Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Ultimate guide to Pandora - The World of Avatar

Pandora is the latest theme park addition at Walt Disney World and it's encouraging lots of Disney guests to flock to the Animal Kingdom for Avatar-themed rides, food and merchandise. It's the biggest change to the park in years and the new area took over 3 years to build. Pandora feels like the future of theme parks, with never before seen technology and the uttermost attention to detail in creating an immersive theme park experience. With the next 2 Avatar movies getting released in 2020 and 2021, there couldn't be a better time to have Avatar at Walt Disney World and the huge queues at Avatar's attractions (sometimes up to 4 hours) are proof of how much of a success the theme park area has been so far. I got to visit Pandora in July and although it was insanely busy, I was able to experience all of what Pandora has to offer. Today I'm going to be sharing my 'Ultimate guide to Pandora', which should hopefully provide future visitors with tips and information about visiting the absolutely amazing World of Avatar.

Pandora - The World of Avatar at sunset


Colors of Moara, Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom

There are 2 attractions in Pandora: Flight of Passage and Na'vi River Journey. Flight of Passage always gets longer queues than Na'vi because it's an intense, simulation ride that makes you feel like you're an Avatar living in Pandora. Na'vi is a calm boat ride, that showcases Pandora's indigenous people, their culture and their wonderful planet.

If you can get FastPasses for either of these rides, don't hesitate in booking them straightaway. However if you don't and you're a Walt Disney World hotel guest, head to Animal Kingdom on an extra magic hours day and arrive half an hour before the extra magic hours time slot. This will get you to the front of the queue at the entrance and you'll be in prime position for making a dash for Pandora. Once the Cast Members start letting you into the park, be prepared to walk quickly, as the more people you can get ahead of before you reach Pandora, the less of a queue you'll have when you get to the rides. Once you get to the entrance of Pandora, Cast Members will hold you back and stop you "fast walking" (running) and gradually form queues for both rides. We didn't get FastPasses for Pandora in July, but following these steps meant that we were able to walk onto both of the rides without any queues!


Satu'li Canteen, Pandora - The World of Avatar. An Avatar-themed quick service restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Satu'li Canteen is Pandora's quick service restaurant. The menu is slightly whacky and a bit 'unique', but I guess that's part of the fun of it being an Avatar-themed restaurant. We stopped there for breakfast and I ordered the Cinnamon Swirl French Toast, which came with blueberry cream cheese dollop, passion fruit anglaise and pork sausage. It was okay, but not the best breakfast I've had on Disney property. It's a nice experience getting to dine at at the Pandora restaurant, but it's not somewhere I'd recommend to fussy eaters.

Breakfast at Satu'li Canteen, Pandora - The World of Avatar


Pongu Pongu drinks stall at Pandora - The World of Avatar

There's a drinks stall in Pandora called Pongu Pongu and it sells some really funky drinks! There's the instagram-famous Night Blossom which is pink and green, as well as some alcoholic options too, such as the Mo'ara Margarita. I ordered a Night Blossom and it tasted just like sherbet.

Night Blossom drink at Pandora - The World of Avatar


Pandora - The World of Avatar merchandise

Windtraders is where you can buy Avatar-themed merchandise. There's Avatar-themed clothing, mugs, jewellery and more, so you're bound to find a nice Pandora souvenir to take home! 

When to visit

The moss wall at Pandora - The World of Avatar

To avoid the queues for the rides, head to Pandora first thing in the morning. However, you don't get to see the area all lit up in the morning, so you'll need to make another trip there in the evening to see it when the flowers, waterfall and surroundings all start to glow.

Pandora - The World of Avatar at sunset

Pandora is by far the most exciting land that Disney have produced in a long time. The 3 years of construction has been to totally worth it and guests throughout Walt Disney World have nothing but praise for the new developments.

Are you an Avatar fan? Will you be visiting Pandora - The World of Avatar anytime soon?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Monday, 24 July 2017

10 new experiences I had at Walt Disney World this year

I was in Florida 3 weeks ago, having a wonderful time at Walt Disney World with my parents. Orlando is one of my favourite places to visit and I've been fortunate enough to go back to the theme parks multiple times throughout my childhood. After touring the USA for 8 days in June of this year, we decided to stay in Orlando for 10 days at the end of the trip. One of the things I noticed on this recent trip was the fact that lots had changed since my previous visit in 2014. Changes mean new experiences and I thought I'd talk about them in today's post, along with some classic Disney must-dos that I got to experience for the first time this year. From the World of Avatar to Star Wars at Hollywood Studios, there are lots of exciting and new attractions in Orlando now! I'm glad that Disney have started to update the parks and introduce new experiences for guests.

Pandora - World of Avatar merchandise

1. Pandora - The World of Avatar.

Pandora - World of Avatar

Pandora. Where do I even begin? I can only describe it as the future of theme parks and a wonderful re-imagination of the fantasy world in James Cameron's Avatar movie. The area opened at Animal Kingdom in late May 2017 and I have a separate blog post planned where I'll show you lots of sneak peeks, tips and advice for Pandora.

2. The Happily Ever Fireworks.

Happily Ever After fireworks Magic Kingdom

Happily Ever After is the new fireworks extravaganza at the Magic Kingdom and it's a wonderful tribute to both classic and new Disney movies. I got to see the show for the first time this trip and I was so excited to see lots of different movie scenes and songs featured. From Moana to Hercules and Aladdin to Tarzan, Happily Ever After really has something for everyone!

3. Star Wars at Hollywood Studios.

Star Wars at Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios is gradually converting itself into a celebration of the Star Wars Saga. You can meet some of the characters from the movies at the Star Wars Launch Bay, there's the iconic ride Star Tours and there's even themed fireworks in the evening. I met BB-8 and we watched the fireworks, but we didn't go on Star Tours this trip. Over the next couple of years there will be even more Star Wars attractions and it all looks incredibly exciting!

4. Disney Springs.

Disney Springs Walt Disney World

Disney Springs was totally new to us this trip. The last time we visited it was still Downtown Disney and oh my, has it changed! The new shopping area is so pretty, clean and well kept; shopping there must be an absolute delight! It's a shame that the GBP to USD exchange rate is so poor at the moment.

5. Sprinkles Cupcake ATM at Disney Springs.

Sprinkles Cupcake ATM at Walt Disney World

If you like visiting Florida and you're on instagram, you will definitely have heard of the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM at Disney Springs. It works just like a cash machine where you make a transaction, but instead of receiving cash, you receive a cupcake! The ATM is lots of fun to use and the cupcakes are delicious, so I definitely recommend visiting if you're exploring Disney Springs.

6. Dinner at Be Our Guest.

Dinner at Be Our Guest restaurant

Dining at the famous Beauty and the Beast restaurant was an experience! We failed to make our first reservation because I was sick outside the restaurant from heat exhaustion, but a few days later when I was feeling much more rested, we headed back and had a lovely meal. I ordered the ratatouille for my main course and the Grey Stuff for dessert (which as Lumière says in the movie: is delicious)!

At the end of the meal I got to meet the Beast and that was my first time meeting him at Walt Disney World.

7. Soarin' around the world at Epcot.

Soarin' ride at Epcot

Soarin' is one of the most popular attractions at Epcot and it used to be a paragliding simulator, that took you on a tour of California. Since my last trip, they've renovated the ride into a world tour and I must say, the new ride is even better than the original! You get to fly over the Eiffel Tower, the Matterhorn and Neuschwanstein Castle to name a few, which is way more adventurous than the old version!

8. Frozen ride at Epcot.

Frozen Ever After ride at Epcot

The Frozen Ever After attraction was created after the outstanding success of the movie. To make way for the new ride, Maelstrom (a World Showcase classic) was closed and Disney used the Maelstrom infrastructure as a foundation for the new ride. I got to ride Frozen Ever After whilst we were in Florida and although it did feel like a more glamorous version of Maelstrom with the Frozen characters thrown in, I did really enjoy the ride.

9. Nighttime at Animal Kingdom park.

Nighttime at Animal Kingdom Walt Disney World

Animal Kingdom is now open much later in the evening than it was when I was younger.  This change in opening times has meant that Animal Kingdom now has an evening atmosphere and we got to experience it for the first time this trip. Pandora turns into an exhibition of amazing light effects, the Rivers of Light nighttime show brings the Asia section of the park to life with brilliant light-up floats on water and the Tree of Life awakenings illuminate the park's signature attraction. Although the Africa area of the park doesn't have a specific nighttime attraction, the streets of Africa come alive with music and dancing in the evening.

Pandora - World of Avatar at nighttime

Creating nighttime experiences at Animal Kingdom has made the park so much more exciting. TOP TIP: If you wander around Pandora just before and after sunset in the evening, you'll get to see the area's mesmerising transition from day to night and see all of the flowers light up - just like they do in the Avatar movie!

10. Breakfast with the Princesses at Epcot.

Princess breakfast at Epcot in the Norway Pavilion

This is not a new experience at Walt Disney World as it's been around for a while, but it was our first time dining in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot. We had breakfast with the Princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and it was a lovely experience. I got to meet most of the Princesses, including my childhood favourite Snow White, and there were lots of yummy Norwegian-themed breakfast offerings. This was probably my favourite breakfast at Walt Disney World, as it was a buffet filled with lots of continental options such as fruit and pastries.

Our Walt Disney World trip was filled with lots of new experiences! I'm so glad that we were there during the opening months of Pandora.

What do you think of the changes at Walt Disney World over the past few years? Are you excited for the new Star Wars developments.

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

5 hours in Toronto, Canada

During our USA road trip, we had 3 days to visit Niagara Falls and the surrounding area, so we decided to cross the border into Canada and spend one of those days in Toronto. Toronto is a vast metropolis and it’s one of the closest big Canadian cities to the Niagara Falls border. Lots of people commute to Toronto for work, so it’s known for being very congested during rush hour. If you’re going to visit for the day, you have to pick your times wisely and avoid entering and exiting the city at certain times. Taking these precautions meant we only had 5 hours in the city, but there’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic for ages at a stand still. Albeit a short trip into Toronto, I really enjoyed exploring the city and going up to the top of the CN Tower, so I thought I’d blog about we got up to whilst we were in Toronto.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

What I ate in Boston

When you visit the USA, one of the first things you will notice is the food. It is home to fried chicken, buffalo wings and hamburgers, as well as traditional favourites such as pumpkin pie, turkey and cranberry sauce, which are always at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Whilst staying in Boston we ate in during the evenings, but for breakfast and snacks during the day we got to try lots of classic American treats. I thought I'd show you some photos of the food we ate in today's post.

Chocolate chip and walnut pancakes at Buddy's Diner, Somerville

Buddy's Diner is a little independent restaurant that is located in Somerville, MA. We went there after reading some fantastic reviews on Google and it did not disappoint! As it was my first breakfast in America, I absolutely had to order pancakes. The chocolate chip and walnut variety were absolutely delicious!

Ben & Jerry's ice cream

For a snack in the afternoon, we went to Ben & Jerry's for ice cream. The Boston branch is located on Newbury Street and they have a huge range of flavours in store. Mum and I shared a bowl because the portion sizes were so big and we had scoops of Cookie Dough, Mint Chocolate Chunk and Caramel Chew Chew.

Cocktails at the Cheers Bar

This one isn't food related, but I couldn't not include our Cheers Bar drinks in this post. My Dad ordered one of the local beers and my Mum and I chose matching non-alcoholic mixed fruit cocktails.

Granola parfait at Au Bon Pain

We went to Au Bon Pain for a healthier breakfast on our second day. We ordered granola parfaits and fresh fruit.

Chocolate orange cake at L.A. Burdick Chocolate Café, Harvard Square

The L.A. Burdick Chocolate Café was marked on my Cambridge, MA map, so we stopped there for afternoon tea when we visited the Harvard University campus. The café felt very nostalgic with it's colourful stripy walls and the cakes were absolutely delicious!

Takeaway pizza from a local pizzeria in Somerville

On our last night in Boston, we ordered takeaway pizza. It was just what we needed after a busy day of exploring!

We ate some really yummy food in Boston. America certainly knows how to do desserts!

What's your favourite American food?

Thanks for reading my blog today.