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…
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).
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.
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.
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.
Welcome to the fourth and final post in my wrap up of my (not so) recent trip to London – you can check out the incidents of day three, what I got up to in day two or take a look a day one. It’s took me far to long to get to the point of talking about the final day of a four day trip but here we are, it’s the home stretch now!
And we started the day off extremely strongly – with breakfast at Dishoom. I’m pretty sure I saw the rec on Twitter at some point, as one of the unexpected perks of following A LOT of London-based publishing people is that you see a lot of yummy-looking food which become instant London restaurant recs! It’s also quite possible I Googled too… because I’m thorough like that. Anyways, the point is, before we got to London I knew I wanted to try Dishoom for breakfast/brunch to see if it lived up to the hype. Reader, it did. Not only did it live up to the hype, it far exceeded it and, in fact, I fully intend to try to work another Dishoom breakfast trip into any London itinerary in the future. It was just that good.
Welcome to the third post in my wrap up of my (not so) recent trip to London – you can check out what I got up to in day two here or take a look a day one here. What has inspired me to finally write up this, you may ask? Well, it just so happens that this very day I (yes I, not someone else) managed to bag some tickets to see Hamilton in the West End again in October! So it seemed about time to talk about the first time I was lucky enough to see the musical during my trip to London back in December 2017. Let’s see how Day Three of my London trip went, shall we? Let’s indulge nostalgia…
Day Three dawned bright and not so early and (not ashamed) we ended up eating leftover Dominos pizza as breakfast. We’re adults, we can make those kind of decisions, ok? We lazed about a bit, not going to lie, but knew we had to make it across to the first destination of the day by 11am – the Houses of Parliament tour – so we finally got up and got dressed and got ready to leave.
As soon as we stepped outside the hotel, I realise one very key thing – it was a shit weather day, there’s no two ways about it. I came very close to a hissy fit on the morning before we’d even got to Westminster because it was very cold and the weather had decided to do what I would call “horizontal rain”. Lovely. So instead of walking along Embankment, we plumped for hopping on the Tube at Tottenham Court Road (via Pret, naturally) and hopped off at Westminster. When you get closer to the River Thames, the wind gets stronger and that makes for a very miserable and very squidgy walk over to the Palace of Westminster.
We arrived at Westminster in plenty of time so we decided to take refuge in Westminster Abbey’s gift shop for a little while, and Liz managed to buy her Gran a nice postcard whilst we were in there. Then, scarves and hats donned, we headed back out into the driving rain for the mercifully short walk over to the Palace. As we approached the security gates at the visitor entrance I quickly realised that I’d been pissy about the rain but at least I didn’t have to stand out in it all day like the security guard did. We’d barely even said hi and started to make chit chat with him when he said “ah, it’s fucking freezing, I hate it” in an extremely broad Scottish accent. Nothing like a bit of weather-based banter to bring together nations, eh?
Welcome to the second post in my wrap up on my recent trip to London – take a look a day one here if you haven’t already.
After a double musical day of emotional musicals, I think both Liz and I were happy at the prospect of getting out of theatres and heading out of London for our planned activities on Sunday but, as you will see, things didn’t go quite as planned. I know how to do suspense, don’t I?
We woke bright and (reasonably) early, excited for our day at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Watford, and donned our Harry Potter related clothing, also bundling up with scarves and gloves after a quick peek at the snow (!) falling outside. Sunday mornings in London are weird, to say the least, because there are so few people on ordinarily busy streets and the snow was also good encouragement to stay indoors if you could. Even so, the snow wasn’t settling as the ground was already wet, so we decided to walk the twenty-minute walk to Euston. I wouldn’t presume to speak for both of us but I believe that we quickly regretted this decision to walk when Liz discovered her Vans weren’t quite as waterproof as we first hoped and my Chelsea boots, whilst pretty, had no grip to speak of on the soles. This makes for a very interesting walk on slippy streets.
Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting London for a long weekend of musical theatre and sightseeing! I feel extremely fortune to be able to see some many wonderful sights and I’m sure anyone who follows me on Instagram is bored of hearing about this trip but, for posterity’s sake, I thought I would do a quick travel diary on this blog to preserve the memories.
The entire trip was planned way back in January of this year for one very important reason – Liz and I managed to grab Monday night tickets to see Hamilton when it opened in the West End. We were both very excited, but it was January, and the tickets for the show weren’t until December. Even so, we started planning with gusto and decided to make a weekend out of it in the capital city. I’m so glad we did as it turned out to be a wonderful weekend full of sightseeing and musicals.
Luckily, Liverpool to London Euston is a short 2-hour train journey and we managed to nab early tickets which meant we got the train tickets very cheaply too – result! So Saturday morning rolled around, our suitcase was all packed, and thanks to a very kind lift to the station from Liz’s dad we were off on the 10 o’clock train zipping towards London. When we got to Euston plumped for a walk to the Travelodge hotel in Covent Garden since it was about 20-minutes away and it seemed a more appealing prospect than battling the Tube with a suitcase in tow. So, we headed off for Covent Garden. One of the reassuring things about trying to locate a hotel in Covent Garden is that, since it’s a major tourist spot, it’s handily signposted everywhere, and I vaguely remembered that, to get to it, you had to walk through universityland (aka UCL and SOAS) until you started to hit some of the more borderland theatres. Luckily, Motown the musical has opened up in a very gold and shimmery theatre just around the corner from the Travelodge so we definitely knew when we’d arrived in the right place!
“Getting there is half the fun”… or so the saying goes, and to paraphrase the Ed Byrne joke: “If getting there is half the fun, surely getting home is the other half, you’re having no fun on your holiday, go somewhere else next year”. Well, for once, getting there was indeed half the fun for me. Until this year, I had never travelled outside of Europe before, I had never been on an plane for longer than 3 hours, I had never travelled with anyone other than my family – my recent trip to DC and NYC with my friend/housemate, Liz, back in September changed all three of those statements. Because my memory is terrible, I want to keep a record of all the things we did on the trip, from the interesting to the mundane, and since I have a blog, it seems the perfect place to record said memories before I (inevitably) forget most of them.
Disclaimer: If you’re here for useful travel tips, you’ll be disappointed, go find an actual travel blog. If you’re here just because you read my book blog anyway, I can promise some mentions of books amongst all the tourist things and self-indulgent musings.
Because getting to DC was a relatively painless journey, but interesting (at least to me!), for posterity’s sake I kind of wanted to record even the “getting there” because it was a new experience and, in some ways, genuinely fun. Don’t worry, in future blog posts, I fully intend to cover the actually interesting bits of the trip, maybe with some added photos because I took a lot of those. So if that’s your bag, stick around for my not-so-intelligent insights!