but the ride itself was too rough for me. Marco and Sally really enjoyed it, but the did get a sore neck after going on it again.

I also enjoyed the walk through exhibits. I was able to do the ones in Africa and Asia. The Discovery Island exhibit was closed on the day. Another attraction I would have loved to see was DINOSAUR, but unfortunately it was also closed for refurbishment.

For lunch we dined at Yak and Yeti Restaurant. We ordered the Asian dishes, which were really fresh and delicious. For dinner, we ate at the Flame Tree Barbeque, which was not as good as I expected. I would have preferred to go to a restaurant as the counter food was not that impressive. This park probably has the most snack and drink stops, which is really handy on a hot day. I wish I would have taken more time to relax and have a mocktail.

So here is our day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in pictures. You can click on the photos for a closer look. If you’re planning a trip to the park check out my Disney’s Animal Kingdom Guide and my Tips for Florida Disney Parks.

 

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Pictures

If you like live shows, old world Hollywood nostalgia and Disney franchises like Star Wars, the Muppets and Indiana Jones, this is the park for you. It is perhaps the least disneyesque park, but there are still a few live shows featuring Disney princesses. I really enjoyed it and was perhaps one of the more relaxing compared to the rushing, running and crowd sizes.

My favourite show was definitely Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage. It had dancing, singing, a large cast and was right on point with the movie. It didn’t feel rushed or leave out any of the important moments from the film. I also loved that it was in an open-air theatre, as the other dark theatres scared my toddler. Octavia thoroughly enjoyed it and was dancing and beaming the whole time. We also really enjoyed The Great Movie Ride for the film nostalgia and the Tower of Terror. The improv of the Citizens of Hollywood was also really entertaining to watch as your walking through.

We went to two restaurants in the park, which were less competitive to book than the other parks. For lunch, we went to 50’s Prime Time Cafe. The 50’s kitsch decor, family-like atmosphere service and comfort food really make you feel at home. The food was surprisingly really great, comfort food done really well. For dinner, we went to Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. The dark atmosphere was really nice and I had the most amazing pasta dish. For dessert, I receive a ‘spaghetti and meatball’ cupcake as a gift for my birthday, which was a really nice surprise.

The evening show was Fantasmic!, which we had previously seen in Japan at Toyko Disney Sea. It wasn’t as speculatively but it was still really enjoyable to watch as it was done at a smaller scale. Due to limited seating and timing clash, we weren’t able to go to the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular as well which was a shame.

So here is our day in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in pictures. You can click on the photos for a closer look. If you’re planning a trip to the park check out my Disney’s Hollywood Studios Guide and my Tips for Florida Disney Parks.

 

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Epcot in Pictures

Epcot was perhaps the Disney park I was least excited about visiting, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. After the Magic Kingdom, Epcot comes in second as my favourite park. I love the fusion of human achievement, technology, nature and unique world cultures. The Future World beautifully demonstrated how far we have come, yet instilled an appreciation for nature, plant foods and the sea. World Showcase on the other hand, beautifully depicts a host of cultures completely true to their form. The architecture, the food and the people all come together to give you an authentic experience, that you almost forget you are in an American Disney park.

My favourite attractions in the Future World was the informative boat ride, Living the Land and the spectacular journey on the ride, Soarin’. My favourite experiences in World Showcase was the delicious meals I had in Italy and Mexico and the window shopping I did in each ‘country’. I would go back just to wander around and sample all different cuisines. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a Fastpass for Frozen Ever After and the wait was just too long to do with a toddler. We did get to meet Anna and Elsa however, which was really nice. Elsa was a bit cold but Anna was really lovely, warm and friendly.

For morning tea we bought a few Swedish sweet treats from Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe. We tried the Lefse (Potato Flatbread rolled with a Sweet Cinnamon Butter) and Sweet Pretzel with Almonds. They were nice, but if I had more time I would have journeyed all the way to France for some pastries. Unfortunately, I had limited time to run there and back since we spent the morning in Future World.

For lunch, we went to Via Napoli. The food was so delicious and authentic. We just ordered a few simple dishes but they were executed perfectly. Later we had dinner in Mexico at La Hacienda de San Angel. Again the food was amazing and perfectly authentic. Both of these restaurants were highly recommended and I’m so happy we got to try them, rather than having counter food.

So here is our day in Epcot in pictures. You can click on the photos for a closer look. If you’re planning a trip to the park check out my Epcot Guide and my Tips for Florida Disney Parks.

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Magic Kingdom in Pictures

The Magic Kingdom was my favourite of all the Disney parks in Florida. It was really a dream come true. It pays homage to all the classic Disney characters and films, including my favourite 2D Disney princesses. There was just so much to see and do that we had to do it in two days.

My favourite rides were Splash Mountain and Seven Dwarves Mine Train, which were most difficult to get Fastpasses for. I also really enjoyed Enchanted Tales with Belle and having breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant. The 5 year old girl in me really felt like I was in her world. Octavia’s favourite ride was definitely riding the horses on Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel. She did enjoy sitting on our lap on most other rides. We got to go on most rides at least twice, which is a feat considering we had a toddler.

Our best meals was at Liberty Tree Tavern.  My Pilgrims’ Feast tasted exactly like I imaged a true American thanksgiving meal would taste like. The Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake was also pretty great. The other restaurants we were choose weren’t bad, but not as memorable. We weren’t able to get better booking since we only had two weeks from purchasing the tickets. Next time we would definitely stay at Disney hotel to take advantage of early restaurant booking and Fastpasses.

So here is two day at the Magic Kingdom in pictures. You can click on the photos for a closer look. If you’re planning a trip to the park check out my Magic Kingdom Guide and my Tips for Florida Disney Parks.

 

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Tips for Florida Disney Parks

My love to Disney was invigorated with my recently trip to the Disney Parks in Florida. It truly is the happiest place on earth, well at least my happiest place. The characters, the rides, shopping, food, it was all amazing and went above and beyond my expectations.

I did a lot of planning before we visited the Disney parks. I’m so happy that I did take this time since I didn’t do this when I visited Disney Sea in Tokyo. Besides the language barrier, we were very confused seeing people go ahead of the line, didn’t get good positions for performances and waited so long for a table in a restaurant. We also lined up for 2.5 hours for a ride that we weren’t really sure was a ride.

So if you’re planning a trip here are some of my tips. Do as much research as you can to maximize your time and less stress on the day. If your budget allows I really recommend the Disney restaurants. Each is really unique and I enjoyed the food at most of the restaurants. Some of which were the best food memories from our entire trip. We also had some bonus Character time we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

For Guides to each Theme Park view links at bottom of this post

Before you get there:

  • Do you ride and restaurant research
    • Demand will be high for the best and you don’t want to be waiting all day
    • Age and Height requirements
    • Make a list for recommended and time permitting
  • Consider staying at a Disney Resort
    • Extra ‘magic time’ means arriving and leaving before crowds
    • Easier commute to hotel
    • May save you money in car hire and tipping hotel bus driver
    • Hotel’s that offer free trip to Park may do many stops before arriving
    • You receive a ‘MagicBand
  • Book-in everything as soon as you buy your tickets ei. FastPasses, Restaurants
  • Fastpass for busiest rides
    • Eg.The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train had no FastPass available closer to visit and was 70 min+ wait times
    • Book in three FastPasses as early and close together as possible
    • You can’t book another until you have used all three passes first
  • Research most recommended rides and Average wait times
  • Restaurants are not a must, but nice to get away from crowds (aircon), experience themes, cuisines and try the best food Disney has to offer
    • Some Restaurants have 6-month wait ei. Cinderella’s Table
    • Booking times should be adequately spaced between meals times
    • Consider a meal plan, might save you money
    • Look at menus and consider your budget
    • Look up Restaurant ratings
    • Beware of cancellation policies for each restaurant
  • Keep checking your Disney account to alter FastPass and bookings as new times become available.
  • Bring a pram with shade cloth
    • Disney hire prams are made of plastic = hot
  • Allow two days for the Magic Kingdom and one day for each of other Parks
  • Get to know the map, long walk between areas
  • Factor in Live Shows, Parades and Night performance in your schedule
  • Download My Disney Experience app on your Smartphone
    • Easily view and alter Fast Passes and Restaurant bookings
    • View wait times

When you arrive:

  • Get up early to get in quicker and get on as many rides
  • Be aware once you arrive to drop off you will still need to take a Disney boat, tram or tourist road train to the Disney parks = Get up early
  • Bring a pen and get your map
  • Go directly to FastPass or best rides if wait times are minimal this early
  • Don’t get too caught up in taking photos when you arrive, you will have plenty of time
  • As you are using your FastPasses, see if you can alter for early times
  • As soon as all FastPasses are used book next pass
  • Visit Characters when wait times are low or you have space before next FastPass
    • May need to prioritise on a busy day
  • Restaurants may still require waiting even with your booking
  • Each shop will have items that aren’t anywhere else
    • Most character items available at World of Disney (Disney Springs)
    • Convenience stores near parks will have old Disney merchandise for much lower price eg. T-shirts, keyrings
  • You can’t see it all, but then you just might if you plan well!

Wow I didn’t realise I had so much to say. I will share some more posts of my photos.

For a more detailed information on each Theme park check out my guides:

Guide to the Magic Kingdom

Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

epcot

Guide to Epcot

Eating through New Orleans

New Orleans is famous for many things and the food is definitely one of them. The New Orleans cuisine is largely influenced by Creole cuisine, Cajun cuisine, and soul food. There are so many famous New Orleans dishes that I wanted to try. Some of these include Crawfish Étouffée, Gumbo, Jambalaya, Oysters Rockefeller, Po’ boy, Red beans and rice and Shrimp Creole. So many dishes and only a couple of days to try what I could. Health and good food choice went out the window completely in New Orleans. I didn’t find anything organic, vegan, local or sustainable in this city. I’m sure it was out there, but I was more focused on finding the restaurants with the best examples of New Orleans cuisine. With a bit more time I probably would have liked to sample the best of both worlds. Well, I think I would have too because this food is so heavy and hearty but not something I could eat every day. 

What’s your favourite New Orleans classic?

Drago’s Seafood Restaurant

When we arrived our Uber driver recommended the best places he loves to eat New Orleans cuisine. He recommended Drago’s Seafood Restaurant and Mothers Restaurant (below). So our first stop was Dragos. The location we visited was situated in the Hilton Hotel. The menu is so extensive. They specialize in seafood, so they everything you could want to try in New Orleans.We loved it so much we went back again.

My favourite dish was the Charbroiled Oysters. I’d never had oysters prepared this way and the others were oyster virgins. We are all converts now. They are so delicious and the buttery sauce was so amazing and you just want to dip every last morsel of bread into it. The Po’boy was huge. I’d never had catfish and it was nice, as were the lobster lollipops. On my second visit tried Mama Ruth’s Seafood Gumbo was really good despite the appearance. You expect for it to taste really like seafood but it was very smokey and rich. The brownie was not mine and I just cringe at the sight of the mountain of whipped cream. Marco said it was good though.

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dsc06716Mama Ruth’s Seafood Gumbo

dsc06715Crabmeat Salad

dsc06717Hot Brownie à la Mode

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Eating from Washington to Georgetown

We didn’t expect to really indulge in Washington, but the food here was fantastic. There are so many amazing cafes and restaurants to choose, with every cuisine you could imagine. Many of which are dedicated to local fresh quality ingredients and preparing everything from scratch. Although most of this food was pretty decadent, it was lovely to try American classics and other ethnic cuisines done really well. We were only in these cities for a couple of days, but so much more to try and see when we visit again.

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Eating from Boston to Cambridge

If you’re a foodie, Boston is definitely a place you want to visit. They are known for their fresh seafood, New England classics and Bostonian dishes, such as Clam Chowder, Scrod, Raw Oysters, Baked Beans, Cannoli and Boston Cream Pie. If your health conscious, vegan or vegetarian there are also plenty of cafes and restaurants that are focused on organic, local and sustainable food.

We only had a couple of days to see Boston and the Harvard, Cambridge, so we tried as much local cuisine as we could. It was really nice to try some of Bostons finest foods, by cooks and chefs that make everything traditionally and in-house with New England ingredients. There was so much we didn’t get to try, so I would definitely go back to eat everything thing else I missed.

Have you been to Boston and Cambridge? What were your favourite foods?

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Eating through NYC

When I was planning my trip to New York City I was a bit nervous what exactly I was going to eat over there. I try to stick to a lifestyle diet of mostly vegetarian, unprocessed, organic and chemical free food.  I also had my toddler with me, who is preferring more and more to only eat the same food as me, rather than her organic baby food. Friends had told me how it’s nearly impossible to find healthy unprocessed food in America, particularly New York. However, once I did a bit of research I found there were so many of delicious options available that were healthy and less processed. There some more indulgent options that are made by artisans from scratch.  New York is Foodie Mecca! Here are some of the most delicious meals I had while eating through New York City.

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By Chef Chloe

By Chef Chloe.jpgLast year for my 30th birthday present I went on a trip America! I have always dreamed of going to New York and it really was as amazing as I thought. We spent a week there, sight seeing, eating and walking, so much walking. One of the places at the top of my list was to visit Chloe Coscarelli’s restaurant By Chloe. I have been a fan of hers for a long time and own all three of her books that I cook from regularly.

Chloe Coscarelli first shot to fame when she won a culinary competition with her vegan cupcake on the Food Network’s reality series Cupcake Wars, back in 2010. Since then she has published three vegan cookbooks: Chloe’s Kitchen (2012); Chloe’s Vegan Desserts(2013) & Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen (2014). In 2015 she opened her first restaurant, by CHLOE, in New York City. She currently has three locations in New York, one in Los Angeles and is set to roll out more locations in New York and Boston.

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I can’t remember exactly how I came across her first book, but I fell in love with the easy to prepare delicious plant-based recipes. Not long after I purchased her dessert book, which I regularly use when entertaining friends. It was a dream come true when she brought out her vegan Italian cookbook. Coming from an Italian background myself I really loved the veganised versions of classic Italian dishes as well as some more inventive recipes using Italian ingredients.

While in New York we visited By Chloe in the West Village on Bleeker Street. This street has so many amazing restaurants, but one of the busiest by far was By Chloe. We arrived for a late afternoon lunch and there was a line to the door. This line didn’t get shorter the entire duration of our visit. We were lucky enough to grab a table in the limited dining room and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this busy little restaurant. The menu includes a range of burgers, salads, pasta, fries, juices, ice creams, and desserts.

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We ordered the Classic and Guac Burger, Sweet potato fries and the Kale Caesar Salad. They were all really delicious. The Guac was a little better than the Classic, as I think it was put together in a rush. However, with the addition of the free dipping sauces (yes free!) it was saved. I think incredibly delicious dipping sauces were Chipotle Mayo and Beetroot Ketchup. The salad again was perfection. It had smoky shiitake mushrooms, crunchy croutons, a well-balanced dressing and ‘parmesan’ crumbs.

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After that, we went back for desserts. There was a big selection, I wish I could have tried one of each. We got the Chocolate Chip Cookie, Raspberry Cupcake, Cloiser Chloe Cupcake and Kale Cookies & Cream Ice cream. They all tasted as good as they looked. The ice cream was also a nice surprise. I didn’t know what to expect but it didn’t really taste like kale.

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If you get the chance I really recommend you stop in at By Chloe. Like my partner, if you not vegan I still think you will enjoy it. If you are vegan, vegetarian or a health conscious eater you will definitely really love the abundance to healthy delicious food. By Chloe is not only 100% vegan but it is also 100% GMO free and uses organic, seasonal, and locally sourced ingredients.