Disney Village Paris Fans

Disney Village Paris Fans

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Florida - Why All The Fuss?

Florida, oh Florida, how I love you so! My love for Florida sparks the same questions amongst some people. I get questions like 'Why are you so obsessed with Florida?', 'Why do you plan so much?', 'You've been before so why are you so excited to go again?' Honestly, I get these questions a lot. They tend to be from people who have never visited Florida. So being the massive Florida fan I am, and with a trip booked next year, I thought I would write about just what makes Florida tick for me. Trust me, I could go on about this for hours, so I've had to limit myself!


I mean where do I even start when it comes to the topic of Florida? I suppose I could start from the very beginning, or near enough. When I reminisce to myself, a lot of my earliest childhood memories are from holidays spent at Florida with my family. These used to be the most amazing holidays because they consisted of me and my parents with my grandparents, my Dad's side of the family, also joining us. So Florida really used to be a family affair. I still recall past trips where my Nan bless her was always guaranteed to injure herself, whether it be falling out of our rental truck or falling off at the ET ride! You could always guarantee that there would be loads of laughs. Another funny incident that springs to mind was a trip in the early 2000s with my parents. We were queuing for Pirates of the Caribbean. The film 'Dodgeball' had recently come out and featured a character called 'Steve the Pirate'. Anyway, we were stood there in the queue, when all of a sudden, we heard a loud American guy shout out "Yarrrgh! And Steve was a pirate!" The three of us instantly burst into laughter, as did other people in the queue. It may not sound so hilarious written down but it really was one of them moments where you had to be there.

This giant ET billboard used to freak the heck out of me when I was a toddler! 

Through the years, the family trips grew less and less but I still ended up having some amazing trips with my Mum, with the most recent being 2013. My trips with Mum also had some hilarious moments, including one instance where a man walked out in front of a car and the driver yelled out "Asshole!" It was just so stereotypically American that I couldn't stop myself from laughing! I remember we were going to see a film after that happened and I had to lock myself in a toilet for a good 10 minutes because I had uncontrollable laughter. Again, you just had to be there! So I guess you could say that another thing that springs to mind when I think of Florida is laughter!

Mum lapping it up with Poor Bear and friends!

A 17 year old's first time at Hooters. God I look young here!

Theme Parks

I think it's safe to say that the topic of theme parks come to mind when most people think of Florida, me being no exception. Florida is absolutely synonymous for it's theme parks and for good reason too. A lot of people instantly think of Walt Disney World but we shouldn't forget that Florida is also home to Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens to name but a few. Florida is quite easily the theme park capital of not only America but the whole world! There really isn't a better place to go if you're a theme park lover!

Look at what I caught on my travels!

Now if you're going to ask me which one is my favourite, I really couldn't choose. It's just too difficult! That being said though, being the big Disney lover I am, I am extremely geared towards the Disney parks. Like I said with my childhood memories, a lot of them are from times spent at the Magic Kingdom and for some reason, I have a lot of distinctive memories from Hollywood Studios back when it was known as MGM Studios, which I still call it to this day.

Might have to check into this place again. I wonder if they've sorted out their elevator problems yet? 

Being a massive film buff, I do love Universal Studios. The park has changed drastically throughout the years but I still love it. It is home to the longstanding classic ET Adventure ride, as well as my favourite show in all of Florida, Universal's Horror Make-Up Show!

Doc Brown told me his birthday was "In the future!" I did laugh! 

Now this is where I raise a few eyebrows with some people but I'm also a very big fan of SeaWorld. I just find it an incredibly relaxing park to walk around, hence why it is known amongst my family as the 'first day park', because it has the prefect mix of peaceful exhibits mixed with adrenaline rushes, making it a great place to spend the first day of a Florida trip.

SeaWorld's beautiful entrance really sets the tone of the park

Food and Drink

If there's one stereotype that us Brits give America, it's that their food portions are huge. Whilst this is very true, it is also extremely tasty! I have many favourite restaurants in Florida that can't be found here in the UK. Examples include Friendly's, The Olive Garden and Johnny Rockets. Although they have a couple of locations here, you can't beat the atmosphere of an American Hooters, especially if you're a young lad!

Good music, great grub and pretty servers! What's not to love!

There's just something different about American dining and I can't quite put my finger on it. Well, quite importantly, it's more delicious, in my opinion anyway! Of course you're going to get burgers, that's another stereotype America is famous for, but hey, there are plenty of other foods on offer. One of my favourite things to eat out there are their sour dough toasted sandwiches. Oh my, I'm drooling over the thought of them now! One restaurant I mentioned, The Olive Garden, is home to the best dish I've ever had in my life, their Chicken Alfredo, dare I be crude but it is simply orgasmic! It's the stuff of legend, in my book anyway!

Oh how I love this place!

Here is the reason why! 

Food aside, I can't go on without mentioning some of the beverages that come to mind when I think of Florida. Firstly, milkshakes! Oh my God the milkshakes in Florida are so heavenly! They're just so thick and creamy, I love them! Saying that, another beverage I love to drink out there is Mountain Dew. Now I know you can buy it over here but it just isn't the same. It really isn't. American Mountain Dew has a completely different taste. Surprisingly, it's a lot less gassy in America.

I needed cool air as well as Cola to cool down in the Florida sunshine! 

The People

One of my favourite things about going visiting Florida is the Americans. I just love them! Well, all the ones I've met anyway. They're just so friendly, though some would say overly friendly. I don't mind it though because for me it's all part of the experience. As you'd expect, the Cast Members throughout all of Walt Disney World are nothing short of exceptional, as are the staff at all the other theme parks. Restaurant staff always go above and beyond to maintain the best dining experiences too.

Workers aside, I've been blessed to meet some great Florida locals, including an elderly couple who stood with me and Mum to watch Blondie perform at Universal's Mardi Gras celebrations in 2011. I'll never forget that night because the elderly gentleman got into a fight with another guy over the Vietnam War. The man's wife looked at us, rather embarrassed and gave a wry laugh, so me and Mum just smiled!

My new adopted family!

So hopefully that answers some questions about why I love Florida so much and just why there's so much fuss about it, for me and many other people around the world. Like I said at the beginning, I had to limit myself with this blog because I could have quite easily gone on for hours on end about why I adore Florida. Trust me, this isn't all of my reasons, but hey, there's always time for another blog one day!

As always, thank you for reading and I'll see you soon!

Thursday, 20 September 2018

More Solo Trips & One Very Big Trip Next Year!

Well hello there! I can't actually believe this is the first blog I've written all year! Crazy right? Well I do apologise but I've been one very busy boy! Firstly, and most importantly, I started a new job role. I've also been very busy with my Disney Village Fans Facebook group. You will also see from the following words and photos that I took part in my second solo trip to Disneyland Paris. With two more trips to Disneyland Paris coming very soon, I've recently had some massive news for next year but I'm going to save the best to last as they say!

So let's start my first blog of the year with my first big moment of the year, my second solo trip to Disneyland Paris!

Let It Snow! My First Solo Trip of the Year

A snow-covered Disneyland Paris was a sight to behold!

After the complete jubilation of my life-changing first solo trip to Disneyland Paris, it was no surprise that I booked to go again! The thing is though, I just couldn't stop at one trip, I ended up booking three in one year! This is the first time I'd ever done such a feat. I've had years where I've gone to Disneyland Paris and Florida both in the same year but never multiple visits to the same places in a year. One important decision I made was to visit during the different seasons. Being a massive Star Wars nerd, I jumped at the chance to plan my first trip of the year for Season of the Force, something I wanted to see the previous year. I also booked for the Halloween and Christmas seasons, Halloween being my first time doing the Soiree and Christmas being a trip with my Mum. So let's get right to it and talk about my February trip!

Season of the Force meant I got to see my favourite Star Wars lady Rey!

One of the biggest differences with my second solo trip was that I wasn't going to be entirely alone. I was going to be joined by my Belgian friend Pieter, a friend I'd made through YouTube and Facebook. The funny thing is that this was also going to be the first time we'd met in person, despite knowing each other for around 3 years or so. However, as soon as we did meet, we hit it off straight away! I knew from our conversations online how Disney mad we both were and also how similar we were in other respects but this really was true in person. I can't even describe how much fun we had together, if you've seen any of my vlogs from the trip on my YouTube channel, then you'll know just what I'm talking about. We had so many laughs together. There are way too many moments to call highlights as every moment together was great. However, some of my favourite moments spent with Pieter included his hilarious guided tour of It's A Small World, getting merry at the Hotel New York bar, meeting lots of characters, getting my mobile stolen by Captain Jack and many, many more. We really did have the best of times out there!

The music stopped not once but twice on It's A Small World!

Getting very merry at the Hotel New York bar!

I can't go on without mentioning the weather conditions! I experienced thick snow at Disneyland Paris for the first time! This was snow so thick that it was the highest snow fall in France for well over 20 years. It really was an incredibly beautiful sight! Disneyland Paris as we know is very picturesque in itself but being covered by snow, it added a whole other dimension to the atmosphere, which was simply stunning, it really was!

Waking up to lots of snow at the Hotel Santa Fe

The Disneyland Hotel looks even more majestic with snow surrounding it!

As with last year's trip, I also met people I'd known through Disney Facebook groups, those being Alice and Robert, with his brother. Funnily enough, Alice was actually on the same Eurostar as me! So naturally we met at St Pancras before boarding, where we mingled over Disney with a hot chocolate in hand! Robert and his brother were already out there, so I met up with him a couple of the days after Pieter had made his way home. As my time spent with Pieter, I had great fun with Alice and Robert. If there's anything I've learnt from my time spent running a Disney-based Facebook group, then it's that there are some really incredible and down to earth people out there, all brought together by a profound love for all things Disney!

I already mentioned that I met a lot of characters whilst with Pieter but I did meet a lot more when I had time to myself. I got some great PhotoPass photos taken with the characters as well as some selfies of my own. I mean, who doesn't love a good Disney character selfie? I know I certainly do! Below are just some of the many amazing character interactions I had.

We Wish You A Merry Halloween! Two More Trips to Paris

So that was my first solo trip of the year done and now I can turn my attention towards two up and coming trips, one being only next month! That's right! You guessed it! Halloween, and oh boy am I excited!

Halloween season means I get to meet these lovely nutters again!

Now I'm excited about a number of things for my Halloween trip. Most importantly, my best Disney buddy Pieter will be joining me once again and I really can't wait to see him! I just know there will be so many laughs in store! We've already got lots planned, including a lot of Glowtini consumption! It just has to be done! After all, I did get him to try his first ever Glowtini in February. Safe to say he's now hooked on them!

The moment Pieter became hooked on Glowtinis!

The other thing I'm mega excited about is that I'm attending my first ever Halloween Soiree. This is an event that has become synonymous for fans of Disneyland Paris. It appears that this year will be no different. It's also exciting to know that Disney have put more money into this year's Soiree than they ever have done before, so it should be pretty special to say the least!

I'm also excited in knowing that there will be a lot of other friends I've made through Disney Facebook groups at the Soiree, so I'm sure I'll be meeting up with a few of them! I can't wait to see them in their costumes. Speaking of costumes, I'm looking forward to parading around the Disneyland Park as Bert, although I'm not sure I'll be able to muster a convincing Cockney accent for hours on end!

It's a jolly holiday with Michael!

My Christmas trip is another one I'm very thrilled about because it's been quite a few years since I had a Disney trip with my Mum. She's a big fan of Disney too, hence why I was brought up on it but then again, aren't we all brought up on Uncle Walt's magic? Me and Mum are both working over the Christmas period too, so we'll be celebrating our Christmas early at Disneyland Paris! To be honest, I can't think of many other places I'd rather celebrate Christmas at!

You just can't beat the Disney festivities! 

I really can't endorse how much I love the Christmas season at Disneyland Paris! I especially love walking down Main Street when it magically starts to snow. Having said that, I'm not expecting to see any 'real' snow, or not as much as I did on my February trip anyway! Still, my December trip promises to be another great one, also possibly my last holiday at Disneyland Paris for a long time, because now it's time to tell you my very big and exciting news...

I'm Going Back to My Favourite Place in the World! My First Florida Solo Trip

Yes you read that right, I'm going to Florida! I'm writing this with one massive grin on my face because Florida is genuinely my most favourite place in the world! I'll tell you more about why Florida means so much to me in another blog, because quite honestly, I could go on about that forever!

Could I look any more like a British tourist!

I had honestly never envisioned myself going back to Florida again. I just thought the chance would never arise again, then one day, it just clicked in my head. I said to myself 'Michael, just go for it lad!' So a couple of weeks ago, I went into my local Next, which has a Virgin travel department, and I went ahead and booked myself the trip of a lifetime next year!

You can imagine how excited I was and trust me, that excitement has not gone away. The buzz really is there. I've already slipped into my obsessive Florida planning but hey, the way I see it, there's no harm in being overly excited by going back to a place that means so much to you.

There are so many things that I'm excited about! There's way too many to list now but some things really stand out! The most exciting thing undoubtedly is the fact it's my first ever solo trip there. Luckily I've been so many times with my family in the past that I know what I'm doing. Despite being the other side of the world alone, I'm not even nervous! I really love the Americans and I'm sure I'll meet some amazing people out there! The other big thing I'm excited by is all the changes to Florida since I last visited over 5 years ago. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld have all had new lands and attractions open since I last visited and trust me, I'll be experiencing all of these! I want to do it all! I've just got to be careful that I don't burn myself out!

What an iconic park entrance!

I even caught a Great White called 'Bruce'!

So what am I most looking forward to about Florida next year? Oh so many things! So, so many things! Like I just said, there are loads of new attractions to experience since I last visited, like new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, the very recently opened Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios, as well as lots of new attractions at both Universal parks. Another favourite area of mine, International Drive, which is also where my hotel is, has had a lot of recent changes. There's just way too many new things for me to see, although I'm going to try to do as many as I can!

I'm looking forward to getting served by the Hooters girls again, not gonna lie!

Another thing I'm really looking forward to is meeting characters in all of the parks. It's only in the last couple of years that I've really enjoyed meeting characters at Disneyland Paris and the amount of characters to meet at Walt Disney World is just endless! I especially can't wait to meet Anna and Elsa! It's not just the Disney parks that have meet and greets though, oh far from it, Universal Studios and Islands Of Adventure also have characters to meet, including the likes of The Simpsons, Scooby Doo and Mystery Inc. and Marilyn Monroe to name but a few. I just know my poor camera will not know what's hit it!

Scooby and Shaggy, now these are my kind of friends!

Talking of my camera, I'm incredibly excited by the prospect of recording vlogs in Florida for the first time! I have filmed out there before but never properly. Now I'm into vlogging, I can't wait to go gun ho with my camera out there! There's just so much stuff that I want to catch on film. I'm definitely going to get some of my character meets on film and I know lots of people will love to see the amazing food on offer out there. Shopping, shows, there's just so much to film! Again, my poor camera is going to suffer, big time! It will most certainly be worth it though!

That's a rather large golf ball!

Call me!

So that brings my first blog of the year to a close! I certainly had fun writing this one and now I'm back into the swing of writing again, I'll be sure to write lots more blogs in the coming months. If you know me, then you'll know that I can go on about Disney and theme parks forever, so let's just say I'll never suffer from writers block when it comes to this blog!

As always, thank you for reading and I'll speak to you soon!