Sunday, 18 October 2015

SCARY SUNDAY: a look back at last year's Halloween festivities in Walt Disney World.

LAST YEAR we spent Halloween at Walt Disney World in Florida. I thought it might be interesting and useful for guests that will be there this year, to look back with me on 2014.

We travelled direct to Orlando on Virgin Atlantic,  from Manchester. The Upper Class lounge and offering here is not of the same standard that they have in London Heathrow. If you are travelling from Manchester, I would reconsider either travelling from London, or saving yourself some money by travelling in Premium Economy.

Upon arrival in Orlando, we picked up a taxi very easily, and headed to our hotel; The Waldorf Astoria. The hotel was good, most notably the food. The location is excellent; on Disney property, but enough of a haven away from the madness. The hotel was ideal for us because there weren't many children, and so the pool areas were very quiet and relaxing.

The first truly Halloween experience for us was Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. We did this on the Sunday before Halloween, and the crowds were very heavy. Personally I considered them too heavy, and I felt the event was "oversold". I can live with big crowds, I mean, what did I expect? It was a Sunday! What aggravated the big crowds was the nature of the crowd. There was a lot of alcohol being consumed, and some questionable behaviour. I appreciate this is not an event aimed at children, but, I felt uncomfortable. The lines for many of the "houses" were exceptionally long, and overall, for the $90-ish price tag per ticket, I would not return, nor recommend this event.

The Hag from Snow White
Next up is Walt Disney World's headline Halloween event; Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. This takes place at the Magic Kingdom, and like Universal's night, requires a special ticket, not included in their regular tickets. Thanks to our friends Dan and Jon at Character Central, we knew these parties would sell out in the week of Halloween, and so we bought our tickets a few months in advance, for approximately $60 each.

Mickey's Party is clearly more family orientated, however, I feel this event was better than Universal's for a few more reasons. The event was clearly more organised, with a lot of Cast Members around. There was more entertainment on offer. The lines / queues were no way near as long. The crowds did not feel as heavy.

Knight Donald loving life on parade!
In specifics, we really enjoyed the "Boo To You" parade which featured some rare villains like Bowler Hat Guy and the hyenas from The Lion King (Shenzi, Banzai and Ed). Of course, Donald's knight costume was adorable, as was Daisy's princess costume! The general consensus from regulars, is to hold out for the second parade. I think that is risky in case it rains, so my advice is to watch both the first and second parades!

There are a whole bunch of unique character meet and greet offerings, including Tarzan with Jane and Terk, Aladdin with Abu, VIPs in special costumes, the Seven Dwarfs and the wicked strawberry bear Lotso. Again, our friends Dan and Jon at Character Central told us to line up for the dwarfs early on, so we wouldn't waste the party time in line - we did that and within minutes of the party starting we had our beloved family photo with everyone's favourite little men!

A wall at Club Villain dedicated to Ursula. 
The other cool character experience that we had, which I believe has been cut this year, was called "Club Villain". Several random villains were present in a setting which played EDM / dance remixes of Disney songs, and mingled with the crowd and would take pictures. We experienced Gideon twerking, and Governor Ratcliffe trying to steal my watch - unforgettable memories for a bunch of character nutters!

There is special merchandise, including pins and t-shirts. I picked them up for friends, and only kept the cool Donald Halloween pin for myself. I do regret not getting a t-shirt for myself, because we had have such a lovely evening, I would have liked a memento to wear that would remind me of the fantastic experiences.

Scarecrow Mickey
The general Halloween offerings at Walt Disney World, including decorations and ambiance, is not as strong as Disneyland Paris, as most of the entertainment is reserved for the special extra ticket parties. This is something I think they should address, and take note of Disneyland Paris, because they do this season exceptionally well.

The next Halloween inspired entertainment I enjoyed, was the special character meet and greets at the Disney resort hotels. Again, big thanks to my friend Dan from Character Central for telling me that this even happened; thanks to Dan's information I was able to meet a range of characters in special costumes. These included Pirate Goofy at Beach Club, Panchito Pistoles and Mexican Donald at All Star Music, football Goofy at All Star Sports, Scarecrow Mickey and Davy Crockett Donald at Boardwalk. There were lots of others on offer, and a full list of 2014's characters is available on the Character Central forum.

Pirate Goof
For any tips and hints on your travels this year, I highly recommend visiting Character Central's Forum, and asking some of the WDW regulars. You could also check the website Kenny The Pirate.

This year I will be in Paris for Halloween, and I look forward to writing my thoughts on this blog when I'm back home, perhaps as a trip report.

Any questions, I am happy to answer in the comments section below.

Happy Halloween, "sistahs"!

Friday, 16 October 2015

MAGIC & MICKEY: "Frozen" and more take to the ice!

This week we were lucky enough to attend the opening night of Disney On Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment in Manchester.

This fantastic new show features characters from four of our favourite Disney movies; Cars, Little Mermaid, Toy Story and Frozen.

Queen Elsa on the ice
Earlier in the week, Spice Girl Emma Bunton tweeted this sneak peek picture of the show. For us, ice queen Elsa certainly stole the show!

The amount of faces around the arena that were sporting beaming smiles during the show was amazing, and that even includes us adults!

Before the show, we bumped into Mickey and Minnie Mouse at a special party. They told us how excited they were to take to the ice, and were very happy to meet lots of celebrities and VIP guests including Ricky Hatton and Edele Lynch from girlband B*Witched.

The merchandise is something I see many people ask about on social media. In my opinion the quality of a lot of the merchandise is very good, including the soft toys and "reusable cups". I tweeted some pictures of what was available, and you can see the prices too.

The tour is scheduled for Birmingham, Sheffield and London after it leaves Manchester. Tickets are available from the official website.

Finally, I thought I would leave you with some of the celebrity meet & greet photos, taken from Disney On Ice's UK Facebook page.