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Old 11-20-2012, 05:00 AM   #1
Ms. Shuttergirl
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PTR - Dipping our toes into Europe

Well amazingly we are now just over 4 months away from our first visit to Europe and to say we are blessed would be an understatement. With our big 5 week US/Canadian adventure 2 1/2 weeks away it feels very greedy that we also have this Europe trip coming along so quickly.

Of course, 1 year ago when I started planning both of these trips it seemed like such a great idea having 2 major holidays a mere 9 weeks apart. The reality has been a little different . Lots of organising, a little stress, lots of saving but mostly lots of excitement.

As you know the players on this little journey are (I stole this blurb from my other PTR ) -

ME - 41 (cough cough), planner extraordinaire, pretty "pitcha" taker, stresser, food porn loving Disney-oholic, travel obsessed, proud mumma

DH - 40 (going on 60, old man lol) shopaholic, reluctant Disney visitor, sports mad, music mad, food loving, highly strung, hard working, proud dadda

DD14 - Diva-licous dancing queen, loves Disney as much as her mumma, loves desserts so free dining is her favourite thing in the whole world, stunning, super smart, super sweet, wants to be an interior designer, living in a fancy NYC apartment (a girl's gotta dream )

DS10 - Sports mad feral beast, makes me laugh, makes me cry, is slowly evolving out of being a fussy eater (thanks to our last WDW trip), very OCD like his mumma and pappa, still young enough to be "cute" at Disney, super smart, mummy's little man.

and introducing

Grandma - nurse for 42 years, recently very sadly widowed, very social and fit, lawn bowler extraordinaire, great mother-in-law most of the time, loves her grandchildren



Okay that's us - now here's the plan:-

24 March - fly to London, 9 nights

3 April - train to Edinburgh, Scotland, 4 nights

7 April - fly to Dublin, Ireland, 6 nights

13 April - fly to Paris, France, 7 nights

20 April - transfer over to Disneyland Paris, 2 nights

22 April - fly home to Australia

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PTR Christmas 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2979947
TR WDW/US/Canada Christmas trip 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3030550

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Old 11-20-2012, 05:01 AM   #2
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LONDON

9 glorious nights here, fulfilling the beginning of my DH and my long held dream to visit the UK. We decided we wanted the more "local" experience of staying in an apartment and since we are a family of 5 on this trip this likely works out easier than a hotel room anyway.

We will be visiting London over Easter which may or may not pose some transport issues and some sites not being open to us but from what I've researched so far we won't be in too much trouble with that.

Apartment
This is the lovely apartment we have chosen, it is very quaint and I love it:- http://www.vrbo.com/303500

Monday 25 March
Arrive just after lunch, private transfer to the apartment, dump bags and head to the local grocery store to stock up on food. Take back to apartment and if there is still enough light head to Hyde Park for a little wander around. Dinner to be at this pub which is near our apartment:- http://churchillarmskensington.co.uk/. Head home after this exhausted to unpack a little and sleep the sleep of the dead after such a long journey .

Tuesday 26 March
Doing a 4 hour tour in the morning with http://www.londonblacktaxitours.com/. He gets fantastic reviews and so far my email communications with him have been very friendly. Very much looking forward to this. Lunch likely at a pub recommended by the tour guide.

Afternoon - am thinking about Westminster Abbey. We will definitely be doing the verger-led tour http://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us/tours.

This would see out the day so we would head back to the apartment for an easy dinner.

Wednesday 27 March
Not sure exactly how we are filling this day. It's a bit of a jigsaw puzzle at the moment, trying to fit in all of the things we want to see throughout our visit. This day needs some work.

Thursday 28 March
We are doing a mini bus tour to Oxford, Cotswolds and Stratford on Avon - http://www.internationalfriends.co.u...d-on-avon.html.

This will be a long day so we will likely stumble home and to bed afterwards.

Friday 29 March - Good Friday
Tower of London - very excited to see this. I'm certain it will be a real highlight. We will be there for opening as we want to see the Crown Jewels early and do a tour with the Beefeaters/Yeoman http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/...s/yeomanwarder.

Lunch somewhere nearby and not sure what will put into the afternoon slot as yet.

Saturday 30 March
Portobello Markets in the morning, this should be fun.

Afterwards perhaps the boys will go to Lords Cricket Ground for a tour and the ladies may go to Kensington Palace to the Orangery for High Tea.

Evening - I think perhaps a West End Show would be good for this night

Sunday 31 March - Easter Sunday
Public transport will be scarce this day so we will have to really think about where to go. Perhaps British Museum in the morning with a nice lunch somewhere (need to research this) and even Hyde Park wanderings in the afternoon.

This day will likely be more relaxed than other days.

Monday 1 April
We are doing a mini bus tour to Bath and Stonehenge - http://www.theenglishbus.com/trip/bath-stonehenge. This tour gets rave reviews and I'm really looking forward to it.

Dinner in apartment

Tuesday 2 April
This day isn't planned yet either, there is lots of things to be slotted in here


MUST SEE/DO THINGS FOR LONDON

Tower of London
Westminster Abbey
St. Paul's Cathedral
Shakespeare's Globe
London Eye
British Museum
Buckingham Palace
Tower Bridge
West End Show
Hyde Park
Houses of Parliament & Big Ben
Harrods
Kensington Palace
High tea
Cruise Thames?
Portobello Market
Trafalgar Square
Marble Arch
Picadilly Circus
10 Downing Street,
Abbey Road crossing
Lord's
Hard Rock Cafe
Madam Tussauds

The guided tour on the first day will take us past lots and the things that require more time will have to be slotted into the days that aren't planned out yet. Hopefully we can fit most things in.

[/COLOR]
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PTR Christmas 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2979947
TR WDW/US/Canada Christmas trip 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3030550

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Old 11-20-2012, 05:02 AM   #3
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Scotland

4 nights in this lovely country, nowhere near enough of course but it will have to do for this trip. We hope to visit again one day once the kids are off our hands.

We are catching a train from London to Edinburgh. I haven't booked the tickets for this yet as they are not available. I'm still not convinced about this, and my reasons are strange . Flying is quicker and not much dearer but when you take into account getting to Heathrow, getting through security etc it's probably still quite a long process.

I think the train will be fine except for one thing - LUGGAGE...I am anxious about where the luggage goes and will there be enough room for it etc. I need to research this some more.

I believe there is very early trains so we would likely catch one of those.

B&B - 2 rooms
Please get ready to drool over this gorgeous B&B we have booked - http://www.23mayfield.co.uk/. The breakfasts alone would be worth staying here for . We have 2 rooms booked here and the place gets wonderful reviews.

Wednesday 3 April
Arrive Edinburgh mid afternoon and check into our B&B.

If there is anytime and light left we might have a wander either around the area of the B&B or catch a bus to the Royal Mile (main drag) for a quick wander.

Dinner somewhere nearby, will get a recommendation from B&B owner perhaps.

Thursday 4 April
A mini bus day tour to Lochness and through the Scottish Highlands with this company:- http://www.heartofscotlandtours.co.uk/lochness.php. I think the Scottish Highlands will be absolutely stunning, can't wait.

Friday 5 April
I'm thinking perhaps a hop on hop off bus tour of the city today. This is really our only day to explore Edinburgh so hopefully we can get up and into it first thing and get lots done with the bus tour. Then if time permits I would love to have a wander up and down the Royal Mile.

There is a Christmas shop I'm dying to see:- http://www.nutcrackerchristmasshop.c....asp?type=tour. You have to check out the amazingness of the different decorations on the website.

Saturday 6 April
Today we are doing another mini bus tour with Heart of Scotland, this time to Rosslyn Chapel and the Roman Border http://www.heartofscotlandtours.co.u...andborders.php. This will be a history filled day for sure.


So that is that for Scotland. We decided to do 2 day tours out of Edinburgh even though we really don't have much time in Scotland. We felt that it was the Scottish countryside and landscape we were wanting to see the most of so 1 full day and a bit of an afternoon in Edinburgh will have to suffice.

~~~~~~~~~~


Ireland

Ahhhhh, my husband and I, if asked what would be the first thing you would do if you won lotto, would both answer we would fly to Ireland and sit in an old Irish pub, get drunk and then decide what to do with the rest. Classy aspirations for sure .

We have 6 nights in Dublin which I know we won't feel like is enough but I 100% know we will visit Ireland again so I'm not stressing.

Accommodation
Originally I thought I wanted to stay at a B&B in Dublin also but there weren't any that I liked that were anywhere near the city. In the end we stumbled across this amazing boutique hotel that I think fits the bill for us exactly:- http://www.buswells.ie/.

I ended up booking this on booking.com because they offered a much cheaper rate than even the hotel could give me. We are getting 2 rooms here and breakfast. Configuration of who sleeps in what room will be decided as we go along and depends on who is getting sick of who etc .

Sunday 7 April
Fly to Dublin - arrive around lunchtime, hopefully check into our rooms, otherwise dump bags and head towards the nearest Irish pub with good reviews (will research this). Will likely have dinner here as well. This afternoon is fairly relaxed and just all about atmosphere.

Evening - I would like us to do either this for dinner http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...ty_Dublin.html or this http://www.irishfolktours.com/index.html......I can't decide, they both look great.

Monday 8 April
I am thinking we need to do some kind of tour of Dublin. Not sure whether to do a hop on hop off, a walking tour or I found a great private tour. DH wants to do the private tour but it's quite pricey. MIL wants to do the walking tour. I'm not sure yet but ultimately I will choose.

Afternoon will be spent sightseeing and wandering and visiting pubs

Tuesday 9 April
Today we are going on a bus tour to Cork and the Blarney Stone. MIL's family are originally from Cork so she was super keen to hit this area of Ireland. I wanted to go to the Wicklow Mountains area which is in the opposite direction but since she has been very good about going with the flow with my planning I had to give her this little victory - http://www.corktours.ie/.

This will be a looooooonnnnnngggggg day

Wednesday 10 April
I'm thinking Guiness Factory and pubs today . (there seems to be a recurring theme here)

Thursday 11 April
Today we head off on a bus tour to Belfast - http://titanicdaytour.com/.

Cannot wait for this. We will visit the new Titanic Exhibition until early afternoon and then have 2 hours free time. To fill that time I have arranged for us to do a political black taxi tour - http://belfastblackcabtours.co.uk/.

This tour gets rave reviews so I am truly looking forward to this, as is my husband.

Friday 12 April
Today is just another wandering, sightseeing day. These days need to be firmed up a little as to what activities fall on what day.
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PTR Christmas 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2979947
TR WDW/US/Canada Christmas trip 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3030550

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Old 11-20-2012, 05:03 AM   #4
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Paris

Ahhhhh beautiful Paris, how lucky we are to get 7 beautiful nights here. This is the most unorganised leg of the trip so far which I know is hilarious when you consider how unorganised some of the days earlier in the trip are. Argh, so much still to do.

Apartment
Feast your eyes on this little beauty of an apartment - http://www.parisvacationapartments.c...3rd-floor.html.

Yes you are allowed to be jealous, I am very lucky to get to stay in this beautiful apartment in the Palais Royal. I feel very blessed about this place. I'm also lucky that a friend of mine has stayed in this exact apartment a few years ago so I know it definitely lives up to the hype.

A block away from the Louvre, so central, it's fabulous.

Saturday 13 April - my son's 11th Birthday
Poor DS, he has to spend the morning of his 11th birthday in Dublin and then the afternoon and evening in Paris. Gosh his life sucks .

I am feeling a bit guilty about travelling on his birthday but that is how it worked out and he doesn't seem to mind....whew.

We fly into Paris around 1pm, private transfer to apartment where we will be met by a greeter to show us around the apartment. I have also arranged for there to be a birthday cake in the fridge waiting.

I'm thinking for the remainder of the day a cruise up the Seine with this company - http://www.batobus.com/english/batob...ne-escales.htm.

Then dinner somewhere near the Eiffel Tower area (need to research this), then hopefully get to see the Eiffel Tower lights come on and twinkle. I just feel that would be a very cool way to start our Paris visit.

Then back to room for sleep

Sunday 14-Friday 19 April
I have organised nothing for these days yet. I'm hyperventilating about it and need to spend time in the next few weeks getting a bit more of a plan in place.

I'm thinking of some type of tour on the Sunday which is our first full day...tour in the morning and I believe that Sundays walking around the Marais or St. Germain are great for people watching so likely that is how we will spend that afternoon.

So much to see in Paris, and some things are open some days and not others etc so I need to put much thought into this. Or beg Shushh to do it for me .

Gosh typing this out makes me feel slightly nauseous .


Disneyland Paris
Haven't done anything for here either but we are staying 2 nights, gosh knows where and visiting the parks.

I'll update as I know more.


So there is the trip in a nutshell as it stands. I need to get things a bit more locked and loaded don't I. With only 9 weeks between the trips, I'm sure that time will fly and I hate feeling like there hasn't been enough research done to make the most of a trip.

I know it will get there but at the moment it's a mess in my eyes .

Let me know if you see any problems so far.
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PTR Christmas 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2979947
TR WDW/US/Canada Christmas trip 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3030550

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Old 11-20-2012, 05:12 AM   #5
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Are you done with the placemarkers? Can I sub in now?











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Old 11-20-2012, 05:49 AM   #6
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You know me so well
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TR WDW/US/Canada Christmas trip 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3030550
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:53 AM   #7
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hopefully you starting this will get me enthused to start looking at planning Europe or I could just copy your itinerary
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:00 PM   #8
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How wonderful. A big trip to the US and a big trip to Europe right next to each other. I'm jealous!

Your trip looks like it will be awesome.

Just a few things to add to your already long list of must dos in London

- The Natural History Museum. It is the most stunning building, and even if you only have time to look at it from the outside, you're in for a treat.
- Hamleys Toy Shop - like Harrods, it's a cool store to browse through even if you don't plan on buying anything.

As for the West End Show - If you haven't seen the Lion King yet, you absolutely must go to see it. The costumes and african music gave me goose-bumps all 3 of the times I went to see it. Love, love, LOVE that show.
If you're looking for a cheap, but exciting stage show, check out if The Woman in Black is still playing. When I lived in London, last minute tickets to this show were about 10pound and so worth it. Warning: It's a bit scary. As long as your kids aren't easily spooked though, I suspect they'll love it.
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Old 11-20-2012, 01:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WAMUMOF4 View Post
hopefully you starting this will get me enthused to start looking at planning Europe or I could just copy your itinerary
I think you are going to some pretty exciting places WAMUMOF4, the fever for planning will hit you soon I bet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cola View Post
I went to Edinburgh last year I stayed on the Royal Mile at the Hotel Missoni (stunning hotel) and did a 5 day course very close to where you are staying, so got to eat in the area quite a bit, most of it was pretty so-so. Of the places I tried, the Salisbury Arms was probably best, but may be a bit far walking (course was in Salisbury Rd), I missed the bus stop once and ended up down at Mayfield Terrace, it's very suburban. Edinburgh is incredibly hilly, the train station is hilly, everything around the Royal Mile is either up a lot of steps or down a lot of steps (where you are staying is pretty flat). It makes the famous steepy winding road in San Franscico look like a small incline. Everything looks really close together, but only if you go up/down a lot of stairs quickly. The hills might be an issue for your MIL wandering around. The bus from where you are staying goes to the bottom of the Royal Mile, it's quite a steep incline up to the landmarks, and the castles are hilly.

Don't think about ribs at the Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh, the only word to discribe them is revolting.

I got the train from London to Edinburgh, yes, you don't want a lot of luggage. First class was worth the extra for more space (for people and luggage) and free wifi. I only booked after I got a good deal on the accommodation and decided I was going about 3 weeks beforehand and it was £67.35 one way, but it's supposedly a lot cheaper well in advance.
Cola - thanks so much for all the info. I didn't realise it was sooooo hilly. It's hard to get a sense of that on the map. I was tossing up about a hop on hop off busy tour and think we might do that now. It will save alot of hilly walking if nothing else, getting to the major sites.

In terms of luggage Cola, we will likely have 1 case and 1 carry on bag each. Is that doable? And yes I might upgrade to first class if that's the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderlustNZ View Post
How wonderful. A big trip to the US and a big trip to Europe right next to each other. I'm jealous!

Your trip looks like it will be awesome.

Just a few things to add to your already long list of must dos in London

- The Natural History Museum. It is the most stunning building, and even if you only have time to look at it from the outside, you're in for a treat.
- Hamleys Toy Shop - like Harrods, it's a cool store to browse through even if you don't plan on buying anything.

As for the West End Show - If you haven't seen the Lion King yet, you absolutely must go to see it. The costumes and african music gave me goose-bumps all 3 of the times I went to see it. Love, love, LOVE that show.
If you're looking for a cheap, but exciting stage show, check out if The Woman in Black is still playing. When I lived in London, last minute tickets to this show were about 10pound and so worth it. Warning: It's a bit scary. As long as your kids aren't easily spooked though, I suspect they'll love it.
Lion King was actually in my top 3. It wasn't in my husbands . Perhaps DH and MIL can see one thing and I'll take kids to Lion King .

I took the family to Nat History Museum in New York and while I enjoyed it, they didn't really. The bunch of stuffed animals (which is what my daughter called them) didn't appeal, although my son did enjoy the dinosaurs. As I said, I like it but since they didn't I hadn't planned to go there. Will try to go past though on your recommendation.
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PTR Christmas 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2979947
TR WDW/US/Canada Christmas trip 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3030550
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:43 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ms. Shuttergirl View Post
Cola - thanks so much for all the info. I didn't realise it was sooooo hilly. It's hard to get a sense of that on the map. I was tossing up about a hop on hop off busy tour and think we might do that now. It will save alot of hilly walking if nothing else, getting to the major sites.

In terms of luggage Cola, we will likely have 1 case and 1 carry on bag each. Is that doable? And yes I might upgrade to first class if that's the case.
I got the shock of my life when I came out of the train station, the hotel looked like it was about a 5min walk from the station on the map, but it turned out to be up a huge flight of stairs, not what I wanted with luggage.
I had a carry on and an oversized duffle bag with wheels and it was a challenge on some of the trains, plus when staying in older places with no lift. I think it is about 30x30x70cm. My first trip to England I stayed budget, after being on the 4th floor with no lift I thought 'never again', though it sometimes can't be avoided, I avoid it as much as possible! Something to watch out for with apartments and B&Bs. It's not like Orlando where anything over 2 storeys has a lift. When you read glowing reviews of places, you need to consider how much luggage they have - UK and Europe most people are doing short trips and travelling pretty light, luggage isn't much of a consideration, the one whiney review complaining there was nowhere for their suitcase may be one of only a hanful of people with a full sized suitcase that stayed there.
It is around the train station and along the Royal Mile up to the Castle, the Old Town side, that is so hilly, but that is where many of the major attractions are. The New Town side and away from the Castle it is pretty flat.


The London Edinburgh train was fine space-wise, though it felt so strange just dumping the bag in the luggage section at the end of the carriage (not enough space around the seat). One of the other trains I got it was ridiculously crowded, could barely get the bag in the carriage.
I found people on trains were either travelling really light with virtually just a carry-on, or had huge luggage that they wouldn't take on a plane.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:57 PM   #11
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http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2923570 is a good photo that sort of gives you an indication of how steep it is, Waverly is the main train station. these are the steps in between the front row of building and the next.... http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1253665 Street photos just don't capture how steep it is around the Royal Mile.

Ahhhh, this model shows it well!!! http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1302117 and how relatively flat the New Town in the foreground is
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:52 PM   #12
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Oh Yay, A PTR

In London, Marks & Spencers have a really good food department (like a supermarket), lots of fresh premade foods that come in handy if you have one hear by. One trip I had an addiction to their profiteroles. Don't know why, they weren't that good.

Harrods have a great food department too, well worth a visit. I was staying with friends on a few visits and I used to go there for the food when I was cooking dinner. I do recall being there in the summer though and it was SO warm and all of the meat was out and it was a little scary I would not have bought any. But aside from that, the rest is great. Selfridges also have a nice food department if you happen to be near them and were wanting something to take home for dinner or lunch.
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cola View Post
http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2923570 is a good photo that sort of gives you an indication of how steep it is, Waverly is the main train station. these are the steps in between the front row of building and the next.... http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1253665 Street photos just don't capture how steep it is around the Royal Mile.

Ahhhh, this model shows it well!!! http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1302117 and how relatively flat the New Town in the foreground is
You've got me a little scared about my fitness level for Edinburgh . Lucky are aren't staying there long. I think we may need to invest in a cab to take us to the top and then we will wander down the Royal Mile .

Thanks for these links.
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Sept/Oct 2010 WDW - split stay Wilderness Lodge/POP Century - Trip Report http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2559987

PTR Christmas 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2979947
TR WDW/US/Canada Christmas trip 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3030550
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:38 PM   #14
WanderlustNZ
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My DH didn't want to see the Lion King either, but I booked him tickets anyway and gave him no choice in the matter. Lol. Even he had to admit that it was very good. It's very much the same story as the movie, but the African chanting and music give it a bit more of an adult feel.
In the London theatre where it's held, I have sat in the very front row, the very back, and the middle. Of the 3, I highly recommend somewhere around the middle. Either that, or the front of the top level. There is so much going on on the stage and even sometimes in the aisles (particularly in the first scene), that being right at front makes it difficult to take in the full scope of everything that is happening.

By the way, what are the other 2 shows in your top three? I love the theatre so much, I'd struggle to just go to one show.

As for the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum is right next door. That is also very good and potentially more interesting to kids the age of yours. You could perhaps look at the Natural History Museum from the outside and the foyer, then explore the Science Museum next door. Also, I noticed you are going to the British Museum. Not sure how much kids would like it, but it's easily one of the best museums I've ever been to.
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Old 11-20-2012, 02:58 PM   #15
Ms. Shuttergirl
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderlustNZ View Post
My DH didn't want to see the Lion King either, but I booked him tickets anyway and gave him no choice in the matter. Lol. Even he had to admit that it was very good. It's very much the same story as the movie, but the African chanting and music give it a bit more of an adult feel.
In the London theatre where it's held, I have sat in the very front row, the very back, and the middle. Of the 3, I highly recommend somewhere around the middle. Either that, or the front of the top level. There is so much going on on the stage and even sometimes in the aisles (particularly in the first scene), that being right at front makes it difficult to take in the full scope of everything that is happening.

By the way, what are the other 2 shows in your top three? I love the theatre so much, I'd struggle to just go to one show.

As for the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum is right next door. That is also very good and potentially more interesting to kids the age of yours. You could perhaps look at the Natural History Museum from the outside and the foyer, then explore the Science Museum next door. Also, I noticed you are going to the British Museum. Not sure how much kids would like it, but it's easily one of the best museums I've ever been to.
DH would definitely enjoy Lion King, it's more that there are so many other fabulous things on that he would want to see he would never be able to choose . I don't really have a top 3, Lion King was about it although I would've adored to see Oliver, however it looks like they've taken that on the road for now, bummer.

The British Museum is a must for MEMEMEMEMEME!!!!! I'm dying to see the Egyptian exhibit. I've promised to keep our visit there under 2 hours so there is no complaining
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Oct 2009 Disneyland - stayed at Disneyland Hotel
Sept/Oct 2010 WDW - split stay Wilderness Lodge/POP Century - Trip Report http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2559987

PTR Christmas 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2979947
TR WDW/US/Canada Christmas trip 2012 - http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3030550
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