Disney Confirm Opening Date For Pandora – The World of Avatar

Hey Thril Seekers,

Today Disney finally confirmed what we’ve all been waiting for, confirmation that Animal Kingdoms newest land Pandora – The World of Avatar will officially open on May 27th 2017!

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CEO Bob Iger dropped the date during Disney’s latest earnings call. Disney stated;

This new land will transport guests to the visually stunning world of Pandora. Here, guests will wonder at floating mountains and bioluminescent plants, and can join the Na’vi on two excursions that take adventure to the next level.

First, the family friendly Na’vi River Journey will send guests through a bioluminescent rainforest. Their journey will end in an unforgettable encounter with a Na’vi Shaman, a figure who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora. And second, Avatar Flight of Passage will offer guests the jaw-dropping experience of exploring the world of Pandora atop a Banshee.

Guests will also be able to dine at Satu’li Canteen, grab a drink at Pongu Pongu or shop for Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits, and more at Windtraders.

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We should slowly get more information as the opening date gets closer.

Smiles included,

Jamie

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Top Secrets at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Onto the last of the Disney parks now at Disney’s Animal Kingdom which happens to be the largest Disney theme park in the whole world at 500 acres! This is definitely going to be a walking boots kinda day…

Before you enter into the park, you might notice some of the cast sweeping up? Why not take a moment out of your day to go a bit closer, I mean would they really have rubbish to sweep away first thing in the morning…? 😉

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You might remember from my other post about Universal Studios that there was another entrance near to Blue Man Group with a lesser queue, well there’s a similar entrance at Animal Kingdom, just behind the Rainforest Cafe gift shop! This will give you that little bit of extra time to have in the park before the crowds.

The first thing to catch your eye in Animal Kingdom is pretty much guaranteed to be the Tree of Life in Discovery Island. It is absolutely mind blowing that there are over 300 animals carved into the tree and over 103,000 leaves that have been individually placed in the making of this tree. What’s that you say? ‘It’s not a real tree?!’ No, it’s not, it’s actually an oil rig believe it or not! The Tree of Life is also the home to It’s Tough To Be A Bug!’

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Let’s go anti clockwise round Animal Kingdom and visit DinoLand U.S.A. DINOSAUR is one of my favourite rides at Animal Kingdom, but there is one thing I have only just recently found out. When you are in the loading area for the ride, overhead are some pipes, red, yellow and white with formulas written on them. I can’t be sure what these formulas are officially but rumour has it they are Ketchup, Mustard and Mayonnaise from when the ride was previously sponsored by McDonalds!

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Next door in Asia is probably the part of the park where the thrill seekers are more likely to head to being the home of Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids. You may notice on some of the trees there are scarves draped around which are to commemorate lost ones.

Expedition Everest is the world’s most expensive roller coaster at over $100 million which isn’t very surprising when you realise that it’s made with 1800 tonnes of steel! The coaster is huge and I for one can say that it is definitely worth all the money that Disney have spent on it.

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Kali River Rapids is another amazing attraction where you are guaranteed to get soaked! It’s the perfect way to cool down on a boiling hot day! Not everyone is a fan of rapids or just water rides in general but with Kali River Rapids, you can still join in the fun without getting on! There is a bridge where you can walk over the rapid route and find a button. This button will squirt water out of the elephant onto riders as they go round! It’s a great laugh for everyone (not so much the people getting soaked)

For our final part of Disney, we’ll take a quick look into Africa, home to the Kilimanjaro Safaris. Just the safari land is 3 acres larger than the whole of Magic Kingdom! That’s ludicrous! The best time, I think, to do the safari is first thing in the morning as you’re more likely to see more animals. Throughout the day as the animals start to become harder to find, you might notice that the lions are nearly always sat upon Pride Rock’. This is because there are piped, chilled air holes in the rocks to encourage the lions to hang around here thus making it easier for guests to take their photos of them!

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So that’s it, we’ve actually come to the end of Disney, but what a journey we have had! Be sure to look out for these little secrets and let us know if you find anymore!

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Behind The Scenes at Pandora – The World of Avatar

Hey Thrill Seekers,

So today whilst having a nose on the Walt Disney World Facebook page I came across this wicked video that not only gives us a sneak preview of what Pandora – The World of Avatar is going to be like but we also get to see what some of the top people dealing with the new world have to say.

Joe Rohde, Walt Disney’s Imagineering Senior VIP Creative says that this is a “crazy thing to try to do” but after watching this video i’m glad they have done it!!

Jon Landau – The producer of Avatar states that this land will literally ‘take guests to Pandora’ and James Cameron – The Creator / Director of Avatar ‘can’t really express how it feels to see something that he imagined in 1995 suddenly made physically real’

The Navi River Journey looks as though it is going to be an absolutely beautiful and serene escape into the bioluminescent forest and the clue towards something ‘amazing’ happening at the end of the ride that has ‘never been seen before’ has got me filled to the brim with excitement. AVATAR Flight of Passage will take you on a once in a life time flight over Pandora and is sure to be very thrilling!

My favourite bit has got to be the floating mountains and the fact you can walk underneath them as they move over your head. This is sure to create the atmosphere of being totally immersed in the world that is Pandora.

I think that this world is going to be absolutely incredible and definitely somewhere to add to your itinerary if you’re visiting from summer onward!

Smiles Included…

Jess

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Do You Really Mean All The Parks?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

A lot of our customers ask for a ticket that includes ‘all of the parks’ without realising how many parks there actually are. Ticket purchasing can become quite complicated when you aren’t aware of all the parks and attractions, especially if you’re a first timer. We have ‘The Big Three’, Disney, Universal and SeaWorld but there is so much more!

Let’s take a look at the big three first.

Walt Disney World actually consists of 6 parks in total, 4 theme parks, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and 2 water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. All of our Disney tickets include all 6 of these parks, we do not offer single day or single park tickets.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom is the park to explore lands of endless enchantment, where your fantasy becomes a reality. 

Disney’s Epcot allows you to travel around the globe, under the sea, into outer space…and beyond!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will amaze you, behold the magic of nature with rare animals and world-class entertainment.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios puts you smack bang in the middle of the action, take center stage in the world of movies, television, music and theater.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon is a storm ravaged tropical bay while Disney’s Blizzard Beach is a melting ski resort.

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Moving onto Universal now with their 2 theme parks, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. These 2 parks are joint together using The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Hogwarts Express. You must have a hopper ticket to ride the Hogwarts Express, which is of course, what we offer! 🙂

Tip: Ride the Hogwarts Express both ways to encounter two completely different experiences. 😉

Universal Studios is where you can jump into the action of your favourite movies and TV shows’. At the back of the park you will find yourself in Diagon Alley.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure is where you can live the adventure. Towards the back of this park you will be in Hogsmeade.

Universal’s Volcano Bay is the newest park which is due to open on the 1st June 2017. Water is life. Life is joy. 

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SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment have a total of 4 parks including SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Discovery Cove.

SeaWorld Orlando has a mixture of thrill rides, family rides and animal interactions. SeaWorld rescue a lot of animals from the wild to treat them and then release them back into the wild.

Aquatica is SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s water park which is themed to the Southern Pacific and features Australian and New Zealand mascots that you can spot relating to each attraction.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is about an hour out of Orlando but so worth the journey! The 19th century African themed park is also, like SeaWorld, a mixture of the thrill and family rides as well as the animal encounters. All of the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is suitable for all the family.

Tip: We offer these parks at an amazing 3 parks for the price of 2 offer which entails free parking!

Discovery Cove is an amusement park where guests can completely relax with an all inclusive day and have the choice to ‘talk, touch, play and swim with bottlenose dolphins’.

There are 2 Discovery Cove packages available, 1 including 14 days into SeaWorld and Aquatica and our Ultimate package including 14 days into SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens.

Tip: You can make the most of the free parking with our Ultimate Package as well. 😉

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LEGOLAND Florida & Merlin Attractions is next up. LEGOLAND Florida has their theme park and their water park – great fun for all the family. As well as Legoland, Merlin also have I-Drive 360 which is made up of The Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds and SEALIFE Orlando.

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We offer a number of different ticket options for these attractions, so if you don’t necessarily want to visit all of them, you can take your pick!

If you’re looking to visit some of Florida’s more alternative attractions, you won’t be at a loose end as there are so many options!

Kennedy Space Center

Fun Spot

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Boggy Creek – 30 minute

Boggy Creek – 1 hour

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So if you were stuck for ideas, I hope you’re not anymore! All of these attractions are available on our website and any questions you have, you can contact us to find out more!

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Top 10 Orlando Attractions 2016

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We’ve seen the top 5 attractions in each park and now it’s the big one, the top 10 attractions in Orlando overall.

1st Place: Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts – Universal Studios.

2nd Place: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – Islands of Adventure.

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3rd Place: Expedition Everest – Animal Kingdom.

4th Place: Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster – Hollywood Studios.

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5th Place: Soarin’ – Epcot.

6th Place: Crush ‘n’ Gusher – Typhoon Lagoon.

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7th Place (joint): Summit Plummet – Blizzard Beach & Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Magic Kingdom.

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8th Place: Hard Rock Cafe – Universal City Walk.

9th Place: Manta – SeaWorld

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10th Place: Falcons Fury – Busch Gardens

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So it is clear to see that the Harry Potter attractions are extremely popular amongst our thrill seekers and why wouldn’t they be, they really are incredible.

With the opening of Volcano Bay next year I wonder how different this list will look at the end of 2017?! If you’re heading out to visit the parks don’t forget to leave your feedback and vote for your fave attractions!!

Smiles Included,

Jess
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Animal Kingdom’s Top Attractions 2016

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Coming in at an extremely favourable 1st place for top attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Expedition Everest.

“Careen through the Himalayan mountains on a speeding train while avoiding the clutches of the mythic Abominable Snowman.” 

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Expedition Everest  is a thrilling family ride where you will board a weather beaten train and begin to zoom through a gorgeous scenery of rolling hills and green forests. After whizzing through a ceremonial stone tunnel you will find yourself at the summit. However you can’t stay there forever, one way up, one way down!

As you plunge downwards into the heart of the mountain the train comes to an unexpected stop as the track in front of you is broken! But don’t worry Disney wouldn’t allow you to be caught by the Yeti, not today! The train begins to race backwards, back inside the dark mountain to encounter lots of twists and turns. Keep your eyes peeled for a shadowy figure. Is it the Yeti? I would’t want to hang about to check that’s for sure!

Second Place: Kilimanjaro Safaris – You’ll have the chance to experience a tour of the African Savanna in an open-air vehicle for a day or evening tour. There are over 34 different species of African wildlife that are free to roam around.

Third Place: Festival Of The Lion King – Another unmissable experience at Animal Kingdom. One huge celebration with all your favourite characters and songs all rolled in to one show. (one of my personal favourites)

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Fourth Place: Kali River Rapids – This is a exciting whitewater experience down the Chakranadi River – look out you might get soaked!!

Fifth Place: It’s tough to be a bug – “See the world from a bug’s point of view with a little help from Flik inside the great Tree of Life.”

Expedition Everest is another great and very very popular top attraction for another fantastic park.

Smiles Included..

Jess
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Disney’s New MagicBand 2

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Disney have recently announced they are releasing new Magic Bands. With a slight make over and a nip and tuck, the MagicBand 2 will have a removable icon. The technology is all included on this disc shaped icon which you can remove from the band. You may think that this will just pop in and out which means it can get lost easily, but all bands will come with a little screwdriver to undo the tiny screw on the back.

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The icon can be used in other accessories such as key chains, bracelets etc. to make the bands more fashionable.

The bands will still be used for FastPass, hotel admission, payments in restaurants and merchandise stores throughout Walt Disney World Resort in the exact same way, just a slightly new look.

Magic Bands can be used again if you visit more than once and they usually last between 3 – 5 years depending on the battery life. They have smart technology included so that they will turn themselves off once you leave the Walt Disney World Resort and turn themselves back on when you re-enter.

The fact that these bands are waterproof is also pretty cool. You don’t need to worry about it getting wet on any of the water rides or if it rains! Not forgetting that you can personalise your band to make it your own. When I ordered my band I was able to choose between pink, blue, green, red, orange, grey or a yellow band. (Obviously I chose pink!) I also had my name printed on the inside so if I ever took it off, I would be sure it was mine. Disney stores also sell different straps and band its.

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You can even personalise your band yourself by painting it, putting stickers on it, bedazzling it etc. The question is, will defacing your band stop it from working? No, it won’t. If you deface tickets, it can make them invalid however this is not the case with your bands.

If you still have one of the older style Magic Bands, do not worry about having to purchase a new one as they will still work at Disney. Rumours are going around that eventually Disney will be looking to roll these out completely but this won’t be for a while now so there’s no reason to panic.

Icons will be included on every band so you won’t be able to purchase a band on it’s own which may have made personalising the bands a bit cheaper, but we all love spending money anyway, don’t we?!

Once we have an official release date for these bands, we will be sure to update you!

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Patent Suggests New Disney Ride

Hey Thrill Seekers,

There have been many rumours ‘flying’ around about how Disney are planning to patent a ‘vertical load and launch roller coaster’.

Disney have always been quick to patent loads of idea’s that their clever ‘imagineers’ create. Lots of people have been keeping an eye on what Disney are planning for its next patent which was filed a few years back for a vertical load and launch coaster. Since the U.S Patent and Trademark Office published it back in September it has got everyone’s ears pricked and we are all watching Disney’s every move.

Basically, from what we know, the patent will allow for improvement on existing flying coaster technologies which will be done by adding multi-level loading bays for visitors to enter the ride from different levels. The cart will be stationed vertically making it heaps easier to position yourself ready for the ride.

“The flying roller coaster is a relatively new ride for amusement parks, and ride designers have faced several challenges including how to load and unload the vehicles and then place the passengers/riders in a prone or flying position.”

There are quite a few flying coasters around a great example being Manta at SeaWorld – guests board this coaster by sitting down in a seat, restraint harnesses come down and then the seat is pulled up resulting with it being parallel to the track.

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Some issues that have been raised in a snippet from the patent:

First, the loading and unloading positions can be quite uncomfortable as some existing designs require the passengers to lie down in the vehicle. Second, many flying roller coasters have vehicles with complex actuator assemblies that are used to position the vehicles or seats in a flying position after passenger loading is completed. This increases manufacturing and maintenance costs for these rides. Third, all of the passengers load the vehicles or cars of the coaster train from a single station (or single horizontal platform) — such an arrangement fails to provide any privacy for the vehicle passengers during loading and unloading. For example, each passenger has to share the pre-ride experience with a large number of people (i.e., the entire capacity of the train rather than just those in your family or group that may be entering a car or vehicle to experience a ride).

The patent hints at the coaster being launched vertically from the get go. Instead of having to lay down to get in position for a flying coaster ride Disney seem to be re-designing the whole experience. Riders would be required to just sit down in the seat and lean back against the (hopefully a padded) back of the seat. Sounds a lot more comfortable to me than sitting down, being flung forwards or backwards to get in position.

The patent documents also stated that

“Also, the loading can be much more private or intimate for those entering each vehicle as each vehicle is provided its own loading platform,”

There has also been lots of speculation around this new patent such as does this mean a new attraction? Are they going to incorporate it into a existing attraction? Who knows! Unfortunately we are just as much in the dark as you are until Disney officially announces anything.

Disney have not yet announced anything to support the rumours regarding this particular patent and a lot of Disney patents are never acted upon but this idea seems to good to just chuck in a pile don’t you think?

Smiles Included…

Jess

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Pandora – The World Of Avatar Opening Summer 2017!

Hey Thrill Seekers,

The highly anticipated addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora – The World of Avatar has been confirmed to be opening this summer! Eeeekk!!

Check out this video update: 10/01/2017

Back in 2011 Disney had begun plans to build the first Avatar themed land at Walt Disney World – with its main emphasis being all about living in harmony with nature – Animal Kingdom was the perfect location. James Cameron, the filmmaker for the Avatar films has previously stated:

“I’m chomping at the bit to start work with Disney’s legendary Imagineers to bring our AVATAR universe to life. Our goal is to go beyond current boundaries of technical innovation and experiential storytelling, and give park goers the chance to see, hear, and touch the world of AVATAR with an unprecedented sense of reality.”

As well as recently learning that this land is opening in the summer of 2017 Disney have also released a few very intriguing images relating to the new land. My favourite being of the bridge that will connect Pandora – The World of Avatar with the rest of Animal Kingdom. The scaffolding has been removed from around the bridge!! (no i’m not crazy and i’m not excited over scaffolding) The chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Bob Chapek has actually released a photograph of the bridge in all its glory! Bam.

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The storyline developed by Walt Disney Imagineering and Lightstorm Entertainment has given the idea that the bridge was built during the time when a ‘destructive company called the RDA’ entered Pandora and now that they’re long gone nature has begun to break down all evidence of their unwanted presence.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a park that “honours animals and natural environments real, ancient and imagined.” The story behind the bridge appears to be the first glimpse we have of how out of this world the new land is actually going to be. There will be loads of cool, realistic details throughout the whole adventure such as Na’vi artifacts that you should look out for during your visit.

Disney have also released images of what some of the restaurants, shops and attractions the land is looking to entail.

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Pandora – The World of Avatar is said to include a flight simulator based banshee attraction as well as a boat ride through the landscape of Pandora. Disney want guests to be able to experience two new excursions that will take ‘adventure’ to a whole new level.   Na’vi River Journey  is a family friendly ride which will enable visitors to travel down a sacred river which is hidden within a bioluminescent rainforest. The journey will end in an encounter with a Na’vi Shaman. The Avatar Flight of Passage excursion will allow guests to experience the incredible feeling of riding on a Banshee over the world of Pandora. Sound amazing doesn’t it?!

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At night the land will take on a whole new image with ‘bioluminescent flora and special nighttime immersive programming.’ (now if all of those long words went straight over your head like they did mine then just take a look at the picture below to see how unreal it is going to be) Basically the ground is set to literally glow beneath your feet!

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Imagineer Joe Rohde stated:

“We want the world of Pandora to be believable,” Jon said. “When visitors come to Pandora they’ll experience and they’ll believe — and they’ll look at the world a little bit differently.”

So if you’re like me and physically cannot wait for this magical land to open then the good news is there’s not long to wait now! Summer just can’t come quick enough. The whole land when it opens is set to ‘transport guests to a visually stunning world complete with floating mountains and bioluminescent plants.’  How unreal does that sound?!

Smiles Included..

Jess
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My top 5 places to eat at the parks

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Visiting Orlando can be overwhelming at the best of times. How much money you need, where to go, what to see, what to eat..

Here at OAT towers we try to make it as easy as possible to help you prepare for your holiday of a lifetime so here I am putting our experience to good use. I’ve gone round a few of the minions in our offices to find their favourite restaurants around the parks to give you your top 5.

My favourite restaurant has got to be the Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld. It’s not often you get to enjoy your meal while gazing at the sharks swimming past you. Not only that, but you can go downstairs and walk through the aquarium with the sharks swimming above you. It truly is amazing!

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Karl our CTO says his favourite restaurant is The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co at Universal’s CityWalk which I hear nothing but good things about. If you’re a fan of Forrest Gump, you’re a fan of Bubba Shrimp! It’s a family friendly, worldwide restaurant with a great atmosphere, like any restaurant on CityWalk.

Jess can’t get enough of the Rainforest Cafe located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park and Disney Springs. If you’re looking for something ‘different’ the Rainforest cafe is definitely a place to try. Enjoy your meal while surrounded by tropical animals and wait for your surprises throughout the evening. I can guarantee you won’t be bored!

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The Leaky Cauldron in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley at Universal Studios is our CEO, Gavin’s favourite restaurant. I think this may be something to do with his beard…he thinks he’s a wizard! I guess there really is no place like home seeing as the Leaky Cauldron serves traditional British meals. Yum!

Kelly is always competing with Lauren about who’s the biggest Disney fan (although I think it’s definitely Lauren) so she has chosen the Be Our Guest restaurant in FantasyLand at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. If you want to feel like royalty, this is where you want to go for your meal. It is absolutely stunning and the attention to detail is unreal.

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So there’s a few ideas of where to go to eat. Don’t forget there are so many restaurants that you will never get to visit all of them in one trip so make sure you pick carefully!

Smiles Included…

Louise

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