The 5 Best Disneyland Paris Attractions for Adults (in my opinion!)

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It’s no secret that despite the fact I’m rapidly approaching my mid-thirties, I’m a die hard Disneyland Paris fan. Judge me if you like, but I find it to be one of the few places you can visit for a few days to immerse yourself in a childhood fantasy land and literally forget everything that’s stressing you out in the ‘real world’. Yes, it is probably a love or hate kind of attraction but I’m guessing that if you have clicked on this link and read this far, you are in the love camp. I’ve already posted my tips for couples planning a trip to the parks (linked here) and after I rekindled my love affair with a recent visit, now I’m sharing my favourite five attractions at the parks for adults (because like I said in my previous post, Disneyland Paris is not just for kids!)

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

This is hands down my favourite ride at the parks, and I’ve been a fan ever since I first experienced it at Walt Disney World, Florida over 20 years ago (eek!) It’s a high thrill ride where you are immersed into the fictional world of the ‘Twilight Zone’ (as in the TV movie from the nineties) that somehow has managed not to appear dated like some other rides based on films from a relatively vintage year (I’m looking at you Star Tours). It’s the only ride I still get nervous about when queuing despite having been on it more times than I can count. It’s a simple concept, as it really only involves being ‘dropped’ rather than any twists, turns or a high speed coaster scenario but the set up, theme and element of suspense make this, for me, the attraction with the biggest adrenaline rush.

Dreams

Dreams is Disneyland Paris’ end of day show. Obviously, this is a family friendly attraction but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s really just for the kids. Cliché as this sounds, it has to be seen to be believed; set at Sleeping Beauty’s castle it involves music, fireworks, pyrotechnics and water and leaves me in awe at the creativity and work that goes into it.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

I never really bought into the concept of ‘dinner and show’ events until I saw this one! Yes, you have to pay extra money on top of your park ticket and I don’t go to this every time I visit but it really is worth a look. Again, it’s fun for all the family but if you are visiting as adults without children, you are definitely not out of place; there have been almost as many couples as there have been families when we have been. Expect an hour and a half of cheesy but good old fashioned audience participation, wild west themed fun with a surprisingly good quality meal too.

Ratatouille

This is the newest ride at the parks, and can be found in the ToonLand section of the studios. It opened in 2014 so was the only ride I hadn’t tried before when we visited earlier this month. Being relatively new, and also being pretty pioneering in it’s design (for Europe anyway) it’s hugely popular so get there early or use the FastPass option to avoid queuing for well over an hour. If you are not into your ‘white knuckle’ rides you will be fine; without giving away any spoilers its a 4D, trackless ride inside a ‘Ratmobile’ based on the film. But it’s a kids film so surely aimed at children you say? We rode this several times and only once was there someone under the age of 18 in our Ratmobile!

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith

I still struggle to understand how this ride has any relevance to Disney, but I don’t care as it’s incredible! Definitely one for the thrill seekers. Wikipedia tells me that it’s the fastest roller coaster in Paris accelerating from 0 to 57 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds allowing you to experience 3.5 G’s at the first inversion, which is apparently more than an astronaut does on a space shuttle launch! That should be a draw enough alone for coaster fanatics but what makes this even more fun for me is the cleverly chosen clips of Aerosmith music that come blasting out of the speakers under your seat and next to your head throughout the ride. You can’t help but head bang or sing along despite being thrown upside down (each of the five coasters has a different sound track too!)

 

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5 Wedding Planning Tips – for the budget conscious

photo by ashleyyoungphotography.com

photo by ashleyyoungphotography.com (used with permission)

A very special friend of mine recently got engaged and the excitement around this event got me thinking about my own wedding planning and inspired me to write this post. I’ve been married for coming up to four years so (in my opinion) recently enough to still be ‘in touch’ with what wedding planning involves, but long enough ago to be able to reflect on the experience with more of a level head. Not that I was a total Bridezilla at the time (I don’t think!) but there may have been a couple of ‘over-reactions’ in the process of planning the wedding! I think that whatever your budget, managing the financial side is a tricky business so if I could offer five pieces of advice to those about to start their own planning these would all bear in mind saving money; and here they are! (Of course, weddings and therefore wedding planning is not a ‘one size fits all’ affair so everyone will have different tastes, preferences and ideas but this is just the opinion of a non-expert!)

1. Network

Almost as soon as I got engaged, I signed up to the the website hitched.co.uk. My sisters made fun of me for it (what else are sisters for?!) but I am so glad I did. The website is packed full of articles, lists of suppliers and other sources of inspiration but most importantly for me at the time, there is a forum. Here you can post questions and immediately be answered by fellow wedding planners and professionals alike. If it wasn’t for the forum, I don’t think we would have found our venue. After feeling underwhelmed with the venues I had already looked at, I asked for suggestions on the forum and was recommended Cooling Castle Barn. As this venue does not advertise, I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. Some suppliers who post on the forum also offer discounts to those who are members.

2. Be flexible

We had found our dream venue. However, having a wedding there on a Saturday in Spring/Summer would have cost more than our total budget. So we got married on a Wednesday in June, and this cut our venue costs by more than half. There will always be people who raise eyebrows when they find out the wedding is during the week, but we found that if people really wanted to be there, they made sure they were! Winter weddings, ceremonies that start later in the day, or last minute bookings will all cut costs, so if you can be flexible, it will definitely save money.

3. Use your friend’s or family member’s skills

I mentioned in passing to a couple of close friends that I loved the idea of a sweet buffet, but they were expensive and I didn’t think our budget would stretch to it. “We will do it for you!” they said. I immediately knew I could trust them to do an amazing job, with their creative minds and eye for design and detail! So, as their wedding present to us, they organised and set up a sweet buffet and it went down a storm. In other words, if you know people with skills, use them to save you money and add a more personal touch!

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount

I hate doing this. Maybe it’s the British in me, but haggling just doesn’t come naturally! However, something came over me when I was planning the wedding and I asked every supplier for a discount. This included the photographer, florist, jeweller, hairdresser and even the wedding dress shop. And guess what?! All except one supplier agreed to a discount. I wish I’d kept track of how much of a saving this added up to, but needless to say it was definitely worth getting over my fear! I suppose the wedding business is so competitive that most suppliers are willing to cut their prices a little to keep the customer. Obviously how you ask is bound to make a difference, so below is the phrase I used in a lot of my emails (adapted where necessary) when approaching the subject (yes I still have my ‘wedding planning’ folder in my hotmail account!)

“Thank you for your quote for xxx. I am very interested in your services and love the examples of your work on the website. I appreciate your prices are already competitive, but budget is an important factor for us (as I’m sure it is for most!) so any discount that could be offered would be appreciated. I will of course be happy to recommend your services to friends and family who are planning their weddings.”

5. Prioritise

This sounds obvious but I still think it’s really important! When you read wedding magazines or websites there seems to be a standard list of things you ‘should’ have at your wedding, but in reality all you actually need is someone to perform the ceremony, a licensed venue and witnesses! Technically everything else is down to personal preference. So I found it really useful to write down everything we wanted at our wedding. Then we decided which of these things were the most important to us and therefore worth spending a higher proportion of our budget on. This is where every couple will be different but it really helped us prioritise our spending. Maybe you are a creative person and big into photography so are happy to spend more than the average couple on the photographer. Maybe flowers are your thing so you don’t want to skimp on the florist. Maybe you are huge foodies, so the catering is where you want to splash the cash. Whatever your preferences once you have decided what is most important, those things that you want to spend less of your budget on, or leave out completely, will naturally fall into place. For us the food, outfits, hairdresser and make up artist (well the last two were just for one of us!) came out on top, so we decided to go for more budget friendly options when choosing a florist and photographer, and we skipped the videographer completely.

I got married in Kent, so if you would like any recommendations for suppliers let me know in the comments 🙂

3 Healthier Breakfasts – for busy people

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I can’t pretend to be a nutrition expert. I just love my food – both the healthy stuff and the less nutritious, but I haven’t always paid much attention to ‘eating well’. However, as I mentioned in my recent post about You Tube workouts (linked here) I started to pay more attention to nutrition leading up to my 30th birthday. I still can’t claim to be an angel when it comes to eating healthily but I am definitely more knowledgeable about what I’m putting into my body and have some better habits. One of these habits is making sure I always eat breakfast. I like as much time in bed as possible in the morning, so on a work day I tend to leave myself only 30 minutes to get ready, hence my previous habit of skipping breakfast! If that sounds like a familiar story to you, here are three breakfasts that I regularly eat ‘on the go’ that in my opinion are a much healthier option than either skipping breakfast completely or resorting to a sugar packed cereal bar (which used to be what I ate if I did actually have breakfast).

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Overnight Oats

Overnight oats are probably not a new concept to a lot of people reading this, but if you haven’t jumped on this band-wagon I strongly encourage you to! Prepared the night before and ready to eat in the next day, there is no need to faff about in the morning with chopping, measuring and mixing – just eat! There are hundreds of recipes out there but I stick to one I found on the You Tube channel ‘Notes from the City‘ – the recipe is linked here and includes dried cranberries and flaked almonds. Admittedly, this doesn’t look hugely appetising when made (which is the reason it took me so long to jump on the bandwagon & why I haven’t included a photo of the finished product!) but trust me when I say it tastes a lot better than it looks! Packed with protein and with a decent amount of calories for a breakfast this keeps me full well into lunchtime.

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Soreen

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical when my husband suggested trying this. Malt loaf just didn’t sound appealing to me. I expected it to be dry with a powdery aftertaste. I was wrong! This loaf is described as ‘squidgy’ and that’s exactly what it is. Moist and really tasty, this has become a real favourite for me. You can buy it pre-sliced which is even more convenient in terms of saving time and portion control. It’s very low fat and pretty low calorie. If you want a calorie and fibre boost, add in a banana and you’re set!

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Nakd Bars

I eat these on days I’ve hit the snooze bar too many times and I really do need to eat on the run! They may not be as filling as the other two options but in my opinion these are a healthier version of all the high sugar breakfast bars out there. Fruit and nuts packed together, gluten free with no added sugar these are definitely a guilt free breakfast. There are many flavours and you can read more on their website linked here, but to be honest the Cocoa Orange and Cocoa Mint are the only ones worth mentioning (in my opinion!)

I’m always looking for more quick and healthy breakfast ideas so let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions!

Henry’s Covent Garden – classy cocktails that don’t break the bank

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Henry’s Cafe Bar in Covent Garden is a place I have been visiting for years, ever since I moved to London many moons ago as an 18 year old student. For me, it’s an ‘old faithful’ – a place I know I can return to for a good time whether it be for a lunch date, coffee and a chat, a quick drink or a full on cocktail session! Having said that until recently it had been some time since my last visit, but when I ended up there with a group of friends celebrating a very special engagement, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to see if their cocktails remain as good as I remember. I wasn’t disappointed! The bar tenders clearly know their stuff taking time and care over each cocktail. This may mean you wait a bit longer than average for your drink to be made, but for me that’s the sign of a proper cocktail, and part of the experience is watching the bar tender and their flair in making the drinks. And with cocktails ranging from £5.95 (during happy hour) and £9.95 (champagne based) in a central London bar just a hop, skip and jump from Covent Garden, what more can you ask for?! You can find the full bar menu here, but below are some I sampled with friends during our recent visit.

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Blackberry Spice – £8.50

This cocktail is from Henry’s ‘favourites’ menu and I believe it to be one of their own creations. Designed to taste like a berry crumble this is one for dessert lovers! Rum, blackcurrant liqueur and fresh limes all over crushed ice and topped with cinnamon, for me, make this cocktail both refreshing and comforting at the same time. It’s a shorter drink, so definitely on the stronger side but makes for a very classy looking cocktail if nothing else!

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Key West Cooler – £7.95

From their ‘Classics’ menu this may not be the most interesting looking of cocktails but it’s all about the taste with the Key West Cooler! I have a big sweet tooth and this cocktail definitely satisfies that. If you are a fan of sweet spirits this is right up your street. Melon liqueur, peach schnapps, Malibu with orange and cranberry juices make this an even better version of one of my all time favourites, sex on the beach.
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Raspberry Mojito – £8.50

Another from the ‘favourites’ menu is this twist on the Mojito. It contains all the classic ingredients (fresh mint, homemade Demerara syrup, fresh lime and rum) but with a dose of fresh raspberries and the rum is vanilla infused for a bit of extra sweetness. I am not a fan of a Mojito, which is just my personal preference, but two of our party ordered and loved these. Refreshing with a berry twist – perfect for a Spring afternoon.

DSC00270eForbidden Fruit – price not listed

What about the teetotallers/designated drivers/expectant mums?! Henry’s have a decent selection of non-alcoholic cocktails made with equal flair and served with as much care as their alcoholic counter-parts! The forbidden fruit is a selection of fresh juices blended with pureed fruit so tastes just as good as the other cocktails – just without the kick! Other options include a virgin mojito, homemade iced tea (sadly not available the day we visited) and a virgin Mary so I’d say there’s something for all tastes!

After returning to Henry’s for the first time in a long time, I can definitely say this won’t be my last visit! Let me know in the comments if you are a fan of Henry’s, of if you visit after reading this post.