Travel | Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World

When it comes to Disney parks, I think anyone who knows me would suspect that maybe, just maybe, I would enjoy Hollywood Studios. The clue is in the name: this is the park that mostly closely considers the actual process of filmmaking and the magic behind the proverbial curtain. Because of this, it isn’t just themed rides that you will find in Hollywood Studios, but also plenty of stage shows and performances. When I was trying to decide on the order of writing these posts about Disney in order of my favourites, I struggled to decide whether I preferred Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios more. The thing that swung the balance in Hollywood Studios favour was simply the feel of the park; the aesthetic of the studios is very much my jam, and this is a fact that travel buddy Liz would attest to. Even before I went there, I knew I’d prefer it.


Hollywood Studios opened in May 1989 and was the third of the four Disney World theme parks to be built. It focuses on film, TV, music, and theatre and is definitely heavily inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood. Originally, it was intended to function as both a theme park inspired by this and also operate as a production studio, complete with working backlot. Nowadays it more so goes for “the feel” of a functioning studio lot and it’s probably also the park that most closely resembles competitor Universal Studios.

“The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was—and always will be.”

The park is split into six areas: Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Grand Avenue, Animation Courtyard, Sunset Boulevard, and Toy Story Land. Work is currently underway for a new Star Wars land which will expand the park, and feature two rides themed on the film franchise, as well as a new themed hotel. Because of this there was a bunch of construction going on at the Studios, with some areas blocked off, so this won’t be an exhaustive list of the attractions there but is a pretty accurate travel diary of what I thought of what I did go on…

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #4

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, throughout 2018 I have been doing check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, at the end of June I posted my second check-in, and my third check-in came at the beginning of October. Today’s post is my fourth and final quarterly check-in and will, ultimately, also deliberate on whether I completed my goals and aims for 2018 or not.

(If you need/want an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here before diving in to see how I did below.)

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: Completed
At my last check-in I’d read 63 books and I mentioned that I was hoping to get to 75 by the end of 2018. well, I surpassed that. I’m quite proud of myself for that. Presuming I finish off the book I’m currently reading tonight before that arbitrary ticking over of the clock from 11.59pm on 31st December 2018 to 12.00am on 1st January 2019 then I will have read 83 books in 2018 and will be rather pleased with myself for that.

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: Completed
Progress on this slowed considerably in the third quarter of 2018, and I had many challenges left. December dawning weirdly motivated me to keep going because I was behind but not insurmountably so, if I just sat down and worked out what I needed to read to complete the challenge. As I sit and type this post up, it’s New Year’s Eve and I have one book left to finish the challenge of “a gothic novel”. About 120 pages stand between me and saying I completed Around the Year in 52 Books so I’m going to optimistically say I’ve completed this resolution and hope that, by doing so, I haven’t damned myself.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failed
As mentioned at my last check-in, I didn’t even think about finishing any series and that tradition carried on into the rest of 2018 too. It just wasn’t a priority for me anymore and, do you know what? I think I’m ok with that.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failed
It’s becoming a joke right now but, nope, I still haven’t finished War and Peace. It’s getting faintly a little ridiculous now. I just can’t decide if I’m going to need to start afresh or at least read a length summary of the first five volumes before I can finally read the sixth part of the book – not wanting to face up to this possibility is what has definitely put me off picking up Tolstoy’s brick again. I also didn’t read another Russian classic but, hey, I read a huge French classic in the form of The Count of Monte Cristo so does that count?

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Travel | Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World

Welcome one, welcome all, to the third of my travel posts from my recent trip to Orlando, Florida! In my previous posts I did a guide (of sorts) to Universal Studios’ The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and to Epcot at Walt Disney World and now we move onto the second of my Disney World guides/recaps.

Whilst planning out my recaps of the four parks, I decided I should do a sort of reverse/ascending order, starting with the park which I liked least or, rather, my fourth favourite because, let’s face it, Disney World is amazing so I didn’t actually dislike any of the parks! But today I’m here to bring you my thoughts on my third favourite park, Animal Kingdom!

“Welcome to a kingdom of animals… real, ancient and imagined: a kingdom ruled by lions, dinosaurs and dragons; a kingdom of balance, harmony and survival; a kingdom we enter to share in the wonder, gaze at the beauty, thrill at the drama, and learn.”

We were lucky enough to happen to be in Animal Kingdom in its 20th year – that’s right, it’s only 20 years old, having been opened on Earth Day in 1998. It’s the youngest but also the largest theme park and, as you can tell from its name, it is themed entirely around the natural world and animal conservation. The park is split into seven sections: Oasis, Discovery Island, Pandora, Asia, Africa, Dinoland USA, and Rafiki’s Planet Watch (although the last was closed when we were there).

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Travel | Epcot at Walt Disney World

Welcome one, welcome all, to the second of my travel posts from my recent trip to Orlando, Florida! In my previous post I did a guide (of sorts) to Universal Studios’ The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and now we move onto the first of my Disney World guides/recaps. Whilst planning out my recaps of the four parks, I decided I should do a sort of reverse/ascending order, starting with the park which I liked least or, rather, my fourth favourite because, let’s face it, Disney World is amazing so I didn’t actually dislike any of the parks! But today I’m here to bring you my thoughts on Epcot!

“To all who come to this place of joy, hope and friendship, welcome.

Epcot is inspired by Walt Disney’s creative vision. Here, human achievements are celebrated through imagination, wonders of enterprise and concepts of a future that promises new and exciting benefits for all.

May EPCOT Center entertain, inform and inspire and above all, may it instill a new sense of belief and pride in man’s ability to shape a world that offers hope to people everywhere.”

The second oldest of the Disney World Florida parks, Epcot stands as a celebration of human achievement and technology and feels like a sort of homage to the idea of a World Fair. In fact, it was originally a concept that Walt Disney had for an Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (aka EPCOT) that could be the ideal blueprint for urban living for the next generations. When he died, the project was reimagined into what became Epcot.

Nowadays, Epcot is split into two distinct areas: Future World and the World Showcase.

Future World is exactly what it sounds like – if you imagine what people would think the future was full of when conceiving the park. Ever seen the iconic golf ball-esque structure that dominates Epcot’s entrance? Yeah, that’s Spaceship Earth, a dark ride which features the voiceover of the glorious Dame Judi Dench who narrates the story of, well, the Earth and how advances in human communication helped to take us from prehistoric man to the modern and mass communications we’re used to nowadays. I’m not sure if you could call it a ride in the traditional sense – it’s more of your Haunted Mansion speed of “ride”, which meant I actually enjoyed it! (However, I did feel strangely motion sick in the final bit where it tips your ride car slightly back to see an infinite star field and to give you the angle to descend from the top of the ride back to the loading area so word of warning to those susceptible to sickness!) Also I now have officially heard the infamous “Remember how easy it was to learn your ABC’s? Thank the Phoenicians—they invented them” line.

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Travel | Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando

I visited Universal Studios during a trip to Orlando at the end of October/beginning of November. As I was visiting Walt Disney World in said trip, it seemed rude not to pop by Universal and check out what they had on offer too.

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Now, I have to start this post by admitting that I am not the biggest ride fan… which may seem a weird thing to say given that this is the holiday I chose to go on but bear with me a minute whilst I explain. I don’t really get the thrill of rides that are designed simply to have the most inversions or the quickest acceleration or the longest free-fall drop or whatever. That doesn’t really “thrill” me like it clearly does other people. I’m more so in it for the theming, which is why the likes of Disney do appeal to me even though I was the girl who stood and watched the bags and coats when the rest of my classmates tore through Alton Towers theme park. Universal is somewhere between the two, it seems: it has big rides for the thrill seekers and it feels a lot more of an “adult” park than Disney does (the fact it hosts Halloween Horror Nights probably has a lot to do with that) but it still goes all out on its theme. There was only one area of Universal I was actually interested in: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

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Try a Chapter | Choosing My Disney Holiday TBR

You might have seen my previous go at Try a Chapter for my Barcelona holiday back at the start of September, and it worked so well helping me choose which books to take with me on holiday… whether I read all of them is another issue but shhhhh. And, much like with my previous holiday TBR, I’m not sure how much reading time I’ll actually get on account of the fact I’ll probably be too distracted by the magical world of Disney but I’m willing to try anyway.

There’s a good chance that I’ll be quite tired – ok, mainly my feet will be tired – at the end of most days of this holiday, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to take a few moments to read, so let us see which books I’m fancying reading, shall we? These are what I have to choose from:

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #3

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, I do check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, and at the end of June I posted my second check-in.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Even though the fact we’re now in October scares me a little a lot, let’s not panic about the encroaching end-of-the-year feeling and instead let’s see how I did with my resolutions in the months of July, August, and September.

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: Completed
At my last check-in, I was on-track to complete this goal at 45 books and I am very happy to report that I have smashed this goal and I’m now sitting pretty on 63 books read in 2018. I’m really hoping I can get to at least 75 books by the end of the year but let’s see how it goes, shall we?

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: On Track
So, at my last check-in for the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge I had 18 challenges remaining and now I have 15 left to go so it’s safe to say I’ve completely neglected this reading challenge in the last quarter. As we head into the fourth and final quarter, I’ll need to re-focus on this goal if I hope to finish it this year. It would be a shame not to.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failing
So, since my last check-in, I’m not sure I even thought about finishing any series. I really need to get back on this reading challenge too. I’d really like to think I could at least finish off the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater by the end of the year, but I’ve been putting off finally finishing the fourth book since it was published so I’m not holding out too much hope.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failing
Sooo I still haven’t finished War and Peace or another Russian classic, but I have read The Count of Monte Cristo if that at all counts. I don’t think it does but, even so, let’s all take a moment to celebrate the fact I actually managed to finish a huge (French) classic instead!

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Try a Chapter | Choosing My Holiday TBR

Folks, I’m (what feels like) finally heading off for a little bit of a summer holiday. I’ll be heading to Barcelona, somewhere I’ve somehow never visited before now despite holidaying in Spain with my family since I was 18 months old (!), and I cannot wait, it’s going to be so much fun! We don’t have too much planned – the only thing we’ve booked in advance is the tickets for La Sagrada Familia so we’re mainly planning to take it easy and wander about, soaking up (hopefully) some sun and all Barcelona has to offer. As I type this, I am deep in the midst of packing, but I’ve taken time away from my suitcase to address something very important in the packing process for a bookworm: deciding which books to take with me.

I don’t know how much reading time I’m going to get, but I do know I am holidaying with people who understand wanting to read, regardless of where you happen to be in the world. So, I need to pick out my holiday TBR. As we only have hand luggage, I’m trying to limit my book selection, and rationalise the fact that we’re only away for 5 days so I don’t actually need to take more than 2 books. I saw Ashleigh from A Frolic Through Fiction do a “try a chapter” challenge in order to pick her holiday TBR, and I thought it was a brilliant idea to pick out what books you’re actually in the mood for, rather than the ones you just think you’re in the mood for. So, with that in mind, here are the contenders that I’m going to try out…

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #2

As you may have seen if you’re been around the blog for a while, I do check-ins for my yearly resolutions as a way of keeping me accountable to more people than just myself. At the end of the first quarter of 2018, I posted my first check-in, and here we are today with my second quarterly check-in for the months of April, May, and June.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing now we’re halfway through the year…

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: On Track
I stand at 45 out of 52 books read for 2018 so, unless something major happens, I should comfortably make my goal to read 52 books. Depending how industrious I’m feeling I may even up the challenge goal/resolution once I get to 52.

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: On Track
At my last check-in, every single book I’d read at that point in 2018 had also completed one of the Around the Year challenges. That isn’t the case now since I’ve been doing some readalongs and readathons that don’t necessarily tally with the challenges. However, I’ve also had a pretty good quarter in terms of the number of books I’ve read so I’ve made good progress nevertheless with the Around the Year challenges. I’ve now ticked off most of the easy ones and have 18 challenges remaining so, with some forward planning, I should be able to complete this goal too.

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: On Track
Although I haven’t actively been participating in Anna’s #SeriestoFinish2018 challenge (I feel so guilty about this), I have subconsciously been trying to force myself to get to sequels and finish off series, or at least get as up-to-date with them as I can. Case in point: I recently finally read the sequel to An Ember in the Ashes and am planning to pick up the newest book A Reaper at the Gates this month. I also only have one Winner’s trilogy book left, which is progress so… I’d consider this kind of a win?

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failing
Well I still haven’t finished War and Peace. Believe me, I know… I know it’s getting ridiculous now. However, in this quarter I have re-read all my weekly posts from during the War and Peace Newbies Readalong, so I’ve refreshed my memory of the plot and am ready to tackle the last 200 or so pages of Tolstoy’s tome this month in fact. After that I think I might try to finally make it through all the pages of Anna Karenina, again, I’ve tried multiple times but I always stall for some unknown reason, but that likely won’t be until near the end of 2018 since I have other readalongs and readathons planned over the summer/autumn.

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My 2018 Resolutions | Quarterly Check-in #1

Last year I did quite well with my yearly resolutions, I think, in part, because I regularly “checked in” with them and had a look at how I was doing. Since it worked so well (not to blow my own trumpet) in 2017, I’ve decided to carry on that tradition into 2018 so this is the first of my Quarterly Check-in posts. I’ll have a look at each of my 2018 Resolutions and see how I’ve fared in the months of January, February, and March.

For those who care to have an in-depth reminder of my 2018 Resolutions you can find that post here. Now let us examine how I’m doing three months into the year…

READING GOALS

1. Complete Goodreads 52 Books goal

Verdict: On Track
I’ve managed to read 17 books already this year which Goodreads informs me is 6 books ahead of schedule – go me! If I carry on at this pace all year (which seems unlikely given some exciting holidays planned and a desire to read more classics), I should easily surpass my 52 books target. Fingers crossed?

2. Complete Around the Year in 52 Books

Verdict: On Track
As it stands, every single book I have read thus far in 2018 also completes one of the challenges for the Around the Year Reading Challenge. This is because I’ve been mindful of what books I’m choosing to read and, mostly, because the Reading Challenge is quite adaptable. That being said, once I start whittling the challenges down I am sure it will get harder to match a book to a challenge and I will instead find myself doing it vice versa, i.e. I’ll be picking a book to read that matches a challenge rather than finding which challenge matches the book I’ve just read!

3. Finish off the books in a series I have yet to read

Verdict: Failing
I am definitely failing quite supremely at this because I haven’t given it a moment’s thought after impulsively signing up for Anna’s #SeriestoFinish2018 challenge back in December. I’m feeling very guilty about my complete lack of participation so I hope to get back on the horse, so to speak, and concentrate on finishing off some of those books in a series.

4. Finish War and Peace and read another Russian classic

Verdict: Failing
Until earlier this week, I hadn’t even thought about picking up War and Peace again, even though I know every week is a ticking clock of me retaining any memory of what happened in the first 1000ish pages of this behemoth of a book. I only have about 300 pages left to read so I really need to get to it, it’s not even funny anymore. I won’t let myself move onto another Russian classic either until I’ve defeated this one so I really need to make this a priority – I’ve said I will in my recent Spring TBR post so I’m pretty much duty bound to now.

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