Thursday, 30 June 2016

School is Out For Summer

As the clock struck 1pm, so began our summer holidays.

Zachary and his friends were red faced and red eyed as they left their classroom because their teacher is leaving the school to go to a new job elsewhere. I think they all loved having her as their teacher and are really, genuinely sad that she is leaving.

Charlotte came out of school, merry as can be, because she really does live for her weekends. She's always asking when the next holiday from school is but she was also super excited to be going to a friend's house for the afternoon.

Whilst Charlotte went to her friend's house, Zachary had his best friend over for some Xbox 360 play, meaning I was able to catch up with Hollyoaks with a cup of tea and a cupcake.

We decided to order Chinese food as a treat and Husband brought home the best kind of dozen...Krispy Kremes. The way to my heart is through my stomach!

I'm not exactly sure what we'll be up to during the summer holidays. In fact, it doesn't seem real that they have started already; this year has flown by! I do know that if the opportunity comes up for some supply work for myself, I'll be taking it and we've already looked into summer clubs for the kids to attend. I think they'll enjoy the opportunity to get out and do something a bit different every day too.

We don't have a summer holiday booked but I imagine that we'll have a few day trips here and there, including a visit to Edinburgh Zoo as my Grandma bought us tickets to go. We're also taking a trip to Manchester for a very exciting reason! I'm just looking forward to spending time with the kids without having to worry about college deadlines (like I've done in the last few holidays) and just chill out before it all starts again in August.

Me & Mine 2016 - June

June has been such a busy month! It began with Zachary's birthday and continued with weekends packed with things to do and places to be, and week days filled with end of college year work, school and full time proper work for me. So our photos this month are really chilled out and relaxed at home, something I think we all really need. Plus, the weather of late has been rubbish.

I finished college on 10th June. We had a lovely farewell, celebratory lunch at my favourite Italian restaurant with our lecturers. It was a great way to mark our achievement! I was hoping for a rest the following week but I was offered work at a local nursery for the Monday and I've been there ever since. I'm loving working in a position I really enjoy but it is also tiring, and I'm finding I come home every evening, ready for bed.

Husband has been working a lot this month. Late nights, weekends and day trips to England. We celebrated just how amazing he is on Father's day; not that we need a day to celebrate how fab he is. We are really lucky to have him as a Husband and Father. We went out for a meal, again at our favourite Italian restaurant, and the kids treated him to a bottle of his favourite bubbly. Of course, I bought it on their behalf!

Zachary has been loving watching and following the Euros. I couldn't tell you what's been happening in them, aside from England losing against Iceland earlier this week; I don't think anyone could have missed that. He really enjoys watching football and also playing football at school. He has already said, aside from wanting to be a Doctor, he wants to play football, perhaps in a 5-aside team at the weekends. I haven't had the heart to tell him that, as a Doctor, he will probably have to work weekends. He is really looking forward to being on holiday and having a break from all the school work.

Charlotte has grown so much in this last month, since she turned 7 in May. That may seem like an odd thing to say because it's only a month, but she seems to have taken a stretch overnight. I've had to clear out some of her clothes that no longer fit which is sad but also exciting because it means I can go shopping for new stuff for her. She's still loving horse riding and playing with all of her new toy horses she got for her birthday. She is also really looking forward to being on holiday!

You'll notice in the background of this photo we have a canvas of us all and we decided to re-create that photo. The original must be about 4 years old now! Look how much we've all changed!

The Me and Mine Project

Monday, 27 June 2016

A New WC

As well as having our main bathroom redecorated, we had our downstairs toilet freshened up. When the water leaked from the bathroom upstairs, it damaged the ceiling in the WC so it had to be fixed to.

The journey wasn't plain sailing at all; we have only just finished this week after months and months of work in the house. But, finally, it's done and we put the finishing touches to the room during the week.

We chose a mint green colour for the walls as it is one of my favourite colours and I thought it would add something extra to the room instead of it being white again. The canvas is from B&M and cost £4.99. It's such a wonderful quote too.

The glass floating shelves are also from B&M and cost less than £5. My reed diffuser is from Darceys in a limited edition scent which is no longer available, sadly, as it smells amazing. The mirror was a wedding gift from the girls at my Mother-in-law's work so it's almost 10 years old!

We had some flooring left over from the upstairs bathroom and Husband managed to lay this himself and put the beading on around the skirtings. He did a brilliant job. An engineer for a Husband always comes in handy!

We are really pleased with how the house is coming together. We've still a few bits we'd like to get done but these are just small things that can get done bit by bit. DIY certainly isn't my favourite thing in the world but when it's all done, I'm pretty happy with the end result.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Sunrise at 6am

Beautiful blue skies certainly make waking up at 6am a bit easier.

Just a bit mind.


366 Project 2016 Days 171 - 177

It was Father's Day on Sunday so we let Husband have a long lie and made him a cup of tea to drink in bed. The kids gave him cards and I arranged for us all to go out for dinner. Charlotte and I had a horse riding lesson and it was really good. Charlotte decided to ride Jack and I rode Piper again. She was being a bit lazy though so it was a tough lesson. After lunch, the kids went to visit their Papa with Husband whilst I got on with some work. We had dinner at our favourite Italian. I had scallop and monkfish tempura with salad and fries, Husband had a pork dish, Zachary had pizza and Charlotte had spaghetti bolognaise. Delicious!

It was back to school and work on Monday. It was a busy day for me but it always goes in quickly if you are kept busy. The kids were happy that they didn't have any homework because they finish up for Summer holidays next week. I made chili for dinner the night before so I only had to heat it up when we got home. I feel like I need to be more prepared and clever with my time when working full days! After dinner we had a shower and got into bed for a story.

Tuesday was another busy day. My legs were aching after horse riding and a leg workout! We had a chicken curry for dinner, all homemade, with naan bread which was really tasty! I had an early night; the full days aren't getting easier but I'm sure they will eventually. Or I'm doomed to be tired forever.

On Wednesday, the rain held off for sports day! All that fresh air had me tired but still, I got home with the kids and got on with some housework. Once the kids were in bed, I had one of the gerbils out of the cage and sat on my knee. My cat, Morgan, came and sat beside me, looked at the gerbil and then looked at me as if to say, "well human, don't just sit there, give it to me for my dinner!"

Thursday was a huge day for the United Kingdom. Husband and I didn't get to go and vote until after dinner and we took it in turns to sit with the kids whilst they played in the park. It was a lovely night despite it being pretty tense in the country.

Well, Friday was a strange day to wake up to. It was really similar to when we woke up the day after the Scottish Independence Referendum. I'm a firm believer in whatever will be, will be and who knows what will happen. After dinner, the kids went out to play and Husband hoovered his car...and managed to break my hoover handle.

It was an early rise on Saturday as my car was going into the garage for its first service. I also asked them to check my tyre tread as Husband thought the tyres were looking almost illegal. They are sports tyres and apparently these wear down a lot quicker. Thankfully they still have 53% wear left on them which saved us £1000 for 4 new tyres...happy days! We popped into town to pick up a few bits including forms for the summer clubs at the leisure centre for the kids. I also picked up the socks for Charlotte and my niece to wear at my Sister's wedding in a few weeks time. After dinner, the kids and I cuddled up on the couch to watch Hotel Transylvania 2. It was pouring outside with a few rumbles of thunder and flashes of lightening!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Funny Things My Kids Say - The EU Edition

The EU vote is everywhere today; you really would have to be living on another planet to have missed it. With less than an hour to go at the polling stations, I thought I would share some of the funny things Zachary and Charlotte have said about the EU.

Whilst we were having dinner, we were talking about going to vote.

Husband said, "No matter what way it goes, that Cameron will have the final say on what happens. He just announced it today!"

Charlotte said, "Who? Are you talking about next door?"

"No, David Cameron," replied Husband.

"Who the heck is that?"

Zachary replied, "he's the prime minister of the UK however Barack Obama should be the leader of the world. I mean he technically tells us what to do anyway!"

Husband said, "yes but he's only the President of America!"

Zachary replied, "Of the whole of America? So north and south?"

"No just the United States. South America is a completely different country!"

"I think you mean continent. It's a continent! It's a bit like Africa. A lot of people think Africa is a country. Like in class, the teacher asked us to name a hot country and the Primary 4s said "Africa!" and I said, "Africa is not a country, it's a continent. Maybe Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo or Tanzania would be a good choice!" I just couldn't believe it!" replied Zachary.

"So if we leave the EU, will we not be able to have the Euros in France any more?"

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

PLAYMOBIL to Launch Ghostbusters Toy Line

As PLAYMOBIL Playologists, we're always excited to hear about exciting new things from one of our favourite toy brands and try out the new sets. And what could be more exciting than finding out PLAYMOBIL are launching their first ever licensed toy sets; Ghostbusters!

PLAYMOBIL and Sony Pictures Consumer Products announced today a licensing collaboration for a toy line based on the original Ghostbusters brand. PLAYMOBIL's 2017 product line will be its first ever to include licensed playsets inspired by famous entertainment properties. The new Ghostbusters toys will hit the market worldwide in 2017.

The introduction of these new playsets brings together two epic classics, Playmobil and Ghostbusters, both known for their continued appeal and success over decades. More than 30 years after the release of the first movie, the team of parapsychologists, facing ghosts with their cool gear and undying humour, remains popular with fans from the early days while also attracting a growing community of new, young fans, making it a perfect match for Playmobil. Produced by one of Europe’s leading toy manufacturers for over 40 years, Playmobil toys are loved and respected by both children and parents alike. Understanding the importance of creative role play, Playmobil pays great attention to detail and creates intricate and fun toys that spark children’s imagination around the world. 

Beginning in early summer 2017, PLAYMOBIL’s Ghostbusters will be out to save “the world in miniature,” as the PLAYMOBIL universe of 30 different play themes is often called. The toy line will bring the iconic Ghostbusters to life at home, enabling kids to create their own stories starring their favorite characters. No matter where strange happenings are taking place – whether in the neighborhood or at the PLAYMOBIL Knights’ Castle – the fearless team will be ready to tackle any supernatural spirits that come their way! 

"We are thrilled to be collaborating with Sony Pictures to launch this new range of toys. The Ghostbusters sets will enrich our play system and enable an entirely new play experience,” says Silke Heinrich, Member of the Executive Board at PLAYMOBIL. “This licensed line of toys is an important milestone for our brand, which will make new and long-standing fans even more excited about PLAYMOBIL. It’s like building a bridge between kids and their parents, who both love the epic stories of their PLAYMOBIL and Ghostbusters heroes.”

Watch an exclusive teaser below!

Monday, 20 June 2016

Reflection on a First Week

Before I had Zachary, I worked full time as a senior adviser within the call centre of a bank. I worked a minimum of 40 hours per week and more often than not did overtime at the weekends, bank holidays and even on New Years Day. I didn't mind working all those hours or shifts because it meant Husband and I could go out for meals and drinks whenever we wanted, buy nice things, go on short breaks and do things to the house. It also meant we could pay for our wedding and set up a savings fund for when we had children.

Once I had Zachary, after 9 months maternity leave, I returned to work part time and I continued to work part time right through my pregnancy with Charlotte and after I returned to work from maternity leave. We didn't have childcare in the form of a relative who could take the kids for us so I only worked 16 hours per week. Private childcare wasn't an option even if I returned full time because Zachary wasn't in nursery for his free provision but even then, it would have cost us far too much; I would have been better staying at home. Luckily we did have the luxury of the affordability for me to work part time and an employer who let me work around Husband's shifts.

I was lucky enough to be able to be there for my children during their earliest years, something some parents aren't as lucky to be able to do. When that work/life balance could no longer be sustained within the company I worked for, I had to leave. It wasn't an option for me to be able to be fully flexible, especially when Charlotte hadn't even started school and with Husband working night shifts. I left what had been a great set up to pursue a career that would make me feel fulfilled and something that I am deeply passionate about.

Last week, I worked my first full week (36 hours) in 9 years.

It was so much fun, after all the studying and practical experience, to be out there, working as an official Early Years Practitioner.

It was also exhausting. So exhausting. I started at 8.15am every morning and didn't get home with the kids until after 4.30pm, except for on Thursday where it was nearer 5.30pm.

But the guilt. The guilt I felt that I wasn't the one to drop the kids off at school. Or pick them up from school. Even when I was in college, I took the kids to school every day and I'd pick them up every Wednesday, sometimes more often depending on how much work I had to do at college. My children are still only 9 and 7. They aren't teenagers; don't let their witty comebacks and stubbornness fool you.

However I know that this is going to be so much better for our family and not just financially. Our weekends will be spent together, without me having to go out and work every weekend because that's part of my contract. We'll be able to have dinner together, without me having to rush out to make my work at 6pm, high-fiving Husband on the way out the door as he walks in. I'll be there every bed time to read with them, tuck them in, kiss and hug them good night.

And then fall into my own bed around 7.30pm.

Most importantly, they'll have a Mum who is so happy in what she's doing with her life and I think that is a pretty amazing thing for any child to see.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

366 Project 2016 Days 164 - 170

Last Sunday, we spent a quiet day at home, recovering after a night with friends. We went for a bike ride to get some lunch in town and then came home to chill for the rest of the afternoon. The day was pretty much powered by junk food and America's Next Top Model. I was also quite excited about the new sandals Charlotte chose from Next.

On Monday, it was my first official day working as an Early Years Practitioner. We had breakfast a bit earlier as I had to drop the kids off at my friend's house so she could take them to school for me. I started work at 8.30am and finished at 4pm. I was knackered!

On Tuesday, after another busy day at work, I picked the kids up from my friend's house and I made a spaghetti carbonara for dinner. It was delicious!

On Wednesday, it was outdoor learning day so I was out all day. It was a lot of fun and I was ready for bed when I got home. After school, the kids played outside but there was an accident with one of Charlotte's Schleich horses and Zachary's football. It didn't end well for the horse!

By Thursday, I was really ready for the weekend to arrive. As much as I love what I'm doing, I haven't worked full time in almost 9 years so I was really feeling it. And I was missing the kids a lot. Charlotte brought home a lovely word flower from school where her teacher and some of her friends had written positive words to describe her. It was really sweet!

On Friday, after another full day of work, I came home to find the kids playing and Husband doing the hoovering. We decided to order Chinese for dinner to celebrate my first full week of work and for the kids getting fantastic reports at school. I had beef satay and it was really, really good.

I had been so looking forward to sleeping a bit later than 6am on Saturday but I ended up awake at 6am! Thankfully I managed to fall back asleep for a couple of hours. Zachary went to Karate whilst Charlotte and I went to get our shopping. We spent the afternoon at home; Husband put up our marquee so the kids could play in the shade. My friend came over with her daughter, who stayed for tea and kept the kids company whilst Husband finished off the downstairs bathroom and I cleared out Charlotte's wardrobe. We had our dinner outside which was lovely!

A Dad

Side by side or following from behind.

A Dad will guide his children, near or far.

Happy Father's Day.


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Pampering Products for Father's Day

It's Father's Day on Sunday 19th June and I was sent some items for Husband to try out that were sure to leave him feeling pampered. As much as I love a good pampering session, Dads deserve time to relax and unwind too, especially when they work as hard as Husband does.

These items are sure to give you some gift inspiration if you haven't already gotten something for that special man in your life.

Yardley London 50ml Eau de Toilette in 1770 and Ink - £19.99 per 50ml

Aftershave is a great gift if you know what scent he likes. Husband really loved the smell of 1770, which is quite woody and has a citrus note to it. It's a really good "going out" scent because it's strong and long-lasting. Yardley London describe it as the scent for a "sophisticated dad"...not sure about that for Husband but it is a mature man's scent so maybe that's what they mean. Ink is more fresh and heavier in citrus notes. I think this would be a perfect every day wear scent because it isn't too overpowering.

The Real Shaving Co skincare - £3.99-£4.99

A great gift idea would be to get some shaving cream, moisturiser and brand new razors for your husband or to Daddy from the kids. Men always need razors, even if they keep a trim beard.

The Real Shaving Co have a good range of skincare creams but we were sent step 2 and step 3 in the face shaving process. The shaving cream isn't thick so I think you would need quite a lot of cream when shaving however the moisturiser is super absorbent and leaves your skin feeling really soft and smooth. Both are free from SLS, parabens and SLES which means you should be able to use them even if you have sensitive skin.

MK hair styling - £10

Depending on the hair situation, hair products might be a hit or miss gift idea. However Husband has been growing his hair for a little while now which means he needs styling products to keep it in check. Zachary also uses them because he loves having spiky hair for school.

We received the MK styling paste. It costs £10 but thankfully you only need a little for it to go a long way. Husband and Zachary have both used it and it seemed to hold their hair style in place all night and into the next morning before they washed it.

These are just some of the gift ideas that could be great for Father's Day. Husband appreciates a cup of tea in bed, a cooked breakfast and beer too.

I put together a video of my first impressions of the items which you can watch below.

We were sent these items for review but the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Sibling Moments #30

Having siblings who are close in age can work one of two ways; great or not so great.

Zachary and Charlotte are exactly 1 year and 361 days apart in age. There was a fear that Charlotte was going to be born on Zachary's birthday with her due date being 5 days after his birthday. She decided to come early though otherwise they would have been 2 years apart.

Life with a toddler and a newborn was not so great. I mean, it wasn't bad or anything, it was just hard. Really hard. Zachary was never jealous of Charlotte; in fact, he wasn't interested in her but he did enjoy her toys and baby bath. He would quite happily sit with a book or watch Mickey Mouse whilst I fed Charlotte for what seemed to be a full day in one sitting. But if one didn't need your attention for something, the other did.

It got easier as they got older and now, mostly, they get on great. What I love about them being so close is that they enjoy similar things together so it makes it easier to just let them get on with it whilst I catch up on housework or Hollyoaks.

The better weather also seems to help their relationship. They absolutely love spending time together in the pool. They are out in it from 11am right through until 6pm, only breaking for food and ice cream.

Sadly the sunshine has left us for now and so has their great friendship; they were arguing over who got to keep the Minecraft horse and osolot at bed time on Monday.

The Me and Mine Project

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

What to get a 9 Year Old for Their Birthday

Whilst Charlotte has a passion for all things animal related, and in particular horses, Zachary is much harder to buy for when it comes to his birthday. He hasn't got one main interest that he really enjoys, aside from reading. so we can't even go out and buy a few bits and bobs from his favourite range or of his favourite character.

The great thing about shopping for Zachary is, he will tell you exactly what he'd like and it doesn't go over the top and want lots of things. He is quite happy with one or two gifts and "a surprise!"

This year he asked for a skateboard and some Lego. Zachary really likes the Lego City range so we picked up a helicopter set that we knew he'd enjoy. We also picked out a concave skateboard from Smyths which I'm sure he'll enjoy practising in the garden on and also making my heart jump into my mouth!

I put together a video of everything Zachary received to give you some gift inspiration if you are shopping for a birthday gift or even starting to think about the big C word.

Zachary was also very lucky to receive money from family and friends which I think he is going to put towards buying some more books.

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Final Day

After two years of hard work, the day came. The final day of college. There were times when the end was so far out of my reach, I didn't think I would make it. But I did. And now I have a Diploma in Childhood Practice.

Our final day started off quite manic for some of the girls, who were finishing off work and getting everything signed off. I had had my work signed off the previous day but we had booked lunch at a local restaurant to celebrate so I came in at the usual 9am start time.

Our folders, which started off empty, were bursting with all of our work from the last 9 months. It's actually scary when you look at your folder, filled with reports, assessments, observations and witness testimonies you have poured your heart and soul into. Everything you've given to the course, there to be seen in a bright pink level arch you are struggling to close.

At 12.50pm, I left college for one last time. We walked down to the restaurant for our lunch, feeling quite relieved it was all over.

Our lecturers had a mini graduation for us which was lovely. They'd made up certificates and given us all Little Miss names. I was Little Miss Organised which pretty much sums me up. They also gave us a beautiful framed photo that meant something to us.

The food was delicious. Some of the girls were drinking whilst some of us stayed off it. I had to get the kids and head to the new nursery I'm going to be working in. But most of the girls were heading into town to enjoy a very well deserved night out.

College has been such a rewarding experience for me. Not just because I've gained my certificate in Early Education and Childcare and a Diploma in Childhood Practice; I've met some wonderful people through this journey and learnt a lot more about myself. At first I panicked and thought there would be no way I would get through the two years but I quickly realised that my passion for the job and my ability to be really well organised would see me through.

I'm looking forward to doing my BA in a couple of years. I could have gone to Uni and done it in September but there is also the option to do it whilst working and for my little family, I feel that I need to wait until the kids are a bit older before I start going to Uni in the city centre once a week.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

366 Project 2016 Days 157 - 163

Last Sunday, the boys were up just before 8am, ready to play Xbox. I gave them their breakfast and let them play until Zachary's friend was picked up. Charlotte and I had a date with our horses so we headed to the stables. I rode Bobbie, who is one of Charlotte's favourites, and she rode Teddy. It was a great lesson although we were absolutely roasting! After lunch, we spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine in the garden. We had tarragon chicken for dinner which is one of my favourite dishes!

It was back to school and placement on Monday. It was my second last day of placement and, as always, it went in really quickly. I picked the kids up from my friend's house and it had started to rain. We were expecting thunder storms but it came to nothing and the sun was soon back out. I picked up some Lapland brochures as we're considering booking a trip for December!

On Tuesday, it was my last day in placement and I was feeling quite sad. I got a lovely gift from the staff, which was very kind of them. I picked the kids up from my friend's house and we headed home to have our favourite dinner; spaghetti bolognaise. Husband had to work really late but came home with lots of lovely cakes for me to enjoy!

It was my day off on Wednesday and I headed to school to watch Zachary in his school show. The kids did a brilliant job! I spent the rest of the day catching up on Hollyoaks. I picked the kids up from school and they played in the garden. I enjoyed a slice of Victoria sponge with a cup of tea.

On Thursday, it was my second last day at college and it was spent getting everything organised in to my folder and signed off by my lecturers. It was a stressful day but I got everything done and I managed to leave at lunch time. It was such a warm day, I was roasted by the time I got to school to pick the kids up. Charlotte put her shorts and vest top on but decided that her knee high socks were staying on too.

On Friday, it was my last day at college. I didn't have any work to do but I went in early as we were all heading out for lunch. It was so much fun and the food was yummy. Our lecturers made us certificates and bought us a frame with a photo in it which was really lovely of them. Once I got home, I went to visit where I'll be working from next week. It was exciting but also a little scary because it's somewhere new.

On Saturday, Zachary went to Karate whilst Charlotte and I went to Asda to get our food shop for the week. After lunch, we popped to the library to return our books, the horse shop to get Charlotte's hat re-fitted and the boys got their hair cut. After dinner, we got ready to go to a friend's house for the evening. We took the kids with us and we all had a great time...we didn't get home until after 2am!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Disneyworld's Hollywood Studios - The Best Bits

Hollywood Studios was the second park on our list to visit during our Disneyworld trip in October. I knew this park would appeal to Husband and Z because of the Star Wars attractions and I had heard great things about so many of the live shows, something the Disneyland Paris park lacked.

Hollywood Studios was probably the closest park to our hotel, Art of Animation. I think it took us less than 10 minutes to get there by Disney bus. 

As you approach the park, there is a lake connecting Hollywood Studios to Epcot and you can take a boat ride to the Epcot resorts and Epcot itself. You can, apparently. also walk from Hollywood Studios to Epcot but I think it would take you a little while.

When you go to the Magic Kingdom, it can take you about 10 minutes to walk from the bus stop to Main Street. Security is always really busy too. Hollywood Studios was completely different. It took us less than 5 minutes to walk from the bus stop, clear security and enter the park. It was early right enough as we had a reservation at Hollywood and Vine for 8.25am but still, we were in pretty quickly.

Another difference between Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios is how spectacular MK is in comparison with HS. I wasn't blown away when we walked through the turnstiles. Maybe it was different when they had the huge Sorcerer Mickey hat but they took that down a few months before we arrived. It is a cool park though and you feel like you are in Hollywood with all the movie themed scenes. I loved all the window displays featuring Minnie, Mickey and Goofy. We also got a picture in front of The Great Movie ride before heading to breakfast. You can read about our breakfast experience here.

All Disney parks are separated into different lands or areas. There are 7 different areas to visit in Hollywood Studios however there has been a lot of work done throughout the park so these may have changed slightly since we were there.

Hollywood Boulevard

As you enter HS, you walk on to Hollywood Boulevard and, as the name would suggest, it is very Hollywood themed. Mostly within this area there are shops and restaurants but at the very end of the street is The Great Move Ride and just in front of it is where you can meet some Disney characters. We managed to meet Pluto on our second visit. The Great Movie Ride is a pretty fun ride where you go through different movie sets from some of the biggest classics; The Wizard of Oz was my favourite!

Echo Lake

Similar to Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake has a lot of shops and restaurants. This is where you'll find Hollywood and Vine, a fun character dining experience. In terms of rides, the very popular Star Tours can be found here and I believe there is going to be a lot of work done to extend the Star Wars theme. We're looking forward to seeing what's new when we go back. I have heard that there are quite a few character meet and greets now. You'll also find the Indiana Jones stunt show in this area which we really enjoyed!

Streets of America

What was Streets of America is now called Muppet Courtyard I believe. A lot of the attractions that were once there such as the Lights, Motors, Action show and the Studio Backlot Tour have now closed to make way for new attractions. What these may be, I'm not sure but I can't wait to go back and find out. The Muppet Vision 3D show is still there and it's really fun.

Commissary Lane

This is just a small lane where you'll find a couple of places to eat; ABC Commissary and Sci-Fi Dine-In. We ate at both and they were good. We really enjoyed sitting in a little car, watching old movies and eating our dinner at Sci-Fi Dine-In. Just off Commissary Lane is a stage area where you can see the Frozen sing-along show but we didn't get the chance to see it when we were there. I've heard it is good though.

Pixar Place 

If you love Toy Story then this is the place to visit to meet Buzz and Woody together, spot some Green Army Men and ride in one of the most popular attractions in the whole of Disneyworld; Toy Story Midway Mania. You have to FastPass this ride because it can have queues of over 2 hours depending on the time of year you visit. They recently refurbished the ride so I'd like to see what changes they made.

Animation Courtyard

If you have a Disney Junior fan but don't fancy paying the $$$ to go to a character meal at Hollywood and Vine, you can meet some of the characters here. You can also catch the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show but we didn't bother with that show either. I think there have been a few additions relating to Star Wars and I know Disney closed some of the attractions within this area to create new ones. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

Sunset Boulevard

We watched a brilliant street show whilst walking up Sunset Boulevard. We were heading to see Beauty and the Beast which is a fantastic show! You can get a FastPass for any of the shows but instead of getting in early, you get to sit in a sectioned area which will give you the best view of the show. We didn't bother using FastPasses on the shows though and still managed to get great seats. If you love a thrill ride then you'll find two of them here; The Twighlight Tower of Terror and the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. We didn't go on either because the kids didn't want to but there is the option to do a rider switch at both rides so one of you can stay with the kids whilst the other rides and then you can switch. This is a free service offered at selected rides across all of the parks. Another fantastic show to catch in this area is Fantasmic. It was probably my favourite show of the full holiday. It's an evening show so you'll need to stay in the park or come in later in the day but it is well worth it.

You can read about our two days at Hollywood Studios here and here.

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