73. Olive Garden

Although I’ve been here for nearly 4 months now, I’ve eaten at very few American chain restaurants. They aren’t all that easy to get to, but when my Mum came to visit I made it a priority to visit Olive Garden, one of my favourites from previous visits to the US.

So I love Italian food anyway, but add free breadsticks and the deal is done! Olive Garden is quite standard to Americans but definitely one of my favourite chains here. For about $12 you can get a main course, and then with this you get soup or salad and breadsticks. They also have great cocktails here, and an amazing $9.99 unlimited pasta bowl currently!

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10. Electrical Water Pageant

Recently I’ve started receiving emails from people currently applying for the program – good luck with the interviews which are starting soon! I will try and do some Question and Answer posts soon when I’ve caught up with my bucket list to help out!

When my Mum came to visit in August we spent out last 3 nights staying at the Fort Wilderness Cabins, which receives a nightly visit from the Electrical Water Pageant. I absolutely loved this resort – I will do a future post on it sometime soon as it’s become one of my favourite places in Walt Disney World. It’s such a nice retreat from the theme parks and has such beautiful grounds and amazing recreation options.

On the Friday evening my Mum was here we decided to head down to the beach to catch the nightly showing of this water parade. It’s a pretty short parade, but I was glad to catch it. It has very tinny music, but was a piece of more classic Disney entertainment and became very patriotic at the end!

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I’m just waiting for my flight back from Washington DC where I’ve spent the last few days. My sightseeing was a bit disrupted due the Government shutdown but I still had an amazing time!

8. Typhoon Lagoon Shark Reef

Earlier this year I got my Padi Open Water Diving Certificate and I loved spending that time under the water. Typhoon Lagoon, one of the water parks here, has a Shark Reef snorkeling experience that is part of the general admission so it was a must do for me during my program!

On one of my days off I decided to visit Typhoon Lagoon – I love water parks and was excited to try out the Shark Reef. After no wait I was kitted out with my snorkel and was off to swim with the fishes in the salt water pool. The water is so cold in comparison to the rest of the park!

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This was a fun experience which is a great addition to the water park! The sharks are just on the bottom, so it was a nice introduction to swimming with sharks for me, as I found my previous experience in Belize very scary!

I’m off to Washington DC for a few days this week to see one of my favourite bands Boyce Avenue. I also have a trip planned to Honduras in November with one of my friends from Canada – I’m hoping to get my Advanced Padi certificate here.

3. Stay at Art of Animation Resort

So once again I am apologising for the lack of updates! Life has been very busy here. I’m still enjoying the job and program, but there have definitely been some low points recently with the people here. Sadly real world treatment of people does not seem to translate back to here! I try to keep myself busy here and I’ve ticked off quite a lot from my bucket list recently, so I’m going to get back on track and start updating much more often I promise!

Art of Animation is Disney’s newest resort in the value category, and is one of the most popular resorts to stay at currently in Walt Disney World. The majority of the rooms in the resort are family suites, but one night Richard asked if I wanted to stay there the next day in one of The Little Mermaid standard rooms and I jumped at the chance – these are pretty hard to get reservations for at the moment! The rooms are definitely an upgrade on the standard value resort rooms – I can see why this resort is so popular as it has the strongest Disney theming by far in any of the resorts on property.

Our Room

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The resort is split into four sections – The Lion King, Cars, The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo, with pools in all but The Lion King section. I absolutely love all the decorations and giant statues around the resort – my favourite parts of the resort were the Cars pool (I love the cones for getting shade under – always good for a pale person!) and The Lion King area.

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The pools and food court here are definitely a step up from the other value resorts – I love the make your own pasta which is appearing at more of the food courts nowadays.

The other great thing about this resort is that it’s linked to Pop Century (originally this was going to be the second half of that resort), so even if you are staying at Pop you have additional food court choices across the water. Thanks for a great stay Richard :)

I’ve managed to stay in quite a few other resorts recently too which weren’t on my list, including Fort Wilderness Cabins (I will definitely be posting about this – possibly my favourite thing I’ve done here!), Animal Kingdom Lodge, Pop Century and All Star Sports.

This week sees the start of the International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot – I’m excited to experience this as a guest, and interested to see how it affects work and the crowds! It’s been very quiet recently in the parks, so it may be a nice change of pace.

42. Celebrate the 4th of July

So I know I’ve neglected my blog recently, but I am going to try and catch up with the past month or so as I’ve been able to tick a few more items off my Bucket List. My Mum has just arrived and is staying for the next 16 days so I’m planning on seeing a lot of different things with her!

4th of July and the days surrounding it have been one of the highlights of my time here so far. A group of us stayed at Wilderness Lodge for 2 nights over 4th July – after finishing work on the 3rd and checking in to the resort we took the bus over to Magic Kingdom where we stayed for Extra Magic Hours and got to do a lot of rides with little wait time.

Wilderness Lodge

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As Adam and I had chosen to get the dining plan for the 2 nights (which worked out incredible value for money), we had a table service meal to use each day and on the 4th July we opted to eat at Tutto Italia for lunch. This is probably the best meal I’ve eaten since being in Orlando and we had great service from the Italian cast members in the restaurant. The rest of the day was spent at Epcot, finished with the amazing 4th of July Illuminations fireworks. I didn’t find the park too busy that day, so surprisingly was able to see a lot of the attractions and countries of World Showcase that I had yet to visit.

The next day was one of my friend’s Birthday breakfast at Ohana. It’s a family style breakfast with Mickey, Pluto Lilo and Stitch and was a lot of fun!

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After a short visit to Animal Kingdom we spent our final evening of our mini vacation seeing the special 4th of July fireworks at Magic Kingdom. These were being shown all week as part of Limited Time Magic and were great – I’m definitely glad we got to finish off our stay with them!

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36. Ride Star Tours 2

A few of the girls I work with in the United Kingdom Pavilion had the day off with me yesterday, so we spent the afternoon at Hollywood Studios before seeing Despicable Me 2. That meant I was able to cross another ride off my bucket list!

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I’m not a huge fan of simulators or anything that might cause motion sickness (nothing will get me on Mission Space again!) but I found the previous Star Tours ride okay so I thought I better experience the new updated version. It’s now in 3D and there are different variations on the ride which are randomly selected. It is definitely a great update to the ride even though I’m not a big Star Wars fan!

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And even better I didn’t have any problems with the ride or feeling funny afterwards! This was probably one of the easier items on my list but I’ve managed to tick off one of the harder ones this week so I’ll be blogging about that soon.

Photo of the Week – Week 3

I’ve visited Animal Kingdom a few times since being here, as that is where Richard works. The Asia area of the park is one of the highlights of the park for me, and the other day I took a lovely walk through the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Sadly the tigers weren’t around that day but I did enjoy taking photos of the area and the animals that were around. Having visited Asia recently I definitely appreciate the detail the Imagineers have put into creating the area.

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30. New Fantasyland

One of the biggest additions to Walt Disney World since my last visit in December 2010 is New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, so naturally it was one of the first things I wanted to see on arriving in Orlando!

On one of my first evenings after receiving my cast member ID, Richard (my brother) and I spent the evening in the Magic Kingdom which meant I was able to see New Fantasyland finally! Our first stop was Under The Sea – The Voyage of The Little Mermaid. I have previously ridden this ride at Disneyland, and I think it is a great addition to the park here!

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We had a look around the rest of the area and Storybook Circus – I am excited to return and eat at Be Our Guest another day. Near Gaston’s Tavern there is a lovely new gift shop that had some more unique items.

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As we were walking around the park that evening Wishes started – at that moment a group of characters including Minnie Mouse and Goofy came out and stood with a small group in Storybook Circus to watch the fireworks. Such a lovely magical moment!

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My most recent visit to the Magic Kingdom was during extra magic hours last Wednesday (we stayed at Wilderness Lodge for 4th July – more about that in an upcoming post!). During this time I got to experience the new Enchanted Tales with Belle with no queue. This is an amazing interactive character experience that has recently been added, and the setting of the attraction is incredible – I loved the way the mirror transformed into a door during the show.

As it’s an interactive experience many of the audience get to take part – 3 out of the 4 of us in our group got to be in the show, and I was Mrs Potts so got to hop around the room quite a bit with little Chip! This is certainly a unique character experience in Walt Disney World and one I will definitely revisit again soon.

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39. Trade a Pin

On my first day of training I managed to tick off the first item from my Bucket List!

If you have visited the Walt Disney World resort before I’m sure you will know how popular buying and trading pins are! As a cast member we are allowed lanyards or hip pouches to trade pins with guests, which we picked up on our first day of training at Epcot. This is a great way to interact with guests as so many people want to stop and look at what pins you have! If you are working in Food & Beverage you aren’t always allowed to trade, but it is very popular with Merchandise Cast Members. The pouch I have holds up to 9 pins, and we can go and trade these backstage if we want to change up our pins!

My first trade happened as we were strolling around the outside of the United Kingdom Pavilion as part of our training. Since then I have done a lot more trades, especially as we are now spending a lot more time on the shop floor! Yesterday was my last day of training, and now we are part of the usual work rotation!

My current pin selection!

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