East Coast USA 2018

New York

Day 1

Yep. We are off on another adventure – this time to the East Coast USA.

Today is Kobi’s Birthday and with an early start departing for the airport at 6am and 24 hours later arriving in NYC at 4:20pm we sure made the most of his birthday.

Transit day was spent with 13.5 hours flying from MEL-LAX, then a smooth connecting flight from LAX – NYC ensured our early arrival in NYC at 4:20pm. Although the connection time between LAX & connecting flight to LAX was less than 3 hours the transition was very smooth and I would highly recommend this flight combo for others travelling to NYC from MEL.

Highlights of the flight included:

  • Special boarding priveliges for our family with Kynan wearing a Moonboot and having a ‘scooter’ to assist with his mobility.
  • We were first to board the plane.
  • A special announcement to the entire plane wishing Kobi a Happy Birthday.
  • Snack Bar at the rear which I did not discover until later in the flight AFTER all the Tim Tams had disappeared. Some of the kids had already discovered the stash but failed to tell their mother.
  • Access to the cockpit upon landing at LAX – special treat for Kobi’s Birthday AND a photo with 2 of the Captains.
  • First Class gift from the crew to Kobi.

Upon arrival in NYC we had not pre-booked a transfer, however it was easy. We booked a Super Shuttle Private Transfer at the airport desk. Expensive but comparable to what other transfers would have cost. The trip from JFK took around 1 hour and allowed for many people watching opportunities and an overview of the outskirts of NYC.

We saw some leftover snow from the snowstorm which hit NYC just under 1 week ago. The one thing I noticed was how much ‘trash’ there is. Rubbish everywhere and ‘trash bags’ on all the streets. The weird thing about New York is that although we have never been here before – apart from Brittany spending 3 days here last year – the area seems familiar. I suppose that is because it is such a high profile city and constantly in the media.

Our accommodation at Times Square at Manhattan is in a wonderful location. The rooms are average but the location makes up for that.

Our plan was to spend celebrate Kobi’s Birthday Dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner just around the corner from our accommodation, however, the queues were incredibly long and we were tired, therefore we opted for TGIF which was yummy and in true TGIF style a Birthday Tune was sung to Kobi complete with FREE dessert.

Last stop for the evening was M&Ms World which has EVERYTHING M&M and smells delicious. I had some coins so we pressed some souvenir Pennies.

Exhausted but thankful we have arrived safely. Ready for adventure.

Day 2

We all woke at weird times throughout the night – think we might actually be jet lagged.

Ian, Kobi & I went for a jog to Central Park. The locals couldn’t believe what they saw – Kobi wearing shorts & t-shirt while they were completely rugged up. On our travels we found a dog wearing a pink jumper & 2 dogs wearing Easter Bunny ears in preparation for the Easter season. We stopped for a few photo opportunities including sculptures of Hans Christian Anderson, a sculpture scene from Alice In Wonderland and some seals.

Back at the MTS [Manhattan Times Square] we plan our day. We are keen to see the Statue of Liberty so that is what we decide. On the way to the Subway (which we have decided this is the most efficient & cost effective for our family), we have breakfast at McDonalds & opt to go via the Frozen Musical Box Office to check out if there are any tix for tonight’s show. There is, & they are significantly cheaper than if we purchased online. “We’re going to Frozen” – super excited & we are feeling fortunate as this show has only been on Broadway for 6 days.

We have a few other shopping detours – we found Mr Chocolate’s cousin in a shop then finally board the Subway headed for South Ferry. Oops! 3 stops in we realize we went the wrong direction…..so we jump off the Subway. No idea where we are but we simply go to the other side of the station. The stationmaster understands we are tourists that have no idea what we’re doing so let us through without paying another ticket. On the Subway you just pay a one way fare regardless of where you are travelling to. We set off again.

This time we get it right. We arrive at South Ferry station & have no idea what we are doing. So we “follow our nose”. We see a Staten Island sign. Nope. That’s not where we want to go. We ask a security guard & we are sent in the right direction. Yes! That’s it – we see the Statue of Liberty out in the water & now have to work out how to get there. There is a massive queue & a brown building where we have to purchase tickets. The girls stand in the massive queue & the boys purchase the tickets BUT all doesn’t go to plan as we realise it is going to take over 2 hours to catch a cruise & the tickets are going to sell out for the day anyway. Oops! The kids find some snow and squirrels while Ian purchases some tickets for tomorrow’s cruise.

All sorted for tomorrow we decide to walk to the 9/11 Museum via Wall Street. Oh my goodness, this museum has high security & is so well presented however after awhile it really became quite depressing & overwhelming. The water features are amazing & so peaceful. It’s such a lovely tradition that they put a Rose next to the victims who should be celebrating a birthday on their birthday.

We found one white rose.

We haven’t eaten since breakfast & are feeling rather hungry. Brittany was craving ‘Chipotle’ – Mexican – but that was not to be as it was crowded & nowhere to sit, so we try at Juniors which was delicious but super big meals which some of us can’t complete!

Feeling exhausted we go back to Hotel room for a quick nap before experiencing Frozen on Broadway.

Oh my goodness. Welcome to Broadway! We arrive 15 minutes before showtime & there are MASSIVE queues outside the theatre. I couldn’t believe this queue was for Frozen & people who had purchased tickets. 15 minutes before showtime & the doors were not open! Chaos erupts as the doors open & there are people EVERYWHERE with little room to move.

We have amazing seats & the show was amazing. We did have the understudy for Anna which was obvious as she had brown skin – the child Anna had fair skin so imagination was definitely required. Aisha Jackson did, however do a fantastic performance & was noticibly emotional at the end. Feeling privileged to have experienced Frozen on Broadway.

Crazy busy walk back to MTS. Massive crowds. Brittany, Lachlan & I do a sneaky detour to The Disney Store. I now get why Times Square for NYE is such a happening thing.

Day 3

Breakfast at Starbucks. Subway to South Ferry. We are then ferried to Liberty Island where we see the Statue of Liberty & learn about her History. It is actually an amazing structure.

After we finished at Liberty Island we were ferried onto an absolutely packed boat & ferries to Ellis Island. Ellis Island is where the immigrants were processed & either sent back home, isolated because of disease & some were lucky enough to stay.

We had a tour with the Ranger who gave us some insight but we were pretty exhausted by the end & were happy to get on the ferry back to the mainland.

From here we caught the Subway to Central Park where we took photos with amazing statues, had a ride on the carousel & did lots of walking . I don’t think the park is looking its best at the moment. I would love to see it when it is all green. Perhaps an excuse for another visit?

Back to MTS for a quick nap & we are off again for another night out at the College Basketball Tournament Grandfinal between Utah & Penn State. Unfortunately we were late as we think Brittany’s GoPro was stolen (pick-pocketed) in the lift at MTS. We are perplexed by how this happened however on Level 17 – our entry floor – Brittany had recorded some footage, then once we got to the lobby Brittany realized her GoOro had disappeared. Too strange. We went back up the lift straight away & couldn’t find it anywhere. 😢

Unfortunately this will be a travel insurance claim as it has not turned up in Lost Property. We didn’t want this to ruin our night so we continued with our planned evening of a College Basketball game at Madison Square Garden. It was fun! Penn State won.

We managed to fit in some shopping after the game on the way back to MTS. Exhausted after another big day. Nashville tomorrow.


Day 4

This morning we finally experienced Ellen’s Stardust Diner – the restaurant where all waiting staff have a degree in Performing Arts and are hoping to make it on Broadway. Ian & Lachlan lined up & organised a table for us within half an hour. Apparently Ellen’s Stardust is the 3rd most popular restaurant in the USA. That’s what they told us anyway! It was fun. We enjoyed a yummy breakfast & the wait staff entertained us with their wannabe Broadway voices.

We did some last minute shopping & decided we really need to stand on the steps at Times Square & see what all the fuss is about. The stairs are always so crowded. We did! The photo of the Streetscape is quite amazing & we can cross that experience off our list.

Time moves quickly & sadly it is time for us to leave New York. Super Shuttle picked us up as ordered and we made it to LaGuardia Airport in plenty of time. LaGuardia Airport is fun. Everywhere there are iPads to order meals, drinks and stuff like lip balm while you are waiting for your flight – seriously technology I think Melbourne Airport needs. Delta check in was smooth & half of our family even got upgraded to Comfort Class.

It is true though – USA airlines do actually overbook flights. We experienced it first hand. First upon computer check in we were asked if we would like a reward to volunteer a later flight, then at the gate announcements were made that if they got volunteers the airline would offer US$500 airline vouchers, THEN they offered US$700 vouchers plus a later in the day flight if 4 people volunteered. Four volunteers were quickly found. Bribery works a treat. Problem solved.

Flight to Nashville was uneventful. Touchdown in Nashville. Hire car pick up was non-eventful and welcomed. We are in Nashville! So excited.

Staying at Holiday Inn Express near Opryland. Our accommodation is comfortable. We ventured out to meet the locals for dinner at The Candy Fork. Our servers name was “Dory”. We ate Gator Tails, Catfish & Fried Green Tomatoes – while listening to a Country & Western Band which Kynan is guessing has been around for at least 50 years. We have already noticed how much friendlier the Nashville crowd is compared to NYC. In NYC everyone seems so busy & insular.

Tomorrow we drive to Pigeon Forge & The Smoky Mountains.

Day 5

Good morning Nashville!

This morning we had a quick drive / walk through the Centre of Nashville where there was live country music in every store.

We stopped by Antique Archaeology – American Pickers fame & sadly didn’t find any antiques but purchased some merchandise.

Then we set off on our RoadTrip from Nashville to Pigeon Forge. First detour was Ozone Falls where Brooke found a rock hidden by Ohio Rocks which we will rehide in a touristy Australian spot.

Second detour was a stop for lunch in a little town called Rockwood. The locals were fascinated by our accent & Australia so I gave them some business cards & encouraged them to come & visit 😄. They were very friendly folk 😜

Finally we made it to the Smoky Mountains & checked into our cabin at Dollywood Cabins which is very roomy & has excellent views of the mountains. Dollywood closes at 9pm tonight so at 7:15pm we drove to Dollywood Theme Park & enjoyed 6 of the rides in the evening. We have a length of stay pass so we can go back on other days & do more rides & shows.

We now have a kitchen so our last stop for the evening was Walmart to pick up supplies. Phew! What a day!

Easter Sunday tomorrow here.

Happy Easter to everyone for today / yesterday.

Day 6

Happy Easter

Easter Bunny found our cabin & delivered eggs in true USA style. We were up so we thought we would catch the local Williamsburg Baptist Church Easter Sunrise service which started at 7am.

We arrived at the church & the members were sitting in the church Hall socializing with each other. Our family was welcomed & around 7:10am they decided to go outside & commence the service which consisted of one lady singing & one of the pastors preaching for 10 minutes. We had the true Southern Church experience. We missed the sunrise. We loved the accents & felt like we were in the scene of an American movie.

The ‘folk’ were very friendly & had lots of food to share including Krispy Kreme Doughnuts – Yum! Krispy Kremes for breakfast. We don’t think Americans do Hot Cross Buns? The folk were very friendly and gave us some local sightseeing tips. It was this morning I realized that we are right in the thick of Bear Country – Pastor Chuck showed us some photos of some bears walking past his driveway. Eeeeeek! That’s why the ‘trash’ bins at the front of our cabin are covered in wire cages.

After some downtime hanging out at our cabin we drove to the Smoky Mountains National Park Information Centre in Gatlinburg. Armed with a brochure on what to do if a Bear approaches us, we set off on a Bear Hunt!

Just down the road there crowds of cars & people so we thought we should investigate. We found a Bear 🐻. 3 Bears – Mumma Bear & Baby Bears. They were a safe distance from all of us & tricky to see but we saw Bears in their natural habitat. TICK

We set off on the Laurel Falls Trail where Kynan was an absolute champion scootering on the uneven path on his scooter. 2.6miles Return (~4km). Took us 1 hour return.

The falls were pretty. A funny thing happened which would not have been so funny if it turned to tragedy & you probably had to be there, however a girl around 6 years old accidentally dropped her shoe at the top of the falls. The Mum was determined to get it back, she rolled up her pants & waded at the top of the waterfall. I was instinctively anxiously watching her 3 children who were watching their mother & were completely unaware of how close they were to the edge of the waterfall. I was thinking their lives were possibly more important than the shoe, however Mother didn’t seem to think so. The shoe was recovered, the little girl was so excited she ran over near her Mum & fell in the freezing water at the top of the falls. Oh dear. They were having a bad day. We do wish the cameras recorded that moment. Very funny as no-one was harmed.

On the way back from the falls we passed the spot that we previously saw the Bears & they were still there but more active. This time we saw Mama Bear & 3 Bears.

We had good ole meal at Mamas Farmhouse in Pigeon Forge where it is all you can eat served at the table.

After dinner we explored the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge which really was very well displayed. Took 2 hours to get through the museum & even that was only glancing over the information.

‘Home’ to our cabin & ready for an all-dayer at Dollywood tomorrow.

Day 7

A quick hilly run this morning by Ian & I was not so enjoyable as we ran up very steep hills, encountered growly dogs & ran where there was no real path. Not to mention myself being afraid of encountering a Bear 🐻

Today it was all about Dolly Parton. We spent the entire day at Dollywood & we are going back for more tomorrow afternoon. We have been entertained, got soaking wet & experienced some fun rollercoasters & other rides.

Tonight we were entertained in Pigeon Forge at Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. VERY American but overall a fantastic, professional dinner & show we would highly recommend. Dolly sure knows how to entertain. The pre-show entertainment was amazing country style. The actual show had a large variety of animals including chickens, horses, Buffalo, pigs & Bison. Cowboys & Indians were featured & ended with USA patriotism – the land of the free. We enjoyed it all but we were obviously proud to be Australian as we couldn’t get caught up in the emotion that others around us were feeling.

Another massive day on the Mason Holiday Adventure.

Day 8

We went on a Bear Hunt but unfortunately we were unsuccessful today. We did, however, explore Cades Cove. Cades Cove is an area in the Smoky Mountains National Park where buildings have been preserved from when the early settlers arrived. We saw log cabins, barns, churches & cemeteries. This area has so many stories to tell & it was very cool to see the barns & log cabins in their original state.

Late afternoon we went back to Dollywood to specifically view the Chasing Rainbows Museum (Dolly Parton Museum) & Dolly’s Tour Bus. Dolly Parton sure has a lot of awards. The museum was packed with awards, photos, & memorabilia.

The worlds longest Alpine Coaster is in Pigeon Forge and because we are so close we couldn’t miss the opportunity to ride it – so we rode it! The spectacular lights at night made the experience so much better. So much fun speeding down the coaster at night.

That wraps up another day of the Mason Adventures.

Day 9

Today we were hoping to go to the Cherokee Reserve however there is so much to do & not enough time.

Change of plans.

Instead of another Bear Hunt we went on a Dolly’s Childhood Home Hunt. We followed instructions we found online that were written in 1986. Oops. That was our first error. We think we found her home but it was boarded up with a very high fence. Fences are very unusual around these parts, particularly very high ones with high security. Ah well, we definitely now understand the area that she grew up.

We found the cemetery where many of the PARTON & OWENS family are buried. There was a private section which has Dolly’s Mum, Dad, baby brother & possibly a nephew? This section is called Angel Hill & has an empty stone structure with 12 spots – sort of like an IKEA storage solution. We’re thinking this is ready for Dolly and her siblings when the time comes….

Then we drove to Sevierville where we found the Dolly statue.

Back to Pigeon Forge & we check out The Old Mill shops. We could spend so much more time here but we are running out of time. An ice-cream each & we head back to Dollywood for a couple of hours.

My priority at Dollywood today was to tour through a replica of Dolly’s childhood home. The replica was built by Dolly’s brother & the contents were set up by Dolly’s mother, Avie-Lee. A Two Room House for 2 parents & 11 Kids. 1 Double Bed. WOW!

We finally rode the Lightening Rod (most popular ride in the park), we ate some yummy Cinnamon Bread and stocked up on some Dollywood souvenirs. Not sure when we’ll be back!

Dollywood is such a friendly Theme Park with something for everyone. We highly recommend it.

Tonight we experienced Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Adventures Dinner & Show. I must say this show was disappointing. It is marketed as a Theatre type production about Dolly’s life in the Smoky Mountains. It was more like a circus with clowns, trapeze artists, juggling, acrobatics & the wheel of death.

The clowns were unfunny, the performers were very good but nothing like what I was expecting. Food was average. Bonus was that the kids were able to get their flags signed by the cast members afterwards. Ian & I were very disappointed overall but the kids loved the show. I would recommend the Stampede but not so much Smoky Mountain Adventures.

The kids got Walmart vouchers for Christmas & tonight seemed to be the best night to spend them, so they did! We stopped at Walmart for 1 hour after the show & now we have 6 children proud of their bargains found at Walmart.

‘Home’ to our cabin & before we collapse into bed we need to pack our stuff & car ready for our roadtrip tomorrow to Orlando. We are hoping to leave at 6am.


Day 10

Early start this morning….”we’re going to Florida”. We left at 6:27am.

We drove through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia & finally Florida.

We stopped 3 times, sang lots of Disney tunes, passengers slept & we made it to our last minute booked accommodation – Crowne Plaza.

The weather got a lot warmer – time for our Summer clothing.

We arrived at 6:21pm.

Road Trippin took just under 12 hours. Ian did a very commendable job driving ALL that way.

Exhausted, Brooke & Kobi had a swim, we treated ourselves to in-room service & collapsed into bed.

Now we have a FREE day tomorrow. We happen to be within a couple of miles of the shopping outlets.

I feel a shopping day coming on tomorrow!

Day 11

Good morning Orlando. Ian, Corey & Myself has a quick 2 ½ km jog around the local area. Orlando really is quite run down. Orlando must be so pleased for the skills of Disney, Universal Studios & other identities who have brought visitors to Orlando.

Today was a SHOPPING day. We went to the Orlando Premium Outlets – the boys shopped for 1 Hour then went to see Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum which they said was ‘OK’ – not as good as the one in the Gold Coast.

Us girls – we shopped for 4 hours and we did good. We purchased lots of bargains but 4 hours was enough. We purchased a new suitcase to take our goodies home in. I must say the Discount Passport we received at the Information Centre because Brittany had signed up to the mailing list was very useful & we ‘saved’ some money.

The boys picked us up after our allocated shopping timeslot & we checked into the amazing Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel – our home for the next 2 nights.

This time we have an interconnecting 2 Bedroom which fits us all rather nicely. Brittany, Kynan & Myself watched the kids & Ian go swimming in the amazing pool while listening to a live band from Nashville play some tunes.

Then we made our way to Universal City Walk by water taxi. Walking though the beautiful gardens I saw the dreaded signs.


Natural Wildlife May Be Present

Do Not Feed or Touch any Animals

Eeeeeeek! I do believe they mean Alligators…..

City Walk is super busy & everywhere is a wait time to be seated at a restaurant. Hard Rock Cafe was one of the shortest waits so that’s where we ate.

Corey, Kobi & I made an early exit & caught the ferry. The ‘others’ walked back.

Massive day expected tomorrow. We are going to try & conquer Universal Orlando in one day. Open from 8am – 10pm

Day 12

We arrived at the Universal Studios park entrance at 7:45am. We did good. Early entry for park doesn’t open until 8am but looks like they were letting people in so we went with it. We followed he crowd to the back of the park – Hogwarts.

Escape from Gringotts was the ride which was really so well done & rightly so very popular.

The detail that is in every single shop, ride & even the staff members is so amazing.

From Escape to Gringotts we caught The Hogwarts Express to The Islands of Adventure to Hogsmeade. This was a pretty cool experience.

From there we went to The Lost Continent & experienced a walk-through attraction where Brooke from Australia was the star of the show AND we had an encounter with a statue.

Seuss Landing was very quaint & so well themed.

From there we went on The Hulk Ride which unfortunately Kynan could not go on. The ride attendant, Ernie, had a massive heart for Kynans disappointment & organised a complimentary ice-cream.

For the others of us, except for Ian & Kobi, we experienced a super fast roller coaster which shook our heads a lot! Surprised we have any brain cells left!

Favourite Moment: A Statue at The Lost Continent that started interacting with us, squirting us with water unexpectedly, then my most favourite moment – when the statue found out we were from Australia 🇦🇺it played the soundtrack to “We Come From the Land Down Under” with great exuberance squirting water everywhere. Very unexpected & fun.

Favourite Theme: Harry Potter – nothing compares, than Dr Seuss Land.

Unexpected character Meet & Greet: Popeye & Olive Oyl

Most anticipated ride: ET, which was quite a disappointment

Favourite Show: We only saw one show which was purely to relive the kids childhood. It was Barney.

Favourite Rollercoaster: Hollywood RipRide Rocket. Vertical beginning, then fast – all to the beat of your chosen Rock tune.

Favourite Beverage: Frozen Butterbeer. We had breakfast & dinner at Hogwarts Restaurant complete with Butterbeer as the beverage. Delicious!

Unexpectedly Entertaining: The Jimmy Fallon Show simulator tour through New York had pre-entertainment while waiting for the ride. This was fun.

Most Spectacular Moment: The Hogwarts lights & fireworks.

On a side note, I have been unwell with sore throat & laryngitis. Frustrating for me, but I think the family has enjoyed less instruction from me 😄

They do miss my voice when it comes to asking questions for the benefit of us all. They have to find their voices 😄

Tomorrow we check out of the Hard Rock Hotel & we are off to The Kennedy Space Center.

Day 13

VooDoo Doughnuts for breakfast this morning. Healthy I know!

This morning we also checked out at Hard Rock Hotel & thanks to Lachlan’s Head full of ‘fun facts’ we knew that we could get our Room Keys converted into Guitar Picks. How cool is that?

We tried out the Fun Fact on Kynan & Kobi’s Room Keys & sure enough they did exactly that. Kynan & Kobi now have a guitar pick from their Hard Rock Hotel Room Keys.

Next stop, NASA. It really was quite surreal being here as we have seen it on the news and in movies over the years and I remember clearly when the Space Shuttle Challenger Distaster happened in 1986.

It was kinda cool seeing where the rockets are made & launched from.

We also saw quite a few ‘Gators’ along our bus ride at NASA as it is surrounded by swamp land. Really is quite scary knowing these large reptiles are so close, however I suppose they won’t bother us if we don’t bother them.

After our Bus Tour we saw quite a few presentations, viewed lots of spacesuits – one with moon dust on it, felt a moon rock, had a simulator ride & even met an astronaut that signed the kids new NASA t-shirts. The astronauts name was Bruce Melnick & he has been into space twice.

It was getting late so we left the NASA facility and headed back to Disneyworld, Saratoga Springs Treehouse Resort. This will be our home for the next 8 nights. Super spoilt. We are in a quiet Disney Park with lots of signs about wildlife including Alligators & Snakes. Eeeeeeek.

We al received our ‘Magic Bands’. Why magic? Because they are our room key, park entrance fee, fast passes & our virtual credit card. Scary really. Any of us can purchase ANYTHING from Disney Springs or the Disney Parks, all with a flash of our Magic Band. Kids included!

We needed some dinner so we set out on the ferry & traveled to Disney Springs which is super busy. We made our own pizzas & caught the ferry back ready to collapse into bed for our big day tomorrow. Early start at Disney’s The Magic Kingdom.

I still don’t have a voice, perhaps Disney will work it’s magic & it will be back in the morning.

Day 14

We set out with great excitement & enthusiasm this morning at 7:15am to get to our “Be Our Guest” breakfast in The Beasts Castle. It was Ho Hum. Certainly not the service I would expect from the castle with not even a character appearance.

However, we were fed & it also gave us the bonus of being in the park real early. The theming of the building was very good but it did feel like a busy cafeteria. The ambience definitely wasn’t worth it. Not sure it was really worth it. I won’t recommend it. Ah well! All in the name of research.

We fitted so much in but still only managed to do half the park. Between Lachlan as our guide & regularly getting alternate access points due to Kynan’s ‘disability’ we feel like VIP guests. Our longest wait in line was around 20 minutes & that was to see Ariel.

Characters we saw today were Rapunzel, Elena, Donald Duck, Goofy, Mary Poppins, Alice, Gaston, Suzy & Pearla (2 of Cinderella’s mice), Cinderella, The Ugly Stepsisters, Ariel.

We managed most of the rides in Fantasyland & Tomorrowland with Space Mountain & the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train two of our favorites.

We were going to stay for Fireworks but were getting rather exhausted so decided to have an ‘early night’, leaving the park just before 8pm, stopping at the supermarket and having a home cooked meal thanks to Chef Ian.

When visiting Ariel, I asked her how to get my voice back that I suspected the SeaWitch stole & she she said just find your Prince Charming & you’ll have it back in no time. My voice is returning. Seems the cure was amongst us all along!

Epcot tomorrow…

Day 15

Epcot was our park of choice today with its theming around countries of the world, the future & sustainability. We had a booked breakfast at The Garden Grill Restaurant which was a MUCH BETTER dining experience than yesterday. This one I would highly recommend. The food was delicious, service was perfect & Farmer Mickey, Pluto & Chip & Dale were there to greet all the guests making for some awesome photo opportunities.

I would suggest Epcot is a good park for the older generation & a great place to go if you want to get away from the crowds of Magic Kingdom.

There were lots of ‘boat rides’ with the highlight being Frozen Ever After & plenty of opportunity to have a rest on the rides. There was quite a few shows & ‘screenings’ scattered around the park. We didn’t see them all & was quite sorry we chose The American Adventure. We do enjoy visiting America however they really do believe they are a very special country that the world should be grateful to be a part of. One disappointing aspect of Epcot is that many many countries are represented, however Australia is not.

We dined at the English Pub with English staff which was very lovely & one of the closest countries we could find to Australia.

Favourite Ride: Soarin Around the World or Test Track

Favourite Character Meet and Greet: Joy & Sadness out of Inside Out. Oh my goodness Sadness does look very very sad.

Other characters today were Princess Jasmine & Mexican Donald

It rained on & off today & Disney started printing more money by selling ponchos for US$10 per poncho. Ouch. We purchased 3. Epcot is predominantly an outside park so it was much more comfortable having the ponchos.

Speaking of outside, it is the Epcot Flower & Garden Show and the flowers are so so pretty with many many Disney characters featured. We feel very happy to be here at this time of year. There are photographers everywhere so plenty of photo opportunities.

We stayed until the end & watched the fireworks which were very pretty & loud as we were standing directly where one lot was shooting off from.

After fireworks we still had the opportunity for 2 more ‘Magic’ hours as we are Disney Park guests. Although we were exhausted we did make use of these magic hours as Test Track (one of the better rides in the park) had broken down several times during the day. We didn’t want to leave without experiencing Test Track so we did & the night time Ride was very very pretty.

Downside about Disneyworld is that it is so big that to get back to the car it requires either ferry or Monorail, then shuttle to car parked in car park. It is a massive operation.

‘Home safely’ & looking forward to another day at Magic Kingdom.

Day 16

Unfortunately I didn’t sleep very well last night with a very sore throat. In the middle of the night I called reception to ask about Doctor service & managed to make an appointment for 8am. I was hoping to get antibiotics, however the dr was 30 minutes late arriving to work, US$280 later & I’m told it’s a virus & basically she can’t do anything for me. It will eventually get better. I asked her what medications I could at least take for symptoms. She gave me a few names of meds & off I went.

Ian drove me to the drs office around 30 minutes drive from where we are staying, we stopped at Walgreens on the way home to pick up the suggested meds, pick up the kids & off we go for another magical day at Magic Kingdom.

This time we do Adventureland & Frontierland. With Lachy as our guide & using our Fastpasses wisely we manage to do the remaining rides & shows.

We had already pre-booked so despite our previous experience we went to Be Our Guest Dining again. This time for dinner. At dinner you get to meet The Beast. We arrived at our dinner reservation on time however 40 minutes later we were seated! Turns out without us saying anything Management knew this was an oversight & has given us 16 Anytime Fastpasses. WooHoo. Bonus.

Dinner then took awhile to be served & food was a lot better than the morning. We felt more like ‘guests’. As everything was running so late we did have to rush through our meal so we could make it to the Cinderella’s Castle Fireworks.

We had a quick photo with ‘The Beast’ & took ‘The Grey Stuff’ as takeaway. You know The Grey Stuff they sing about in Beauty & The Beast movie. They sell it when you dine here.

Then, we set out to find the perfect spot on Main Street to watch the fireworks. Oh my goodness! US & the rest of the park. It was crowded. People everywhere. Somehow we managed to find a spot to fit us all right in front of the castle. We were very lucky & it was well worth it – amazing amazing fireworks.

After fireworks there was a massive exodus. People everywhere. We just stayed put as we knew there was going to be another show afterwards. A laser light show on the castle. As it seems the majority didn’t know about this there was ample space created & we got the perfect viewing spot for the laser light show which was equally amazing.

Back ‘home’ to our treehouse.

Day 17

Today it was all about the movies as we went to Hollywood Studios. This park was a lot less crowded than Magic Kingdom.

Favourite Rides: Tower of Terror, Toy Story Mania, Star Tours & Rockin’ Roller Coaster

Favourite Shows: Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast & The First Time in Forever : Frozen Singalong

Only problem with the singalong is that my voice is still lost & I couldn’t sing. So sad when voice is lost at a Disney Theme Park.

Unfortunately I was still feeling quite unwell today so Ian drove me back to our Treehouse around 6:30pm so I could have an early night, rest up & hopefully get better. I felt so much love from the kids today. They don’t like seeing me sick. They want my voice to be back. 😢

Meanwhile, the kids saved good spots for the Fantasmic Show & Fireworks which they loved. Ian got back just in time for the Fantasmic Show.

Another day, another park – more sleep required.

Day 18

Today it was all about the jungle – off to Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom is a great park – possibly my favourite after Magic Kingdom. It is such a small world because somehow almost every holiday we know or bump into someone. This time it just so happens our good friends, The Amiguets, are in town & we managed to co-ordinate same park today. It’s always lovely to hear an Aussie accent when I’m another country & even better when they are your friends!

We arrived at the park just after rope drop & everyone was heading towards Pandora (Avatar Land). The Pandora rides are the most sought after rides at Disneyworld. We now know why. The theming is incredible. Fastpasses for THE almost popular ride – Pandora: Avatar Flight of Passage need to be booked 60 Days out. Lachlan speaks fluent Disney so we were all sorted for our big Adventure. We had a FASTPASS which was fortunate because the standby line wait time was nearly 4 hours. The ride immersed us into the world of Pandora & is highly highly recommended for anyone that is visiting.

The other ride in Pandora is Na’vi River Journey which is a boat ride through Pandora. So, so pretty & amazing scenery & effects.

Animal Kingdom also has a Safari where we see real jungle animals including giraffe, Hippo, lions, flamingo, black rhinos & more. Disney does this stuff well & have the enclosures set up so you don’t feel as though there are fences.

We met the Amiguets at lunchtime & at various shows throughout the day.

Shows included Finding Nemo, Festival of the Lion King & the night water show “Rivers of Light”.

Another favourite Ride was Expedition Everest.

Another late night, more memories made, still no voice for me. BooHoo. However, I am generally feeling a little better.

Day 19

Rest Day – FINALLY, but I don’t think we Mason’s know how to REALLY rest.

Brittany, Lachlan & I came up with a crazy idea (all in the name of research of course) of doing all 4 Parks within 7 hours & at each park going on a ride, selfie in front of a landmark, photo with a character & purchasing something to eat.

Crazy I know but we did it!

First, EPCOT – we met with Anna & Elsa, went on Frozen Ever After ride (got stuck), took a selfie in front of Spaceship Earth & shared a yummy donut.

Second, HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS – we met with a Green Army Man, went on Tower of Terror AND just for fun Toy Story Mania, took a selfie in front of Tower of Terror & shared some yummy glazed almonds

Third, ANIMAL KINGDOM – we met with Dale, went on Expedition Everest, took a selfie in front of The Tree of Life & had some yummy healthy….ish food at Sattul’li Canteen

Fourth, MAGIC KINGDOM – we meet with Princess Merida from Brave, went on Seven Dwarves ride, took a selfie in front of Cinderella’s Castle & ate a Cat Tail

Mission accomplished in 7 hours, 10 minutes & includes various busses & ferries.

Meanwhile, Ian, Corey, Brooke, Kynan & Kobi hung out at the Resort Pool & played Mini Golf.

We all met up at Fort wilderness Campground where we had a campfire, devoured smores & had a singalong with Chip & Dale. This experience was free & it was so much fun. I still couldn’t sing but I pretended. I’m getting very good at miming.

After the singalong Big Hero 6 was being shown in the big screen but we actually left as it would take us around 1 hour to get back to our resort via ferries & buses.

We managed to view the fireworks while waiting for our boat from a distance. It was a different experience. We loved it.

All good things must always come to an end. Brittany is flying home, leaving tomorrow. We are flying home the next day.

Day 20

Today is our last full day in Florida. Whilst Ian, Brittany, Corey, Brooke & Myself shopped at the local outlets Lachlan, Kynan & Kobi caught the bus to Animal Kingdom for a couple of hours & managed to ride THE best ride – Flight of Passage & of course some others.

We shopped at Ross (my fave), & some Disney Outlets. Then we went to Disney Springs where we purchased gifts & the kids spent their vouchers & money they got for Christmas.

This is also we where we met up with the boys & said our goodbyes to Brittany. Brittany caught the Disney Magical Airport Shuttle. We’ll see her soon….we’ll be less than 24 hours behind her.

The weather was a bit weird today – quite tropical as there were various downpours that if you got caught in the rain you got saturated! I don’t think the World of Disney Shop could for another body in it as everyone ran for cover. The rain did pass quite quickly though.

The ferries stopped running due to the weather today.

From Disney Springs we drove to Hollywood Studios for one last Disney hurrah – Fantasmic.

The rest of the family saw Fantasmic the night I went home sick & although it was raining in & off we all thought it would be a great way to finish off our holiday & I would get to see what all of he fuss is about.

Turns out Fantasmic is a winning show & I think is my fave night-time show, well besides the fireworks at Cinderella’s Castle.

We need to get up at 4am in the morning to catch our 7:18am flight to LAX.

Day 21

Early start this morning. 4am. Our flight departs from Orlando Airport at 7:18am.

Flight was smooth with American Airlines to LAX. We arrived just after 10am. Our flight tonight doesn’t leave until 10:40pm tonight so we booked a room for the day at The Hilton LAX Airport.

We chilled out & watched a movie On Demand – Paddington 2. Then all except for me Ubered to The Cheesecake Factory, Venice Beach.

Me – I slept and watched US TV & treated myself to Room Service. Perhaps rest might cure my cough & no voice!

The fam brought back an Oreo Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory just for me. Delicious!

We showered ready for our flight & checked out at 7pm.

I would highly recommend the Hilton LAX as an option if there is a long stopover.

We checked into our QF94 flight nice & early BUT it seemed to take a long time to board & take off. In fact, none of us can remember taking off. Turns out our flight was just over 1 hour late taking off.

Flight was great but I really think they should stock up on their anytime Tim Tam snacks at the back of the plane!

QANTAS lost the basket on the front of Kynans scooter in Oversized Baggage. That was disappointing but at least we had all our luggage. There were a few worried passengers who flew through from New York & were missing baggage. Oops!

Anyway, we are home, we are safe & almost all well. We are grateful for our Melbourne home & the opportunity to have family holidays.

Driving home from the airport now. Back to life.

Lots of photos to follow, I hope you have enjoyed our latest adventure!


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