Orlando; Weddings, honeymoons and fabulous family holidays

Visit Orlando*sigh*

If there’s one thing we won’t be doing with regards to our wedding it’s taking a honeymoon as our date is slap bang in the middle of term time and like I say we’re a family first and foremost so we won’t take them out of school and we wouldn’t go without them.

I imagine (hope) we’ll be one of those OAP couples living it up big time when the girls leave home but in the meantime a girl can dream, right?

So when it comes to choosing a location for your honeymoon where do you start looking?

Like I said IF we were to go, we’d take the girls with us and we’d like to go to a warm climate with lots of different things to do for every member of the family, a honeymoon is also a dream holiday so one that is classed as special and one location that springs to mind is Orlando.

visit orlando header

I think you’ll be thrilled to learn that Orlando isn’t just theme parks, there’s a ton of exciting stuff to do over there and recently Visit Orlando have launched this amazing tool Orlando Holiday Planning where you can go and plan your holiday from your sofa making sure that there are things to do for all the family. Not only that each topic is packed with tips that you can save to personalise your unique family holiday.

Tabs at the top include When to go, getting there, where to stay and of course what to do. Orlando is so packed with opportunities that it is most certainly a place you can revisit time and time again and still find new attractions to discover.

Visit Orlando

As a girl can dream, I did. I went over and made up my dream Orlando holiday. I chose how and with who I would fly, I got some great ideas on accommodation and love the idea of a hotel within the theme park plus Mickey Mouse dining package where kids eat free. I picked up important tips on what to pack, to book tickets in advance and WHERE TO SHOP sorry was I shouting then? Yes, peeps shopping, don’t forget iPads, Jeans, trainers and a ton of designer labels are much cheaper in their home country than back in Ol’ Blighty.

Here are a few of the ideas I bookmarked

  • Check out the alligators on an airboat ride
  • hire surfboards at Ron Jon Surf Shop on Cocoa Beach
  • Race fans can whizz round a track in a IndyCar or stock car (Paul would LOVE this)
  • Pamper yourself in a luxurious spa (me time)
  • Visit the largest Legoland in the world in Florida – the girls would love this

So if I can get the school to move their term dates, save up a couple of grand I am sure I can convince the Mr to take us all away and spend our honeymoon in Florida, what do you think?

World Smile Day and the Special Olympics

Orlando smileDid you know it’s World Smile Day on the first Friday of October every year?

Visit Orlando know that and this year they are partnering with a US Olympian in a Facebook campaign where people around the world can post photos on their Visit Orlando Facebook page about how they make people smile.

They’ll then make a video using all the photos!

And here comes the good bit, for every video viewed, they’ll make a donation to the international organization, Special Olympics.

What are the Special Olympics?

Special Olympics is an international organization that addresses inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly four million athletes in 170 countries. With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics is able to deliver 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 53,000 competitions throughout the year.

MIsty May

To celebrate World Smile Day on October 5, three-time gold medal winning Olympian Misty May-Treanor has teamed up with Orlando, the world capital of smiles, to gather smile-worthy photos from around the globe. Whether it’s a signature dance move (like Misty’s infamous running man), a funny face or just an infectious smile, Visit Orlando is seeking creative photo submissions on Facebook.com/VisitOrlando.

On World Smile Day, Misty’s favorite photos will be featured in a “Let’s See Your Smile” video. For every video view on World Smile Day, Visit Orlando will make a donation to Special Olympics with the goal of providing $25,000 to support the organization’s global efforts to deliver 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 53,000 competitions throughout the year.

Photo submissions will be accepted until October 1st.

On World Smile Day, October 5, the “Let’s See Your Smile” Video will be posted on VisitOrlando.com/Facebook. For every video view, Visit Orlando will donate $1 to Special Olympics up to $25,000.

Come and join in the fun and add a smiley photo to their Facebook page.

Brit Mums Live 2012

Oh me oh my what an absolute blast I just had this weekend!

The first ever Brit Mums Live and I was there, not only that, I was helping out too having been asked by Jen and Susanna to work with them in making this The Greatest Show On Earth.

One does what one can and my role was to monitor room 4 and make sure the workshops went smoothly which they did. I had to speak into a mic and introduce the speakers which trust me is quite scary to start with. I had worked out my speeches beforehand and come to think of it I forgot to tell everyone where the fire exits were (oops!)

Guardian BML article

I was in an interview with Zoe Williams and got my photo in the Guardian. There was quite a bit of controversy as it seems Zoe wanted a negative slant on parenting bloggers and we didn’t! Our message to the world was ‘ We are more than mummy bloggers, we are photographers, cooks, designers, sportswomen. We are friends, we are supportive and we have collective KLOUT.’

In fact the community clocked up 24 million impressions on Twitter over the past 3/4 days and we’re still talking about it.

Metropolitan Mum's photos of me

So how did I spend my time? Metropolitan Mum took these photos of me reminding the speaker how much time they had left, I stopped by the Cuticura stand for a fab manicure by Celeb manicurist Jenny. I introduced the sponsors on the Demo Stage in The Hub – here’s Radcliffe Wines making Bellini’s and Kir Royals for us. They were delicious and used Italian prosecco ;)

Radcliffe Wines demo stage cocktails

Sian To and friends enjoying a Bellini and the lovely Mammasaurus

I Visited Orlando too catching up with Robyn and Amy and having these shots done in their fun booth.

Visit Orlando

I watched Kerry set up her cake decorating stall on the Lego stand and saw some fabulous creations being carried around

Lego Duplo cake decorating at Brit Mums Live!

And I wore my Crocs all two days, check out the new styles they have and trust me these were super comfortable I think I’ll be wearing them all summer. In fact they were so pleased they gave me a pair of wellies too – watch this space ;)

Crocs shoes for the summer

We had a fun party on Friday with some very special waiters on hand – check out the six packs!!!

Radcliffe wines #winebuffs

 

I met Her Melness Speaks, I listened to Sarah Brown, Ruby Wax, Katy White and Cherry Healy. I cried at Hayley’s keynote who writes at Downs Side Up and I urge you to read What to say when a baby is born with Down’s Syndrome, I cried again at Karin Joyce’s keynote and wanted to jump up on stage to hold her hand; if you know someone who may be suffering from PND direct them to And Then I Laughed and then I died laughing as Claire from Ministry of mum re-told her Seven Days of Special Love where she’s determined to get her some sex. Hilarious do read it.

Brit Mums Live 2012 moments

and then I dragged all my goodie bags home, all of them, and you’ll be hearing about my stash over the next few weeks as the sponsors have once again been so very generous. Thank you all.

So thank you Jen and Susanna for asking me to help out because I loved every minute, thank you Michelle and Karin for being great to work with, thanks Maddie and George for sending me off in the right direction when something wasn’t quite right and thanks to all the fabulous speakers who were amazing.

Thanks Jacq for getting me some lunch!

And thanks everyone for coming up to me and saying hello, I’m so pleased to have met you all and next time I’m going to be more organised and have more time to chat ;)

Visit Orlando, manicures and cupcakes

Visit Orlando A couple of weeks back, I took the girls out of preschool and we went on a train up to London, a journey they both adore. It was the Highspeed into St Pancras which I love as it saves so much time.

Our destination was Holborn, just a couple of stops on the Piccadilly Line and our appointment was, very excitingly, a morning with Visit Orlando, the sunny, fun destination in Florida that most of us associate with theme parks.

Visit Orlando is the tourist board for that enticing part of the world and time and time again they come up against tourists who think of them as theme parks and that’s it so, they want to get the message out there that there’s loads more to do. In fact, there’s something for everyone from the youngest members of the family to the oldest.

Whilst we enjoyed lattes and croissants at the Aveda Institute, Amy introduced us to the magical wonders in Orlando and of course, like any girl who knows what’s best she told us about the shopping…

Did you know that Orlando has now surpassed Miami in the shopping stakes? It’s now the 4th best place to shop in the USA. 12 shopping malls, top department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and one of the largest outlet locations of the South East, they even have a tour called Shop Orlando and I’m assured there is something for purses of every size.

Then we talked about spas or more specifically, pampering yourself. The City Beautiful lives up to its name with internationally known brands like the Waldorf Astoria by Guerlain or the Ritz-Carlton Spa, many of them also having menus for children too!

Enjoying a fabulous manicure – thanks Visit Orlando :)

It seems the perfect place to point out there are numerous golf courses should the man of your life not want to enjoy some pampering. Like I said, there is something for everyone.

Of course, one thing you can enjoy as a couple or a family is the dining out. Casual dining, Upscale Dining even themed dining are all on offer. I remember one of our favourite places to eat on our last visit to Orlando was the House of Blues in Downtown Disney where I ate my first ever Jambalaya. Amy told me of a Pirate’s Dinner Adventure which is perfect for a swashbuckling family evening, coined as the world’s most interactive dinner show.

Light on the bar in The House of Blues in Disney Downtown

Top tips for planning a visit to Orlando

  • Book car hire from the UK to make sure you have the correct insurance cover.
  • Quietest time to visit is October half term.
  • July – August is VERY hot, remember to drink water, wear a sunhat and cover-up with sun cream.
  • If visiting with little ones in the summer, visit the parks early in the morning and in the late afternoon.
  • Book Swim with Dolphins before you go, they only take 1000 people max per day.

So yes, Orlando is home to the world’s best theme parks and it has water parks where you can swim with the dolphins but there is also plenty of nightlife and more entertainment than you can shake your hips at. There is a huge range of sports and recreation; hot air balloon rides or flying an open-cockpit 1930’s biplane. There’s plenty of art, history and culture and spa and wellness too, heavens you can even get married there!

Now there’s a thought to put to my other half…

Disclosure – Visit Orlando treated me to coffee and croissants at the Aveda Institute. They also treated me to a fabulous Aveda manicure and a cupcake (see top photo, do you like the colour?) but I checked out the website and I am the one dreaming of returning to Orlando one day with my girls, did you know the Magic Kingdom has had a complete revamp? *sigh* one day I’ll get there too.