12 things I love about America

things i love about america

Happy July 4th to all my readers across the pond. This post is dedicated to you.

Things I love about America

1. TV shows

You gave us Friends, Pretty Little Liars, The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory, Catfish, Sex and the City, The Simpsons – have I said enough?

2. Junk Food

I’m quite literally like a kid in a candy store (or sweet shop as we say in England). America has about 52864 flavours of M&Ms and Pop Tarts, we have about 3 of each and if we want anything else then we practically have to take out a bank load to afford them.

Ok, there might be a few exaggerations above, but still, you get my point.

M&M World Las Vegas
M&M World Las Vegas

3. The Celebrations

You guys go all out. Or at least thats what the movies lead us to believe. Halloween looks like so much fun with everyone dressed up and I’m a total sucker for the cosy Christmases and holiday spirit you guys bring.

4. Orlando

Disney, Universal, the amazing villas… the sheer excitement of it all. Orlando – you turned me into a theme park snob with your awesomeness! Plus we got engaged here, so it will always have a special place in my heart.

Castle at the Magic Kingdom

5. Las Vegas

Basically Orlando for adults. Vegas gave me the same kind of buzz too. Big, bold, brash – but I love it! We even have goals to renew our wedding vows there one day.

The giant slot machine at Ballys Las Vegas
Next to the giant slot machine at Ballys

6. Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood

I love, love, loved this place! I got to see the streets where they filmed Pretty Little Liars, tons of props from the Batman and Harry Potter movies, I saw the working set of The Big Bang Theory, got to hold an Oscar (they are heavy!) AND sit on THE Friends sofa in Central Perk!!!

You can sit on the Friends sofa at Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood

7. This

Marshmallow madness - no more picking cereal out of your marshmallows
Marshmallow madness – no more picking cereal out of your marshmallows

8. Breakfast cereal

Hell yeah Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms and Apple Jacks where I don’t have to pay £8 for a box!

Lucky Charms breakfast cereal
The breakfast of kings

9. Shopping

I did, like most people, indulge in a bit of shopping when I visited New York. But I’m telling you, you can get everything in America. Every nice thing I find on Pinterest is from the USA and when I was into jewellery making a few years ago, all the stuff I wanted came from the States. Which leads me to…

10. Hot Topic

I went there for the first time in Los Angeles and loved it, especially the Disney aisle. I bought myself a Cinderella inspired dress which I wore to a Christmas party. I got so many compliments on it. Which brings me on to…

Cinderella dress from Hot Topic

11. Disney

I grew up on a diet of Disney. I remember my parents taking me and my brother to the cinema to see The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King – I even had The Lion King soundtrack! Those movies are timeless.

Meeting Beauty and the Beast at Epcot
Somewhere between a beauty and a beast…

12. Pop culture

Movies, music, movies, music. In fact, this July 4th we’ll be having an American themed fancy dress day in my office and I’ve decided to go as one of the most famous American pop culture icons of all time – The King of Pop!

Happy 4th July y’all! Check out my USA Pinterest board

 

A view from the top: Stratosphere Tower – Las Vegas, USA

Following my post A View from the Top: Sky Tower Auckland, I thought I’d throw a #throwbackthursday at you, because I’m in a nostalgic kinda mood.

Stratosphere Tower – Las Vegas

The Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas

The Stratosphere is one of the many hotels that sit twinkling on the Las Vegas strip. If you’ve ever been to Vegas then you’ll know that each hotel has it’s own theme, e.g. there are gondolas at The Venetian, circus acts at Circus Circus and flamingoes at The Flamingo (well, duh!). The Stratosphere’s claim to fame is its tower – the tallest freestanding tower in the USA, standing at 1149 ft.

The Stratosphere Tower on the Las Vegas strip. Head up for the perfect view from the top!

Pros

The views from the 360 degree observation deck are fantastic. You get iconic views of the strip and it looks especially magical if you head up there at night time when you can see Vegas in all its glittering glory!

View from the top - the bright lights of Vegas from the top of the Stratosphere.
The photos don’t do it justice

Cons

The lights up on the deck indoors make it quite tricky to get decent photos without random glares in them and if you go outside, be prepared for it to be crazy windy out there (or at least it was when I visited) – I felt like I was going to get blown away!

The photos don't do it justice! View from the Stratosphere in Vegas
Not the best of photos!

Surprises

There are not only bars, restaurants and a sky jump up there but there’s also three thrill rides! There’s the Big Shot which shoots you straight up even higher, Insanity – where a mechanical arm spins you around 900ft above the strip and then there’s X-scream where you are catapulted off the tower edge! I couldn’t decide which would scare the crap out of me the most and just stuck to the thrill of the views!

One of the 3 terrifying rides at the top of the Stratosphere Tower
X-Scream

Verdict

It was just magic to see Las Vegas from this height and if I ever got to go back I would love to dine at the Top of the World restaurant. I would even go as far to say that I think The Stratosphere may be one of, if not the favourite of all my View from the Top adventures!

For more of my View from the Top series, click here.

Some of the hotels on the Vegas strip. View from The Stratosphere Tower.

5 fun things to do at Epcot

5 fun things to do at epcot

Epcot is perhaps the more ‘grown-up’ of the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks in Orlando, so I am writing this as an adult*, for adults because Disney World is for everyone, not just kids!

*Please note I don’t really consider myself to be a proper adult.

1. Buy a passport and travel the world

As I said before, I’m not a proper adult because no proper adult would buy themselves one of these souvenir Epcot passports and then visit all the Kidcot stops (basically children’s craft stations) dotted around the countries in the World Showcase to get their passport stamped.

Epcot World Showcase souvenir passport and badge
I also got this cool Mickey badge with my passport

I visited Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, Canada and the United Kingdom, each time receiving a cute message from the Cast Member there – which by the way, all Cast Members are from the country they are representing at Epcot. How cool is that!

The passport page for Mexico at Epcot World Showcase
The passport page for Mexico

2. Meet characters in their countries

One of my friends really wanted to meet Beauty and the Beast and we found out that they would be appearing in France in the World Showcase so we wandered off there when it was time. Our other friends decided they were too cool to meet the characters but they totally missed out!

Meet Beauty and the Beast in France at Epcot in Orlando
< insert all your Beast jokes here >

The Beast linked arms with me and Belle asked if me and my friend were sisters and then told us how she often travels with enchanted objects.

There are many other characters you can meet around the park, I spotted Mary Poppins in the UK and Aladdin and Jasmine in Morocco too.

Papped! Jasmine and Aladdin holding hands in Morocco
Papped! Jasmine and Aladdin holding hands in Morocco

3. Ride Spaceship Earth

Spaceship Earth is Epcot’s signature attraction. You know that big globe thing that looks like a giant golf ball? Well, there’s a ride in there!

Spaceship Earth at Epcot featuring Toy Story topiary for the Flower and Garden Festival
Spaceship Earth with Toy Story topiary

You sit down in a little train and get taken on a journey through time, exploring the history of communication, which was alot better than I am making it sound!

When you exit the ride you are taken to an interactive area called Project Tomorrow, where you can do silly things like make yourself appear floating about on the screens among other things. I can’t really remember but it was amusing at the time!

Project Tomorrow at Epcot
We’re the floating space-women!

4. Eat the global cuisine at the World Showcase

Give the usual theme park food a miss and head for the World Showcase for your meals. We had some yummy baguettes in France for our lunch and then for dinner we paid a visit to Restaurant Marrakesh for some delicious Moroccan food. Dinner reservations are recommended.

The Patisserie and Boulangerie in France - World Showcase, Epcot
The Patisserie and Boulangerie in France
Try some of the world cuisine on offer at Epcot. This is Restaurant Marrakesh - the Moroccan restaurant.
Restaurant Marrakesh

5. Attend a festival

Epcot hosts its own festivals each year. If you visit during Spring then you will be there for the International Flower & Garden festival and if you visit during the Autumn/Fall then you’ll be in time for the International Food & Wine Festival.

Cars 2 topiary at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival
Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater from Cars

Our Orlando vacation was in May, so Epcot was adorned with some amazing Disney themed topiary in celebration of the Flower & Garden festival, although the Food & Wine festival sounds pretty tasty!

Tigger and Pooh topiary at Epcot during the Flower & Garden festival
Tigger and Pooh

Of course, Epcot has alot more to offer than what I have mentioned above and if you can, you must stay for the fireworks!

Have you ever been to Epcot? What did you enjoy the most?

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3 places to see the stars in Hollywood

When you think of Hollywood you immediately think of glitz, glamour and movie legends. So here’s my brief run-down of where to see the stars (kinda!).

1. Book a Movie Star Homes Tour

We took a tour with Starline who depart from Hollywood Boulevard among other locations. We were taken up into the Hollywood Hills where we saw the houses and former houses of celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson.

The gate to Michael Jackson's former home in Hollywood
Michael Jackson’s Former Home

We got to see the Hollywood sign (albeit from a distance) and also took a trip down Rodeo Drive. We were told that Rodeo Drive would be the best place to spot a celeb but sadly our luck was out that day. If we had had more time in L.A. then I’m sure we would have gone back for a spot of window shopping and playing paparazzi.

Take a Movie Star Homes Tour and go celeb spotting on Rodeo Drive
Cruising down Rodeo Drive

2. Get up close and personal at Madame Tussauds

Ok so I cheated slightly with this one, but you can always take a selfie with Will Smith’s wax form or something and pretend to all your friends back home that you just so happened to bump into him as you were hanging out in some hip L.A. club or loitering outside the Chateau Marmont or wherever.

Places to see the stars in Hollywood - how about Madame Tussauds?
Just chillin with the Fresh Prince!

We actually got free tickets to Madame Tussauds as part of a deal with the movie stars homes tour so it was a win for us. Plus it’s fun doing silly poses with the wax works!

Have your picture taken with Zorro at Madame Tussauds Hollywood
Posing with Zorro

3. Check out the Walk of Fame

So it’s unlikely that you’re going to see Hugh Jackman just casually strolling down the Walk of Fame but you might very well see a Wolverine looky-likey who will have his picture taken with you for a couple of dollars. You’ll be guaranteed to spot a Marilyn Monroe and at least 3 Spidermans (or should that be Spidermen?) too.

Hugh Jackman's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hugh Jackman’s star on the Walk of Fame

There are of course literal stars on the pavements here so don’t forget to take some snaps of your favourites. You can even find out whose star is where beforehand right here.

So there you have my tongue in cheek list of top 3 places to see the stars in Hollywood – you’re welcome I’m sorry! Have you ever been to L.A? And did you bump into anyone famous?

If you loved it, then pin it!

3 places to see the stars in Hollywood - read all about it!

WonderWorks Orlando – going upside down in Florida!

As I’m in a #throwbackthursday kinda mood I thought I would write about a place I visited on holiday in Florida a few years ago. If you read my post about Puzzling World in New Zealand, then I guarantee you will like this!

WonderWorks is the famous upside down house situated on International Drive in Orlando. It’s a weird, crazy, educational and fun indoor “amusement park for the mind”. It’s open from 9am until midnight so makes for something perfect to do if you have kids to entertain in the evening. Or in my case, friends who just wanted to visit the awesome cool upside down house.

WonderWorks - the famous upside down house on International Drive in Orlando, Florida

WonderWorks is an exciting and interactive adventure, where we got to experience an earthquake simulator – feeling the power of an earthquake reaching 5.3 on the Richter scale and a hurricane simulator with winds rushing at 74 miles per hour!

We also dipped our hands into icy water at -2 degrees celsius, which was as cold as the water when the Titanic sank. The challenge was to see how long you could keep your hand in the water for. Let me tell you, I couldn’t manage more than a few seconds!

There are loads of things to see and do in WonderWorks, we played with giant bubbles and laid on a bed of nails… 3500 nails to be precise and all in the name of science of course!

Make giant bubbles at Wonderworks on International Drive in Orlando

Test your endurance on the Bed of Nails at Wonderworks, Orlando

There was also a tube filled with one million beads. One of the beads was purple, the rest were pink or yellow. The challenge was to find the ‘one in a million’.

Find the one in a million at WonderWorks Orlando

And you know what, we only blooming found it! I even took a picture to prove it (although it is a tad blurry).

One million beads, one of them is purple - we found the one in a million! WonderWorks Orlando

We also got to go into a 2-seater simulator which tipped us upside down and threw us about. There was also an indoor ropes course – a bit like a neon glow treetop adventure kind of thing, except indoors. From the ground up it looked pretty easy and not too high although it’s a different story when you’re up there!

And just for your sheer enjoyment, here is a picture of me looking goofy in a spacesuit and my hubby who completely lost his head in the madness of it all!

Looking goofy at WonderWorks Orlando

As well as interactive spectacles, there are also crazy mirrors and random artwork, including these Gum Blondes – celebrity portraits made purely of bubblegum!

Gum Blondes artwork at WonderWorks

All in all our visit to WonderWorks Orlando lasted a couple of hours and offered us something a little different to rushing around the theme parks or lounging by the pool.

If you enjoyed this post, then why not check out my quirky travel board on pinterest or read about my visit to Puzzling World in Wanaka, New Zealand.