Visiting Winterfell – Game of thrones.

Experience Westeros with a visit to Winterfell, located only 40 minutes out of Belfast, Northern Ireland in County Down.

Winterfell - Old Castle Ward
Winterfell – Old Castle Ward

Immerse yourself in the world of Game of Thrones with a visit to Old Castle Ward, the film set of the iconic Winterfell. Castle Ward is the location of Winterfell, the whispering woods and many more iconic scenes. Now that the series is wrapped up, you can live the Game of throne experience, dressing up in Character and walking where the cast walked.

Earlier this year we took a trip to Ireland, and then headed north to Northern Ireland. To visit some of the iconic Game of Thrones locations, and visiting Winterfell was a priority.

Winterfell or Old Castle Ward has gone from a small tourist castle to one of Northern Ireland premier Visitor attractions.

8 things I learned about the Winterfell tour

Winterfell really is an immersive experience, and before I went I didn’t realise how much.

1. Get Involved

There is nothing like dressing up in costume with your own cloak to really immerse yourself in the experience. Wandering down the site of many iconic scenes dressed up as a stark, in your black cloak really puts helps you really feel a part of it.

Winterfell - Costumes

2. Book into the Banquet

If you get a chance to book into the Medieval Banquet night, you won’t be disappointed.

On arrival, guests are greeted by the Grand Maester and escorted to the courtyard to receive their costumes and then the immersive experience begins. Live Band entertainment, amazing food, and Winterfell Ale. The Banquet table is set up with candle lights flickering, bench seats draped with fur skins and Winterfell ale to drink.

Winter ale

3. Try some new sports

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at Axe Throwing, Archery or Sword fighting? Then Winterfell is the place for you.

Axe Throwing

Stand in the spot that Bran, Robb Stark, and the King of the North Jon Snow stood. The Archery range film set is in the same spot it was used for filming. Practice your aim and fire straight.

4 – Old Castle Ward is more than just Winterfell.

A visit to Old Castle Ward is not just about Winterfell, there are so many more amazing places. Stand at the base of the tower that started it all, where Bran fell. Hire a bike and cycle down to the spot that Jamie Lannister was held captive in Robb’s camp. See the tree that Robb secretly marries Talissa at and so many more.

Winterfell Castle tower
Winterfell Castle tower

5 – It might come with unexpected guests

Whether it is an actor from the acclaimed show, many of the staff at Old Castle Ward, were extras in the film, as well as some involved in training the actors in fight scenes. Or a White walker staring you down as you walk around the paths.

6 –  Iron throne

When we went we had the privilege of sitting on the Iron Throne, located in a dark room, with only a small window and candlelight to illuminate us, dressed up in our cloak, you can imagine what it would feel like to be fighting over the throne.

 iron throne

7- Expect to use your imagination

The one thing that surprised me the most was the pure volume of creativity from the film team, so much of what we see as Winterfell is actually CGI. Our guides were amazing who showed us pictures that showed the before and after and it was amazing.

CGI at work

CGI at work

8 – More than just castles, it’s a photographer’s dream.

We only had one day at Old castle Ward, but I will definitely come back and next time I will take advantage of the overnight accommodation, so I can take some photos at night. Old Castle Ward is a photographers delight with so many amazing places to photograph.

Where you a Game of Thrones fan.

Have you ever visited Game of Thrones?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

8 Things I learnt when visiting Winterfell in Northern IrelandExperience Westeros with a visit to Winterfell, located only 40 minutes out of Belfast, Northern Ireland in County Down. Immerse yourself in the world of Game of Thrones with a visit to Old Castle Ward, the film set of the iconic Winterfell. Castle Ward is the location of Winterfell, the whispering woods and many more iconic scenes. Now that the series is wrapped up, you can live the Game of throne experience, dressing up in Character and walking where the cast walked.Experience Westeros with a visit to Winterfell, located only 40 minutes out of Belfast, Northern Ireland in County Down. Immerse yourself in the world of Game of Thrones with a visit to Old Castle Ward, the film set of the iconic Winterfell. Castle Ward is the location of Winterfell, the whispering woods and many more iconic scenes. Now that the series is wrapped up, you can live the Game of throne experience, dressing up in Character and walking where the cast walked.

My Travel Wish list

“Live with no excuses and travel with no regrets”

Dubai UAE
Dubai UAE

Yesterday I was talking to soletmeexplore about her bucket list, 101 places that are on her bucket list. Many of them that she has already been too and it inspired me to start writing down my own travel wish list, places I want to visit.

For those already a regular on our Facebook page and blog would have heard of our “Travel dream board” that we created with our children, full of places they want to travel, and yes, Disney is a focal point. But there are many places I want to visit that I haven’t added to the board.

As a traveller, and a Photographer some of the places on my travel wish list I have been to in the past, well before I had my DSLR camera, with my Olympus 3MB camera in hand, some I have been to and managed to take photos.

Together with my children, we have created a Travel Wish List, a list of places we want to visit or revisit.

Places around Australia

There is something magical about Australia, it really is a unique place. Australia is the world’s largest island, covering 7.692 million km. It is home to many different climates from the mild temperatures of Tasmania, to the tropical heat of the Daintree. It really is an amazing place to visit. We have been to the most northern tip of Australia’s mainland, Cape York. Travelled the Nullarbor, with the longest straight stretch of road in the country 146.6km without a bend or turn. But there are still so many places left on my list to visit

  • The Kimberleys
  • Theme parks
  • Uluru (Ayers Rock) – ✓
  • Noosa – ✓
  • Swim with turtles at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
  • Sydney Opera House – ✓
  • Drive across the Nullarbor – ✓
  • Great Ocean Road – ✓
  • Fraser Island – ✓
  • Daintree Rainforest – ✓
  • Drive a Golf Buggy around Hamilton Island – ✓
  • Be above the clouds on Mount Wellington
  • Visit Paronella Park
  • Three Capes Track – Tasmania
  • Wave Rock
  • The Pinnacles
  • Stand at the Northern tip of Australia’s mainland, Cape York
  • Climb one of the iconic bridges, ie Story Bridge, Sydney Harbour bridge
  • Run on the Bolte Bridge

Places around the United States of America

  • Roadtrip to visit nearly all of U.S National Parks
  • Epic American Roadtrip
  • Yosemite National Park 
  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon 
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Mese Verde National Park
  • Monument Valley
  • New York – ✓
  • Alaskan Cruise
  • Las Vegas – ✓
  • Grand Canyon – ✓
  • Hawaii – ✓
  • Big Sur, California
  • Hearst Castle – ✓
  • Washington DC – ✓
  • Broadway
  • Universal Orlando
  • Mount Rushmore
  • See the Statue of Liberty
  • Empire State Building 
  • See the Golden Gate Bridge 
  • Eat a Steak in Texas
  • Bourbon Street. New Orleans
  • Appalachian Trail
  • Visit Chicago
  • Visit NASA in Florida 
  • See an American Football Game
  • Drive Route 66

Canada

    • Rocky Mountaineer
    • Banff National Park– ✓
    • Visit Edmonton Mall– ✓
    • Visit the Yukon and see the Northern Lights
    • Stay at Lake Louise – ✓
    • Maid of the Mist boat – Niagara Falls
    • Niagara Falls – ✓
    • See an Ice Hockey game

Epic Disney

New Zealand

  • Milford Sound
  • Hobbiton
  • Ferry from North to South Island
  • Bay of Islands
  • Glow worm caves at Waitomo

Europe

  • Ireland – ✓
  • Trinity College, see the Book of Kells.
  • Northern Ireland – ✓
  • Visit the set of Game of thrones – ✓
  • Capture the Northern Lights on camera
  • Visit Scotland
  • Paris
  • Head to the Louvre
  • Eiffel Tower
  • London
  • Rome
  • Venice
  • See the Colosseum
  • See the Mona Lisa in the Louvre
  • Tower of Pisa
  • West End
  • Santorini, Greece
  • Athens
  • Colosseum
  • Visit Antarctica
  • Great Wall of China
  • Dubai – ✓
  • African safari
  • Bora Bora
  • Maldives
  • Japan
  • Bahamas

This list is only a snapshot of the places we have been to (Bold and Italics) and the places we want to go to.

What are some places you think we should add on our list?

Let me know in the comments below.

As a traveller, and a Photographer some of the places on my list I have been to in the past, well before I had my DSLR camera, with my Olympus 3MB camera in hand, some I have been to and managed to take photos. Together with my children we have created a Travel Wish List, a list of places we want to visit, or revisit. As a traveller, and a Photographer some of the places on my list I have been to in the past, well before I had my DSLR camera, with my Olympus 3MB camera in hand, some I have been to and managed to take photos. Together with my children we have created a Travel Wish List, a list of places we want to visit, or revisit.  My Must-See Travel Destinations. As a traveller, and a Photographer some of the places on my list I have been to in the past, well before I had my DSLR camera, with my Olympus 3MB camera in hand, some I have been to and managed to take photos. Together with my children we have created a Travel Wish List, a list of places we want to visit, or revisit. As a traveller, and a Photographer some of the places on my list I have been to in the past, well before I had my DSLR camera, with my Olympus 3MB camera in hand, some I have been to and managed to take photos. Together with my children we have created a Travel Wish List, a list of places we want to visit, or revisit. 

Creating a dream board with kids.

“All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

As adults, we love to dream big dreams, dreams for ourselves, for our business, for our children. When we first got married we would attach photos of things that we were aiming for on the wall in our room, to remind ourselves what we were working towards. From holidays, cars, houses, jobs, qualifications even just inspirational quotes they helped drive us forward when we where busy renovating houses, doing the extra hours, so we knew that whilst there was a cost involved it was worth it.

Our children too have big dreams and a lot of them revolve around places they want to visit around the world.  We decided to make a dream board with them so they could see what we were aiming for.

Creating a dream board with your kids

Now the thing when you create a dream board with your children it has to be what they want for themselves, not what you think they should want. For our youngest daughter, her number one travel location is Hamilton Island, we go there at least a year. But there was no way she was going to put anything on there until a large photo of Whitehaven Beach was on the board. For our oldest, her travel goal is to go to every Disney resort in the world. So more than half of the board revolves around Disney, with the largest picture being a Disney cruise.

Our youngest had one place he wanted to see, Toy Story Land… nothing else mattered. There was no point asking him for multiple places as in his mind nothing else mattered just walking into Toy Storyland and going on Slinky Dog Dash.

Important things I learnt when making a Dream Board with my Children.

  • They often want to go back to the places they have visited before. A lot of the places that they put on the board were places we have taken them to before. Places like Canada, Disney, Whitehaven beach.
  • You can’t be worried about whether it is symmetrical, whether it is cut out correctly. Items will be cut out on angles, attached over the top of each. There will be spaces. Don’t worry, It needs to inspire them, not you.
  • It is often hard to get the ‘correct images’ for your child. The traditional way of going to get a brochure from a travel agent is a lot harder, especially if you want to go to a large number of places. So we used a mix of google images, our own images, we head into travel agents and get brochures. We also bought a couple of travel magazines to cut out as well.
  • It needs to be somewhere that your kids see it regularly, we put ours up on the wall beside our dining room table so every night when we sit down to eat, we can look at it. Be thankful for the places that we have already been to. Be inspired by the places we have yet to get to.
  • Your Children will surprise you. I never realised some of the places our children wanted to visit, places like the Great Wall, the London eye, Central Park, Statue of liberty, stone henge.

 

Have you created a dream board with your children?

Do you enjoy travelling with your kids?

What places do you want to go to?

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

 

Our Epic Disney Vacation

To Travel is to Live – Hans Christian Andersen, And live we have.

Epic Disney Vacation

I have always had a real wanderlust, a desire to travel, as Children though we never did, so I would dream of faraway places, adventures, travelling the world.

When we got married we decided to travel so in between work and renovations on our house, the years before our kids where born were spent travelling the high country of Victoria, relaxing in the Whitsundays and driving around the USA including a child-free trip to Disneyland.

I was hooked Disneyland was all that I had imagined as a young child living in a busy house in Melbourne.

Since then we have been back a couple more times, the first time when our older two were 4 and 6, then again when our four kids where 1,3,8 and 10. Our kids are caught up in the Magic of Disney too.

The minute we get back they start planning the next trip and after the trip in 2016, our oldest decided she had a goal.

Her goal was to go to every Disney Park / resort in the world.

She managed to tick the next item of her list when we went to the Disney Aulani resort in 2017, but her travel goal was still much bigger than that.

At home we have a Dream board that the kids have made, they cut out all the places they want to visit in the world and attached it to a board that sits near our dining room table. Every day as we sit for dinner we are reminded of where we have been and where we want to go. As you can see Disney is a huge part of this.

One of the best thing about being a parent is watching your children dream big dreams. Whether that is academic goals, sporting goals, theatre goals or even travel goals. What is even better than seeing them dream big goals is being in the position to help them achieve that. Whether that is being the taxi each week as they run from after-school commitments, whether it is helping motivate them to study for that next trip, or to plan the epic Disney trip so your kids can visit not only Disneyland on New Years Eve, but then also go a Disney Cruise before finishing off the trip with two weeks in Florida and Disneyworld.

Epic Disney Vacation

Our Epic Disney trip didn’t start off that way though. It started much smaller.

We had wanted to visit the East Coast of U.S.A again we had visited back in 2011 and had some work commitments that meant we were heading over. We decided that as we had to go there for work we may as well bring the kids and visit Disneyworld. Then we decided well if we were heading all the way over there spending almost 24 hours in an aeroplane with four kids we may as well do a Disney cruise as well. As who knows when we would get back over there.

Epic Disney Vacation

We remembered how exhausted we were after our last trip with the flight to LA and sitting in a crowded airport before our flight to New York and decided with kids it would be better to break it up and spend a couple of days in LA before our flight to Orlando. Allowing us to fly directly into LA and spend a few days there.

Now anyone flying with a big family knows it is often hard to get accommodation to fit all of you. Hotels can never guarantee interconnecting rooms, so you are often forced to look into apartments or hotels with family suites.

As we were going over New Year’s Eve meant our search got even harder and the only available accommodation we could find was in Anaheim. Now tell me if you are staying in Anaheim how could you not visit Disneyland?

Epic Disney Vacation

So our epic Disney trip was born.

Itinerary

Disneyland hotel – 3 nights

Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport Hotel – 1 night (this Hotel was amazing, I will follow this up later in another post on why you should stay here before your Disney cruise)

Disney Dream – 3-night Bahamian cruise including a stopover in Nassau and Castaway Cay

Old Key West resort – 12 nights including a 10 day Disneyworld pass, 1-day pass to Universal Studios.

Magic Castle Hotel – Hollywood – 3 nights

The whole trip was amazing and whilst I have started posting about it previously over the next month I will be posting even more content about our Epic Disney Vacation.

Epic Disney Vacation

 

To Travel is to Live – Hans Christian Andersen, And live we have. Join us on our epic Disney Vacation, where we went to DIsneyland, a Disney cruise and Disneyworld To Travel is to Live – Hans Christian Andersen, And live we have. Join us on our epic Disney Vacation, where we went to DIsneyland, a Disney cruise and Disneyworld To Travel is to Live – Hans Christian Andersen, And live we have. Join us on our epic Disney Vacation, where we went to DIsneyland, a Disney cruise and Disneyworld

Trip advisor’s Top Ten Australian Beaches 2019

Over 85% of all Australians live within 50 km from the coast, making the 50,000 km of coastline, 10000 beaches a huge part of Australia’s identity.

Going to the beach in Australia is probably the most iconic part of our culture. It is what we are known for, and Trip Advisor have put together a list of the best beaches in Australia.

1. Manly Beach – Sydney, New South Wales

Manly Beach is located on Sydney’s North Shore.  Manly beach consists of three areas, South Steyne, North Steyne and Queenscliff. South Steyne has a year-round lifeguards. Queenscliff and North Steyne are patrolled between October and April. Volunteer lifesavers also patrol on weekends and holidays during the busier months. Within walking distance, there is a selection of shops, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs

2. Surfers Paradise – Gold Coast, Queensland

Not just a beach, but Surfers Paradise is a suburb and the heart of the vibrant Gold Coast. Surfers Paradise has a population of almost 24,000 people. It’s main feature is the busy Cavill Mall, which is a great entertainment and shopping area. The beach is 3km of beautiful sand, clear water and plenty of tourists. Surfers Paradise is home to lifeguard tower 34, that is manned 365 days a year, however, times vary day to day.

Surfers Paradise
Surfers Paradise

3. Turquoise Bay – Exmouth, Western Australia

1270 kilometres from Perth sits Western Australia’s Turquoise Bay, Located only metres from the Ningaloo Reef, this beach is a known Snorkelling location.  There are over 500 different species of fish at Ningaloo Reef, as well as Coral, Turtles, and squid.

4. Mooloolaba Beach –  Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Mooloolaba is located 97kms north of Brisbane. Home to Mooloolaba Surf Club. Mooloolaba is known for its lovely white sand.

5. Whitehaven Beach – Whitsunday Island, Queensland

Whitehaven beach is a 7km stretch of amazing white silica sand, and clear turquoise blue waters. Located on Whitsunday Island, accessible via helicopter or boat from Hamilton Island or Airlie Beach. This is a magical sight to behold. Hill’s inlet is located on the Northern end which is where many amazing photos of the white sand and blue hues of the inlet blending together as the tides shift to create an amazing mosaic that changes on a daily basis. The southern end is where most of the tourist boats end up.

  • © Sarah McPherson Photography
    Hill Inlet – Whitehaven Beach

    Whitehaven Beach
    Whitehaven Beach (Southern End)

 

6. Bondi Beach – Sydney, New South Wales

Bondi Beach would be one of Australia’s most iconic beaches, located only 7km from Sydney. Bondi Beach is listed as one of Australia’s top visited tourist sites in Australia. It is only 1km stretch of beach, but has two Life Saving clubs, Bondi Surf Bathers life-saving club, and North Bondi Surf Lifesaving club, and is manned 365 Days a year.

7. Noosa Main Beach, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

Located 136 kilometres from Brisbane is Noosa Main beach. Noosa main beach is great for swimming and relaxing on the beach. Noosa main beach is one of the few beaches in Australia that faces North. Patrolled year round by Surf lifesavers, it is a favourite spot for families. Protected by headland the waves are a bit smaller, so great for beginners learning to surf. Noosa Main beach is located within moments of Noosa’s iconic Hastings Street. Main beach has a boardwalk that runs down it and there are also restaurants that line the boardwalk.

Main Beach - Noosa
Main Beach – Noosa

8. Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, Queensland

Burleigh heads is located between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta on the beautiful Gold coast. Known for its Surfing closer to the headland, and swimming in the more protected area. Located nearby to the Burleigh Heads national park. Burleigh heads is surrounded by Large towering trees, which give you good areas of shade making it a popular picnic spot in the summer sun.

Burleigh Heads
Burleigh Heads
Burleigh Heads
Burleigh Heads

9. Cable Beach, Broome, Western Australia

Located at Broome is the beautiful 22 kilometre stretch of beach. Known for its beautiful white sand. Located on the Eastern Indian Ocean. Cable beach is famous for its Camel rides, offered at sunset and sunrise.

10. Mindil Beach, Darwin, Northern Territory.

Mindil Beach is located near Darwin’s central business district. Mindil Beach is famous for its iconic Mindil Beach sunset markets that run in the dry season. Mindil beach is located only 2kms from Darwin’s city centre. Whilst you might occasionally find people swimming there, it has a high chance of jellyfish and crocodiles so is not recommended.

 

What do you think of Trip Advisors 2019 list of best Australian beaches?

I have to admit I have made it to nearly all these beaches, only three left to go and I would agree that all of them each bring something different to the list, and deserve to make the top ten Whitehaven Beach would still top my list.

Let me know in the comments what your favourite beach in Australia is.

 

Some of my other favourite beach side locations.

North Burleigh - Mick Schamburg Park Lookout
North Burleigh / Miami – Mick Schamburg Park Lookout
cabarita beach New south Wales
Cabarita Beach, New South Wales
Catseye Beach - Hamilton IslandCatseye Beach - Hamilton Island
Catseye Beach – Hamilton Island
Catseye Beach - Hamilton Island
Catseye Beach – Hamilton Island

 

Australia's top ten beaches as voted on trip advisor Australia's top ten beaches as voted on trip advisor Australia's top ten beaches as voted on trip advisor

Whitehaven Beach by Air – A Collection of Photos.

A visit to the Whitsundays wouldn’t be complete without stepping on the award winning, Whitehaven Beach.

© Sarah McPherson Photography
Hill Inlet – Whitehaven Beach

When travelling to the Whitsundays one of the most popular ways to spend the day is to headover to the award winning Whitehaven Beach.  Whitehaven Beach is a 7km stretch of Beach that is located on Whitsunday Island, the largest of all the 74 Whitsunday Islands. The Island is 275.08 km2. Whitsunday Island is located directly opposite Hamilton Island.

Whitsunday Island is accessible from Airlie Beach, or Hamilton Island by Boat, Sea Plane or helicopter. It is a popular location for both day visitors, and overnight visitors. With 6 different camp grounds and a variety of different tourist companies bringing tourists over.

Whitehaven Beach is known around the world for its amazing crystal white Silica sand, that is incredibly fine, and it’s beautiful turquoise water.

In the past we have headed over by boat and spent the day at Hill’s inlet (Northern end) and swam at the southern end of Whitehaven Beach. We have taken a boat to Chalkie’s beach and wandered through the Island back to the southern strip of the beach. This time though we wanted to do something different.

As we where staying at Hamilton Island, We decided to look into Hamilton Island Air to see what was available.

Hamilton Island air has nine different tours you can choose from Hamilton Island, some of them are purely scenic flights over the Reef, Whitehaven or Hamilton Island. Some take you to Reefworld, others to both Reefworld and Whitehaven Beach.

After much thought we decided on the Heart Reef and Whitehaven Stopover and it didn’t disappoint. In this tour you start with a scenic helicopter flight over the Great Barrier reef including flying over Heart Reef, Reef world, then you get to see Whitehaven Beach from a different perspective. Flying over Hill’s inlet before landing on the beach and having a lovely picnic for two on the beach, halfway between the busier southern end and Hill’s Inlet.

Hamilton Island Air picnic is lovely with an assortment of fruit, cheese and biscuits and muffins. Some cold water and a lovely bottle of champagne.

After our pilot set up the picnic for us, he wandered off leaving us alone on the secluded beach.

After about an hour on the beach we travelled back to Hamilton Island with a memory card full of images.

 

© Sarah McPherson Photography
Whitsunday Island
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Whitsunday Island by air – Robinson R44
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Hill Inlet
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Hill Inlet
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Heart Island
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Hardy Reef
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Plum Pudding Island
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Heart Reef
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Hardy Reef
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Whitehaven Beach – Robinson R44
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Whitehaven Beach
© Sarah McPherson Photography
Picnic at Whitehaven Beach

 

If you ever get a chance to take a Helicopter flight out of Hamilton Island I recommend the Whitehaven Beach stopover.

 

Come see Whitehaven Beach from a new perspective from above

Come see Whitehaven Beach from a new perspective from above

Come see Whitehaven Beach from a new perspective from above

Disney’s California Adventure Park, World of Colour

On our previous trips to Disneyland our first nights always involved booking a Dining Package with a special viewing area at World of Colour.

World of Colour is California Adventure Parks amazing night time celebration.

It uses a combination of water, lights, fire, Colour, music and images to really make the dream of Walt Disney come alive.

We where heartbroken to hear of its extended shutdown after maintenance plans went wrong.

Back in April 2018 it was to be shutdown for six weeks with the theming of Pixar Pier and the incredicoaster. But it’s reopen date came and went…..

It was pushed back to Fall, and that too came and went…

Then it was going to ready by Christmas, but our recent trip came and went and it was still shut down.

There where still amazing things to see at nighttime but we definitely missed our Disney tradition

I was very excited to hear that the World of Colour is back operating tonight.

We might have missed it on our last trip to Disneyland however we enjoyed it and videoed it so like to watch it on YouTube.

Now it is back operational we will make sure we do it next time.

Magic Castle Hotel – Hollywood

If you want to find a little bit of Magic in Hollywood then look no further than the Magic Castle Hotel.

The Magic Castle Hotel is a very popular hotel located within walking distance to popular tourist destinations like Grauman’s chinese theatre, (Mann’s Chinese Theatre), Madame Tassauds wax museum, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Don’t be put off by The Magic Castle Hotel 3 star rating, it’s service is 5 star.

What sets the hotel apart from all the others we have stayed at In Los Angeles are it’s staff, from the minute you arrive the service is amazing.

You are treated with a welcome drink, our children where offered some complimentary snacks.

They organised a booster seat for us so we could go on a Hollywood tour, and even helped us to our room with our bags. Nothing is a problem for them.

Probably the highlight for busy families though is the laundry service. You drop off your dirty washing to reception and they clean, dry and fold it for you free of charge.

They do say to allow 24 hours for it, however we dropped ours off just after lunch on our way to Santa Monica Pier and it was back in our room that night before we returned home.

At the Magic Castle Hotel it is all about the little things, they offer a continental breakfast each morning, free snack foods at reception, complimentary soda (soft drink), a popsicle hotline, where your kids can order a popsicle anytime of the day and will be delivered out to them near the pool.

They have games for the kids out at the table to keep them amused.

When I say they offer complimentary snack foods the list is quite extensive from Potato Chips, Doritos, Cheetos, peanuts, Pretzels, microwave popcorn, Grabola Bars, Kit Kats, Snickers, Sour Patch Kids, Skittles, Reece Cups, Hershey’s Chocolate, Choc chip cookies, the list goes on.

The rooms have been renovated and are very clean and comfortable.

Their is a selection of either single rooms, one bedroom or two bedroom suites.

We stayed in the 2 bedroom suite and it had a King size bed in one room, 2 single beds in the other and a large fold out couch in the lounge room.

It has a seperate dining room that had a table for eating dinner on, then a kitchen which had another smaller table that could fit two people.

For those of you who want to cook, they have a full kitchen available, and a supermarket also within walking distance.

As we where only staying for a couple of days and wanted to explore we didn’t make use of the kitchen, however we did appreciate the extra space.

Another great way the Magic Castle goes above and beyond is through their take away service.

Instead of having to order it yourself, you just tell the reception staff what you are after and they will order it for you.

We get like pizza and the girls at the front desk recommended the restaurant Asparagus, and we where impressed with not just the taste, but the size of the pizza’s.

We ordered 2 of their pizzas, and had some left over.

For is the Magic Castle Hotel really was a magical place to stay.

When we head to Hollywood next we will be heading back to the Magic Castle Hotel as it really was a pleasure to stay there.

Top 9 things to do in Toy Story Land, Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.

Since we decided we were heading to Orlando to visit Walt Disney World, our youngest has been so excited about their new land “Toy Story Land” in Hollywood studios. Toy Story Land did not disappoint, it is a fun, cheerful land with decorations and rides that are larger than life.

Everywhere you go in Toy Story Land you will be greeted as if you are a toy playing in Andy’s backyard.

We have put together our top 9 things to do in Toy Story Land, they are not in any particular order.

Slinky Dog Dash

One of the most popular new rides in the park is the Slinky Dog Dash roller coaster. The ride is great for younger children that like thrill rides as you only have to be 97cm or taller to ride it. Like all of Toy Story Land, the theming is on point, with lots of fun starting in the queue. The queue has great sketches of the ride that “Andy has drawn in crayon”.

Slinky Dog dash is still the most popular ride in Hollywood studios with wait times often hitting 2-3 hours, like all the rides in Toy Story Land it has Fastpass, so if you can make sure you put this as a priority when booking your fastpasses. But if you not lucky enough to get one, grab your phone, log in to Disney Play and wait, its worth it.

 

Green Army Men

The Green Army men are great new entertainment in Toy Story Land, The Green Army Patrol come out at random time during the days, and sometimes play their drum patrol, other times they take photos with the guests. It is such a fun part of the Land.

Green Army Men, Toy Story Land

Like all the things in Toy Story Land, the theming is on point, even down to the way their shoes have large plastic bases. From the minute we went into the Land our kids were on the lookout for the familiar sounds of the drums.

 

Alien Swirling Saucers

The other new ride in Toy Story Land is Alien Swirling Saucers, this fun ride is very similar to Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree in Disneyland, just different themed, for guests 32 inches (81 cm) and above. You climb in your alien swirling saucer and you swing around listening to some fun themed music.

Character meet and Greets

If you want a chance to take a photo with Buzz, Woody, Jessie then make sure you head down to Toy Story Land.

Search for hidden Mickeys

Our children love searching for Hidden Mickeys around the Parks and resorts, and there are a couple of great ones to find in Toy Story Land.

Our children’s favorite where the one Hidden in the queue for Alien Swirling saucers. A welcome distraction in the line. Also in the dock of slinky dog dash, is a hidden mickey in the clouds.

Green Army Men Toy Story Land hidden Mickey

Toy Story Mania

Whilst Toy Story Mania has been at Hollywood Studios for over ten years, with Toy Story Land it got a new fun entrance. Toy Story Mania, is one of my favorite rides in Disney World (and Disneyland). There is no height requirement to go on this 4D adventure.

You wear fun oversized yellow 3D glasses aboard spinning vehicles that travel through virtual environments all based on classic carnival midway games as the name suggests.

Woody’s Lunchbox

Now a stop at Toy storyland would not be complete without visiting Woody’s lunchbox. Woody’s lunchbox is such a cute area, however, seating is limited, it is themed as if Andy has turned his own lunchbox into a fun walk-up window for his toys to eat at.

The menu is pretty limited with Sandwiches, melts and soda’s are the main choices. The portion sizes are really quite large.

Soak in the ambiance of Toy Story Land

Part of the wonder of Toy Story Land is in all the details. The Imagineers have gone all out in the land, from the hidden easter eggs located all around the land. A Disneyland Viewmaster slide in the queue for Toy Story Mania, the blocks that spell out dates that are important to Pixar, the larger than life statues of all your favorite characters.

Look down and you can see Andy’s footprints etched into the concrete. Once in Toy Story Land, you really will begin to feel like a toy in an oversized world

An icy pole on a themed seat

Finally make sure you grab yourself a nice cool icy treat, sit down on one of the popsicle chairs and really appreciate the fact that you are in Disneyworld.

Toy Story Land is only a small part of the Larger Hollywood studios, home to Disney Junior Dance Party, The Incredibles, Hollywood Tower of terror, and a great variety of Star Wars shows. It surely is a must do on your next trip to Florida.

 

Have you been to Toy Story Land? Hollywood studios? Let us know in the comments below.

Make sure you keep reading all about our epic Disney Trip, where we went to Disneyland, a Disney Cruise, and Walt Disney World.

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Toy Story Land did not disappoint, it is a fun, cheerful land with decorations and rides that are larger than life. Everywhere you go in Toy Story Land you will be greeted as if you are a toy playing in Andy's backyard.  We have put together our top 9 things to do in Toy Story Land, they are not in any particular order. Toy Story Land did not disappoint, it is a fun, cheerful land with decorations and rides that are larger than life. Everywhere you go in Toy Story Land you will be greeted as if you are a toy playing in Andy's backyard.  We have put together our top 9 things to do in Toy Story Land, they are not in any particular order. Toy Story Land did not disappoint, it is a fun, cheerful land with decorations and rides that are larger than life. Everywhere you go in Toy Story Land you will be greeted as if you are a toy playing in Andy's backyard.  We have put together our top 9 things to do in Toy Story Land, they are not in any particular order.

Dinner at Blue Bayou in Disneyland

On our recent trip to Disneyland, we were very lucky to get a dinner reservation at Blue Bayou. This restaurant has been on my to-do list the last few times we went to Disneyland but it is quite hard to get into and you really need to book in advance.

The Blue Bayou has been open for over 50 years opening back on March 18th, 1967.

The Blue Bayou is located within the same building as the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Whilst you are seated inside the building, It is themed like you are outside at night out on the bayou.

As you sit overlooking the start of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, you hear crickets, frogs, you see the glow of fireflies in the background and it all adds to the atmosphere.

The menu is themed as well, you can order a Mint Julep or a Louisiana Lemonade. Our children loved the Louisiana Lemonade and would have gone back here every day just to order this lemonade.

The Mint Julep was great however is incredibly strong so only order it if you like a lot of mint.

Blue Bayou Disneyland Blue Bayou Disneyland Blue Bayou Disneyland

Now to make the most of your dining reservation, make sure you request a table by the water. It might mean waiting a few more minutes for your table, but it is well worth the wait.

 

Menu (As of January 2019)

Starters
Fried Calamari – $14.00

Crab Hush Puppies – $12.00

Golden Beet Salad – $12.00

House Salad – $6.00

N’awlins Gumbo – $7.00

Entrées

Surf & Turf – $50.00

Herb-crusted Rack of Lamb – $44.00

Bone-In Rib-Eye – $46.00

Catch of the Day – $39.00

Roasted Chicken Maison – $35.00

Seafood Pasta – $35.00

Bone-In Pork Loin – $35.00

Vegetable Pasta – $30.00

Desserts

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée – $9.00

8-Layer Chocolate Hazelnut Cake – $10.00

Kids Meals

Served with Seasonal Vegetables and Fruit with a choice of Small Lowfat Milk or Small Dasani® Water

Sustainable Fish – $12.00
Pan-seared and served with Pasta topped with Marinara

Chicken Breast – $10.00
Pan-seared and served with Pasta topped with Marinara

Mickey’s Cheesy Macaroni – $9.00

Chef’s Beef Specialty – $13.00

Non-Alcoholic Specialty Beverage

Louisiana Lemonade – $7.75
Minute Maid® Lemonade, Sprite®, Mango, Raspberry, served with a souvenir glow cube

Mint Julep – $5.00

Mint Julep with Souvenir Glow Cube – $8.00

 

The Blue Bayou really is a must see restaurant at Disneyland the Herb-crusted Rack of Lamb was divine. Probably my favorite meal of the whole trip to Disneyland. (Unfortunately hard to take photos due to the dark nature of the restaurant).

Blue Bayou Disneyland

Have you ever been to the Blue Bayou?

Did you order the Mint Julep, what did you think?

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On our recent trip to Disneyland, we were very lucky to get a dinner reservation at Blue Bayou. This restaurant has been on my to-do list the last few times we went to Disneyland but it is quite hard to get into and you really need to book in advance. On our recent trip to Disneyland, we were very lucky to get a dinner reservation at Blue Bayou. This restaurant has been on my to-do list the last few times we went to Disneyland but it is quite hard to get into and you really need to book in advance.