Life With Pink Princesses A personal blog from the heart of a young Mum Wed, 21 Aug 2019 20:49:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 98180168 Disney Magic Kingdom For The First Time #12 Sat, 24 Aug 2019 07:00:00 +0000 I am literally bouncing off of the walls to finally share our Disney days. This post is all about our time at Magic Kingdom which was the first of four days at Walt Disney World Orlando.  It contains a lot of photos, I had to put them all in collages because I literally took hundreds. …

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I am literally bouncing off of the walls to finally share our Disney days. This post is all about our time at Magic Kingdom which was the first of four days at Walt Disney World Orlando.  It contains a lot of photos, I had to put them all in collages because I literally took hundreds.

Our tickets to Disney World were kindly gifted to us along with some amazing FastPass enhancements. Usually you get 3 FastPasses per guest at Disney and we had been gifted more. We also had a Michael’s VIP tour guide for all four of our Disney days which I’d highly recommend if you are first time Disney visitors like we were.

We met up with Brooke, our tour guide, at the Disney Contemporary hotel. She was bubbly and excited to share our day with us. As our tickets had been arranged on our behalf and we wasn’t staying on site, we needed to pick up our FastPass+ cards. I love that they all have Disney photos on. We then headed for the entrance.

It’s hard to put into words the excitement I felt that morning. Obviously I’d seen loads of pictures, watched many hours of Disney vlogs and researched ahead of our trip, but I didn’t truly know what to expect from it all. Would it be as amazing as I hoped it would?

I can confirm that seeing the Magic Kingdom was everything and more. You can hear in my video an excited squeak! The girls were a little confused from our excitement. Weirdly they hadn’t been that interested in all the Disney stuff especially the older movies.

We took a quick toilet stop, time to smother on sun screen, a snack and drink before we head to watch the opening show at the foot of the castle. Brooke made sure we had the best position and prewarned Freya of the little fireworks they let off. This was the first time we got to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse, with the Disney Princesses too. It was all very exciting.

The castle was opened and we walked through into the park. There’s a beautiful mosaic as you walk through and with the crowds its easy to forget to take a look at it. It’s absolutely stunning and so clever.

To kick start our Disney magic, Brooke hopped us in to see the Disney Princesses Rapunzel and Tiana. We didn’t have FastPasses for this but the queue was really short as it was first thing in the morning. Eva had specifically asked to see Rapunzel when I sent our requests to the Michael’s VIP team ahead of our trip. She is aspiring to have hair just as long.

We used our first FastPass for Speedway. Speedway is suitable for anyone above 81cm tall. When we showed the girls different videos of rides at Disney (Freya has autism in case you didn’t know and likes to prepare and know what is going to happen) Elsa specifically wanted to do Speedway.

The ride allows you to take control of a gas-powered car that stays on a track so you can’t lose control. I actually found the pedal really hard to push and they are very noisy cars, but the girls had the best time. As Eva does, she became attached to Brooke our tour guide so she was riding with her, I had Freya and Hubby had Elsa.

Once the ride was over, Elsa was desperate to ride again, she loved it so much! 

The great thing about having Michael’s VIP tours with us was that Brooke planned out our entire day, she took control of it and also the stroller. We didn’t have to worry about where to go next or how to get somewhere, Brooke lead the way and we followed. Quite rapidly actually as she walks very fast.

Our next ride was the first rollercoaster of our Disney trip. The Barnstormer. Again, it didn’t have much of a queue so we hopped on without a FastPass. Another great thing about having Brooke is that she wouldn’t make us queue for any longer than 10 minutes for a ride, so she was picking things out that had short queue times or was organising the FastPasses we had accordingly.

The Barnstormer is suitable for children 89cm and taller. Sadly, we couldn’t persuade Freya to come on with us so it was just Eva, Hubby and me that rode. The rollercoaster is a mild one and doesn’t travel too fast. I actually think Freya would have loved it if she got over the fear she has. The only bad thing about the ride is that it was quite jolty, it added to the excitement I think.

The next ride was one for all of us, Under The Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid. It’s actually suitable for all heights and ages so the perfect family ride. I loved the Little Mermaid as a child but I don’t think the girls had watched the film or at least not recently but surprisingly, it didn’t matter.

Elsa was in awe. Pointing out Ariel, Sebastian and friends as we climbed into a giant clam shell and was taken on an under water adventure. It’s a slow, smooth ride with a few little turns as you explore. It’s incredible and so magical. I was amazed at the technology behind this ride and all of the colours that literally immerse you.

The next ride was specifically for Eva, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This is a thrill ride with small drops suitable for 97cm and above. It was right up Eva’s street. I was actually a little bit nervous as it was one of the faster rides in Magic Kingdom. It was great fun and it definitely satisfied Eva’s need for a thrill.

Whilst we were riding the Mine Train, Brooke took the other two and my Mum onto the Prince Charming Regal Carousel. This meant that nobody was waiting and everybody was having the best time throughout the day. I loved that because being a family with mixed ages and abilities, there would usually always be some of us waiting for the others. Having Brooke eliminated that.

There are lots of different shows, meet and greets and so much more happening at Magic Kingdom. It’s not just about rides and theme park fun which is why it’s great for all ages. After the Mine Train and Carousel, we all went to watch Mickey’s PhilharMagic. It’s a 12 minute 3D show featuring the favourite Disney characters. It features some special effects, a little splash of water and lots of fun.

Peter Pan’s Flight has got to be one of my favourite rides. It was definitely Freya’s eventually. She was actually really worried about getting on this one, but after having Brooke explain every detail she stepped on board the flying ship. The Disney Cast Members sprinkled fairy dust on the ships to make them fly. Such a special touch.

The attention to every detail on the rides and whilst wandering around Magic Kingdom is amazing. I was very grateful to have Brooke pushing our stroller allowing the adults to be able to notice small details. You have to keep your eyes peeled for hidden Mickey’s!

The next on our list of priorities was to purchase our first official Minnie ears. You can most definitely get these cheaper at places like Walmart, or even online, but I felt like our first ever Disney trip deserved official “we bought them in Magic Kingdom” ears.

Our ears were just under $30 each. So a lot of money for all four girls and then my Mum also. There’s so many ears to pick from and it took the girls quite a bit of time to pick. Eva chose the rainbow pride ones, Elsa had the dotty classic ears, I had the sequin classic ears, Freya had gorgeous treats ones and my Mum picked the American flag. I loved them all though and will make it a tradition to buy a pair each time we go on a trip.

One of my favourite movies of all time is the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Mainly because Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp are just gorgeous in them. I actually didn’t realise it was a Disney film. Of course when I did, I popped it on our “must do” ride list.

This is another all age any height ride. It’s a slow ride where you board a ship and float through various iconic scenes from the movie. It was so cool. The girls haven’t seen the films yet, I’m wondering when they’ll be old enough? But it didn’t really matter too much, they just enjoyed the pirate atmosphere.

We decided to eat at Tortuga Tavern for our lunch, although without a Disney Dining Plan it did cost a fortune. Brooke kindly found us a table and entertained the children whilst we ordered our food.

We went with nachos, with the sides on the side and a few drinks. Water is free at Disney. Brooke went off to have her own lunch and a break whilst we ate. Thankfully all of us enjoyed the food and filled our bellies for the rest of the afternoon.

It was probably a little stupid to do Splash Mountain straight after eating but that’s exactly what we did. The “mountain” rides are the biggest rides at Disney, the most thrill ones I suppose. Splash Mountain is quite obviously a water ride.

Despite Eva being a complete thrill seeker, we couldn’t persuade her to go on this ride as she’s absolutely terrified of getting her face wet. I know, it doesn’t really make sense does it!? So instead, Hubby and I queued to experience it. I can remember feeling really wobbly with nerves for this ride. It had the big log flume drop that scares me.

We then met back up with Eva for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This is another thrill ride that has a higher height requirement of 102cm. Thankfully Eva is above that now so she was really excited to ride. This ride was absolutely terrifying for me, it goes backwards at some points and accelerates really quickly too. I even struggled to catch my breath and yes I know that sounds pathetic.

However, Eva was loving her life. You can see it in the video I filmed below. Her little face is so wonderful to watch. Her dreams were coming to life in that moment. She was even brave enough to lift her arms.

Whilst we was riding the mountain rides, Brooke our tour guide, had taken the others (my Mum, Freya and Elsa) to Tom Sawyer Island. This is a little rustic area that the girls explored with Brooke. There was also a little outdoor, but shaded, play area for the girls to spend some time in.

We then used another FastPass for the Jungle Cruise. Despite using the FastPass, this ride was probably one we had to queue at for the longest the entire day. It was really popular and because each river boat is operated manually, some take a while to get back to the dock for various reasons. 

Having said that, it’s a ride suitable for all ages and heights. None of the animals or people that you see are real but the cast member does an amazing job in telling facts and jokes as you float by. The girls loved it and were completely captivated.

We then followed Brooke back past the castle and into the Tomorrowland area of Magic Kingdom. We passed a band playing, souvenir stalls and characters wandering around. There’s so much buzz and action constantly throughout Magic Kingdom.

Obviously we couldn’t pass the castle without stopping for more photos, especially now we all had our Minnie ears. I love the one of my Mum. Which is your fav?

Tomorrowland is home to the monsters, aliens and space related creatures and rides of Disney. The first ride we did in this section was the Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Freya was getting a little anxious about it as it said “spin” so Brooke calmly explained the entire ride to her.

Somehow we managed to get both my Mum (who suffer with motion sickness) and Freya onto this ride. I think that Elsa had chosen not to do this ride and sat in the shade with Brooke.

We then headed for the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor. This is another interactive show that absolutely blew my mind. They really do engage with the audience so don’t be surprised if you become part of the show. We all loved it and I had totally forgotten that Monsters Inc was Disney.

Whilst we was in the show, Brooke had somehow worked her own magic in getting us a spot in the VIP/disabled area for the Magic Kingdom parade. I have no idea how she did it but it was great to have more space around us and being front row for photos.

As you can guess, the parade was our next thing to tick off of our must have things to do. You can’t go to Disney without watching a parade right? We’d obviously seen the Universal Orlando Resort parades many times, but didn’t know what to expect from a Disney one.

The weather was really hot at this point of the day, and we had a short time to wait. Brooke kindly fetched us some water and a couple of umbrellas to shade us from the direct sunlight. We had to put cardigans on the floor for the girls to sit on because the floor was scorching hot.

I was blown away and may have had a few tears in my eyes. The floats are incredible, the performers are so talented and it was amazing to be within a few metres of it all. Some of the characters even came to high five the girls. Oh and the songs, it was truly magical! 

After the parade was over we used another FastPass for the Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh ride. It’s another slow ride with a few spin parts. Winnie the Pooh was definitely one of my childhood favourites, especially Eeyore. I even had an Eeyore Christmas tree once. What I’m trying to say is that I was so excited for this ride and it was so cute!

Our next ride was It’s A Small World. This has the catchiest song throughout the entire ride. It’s one of those really annoying songs that makes you want to throttle someone, then sticks in your head all day long. The ride is suitable for all and you sit in boats as you go through different areas.

The ride is slow and Eva definitely found it a boring, however Elsa was in her element. She loves anything sensory and this gave her all of that stimulation. She was pointing and shouting out different objects. Super cute.

At this point of the day we had some time to use up some FastPasses that we had and do some of the rides we loved most. Everyone was in agreement to do the Peter Pan’s Flight. Freya had originally been a bit reluctant to ride but now wanted to do it over and over.

The other ride to go on again was of course Elsa’s favourite, Speedway. Eva actually decided to sit this one out with Brooke so I rode on my own, my Mum went with Freya and Hubby of course went with Elsa. It was loads of fun.

Dumbo The Flying Elephant was such a sweet ride. Elsa loved it and even Freya had got brave with the buttons. It’s a ride suitable for all and you have the ability to control how high or low you go. I had expected Freya to stay low but she went really high. I was quite proud.

Brooke had given her loads of confidence during our Magic Kingdom day and Freya was riding more rides than I ever thought she would. I was seeing her genuinely smiling and trying new things. It was lovely.

Brooke took my Mum, Freya and Elsa on the PeopleMover. You get a 10 minute tour of Tomorrowland in an elevated tram. It’s suitable for all ages and they had a lovely time whilst Hubby, Eva and I went on the third “mountain”, Space Mountain.

Eva was just above the height requirement of 112cm tall. It’s a rocket style rollercoaster where you sit in a line, single file. Eva was at the front, I was in the middle and Hubby with his long legs at the back of us. 

It literally shoots past stars and meteors, they are not wrong when they say you can feel the pull of gravity. I think what terrified me most is the way it flung you from side to side, through absolutely darkness with the occasional flash of strobe lights. There’s also another carriage doing a different track at the same time so you hear screams racing past you in various places. I keep laughing about it now but I was constantly tapping Eva on her head to check she was still there.

Honestly, it was a great ride and was definitely Eva’s favourite of the day. Oh my gosh this was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I’d highly recommend it if you’re after a thrill.

Our day was sadly coming to an end. We had just enough time to grab some photos with some Disney balloons and by the iconic statue of Walt himself and Minnie Mouse with the castle in the background.

Brooke then managed to get us in to see Mickey and Minnie because obviously you can’t visit Magic Kingdom without meeting the main people! Elsa loves Minnie mouse but was super shy, I’m just glad she came in the photo with us.

I definitely didn’t want to leave Magic Kingdom. It had been everything I hoped for and so much more. Our whole family had been entertained the entire day thanks to Brooke from Michael’s VIPs.

I filmed our day which I hope you will take the time to watch. You can follow our lovely memories as they happen.

The next Disney post will be from our day at Hollywood Studios. So please pop back here in a few days to find out all about our second Disney day.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

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Marsh Farm Bubble n Bop Children’s Festival Wed, 21 Aug 2019 07:00:00 +0000 I can’t believe we are already over half way in to the summer holidays. So far we’ve had a lot of pj movie days and many days spent at home enjoying each others company. But obviously the boredom was going to kick in at some point and I was really happy to be invited along …

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I can’t believe we are already over half way in to the summer holidays. So far we’ve had a lot of pj movie days and many days spent at home enjoying each others company. But obviously the boredom was going to kick in at some point and I was really happy to be invited along to the Bubble n Bop Festival at Marsh Farm.

We met my Grandad super early in the local Wetherspoon pub to have breakfast. Then we all headed to Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park for a day of fun. Our tickets had been gifted to us but if you aren’t aware, Marsh Farm holds a dear place in my heart as I used to visit here all of the time as a child before it was taken over by Partyman World.

We arrived for opening time as always, 10am, and picked up our list of activities for the day. There is always a list of fun things to do at Marsh Farm no matter what time of the year it is, but during various points of the year they host extra special themed fun. For the entire summer holidays they are hosting the Bubble n Bop Festival.

We have experienced Easter, Halloween and Christmas at Marsh Farm and I couldn’t tell you which was my favourite because they are all very unique. I was interested to see how the summer time would match up to the others we have experienced.

Back when I was a child, Marsh Farm was predominantly a farm with loads of different farm animals to see. I remember the piglets, the cows and the lambs. Now, Marsh Farm is predominately a place for fun with various play areas and interactive live shows. It’s about the experience.

Entrance to Marsh Farm costs £9.99 per person online or £11.99 on the door. The entrance fee allows you to watch all the shows, take part in feeding activities, ride the fun fair rides, take the tractor and play in the soft play all with no extra charge. The only thing you may need to buy is food for yourself unless you bring a picnic which is definitely allowed.

On the day of our visit the park had been transformed into a festival. Right as you enter there are the most amazing teepees I’ve ever seen! Hubby actually took loads of photos of them so we can have a go at making one ourselves for the garden. I loved the colours and the straw bales inside.

One of the teepees had the Glitter Face Art happening and there wasn’t much of a queue so of course, Freya and Eva had some glitter put on their faces. It’s probably a good time for me to explain that their hair is red as they had some wash out dye put in after being begged for weeks about it. I just have my fingers crossed that it’ll actually wash out in time for school.

We then made our way round to the Bouncy Pillows area. The girls absolutely love it them. At this point in the day it was quiet and for the most of the time we was there they had the pillows to themselves. It was very odd to be sitting on the beach chairs with sunshine feeling warm rather than cold.

This area of Marsh Farm also has the pool, this is open weather permitting I believe. Last year, they had a wooden changing area which I couldn’t see this year. The girls were not quite brave enough to venture in this time but had a brilliant time on the bouncing pillows and building an ants home (Eva) in the sand. Marsh Farm provide loads of buckets, spades and sand moulds to use.

The first activity we picked to do was the Ferret Racing. We’ve watched this type of thing at other farm parks and the girls really enjoy them but I hadn’t actually been to one at Marsh Farm before. Weirdly, I think we’ve stuck to the live action shows over the animal fun the majority of the time.

The staff leading the Ferret Racing was great at getting everyone engaged. Each child could pick a number corresponding to the ferret on who they thought would win. Elsa picked the winning ferret. The winners got a sticker each which I thought was a really lovely touch, then we got to have a quick stroke as we left the barn.

Marsh Farm had definitely got rather busy at this point and it had only been open an hour. Previous times that we have visited it has been busy but never quite like this. However, it didn’t feel a bad busy if that makes sense. Just a little crowded in places.

Of course you can’t come to a farm without taking a tractor ride. We was first in the queue for the first ride of the day, obviously. It’s a short ride in the trailer but it’s a great fun. It travels across the Marsh Farm Country Park and there are a few sheep to see. Elsa was terrified because of the Stompin Gator Ride we went on in Orlando. When we arrived back the queue was giant so I’m glad we went when we did. The tractor rides are on for a short amount of time in the day so it’s worth taking a note of the times and arriving early.

The Maize Maze had moved it’s position from near the Bouncing Pillows, to over near the tractor rides (opposite sides of Marsh Farm). If I’m honest, it hadn’t grown enough to be a proper maze but that didn’t matter to our girls. Eva especially ran around the corn like a crazy person. She was living her best life in there. It was so sweet hearing her giggles as she stormed past us.

We had then decided to queue up for the Bubble n Glow Party. Sadly, the queue was insanely big and there was no way we would be able to get in at that specific time. So instead we took refuge in the indoor play area that also has a restaurant for our lunch. 

Somehow, we managed to get a small table for us and then ordered our food. My Grandad and Hubby now have a “usual” there which I think is hilarious, the sausage and onion roll. I ordered a side of chips as we’d had a big breakfast that morning and then a chicken goujon children’s meal for the girls to share.

When it isn’t quite so busy, the indoor soft play is a great place to sit and allow the kids to run around whilst you enjoy a chat, food and drink. It was rather noisy in there on this day due to it being the summer holidays, so we pretty much just sat being a bit anti-social.

After our food and a play, we headed for the Glastokids Show. I am going to admit that I’m really sad BamBam is no longer at Marsh Farm. He used to do a lovely magic show and the girls loved it. Glastokids was good though, it got everyone dancing and moving with shakers and drums. Elsa in particular was loving it much more than Freya and Eva.

We then moved round to the Bubble n Glow Party. Again the queue was huge and the team at Marsh Farm ended up running back to back shows to make sure that everyone got to see the show. We was in the second lot so had to wait outside for about fifteen minutes.

Each child is given a glow stick to take home as you enter the barn. I loved the decorations inside, cute fairy lights and hanging CDs. The show was all about music, dancing and singing. Obviously the festival vibe. All three of my girls were dancing and singing. Eva had the microphoned popped in front of her for the Frozen song too.

I loved that Marsh Farm recognised the need to put on more shows but felt that they may have been able to work round it a bit better by putting on the main shows at the same time but at regular times throughout the day. That way the crowds would be split a bit more rather than all heading for the same thing.

With time rapidly rushing away before our eyes, the girls really wanted to use the outdoor play area. Like I’ve said before our time at Marsh Farm is usually spent wrapped up in coats shivering. It was really nice to sit in the sunshine, ok it was definitely a bit breezy, but the sunshine was there!

The outdoor play area is like nothing I’ve seen before. I wish all parks could be like this one because it’s brilliant. You can buy membership to Marsh Farm for £5 per person per month if you pay by direct debit. I think that if you lived nearby it would be totally worth it just to visit the outdoor play area, or the soft play, let alone having all the other things there too. I sort of wish we still lived close by actually!

After spending a good hour or so in the playground we decided to head for the goat feeding. This little barn hasn’t really changed since I was a child. They have a few noisy goats, sheep, some alpacas and of course some pigs.

Feeding the animals is free as part of your admission. Sometimes to feed animals at other farm parks you have to buy a bag of food for then. I love that Marsh Farm allow you to enjoy your day without worrying about having enough change or saying no. 

The girls each took a handful of food and began to feed the very willing goats. Elsa became quite attached to the little baby goats and started asking for us to take one home. Rather cute. It’s nice for children to get close to animals that they possibly wouldn’t usually have interactions with.

We then took a wander into the hatchery, where they have different pens of different aged chicks and ducklings. The girls loved it! Obviously you shouldn’t be poking your fingers in to the cage but we may have a few times and the little chicks loved a quick stroke. It was adorable. Then I started asking to take a chick home with us. Hubby wasn’t very impressed with that.

Another addition for the Bubble n Bop Festival is the “On Your Rocker” area. Basically it’s a lawn area with different rocking horses. Weirdly enough the girls loved this area! They spent quite a bit of time rocking on the horses and creating imaginative play together.

 By this point there was about 45 minutes before closing time. So we decided to head back to the entrance area where there is Crazy Golf, Jewel Hunting and another outdoor play park.

The gem hunting always captures my girls attention. You have to find tiny, shiny jewels and then you can take them to the exit when you leave for a prize. It’s actually quite hard to find them but they are there, hidden beneath the surface.

After finding a jewel each, Freya headed for the Crazy Golf whilst the others wanted to play in the park. This park has undergone some maintenance recently and most of it was shut the last time we visited. It was nice to see it open. Marsh Farm are literally always improving on their facilities which I think is great.

We left at closing time feeling very confused that the time had gone by so quickly. They do say “time flies when you’re having fun” and it couldn’t be more true about our time spent at Marsh Farm. For our family, they never fail to amuse, amaze and entertain. I would highly recommend travelling to Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park for a day out. It’s well worth it this summer!

Marsh Farm have some amazing events coming up including Halloween and Christmas. Christmas is our favourite and honestly they have the BEST grotto experience, you can read about it on my blog.

As always, here’s a video from our adventures. I hope you enjoy it!


Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

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Michael’s VIPs The Ultimate First Time Disney World Tour Experience Sat, 17 Aug 2019 07:00:00 +0000 As part of our Orlando holiday, we had four days of Disney World tickets. You have absolutely no idea how exciting that was as we had never been to Disney before… ever! There is a lot of information on Disney and endless amounts of guides you can read to help your experience run as smoothly …

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As part of our Orlando holiday, we had four days of Disney World tickets. You have absolutely no idea how exciting that was as we had never been to Disney before… ever! There is a lot of information on Disney and endless amounts of guides you can read to help your experience run as smoothly as possible. But this all seemed so daunting to us.

After experiencing a Universal Orlando Resort tour, we wondered if Disney offered the same sort of thing. The answer is yes they do, kind of. It’s expensive costing $425 per hour for a private tour. They have the ability to help you arrange your day, get you in VIP viewing areas for parades, select stage shows and nighttime spectaculars and help you enjoy your day efficiently. However, unlike the Universal VIP tours, Disney VIP tours don’t get you to the front of the queues.

So we did some research on other options and it turns out there are many other companies who offer pretty much the same service, only much cheaper. Michael’s VIPs is one of those and I can’t tell you how relieved we felt when the team at Michael’s VIPs kindly offered us a tour guide experience for all four of our Disney days.

So a little bit about Michael’s VIPs, although they are not a travel agency, they are there to give you the Ultimate Vacation Experience. This means they are there from the word go to help you plan your Florida holiday. We needed someone purely for our Disney days and so we had been booked for the VIP Tours. I wanted to share our own experience in this blog post.

Michael’s VIPs charge $150 per hour and they ask for a minimum of six hours per day. So significantly cheaper than the “official” Disney guides. They also don’t have the ability to get you to the front of the queues but do have the knowledge to efficiently get you riding all your favourite rides and make the most out of your day.

So initially, we sent an email with all of our requirements. Our ages, abilities and what rides we desperately wanted to do or characters we really wanted to see. This allowed them to match us with the correct tour guide and for them to understand our group ahead of meeting.

As part of the organising, we gave access to our Disney account to Michael’s VIPs. This allows them to book your Disney FastPasses and plan your days based on them. It was a really surreal feeling for me to hand over the planning duties considering I had planned our entire Orlando trip by myself.

Closer to the first Disney day, our tour guide got in touch via email. We then shared whatsapp contact details so that we could get in contact easier on the day. Our tour guide was Brooke and all of the photos in this blog post feature her to show you exactly what Michael’s VIPs offer. As I’ve said, I will be posting more in depth blog posts about our Disney days but this is focusing on Michael’s VIPs.

The tour guides at Michael’s are fully knowledgeable, passionate theme park and Orlando people. In fact Brooke is a native Orlando lady so has been visiting Disney for her entire life. The night before our first day, Brooke sent us a selfie so we knew who to look out for, we sent back a cheesy family selfie shot and arranged to meet near the Magic Kingdom park. This was a really nice personal touch and the girls got really excited about meeting her the next morning.

Michael’s VIPs can help to advise the best transport options and places to park etc, each day we had decided to travel by Uber so Brooke arranged various locations for us to meet usually within walking distance of the parks or actually inside the park. This was easiest for us but you can meet your guide wherever. During the four days, Brooke was always where she said she’d be at the correct time. 

Instantly, Brooke took control of the stroller and asked to carry our bags. This was the weirdest feeling, as a parent there’s always something you are doing for your children especially on days out and Brooke took on one of those duties. I sort of felt like I’d lost a limb. Brooke advised that it’s part of her role to allow us to be fully submerged in having fun with the kids and during our day rather than worrying about the stroller.

As you can see from the photo collage, each photo is from each of the Disney parks. Having Brooke push the stroller enabled me to be able to freely take photos, to look around in awe of Disney and enjoy chatting to the girls. Whenever one of the girls asked for something (Elsa regularly asked for snacks and of course we all needed drinks) she’d stop and sort the girls out. Honestly, it was the oddest experience but so wonderful too.

One thing I will be forever grateful for, was Brooke’s ability to make Freya feel at ease. For those who don’t know, Freya is autistic and one of the things she struggles with most on days out is the unknown. At each ride Brooke would stop and explain every little details of the ride to her, including any spins or bumps or water. This really helped Freya and she did the biggest variety of rides I’ve ever known her to do. 

Brooke was also able to join us on some rides which Eva really loved. Eva easily makes friends and having a fellow person who loves rides, was great for her. It was also nice to experience Disney with Brooke as she became part of our family each of the days. I think this also helped the girls to feel at ease with her and form a friendship.

Obviously the huge part of Brooke’s role was to get us to each ride. Michael’s VIPs guides know the parks like the back of their hands. This meant that we could efficiently get to each ride. I must admit that Brooke was a fast walker just like Hubby, I think my Mum and Freya had a hard time keeping up but it was all to make sure we got the most out of our days.

The entire day Brooke was working her magic with our Disney account to get us on the rides at the right times. Although we had much greater flexibility with FastPasses due to the extra magic that Disney had kindly gifted to us, Brooke managed to get us on pretty much all of the rides. I honestly have no idea how she managed it all but she made sure that we was not waiting in the infamous queues for any longer than 10 minutes. That alone is an achievement.

One of the best things about our time with Brooke is how she made sure everyone was doing something at all times. So for example when Hubby, Eva and I was riding a rollercoaster, she would take Freya, my Mum and Elsa on to a calmer ride or off to see something fun. Whenever Brooke was alone with the kids she would send me photos and videos of what they were getting up to.

Her bag was full of things to keep children occupied like a piece of cloth that she used to teach Freya a few moves. The girls also really loved Brooke doing their hair for them. To the point that I wasn’t allowed to do it in the morning as they wanted Brooke to do it.

All the Michael’s VIPs know the best place to be at the best time, no matter when you are travelling. Brooke made sure we had the best spots for the parades and the best places to see the shows. I loved how on the ball she was at always making sure we was ok, not once did we feel like we needed to ask her for anything because she had already thought of it.

For example, there’s not a lot of shade when you stand to watch the parades at Magic Kingdom, Brooke kept us topped up with water and even went to get a few umbrellas to shade us from the direct sunlight. She had various bits of fabric for the girls to sit on the scorching pavement as we waited.

It felt very weird to say goodbye on our fourth day. Once she had left us it honestly felt like we’d lost a limb. We’d had four full days of someone else helping us with our three daughters, leading us to the rides and controlling our lives so that we could experience the best possible Disney. 

For us as first time Disney visitors, having the help and guidance of a Michael’s VIPs made our trip even more magical that it would have been if we was left to our own devices. There was no time wasted looking at maps trying to find our way around the parks. We got to do every single ride we wanted to, which was pretty much every ride in each of the parks over the four days. 

Our days were stress free. All six of us were entertained the entire day. We got to truly be submerged in the magic of Disney and I owe our happiness to Brooke over those four days. The only way I can describe her is a super nanny. She was an incredible help to our family. We learnt new tips and tricks to take with us for our future Disney trips.

I would highly recommend looking in to Michael’s VIPs for your next Orlando trip as they also cover all of the main attractions in Orlando like Universal, Legoland, SeaWorld and of course Disney. It was such an awesome experience and we feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

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We Fed Alligators At Gatorland Orlando #11 Thu, 15 Aug 2019 07:00:00 +0000 I have been so incredibly excited to share this specific day out from our holiday. By this point in our holiday we had done A LOT of fun things but I remember a moment during this specific day where my Mum and I turned to each other and said “this is my favourite day so …

The post We Fed Alligators At Gatorland Orlando #11 appeared first on Life With Pink Princesses.

I have been so incredibly excited to share this specific day out from our holiday. By this point in our holiday we had done A LOT of fun things but I remember a moment during this specific day where my Mum and I turned to each other and said “this is my favourite day so far”.

Gatorland was so much more than we expected it to be, in every photo we was genuinely smiling rather than the posed stuff. I wanted to share the video from our day as this includes so many fun moments including the sound of an alligator snapping. I hope you’ll take the time to watch, then read on afterwards.

We woke up on the Monday morning with a mixture of emotions. It was check out day from our Universal Cabana Bay Beach Resort stay, our favourite place on the Earth but it was also the day where we checked in to the hotel for our Disney trip! Once we had checked out we used the Uber app to book a car to take us to Gatorland. We had a tour booked there for an hour ahead of their opening time.

If you read our Kennedy Space Center you will know that we had a hilarious experience with an Uber driver. To Hubby’s annoyance, we had been paired once again with our eccentric non-English speaking Uber driver for our Gatorland driver. Our journey to Gatorland was so funny with Google translate and loud music the entire way.

Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve in Florida. It’s South of Orlando and is said to be Orlando’s best half day attraction. Meaning they suggest you’ll be there for half a day rather than a full day. It was founded 70 years ago by Owen Godwin.

As our tour was book ahead of opening time, Gatorland was really quiet. They have a great sized car park and you are greeted by the iconic Gator mouth. We made our way to the office rather than the entrance gates, as these were obviously closed and checked in for our tour.

We had been booked to meet Brandon Fisher for our tour. We had been booked on to a few of the activities at Gatorland but other than that, I didn’t really know what to expect from our day out and whether the girls would be interested at all. Because let’s face it, alligators are definitely not cute and fluffy animals you usually see at an animal park.

In the office area there is a tank with a few of the baby gators. The girls took an instant interest in them as usually you’d find fish swimming in a tank. Brandon greeted us and straight away had Freya and Eva, and my Mum, holding a baby gator. The gators were about six months old and really tiny compared to the adult ones you see. I was so proud of them both for having the courage to hold one, I definitely didn’t.

Brandon then took us through into the park. It was already very hot despite it only being 9am and that is most likely because of all the surrounding water. Brandon explained the different pens or areas that they keep the alligators in as we walked past them.

The first activity we had booked was to experience the Screamin’ Gator Zipline. Initially it was booked for four of us but sadly Freya got too nervous to do it so she stayed with my Mum and Elsa. Freya actually was on photography duties whilst my Mum filmed us.

The zipline experience was incredible. Due to our heights and weights (Eva and I anyway) we was only able to do a couple of the lines. I did want to zipline over the main swamp area but the staff advised that if you are too light, you could end up stuck in the middle. Instead we went over one smaller enclosure. It was terrifying! My legs went to jelly and I felt pretty proud of myself for doing it. Eva was the fearless daredevil she always is and didn’t even hold on during the second zipline we did.

After settling our feet on firm ground, Brandon took us round to see the tortoise encounter. Usually you would have to pay to enter but this was part of our experience. He took us inside the enclosure and we was able to touch the giant tortoise. The girls were in absolute awe of the giant creatures, asking so many questions to Brandon which was so sweet. Brandon was more than happy to answer them and was very knowledgeable in the animals.

He then took us to see the baby gators, constantly telling us stories and facts about them and about Gatorland. I think it says a lot about an attraction when the staff are enthusiastic too. There was a fantastic story about two Florida Panthers, Neiko and Lucy who were born at a Florida rescue and rehabilitation facility. In 2013, they came to Gatorland to help educate visitors about the importance of protecting the species. I loved how they came up to us when called by Brandon.

After our tortoise encounter it was time to encounter something much more dangerous. The alligators. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to this, so did my Mum. You hear so many horror stories about alligator attacks, now we was willingly putting ourselves inside an alligator enclosure.

Brandon went through some strict guidelines and safety warnings ahead of opening up the cage. We then nervously entered and stood along the railing as instructed. Brandon had brought with a bucket of meat with him and then began to shout for the gators. Instantly up popped a ridiculous amount of alligators out of nowhere. It was unbelievable and slightly terrifying.

This was the first time we’d seen the big boys (and girls). Once the gators were in position, we was allowed to begin feeding them. Eva and Freya had no fear as they threw the meat towards the alligators. Hubby stood back with Elsa who was clinging on tightly to his neck. My Mum got involved with the feeding too.

I must say, that we got a few odd comments on social media when we posted about being this close to the gators. I want to really drum in to you that at no point did I feel worried. Brandon had marked out a safe line that we was not allowed to cross, he also had a pole that he could use if they got too close which they didn’t. Although we was within a few metres of the alligators, it was still quite a distance. Luckily, these big guys were used to the feeding process and not once did they behave badly. They just enjoyed the feeding as much as we did.

I don’t think anything could ever top the experience and memories we created during the alligator feed.

The Adventure Outpost was a brilliant place to get cool as it was an air-conditioned building with a gift shop too. However, the fun didn’t stop there, our next adventure was on the Stompin’ Gator Off Road Adventure. This is a relatively new experience for Gatorland.

You climb on board a huge off-road monster vehicle for a 15-minute off road adventure like no other theme park ride anywhere. Despite us all deciding we would ride together, Freya had one of her panic attacks when boarding. We managed to get her on and hold her tightly but she was terrified.

This ride/experience is full of new Gatorland characters, singing tour guides and lots of alligators. I won’t lie, the ride was much more extreme than I had expected it to be. My Mum and I had to really hold onto Freya as we bounced along. Elsa loved the ride up until the guide said that we would be crossing a broken bridge and then she panicked. Eva was laughing and screeching in happiness the entire time, it was up her street!

After our bumpy ride, Brandon took us round to the swamp to see Gatorland’s biggest alligator, Buddy. This big guy has his own territory area and came when he was called. Brandon even made him jump for the bucket which was amazing to see.

It was a non-stop adventure at Gatorland as we took a walk around to the White Gator Swamp. These beautiful white alligators are extremely rare and because of their differences have to be kept separate to the “normal” coloured alligators. Gatorland have both albino and leucistic alligators in this swamp.

Brandon explained that the different between albino and leucistic is that albino is the lack of pigmentation in all of their colouring including eyes. Whereas leucistic animals have rare genetic condition that reduces the colour pigmentation in their skin, meaning that some areas like their eyes and parts of their skin is coloured. Out of the 5 million American alligator population there are thought to be only 12 leucistic gators and two of those live at Gatorland.

We had the privilege (if you can describe it as that) of getting to enter one of the enclosures to have our pictures taken. This was actually rather scary as we wandered past the huge alligator towards its tail. Brandon was obviously there to keep an eye on things and you can see this experience in the video I filmed. Oh and look how brave, or stupid, Brandon is stroking the gator!

The last part of our fun with Brandon was to hear about Chester. He was a rescued gator. He was labelled the “dog killer” because when he was in the wild he kept killing people’s dogs and became a nuisance. Gatorland was made aware of the situation and rescued him from a trapper (these are who people call to exterminated the alligators). He now lives in his own pen as he’s very territorial.

Brandon allowed us to enter his enclosure and he showed us the incredible power behind an alligators jaws. I filmed this as it’s not something you can photograph. You can hear Chester hiss, his hiss was actually used in a famous film as the sound of a dragon. You can also see and hear the snap. It was definitely a once in the lifetime experience!

Our entire tour and experience took about three hours with Brandon. It was probably the best three hours we had spent in Orlando so far. We said a huge thank you to Brandon for allowing us this opportunity. He left us with some train wristbands, the map and a timetable of other activities going on that day.

Gatorland is set our around a huge alligator swamp. However, there’s other animals to see there too like a selection of farm animals and some really pretty birds. There’s also wild animals wandering around that have grown to like the environment at Gatorland, including little reptiles and huge dinosaur looking birds. We decided to take a slow walk along the bridge to see some of the other things Brandon hadn’t shown us.

We stumbled upon a little attraction where you could sit on a younger alligator for a photo. I know this part is quite controversial as the gators have their mouths taped for safety. I want to reassure you that the tape they use is flexible and easy to be removed so it doesn’t harm the gator at all. Eva and Freya were very brave stepping forward to have their photos taken.

There’s different shows that go on during a typical Gatorland day. The Jumperoo Show is a classic that has been running for many years. We managed to catch the end half of the show but could barely see anything as it seemed to attract all of Gatorland guests and was crowded! It was a funny show and more for entertainment than education, if that makes sense. I’d recommend arriving early to it so that you can grab optimal viewing points.

All the heat, excitement and adventure had made us all quite hungry. You aren’t allowed to bring food into Gatorland so we had no snacks for the day. There’s a couple of places to eat or at least grab something to eat and the prices are not too bad for an attraction. We headed for Pearl’s Good Eats. This places serves things like hot dogs, sandwich, chicken tenders and the famous Gator Nuggets.

I will tell you a funny story, I saw the word nuggets and said that would be great to my Mum who’d kindly offered to pay for lunch. We ordered them as well as some hot dogs and fries. We had all had a nugget when an American lady beside us asked us what we thought. We got into conversation where she informed us that they were the gator nuggets. As in real alligator made into nuggets. I just assumed it was a chicken nugget labelled “gator” because we was in “gator”land. 

So it turns out I ate, and kind of enjoyed alligator. They are definitely more chewy and have a very odd taste, but they were quite nice. I felt a little weird having known I’d eaten it and probably wouldn’t have knowingly tried them myself if I’d realised.

There are different ticket packages, a single day pass or a Gatorland Grunt Package. The day passes are $29.99 for an adult or $19.99 for a child. The Grunt Package costs $36.99 per adult and $27.99 per child. I would highly recommend buying the Grunt Package as it includes the following: 

  • The Alligator meet n’ greet. This is the bit where the girls sat on the alligator. There’s a staff member who takes a professional photo the photo isn’t included but you are able to take your own.

  • Unlimited train rides on the Gatorland Express train throughout the day. This is worth $2 each a time.

  • Gator Chow. Being in Gatorland is the only safe place to feed an alligator. They give you little hot dog sausages to feed the gators which is worth $3 each.

It is a great value entrance ticket and this is what Brandon had given us to enjoy for the rest of our day with Gatorland.

After our lunch we headed for the Gatorland Express Train. We happened to be first in the queue. There was a short wait where we all had a quick drink before we was able to board. Eva and Elsa wanted to go in the front of the train and the rest of us piled in behind.

The train takes you around the main alligator swamp. There is more animals to see which I never expected. The train driver also talks through the speakers and tells you loads more about Gatorland. It was a really lovely experience.

As you can tell from the above photo, we got caught in our first ever Orlando storm. It was the weirdest experience I’d ever had. One minute it was glorious hot, we was sweating in places I never knew possible and the next the skies opened and we was drenched within seconds. I’m not even exaggerating.

The storm lasted for about half an hour, possibly longer, and we was stuck on the bridge that goes across the main Alligator Swamp. We had alligators popping up around us watching and probably thinking how stupid we all was. During the storm there was lightning, thunder and torrential rain. The girls were terrified.

Eventually it passed and we took our wet bodies back round to the main areas to watch the Upclose Encounters Show. We arrived early enough to get some good seating. As we waited we watched various staff members mopping away the water. Orlando is definitely prepared for stormy wet weather and they usually have it daily. They are full on electrical storms but up until this point we had experienced dry sunny weather all day long and every day.

The show was brilliant. Despite the animals being deadly snakes, the staff got the audience engaged with it and even had a group stand to hold a giant python I believe. We all loved the show and it was a nice opportunity to sit down for a bit.

If you have got this far down in my blog post, then you will remember that right at the beginning I said about Gatorland being Orlando’s best half day attraction. By this point in our day it was about half past three in the afternoon. Gatorland opens at 10am and closes at 6pm. We had been there since 9am. At this point of the day, we had started to get grumpy kids that were tired and drained from the heat.

We decided that the last thing for us to do at Gatorland was to feed them with the corn dog sausages. We each had one, and we decided to feed the younger and smaller alligators nearer to the entrance/exit. We broke smaller pieces off and threw them over the fences. You are allowed to feed almost all the alligators at Gatorland, but have to be really careful of the giant birds that like to attack you for them.

I loved hearing the girls laughing as they fed the gators. It’s like music to my ears hearing them so happy. We spent a good bit of time feeding the gators before making our move through the gift shop. Like every tourist attraction, they like to put gift shops by the exit. We had already treated the girls to an alligator teddy each when we was waiting for the Stompin’ Gator Off Road Adventure.

We left Gatorland feeling so incredibly happy. It was a one of a kind adventure day and there was memories created that we will never ever forget. I would highly recommend visiting if you travel to Orlando, it’s a great way to mix up the usual theme park adventures that Orlando attracts.

Hubby took a separate Uber to us girls as he needed to pick up all of our luggage from the Cabana Bay hotel. Us girlies went to check in to Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa. The queue was really long to check in and I had a facial booked. Instead, I sent my Mum up to enjoy it.

When Hubby returned with all of our luggage, we headed down to the amazing pirate ship pool (do check out my full review to see photos of the pool). We then went for a hunt for some food. Due to the pretty high prices of the convenience store, Hubby and I took a walk to the local Walmart leaving my Mum with the three girls.

Somehow we ended up having a pretty late night despite needing an early one for our next big adventure… our first day at Disney ever!

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

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