So following on from part one of our awesome adventure to see the live final of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway at Walt Disney World, here’s part two of our fabulous Florida photo diary. Friday started with some safari fun at Tusker House, with a delicious African-themed breakfast with Mickey and friends. If you’re thinking of booking a character breakfast, this is a fab one to choose: the setting is gorgeous and after an early start, a delicious breakfast, and some musical fun with a host of characters, you’re all set to head out into Disney’s Animal Kingdom to enjoy your day at the park. Plus you get to hug Safari Mickey and dance with Donald Duck, I mean, what’s not to love?!
I’ve talked before about how much I love Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (one for the FastPass+ – the queue does go down very quickly though). It doesn’t matter how many times you go, every safari is different, every guide shows you different things and the animals you see vary wildly (see what I did there?). We spotted hippos, zebra, antelope, wild dogs, lions and loads more. This time, a curious giraffe wanted to join our tour – so much so that he poked his whole head inside our truck to say hello!
If you’re a fan of Instagram (or just want to get some beautiful pictures), Disney’s Animal Kingdom is full of gorgeous photo opportunities, including the famous ‘hidden Mickey’ at the Harambe Market:
And this uplifting message, hidden round a corner, which is always worth a photo:
If you’re looking for a lovely lunch spot, the new Harambe Market is a pretty place to stop for a while and feast on some delicious African-inspired food from the counter service restaurants there. In case you get caught in one of those brief Florida rain showers, there’s some covered seating, a well as shady umbrellas for when you need to cool down.
After some screaming (mostly Mr E) on Expedition Everest, it was time to wave goodbye to gorgeous Animal Kingdom and head to the future over at Epcot (brownie points for anyone who knows what EPCOT actually stands for*). Some of the best rides are here: use your FastPass+ for Frozen Ever After – it’s an adorable ride, even if you’re not a Frozen fan; and my absolute favourite ride ever, Soarin’ – I feel like I shouldn’t give it away if you haven’t ridden it yet, but it’s gorgeous: uplifting, jaw-dropping, even beautiful smelling (someone needs to market the scent of the Taj Mahal – I’d buy it right now).
As dusk fell, it was time to head over to our special spot to watch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. It’s an iconic part of visiting Epcot with such a wonderful message, and it always makes me feel really emotional:
Finally, Saturday, the day of the live show arrived, and it was time to head to the Magic Kingdom to get our Ant and Dec on! It was absolutely scorching hot as we took our seats in the special area in Town Square with all the ‘place on the plane’ ticket winners and other Virgin Holidays holidaymakers and I had to laugh when we found out we were sitting right by Scarlett Moffat’s Dad. Crew were handing out water and reminding everyone to let them know if anyone felt ill. I heard Mr E say ‘oh hi, how are you?’ thinking he’d seen someone he knew, but no, he was just introducing himself to random people again.
The show was breathtaking – if you haven’t seen it by now, you need to find it on YouTube. I’m in awe of the amount of work that went into the production, and also rather in awe of Ant and Dec performing in such scorching heat. The boys were watching at home and I could feel my phone pinging in my pocket as people at home spotted us on the telly (obviously we weren’t allowed to use our phones during filming). It seemed completely surreal watching Little Ant and Dec on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and seeing Ant and Dec eating popcorn on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. By the end, watching the huge song and dance number being performed with all the Disney characters on Main Street USA, it was all actually quite emotional (we were so chuffed for Scarlett Moffatt – we’d heard that she’d been really nervous, but absolutely nailed her Mary Poppins performance). We also knew from our chats with various friends at Disney, both here and in Florida that it was the culmination of an incredible amount of planning and effort, spanning months and months in the making.
What a magical end to a wonderful week. Massive thanks to everyone at ITV, Virgin Holidays and Disney Parks and Destinations for inviting us, spoiling us silly and including us in this fabulous project. As usual, if you’re heading to Walt Disney World and want some information about Walt Disney World holidays, check out my Walt Disney World Tips page. I’ll be updating my guide to Disney Springs with new dining and shopping options very soon too.
Loads of people asked me about my suitcase after seeing it on my Insta stories. It’s the fab soft sided Dakine roller from Board Basement. Although it’s probably meant more for skiers or boarders, it’s dead handy for holiday travel as it has loads of compartments, meaning you can keep shoes, toiletries, etc all in their own little compartments. It’s soft and squishy (as you can see) and even though I squashed a load of extra shopping in, I still didn’t feel I was overfilling it. It’s really easy to pull (and life – there are loads of soft handles in strategic places) and there are also tons of pockets on the outside which are really useful for stashing coats, magazines, chargers… all sorts of stuff that you might need easy access to. Another bonus is that the unusual print means that it’s really easy to spot on the carousel. Love love love it. Currently on sale at £118.50 and worth every penny. I think it will last a lifetime.
Don’t forget to book your airport parking: I always use APH Meet & Greet parking – they’re so friendly and helpful. Turn up, meet your driver outside the terminal and he whisks your car away while you head to your flight, then meets you at the terminal with your car after you collect your baggage on your return. So handy.
Book a 14-night family escape to Walt Disney World for £1299pp: spend fourteen nights in Orlando with Virgin Holidays including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick to Orlando and accommodation at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort.
Disney’s Free Dining Offer is Back!
Book now and you can save an additional £1,483 per family thanks to the Disney Dine offer that allows you to eat at nearly 300 locations around the park for free when staying at a Walt Disney World Resort.
Price is based on two adults and two children (under nine) travelling and sharing a room, including all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure of April 14 2018. Visit www.virginholidays.co.uk
* Epcot stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow