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Character Dining at Disneyland Paris

Having initially uploaded this post in 2020, it is now significantly out of date and in need of current info!

If you are familiar with other Disney parks in general then you may feel like DLP really does not have as much to offer. Its a fair assessment. It doesn’t mean there is nothing to offer though!

Dinner at Cafe Mickey

Character dining is one of our favourite things to do at Disneyland Paris and we have not yet done a trip without one. So far we have eaten at Auberg D’Cendrillion, Cafe Mickey and Plaza Gardens but thanks to the pandemic we did not get to have a Sunday Brunch in the Disney hotel prior to its closure for refurbishment.

In hindsight, we have always enjoyed the character dining so will always recommend factoring a character meal into your budget. I really think they are a highlight of our trips.

What are the options? Well effectively there are only a few places where you can eat and meet Disney characters. However some restaurants are only open for breakfast and others are only open for dinner. In short though, character dining is only currently available at Plaza Gardens (breakfast and dinner) and at ADC. Cafe Mickey is now closed for good whilst Sunday Brunch will not reopen until the main hotel does. Sadly, this means that options are very limited.

It is also worth noting that Buffalo Bills is also no more!

Character Breakfast at Plaza Gardens

Auberge De Cendrillion

Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Ita’s absolute favourite restaurant at DLP. This is Cinderella’s restaurant where you will meet lots of princesses as well as Jaq and Suzy and Perla. Typically you get to meet the princesses; usually Aurora, Cinderella, Belle and Rapunzel however we have also been lucky enough to meet Tiana here! I know a few have said they have met Ariel here, but we haven’t (yet).

There are 2 breakfast sittings here; 8.15am (for Disney residents using their extra magic hours) and 9.45am.

ADC is based in Fantasy Land quite close to the castle and is a table service restaurant. You will need a valid park ticket to eat here.

You can now have breakfast, lunch and dinner here at ADC. I would personally recommend a breakfast as the optimal option since you gain access quite early to the park.

There is actually a 4 princess policy here – if you do not get to meet at least 4, tell your waiter and they will make sure that you do! Not many people know this and it really is a valuable tip.

Plaza Gardens

Breakfast and dinner.

Breakfast here is my favourite as they serve an American style buffet which frankly is delicious. Here you meet Mickey and friends. We have had breakfast here twice and we absolutely love it.

There are 2 breakfast sittings here; 8.15am (for Disney residents) and 9.45am.

Plaza Gardens is at the bottom of Main Street USA and like ADC, you will need a valid park ticket to eat here.

Inventions

Sunday Brunch.

Inventions is a buffet restaurant based on the 2nd floor inside the main Disneyland Hotel just outside of the park. As such, you do not need a valid park ticket to eat here. This restaurant is where you will meet Mickey and friends, but also hosts the more obscure characters too.

Every Sunday this restaurant hosts their Sunday Brunch. Now, for some reason this seems to be a bit of a secret?

It takes place each Sunday between 1-4pm. Every week the theme of the brunch changes which makes it very different from the standard meal (lunch or dinner) at Inventions. The themes include Lilo and Stitch, Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland however you will not find out in advance what the theme will be!

In addition to rare and special characters, you will also get the VIPs (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Daisy, Pluto, Chip and Dale) in special outfits each week as well.

HOWEVER! This is currently close due to the ongoing renovations at the hotel.

Buffalo Bills Wild West Show

Is no more. Which is quite sad considering it was the most unusual character dining/ experience that DLP had to offer.

Lunch at Auberge D’Cendrillion

Keeping Active this Summer! With Everyone Active

Let’s be completely honest, the summer holidays are a real financial expense and source of anxiety for many parents. Even the most organised of parents will factor in days where children will spend a lot of time in front of the television or on the iPad. Now, some screen time is absolutely fine. In fact it is necessary for parents to work and frankly, gain a rest! However, it is really important to consider that these days children are not as active and so with this in mind, last week we embarked on a 5 day campaign to ‘keep active’ as a family.

Wall Climbing

We started the week by taking a ‘wall climbing’ class with Toni at Westminster Lodge in St Albans. This was a class that we tried last year and it was something that Ita was eager to do again. Everyone Active follows NICAS (National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme) sessions. NICAS is a structured programme aimed at progressing beginner indoor climbers through a series of levels. NICAS Level 1 begins with teaching the climber how to put on a harness, tie their climbing knot and belay safely. As the climber progresses through the NICAS levels they will learn a range of climbing movement techniques, set their own goals and develop autonomy within the climbing wall. The session lasted an hour and took us through all health and safety aspects before embarking on climbing! We were so impressed by how much further Ita could climb. It became a bit competitive between a certain father and daughter… but of course, daddy backed down and Ita was victorious!

The wall climbing classes are suitable for children as young as 5-6 years old where they can take part in ‘taster’ sessions for 1 hour. Then there are courses specifically aimed at 7-15 year olds too.

Prices start from £12.50 a session.

Trampolining

Ita then enjoyed a fun and energetic trampolining session. From the very first lesson, you learn the basics in maintaining rhythm, perform tricks and learn how to stay safe whilst on the apparatus. Ita really enjoyed the class – she said she felt exhausted after which is a good sign! Even when we came home she wanted to head outside to her own trampoline to practice her new skills.

There are classes for adults, teens and children as young as four and all sessions are held in a safe, friendly environment and run by fully-qualified British Gymnastics coaches.

Swimming

At the Everyone Active centres, you can participate in group or private swimming lessons, as well as enjoying the pool in your own leisure. We love visiting and using the pool facilities as a family, and we find the pools spacious and clean. At Westminster Lodge especially, there are 3 pools. One is a small ankle deep pool for babies and toddler where there are small slides to enjoy too.

Post pool snacks from the on site cafe!

Home Activities

Home days or ‘no spend days’ are really important during the holidays too, so we applied keeping active whilst in the garden. We set up a really fun obstacle course using items from around the house – including balloons. This kept us all busy for about an hour and we actually had so much fun as a family. The suggested activities from Everyone Active included a balloon keepy-uppy competition which was so much harder than you might imagine! This is something we will definitely do again because it seemed to be something Ita really enjoyed.

Healthy Food

There are lots of home cooking classes on offer with Everyone Active and we chose to make healthy FroYos since the weather has been so warm recently! It was such a quick and easy and tasted delicious!

Ingredients

2 small handfuls frozen berries of choice

6 tbsp Greek yoghurt

1 tbsp honey

Instructions

Put the berries and yoghurt into a food processor with a squeeze of honey.

Wizz up until smooth

Eat straight away or make a larger batch and store in the freezer!

You can find the link to our nutritious FroYo below!

One thing that we really like about Everyone Active, is how many different things are available to try. Tennis, ice skating, climbing, gymnastics, skiing and trampolining to name only a few. Membership is also on a pay as you go style basis and this is another thing that as a family, feels like a big perk. 

‘Everyone On Demand’ also gives you access to the widest range of fitness and wellness partners on the market. From fitness and personal training to mental wellbeing and prescribed exercise, there’s a service or session to support everyone, no matter how you feel, every day of the week. 

There are over 200 centres nationwide so to find your closest centre, check the link below!

https://www.everyoneactive.com/centre/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIi-Ki0Oi3-QIVTgUGAB10Vg_yEAAYASAEEgKb_fD_BwE

 

Shows at Disneyland Paris (30th Anniversary Addition)

With the 30th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris in full swing, there are so many new and fantastic shows in both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studio Parks.

We are going to run through the shows that are currently available to watch, where to watch them and which ones we would highly recommend (HINT: all of them are awesome!)

DISNEYLAND PARK:

The Lion King: Rhythms of the Pride Lands show (Pre-Booking Required and Additional Fee)

If you love The Lion King (who doesn’t), and you love the music from the film, this show is right up your street. It is a 30 minute show full of singing, music and dancing, it takes all the iconic moments from the film and translates them to a stage show!

We saw this show in October and we loved it, it was so vibrant and the acrobats were spell-bounding! We would highly recommend paying the extra £13.43 per person (if you can of course). The show are on everyday at 12.00, 13.00, 15.35, and 16.35 and they are a really good way to split up the day!

The show can be booked using the Disneyland Paris App.

This show takes place in the Frontierland Theatre, which is located in Frontierland and can be found fairly easily with all the Cast Members there to help and give directions.

Mickey’s PhilharMagic

If you are like us, and you love 4D Cinema experiences, you and the kids will love this. It stars Donald Duck and a whole host of characters from your favourite Disney films, including Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Peter Pan, Aladdin and new from July 2021, Coco.

Expect wind and water to be splashed on you

We saw this show in 2019 and we really really enjoyed it! We did not manage to watch the show on our last trip, but it is 100% on our list for our next trip. The queues are fairly quiet and you shouldn’t have to wait long which is also a plus.

This attraction can be found in Discoveryland right next to the Star Wars Starport and close to the Star Tours attraction.

Dream… and Shine Brighter (30th Anniversary Day Time Show)

This is a day time show, which celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris.

It takes place 4 times a day and lasts for around 30 minutes and starts on Main Street U.S.A. and finishes in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. HINT: From what I understand, you try your best to get a good spot just in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle as the show ends there and the characters alternate between 4 or 5 stages!

It features an array of characters including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Pluto, Goofy, Woody and Jessie (Toy Story), Miguel (Coco), Judy Hoops and Nick Wilde (Zootopia), and Joy (Inside Out).

It also has the most catchy song, amazing new outfits and awesome dancers! It is a must see and we can’t wait to watch the show many times over!

Disney Illuminations

We can’t do a blog post about shows at Disneyland Paris without talking about the Illuminations. They take place every night at 23.00 (which is really quiet late) but might be worth doing if you can.

It is a spectacular show and something you have to watch at least once!

WALT DISNEY STUDIO PARK:

Mickey and the Magician Show (Pre-Booking Required and Additional Fee)

This a new and limited show that has come to the Studios for the 30th Anniversary!

It features Mickey (of course) and a host of other beloved characters such as, Genie (Aladdin), Lumiere (Beauty and the Beast), Rafiki (The Lion King) and Elsa (Frozen) to name a few.

We have not seen this show yet, but we have it already booked for our next trip. Just like The Lion King show, you have to book in advance and it costs £13.43 per person. The show is approx 30 minutes long and there are lots of tricks, songs and dancing! We are really looked forward to watching this show and we know our daughter is going to love it!

This show is located in the Animagique Theatre (right next to the Monsters Inc. photo opportunity) and there are 5 shows every day, at 12, 13.05, 14.10, 16.25 and 17.30.

The Disney Junior Dream Factory

This is a fairly new show to the Studio’s, we were lucky enough to see it last time we went to Disneyland Paris and wow it was so so good.

It is a fun packed show and has some really cool characters taking part which include Mickey and Minnie, Timon, Vampirina and Fancy Nancy.

It takes place at the Production Courtyard and lasts around 20 minutes and we would highly recommend taking the time out to check this show out.

Stitch Live!

This attraction is such an underrated experience! We have done this a couple of times and loved it every time!

Stitch chats to the audience via a satellite link and deviates from the scripted lines by interacting with the guests. It is such an amazing experience, we highly recommend it.

The best thing to do, is to check out the show times when you arrive into the Park and then make an a point of putting aside 30 minutes to do this show!

Our daughter loves Stitch and I am convinced it is partly because of this show!

Frozen: A Musical Invitation

If your kids are fans of Frozen, then this is the show you have to go and see!

Your experience starts in Kristoff’s Barn, where you will be greeted by Sven and Kristoff singing and performing, then be met by Anna before having an opportunity to have a sing-a-long with Elsa.

It is a really amazing experience and would definitely recommend doing it! Afterwards if the queues aren’t too big you can meet Olaf too, which is a great way to finish off the Frozen experience.

We booked another Disney Cruise!

Last year we embarked on the Magic at Sea Staycation Cruise and well, we just knew we did not experience the full magic of a Disney cruise. It was always our intention to do another one, but in all honesty we just weren’t sure when. We had thought it would be a few years off and most likely be one of their amazing Barbados cruises. But then only a few weeks ago, Disney Cruise Line announced a few Summer Sailings from the UK, set to sail in 2023!

Admittedly, I was quite surprised and totally unprepared for their announcement but the 4-Night UK Sailings to Spain or France seemed quite appealing.

Especially since the cruise is set to take place aboard the Disney Dream, one of the most beautiful ships in the DCL fleet. The one thing holding us back was that everyone over 5 years requires a covid vaccination. I called Disney to discuss this and was told by 2 separate people that this requirement is not likely to be in place by the time we sail. If it is, we have until May 2023 to cancel and up until then we can get a full refund. Our hope is that by Summer 2023, all restrictions will be a thing of the past! This hope doesn’t seem too unrealistic. 

These particular cruises depart from Southampton and journey to picturesque La Rochelle in the south of France, and to the enchanting city of Bilbao, Spain. We were quite honest in that the Magic at Sea cruises fell short of our expectations and did not reach the usual standards of Disney, but the pandemic was a significant contributing factor to this. So we decided that we would put a place holder on a room and take a few days to weigh up one of the 4 night cruises.

https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/cruises-destinations/overview/uk-4-night-sailings/

Aside from the 4 night cruises, Disney Cruise Line also have a 7 nights Norwegian Fjords Cruise, sailing from Southampton to Amsterdam (Netherlands), Skjolden, (Norway), Nordfjordeid (Norway) and Sandnes (Stavanger, Norway).

https://disneycruise.disney.go.com/cruises-destinations/list/#august-2023,europe-cruises,southampton-england,7

Having sailed previously, this time we were considered silver members which meant we could reserve our cruise a few days before the general public. In typical fashion (do we ever get to book something without issues?), we went to book our cruise and of course my details were all incorrect! I spent 2 hours on the phone trying to speak with someone from Disney with no luck. In the end, I went onto the Walt Disney World app, and clicked the “chat” service. Someone was able to amend my details in a matter of moments and I was then able to reserve our cabin. This is a useful tip – the chat feature on the app is so handy!

The deposit for this break away was a whopping 20% of the total price. For the Magic at Sea Cruises the deposit was only 10% so it is a big whack to use as a deposit. However, the 20% is apparently quite standard for all Disney cruises. Definitely something to bear in mind!

So, what’s included in a Disney Cruise? 

Food and drinks including room service (there are certain exceptions), theatre shows, children’s club , movie screenings, character meets, pool access, quiz shows, drawing classes, night clubs, fitness centre amongst quite a few other things.

What isn’t included?

Palo and Remy (adult only restaurant), alcohol in general, the Bippidy Boppidy Boutique, Royal Court Royal Tea, bottled water, gratuity (tips), internet, spa and any port adventures.

Since booking we haven’t stopped watching vlogs and reading blogs on the Disney Dream ship. It looks incredible. It is well over a year away before we sail but I have a feeling we will be well acquainted with the ship way before we board! One thing we are really hopeful for is to have the full cruise experience without any restrictions or social distancing. When we spoke with Disney they indicated that there are plans to do the Sail-a-Wave deck party, have fireworks and to have pirates night. These are things we missed on our last cruise. So lets just hope it all goes to plan!

Disneyland Paris at Halloween

One of the questions we get asked the most is when is the best time to visit DLP. In honesty, for your first visit I would suggest a warmer month such as June or July but of course seasonal theming is a big deal and its obviously done so well by Disney! The main reason I would recommend those months is because it is quite nice to enjoy the sun. The weather in this part of France is much like England. When it is sunny, its gorgeous. When it rains, well… it pours! Plus I think it is quite nice to get photos without the seasonal decorations unless you are lucky enough to go again! This is simply a personal preference!

We had never visited DLP at Halloween until October 2021. We had the most incredible time! We cant work out whether it is because it had been over a year since we had visited the parks or whether it was down to the spooky fun. It is most probably a combination of both of those reasons but our Halloween visit will forever be such a special visit for us.

Weather

Firstly, as a family this was our first visit to DLP in October but I have previously visited in this month too. The weather on both occasions has been lovely and mild. Cool enough to perhaps require a jacket but mild enough to mean you aren’t loaded with layers of clothing. It is worth noting though that October is one of those months where it can be quite warm or quite rainy. The thing we love about October in general is it is that perfect time of year where you quite look forward to the feeling of Autumn/ Winter.

Decorations/ Theming

The décor as soon as you enter the DLP gates is so striking! It starts from the Town Square and goes all the way down Main Street. We did notice that the décor continues into Frontierland but that there wasn’t much in any of the other areas. This didn’t really bother us because it still felt like there was heavy theming. The castle especially looks fantastic and gets a special make over courtesy of Malificent!

The Coco theming in Frontierland fitted so well. Honestly I cannot describe how perfectly it fitted into this area. We really liked that you get to meet so many characters dressed up in this spot too. It made for the perfect backdrop!

Characters in Costume

One of the first characters we saw was Stitch in his costume and it made Ita so happy! We also met Mickey and Minnie in Frontierland and Jafar in Adventureland.

In Disneyland Studios there is a special Villians meet ( Ita was terrified!!). Here we met the Evil Queen, Jafar, Cruella, Captain Hook, Queen of Hearts and Lady Tremaine. At other times you could meet Gaston and Dr Facilier!

Halloween Snacks

We can honestly say we have never seen so many themed snacks at Disneyland Paris, as we did during the Halloween season! We found lots on offer along Main Street but the best place was in Frontierland. We were spoilt for choice.

We definitely plan on visiting again for the Halloween season.

This year it starts from 1 October and runs through to the 6 November 2022.

Hidden Gems / Secrets at Disneyland Paris

The attention to detail in DLP is really fun and so clever. Every single visit we discover something new and it adds to the excitement of our family breaks. So! Here are our favourite “secrets”…

By the coffee shop on Main Street USA is a window that reads “Piano Lessons”. If you listen carefully, you will hear the sound of someone practising their scales during a piano lesson. We always tell Ita that it’s Marie practicing with her brothers! 🐾

Some other sounds to listen out for on Main Street USA include someone fiddling with the taps in their bathroom (above Victoria’s Style Restaurant) and of course the dentist’s drill next to the Discovery Arcade. In fact, every single time we visit Ita asks whether she needs to visit the dentist and of course we say “depends how many Mickey snacks you have!!”.

My favourite hidden gem is in New Century Notions shop, where there’s an old-fashioned phone on the wall. If you pick it up you can hear funny conversations from the past going on in one of the houses down the street – Ita genuinely believes we’re eavesdropping!!

One of the best things about DLP is the animatronic dragon under Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – it is incredible!! As you stand facing the castle, to the left is the entrance to a cave. According to Disney the dragon isn’t Malificant but say it is anyway!

Upstairs in Sleeping Beauty’s castle you’ll find guards who are under a sleepy spell – listen carefully you will hear snoring!

In Fantasyland you’ll find the Sword in the Stone. Apparently the sword DOES come out every now and again and if you manage to pull it from the stone, the nearest cast member will crown you! (Though, we have never seen it happen).

Head to the graveyard by Phantom Mansion, turn left and then up to Boot Hill Cemetery. Listen carefully and you’ll hear a heartbeat or scratching to get out of the grave! How creepy!

I’m sure there are loads more, why not share them in comments!

Disneyland Paris Q&A – part 1

If you follow us on Instagram, you will have seen that there has been quite a few requests for tips on visiting Disneyland Paris. I have already done quite a few posts but obviously our blog allows us to provide a more detailed narrative!

I popped a questions box up on my stories and decided to break them down into a Q&A style response!

• Who do you book with? 

Typically we book with Magic Breaks as we’ve always found them to be reliable but now that we’re annual pass holders, we book everything separately. We will be visiting in the next few weeks and will have booked everything separately so I will do a little cost break down on this visit. Typically, you get some great deals on Magic Breaks and by booking directly with Disney and if we were not APHs then we would still book everything this way!

• What age do you think DLP is suitable from?

Honestly, a baby! That’s the fantastic thing about Paris. There are even lots of rides that they can go on. Ita’s first visit was on her 1st birthday and it was so memorable. Children are free before 3 years (they are excluded from certain things because of this).

• Best places to eat in park/ village and where to get Mickey snacks?

Head over to my DLP guide on Instagram for snacks as I’ve popped information in there previously and it’s quite handy. Aside from character dining, we love the Mickey pizza from Belle Notte (its only about £5) and Earl of Sandwich in the Disney Village! The cafe down Main Street and the Old Mill do some great snacks too including Mickey waffles. We always enjoy the food at Plaza Gardens as its buffet style. The Disney Village has McDonald’s and Five Guys too which is handy for quick service. Actually this might need its own post!!

• Do you think it’s worth visiting without character meals?

ABSOLUTELY – in my opinion, we probably won’t do any more character meals until the Sunday brunch is back in the Disney Hotel. We’ve done them all so many times and enjoyed them all. It’s a nice addition but it’s nothing like meeting a character in the park!

• Best place to watch fireworks?

You will see them from anywhere so don’t worry but if you stand behind something i.e. a bin then you’ll have less chance of someone standing right in front of you – which happens to me all the time! Gotta love being short!

• Is the Studio Park worth visiting?

100% YES! It has our favourite ride there – Ratatouille, as well as Toy Story Land, Cars Road Trip, Crushes Coaster and some good shows too! It’s where Disney Juniors and Stitch Live is shown.

• Any unusual suggestions?

Head to the Studios and do a drawing class – they’re free and so much fun. It’s a great place to head to if it rains! Enjoy character meets in the hotels every evening (around 7.30pm) – anyone can visit!

Under the “Guides” section you’ll find lots of information so don’t forget to follow us on Instagram too!

Legoland, Dubai

Ad – We had such a brilliant day at Legoland Dubai, it totally surpassed our expectations! Where do we start?

We were in Dubai during the week before Easter and we were invited to the Junior Explorers Event which is running until 24 April. The event sees children take on different challenges to collect 4 gold coins which they then trade for a treasure map in order to find their prize – a very cool limited edition Lego set! The challenges included digging for fossils and building an artefact so they were not too taxing and suitable for most children to take part in. The adventure took about 45 minutes for us, but I would recommend putting aside an hour or so if you wanted to take part. There were no queues at all for us to move onto the next challenge which I think sped up our timing. One thing that I really appreciated about this event was that it was in one area and those areas that were covered so it was a perfect rest from the sun.

In fact, most of the theme park is covered which is so needed in the Dubai heat. On the day we visited it was 36 degrees so we visited the Legoland Waterpark first and then made our way to the theme park around 3pm. However, the areas within the theme park are also spacious with lots of shaded areas and seating. Miniland is inside with air-conditioning and is the perfect spot to rest.

Prior to visiting Legoland Dubai, we had only visited the Windsor resort but it is our favourite UK theme park so we were really looking forward to seeing how Dubai compared. The resort is very big, all on one level and very well designed in terms of layout. There are lots of rides at this Legoland – and plenty with smaller children in mind. Ita loved Wave Racer and was able to finally get her driving licence!

There is so much to do and see aside from the rides too. This is something that hugely differed at the UK attraction. You can visit The Factory to make your own Lego brick which is completely free and makes for a little souvenir. You can also meet lots of Lego characters including Ollie the Dragon! Yes you can meet characters in Legoland Windsor, but we have found that you can normally only meet Ollie at the Legoland Hotel in Windsor so this was a nice surprise. You can also watch the fountain show at The Burj model display (inside Miniland). It was so clever!

When I posted about our visit to Instagram, I had lots of messages about visiting a theme park in such great heat. We were informed upon entering that the heat meant 2 rides were not working – this is something to bear in mind because extreme heat or cold can cause problems for the mechanics of the rides. One thing that I was slightly put off about was the potential queuing for rides. However, during our visit he theme park was so quiet that there were no wait times (literally walk ons) which made our experience even better. It may be because of Ramadan, as we know someone who visited the week before us and they also said it was very quiet too. However, upon speaking to a friend who resides in Dubai, she said that a lot of places tend to be quiet during the days since the heat is off putting and Dubai culture typically sees people going outside in the evenings.

One thing worth mentioning is that Legoland Dubai, Legoland Waterpark, Motiongate Themepark and Bollywood Dubai are all situated in a complex called Riverland and are all within walking distance too.
Within this complex there is a Mc Donalds and Costa as well as a Fridays (TGI Fridays to us in the UK).

Prices start at 295 AED per person for the theme park and we would definitely recommend a visit.

Wind in the Willows, Immersion Theatre Company

Immersion Theatre have just started touring with their new show, The Wind in the Willows, and we were fortunate to have seen it a few weeks ago in Harrow.

Pack your picnics and join Ratty, Mole, Badger, and the fantastically irrepressible Toad as they embark on the adventure of a lifetime culminating in a colourful battle to save Toad Hall from the mischievous weasels.

We often go to the theatre and children learn so much from these experiences. I know many who often worry that their child is too young or won’t sit through a show. However this show was almost panto-like with so much interaction. I really liked that the actors, despite being in character, noticed when the audience was engaging more and played on this. There is so much audience participation which the children especially really enjoyed, but it was evident that adults did too. Children were encouraged to learn songs during the show to later sing along too.

The energy from the actors was so strong that it was easy to take for granted that there were only 5 in the show! The costumes were so cleverly put together that even though one actor would be playing various roles, it wasn’t obvious. Mr Toad especially was incredible. I don’t know how he has so much energy but I’d like to!

Ticket prices seem to vary depending on the location and theatre but average about £15 per adult and slightly less for children.

The show is touring the UK up until the end of April. (Link below to see where they are performing).

The show is 90 minutes long with a 15 minutes interval too.

Zog and the Fly Doctors Theatre Tour

We had such a fantastic trip to the theatre this afternoon to see Zog and the Flying Doctors. So much so, we felt it deserved a blog post!

The story remains true to the original in that Zog, Princess Pearl and Sir Gadabout go on a flying adventure to tend to a sunburnt mermaid, a unicorn with one too many horns and a lion with the flu. However, the King (Princess Pearl’s uncle) has other ideas about whether princesses should be doctors, and she’s soon locked up in the castle! An adventure pursues in order to free the princess and unite the medical trio!

I have to say, @freckle_productions have done a brilliant job with this immersive production. The show is for younger children, the recommended age is from 3 years though a smaller child could easily enjoy this show. With that said, the last few years, specifically the numerous lockdowns and event closures, means the youngest children have really missed out on many social experiences let alone theatre ones. Even at a childrens theatre show the general expectation is that a child sits through the show without distracting anyone else, but Freckle Productions changed the flow of the show by deliberately including children. Talking directly with them, instead of simply putting on a play. This was genius. That simple modification meant that even those who are unused to the theatre, was able to completely enjoy it. The show was perfectly created to engage the children whether to reintegrate them back into the theatre world or to introduce them to it! 👏🏻

The show is touring the UK until the end of August so head to http://www.Zoglive.com to find your closest theatre.

https://zoglive.com/zogandtheflyingdoctors/

Our Trip to Lapland, Finland

This time last year everything felt really flat. Boris had cancelled all of our Christmas plans and after such a difficult year, it was something we had been really looking forward to. So I made a really spontaneous decision that the following Christmas we would feel as festive as possible and that meant a visit to Lapland!

The most stunning view on our way to the Snow Village

When you google holidays to Lapland you are inundated with so many options. One that I hadn’t considered was a day trip to Finland, which quite a few companies offered. I narrowed it down to either 3 days or a day trip and then looked for reviews on both. The 3 day trip certainly seemed a better idea initially but being married to a Spaniard… and Ita taking firmly after him… I just knew they would find the cold painful (I was so right, but Ill come back to that!!). One thing that also put me off was that you potentially spend a lot of time just enjoying the snow.

The Snow Village, Kittila

Naively (possibly stupidly) I thought Lapland was merely a small village in Finland but there are actually so many areas you can visit. In Rovaniemi there are international-name shops and restaurants, as well as vibrant night life too! Levi, Pallas, Yllas and Kuusamo, were described as experts in snow activities. Then there’s Saariselka, a real winter wonderland, and Luosto and Hetta, secluded spots, which are real Northern Lights territory. All I knew was that I wanted to take my family to Lapland where we could do some snow activities and most importantly, meet the real Santa!

In doing some research, it was clear that Finland is exceptionally cold over the Winter and whilst one year there was no snow at all, most years it can reach -45 degrees c! To put things into perspective anything under 16 degrees means my family are cold. Therefore I decided that the price would make the decision on how long we were there however, surprisingly there wasn’t actually much difference in the price. Day trips all seemed similarly priced across a few different companies whereas there were big differences in longer stays (obviously dependant on your hotel and additional activities). I wasn’t too fussed about visiting a particular area, especially since I had decided that a day trip seemed to be the better option for us.

Reindeer rides!

In the end I decided that TUI offered the best packages for day visits. Ours included our flights, meals on the plane as well as in Lapland, transfers to Kittila, all clothing (snowsuit, gloves, boots) husky rides, reindeer sledging, entrance to the Snow Village, Meeting Santa and a gift from him too. This was at a total cost of £1,813. Hugely expensive for one day, but I justified that it would be a very memorable, one-off experience. TUI also offer a monthly direct debit option which softened the blow somewhat.

Once we landed in Kittila we were swiftly directed to a huge warehouse to collect our thermal clothing. On the date we visited it was -30 (I just knew it would be one of the coldest days!). We collected our snow suits, boots, socks and gloves and were advised to wear these over our own thermal clothing including our puffa and ski jackets. So that’s what we did. I’m not joking when I say I could barely walk!!

We then headed to our coach and drove about 25 minutes to Kittilas Snow Village. There we had free reign of what we wanted to do and were encouraged to follow our own itinerary. We enjoyed reindeer rides in huge sleighs and Ita especially loved the husky rides! We had hot chocolate in the hotel made entirely from ice and ate delicious mash and meatballs (think ikea style!). A highlight was of course taking a snow mobile to Santa’s cabin deep in the woods.

Ice Bar!

However, I would be absolutely lying to you if I said the coldness didn’t affect us. It was horrendous. My phone turned itself off and wouldn’t work at all because of the temperature which kind of worried me since my boarding pass was on there! There was one point where Ita broke down in tears from being so cold. In fact she said she was ready to go home. I felt terrible because I knew she wasn’t exaggerating, she was genuinely painfully cold. At that point I was so relieved to have only booked a day trip… I just know my little family too well!

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t consider more than a day in Lapland. If you can manage the weather or perhaps your children are older etc, then please do not allow my experience to put you off. You need to think about what trip would best suit your needs.

Overall we had a truly unique and magical visit to Lapland. Ita has long since forgotten about how cold she was and only recalls the reindeers and huskies. She tells everyone she met the real Santa. I am so happy that I made that spontaneous decision to book. 

I had so many messages regarding our trip to Lapland and there were so many different questions! Hopefully this blog post will answer everything but if not, feel free to message me on Instagram.

Santa!