Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Countdown to Florida - Month 2

We can hardly believe that we only have two months to wait until we go on holiday to the most magical place on Earth. Considering we've had the holiday booked for 18 months, the countdown has gone fast.

This update is all about reserving our FastPass+ options. FastPass+ is a free benefit included in your Disney tickets. The FassPass+ system allows you to book popular attractions to guarantee you get to visit them or ride them during your visit. You are allocated a 1 hour window to arrive for your FastPass; you join the FastPass queue and ride or visit the attraction within that 1 hour window.

As we are staying at a Disney hotel, we are able to book our FastPass+ reservations 60 days in advance, for our full stay. If you are staying off site, you can book your FastPass+ reservations from 30 days before you travel to your first Disney park. You can only book per day. Reservations open at 5am UK time and you can book them via the Disney website or using the My Disney Experience app.

This morning, my alarm was set for 4.50am and I was downstairs at my PC, ready to get booking. As we had already planned what days we wanted to do what, I knew where we were going to be and the best times to book the attractions we really wanted to visit. It may seem crazy to be that prepared for a holiday but it's a good idea to have some sort of plan in place if you want to do popular attractions.

One of the most sought after FastPass+ reservations is to meet Anna and Elsa. It's been two years since Frozen was released but people are still eager to meet them, with stand by queues being up to 3 or 4 hours long. We definitely wouldn't have been waiting that long to see them so I was really keen to organise this FastPass+ reservation. We were also really keen to get one for the new 7 Dwarfs Mine Train ride in Magic Kingdom and Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios. Miss C was too small to go on it in Disneyland Paris but she's tall enough now and can't wait to go on it.

Selecting FastPass+ reservations was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. You need to make sure you have your ticket reservation number linked to your Disney Experience account before you can start selecting FastPass+ reservations. As we booked everything as a package, our resort reservation number was all I needed and it was linked from when I booked the holiday. The FastPass+ booking system doesn't open until you reach your 60 days or 30 days before travel.

I logged on and headed straight to the FastPass+ link. I was then presented with a page with the guest details. On this page, you can select which members of your party you want to choose FastPasses for. If everyone wants to ride or visit an attraction then you all need a FastPass; you can't just book one for your full party.

After selecting us all, I was taken to a page with a calendar on it and the list of parks on the left hand side. I chose the park we wanted to select FastPasses for and then chose the date we were visiting that park.

The next page displayed the rides and attractions that are eligible for FastPass+ reservations. Not all rides and attractions require or have FastPasses and even some of the rides with the FastPass+ option don't require a FastPass as the queues aren't too bad. I used the My Disney Experience app to check wait times on rides to give me an idea of what to definitely FastPass. For example, in Magic Kingdom, 7 Dwarf Mine Train has an average standby queue of 120 minutes and Peter Pan's Flight has an average wait of 90 minutes. Things like The Magic Carpets of Aladdin and It's a Small World only have an average wait of around 15 minutes.

I knew for our first day I really wanted the Anna and Elsa FastPass but it was already full. With many guests being able to book that day in advance already, I wasn't surprised. I booked my first lot of FastPasses for Magic Kingdom and then went to the next day we planned for a trip to Magic Kingdom to check the availability. Thankfully, there were FastPasses available then for Anna and Elsa.

You can choose three FastPasses for any one day. A tip would be to make them for early on in the day as once you have used your three, you can choose another one, use it and then choose another and so on.

When you choose your FastPasses, you aren't given a specific time to select. The system automatically selects a time for you and gives you 4 options of when you can use your FastPass+ reservations. Option 1 is deemed the best option. It doesn't matter what option you pick because, once you have selected your FastPasses, you can go in and modify them and change the times to something you'd prefer, if there is availability of course. However, you can't have a FastPass for one ride or attraction at the same time as another.

Now that the FastPasses are done, planning for the holiday is pretty much finished. All we need to do now is print off our ESTAs, travel insurance and travel itinerary and get the bags packed.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Littlest Pet Shop - Little Pet, Big Adventures - Review & Giveaway

Miss C loves animals and has a small collection of Littlest Pet Shop animals. She loves collectible toys so she was very excited to receive the new Littlest Pet Shop DVD in the post and a new toy to add to her collection.

The Littlest Pet Shop, I'm sure, has been around since I was a little girl but it has changed over the years and become more updated and funky. There are also lots more pets to collect!

The DVD, Little Pet, Big Adventures, makes its debut on Digital Download and DVD on 3rd of August. The DVD is rated U meaning it is suitable for all audiences. We sat down to watch it on a particularly rainy day. The theme tune was soon stuck in my head in that annoyingly catchy way kids' TV show theme tunes always do. There are 7 episodes on the DVD and the running time is around 2 and a half hours.

The main star of the series is a girl called Blythe Baxter who has moved, with her dad, to a flat above The Littlest Pet Shop. It is there that she finds out she can actually talk to all the animals and together, they try to work out how they can keep the pet shop open. Blythe sets up a fashion show featuring the animals, who model Blythe's original designs.

If you have a child who loves animals then this is a really fun DVD to watch.

I have a copy of the DVD available to give away to one lucky reader. To be in with a chance of winning, simply fill in the rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms of the giveaway: Open to UK residents only. The prize is the Littlest Pet Shop, Little Pet, Big Adventures DVD. No cash alternative. The winner will be announced from all valid entries after the closing date of 10th August 2015 at 12am UK time. The PR sponsoring this giveaway will be responsible for sending the prize directly to the winner so please only enter if you are happy for your address details to be passed on to them. 

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Beach in the Rain

On Friday, my Mother in Law picked the kids up and took them to her house for a sleepover. She stays on a farm and the kids love it there. There are fields surrounding them and they are free to run around and explore. They are also really close to a beach. 

My MIL posted this picture of the kids on Facebook. She had taken them down to the park at the beach. It wasn't a great day weather wise but just look at their beaming faces! It just goes to show that things like the weather don't spoil a child's ability to have fun and enjoy playing.  

My MIL isn't Husband's mother; she's his stepmum and even though she is no longer married to his Dad, he still has a very close relationship with her and so do we. I think of her as my second Mum especially as my Mum lives so far away. She was with me on the day I chose my wedding dress and spoke to my Mum on the phone to tell her what it was like. My MIL, like my own Stepdad, has been in Husband's life since he was 6 or 7. People think it's a bit strange, given that she has separated from his Dad, just like my Stepdad and Mum have divorced, that we still keep in contact. I think it's strange that anyone would think that was strange! Why wouldn't we? They have been a huge part of our lives and, what I think is so amazing about step parents is, they choose to be in your life. 

So whilst they aren't actually related by blood, my MIL is Gran to my children and they adore her. They know she isn't Husband's Mum but they've never met his real Mum and they never will. They don't think of her any differently from my Mum, their Bella. They love spending time at their Gran's with her husband. Miss C adores him and loves going out on his tractor in the fields. 

At the beach park, they went on the swings and the slides and Miss C came off with a soaking wet bum. My MIL told me Miss C said, "it's OK Gran, when I get home I'll just get my jammies on!" That's my girl.

They had ice cream at a little cafe near the beach and then headed back to the farm to warm up and have pizza and chips for dinner. They had sweets after dinner too. Nothing like going to Gran's to be filled with sugar! I guess that's a grandparent's prerogative.

The Black and White Photo Project #55

My Sunday Photo 2015 #31