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jo28501

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since 20/11/2005

20

Blizzard Beach, Orlando 16/08/2007

Family Fun at Blizzard Beach

Blizzard Beach, Orlando Let's start with a brief introduction... I have been to Blizzard Beach approx. 7 times. Most of the visits were with my parents between 1997 and 2000, however I recently visited twice in January 2007. WHEN TO VISIT The "When To Visit" Orlando is a well strung out debate...I have visited in July / August as well as January. Most of it is down to personal preference. We last visited in Janaury (60 - 70 degrees each day) and most people said we'd be mad to try the water parks. Ignore anyone who says this. There is no "good / bad" time to visit Blizzard Beach...if in Walt Disney World, head down, if only for a few hours. GENERAL INFO Blizzard Beach is one of Disney's two Orlando Water Parks (the other being Typhoon Lagoon). It is based on a winter wonderland in the sun. All the slides have plastic snow on them to make it look like it it is the middle of the winter. This is a park for all member of the family no matter what the age so is well worth the visit. ATTRACTIONS The water park has a number of water attractions ranging from Summit Plummit (very very steep vertical slide) to a family raft ride for everyone. I'd love to tell you all about summit plummit - however I chickened out!! I did all the other slides though. There are many slides to keep you entertained for at least a full day. On our last visit though it was about 50degrees celcuis and was ridiculously cold. As a result there were only about 100 people in the park, so we got everything done in about ...

Disney's Pop Century Resort, Orlando 22/05/2007

I Miss Pop

Disney's Pop Century Resort, Orlando Though I'd been to Orlando four times before (staying on International Drive each time - last visit 2000) this was my fiance's first visit to both Orlando and America. We stayed at Pop Century in January 2007 for two weeks. Upon arrival we headed straight for check in. There was no-one else in the check in queue so everything was sorted within 5 minutes. The staff were both helpful and friendly. I had arranged for a gift basket to be delivered to the hotel as a gift for my fiance - the staff brought it straight out and made as big fuss on discovering we were celebrating an anniversary during our stay. We were allocated a room in the 50's section of the hotel. Though our room was one of the furthest away from the main building in the hotel, this did not affect the enjoyment of our holiday in any way. The walk was no more than 3 minutes from our room to the food court, pools and shops. The room itself was fairly simple but gave us everything we needed. The main room consisted of two double beds, a table and chairs set, a TV, drawers and space for clothes, ironing board, iron, sink area, hairdryer and safe. Previous to our visit we had read that iron and hairdryers were not provided in Pop rooms but we found this information to be untrue. The bathroom was fairly small but was very very clean. As we visited Pop in January we rarely visited the pool area (our room overlooked one of the three pools within the hotel). On the occasions we did visit the pool, there was ...

Cariba Creek Waterpark, Alton Towers 14/05/2006

Finally a great UK waterpark!!

Cariba Creek Waterpark, Alton Towers I planned a trip to Alton Towers in April 2006 to celebrate my nearing graduation from University. It was just me and my boyfriend (both early twenties). We booked ourselves into the nearby Travelodge at Uttoxeter as we were doing this trip on a budget. We also bought our one day entrance into Alton Towers with Tesco Clubcard Vouchers saved over the year. Then we thought: what shall we do on the second day?! I looked into the Cariba Creek waterpark and although it seemed expensive, my boyfriend is a big fan of waterparks so we thought, why not? Cariba Creek Waterpark is located at the Splash Landings Hotel at Alton Towers. Entrance is free if you are staying at the Splash Landings Hotel, but day visitors pay £12 per adult and child (though under 4's are free). A family ticket is available (2 adults and 2 children OR 1 adult and 3 children) for £37.50 - saving you £10.50. In addition there is a late entry price to the waterpark ...£7.50 each after 4pm. We went to Cariba Creek on a Sunday, in the school Easter Holidays. It opened at 11:30am and closed at 8pm. The closing hour was two hours later than quoted on the official Alton Towers website. Hotel guests gain early entry from 10am. Anyhow, so we got to the waterpark joined a small queue and paid our entry. They gave us a wristband to wear for the day to prove we had paid. We trekked through to the changing rooms...it was a unisex very large changing room with lots of family sized cubicles. Once changed we put ...

Tussuads Thorpe Park, Surrey 09/05/2006

A mini Alton Towers...

Tussuads Thorpe Park, Surrey For my last birthday, my boyfriend and I (both early twenties) went to London for 4 days. As we are both theme park fans we decided to use our Tesco Clubcard Vouchers to gain free entry to Thorpe Park. We had to send £6.25 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers (per person) to Tesco Clubcard deals and they exchanged them for a day pass to Thorpe Park. The usual park entry is £28.50 for adults and £20 for children - though there are always online deals if you go to the official Thorpe Park website. The journey to Thorpe Park took us a little under an hour from where we were staying. We travelled there by car and I was impressed to see that they didn't charge for car parking (Alton Towers charge £4 a car). We arrived just after the park opened (10am - though the opening hours vary by day). On arrival we headed straight towards to park of the park to get to the biggest rides first. We got distracted though by "X:/No Way Out" as we saw there was only a 5 minute queue (we actually walked straight on). I thought this ride would be rather tame but I was very wrong! It is an indoor rollercoaster in the dark (think Disney's Space Mountain). This ride also goes backwards so you feel very disorientated for the length of the ride - it's very good though! Next we headed straight for "Nemesis Inferno". Built after the original Nemesis at Alton Towers, this ride has made improvements making it even better than its namesake. I think the queue here was about 20 minutes. If you have been on ...

Walt Disney Studios Park 09/05/2006

Join Walt at his studios

Walt Disney Studios Park On our trip (just 2 adults, no kids) to Disneyland Paris last September we eventually opted to spend a day in Disney Studios. We had only planned to go to one of the parks (Disneyland) but as we had enjoyed it so much, our plan to go into Paris for the day was swiftly changed to a visit to this theme park. We didn't have our Disney park tickets included with our hotel so a one day park pass cost Є43 each (it is Є35 per child). Though it wasn't a park hopper pass, it allowed us to go back into the Disneyland Park after 5pm (as Disney Studios closes two hours before the other park). This was a great added benefit we weren't expecting. As our visit was in early September the parks were quieter than they are in peak periods. They seemed relatively busy, but as most rides were straight walk on it must have been quieter than we thought. On arrival, we headed straight for "Rock N Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith". This is one of the main attractions at the park. It is an indoor, very fast rollercoaster that is based on Aerosmith being late for their own gig (hence the high speeds). It is a smooth ride and Aerosmith music is played in your seat speakers as you wizz around the city. This is my favourite ride here and I was prepared to wait a long time to queue - but as it was quiet each time we rode this ride we only waited for 5 minutes. Next we headed for "Armageddon: Special Effects". This wall through always manages to disappoint me. I read an interview ...

Cafe Mickey, Paris 08/05/2006

Even great fun for adults!

Cafe Mickey, Paris Cafe Mickey is a restaurant that specialises in character meals. It is open all day from 7am to 11pm. In the mornings they do character breakfasts, then have a full menu for lunch / dinner. Breakfast is Є17 for Disney hotel guests (Є12 for children) and Є25 for other visitors (Є17 for children). The average meal price for lunch / evening meal is Є8 for a starter, Є22 for a main course and Є8 for a dessert. They also do a set menu (3 courses) for Є34. The childrens menu is Є15. Cafe Mickey is located in Disney Village at Disneyland Paris. It has two floors that overlook the Disney Lake and is no more than 5 minutes walk to any of the Disney hotels. The characters change daily so there is no guarentees of who you will get, though they tend to be the most popular ones. We (myself and my boyfriend, both early twenties) stayed at Disneyland Paris last September. It was classed as an 'off peak' time to go, but both theme parks were still pretty busy. I'd wanted to have a character meal ever since I went to Florida as a child but I had never had the opportunity. I pleaded with my boyfriend to eat at Cafe Mickey, who eventually gave in, but neither of us really expected him to enjoy it (after all he is a 23 year old bloke!!). We went to the restaurant the day before to book our table for 8pm the following evening. This was no problem and no deposit was required. They gave us a little booking slip to bring back the next ...

EPCOT 02/05/2006

The 2nd of the Disney parks

EPCOT EPCOT (Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow) was opened in 1982, becoming the 2nd of Disney's parks in Florida. The general plan behind the park was Walt's dream to have a self-contained city. Though this is not strictly what EPCOT is (Walt Disney died before this park opened), the park encapulates regions of the world and an emphasis on both the past and future. EPCOT is situated in the central area of the Walt Disney World (WDW) resort and is linked to Magic Kingdom via monorail. Once in the WDW area it is very easy to get to, though the roads become busy at peak times. Parking at the park costs $9 (c.£4.90) per day - though this fee allows you to park at any theme park within WDW on that day. Guests staying at official Disney hotels benefit from free parking / or free transportation from your hotel to the park. It is worth noting that the parking cost is expected to increase to $10 per day within the next few months (though this hasn't been confirmed). I believe a one day ticket at EPCOT to cost $63 (c.£35). I use the words 'I believe' as I have never used bought a one day ticket on my many trips to WDW. For a UK visitor an Ultimate Ticket is probably your best bet. A 14 day Ultimate Ticket allows you 14 consequtive days entrance to any of the Disney parks (including the water parks and DisneyQuest). These cost approx. £185 per adult and £140 per child (aged 3-9). Park hours vary per day but it is worth noting that the front area of the park "Future World" ...

Hotel Pennsylvania, New York City 02/05/2006

Just across the street from Macy's...

Hotel Pennsylvania, New York City Last year, my sister and I were planning a few days break. New York had always been a dream location of ours so after a long search for decent priced flights (British Airways) the long search for a hotel began. We wanted somewhere that was a hotel (and not a hostel), a good central location close to attractions and transport and a decent room - the hard task was that we only wanted to pay £400 (£200 each) for a 6 nights stay. Given that this is New York City we didn't think we would get all our requests for that price, but then we fell upon the Hotel Pennsylvania. The price was great so we booked straight away (it cost exactly £400 for 2 people for 6 nights in November). Then I started to read shocking reports about the hotel, and really worried about it as the holiday drew closer. After a long flight from the UK, and 2 bus trips into the City, we finally arrived at Hotel Penn. Check in was quick and simple so we headed straight for our room. The hotel was clean (ish) and each room door was in desperate need of replacing, but all that being said, the rooms were great! Very basic, but this is only 2 star so it was to be expected. The main room had a double bed, some drawers, a table and a television. There was a very small room off to one side - basically a wardrobe / changing room. The bathroom was clean, spacious and had all the facilities you would expect. The Hotel is located on 34th Street (think the lovely Christmas film). It is just one block from Macy's ...

Parc Asterix, Paris 28/04/2006

Even the rain couldn't stop the fun

Parc Asterix, Paris As part of our 4 day break to Disneyland Paris, we (2 adults) decided to also visit Parc Asterix. On our final day we were flying back to England from CDG at 10pm - this was perfect for Parc Asterix as you can catch a bus from the airport straight to the park. It was about a 10 minute bus ride - we bought our tickets at the station as they did a combined bus and park entrance for 35E. Upon entering the park, the weather was glorious. It looked as if it would be another scorcher like the previous 3 days had been. We were so wrong - within an hour of being in the park the heavens opened with very heavy rain showers. You know the ones - the ones that feel like they will be heavy for 10 minutes then clear and the sun will come out. Again we were wrong - it rained like this all day long! This still didn't take away from the fun of the day though. OK so it wasn't ideal but it was still very enjoyable. Its also worth mentioning we went to Parc Asterix on a Saturday. I think this greatly affected the number of people in the park. It was very busy (even compared to Disney). Also, as it was an off peak time of year Parc Asterix is only open on a Wednsday, Saturday and Sunday (to coincide with French schools). After getting in the park we headed towards La Descente du Styx. This is a water rapids style ride. The "boat" holds up to 8 people and you get pretty wet. We queued for almost an hour for this (at the time it seemed crazy as the longest we'd queued for anything in ...

The Explorers Hotel Disneyland, Marne-la-Vallee 27/04/2006

It might not be Disney...

The Explorers Hotel Disneyland, Marne-la-Vallee Disneyland Paris is a small community of theme parks, hotels, restaurants and shops. On site there are 6 'official' Disney hotels. These are great value for money if you plan on heading to the theme parks every day you are there - you receive a Disney ticket for each day of your stay. In addition to these Disney hotels, there are four 'non-Disney' hotels a 5 minute bus ride away from the parks. The Explorers Hotel is one of these (the other include the Movenpick Dream Castle and the Kyriad). We opted for this hotel over a Disney one because we weren't going to the parks each day (we also planned a trip to Parc Asterix). We (myself and my boyfriend - both early 20's) arrived at the Explorers Hotel via a shuttle from CDG airport. Having arrived in the morning, we were unable to check in for a few hours. Instead we left our luggage in the luggage room and hopped on the free shuttle bus to Disney Village. After lunch and shopping we headed back to the hotel to check in (around 3pm). Check in was quick and easy - there was no wait. We had to choose our time slot for breakfast each day (this is common in all hotels in the area) and then headed to our room. The room was spacious and clean. It was a family room so had two double beds as well as a tv and full bathroom. The tv had quite a few channels - though not many in English. The bathroom was standard for a 3 star hotel. We opted not to eat at the hotel our first night and instead headed back to Disney Village. ...

De Vere Carden Park, Chester 27/04/2006

Worth every penny

De Vere Carden Park, Chester Me and my boyfriend were looking for a 2 day (1 night) mini break to get away from the hustle and bustle of working life. A friend had stayed here a short time before and highly recommended it so I set about trying to find a good price. The usual cost of this one night's stay at the 4 star hotel is approx. £110 per room, bed and breakfast. They also do other deals which include dinner, bed and breakfast. We paid £80 for the night, booked through Superbreak (it was cheaper as we went on a Wednesday night). Carden Park is situated approx. 15 minutes from Chester city centre, just off the A41 towards Wrexham. It is set in 750 acres of Cheshire countryside (the driveway leading to the hotel is one mile long!). We found the location to be perfect. It meant we could spend the day in Chester, stay at Carden Park, then head to Chester Zoo the next day. Though perfect for us, this would not be an ideal location if you were planning a night on the tiles in Chester as taxi's would be expensive back to the hotel. The hotel has a two golf courses, a gym, sauna, steam room, aroma steam room, an indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi's. In addition there are two restaurants, tennis courts, mountain bike trails and a bar. Our room was pretty good. With hotel rooms, it is difficult to hedge one against the other, as essentially the facilities are generally common. Carden Park was no different. Yes, it was obviously of better standard than a Travelodge but there is only so much a ...

Sony Ericsson W550i Walkman 25/04/2006

I've only had it a few days but....

Sony Ericsson W550i Walkman The time finally came around to get my o2 upgrade this week- I lost my Samsung D500 two weeks ago so I was excited about getting a new phone. I was a little disappointed with the selection of free phones I could choose from but I eventually decided on the Sony Ericsson W550i. I had been a little concerned about the look of the phone - the garish orange covers and weird arial at the top almost put me off - but I'm so glad I wasn't swayed away! Opening the box I found: the phone (obviously), charger, battery, handsfree kit, PC Suite CD, USB data cable, a set of white fascia's and the manual. After fully charging the phone I quickly changed the fascia from orange to white (though not for long as I've bought a pink fascia from eBay to make it a little more girly!!). Within the "messaging" screen there are all the standard options from inbox to sent messages and templates. I don't think there is anything new in this area that you wouldn't get from any other phone. I'm yet to discover how many SMS the memory can hold - as long as its around 200 I'll be happy! Similarly, the "contacts" menu is as you would expect. For each contact you can add a mobile number, home number, work number, assign a photograph and ringtone, as well as adding email and street addresses. Though more sophisticated than my D500, I think these are pretty standard features nowadays. As I've already mentioned, in the box came a PC Suite CD and a USB data cable. Once you've loaded the programmes ...

Switchcraft - Lowri Turner 23/04/2006

Would anyone really do this swap?!

Switchcraft - Lowri Turner I normally stick to the same few authors (Sheila O'Flanagan, Jane Green, Adele Parks, Jill Mansell etc.) but I fancied a new book and decided to give this one a whirl since it was on offer at £3.73 at Tesco (cover price £6.99). I wasn't at all disappointed with my choice! Though I didn't find the general storyline all that believable, the novel is lighthearted enough to enjoy. It's the tale of two identical twin sisters; although they look the same, they couldn't be more different. The loveable Emma should have everything she could ever want. Yet she feels something is missing from her increasingly busy life. On the other hand, Gill tends to mess up a lot of things she touches. She has never had the inclination to settle down but often wonders what it would be like. With both sisters unhappy, Emma has the "perfect" solution...they should swap their lives for two weeks and not tell a soul. Expect mayhem as Gill tries to take on a family and a high powered job. And just what will Max, Emma's partner, say when he discovers he's been sharing a bed with her sister? I found this book both funny and amusing, and it deals with many life issues in a very lighthearted manner. Yet I doubt many people would believe that two people could be so callous and selfish to do this to the ones they love... Despite this I would recommend this read to anyone who is at a bit of a loose end and is in need of some light fun.

Babyville - Jane Green 23/04/2006

Chick Lit Heaven

Babyville - Jane Green This book is wonderfully split into three sections of each of the main characters telling their part of a brilliantly intertwining story. Julia and Mark are fully commited to each other but often wonder why they are together. Despite this, they head gung ho into the trials and tribulations of trying to get pregnant. Just one problem, they struggle to conceive and Julia blames Mark. She lovingly tells him this during yet another arguement and he walks out. On top of this Julia is put on gardening leave from work and heads to America for a break. Maeve is happily single, due to the fact she is allergic to commitment. She lands Julia's old job and throws herself into the role. Unsurprisingly (due to the book title!) she falls pregnant following a one night stand, and the happy Daddy-to-be is Mark (yes THAT Mark). Sam is Julia's best friend and recently gave birth to her first child. She feels lost and lonely when Julia heads to America but soon makes friends with Maeve. But how will Sam tell Julia that she's now friends with the woman who is pregnant by the ex boyfriend she thought was shooting blanks?! It's complicated yet easy to read and follow. I loved the many little twists in this book, and was thoroughly impressed in the way Jane Green intertwined the lives of the characters in a very believable way. Each time a new Jane Green novel is released it seems to be better than the last. I'd say this is a definate must read to anyone who loves a good piece of ...

If You Could See Me Now - Cecelia Ahern 23/04/2006

Who is Ivan anyway?

If You Could See Me Now - Cecelia Ahern The third novel from the highly acclaimed Cecelia Ahern, I waiting in anticipation for the release of 'If You Could See Me Now'. Though I had been somewhat disappointed with her previous novel, I felt sure this was to be another bit of magic from the woman who wrote the amazing 'PS, I Love You'. Following the first few chapters, I was amazed to realise the story was based on an imaginary friend named Ivan. It seemed understandable that Luke (aged six) found this new 'friend' exciting and fun, but for his aunt Elizabeth (a thirty something) to enjoy Ivan's company to the extent she finds herself 'kissing him' seemed somewhat ridiculous. I struggled to accept this storyline and soon gave up reading any further. Luckily a few days later I realised that would be a waste and started to read from scratch. I'm so glad that I did!! Once you accept the somewhat silly storyline, this really is an enjoyable book. As I neared the end, I found myself wanting Ivan to be a real companion for Elizabeth. If you think you can look further than the imaginary friend business then definately give this a whirl. I'm not sure its worth its cover price of £10.99 but if you can get it reduced then sit back, relax and enjoy...
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