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A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me

This little neighbourhood of Cape Town, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre, is an Instagrammer’s dream come true. Bo-Kaap, with its colourful houses all shades of pink, green, yellow and blue, has become a must-visit for visitors to Cape Town both due to its vibrant colour combinations and also because of its historical significance.

A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me

Bo-Kaap is a former township* formerly known as the Malay Quarter. It is an historical centre of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town, with the Nurul Islam Mosque, established in 1844, located in the area.

A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me

After the demise of forced racial separation under the apartheid laws, Bo-Kaap has become much sought after for property, due to it’s location, architecture and cobble stoned streets.

A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me

A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me A Colourful Stroll Through Bo-Kaap Cape Town via christineknight.me

*In South Africa, the term township and location usually refers to the (often underdeveloped) urban living areas that, from the late 19th century until the end of Apartheid, were reserved for non-whites (black Africans, Coloureds and Indians). Townships were usually built on the periphery of towns and cities.

More info:

Getting around
Use a metered taxi or Uber for taking short trips around Cape Town.

Westin Cape Town Hotel via christineknight.me

Where to stay:
While in the Cape Town City Centre, I stayed at the Westin Cape Town Hotel. The hotel is extremely modern, secure, and an easy walking distance to the stunning V & A Waterfront district.

Westin Cape Town Hotel via christineknight.me

My room was large and comfortable – with an incredible heated floor! I also enjoyed the hotel’s free wifi and helpful staff who gave us a plenty of assistance in getting around the city.

Westin Cape Town Hotel via christineknight.me

The daily buffet breakfast at the Westin was excellent, particularly the fresh fruit and yoghurts and omelette station.
More info: westincapetown.com

More info on my stay
I visited South Africa as part of the Australian Society Of Travel Writers’ annual general gathering. While my trip was supported by South Africa Tourism Australia, all opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Street Art in Cape Town: A Walking Tour of Woodstock

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me

One of Cape Town’s oldest suburbs, Woodstock has undergone a dramatic transformation in recent years from a run down town filled with litter, crime and drugs, to becoming a hip neighbourhood with trendy restaurants, offices and boutiques.

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me

The regeneration of Woodstock comes in part thanks to the Woodstock street art project that began in 2009, where locals like our walking tour guide, Juma, decided to take art from its traditional setting indoors, to the great outdoors. “We wanted to put art on the street to inspire people,” said Juma, as he explained the beginnings of the project at the start of our tour. “This way, everyone owns the art”.

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me

With the lofty goal to change the neighbourhood through beautiful, socially conscious murals, Juma and his collaborators invited established artists from all over the world to contribute to the project.

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me

The result is over 100 murals and installations by 40 artists, with topics ranting from the political, such as the tribute to the Sharpeville massacre by Freddy Sam that we see in the parking lot at the start of the tour, to the ecological and educational.

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me

The murals are painted all over the streets – on fences, houses and shops. “Permission is asked and rarely denied”, says Juma.

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me

While you can absolutely take yourself on a street art walking tour of Woodstock, the experience is enriched with the correct context applied to each work.

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me

The success of the Woodstock street art project is evident in the vibrant atmosphere to be found in the streets and converted warehouses, which are filled with young professionals, urban hipsters and plenty of tourists.

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me

More info:

Juma’s Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour
runs four times a day in summer and four times a week in winter. For an additional cost, participants can paint their own mural in the neighbourhood.

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me

To book a street art walking tour of Woodstock contact Juma directly on juma.mkwela@gmail.com or +27734004064. Get more details online.

Distance from Cape Town City Centre to Woodstock: 3.5km

Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour, Cape Town via christineknight.me

Getting around
Use a metered taxi or Uber for taking short trips around Cape Town. For longer journeys, such as the Capes and Boulders Beach, either hire a car and self-drive or book an escorted tour. We travelled with the very knowledgable and kind Francois from Hylton Ross.

Westin Cape Town Hotel via christineknight.me

Where to stay:
While in the Cape Town City Centre, I stayed at the Westin Cape Town Hotel. The hotel is extremely modern, secure, and an easy walking distance to the stunning V & A Waterfront district.

Westin Cape Town Hotel via christineknight.me

My room was large and comfortable – with an incredible heated floor! I also enjoyed the hotel’s free wifi and helpful staff who gave us a plenty of assistance in getting around the city.

Westin Cape Town Hotel via christineknight.me

The daily buffet breakfast at the Westin was excellent, particularly the fresh fruit and yoghurts and omelette station.
More info: westincapetown.com

More info on my stay
I visited South Africa as part of the Australian Society Of Travel Writers’ annual general gathering. While my trip was supported by South Africa Tourism Australia, all opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best of Cape Town for Wine Lovers

Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me

The Durbanville Wine Valley is renowned for the quality of wine produced, as well as the delicious food offered at the winery restaurants. I had the pleasure of visiting a few truly unique wineries on my visit to Cape Town, that I would highly recommend to fellow travellers to the regions.

Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me

Diemersdal Wine Farm
Diemersdal sits on an estate that back to 1698 and has been owned and operated by the Louw family. for six generations. The winery specialises in sauvignon, with 6 different versions from the farm’s vineyards available for tasting.

Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me
Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me

The winery also operates the popular Diemersdal Farm Eatery in the estate’s converted stable. Sit down to a hearty family-style meal Tuesday to Saturday and enjoy locally grown and regionally sourced produce.

Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me

Sundays the farm holds their special traditional roast which is reservation only and a bargain at only $22AUD per person.
More info: diemersdal.co.za

Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me Klein Roosboom
The most unique wine and cheese tasting experience you’ll find on the Cape, Klein Roosboom is a quirky, truly unique place to unwind with friends or on a special date for two.

Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me

Order a delectable cheese and charcuterie platter made from locally sourced produce, paired perfectly with the vineyard’s wine, which is delightfully named after family members. A platter for two will set you back around $17AUD, while the wine tasting is $3 for seven wines, $4 for nine.

Cape Town For Wine Lovers via christineknight.me

If you’re after bit of a romantic atmosphere, book one of the special little nook rooms which look like holes in the wall from the outside, and are cosy on the inside.
More info: kleinroosboom.co.za

Taking the kids with you?
While I did not visit either of these wineries with my child on this trip, I would absolutely take children to either, particularly when dining in. Klein Roosboom even had a small kids’ playground outside.

Have more time in Cape Town and want to sip a few more wines? Check out:

Durbanville Hills
A luxurious winery with an uninterrupted view of Table Mountain.
More info: durbanvillehills.co.za

Groot Constantia
The oldest wine estate in South Africa and home to the delicious Jonkershuis restaurant.
More info on the winery: grootconstantia.co.za
More info on the restaurant: jonkershuisconstantia.co.za

Getting around
Use a metered taxi or Uber for taking short trips around Cape Town. For longer journeys, such as the Capes and Boulders Beach, either hire a car and self-drive or book an escorted tour. We travelled with the very knowledgable and kind Francois from Hylton Ross.

Bliss Boutique Hotel via christineknight.me

Where to stay
I stayed at the brand new, beautiful Bliss Boutique Hotel. This five star luxury hotel has stunning views of Table Mountain, Table Bay, Robben Island and the Atlantic Ocean.

Bliss Boutique Hotel via christineknight.me

Located 20 minutes from the centre of Cape Town, Bliss is ideal for visitors who want to escape the hustle of the city and relax in the quiet neighbourhood of Sunset Beach.

Bliss Boutique Hotel via christineknight.me

The location is also ideal for visiting the nearby Durbanville wine region. Don’t miss the private path to Sunset beach over the sand dunes for an early morning walk. The view is extraordinary.

Bliss Hotel via christineknight.me

More info
I visited South Africa as part of the Australian Society Of Travel Writers’ annual general gathering. While my trip was supported by South Africa Tourism Australia, all opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Best of Cape Town for Lovers of Nature and Wildlife

Cape Town for lovers of nature and wildlife via christineknight.me

Lions may not roam the streets of Cape Town, but the city and its surrounds are a nature-lover’s delight. There are plenty of places on the Cape to get up and close with wild animals or discover beautiful plants that grow nowhere else in the world.

Cape Point via christineknight.me

Cape Point
Ride the Flying Dutchman Funicular to the top of Cape Point, over 200 metres above sea level. Cape Point is located in the southern region of Table Mountain National Park, where the natural vegetation of the area, called Fynbos, comprises the smallest but richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms. There are 9,000 plant species found here, making the cape not only a dramatic meeting of rugged cliffs and ocean, but also a vibrant landscape of colourful flowers in the springtime.

Cape Point via christineknight.me Cape Point via christineknight.me Cape Point via christineknight.me Cape Point via christineknight.me Cape Point via christineknight.me

Walking back down the cape along the easy walking path, watch out for the cheeky baboon colony who call this area their home.
More info: capepoint.co.za

Cape of Good Hope via christineknight.me

Cape of Good Hope
The most south-western point in Africa, Cape of Good Hope has the most instagrammed sign in the South Africa, with a queue of people wanting a selfie at all times of the day. We bypassed the line and instead strolled up the Cape on the lookout for a few of the 250 species of birds who call the national park home.

Cape of Good Hope via christineknight.me Cape of Good Hope via christineknight.me Cape of Good Hope via christineknight.me Cape of Good Hope via christineknight.me Cape of Good Hope via christineknight.me

While my untrained eyes don’t see any birds of note, I do spot some of the small animals who are abundant in this area – antelope, ostriches, Rock Hyrax (also called a “dassie”, it looks like a small wombat crossed with a quokka) and even some seals. Herds of Zebra are also known to live in the area, plus otters, mongoose, tortoises, snakes and lizards. Between June and November the cape is an excellent vantage point for spotting the Southern Right Whale.

Boulders Beach via christineknight.me

Boulders Beach
This tiny cove, nestled between Simon’s Town and Cape Point, is one of the few sites where the African Penguin colony can be seen up close in the wild. What was once a 1.5-million strong population of African Penguins has dwindled in recent years to around 50,000, placing the breed on the endangered species list.

Boulders Beach via christineknight.me Boulders Beach via christineknight.me Boulders Beach via christineknight.me Boulders Beach via christineknight.me Boulders Beach via christineknight.me

African Penguins are active on the beach during the day, with a few hundred spotted swimming, fishing and generally lounging in the ocean and dunes when we visited. Entrance to Boulders Beach is 65RAN (around $6.5 AUD).
More info: http://www.capetown.travel

Table Mountain via christineknight.me

Table Mountain
Catch the 360° rotating Table Mountain Cableway to the top of one of the oldest mountains in the world. Take in the scenery on one of three easy walking trails at the peak – landmarks such as Robben island, Lion’s Head and even the southern Cape are visible from the top.

Table Mountain via christineknight.me Table Mountain via christineknight.me Table Mountain via christineknight.me Table Mountain via christineknight.me Table Mountain via christineknight.me Table Mountain via christineknight.me

Table Mountain is also home to an incredibly diverse range of plant, animal and insect species, with many of the plant species found nowhere else in the world.
More info: http://www.tablemountain.net

Kirstenbosch
The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden sits in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain. Established in 1913, it is the first botanic garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site.

In the Kirstenbosch gardens.. ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ #capetown #kaapstad #kirstenbosch #nature #beautiful #rainy

A photo posted by Gert ?? ??? (@eliteop) on

Over 7,000 species of plants are carefully nurtured at Kirstenbosch, many of them classified as rare and threatened.
More info: http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch

Getting around
Use a metered taxi or Uber for taking short trips around Cape Town. For longer journeys, such as the Capes and Boulders Beach, either hire a car and self-drive or book an escorted tour. We travelled with the very knowledgable and kind Francois from Hylton Ross.

Bliss Boutique Hotel via christineknight.me

Where to stay
I stayed at the brand new, beautiful Bliss Boutique Hotel. This five star luxury hotel has stunning views of Table Mountain, Table Bay, Robben Island and the Atlantic Ocean.

Bliss Boutique Hotel via christineknight.me

Located 20 minutes from the centre of Cape Town, Bliss is ideal for visitors who want to escape the hustle of the city and relax in the quiet neighbourhood of Sunset Beach.

Bliss Boutique Hotel via christineknight.me

The location is also ideal for visiting the nearby Durbanville wine region. Don’t miss the private path to Sunset beach over the sand dunes for an early morning walk. The view is extraordinary.

Bliss Hotel via christineknight.me

More info
I visited South Africa as part of the Australian Society Of Travel Writers’ annual general gathering. While my trip was supported by South Africa Tourism Australia, all opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Disneyland Planning Tips: How To have The Best Disneyland Holiday Ever

Disneyland Planning Tips via christineknight.me

Disneyland is magical for adults and kids alike. It’s such an incredibly designed place that keeps the magic of childhood well and truly alive, through rides, entertainment and live characters. Disneyland is also a place that requires a lot of planning to get the most out of. I hope my tips will help you plan your perfect Disneyland holiday.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What age is best for Disneyland?
Honestly, any age! Disneyland caters to all ages from 0-100 as long as you love Disney. I’ve been as an adult without kids, with a 2 year old, and most recently with my almost 5-year-old. Each time is different but equally enjoyable.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What time of year should we go?
Disneyland is gorgeous to visit all-year round. They have special seasonal events around Halloween and Christmas in particular, making these two times of year a really special time to visit. Check out the crowds at the time of year you’re considering visiting at this website – if you can visit during a slower time, I would suggest doing so. We have visited twice in June or July and both times it has been very hot and very busy.

Where should we stay?
There are so many choices! Disneyland have their own hotels that are on the park grounds and give you special benefits – the biggest two being early entry into the parks every day (an hour before general admission) and a special entry to Disney California Adventure Park through Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa so you’ll never have to line up. While the Disneyland hotels also offer other great features that carry the Disney magic to all areas of your stay, they are also the pricey accomodation option – so if you’re on a budget you’ll want to consider staying at a “good neighbor” hotel instead.

All the benefits of staying at a Disneyland hotel

We have stayed at two different “good neighbor” hotels, the Howard Johnson Hotel and Water Park, and the Carousel Inn and Suites. Both were half the price of the Disneyland hotels and had excellent locations – directly across the road from Disneyland, making our commute each morning a mere 5 minutes walk.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

How long should we stay for?
We have stayed for three days both times we visited, and this was the perfect amount for us. We spent one day each at Disneyland and California Adventure park, and one day hopping between the two. If you buy tickets for three or more consecutive days, you get a magic morning included, where you can enter Disneyland an hour early (7am!) on a designated day.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What’s a “magic morning”?
Magic mornings are the days when you can enter the park at 7am instead of 8am, which is when the parks usually open. You need to have a 3+ day pass to be able to use a magic morning early entry. Magic mornings are held on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays. It’s recommended that you arrive an hour and a quarter before the regular park opening. We didn’t have magic mornings with our trip this time around, and we went to California Adventure park that day instead – which turned out to be a brilliant choice as the park was pretty much empty – everyone was at Disneyland using their magic morning!

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What tickets should we get?
You have a choice between single park passes, which allow you entry into one park per day, or “park hoppers” which let you go back and forth between the parks. If you buy multi day passes (which is the cheapest way to buy tickets), you will have to choose between the two types, you can’t mix and match. With older kids, I’d recommend park hoppers, particularly if you will be there three days. I found a full day at each park was perfect, plus that extra day to jump between the two and finish up a few things we missed or wanted to do again.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

I always advise buying tickets at least a few days in advance. While the queues have always been short to buy tickets when we’ve arrived, it just cuts out one extra step to get into the park. When you buy a ticket online you can choose an eTicket which you then present on your phone (or printed out) at the gates for entry.

More info on ticket types and prices

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What time of day should I arrive?
The parks open at 8am (with the exception of magic mornings when it opens at 7 if you have valid tickets). My best advice on getting the most out of a Disneyland day is to arrive well before the park opens. It can take quite a while to get through security, and also through the gates. When you use your tickets for the first time, you will have a photo taken and linked online to your pass, and you will need to sign the tickets they give you – all making the entry process that much longer.

We enjoyed the early mornings the most as there were the fewest people in the park, so lines were shorter.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

How do I plan a day at Disneyland?
My best advice is to plan to do all the rides first thing in the morning. As soon as the gates open, go straight to the rides you want to do the most that are the most popular rides, and either do the rides immediately, or get a FASTPASS (see more below) to return and do the ride later without having to line up to do so.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

We spent the first three hours just doing all of the rides, then took a break for lunch and spent the afternoons watching shows, meeting characters, shopping, eating ice cream, and watching the parades.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Find out the height requirement for rides in advance and plan accordingly!

This site gives you the average wait time for each ride, so you can see which ones are the most popular.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What is a FASTPASS?
A FASTPASS lets you skip the queue for the most popular rides at the park. Look for the FASTPASS Distribution sign near the entrance of an attraction, check the Return Time displayed on the sign, insert your Disneyland Resort admission ticket into the FASTPASS machine and take with you the FASTPASS ticket it spits out, printed with your return time. Then return to the ride during your time window at any time, show your FASTPASS ticket to the Cast Member at the entrance to the ride, and enjoy a minimal wait. Note: You can only have one FASTPASS at a time.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Attractions that have FASTPASS
Entertainment that has FASTPASS

Find out more about FASTPASS!

Disneyland via christineknight.me

What are some tips for watching the parades?
The parades are incredibly popular, with people staking out their front row spots over 45 minutes before the parade begins. If you watch carefully around the park from an hour before the parades start, Disneyland staff will begin marking out the areas for crowd control. Grab a spot on a bench or on the gutter edge and either all sit with some snacks and wait, or leave one adult there while the rest of the family entertain themselves in other ways while you’re waiting.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

The parades wind their way from the back of the park to the front, so if the start time is 4:30pm, it will reach around the front of the park around 4:45-4:50pm.

Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me

Can we take food and drink into the park?
Yes you can. Take a large refillable water bottle – you can refill with water at any drink station through out the parks. You can also ask for cups of ice water at any restaurant/fast food outlet. You are allowed to take whatever food and snacks you like into the park, which is a great way to cut down on costs. We didn’t take many snacks with us as we were staying at a very basic hotel with nowhere to keep food. We ate park food all day and didn’t find it overly expensive.

Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me Disneyland via christineknight.me

Should I take a stroller?
If your child fits in one, absolutely yes. Many hours of walking will tired even older children. There is stroller parking at every ride, and every restaurant/facility is stroller-accessible. I also like having a stroller to put our stuff in, like water bottles and snacks, and the canopy provides much needed shade during the heat.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Should I use the Disneyland photographers?
Personally, I always utilise the Disneyland photography service, called PhotoPass. For $39 a day you can download all of the images taken by the Disneyland photographers. The photographers are scattered around both parks all throughout the day and take some really great quality photos – with the entire family in them! I love that I can get out whole family in the same shot with zero effort, and I also like to leave my giant SLR camera at home and just take my point and shoot with me, knowing the Disneyland photographers will have their excellent cameras to snap portraits for me that save me lugging around my behemoth for the day.

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When getting your photo taken, you can either download the Disneyland app to your phone and present the app to the photographer and add the photos to your account, or the photographer will give you a small card with a bar code that you can then add into your account yourself later on.

You can take the cards to a Disneyland PhotoPass store to buy the images at the park, or log into the Disneyland PhotoPass website later to buy and download them.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

How do I keep on top of what’s happening during the day?
This trip I discovered the excellent (free) Disneyland app. It allowed me to see the wait times on every ride, has a map with a compass so you know where you are, and also shows what characters are where for meet and greets, where food outlets and bathrooms are, and times for entertainment such as shows and parades.

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How do I meet characters at Disneyland?
Characters roam around the parks all day. Some have designated spots and times that you can find either on the app or by asking at Guest Services inside the park. The core characters such as Minnie, Mickey and friends and the princesses have designated places where they can be found.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Others simply roam and you have to be lucky to spot them, such as Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter, and Mary Poppins. If you want an easy way to meet lots of the characters all together, book in for a Character Breakfast. Our faves are Ariel’s Grotto, which has all of the princesses some around to each table, and Plaza Inn, which has Minnie Mouse, plus core Disney faves like Donald Duck, Hook and Chip & Dale, Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore.

Princesses at Disneyland via christineknight.me

How do I meet the Disney princesses?
You can meet three princesses at any time of day at the Fantasy Faire inside Fantasyland, Disneyland. The princesses change regularly so you won’t know which ones will be there until you go inside.

Princesses at Disneyland via christineknight.me

The princesses are in seperate rooms and you walk around to meet them one at a time. You can also happen upon princesses outside Cinderella’s Castle – we found Aurora this way. If you want to meet the majority of the princesses in one go, the only way is to book in for a character breakfast at Ariels Grotto. When we visited in 2014, met Ariel, Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora and Belle here. If you want to meet Jasmine, Merida or Tiana, look for them roaming around the park.

Anna and Elsa Disneyland meet and greet via christineknight.me

What about Anna and Elsa?
The sisters are located inside the Animation Academy in California Adventure Park, and are the only princesses you meet together. We really enjoyed meeting Anna and Elsa – they have a great repartee together, making the sisters a really fun duo to chat with.

Disneyland via christineknight.me

Is there any thing else “Frozen”?
Yes, there is a fantastic new live “Frozen” show in the Hyperion Theatre in California Adventure Park. the show goes for an hour, and runs several times a day. You can get a FASTPASS to the show – tickets are distributed outside the theatre in Hollywood Lane.

Frozen - Live at the Hyperion Theater California Adventure Park

I would advise returning to line up for the show 40 minutes before start time to guarantee a decent seat. The show is excellent, and does a fantastic job of telling the Frozen story minus the scary bits.

More info on Frozen – Live at the Hyperion Theater

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique Disneyland via christineknight.me

What else should I know about that’s awesome at Disneyland?
My almost five-year old particularly enjoyed being turned into a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, and taking part in jedi training at the Trials of the Temple show.

Jedi training Disneyland via christineknight.me

Do you have any questions about how to plan the perfect Disneyland holiday?

Tips on the best things to do at Disneyland with little kids

How to survive (and enjoy!) Disneyland with a toddler

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

24 Hours in Johannesburg

24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me

“Joburg” as the city is colloquially known, is South Africa’s largest city, with roots as a 19th-century gold-mining settlement.

It’s an historic city that has much to offer visitors in terms of culture and its important links to the past, as well as being under intense modern rejuvenation.

A visit to South Africa isn’t complete without at least a stopover in Johannesburg, so here are a few ideas on how to spent 24 hours in this exciting town.

24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me

Morning
Kick off the day with a visit to Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein. The market is a popular place for locals to buy fresh food and locally made jewellery and clothing, as well as being a spot for enjoying a coffee with friends.

24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me

Be sure to try the food – I really enjoyed a slab of halloumi covered in filo pastry and a fruit tart with strawberry pastry creme. The scarves and jewellery on the second floor are also hard to resist.

24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me

Late morning / lunch
Take a stroll through the Maboneng Precinct, the centrepiece of the city’s regeneration project. The precinct is a mix of creative office spaces used by start ups, galleries, shops and restaurants.

24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me

Before you stop for lunch at one of the many modern cafes that line the streets, duck into the gallery on Fox Street that houses the “I Was Shot In Joburg” photography project/retail store. The project teaches the formerly homeless youth of the city to to take photographs of their neighbourhood and make a profit from it.

24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me 24 Hours in Joburg via christineknight.me

Afternoon
A visit to Johannesburg isn’t complete without a tour of Soweto.

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The town (its name is an acronym for “South-Western Townships”) began as a settlement for native African workers during the gold mining period and became a separate residential area for blacks in the 1950s under the apartheid segregation laws, when they were not permitted to live in Johannesburg proper anymore.

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The township was at the centre of the apartheid uprising during the 1970s, and is nowadays home to around about a third of the population of Joburg, with a mix of upper class business people, poverty stricken lower classes and vibrant restaurants and clubs. While the apartheid laws have been removed, the township remains a largely area, with a strong sense of community.

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Soweto’s Vilakazi Street is the only street in the world to have been home to two Nobel Peace Prize Winners – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. The Nelson Mandela House is now a museum paying homage to his life.

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While we did an exhilarating quad bike tour of Soweto with Soweto Outdoor Adventures that enabled us to cover a great distance over a thrilling mix of off roading and main roads, if you prefer to move at a slower pace you might want to try an immersive cycle tour (get more info on the cycle tour on Jayne from Girl Tweet’s World’s post).

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Evening
For a truly iconic African experience, dine at Moyo Melrose Arch and enjoy live stage bands playing African music while diving into delicious local cuisine. The amazing face painting is just an added bonus.

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Where to stay
I stayed at the Protea Hotel Fire and Ice, Melrose Arch.

Protea Fire & Ice, Joburg via christineknight.me

This Hollywood-themed hotel has rooms outfitted with legends such as Audrey Hepburn, gorgeous modern decor and killer milkshakes (you absolutely must try their milkshake bar). The Protea Fire & Ice features 197 luxurious rooms with all the modern amenities you’d expect from a four-star hotel such as air conditioning, free (although a bit dodgy) WiFi and a delicious breakfast buffet complete with omelet bar. The location is pretty spot on too – it’s located 10.4 km from Johannesburg city centre in the trendy Melrose Arch shopping district.
22 Whitely Street, Johannesburg, 2076, ZA

Protea Fire & Ice, Joburg via christineknight.me

Protea Fire & Ice, Joburg via christineknight.me

Getting around
Use taxis or Uber to get from your hotel to Maboneng and the Neighbourgoods Market. I highly suggest booking a local tour to see Soweto.

More info
I visited South Africa as part of the Australian Society Of Travel Writers’ annual general gathering. While my trip was supported by South Africa Tourism Australia, all opinions are my own.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

I had the immense privilege of seeing the new Disney Aladdin musical comedy this week. While the show holds its own as a brilliant stand alone show, it is a reworking of the famous animated movie of the same name that the majority of the audience had seen, many times over, judging from the singing breaking out around the theatre.

With such a cultural icon as the basis for the show, it’s inevitable that audience will walk in with expectations that it will be identical to the movie – which it isn’t. Many things that worked in a cartoon just don’t work on stage, and there were a lot of holes in the movie that have now been filled with additional songs and dialogue. I found the show to be full of unexpected surprises that added up to a spectacularly enjoyable experience for both fans of the movie, as well as newcomers to the story.

Thinking of going? Here are a few things you won’t expect:

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

Aladdin isn’t the star of the show
The name of the show is Aladdin, so you expect the star to be … Aladdin, right? This was the number one surprise of the show. Genie, the role which Robin Williams famously stole the show with in the 1992 animated movie, is again the attention grabbing character who has the funniest lines, the most dramatic exits and some very impressive vocal pipes. We were incredibly lucky to see the role of Genie being played by Michael James Scott, who starred in the original cast of Aladdin when it opened on Broadway in New York in 2014. His immense presence and incredible talent steal every scene he features in.

The genie isn’t blue
Expecting a painted blue man to play the genie? Guess again. The genie looks like a pretty regular fellow in the show, dressed in royal blue as a nod to the all-blue genie we are used to from the animated classic.

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

You won’t know all the songs
You might remember the animated Aladdin as being full of songs, but more were clearly needed to turn a 90-minute movie into a 2-and-a-bit-hour stage show. You will hear all of your faves (and have to fight the urge to sing along), plus seven brand new songs written just for the show. The added songs give an extra depth to the show, letting us learn more about the characters of Aladdin and Jasmine in particular.

There are no talking animals
When translating the movie to the stage, a few tricky characters, namely Iago the parrot, Abu the monkey and the magic carpet all either underwent transformations or were axed completely. Iago came out of it the best off, with a larger role now as a human sidekick with a few witty parrot references to give a nod to his roots. Abu is gone, and carpet only features twice as an actual carpet rather than a character.

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

Australia gets a few mentions
The audience laughed with appreciation to hear local references like Vegemite, Tim Tams and Wagga Wagga peppering the dialogue. I always think it’s a smart move to adapt shows to their destination, and it certainly warmed the audience in this case even more so towards the Genie, who was the Tim Tam addict among the cast.

There’s tap dancing
I bet you didn’t expect that! The show is full of spectacle – shooting lights, shiny materials and sparkles galore, bright props and dazzling costumes. Of course there is a tap dancing number to add to the show’s show-stopping scene in the Cave of Wonders, which also features a take on Dancing with the Stars – but now Scimitars (get it?).

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

There’s a new scene
The original movie has a tricky scene where Aladdin is briefly banished by Jafar to a desert, where he summons the genie and is quickly returned to Agrabah again. This scene was integral for Aladdin to use his second wish, but obviously a tricky one to bring to the stage. The producers have done an excellent job of getting the same result (the second wish being spent) but with a completely new scene that is far more entertaining than the one it replaces.

It’s less scary than the movie
I remember the movie being pretty scary when I was a kid, and my four-year-old finds parts of it terrifying. For some reason, when translated on stage, the scary bits don’t seem scary any more. The cave has a sense of humour this time around, and the scary snake scene at the end is now completely gone.

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

It’s funnier than the movie
There are so many hilarious one-liners (“Welcome to Agrabah – land of one percent body fat!”) and cultural references peppering the dialogue that you need to focus hard to stop your head from spinning.

They’ve bought out every sequin store in Sydney
I mean really, where did all those sequins come from? The cast were glittering so much that it looked like they’d raided the Tower of London for their jewels, and then every Spotlight and Lincraft to dazzle the audience’s eyes with so much glitz it was almost blinding at times.

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

The flying carpet will make you cry
The flying carpet scene is a highlight in the movie and again in the show. Thanks to brilliant staging and props, the scene with the carpet is breathtakingly beautiful, in an understated way that makes the emotion forefront and evokes the magic of the original movie. I wasn’t the only one with a tear in my eye during this song that sent the audience into a hushed state for the first time since the curtain rose.

Aladdin has mates
He actually has a trio of mates that form his entourage in the show; one of them deliciously camp, one obsessed with hummus, and the last your average Joe. The three get some excellent stage time with comedic song and dance routines. Having friends makes Aladdin seem more of a real-life character – how had I never wondered who he hung out with all day when I used to watch the original movie?

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

The Cave of Wonders scene is a show stopper
The cast also seemed shocked when the applause and cheering at the end of the “Friend Like Me” number went on for so long that the next scene was delayed in starting by a good minute or so. The cheering would likely have keep going, had it not been for the orchestra kicking off the next number and forcing the show to resume. The faces of the cast when the shouting and clapping just kept going and going was absolutely priceless.

11 Things You Won’t Expect From Disney’s Aladdin, The Musical Comedy via christineknight.me

Should I take my child to see Aladdin?
Disney recommends the show for kids aged six and up. With the long running time and also new songs that are a bit more “adult”, I would agree with this recommendation. I am, however, taking my just-turned-five-year-old to see the show because she’s been begging to see it. If you’re taking your little one to see it too, here are my tips for making the outing a success:

  1. Book a matinee. Kids are always better rested and behaved for matinees and less likely to irritate adults who want a kid-free evening out. No one likes to have a child kicking their seat for the entire show.
  2. Buy the Broadway cast album and play it repeatedly in the car for the weeks leading up to the show to prepare them for the new songs.
  3. Pick up a booster seat from the cloak room.
  4. Pack plenty of snacks like popcorn or whatever special treats they’re allowed.
  5. Take them to the bathroom both before the show starts, and straight away at interval.

Aladdin is playing at the Capitol Theatre until October 23, 2016
Tickets are on sale now.

Disney Theatrical Productions under the direction of Thomas Schumacher presents Aladdin, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, book and additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin at Capitol Theatre Sydney, starring: Ainsley Melham (Aladdin), Michael James Scott (Genie), Arielle Jacobs (Jasmine), Troy Sussman (Babkak), Adam Jon Fiorentino (Kassim), Robert Tripolino (Omar), Adam Murphy (Jafar), Aljin Abella (Iago) and George Henare (Sultan) directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw

Thank you to Bridges PR for the tickets to see Aladdin. All opinions are my own. Show images by Deen van Meer. 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

16 Reasons why a Disney cruise is worth the money

16 Reasons why a Disney cruise is worth the money via christineknight.me

I’m going to be upfront and say Disney cruises are REALLY expensive. Crazy expensive – much more so than a lot of other cruise liners, in fact, that offer similar itineraries. So why choose to spend your time and your money that way? Simply because the experience is unparalleled. We just got back from the 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy, and can happily say that here are 16 reasons why, for us, a Disney cruise is worth the money.

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1. It’s (almost!) all-inclusive
All your food at the main restaurants and snack joints, entertainment, use of facilities and even room services are included in the price. What’s an extra charge? The spa services, popcorn before the shows, snacks from additional cafes not in the main dining areas and alcohol, and gratuity at the end of the trip (it’s charged to the room at a rate of $12 per person per day).

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2. The service is impecable
We received some of the best service of our lives on the ship, especially from the servers in the dining rooms. Our head waiter, assistance and dining room head all knew our name and our dining preferences (for example, I’m a fussy vegetarian and my daughter is fussy period), and would be prepared to offer us with alternatives to the menu each evening if they knew we wouldn’t like them. Our amazing servers followed us each night through the dining rotation (there are three restaurants that we rotated between) so we were always greeted with their smiling faces each evening.

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3. Mickey is everywhere
It’s fun to make a game of finding all the hidden Mickeys. From tiny nautical Mickeys made out of ropes in the shower curtains to bigger emblems on the ships decks, there are Mickeys everywhere you look in both discrete and obvious ways, but still pulled together so harmoniously as to present an elegant ship for adults rather than a carnival for children. A masterful design.

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4. Disney magic is all around
Disney is renowned for making the ordinary magical, and they don’t disappoint on a cruise, either. Little touches like magical pictures that guests can interact with, or a steering wheel set up in front of what looks to be an ordinary painting but turns out to be a pirate ship that you can steer in search of treasure really give the illusion of a bit of pixie dust sprinkled liberally over every element of the ship.

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5. See the world with zero effort
One of the big bonuses to taking a cruise is that you get to wake up at exotic destinations without lifting a finger. Everything is so incredibly easy and manageable, which is what we wanted with a young child. On our cruise, we visited Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and Disney’s own island, Castaway Cay. We were offered off-ship excursions at additional costs, or you can also just walk straight off the ship and find your own way around.

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6. Incredible entertainment every day and night
Dazzling shows is what Disney does best, and again they bring this to the cruise. Every night there is a new show to see, the highlight on ours being Aladdin. The performers and staging in these shows is just incredible – it’s a standard of quality that you would happily pay to see under ordinary circumstances.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

If you feel like seeing a movie on the cruise, you can head into one of the two movie theatres playing brand new or recent releases (on our ship we had Finding Dory the same day it was released globally in cinemas, Jungle Book and the new Captain America movie), or lie in luxury on the pool deck and watch the “Funnel Vision” movie screen playing Disney classics above the pool on the top deck during the day and night.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me

7. Water play all day
The top desk is all about getting wet! Our number one fave water play activity was the AquaDuck slide, an exhilarating “water coaster” that sends guests clinging to rafts speeding around the ship enclosed in a tube. Kids can also enjoy a more sedate Mickey slide, the Nemo Reef splash area for littlies, the shallow Mickey Pool and AquaLabs for older kids. Adults can sit back and relax in adult-only pools, too.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

8. Everything is super high quality
This is Disney, after all, where nothing but the best is good enough. Every detail about the ship is flawless, and I’d challenge anyone to find a paint chip or a carpet stain on the entire boat. The rooms, the food, the facilities, absolutely everything is top notch, shiny and brand-new looking.

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9. The kids won’t want to leave kids’ club
There are plenty of options for kids to be entertained while adults take some time out to relax. As well as a nursery for babies, there’s the “Oceaneer Lab” and “Oceaneer Club” for kids 3-12, “Edge” for tweens 11-14 and “Vibe” for teenagers 14-17. Cheese was a great age for the Oceaneer Lab/Club and loved going so much she would request to be dropped off when we asked what she’d like to do. In the Oceaneer Lab/Club, as well as various open play areas, kids are also entertained with games and visiting characters such as Lilo and Stich or Tinkerbell.

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10. Activities are endless
Let me put it this way, no one will be bored. Every evening, an activity sheet is released for the next day which is jam packed with options for the whole family. Adults can choose from plenty of 18+ options such as bingo, animation and fitness classes, but the majority of activities are family-focussed, such as character appearances, trivia competitions and even baby racing. Yes, you read that right.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

11. The food is top notch
Dining aboard a boat was a major concern of mine, which thankfully we didn’t need to worry about at all. There were both plenty of options, as well as lots of fresh, healthy food to choose from. Each morning and lunch we dined at Cabanas, the buffet restaurant on the top deck, blown away with the choice of food such as fruit, made-to-order omelettes, yogurts, cereals, toasts, bagels, Mickey waffles and more for breakfast, followed by salads, more fruit, and hot food options such as vegetables, pasta dishes, pizza and so forth for lunch.

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Dinner each night was served in a rotating restaurant – Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and Royal Court, where we were presented with a three course menu to select what we would like. While there were always vegetarian options made available, if I didn’t particularly fancy that night’s menu, the kitchen staff were more than happy to either send me a dish from another restaurant, or whip me up something specially in the back.

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If we missed our dining rotation or the Cabanas buffet times, there were snack options available on the pool deck most of the day, including burgers, sandwiches, pizza and fruit, plus the 24-hour room service. It was hard exercising off all the food we ate!

12. Free-on demand tv
On a Disney boat, you’d expect a lot of Disney TV, wouldn’t you? In the rooms, Disney TV shows and movies are streamed 24-hours on demand, with a huge variety to appeal to both the kiddies during the day, and adults once the kidlets have gone to bed at night.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

13. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
Wittout a doubt my daughter’s favoruite thing abut the ship was her transformation into a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. You can read about our experience here.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
14. Plenty of 18+ only areas

While we loved spending time with our daughter on the Fantasy, we occasionally needed some adult time, so when she was keen to head off to the kids’ clubs we would also happily wander up to the 18+ areas for a drink or just a coffee and would sit happily watching the ocean roll past and chat or read a book without having to listen to other peoples’ children screaming. Bliss!

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15. Everything is seamlessly run

The ship is run with what can only be called Disney efficiency. Everything happens exactly when it is supposed to happen, to the very second, and there are no hiccups, no mishaps, no wrinkles in the perfect Disney holiday experience. A Disney cruise is a slickly run machine.

Disney Fantasy via christineknight.me
16. Countless character interactions

The numerous character interactions were a big plus for our family and our daughter who is at the age where she likes to throw herself with gay abandon at all Disney characters like they’re a long-lost loved one. Luckily the characters are ready for four-year-old missiles and handle all the poking and whacking with swords with good humour.

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I did wonder if, after the first day or so, she’d get bored with seeing the same characters over and over again, but, the geniuses, have outfitted the characters in numerous costumes, so each time we saw them they always looked a bit different (except for Peter Pan, who always looked exactly like Peter Pan in his tights and little green hat). On formal night, for example, the characters appeared in tuxes and sparkling gowns, and needless to say, pirate night was full of eye patches and bandanas.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me Every day the times and locations for where the character meet and greets will occur is printed in the “navigator” that is distributed to the rooms each evening with the following day’s activities so you always know where to find your favourite giant plush or princess. Characters often just roam the ship too, so you never know who might start crowing over the balcony (yes, the crowd favourite, Peter Pan, yet again).

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

The most popular characters have free ticketed events that you can sign up for online before boarding the ship, such as the princess Royal Court, Anna and Elsa from Frozen and the Disney Junior character breakfast.

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

Compared to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the characters on the boat spend a lot of time with each guest interacting with them personally, rather than it just being a quick photo op. This does make the wait a bit longer, but the characters and also Disney cast members who are managing the crowds, make the kids each feel so incredibly special that it’s worth it.

Ready to book a Disney cruise? Don’t book before you read my tips and tricks here!

Have you been on a Disney Cruise? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Disney Cruise Planning Tips & Tricks

Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me

We’ve just gotten back from our first cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy – a 7-night Caribbean cruise. The cruise was incredibly fun, but there was so much to learn beforehand to really get the most out of the experience. When you’re planning your own Disney Cruise, tips and tricks like these will help you plan your own perfect cruise, before you even get on board.

    • Book well in advance. Hard core cruisers book a year in advance when the cruise is released. It’s believed they get the best prices then. Booking three months out is considered last minute but cabins are often still available. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Think hard about what cabin/type do you want. We went for middle ship with a verandah as I was terrified of sea sickness. The cabins to the edges and with a porthole or “magic window” are cheaper.
    • Log onto the Disney Cruise Liner website once your cruise is booked (https://disneycruise.disney.go.com) and input your reservation number to lock in activities.
    • Your advance booking window is determined by your Castaway Club membership level, as follows: First-Time Guests – 75 days prior to sail date; Silver Castaway Club Member – 90 days prior to sail date; Gold Castaway Club Member – 105 days prior to sail date; Concierge Guests and Platinum Castaway Club Member – 120 days prior to sail date. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Take note of the day that the activities are released in US time – 12:01 EST and log on during the night to book things like the princess royal court. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Book your activities as soon as you can as the popular ones book up fast. You can easily cancel your activities up to 3 days before departure – including the port activities. Some popular activities, like the Princess afternoon tea, book up as soon as they are released. Others have plenty of spots but you should still book in as soon as possible to get the days and times you want. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Free on-board activities that require booking include the Princess meet and greet, Frozen meet and greet and Disney Junior breakfast (currently only available on 7-night or longer cruises).
    • Join your cruise Facebook group – search for the ship departure date and name in Facebook. Many of the people in the Facebook group will be frequent cruisers so can answer all of your tricky questions.
    • Join a cruising experts Facebook group! This one I’m part of is run by a Disney Travel Agent.
      Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Many frequent cruisers hang decorations on their door called “Fish Extenders” and take park in a “Fish Exchange”. Every stateroom has a fish of some kind hanging on the wall outside the door where Disney staff place important communications to you such as excursion tickets and notes.  A Fish Extender (FE) is something that you hang off the fish while still allowing the Disney staff to use it for its original purpose. All the people in the exchange buy or make little items and place them in each other’s fish extenders. It’s basically a gift exchange. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Choose your dining rotation when you book your cabin – main dining is the early session which begins at 5:45pm, and second seating, which starts at 8pm. If you book too late you will be placed in late dining like we were and have to request a change and hope it comes through. For your assigned seating time and restaurant rotation, please check the dining tickets located in your stateroom upon arrival. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • “Main” or early dining fills up fast. If you’re not sure what dining rotation you want when you book your cruise, choose early as it’s the most popular. It’s always possible to change it to the late session when you board, but rarely the other way around. If you book late (like I did) you might be allocated the late dining session. if this happens, call Disney Cruise Line and request to be put on the wait list for the change.
    • Both dining session get to see the same live shows at night. If you do “main” or early dining, you will then be able to see the late show, which is at 8:30pm. If you do late dining, you can then do the early show, which is at 6:15pm.
    • If you aren’t able to get the dining session you want, you can still use several other flexible and included dining options on the ship, including the free 24-hour room service.
    • If you missed out on your dining session even after being wait listed, there are Disney Cruise Line employees set up in one of the main dining rooms on embarkation day to try to accommodate dining requests (which dining room it is will be listed on the Navigator that you get at the Port).
    • In case you forget where you’re supposed to eat dinner each night, your dining rotation will also be listed on the Key to the World card as well as the tickets in the room.
      Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me .
    • Many frequent cruisers place Disney magnets all over their doors, often with their family names and pictures on them. You can make your own or order some on Etsy. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Take note of your Port Arrival time (PAT). Your PAT determine your boarding number therefore when you board the ship. If you do not complete online checking then you will most likely get a high boarding number and sit in the terminal waiting to board the ship. PAT are first come first serve therefore by completing your checkin as soon as it is enabled online, you will have a better chance of a earlier PAT. Note: If you are taking the Disney Cruise Line busses from the Walt Disney World resorts then this is not that important since the buses will not get to the port until after 1pm anyway. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • If you buy a disney photo premium package in advance you get 15% off. If you don’t like the photos on board you can ask for a refund. This discount only applies to the most expensive packages, like purchasing all of the digital images. Go to: http://www.mycruisephotos.com/DCL Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • You are also able to register kids for kids’ club online before boarding the ship. I’d highly advise doing so as it just saves time filing in more forms when you go to drop them off for the first time.
    • Pack breakables in your carry on bag, plus anything you might need for the rest of the day as it can take a while for luggage to be delivered to rooms. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Put a pair of swimmers in your carry on so you can head straight to the pool when you get onboard. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Be early for everything onboard. If there is a movie, a show, even a character meet and greet, be early, by at least 15 minutes if not longer. If you want to see it, everyone else is bound to as well. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • Formal, semi-formal and pirate dress-up nights are really optional. We were travelling a long way before and after our cruise so had minimal luggage space for special formal or dress-up wear, and it ended up not being a big deal at all. We just wore our nicest clothes and they were fine. Some people go al out, however, wearing suits and fancy dresses, and make the most out of the opportunity to get glammed up and have portraits taken. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • If you book another cruise onboard you get a discounted rate. The deposit you place down on the cruise is completely refundable so it’s a good idea if you’re strongly considering taking another cruise in the near future.
    • The water in the cabins is drinkable but a bit funky tasting. I’d advise taking large refillable water bottles with you and refilling them throughout the day at the free beverage station on the pool deck. Disney Cruise Planning: Tips & Tricks via christineknight.me
    • There are shops onboard where you can buy most things you might forget, like sunscreen, hats, toothbrushes and so on, but they are on the pricey side. Stock up on your own everything before boarding, including sea sickness medication, just in case. It is possible to get free sea sickness medication free of charge from guest services if you forget to pack your own.

Are you a Disney cruiser? I’d love to add your tips and tricks!

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Hotel Review: Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

Choosing a hotel when visiting Disneyland is a big decision. To make the most out of an expensive visit to the theme park, I like to stay as close to the park entrance as possible.

My ideal location is somewhere I can wake up as late as possible, get the kid out of bed at the last minute and walk 500 metres or less across the road to the entrance to Disneyland, arriving well before the gates actually open.

The best time to visit Disneyland is first thing in the morning, as soon as the gates open and before the crowds descend, so it makes sense that the best place to stay is as close to the parks as possible and minimise your time travelling to and from the parks.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

We decided to stay at the The Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground on this trip. The hotel is extremely close to Disneyland – it’s actually closer to the park than two of Disney’s own hotels. On the Howard Johnson website it states that the hotel is an eight-minute walk away – I’m a fast walker though and I’m pretty sure I did it in five minutes or under. Fantastic location at a fraction of the cost of staying at a Disney resort.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

The Howard Johnson is renowned for their water playground. It’s a huge, pirate-themed water area that includes a 30-foot pirate ship with slides, water cannons, fountains and toddler wading pool, plus a 15-person hot tub and a garden pool.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

Having such amazing pool facilities is great for visiting the parks for an extended period. It’s a good idea to leave the parks around midday when it gets busy and hot, return to the hotel for a rest and a swim, then return to the parks before the parades and fireworks – I find that this strategy really makes the stay that much more of a holiday than just a theme park visit.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

The rooms at the Howard Johnson are another reason to stay at the hotel. They are huge! Bigger than any other hotel we have ever stayed at now I think about it. We had two bedrooms with a king bed in one and bunk beds plus a fold out sofa in the other, plus two bathrooms. Yes, you could actually fit a family of five grown people in this single hotel room.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

There was room for our mountains of luggage we collected along the way, which we had tripped over in every other hotel room. The added space just made us feel that much more relaxed as we had some real space finally to spread out.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

The Howard Johnson also features free WiFi, free parking and a free laptop-sized safe. We had a microwave, fridge and tea and coffee making facilities in the room, plus the Main Street Market downstairs next to the hotel lobby where we picked up a basic breakfast every morning as we walked to Disneyland.

Howard Johnson Anaheim hotel review via christineknight.me

One of the problems we always face with visiting Anaheim is finding decent places to eat dinner – there is a lot of fast food, but that’s about it. We were so happy to discover a really nice restaurant a few steps from the hotel, Mimi’s Café Anaheim Restaurant and Bar, that offered affordable breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a decent kids’ menu.

Mimi's Cafe Anaheim via christineknight.me Mimi's Cafe Anaheim via christineknight.me Mimi's Cafe Anaheim via christineknight.me

We highly enjoyed our stay at the Howard Johnson Hotel and Water Playground in Anaheim and will absolutely stay here again when we visit Disneyland.

Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground
1380 S Harbor Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92802

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!