Oh, the Disney Dream. The delightful, delicious, delovely, delectable Disney Dream. Regular readers will know that I adore all the Disney Cruise Line ships, but there’s something about Disney Dream in particular that makes my heart sing. I think it’s because my first ever Disney Cruise was on board the Disney Dream. I just love everything about it – the restaurants, the fabulous AquaDuck water coaster, the gorgeous restaurants, the gorgeous cocktail bars, the sumptuous spa… So, if you’ve ever wondered what a cruise holiday on board a Disney Cruise Line ship is like, wonder no more. Sam (my oldest son) and I kept a diary during our cruise trip last week, and here’s part one.
So Sam and I are off on a trip on Sunday (don’t feel too bad for Charlie – we’re travelling together in April) on the delicious Disney Dream. Before I travel, I have a few little pre-trip rituals and pampering treats, and pack a few tried and trusted essentials. Here are my recommendations:
You know me, I adore Frozen. So the news that Anna and Elsa (and Sven and… yes, Olaf!) will be coming to the Disney Cruise Line ships has made me a happy girl.
So this year is all about throwing myself into new experiences and saying yes instead of no. I’ve done pretty well so far, what with the Sainsbury’s advert and being interviewed on the radio, and I’ve also committed to speaking at a big conference this year! Travel-wise, I’m all about doing stuff I’ve never done before and one of the things on the list is getting out into the great outdoors.
If you’re planning a family holiday this year, you can’t go very far wrong with the Canary Islands. The climate is beautiful year-round, and around this little archipelago just off the south west coast of Morocco, there’s a holiday, and a hotel, to suit you. Whether you’re looking for peace and quiet, or for a bustling party destination, there really is something for everyone. Here are my top five Canary Island experiences:
So if you pop in occasionally, you’ll know that Mr English and I recently spent a while in Florida, visiting the Macy’s stores in both Orlando and Sarasota. We particularly loved Sarasota – it’s a beautiful area and there’s bags of stuff to do as well as a really cool foodie scene. We whittled our favourite experiences down to five really fab experiences:
Average temperature in December is a lovely 19C, and even at night, the temperature will only dip down to 16C, so if you’re sick of chipping ice off your windscreen every morning, and fancy a holiday destination that’s only around 4.5 hours away, Tenerife is the place to visit.
So last time I told you all about the exciting #UKdoesMacys project, and about our first visit to the store at the Mall at Millenia in Orlando.
Here are my top five things to do and places to stay in Orlando. And, well, I think you can guess the first one…
Often, the most stressful part of travel is getting to the airport. On my last trip, the flights were difficult to book and I ended up flying from Heathrow, but returning back to Gatwick. We always use APH meet and greet parking (I love being met at the airport by someone who whisks your car away leaving you free to walk straight into the airport, then magically returns it just as you walk out again after your trip) so I decided to drive to Heathrow, leave my car, then get an airport coach back from Gatwick on my return. APH were wonderful, and moved my car to Terminal 5, the nearest terminal, so I had the shortest journey possible to pick up my car again. I was delighted.
There’s nowhere guaranteed to make me feel more Christmassy than a Disney park. Disney do Christmas so well, with twinkly lights, garlands and a 24m high Christmas tree (decorated with over 1000 decorations and 500 light bulbs) and, my favourite touch, snow fall on Main Street, USA (which always makes me cry). As an added bonus, this year, Disneyland Paris will be celebrating with the cast of their blockbuster movie, Frozen.
So next on our wonderful trip to Florida, we hopped back into our amazing Mustang and headed down to Sarasota, to the brand new Mall at University Town Centre (UTC for short). The brand new Macy’s there is utterly fantastic, and very state of the art. We joined store manager Kerry Yelle for a tour of the store. She’s understandably pretty proud of the place and pointed out several really cool features that are unique to this ‘smart store’. The lighting, for example, has been designed to be sustainable and the lamps don’t need replacing, plus the changing rooms have lights that only come on when you enter, to save energy.
Having shopped until we dropped at Macy’s, we decided to grab a couple of hours at Universal Orlando (well, seeing as we were so close…). I was desperate to visit the new Diagon Alley section of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so we headed straight to Universal’s Islands of Adventure on the complimentary shuttle bus from the Cabana Bay Beach Resort and headed straight to Hogsmeade Station to wait for the Hogwarts Express:
So last time I told you all about Quantum’s incredible technology. It really has transformed nearly every aspect of the guest experience, from super speedy check in and luggage tracing, right down to the dining. Guests can reserve at iQ stations, by the new app, by phone or in person and with 18 restaurants and 14 bars to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Table staff take orders on a tablet, keeping them where customers need them most, in the restaurant, and this technology will track you no matter where you eat, so if you love a glass of champagne while you order, or if you have any specific dietary requirements, this will all be logged and the information will be available to each restaurant when you arrive.
I’ve been SO busy whizzing around all over the place, and have so much to tell you (I’m aware I always say this, but it’s generally true!). So last week, lovely Macy’s, the famous department store in the USA, invited me to their store in Orlando at the Mall at Millenia, and also to visit the new store in Sarasota. I’ll just let that sink in – I was invited to AMERICA to GO SHOPPING. And also, because it was his special birthday (not allowed to say but you know the one), they invited Mr English too!
So if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I headed over to Orlando last month to check out the fantastic dining options at Walt Disney World. Here’s my video report from my trip. Remember, you’ve only got one week left to book your 2015 holiday and take advantage of the free dining offer. Read all about it here!
One of my absolute favourite adventures while we were in Walt Disney World was a special, money can’t buy visit to Chef Jeff, Executive Chef at Disney’s beautiful Contemporary Resort, one of my top five Walt Disney World resort hotels. Chef Jeff and his team are responsible for all the patisserie for the resort, from gorgeous special occasion cakes, to the wonderful cupcakes available in the café.
I love Halloween. What’s not to love about dressing up, socialising and eating loads of sweets? It’s like it was made for me. It’s also brilliant that it coincides with half term too, which means it’s a fab time to get away for a little ‘staycation’ with the family.
So as I mentioned recently, I’ve been in Orlando for a few days with my friend Laura, experiencing the fabulous food (plus the odd ride, parade, and other lovely things) available throughout Walt Disney World.
One of the highlights of Walt Disney World for me is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I adore the showbiz theming – it feels like a real movie set, with all the main areas seamlessly blending into each other.
So this week I’ve been at Walt Disney World at the UK Culinary Showcase, discovering everything about the Disney Dining Plan (much more of this coming up shortly – including a special offer) and also whizzing around on a few rides and hugging a few Disney characters, as you do.
One of the huge perks of my job is all the travel. I get to visit some wonderful places and cruise on amazing ships. I’m always pinching myself at how lucky I am. One of the bits that I enjoy the least, though, is getting to the airport. We actually only live about half an hour from Heathrow, but depending on how things are on the M25, that half hour can magically change into an hour or even longer.
So as you’re reading this, I’m out in Orlando at Walt Disney World, catching up on the latest in food and wine (and tackling the odd ride, obviously). During my last trip to Walt Disney World, I was lucky enough to stay in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. I love the theming of the Disney resorts and this is one of my favourites. Based on the old American Northwest, the hotel sits on the shores of Bay Lake, nestled within beautiful forests. The interior is like a big old log cabin, with wonderful outdoor areas and access to the Magic Kingdom via the lovely boat service (or of course the free Disney coach service) that takes you to Seven Seas Lagoon (click on the gallery to see my pictures):
Regular readers will know that I adore a Walt Disney resort hotel (click here to see my top five) and there’s much excitement in Orlando at the moment as there’s a new hotel opening very shortly. This one’s a bit different as although it’s placed within the boundaries of Walt Disney World, it’s actually a Four Seasons. The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort to give it its full title (bit of a mouthful, admittedly) is shaping up to be an absolute beauty.
I love a cute little infographic and this one all about summer at Center Parcs really caught my eye. Everybody knows that when the sun is shining, there’s no nicer place to be than right here at home and there’s a lot to be said for missing out all the queues at security and that airport parking to enjoy a summer holiday here in the UK.
- Win a £100 lifestyle voucher with Quandoo.co.uk! March 11, 2015
- Rise in house prices leaves grown children needing financial support March 10, 2015
- Mothers’ Day loveliness March 6, 2015
- Travel checklist March 4, 2015
- The March #foodiephotoaday Instagram challenge March 1, 2015