Sunscape Splash Resort – Montego Bay

We went to Montego Bay, Jamaica in February 2018 and stayed at the Sunscape Splash Resort. If you like this, you’ll love a couple of other blog posts:

Sunscape Splash

Location

Sunscape Splash is located on the beachfront, around 3 miles south of Montego Bay International Airport.  It is around 15-20 minutes by transfer from the airport to the hotel, but this can depend on traffic and if you are the first of last drop-off. We were  the first drop-off, which was much appreciated after a long day of travelling!! However, the coach did have a loop of Bob Marley’s greatest hits on loop, which definitely got us acclimatised into Jamaica.

Rooms

Being a single dad with a 4 year old, we didn’t really need much in way of facilities in the room. The room had a HUGE king sized bed, a fridge, a balcony, a drying rack as well as a shower.

A nice, neat room!

The fridge was replenished every day with a couple of soft drinks and a Red Stripe and the room was tidied every day  to a good standard.

Shower

The room had a decent sized TV although there was an eclectic selection of channels, featuring some US channels, some local channels and some South American channels. However, you’re not going to Jamaica to watch TV! The free in-hotel WiFi carried up to the rooms very well so using mobile devices also works well.

The Sunscape Splash rooms are in tower blocks, and using the lifts is very much advised because of the heat! I would have thought that there would be more queues for the lifts, but there wasn’t!

Beach

As the hotel is on the beach, you have a lovely stretch of beach to play on and calm water to swim in.  Even though we went in February, the water was warm, clear and calm. The best of the water is towards the Cove end of the beach, as there is a lot of seagrass, but it won’t stop you from getting in the water.  They rope off the sea so you can’t get too far out to sea, but the water never gets too deep, so less than confident swimmers should still be ok.

The beach has a few pebbles on, but certainly nothing to worry about. There are no beach/pool toys provided, so make sure you bring your own if your child likes to build sandcastles etc! There were enough sun loungers on the beach for people, but I imagine that if the hotel is much busier, then it would be a problem.

Pools

There are 5 pools to enjoy at the Sunscape Splash. One of these pools is adults-only, with a swim-up bar and one is a children-only (probably up to 6 years old) paddling pool with small slide. You have a “regular” pool with swim-up bar, an “entertainment” pool, as well as a lazy river with slides.

Entertainment Pool

We hung out at the “entertainment” pool and the sun loungers were taken before the pool was open. However,it didn’t matter that much to us as we were in the pool most of the day! Most of the children played in this pool and they had the music playing all day, with various entertainment occurring throughout.

The lazy river is exactly as it is described, with rubber rings free for use floating around.  Feeding into part of the river are the signature slides, which we didn’t manage to get on because Heidi was a bit scared! However, they were big enough so that I would have gone on with her. I think any child older than 7 would be ok to go on their own.

All the swimming pools are relatively shallow (4ft deep or so) and have lifeguards on at all times. As such, the pools are only open during the day (9.30 to 5pm from memory)

Entertainment/Kids Club

As mentioned above, the entertainment pool is where the action is during the day. However, we did go to Kids Club after evening meal a couple of times. There is a timetable on the various notice boards showing what activities are happening.

For Kids Club, they did a different thing each evening and Heidi loved the cook-out that they had one evening. There are no adults allowed in the Kids Club and the children are safe in the enclosed Kids Club section. Each parent gets a pager in case anything goes wrong and you can watch them from a bridge on the lazy river, so if you’re missing them, you can watch them!

Rocking the Kids Club backpack!

Food

The food and drink is free and plentiful! There are 5 restaurants, but with a 4 year old, we found that the buffet restaurant was the best, so she could eat what she fancied.  The food was decent quality, especially the breakfasts, and there was plenty of choice.

We ate at the Italian Restaurant a couple of times and the food was of better quality, as to be expected. Service was of decent speed and the atmosphere was lovely as we made friends each evening!

Restaurants/buffet are open at set times, but the 24 hours snack bar is open, well, all the time! You can get a sandwich here, as well as sweet snacks, coffee and ice cream. During the day, there is a pool side snack bar, serving hot dogs, fries, popcorn etc. Perfect for a between meal snack!

There are soft drinks machines in operation and my tip would be to take a decent sized drinks bottle so you don’t have to go to get drinks all the time, especially as the glasses provided are small. There is a bar as well near the entertainment pool, and as I don’t drink, I can only comment that the mocktails got a thumbs up from us!

Mocktail!

Sunscape Splash vs Sunscape Cove

I’ve seen various questions as to the difference between Sunscape Splash and Sunscape Cove. As far as I am aware, the Cove has access to a couple more restaurants and the Sunscape Cove rooms are more condominium type, rather than in high rise towers.

View from the Sunscape Splash balcony

The Sunscape Cove rooms tend to be a bit further away from the restaurants, and the service is apparently a bit better, but we certainly had no complaints with the Sunscape Splash facilities.

Overall

Happy Heidi = Happy Holiday!

Heidi and I absolutely loved this hotel. Because of the entertainment, Heidi was a love of all things reggae and that is wonderful to see and hear.  The security situation at the time meant that we didn’t see much of the “real” Jamaica, which was a shame. However, because of the hotel security, we felt really safe.  Would we come back to the Sunscape Splash? If Heidi had her way, absolutely! She bugs me regularly every day and if your child has enjoyed their holiday, then it’s money well spent!!

Continue reading Sunscape Splash Resort – Montego Bay

Hotel Europa Splash

In August 2018, we went to the Hotel Europa Splash on the Costa Brava for a week in the sun. Here is what we thought of the hotel!

Hotel Europa Splash

Location

Hotel Europa Splash is located on the Costa Brava coast, just over an hour north of Barcelona and 45 minutes south east of Girona airport. The hotel itself is on the south side of the seaside town of Malgrat and just north of Santa Susanna.

The hotel is just the other side of the main road from the beach and so getting onto the beach is easy and only a 5 minute walk. There is an underground subway so you don’t have to worry about crossing main roads. As the hotel is located in the town of Malgrat, there are plenty of gift shops, restaurants and mini supermarkets right outside the hotel.

Food

Here is where Hotel Europa Splash could do better. As part of the all inclusive package, you get breakfast, lunch and evening meal, as well as poolside snacks and unlimited drinks.

If I’m being honest, the meals from the restaurant were not great and after a while, they became very bland and same-y. Obviously they have to cater for people from different nationalities and so they have to try and please a lot of people.

We had better success with the poolside kiosk which served chicken nuggets, toasties, chips and hot dogs during the day. These were Heidi’s favourites and we probably ate these more than the normal. Also, the bars served the most amazing milkshakes, but make sure you as an adult taste them before the children, sometimes they go a big wrong!!

If you go to the bar inside, they have a wide array of drinks available, but if you ask for a children’s cocktail, they can make something especially for the children to make them feel all grown up (iti s just lemonade with colouring in!)

If you’re going out for the day, you can ask for a picnic to be made for you. We did this a couple of times and it was always a ham & cheese sandwich with fruit and a drink. If you’re struggling with the restaurant, this might be a good alternative.

Picnic

Accommodation

The accommodation is quite basic, but you don’t really spend much time in the hotel room anyway! The room consists of a double bed, TV, fridge, a balcony and a walk-in shower/wet room.

View from the balcony

The maid service seemed pretty good and we had fresh bottle of water every day in the room. They also arranged Heidi’s teddies on the bed each day which was a nice touch.

Perhaps the most important part is that the TV is in Spanish. However, for some programmes, they have English in the background. Therefore, you need to press the speech bubble button on the remote control and select English. We did this with Disney Channel and it worked every time. Also, the TV carries BBC World News.

Facilities

The Hotel Europa Splash itself has a main swimming pool, a kids splash pool and slides going into a smaller pool. There are lifeguards on throughout and music playing out to the main pool.

The hotel has a wonderful rooftop terrace which is ideal of sunbathing, but also good for taking wonderful photos, as you can see!

There is also a gym, but no-one goes on holiday for a gym!

You also have access to the sister hotel just along the road. Here, the hotel is bigger with more pools/slides, and better food, but the hotel is bigger and you can feel a little lost in there, especially when trying to look after little ones!!

Entertainment

The entertainment team were the best part of the Hotel Europa Splash and worked so hard to entertain the little ones. Check out the notice board for the running order, we found that the evening entertainment was the best part. The mini disco is a bit repetitive but because there is a little bit of time after evening meal, a lot of the children played together and that was nice. Heidi loved this part so much, she wanted to play rather than eat!

Heidi and the entertainment team!

 

One word of warning is that 2/3 times a week, they have various photo opportunities (a snake, parrot, weird looking Mickey Mouse etc!) Please note that these cost €10 each and so be careful!

We did do Kids Club a couple of times as it was nice and quiet (and cool!) but whilst the entertainment team do speak English, it is probably better if you stay with your child, to make sure they understand everything.

Twice a week, they do a walking tour to the beach to the foam party. Whilst it goes on for 2 hours, you’ll only be there for an hour at the most. It is good fun, but make sure you bring a towel or two!.

Foam party!

Conclusion

Overall, we did have a lovely holiday and the Hotel Europa Splash was just the right size for us and what we needed. Would we go back? Probably not, as I wouldn’t want to have the exact same holiday, but for a short burst in the sun, it is a pretty good place.

Continue reading Hotel Europa Splash

Dolphin Cove, Montego Bay

Ok, I’ll get straight to the point with this one. If you ever get the chance to swim with a dolphin, do it. Do whatever it takes to do it. We did just that when we visited Dolphin Cove.

Yes, you may not enjoy it, but you can say that you have done it. This was the highlight of our holiday and is the one thing that Heidi always mentions when she is asked about her holiday.

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We booked the visit, including transport, directly with Dolphin Cove and it felt a bit safer and more official doing it that way. The journey took about 40 minutes from Montego Bay and the driver was excellent in making us feel safe on some very unsafe roads. Our guide for the day told us lots about the local areas we passed through.

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Because Heidi is only 4 and not a brilliant swimmer, we booked the Encounter Experience. This involved stroking, dancing, singing and generally playing with the dolphins. Each person got a couple of minutes as a time with the dolphins doing each activity. As there were 6 in our group, it was quite fast paced, but not at all rushed. I didn’t feel like we had done a “cheap” option.

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Even though we had lifejackets given to us, I felt that it was best to hold Heidi throughout, so she could have the security of knowing she was safe. This meant that she could enjoy it more, as the water was about 4 ft high. However, at no point did any of us feel unsafe.

The dolphin handlers were amazing and were particularly good with Heidi. This is probably because she was the only child in our group and took time afterwards so she could feed the dolphins a few more fish!

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The attraction also has a stingray enclosure, a camel, donkey and ostriches (the shark attraction was closed). However, let’s be honest, it’s all about the dolphins!

A couple of tips which might help if you go…

  • Take a full change of clothes as the last thing you want is to wear your swimming clothes on the coach on the way back to the hotel
  • Budget for buying photos if this is your first time of swimming with the dolphins. The photos are amazing, as I’m sure you can tell, and if you go into the day knowing you’ll buy them, then you won’t have an awkward decision to make.

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This is our first time swimming with them and hopefully, if money allows, we can do it again. If any businesses want to give us a free dolphin swimming session, I won’t say no!!!


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Club Mobay – Montego Bay

As you may know, I went to Montego Bay, Jamaica, with my 4 year old daughter, as a single parent. (You can read my open letter to Heidi here.  One of things that made me feel better about the travelling experience was the Club Mobay service both on arrival and departure that we had booked. As they are both different, I thought that I would break them down…

Arrivals

A Club Mobay member of staff meets you as you get into the terminal. They escort you through the entire passport/customs process through to where your transport is.

You do save plenty of time going through passport control as the queues can be long. This is because you get the next available passport control officer. Generally, getting through baggage reclaim and customs is generally a breeze anyway. The best bit is where they direct you to where you need to go once you clear customs.  In a strange airport in a new country, having that helping hand to make sure you’re in the right place really does help.

You can make use of the arrivals lounge if your transport isn’t ready and there are drinks, snacks and lovely cold towels! We did find that by saving time through passport control, you did end up waiting for other people who were going to be on your coach to the hotel. As such, you don’t really save much time in total.

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Very tired after a long day of travelling!!

However, you are looked after from start to end By the Club Mobay reps and it is a very friendly welcome into Jamaica.

Departures

The Departures service is a bit less personal as there is no meet and greet service. You get a separate lane through passport control and security, which is useful and you get a lounge with food and drinks before your flight. If you are going to have a meal before your flight, it might work out cheaper to do this option.

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Jamaican Beef Patties

As the food is a complimentary buffet, then you can eat as much or as little as you want. These is also a kids play room which is a good touch (not all airports have them!)

One thing I would recommend is to arrange for an earlier drop off at the airport. The check-in process was long when we departed and as a result, we didn’t have that much time in the lounge. As a result, I would make sure you get to the airport earlier to make best use of the service!!

All in all, it is a wonderful little service that is offered and one that I am sure that we would use again. It is perfect for families as it just takes a little bit of the stress out of travelling!!


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Travelling with a 4 year old as a single parent

The thought of travelling as a single parent is a scary prospect.  That is not a bad thing – it shows that you care. However, having been to Jamaica (with a connection in Atlanta) with just myself and my 4 year old, I thought that I would give some hints and tips which might make it easier, especially (but not specifically) if you’re a single parent.

Plan your bags

Chances are that you’ll be in a cramped seating area with your beloved child and they will want everything out of the bag at once – tablet, sweets, drink etc!! The best way to avoid a meltdown is to organise your bags so you know where everything is. That way, you can quickly pick items out of the bag without disrupting where everything else is!

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Food always helps!

Travel and Legal Documents

Most importantly, make sure you have your tickets, travel vouchers for the hotel/transfers and your passport. Make sure your passport is in date and generally has 6 months left when you enter the country. Also, make sure you don’t need any additional Visas or injections. (My guide to applying for a passport can be found here)

Also, if you’re a single parent, make sure you have a copy of your child’s birth certificate and correspondence from the other parent that you have their permission to go out of the country. I never got asked for these, but I have heard of people who have been asked.

Also, take copies of the documents and put a set in a different bag, a set with someone at home and an electronic copy as well.

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Security

Airport security is perhaps one of the worst things in the world to do as a single parent travelling.  One tip is to look really stressed and hope that an airport employee takes pity on you and helps you through the process a little!!

However, when you know when you’re going to be going through it, take all your electronics and fluids out. Either carry them, or put them in a carrier bag so when you get to the x-ray machine, you can easily put them on the conveyor belt and disregard the carrier bag if needed.  Different countries have different rules about children taking their shoes off. As such, either ask before you get to the x-ray machines or just get your child into the habit of taking them off.

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Hopefully the destination will be worth it!

Take pictures

Part of this is to look back at the brilliant time you have had. However, it is useful to take pictures of your bag so you can remember what it looks like when you land. Also, take pictures of your child so that if the worst happens and you lose them, you know what clothes they have on.

If you want ultimate parent points, just go for matching clothes – it really does work!!!

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This combo got amazing comments!!

Have fun!!

Life is about having fun and chances are you’re going on holiday and will have a great time. Relax and it’ll all be fine!

I have blog posts on Flying with a toddler and Flying with a 3 year old if they are of interest too!!

If you have any other hints or tips on travelling, please leave them in the comments below!


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Seaworld

Continuing the Florida guide (which can be found here) we went to Seaworld in February 2017 and spent all day in the park, which was certainly a test of our stamina in the heat! However, we had a lovely day, especially as it was something a little different to the Disney parks. So without further ado, here are 5 things to do at Seaworld, especially if you have a small child:

Check out the ticket deals

We decided to go on the day, but bought the tickets in the villa before setting off. We lucked into an “all you can eat” option that was only available on the day and it was for free! I wouldn’t recommend that strategy as buying in advance is always cheaper, but it is worth being aware of.

If you go for this option, you can basically have a full meal and drink every single hour!! You probably won’t get value for money (at full price) but if you do get the package, you will enjoy it!! The drinks are obviously the key, although they do come without lids and straws for the safety of the animals.

Play cards with the animals

At the end of the Wild Arctic ride (take the walking route if you get motion sickness!) you get to see a wide range of animals. However, if you’re lucky, there will be a sea lion who will play cards with a member of staff and honestly, it is amazing to watch! (the picture doesn’t do it justice!)

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Go to the child friendly play area

While you technically don’t need a child to play in the water fountain, it does help! Just make sure you bring a spare pair of clothes!

There is a huge rope climbing frame for the older children (8+ I would think). However, the rope is not kind to the legs, but there are smaller rides for the younger children. It can help break up the day a bit and give the grown-ups a chance to rest.

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Just after the train ride in the child-friendly area

Check out the penguins

The Antarctica ride is a lovely ride showing the plight of a new born penguin and ends up seeing the real thing in their enclosure. There are 2 options on the ride, a fast or slow ride. The slow ride is absolutely fine for the younger ones. The penguins at the end are gorgeous and perhaps even better, the room is ice cold. This is exactly what you need in the middle of the day and might be the only time you complain of being too cold!!

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Watch the Pets Ahoy show

The show is inside (can you see a theme here!) and all the animals in the show have been rescued. The animals include dogs, cats, birds etc and they perform little tricks with the assistance of their handlers. The show is about 15-20 minutes long and at the end, you can stroke the animals and ask any questions to the handlers.

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Seaworld is a large park and so comfortable shoes are a must, as well as a plan!  If you don’t go for the all you can eat plan, then consider the refillable drinks offer. There is little shelter in the park and you seem to drink more here than at the other parks. We didn’t go on any of the big rides, but looking at Kraken, make sure all your valuables are safely secured.  It is quite funny to see all the debris that has been collected where the ride goes upside down!

As Seaworld is one of the biggest and well known attractions in Orlando, you really need to do it. It is so different to all the others, and as I hope to have shown, you don’t need to go on a single ride to have a great day out!!


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Orlando Science Center

Regular readers of the blog will know that Heidi is quite the scientist, with our regular trips to Mini Einsteins (read here) and almost continual rocket experiments.  So a trip to the Orlando Science Center seemed like a perfect way to fuel this interest whilst on holiday and make sure she was learning a little whilst away from nursery.

Location

Orlando Science Center is around 30 minute drive away from the Disney parks. Located up I-4 near downtown Orlando, and it is a relatively easy drive, apart from the traffic near the parks. There is onsite parking ($5) in a multi-story car park where there are plenty of spaces. However. please don’t make the same mistake I did and park on the top floor – the sun makes the car remarkably hot!!

Activities

Orlando Science Center is a fully indoor attraction (good for rainy days!) and has 4 floors. Our favourite was the top floor with the lab and hands-on experiments. The lab had around 7 little experiments for people to try out. These included testing the acidity of food/drink and testing the strength of structures. We had done a few of them back at home previously, so it was good to know that the science methods were the same on the other side of the Atlantic.

Also on the top floor were lots of hands-on, visual experiments which were ideal for smaller children. The dinosaur exhibit was also on the top floor and for any dinosaur fan, the impressive structures would really help their learning and bring them to life.

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The next couple of floors down were slightly too advanced for Heidi. This was because they were to do with complex structures and space. These would have been ideal for children around 7 years old and older as they would have linked into the school curriculum quite well.

However, there was still plenty for our 3 year old as there was a play area focused around farms/produce. This is where the children could run around and “play” but they could also focus on learning. There was also a lovely wet play/water table area in this area which had a similar effect.

On the ground floor, there was a lovely small animal section. In here are some adorable turtles as well as quite a lot of small water creatures – highlighting the Florida eco-system. Again, for a 3 year old, it was mainly about seeing the animals, rather than learning about them in great detail!!

Top Tip!

The best idea is to play the day around the pop-up activities throughout the day and take it from there. When we went, the activities weren’t well signposted, but the friendly staff went above and beyond to help. Likewise, the staff member in the Lab area (she had ginger hair and was losing her voice!!) took a real shine to Heidi and made a very good visit a little bit more special!

Facilities

In terms of facilities, there is a Subway on site, which is useful for a snack. However, if you’re staying all day, you might need something more substantial. As you would expect Stateside, the toilet/changing facilities are brilliant.

At May 2017, it costs $19.95 for adults, $13.95 for children aged 3 and over and under 3’s are free. As well as all the learning, you also get a screening to a “Hollywood Movie” as well as films in the CineDome. We didn’t take advantage of either because, well, a 3 year old on holiday doesn’t want to see films!!! This cost feels about right, but obviously for overseas visitors, the exchange rate plays a part.

Heidi was probably a year or so too young for Orlando Science Center.  We did stay around 3 hours and that is with us being slightly tired after walking round the parks etc.  However, that just means that we can go back again at some point and learn it all again!!


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Crayola Experience, Orlando

While visiting the Magic Kingdom (link here!) was amazing for Heidi, perhaps the attraction in Florida which she was most excited about was the Crayola Experience. Actually, it was Heidi who wanted to go here because she had seen numerous videos on YouTube. Once she saw a leaflet, she knew she wanted to go!!

Despite the colourful design of the building, it is difficult to find as it is around the back of the Florida Mall., and you can’t see it from the roadside. However, head into the Florida Mall and you’ll see it whilst driving round the car park.

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Just a little bit colourful!

As you might imagine, the Crayola Experience is an attraction that is based around arts/crafts. So if your child is into those activities, you’re in luck! There is also a soft play area/climbing frame which is really good which will help the little ones burn off some energy too!

When you enter, you each get 2 coins so you can get a personalised crayon and piece of play-doh to mould and play with. Additional coins are 50c and the personalised crayon is a lovely keepsake which the little ones can actually use and enjoy!

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Playing with the Play Doh!

The Crayola Experience is essentially a number of different activity tables dotted around where you can do various creative pieces of work. Some are based on computer imagery, such as designing an outfit for a fashion show (see my effort below!). Some are more “old fashioned” involving colouring, painting and those kinds of activities.

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Fashion of the future!

The favourites were the Drip Art (melted crayon dripping onto a spinning card) and the Melt and Mould where a crayon is melted and, you guessed it, moulded, into a shape such as a car, ring etc. Sadly, neither made it back across the Atlantic in one piece!!

We spent just over 2 hours there. A good tip is to plan your visit for when a Florida afternoon thunderstorm is arriving or when you can get a good discount on the tickets. We lucked into the late arrival discount (after 5pm) which made a significant saving. As Florida Mall is next door, you can do some shopping and go to their Food Court for a meal. Here there is quite a good range of shops and food outlets. Older children will be able to spend more time here for sure (Heidi was 3)

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All the colours of the Crayola rainbow!

The main activities are on a single floor which makes it easy with a pushchair. However, but to get the most out of it, your child needs to be comfortable drawing/being creative. Any child younger than 3 isn’t going to get the most out of it (however, they are free!)

Given that our visit to Crayola Experience was over 2 months ago now, Heidi keeps on talking about our visit enthusiastically. I feel as though it was a success and I am sure on our next visit to Florida, she will get even more out of it!!!!


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Magic Kingdom

In this section of the Florida write-up, I am focusing on the Magic Kingdom. This is probably the best known Disney park, with the Cinderella’s castle, rides and attractions.

(For information, the 12 Hints and Tips for Walt Disney World would be quite a useful pre-read! 12 Hints and Tips for Walt Disney World

If you’re staying off-site, getting to the Magic Kingdom is either a boat trip or monorail ride from the car parking lot. The boat trip will probably add 15 minutes to the journey, but the views are amazing. Having said that, the monorail is my personal favourite! Either way, it gives you chance to sunscreen up!

Getting to the Magic Kingdom for the start of the day is a must do as there is an opening show either in front of the entrance, or (in 2017, due to building work) in front of the castle. It is the perfect way to start the day, so give yourself enough time to get there.

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Reaction to the opening show!

The park is set out in a number of different sections, each with a different theme, but all with rides, characters, mini shows and attractions. Depending on who is in the group, will mean different parts suit different people, However, for the younger people, the area (Fantasyland) behind the castle is most suitable. This is because there are a number of child specific rides such as the merry-go-round, Small World and Winnie the Pooh, as well as a lot of characters! However, use the map/app to plan what suits you the most.

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The map of the Magic Kingdom

If I had to suggest three things for the Magic Kingdom, they would be:

Dole Whip

These are sold next to the Tiki Room show in Adventureland. While there was a 20 minute queue, it is well worth it. Pineapple juice beneath ice cream – delicious!! Also, the pineapple ice cream itself is pretty good!

Shows/Parades

There is generally a parade mid afternoon and various shows in front of the castle and on Main Street throughout the day. You’ll probably bump into the shows on your travels. However, the parade is brilliant for the little ones, especially if you can get in some shade (not great for photos!)

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The Move it Shake it parade

Crystal Palace breakfast

The lunch option is more expensive and the food was not particularly suited to British tastes. However, the buffet breakfast is lovely and having breakfast with Eeyore, Winnie, Tigger and Piglet is amazing. You aren’t rushed at all and it just adds a bit of magic. Book your table as early as you can and if you get an early slot, you are in a perfect position to get brilliant pictures in front of the castle!

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Big Bear hug!!

As you can imagine, the park is pretty large so a pushchair may be needed, and there are loads of places to park it as you go in for rides etc. The park itself is flat so it is easier to walk for little legs! If you have smaller travellers, the bathrooms are decent sized (if you are a dad taking daughter to the toilet!). Also, pretty much every toilet block had a baby change bench for men to change nappies.

Finally, the fireworks are pretty amazing,. Whilst it does get busy, even if you get in front of the castle 5 minutes before the start, you’ll get a good view. You’ll just have to fight the crowds to get back to the car (via the monorail or boat!) It took us an hour to get to the car after the end of the fireworks, so bear that in mind with tired legs!


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12 Hints and Tips for Walt Disney World

Given that there are 4 main parks (plus 2 water parks) within the Walt Disney World complex, I thought that it would be a good idea to give some useful hints & tips which can be used in all of the parks. Think of it as a One-Stop-Shop guide.

Over time, I’ll write more detailed guides for each of the parks to help anyone going in the future.

Book your park tickets in advance

For some reason, they are cheaper in the UK and bought in advance. While you need to be careful who you buy them from, there tends to be some deals on so be a little patient.

Parking

Parking costs $20 a day (in February 2017) unless you stay at a Disney hotel, and then it is free. You can use the receipt all day so if you want to park-hop or go back to the hotel for a bit, that is fine. Also, remember where you park – the car parks are huge and the last thing you want is to forget where you have parked when you’re hot and tired!

Get there early

The queues for the first couple of hours of the day are pretty small and you can do a good part of the park before the crowds get in. Generally it is the cooler part of the day also, so when it gets too hot and the crowds are too big, you don’t feel bad for going back to the hotel for a couple of hours.

Plan

Have a plan for what you want to get out of the day. Do you want to see the characters, or do the fast rides etc? The parks are too big and it is too hot to be wandering aimlessly around the park and it will only lead to arguments.

Security

Walt Disney World is an amazingly safe place, but generally because of the airport style security. It does lead to queues when entering the park, but it is for a reason. Plan accordingly, and make sure you leave your selfie-stick at the hotel.

Fastpasses are your best friend

Once you book your park tickets, link up the tickets to an account and the app and book your queue-jumping fastpasses. You can generally save half an hour on each fastpass, so use them on the busy rides. Also, use them early in the day and when you run out (you get 3 a day) you can get another one.

Food & Drink

$3 for a bottle of water?! Pack your own drinks and snacks and you’ll save a fortune! If you have a decent breakfast, you’ll be good for most of the day, but remember it does get hot so freeze a couple of the bottles you take so you have ice cold water in the afternoon.

Character meals

If you were to splash out on one thing at Disney and you have a child, do a character meal. It is wonderful to see the child interact with a character and just makes the holiday a bit more special. The best value meals are the buffets, especially the breakfast ones as they tend to be a bit cheaper.

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Character meal breakfast at Hollywood Studios

Photopass

There are a host of Disney photographers willing and able to take photos for you free of charge at certain scenic points/character attractions. These link through to your Disney app and so you generally don’t have to take that many photos during the day. Even if you aren’t linked up the the Disney app, they are happy to take a photo using your phone.

Wifi

The Walt Disney World parks have really good Wifi throughout and so you can remain connected throughout the day. This means that you can access the Disney app and update Fastpasses and look at the photos throughout the day. Just be careful of your battery!

Footwear and Clothing

Make sure you plan accordingly. It will be hot and you will be on your feet most of the day, so light clothing and decent shoes are a must.

Suncream

I think that this is obvious…don’t ruin the holiday by having sunburn! Top up as the day goes on.

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Not a cloud in the sky!

There are loads more and it would be good to hear some other hints/tips in the comments section! Hopefully this will help you enjoy Walt Disney World a bit more!


To read more of my blog, please feel free to:

“Like” me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/leedsdad (Please do this – it makes me smile!)

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Email me at: [email protected]leedsdad.com

Go onto my website: http://www.leedsdad.com