Our Magical Christmas at Disneys Animal Kingdom Lodge

Disney depression has hit hard since our return from the Walt Disney World Resort two weeks ago, so I thought I would share the first part of our wonderful three week stay. We arrived December 23rd and stayed during Christmas, New Year and into January. It truly felt like we were there a lifetime during most magical holiday season but never wanted it to end!

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As we arrived at Animal Kingdom Lodge to check in, I cried with happiness at returning to the resort so close to our little family’s heart. The tree looked even prettier than I had remembered from last year and with a choir performing, the Jambo House Lobby fell still and was pure magical. Quinn turned to me with the biggest smile and suddenly all that mattered was that he was back in his happy place and I couldn’t wait to see what adventures lay in store for both him and us.

 

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Much to my Little Peter Pan’s delight, our room was in the perfect location overlooking the Uzima Springs Pool in the Giraffe Trail. The weather was beyond lovely during our stay, so luckily for Quinn he got to explore the pool quite a few times. Watching the sunrise and set is one of my favourite things to see at each Disney resort and the view from this room did not disappoint. I love the layout of the DVC rooms at Animal Kingdom Villas and as I’ve said before, the only thing missing for me is the pull down bed that provides just that little bit of extra space.

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We weren’t on any Disney Dining Plan this trip, but we couldn’t resist getting our hands on the Christmas themed resort refillable mugs which we use quite frequently during our Walt Disney World stays. As we were out at the parks for the most part of the day, we enjoyed ordering dinner from The Mara and bringing it back up to our room most evenings. We ate breakfast at Boma – Flavors of Africa which all three of us love for the great selection of foods available. As its such a large restaurant, last minute breakfast reservations can often be picked up at Boma from the My Disney Experience app.

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Santa paid a visit during our stay of course and left some gifts for Quinn. The smile on his face says it all! On New Years Eve we arrived back to the lobby just in time for the countdown to midnight. It was such a wonderful experience for us to ring in the New Year at a different home resort, as last year we spent it over at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows. We said our heartfelt goodbyes the next morning as we continued our wonderful travels on to Bay Lake Tower at Disneys Contemporary Resort , but we will soon return in October for another magical stay.

Alannah x

 

A Magical Weekend In London

Although our main reason for our visit to London was for Quinn to attend a special event at the Bafta Picadilly, we also had time to take in some of the sights. Today I’m going talk about our favourite places we like to visit as a family in London, and all it has to offer.

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Saturday

If you follow my Little Peter Pan account on Instagram, you will know how much Quinn adores Peter Pan. The Hyde Park area of London shares so much of author J.M Barrie’s heritage, from the Princess Diana Memorial Playground, to the Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardens and his old home across the street in Bayswater where Peter Pan was written. Quinn feels right at home here and could spend hours exploring the playwark with its Mermaid Lagoon area, Hangman’s tree and its magnificent Jolly Roger pirate ship. It truly is a magical place to us and no trip to London would be complete without a visit here.

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Quinn had been saving some money to buy Lego, so a visit to the Lego Store in Leicester Square was planned. This was our second visit and its such a fun experience. I love the models you can take a picture with, particularly the Tube. As we await the arrival of new Disney sets (hint hint Lego!), Quinn decided to add some Lego Ninjago to his ever growing collection.

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Bubba Gump Shrimp Co is where we chose to eat dinner on the Saturday night. I don’t like fish of any kind, but I do love their burgers and the theme of the restaurant. Quinn loves it too, I think the reason being the “Jenny” boat the kids meals are served in! To end our evening, we decided to take a walk around and admire the beautiful Christmas decorations on display. Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street were as busy as I had ever seen them, but it felt so Christmasy. A quick trip to Hamley’s was followed by a tube trip back to the hotel to catch some much needed rest for the day ahead.

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Sunday

We decided to head back to Piccadilly Circus early morning, to show Quinn that it isn’t always as chaotic as it was the night before! We had time for a little walk around the Theatreland and as you may know, my little Peter Pan is obsessed with musicals. He was delighted to see where Thriller, Les Miserables, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Matilda and School of Rock were housed.

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It was Mickey Mouses 90th birthday and it would have been rude not to visit the Oxford Street Disney Store to celebrate right? Quinn was chosen to open the store during their opening ceremony and got the best surprise when Mickey and Minnie appeared to help him. He was gifted one of the Mickey Mouses 90th birthday keys, and I swear the magic follows him wherever he goes! We had a lovely time viewing and taking home some new merchandise and also meeting some friendly faces including Danielle Nicole who creates the most magical handbags and purses.

Quinn had been longing to see School of Rock for such a long time and we finally made it happen for him. The show was simply amazing and he rocked the whole evening in his seat! We stopped by to visit Little Ben seen as Big Ben was being refurbished and to end our weekend we chose to eat at our favourite spot in London, Hard Rock Cafe. The food was outstanding as always and we couldn’t leave London without a slice of Oreo Cheesecake!

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All good things have to come to an end unfortunately and we are now counting the days until our next adventure, Christmas at Walt Disney World! We created our first family Vlog during our weekend and you can find it over on my Youtube channel.

Alannah x

 

 

Horrid Henry Event At Bafta Piccadilly

Last weekend our little family made the 500 mile trip to London for something very exciting indeed. My Little Peter Pan received an invitation from Rubies UK to attend a Horrid Henry event held at The Bafta 195 Piccadilly. The event was arranged by Novel Entertainment, and today I’m going to talk about the event and our experience at the iconic venue.

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Quinn was of course beyond excited and chose to wear his Horrid Henry outfit that Rubies UK had sent him previously. The event showcased three brand new Horrid Henry episodes that Quinn giggled his way through! Henry really is Horrid and leaves everyone gasping in delight at the trouble he manages to get himself in to! Two preview episodes were screened, followed by a Q and A with series writer and producer Lucinda Whiteley, and voice actors Lizzie Waterworth-Santo and Aiden Cook. Quinn couldn’t believe it when he discovered that Lizzie is the voice behind Horrid Henry himself, Aiden being the voice behind his favourite character Miss Battle-Axe.

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The Q and A itself gave an insight into what it takes to make a Horrid Henry episode and how much work goes into each one. The voice actors were each given an opportunity to share why they chose their career and how they landed their roles. Lizzie Waterworth-Santo gave an exceptionally relatable talk about staying true to yourself and never to let anyones negative opinions hold you back. She encouraged the audience to always belief in yourself and your abilities, and set a fantastic example for the children present. A few upcoming secrets were revealed, so stay tuned to Horrid Henry to find out what they may be!

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The third preview episode was shown, then the presenters of the event Dick and Dom asked everyone to put on their Horrid Henry masks that were kindly given to us by Mask-arade and took a selfie with the audience. I saw the captured shot later and it looked brilliant, such a fun memory! We were given the opportunity to meet Dick and Dom on stage after the event and Quinn got all giddy!

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The whole event was such a wonderful experience, and I can’t thank Rubies UK enough for allowing my seven year old to travel to London and represent his favourite brand at the Bafta Piccadilly. 

Alannah x

Five Reasons Why I love Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Having already written my top five reasons why I love Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, I couldn’t leave out our third Disney Vacation Club home resort, Disneys Polynesian Villas and Bungalows. Polynesian is my Little Peter Pan’s favourite Walt Disney World Resort to stay at, and he has loved it ever since our first ever stay there. Its very family orientated, with so many things to see and lots of activities to take part in.

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1 Location

Located right in the heart of the Monorail Loop, Polynesian Village certainly has the best location in the whole of Walt Disney World if you ask me. Overlooking the Magic Kingdom, it boasts the most spectacular views across Seven Seas Lagoon and the front of the park, as well as Cinderella Castle and Space Mountain. Disney transportation is at its very best at the Polynesian, with the Monorail taking you directly to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. The Transportation and Ticket Center is just a few minutes walk from the Disney Vacation Club side of the resort, enabling you to access the Monorail directly to Epcot or the Ferry over to the Magic Kingdom. Water Taxis run throughout the day and night across the Lagoon and a bus service to the parks is also available.

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2 The Beach

The Polynesian beach is just wonderful! A quiet, little haven by day where you can sit on a swing and watch the (Disney) world go by, and come night the perfect viewing area to watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks light up the sky. Quinn loves spending time playing in the sand, building sandcastles and even making friends with the resident ducks! Roasting marshmallows on the campfire is a family favourite of ours and its a great opportunity to meet other guests and their families, and to talk with Cast Members.

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3 Recreation and Amenities 

Polynesian Village has two large pools on property, the Oasis and Lava Pools, and the most wonderful Tiki themed kids water play area. It’s no surprise as to why this is Quinn’s favourite resort for the amount of fun on offer here for families. As well as the play area, the Lava Pool also boasts a volcano with a waterslide and waterfall and Quinn has enjoyed many afternoons participating in the poolside activities. Kevin and Quinn love to hire a Pontoon boat and sail the Seven Seas Lagoon looking for Captain Hook! I prefer to keep my feet on land, but it’s very relaxing watching them from the beach.

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4 Dining

Our favourite restaurant is Ohana and we could eat dinner here literally every evening! The family style food is to die for, the cousins (Cast Members) make us feel so welcome and if you are lucky, you may even get to experience the Magic Kingdom fireworks or the  Electrical Water Pageant from your table. Whats even more wonderful is that you can have the feast sent to your room as private dining! Capt. Cooks, or Hook’s as Quinn calls it, is the perfect quick service location and Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto and Tiki Terrace is right next door serving unique drinks and snacks. We also love Kona Cafe for the best breakfast pancakes and Tonga Toast of course!

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5 Theming

I love the beautiful Polynesian theming of the Resort and its amazing smell! The Tiki Statue in the Great Ceremonial House is well known, and the theming continues through to the villas and bungalows decor. The studios are beautiful and roomy, I love the extra bathroom and Quinn loves the pull down bed featuring his good friend Stitch. Kevin loves the views from the balcony, which can be anything from a Theme Park View, to a standard view featuring views of the gardens, pool and the Monorail. On two of our stays we have been lucky enough to have a view of the fireworks from our balcony!

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The worst part about having three separate home resorts, is choosing which ones to visit each trip! We will have to wait until October for our next Polynesian stay, but it is well worth the wait!

Alannah x

Five Reasons Why I Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

With our original date for flying to Walt Disney World being this week, its fair to say I have been feeling a little sad and homesick. That being said, I am positive we made the right decision to switch our October trip to December. Luckily we were able to add an extra week on to our trip, and I still can’t believe that we get to spend three weeks at the Walt Disney World Resort! We will be spending Christmas at our original Home resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge and I wanted to share five reasons why I love this resort, just like I did with Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort a while back. Animal Kingdom Lodge is where we bought our very first Disney Vacation Club points and it truly has become like a home to us. It’s an amazing resort and although we have stayed there many times, it’s a new experience each stay.

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1 Kilimanjaro Club Level

Located on the sixth floor of Jambo House and overlooking the Main Lobby, the Kilimanjaro Club Concierge is like a little world all on its own. The lounge itself is small and cosy and provides spectacular unique food experiences from 6.30am Sunrise Offerings, to 8pm Evening Indulgences. Our little family love spending time here watching Disney Movies on the large TV and chatting to the lovely Cast Members. They are always so friendly, attentive and I love how they get to know you and your family.

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2 Main Lobby

The Jambo House lobby is huge and truly breathtaking. I could sit for hours with my jungle juice in the unique surroundings listening to the sounds, exploring the art displays around the lobby and of course visiting the gift store! Some of the resorts activities take place here, where your little ones can learn about African culture. Quinn has enjoyed marching around to traditional African music, learnt to play a drum and made animal wax rubbings. The lobby over at Kidani Village is much more intimate, but just as beautiful and bustling.

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3 Rooms

The rooms are beautifully themed and I love how much brighter they feel now. The only thing thats missing for our family is a pull down bed which works perfect for us at our other home resorts! Savannah view rooms are incredible, and Quinn loves sitting out on our balcony on the lookout for the thirty different species of African wildlife using the guide available within the room. We always prefer to stay at Jambo House, as the DVC rooms are situated right at the front of the resort.

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4 Recreation and Amenities

Animal Kingdom Lodge boasts amazing animal observation areas, where you can learn facts from knowledgeable Cast Members. The fire pit is the perfect place to relax on a wooden rocking chair and who could say no to toasted marshmallows? Not me! There is a zero depth entry pool at Jambo House and over sat Kidani, the Samawati Springs pool has a fun waterslide and a huge water playground. Quinn loves to run around having the time of his life, soaking his dad with the water canons!

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5 Dining

Boma – Flavors of Africa is our favourite restaurant at the resort and in my opinion possibly the best breakfast on property. The Zebra Domes and pastry selections are to die for! Jiko – The Cooking Place brings signature dining to Jambo House and Victoria Falls Lounge is a perfect place to relax after a day at the parks. We love The Mara as it’s so convenient and has something for everyone, from African inspired food to burgers and flatbreads. Uzima Springs Pool Bar serve drinks and light snacks, and over at Kidani Village Maji Pool Bar serves sandwiches, salads and various snacks. Sanaa isn’t a big hit with Quinn and I, but the bread selection is a must and worth a trip to the restaurant alone.

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So the excitement is real and I cant wait to be back Home! Do you have your next trip planned? I’d love to hear all about it!

Alannah x

A Magical Disney Christmas – Spending The Holidays At The Walt Disney World Resort

The Walt Disney World Resort is nothing short of magical during the Holiday season. Last year we visited during Christmas and New Year and loved every minute of our special trip, so much so we are heading back to do it all again this year! Its often stated that Disney World is crazy crowded during the Holidays. That may be the case at times, but with a little planning your trip can be just as, if not more magical than any other month of the year. With our trips countdown nearing the double digits, I thought I would share our experience of spending the Holidays at Disney.

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Our trip didn’t start off as planned. Our flight to London was delayed, causing us to miss our connection to Miami, so we had to stop over in London for the night. Needless to say Quinn was heartbroken. He knew he was going to see his precious Peter Pan at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party that next evening, and our delay meant he wouldn’t get there till later in the evening.

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I am delighted to report that our trip only got better from then on, and the stress of the last two days were forgotten in an instant as we drove under the Walt Disney World sign! We were spending Christmas at my favourite resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. We checked in and I could have cried with joy! Being one of our Home resorts, we have stayed at the Villas quite often, but nothing beats how magical the resort looks and feels during the Holidays.

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Quinn and dashed to the Monorail, arrived at the Magic Kingdom at 8.20pm and merrily ran up Main Street to look for Peter Pan. My Little Peter Pan managed to surprise Peter Pan over in Adventureland, and it is one of my favourite memories to date! He ran into his arms for the sweetest of hugs and I cried with happiness. Every unfortunate event had led us to this moment and it was beyond precious. We had a magical night exploring with Peter Pan, met Rapunzel and Flynn, and Tiana and Naveen over at Princess Fairytale Hall with no wait, and Cinderella and Charming with a five minute wait. We also managed to grab some eggnog and festive treats including sugar cookies and snow cones. At the end of the evening, Quinn danced to Follow the Leader with Peter Pan and some Cast Members and experienced snow on Main Street for the first time. Our night couldn’t have been any more magical and we headed back to our room with the fullest of hearts.

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The next morning, we were up early and headed to Trattoria al Forno’s Bon Voyage Breakfast over at Disney’s Boardwalk. We headed to Epcot from there, expecting the park to be busy being Christmas Eves Eve, but it was actually really quiet. We met up with some friends, rode some rides and met Mickey, Minnie and Pals over at Character Spot. We also met Belle in her Christmas dress over in France at the World Showcase, and she was just beautiful! Last stop was Disney’s Hollywood Studios to eat dinner at Minnies Holiday Dine. We aren’t the biggest fan of the food at Hollywood and Vine, but we loved meeting Mickey and Minnie, Daisy and Donald and Goofy in their Christmas outfits.

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We had the most magical first two days and it hadn’t even reached Christmas Eve yet! The parks didn’t seem any busier than normal to us, but they did get busier on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. On my next post I will share the rest of our Christmas adventure. Are you spending Christmas at the Walt Disney World Resort? I would love to hear your plans!

Alannah x

The Magic Of The Fringe Festival With Little Ones

Last week Quinn and I took a day trip on the train to Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe, meeting up with our friends Amy and Livvy from Cocktails in Teacups and Livvy Bird Adventures . We had a wonderful time and today I’m going to talk about what we got up to at the kids first Fringe experience.

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Our main reason for our trip to the festival, was to see American High School Theatre Festival and Providence Day School’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher at Central Hall in Edinburgh’s West Tollcross. I had previously read the 2004 Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson novel to Quinn, and couldn’t wait to see what he thought of the play. Our Never Land loving duo had been looking forward to it for weeks, and were so excited they basically flew to the venue!

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The group of aspiring young talent from the United States were amazing and each character was researched and played to an absolute tee. The production, a prequel to Peter Pan, told the story of an orphan boy who ultimately became Peter Pan. The orphan boy who in the absence of a mother was never given a name, meets Molly and together with his friends find themselves on a heroic mission to save the world and a treasure chest filled with magical star stuff from the evil and greedy Pirate Black Stache. Filled with adventure and mystery, pirate battles and plenty laughs, both us adults and kids were fully entertained and drawn in from beginning right to the end.

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Next we paid a visit to Edinburgh’s vibrant Grassmarket, situated in Edinburgh’s Old Town and filled with restaurants, vintage shops and views of Edinburgh Castle to die for. Amy reccomended a pizza establishment she had perviously eaten at, and the kids were delighted at the prospect of pizza added to their day! Mamma’s American Pizza was founded by Angus MacInnes, a canadian actor who who famously played Y-Wing Pilot Gold Leader in Star Wars:episode IV:A New Hope and Rogue One. Their handmade, fresh stonebaked pizzas really are from another galaxy!

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After eating far too much pizza, we made our way to the Royal Mile. The kids were absolutely amazed to see the bustling streets filled with Fringe groups, street performers, living statues, buskers and pipers. We saw some stilt walkers, Stormtroopers and even Yoda, who the kids couldn’t believe was flying! We met quite a lot of characters which Quinn loved and of course wanted to take his photograph with! With so much going on, we felt they were both a little overwhelmed, and headed to Ross Fountain over in west Princes Street Gardens and the park for a little run around. The fountain had just undergone a restoration and looked beautiful with its newly painted blue colour scheme.

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We ended our adventure filled day, with a walk along Princes Street. Here we watched some more street performers together, before making our way to the train station and saying our heartfelt goodbyes. We had such a wonderful day, but it just wasn’t quite long enough to soak in the amazing atmosphere the Fringe has to offer. We will definitely be returning next year, this time for the weekend so we can add a few more shows from our wishlist.

 

Alannah x

The Magic of Peter Pan at JM Barrie’s Birthplace

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At the weekend the sun was shining so we decided to take another trip to our Little Peter Pan’s favourite place out-with Disney, Kirriemuir in Scotland. You may remember Kirriemuir from a previous blog post I wrote about a very special place to us, the Never Land play park which is located there. We had been waiting to visit the birthplace of JM Barrie for a while now and it felt like a perfect time to visit the magical little white cottage. Quinn is fascinated with JM Barrie, so it was such an adventure for him to visit his childhood home and to experience through his eyes what his life would have been like.

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Upon entering the cottage, there was a little gift shop that sold some Peter Pan books and small souvenirs. The admission fee is also paid here and Quinn received a Peter Pan quiz and a little trail to complete on his way around. He had to search for characters from the Peter Pan story in every room and it was really fun for him to complete.

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The exhibition began by telling the story of a young JM Barrie and his family life. It then went on to display some of Barrie’s literacy and theatrical works, including his desk from his London flat where he of course wrote Peter Pan. This was Quinn’s favourite part of the museum and he was overjoyed to sign his name in the guestbook that sat upon the desk. As a boy, JM Barrie would run and play on the stairs of his home and it pulled on my heartstrings to see my little boy who never wants to grow up at the place where it really all began.

The upstairs rooms of the cottage were more museum like and set to display how it would have looked to live here with his seven brothers and sisters. There were some precious memorabelia that resembled both joy and tragedy that his family had to face whist living here. The play room featured a colouring station and some dressing up clothes so you to can reenact the story of Peter Pan. Quinn was already dressed for the part, but he enjoyed trying out the pirates hats and hooks and tried his hardest to get me to wear one of the Wendy dresses!

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Outside the cottage, the washhouse stands which JM Barrie used as his first theatre to perform plays in at the same age Quinn is now. There was also a lovely garden which is open to everyone and includes a statue of Peter Pan and some fun little treasure chests and barrels to explore.

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We took a walk around the corner and found the memorial fountain in the Barrie garden. It read “In memory of James M Barrie, novelist and playwright, 1860-1937”. Quinn loved the artwork including Captain Hook and a pirate ship, Tick Tock, Tinker Bell and Peter Pan himself. Kirriemuir is such an idyllic little town and I’m so happy we can visit and take in the magical history so often.

Alannah x

 

The Magic of Never Land

The closest place to Never Land for us is my Little Peter Pan’s happy place outwith Disney, the Never Land play park in Kirriemuir, Scotland. The play park is a Peter Pan fans dream, with a fantastic huge wooden Pirate ship where you never have to grow up. On board you can run and explore the deck, climb the crows nest, hide in the cabin and blast the cannons, you can even take the wheel and sail to Never Land. Of course Captain Hook and Peter Pan are onboard to join the adventure, but look out for Tick Tock in the sea below! There is a large slide and swing also attached to the ship.

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On our visit to the park last week, Quinn dressed as Peter of course and we spent three and a half hours of fun here. The park is an 80 to 90 minute drive from where we live, so we make the most of our time here when the weather is nice. Luckily on our visit it was a beautiful spring afternoon and we actually saw some sun!

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Theres no better feeling as a parent than to see your child glowing with happiness and thats what happens each time we visit this magical park. Over at Hangmans tree, Peter Pans hideout, there is a slide and inside a little table with cute little stools. On our visit, Quinn found a friend and together they were role playing as Wendy and Peter which was really cute to see! There is also a zip line, a mini roundabout, a rope swing and a large swing and some baby swings for the smaller Never Land park visitors.

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The Never Land play park is situated on Kirriemuir hill and was built in 2010 to mark the 150th anniversary of J.M Barrie’s birth in 1860. James Matthew Barrie was a novelist and playwright, but best remembered as the creator of Peter Pan. His birth and resting place is Kirriemuir where he lived as boy and later gifted the town the Camera Obscura along with the cricket pavilion, which is situated next to the Never Land park.

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The Camera Obscura provides the prettiest views of the surrounding countryside and is such a fantastic, fun experience if you haven’t visited one before. Its one of only four in Scotland and is completely self funded by the Kirriemuir Heritage Trust and ran by volunteers. There is no admission charge, but they do welcome donations towards the upkeep of the building. The staff are so welcoming and love to tell of the history and background of the pavilion. There is a little shop that is currently in expansion to become a cafe. Quinn loves all the little details that have been added such as the J.M Barrie quotes on the benches, the cute little signs and the kites that are free to take out to the grass and learn to fly.

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Hoping for another visit to Kirriemuir soon, where we plan to visit J.M Barrie’s birthplace, the house that he was brought up in and performed his first play at the age of 7. Quinn loves to be immersed in the Peter Pan heritage there and I’m so happy to help him learn about his hero.

Alannah x