Our Magical "It's All Part of the Adventure" London + 10-Night Med Cruise - July 2018 - Completed!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by disneyfaninaz, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Well, we are back from a very busy, exhausting and awesome 19 day trip to Europe! I still have mountains of laundry :laundy:to do and thousands of pictures :surfweb: to download and edit, but I thought I’d get a trip report started.

    Cast of Characters:

    ME: :tinker:Disney travel loving, cancer surviving, Band Mom retiring, Trip planning mom.

    DH: :smickey: Loving, Disney enduring, retired, husband of nearly 25 years!

    DD: pluto: High School graduating, scholarship earning, college bounding, trumpet playing, birthday celebrating, world traveling,
    Harry Potter obsessing, uber Disney parks and cruise loving, 17 year old.

    DNeighbors:

    Our partners in crime on Disney cruises!

    DNC – Bosom buddy, walking partner and all around partner in conspiracy (especially involving Disney trips).

    DNJ – DNC’s husband and all around good egg.

    DNDD –Recent high school graduate and huge Disney Cruise and Peter Pan fan.

    DJ - DNJ's sister whom we have cruised to Alaska and Norway with. This is her DCL 6th cruise.

    Late Editions:

    DNJ’s sister DT and her friend DR. – This will be their second Disney cruise as they sailed the Baltic with DNs in 2015.

    Background:

    Back in March of 2016, DCL came out with their summer of 2017 cruises. Our cruise buddies (neighbors) were interested in the 9 night Alaska Cruise which included Icy Strait and Hubbard Glacier. Two places we hadn’t been to on our last Alaskan cruise and it was later in July closer to bear season. We went to Alaska in 2014 but it was the end of May and way too early for bears. I told everybody that our DD would most likely have band camp that week. DD was going to be a senior so this would be her last band camp. DH said he wanted to book it anyway. This was going to be our first Gold Castaway Member cruise so I was up at o’dark 30 the morning booking came available to call Florida to make my reservation.

    Well, as the 2017 summer came upon us, DD went to band camp and I asked the band director when the band camp was going to be for next year, since they book the camp a year ahead. Unfortunately, her camp would be the same week as the cruise. So, we eventually cancelled the Alaska cruise and planned a trip to Oahu and Aulani instead! But that’s another trip report! Hawaii Trip Report

    In March of 2017, DCL released their summer of 2018 cruise schedule. Our DD was graduating high school in 2018 as well as turning 18 later that summer. She had been clamoring for a cruise for her graduation gift since we had to cancel our cruise in 2017. As it turns out, along with DD’s graduation, 2018 is a big year of celebrations for us. It will be DH’s and my 25th wedding anniversary, DD turns 18 and I will be cancer free for 10 years!

    Now, DD was really hoping for a British Isles cruise. She went to England with a band tour last summer and really wanted to go back to England and possibly Paris. Well, DCL did not cooperate as they flip-flopped the Med and Northern European cruises for 2018. Meaning the British Isle cruise would be in September. Not going to work for a college freshman!

    Being a Gold Castaway Club member, we could book our cruise the next morning, so we felt kind of rushed to make a decision. The only other cruise that looked interesting was the 10 night Med cruise in July prior to DD starting college. I pitched it to our neighbors, but my DH just couldn’t get excited about it, and our neighbors had been to most of the ports on a previous cruise. We were beginning to think that a cruise wouldn’t be in our future.

    A couple of days later, our neighbors told us that they looked at the med cruise again and booked it. Ironically enough, that very morning, I had searched the cruise to see if the room we prefer to cruise in was available, and lo and behold, it was! It was surely a sign! I immediately put a hold on the room. I had to wait for the right time to talk to DH. DD and I talked DH into booking with the caveat he always gives us, “We can always cancel!” We booked the cruise 2 days later.

    The rest, dear readers, is history!

    Next: Planning
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
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  2. tinksdreamwishes

    tinksdreamwishes DIS Veteran

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    It sounds wonderful! Congratulations on all of the celebrations! I see that you are from AZ! My daughter will be attending GCU in August, she just graduated as well from HS. They sure do grow up fast! Can’t wait to read more!
     
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  4. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    :welcome: Thanks for joining in! Congratulations on your daughter's graduation. A few of DD's friends are also attending GCU. My daughter will be attending NAU in Flagstaff in the fall. Yes, they grow up so fast!
     
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  5. buteraa

    buteraa Mouseketeer

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    Following.......
     
  6. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    PLANNING

    This by far was going to be the longest and most intensive trip I’ve ever planned. But I was up to the challenge; let the fun begin. I usually end up immersing myself in planning for these trips by scouring web pages, reading travel books and preparing spreadsheets and lists and coming up with detailed itineraries. To me, this is the best part of traveling. But it does have its down sides too as I will discover on our trip.

    July, 2017

    Remember when I stated that our DD went to Europe with the Arizona Ambassadors of Music Program and fell in love with Europe? She especially loved Paris and London and wants to go back. She even went so far as to price out tickets for Disneyland Paris. Well, I admit, we spoil our daughter shamelessly, so I looked into possibly taking a side trip to Paris either before or after the cruise. That is until I saw the cost for additional airfare! :eek: Well, that put the kibosh on that little side trip. However, it started me thinking. Since we are flying through London to get to Barcelona, why not spend a few days in London before the cruise. No extra air fare required. Brilliant, even if I do say so myself. Well, if DD couldn’t go to Disneyland Paris, the next best thing was Harry Potter. So DD started pricing out the Harry Potter Studio Tour immediately. But, I was pleasantly surprised that DH also thought it was a good idea to spend some time in London and gave me the thumbs up to add the little side trip to our plans! Jolly good! Neither DH nor I had ever been to London, so I was looking forward to seeing all of the big touristy attractions! Tally ho!

    Meanwhile. . .

    Med Planning

    As the summer progressed into DD’s senior year of high school, DDC and I started planning our port excursions for this very port intensive cruise. With most of the ports we visit, you have to travel outside the city to see locations of interest. For all our ports, we are venturing out. With the exception of Livorno and Civitavecchia, we are booking private tours together. The three of us alone are using DCL tours to Florence and Rome since our neighbors are going to other locales that they haven’t seen yet. DD really wants to see the Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum and Pisa. DNC was able to get all of our private tours set up about 9-12 months in advance. Done!

    London Planning

    My objective was to get DH over the ocean as quickly and painlessly as possible. Therefore, we booked a direct flight from Phoenix to Heathrow with British Airways. We also added legs to Barcelona and back again. DH is 6”2” and needs leg room. We discovered Economy Plus on our flight to Norway 3 years ago so opted to go with it again for this trip. That little bit of extra room for the seats makes a world of difference on a 10 hour flight. We have our own little section of the plane with a dedicated flight crew.

    My DH pretty much told me he did not want to use the underground in London. He’s a bit claustrophobic and hates using subways. Therefore, I decided that we would get around London using Hop-On-Hop-Off tours. Granted, this has not been my favorite mode of transportation in the past, but it is a good way to get a feel for the city and get to the various locations we want to be.

    I booked the Hilton Doubletree – Westminster. Mostly because they had large rooms and were close to Westminster and Buckingham Palace, and we would get Hilton Rewards.

    I also purchased London Passes for our stay to get into the most popular tourist attractions.

    I really wanted to see a musical while in London. My DD raved about seeing Wicked there last summer. My DH isn’t so much into Wicked and we had seen Phantom of the Opera and Lion King several times. I was searching shows and stumbled upon an article that Mel Brooks was bringing Young Frankenstein from Broadway to London for a limited engagement. Now, my DH is a huge Mel Brooks fan and when I mentioned seeing Young Frankenstein – The Musical, I got his attention. So, I researched as much as I could about seat selection at the Garrick Theater and was able to get us pretty reasonable seats, with no obstructions and legroom on one of our nights in London. Score!

    We finalized the London portion of our trip and will be spending 5 days touring the city before flying to Barcelona. We will have one full day in Barcelona before our cruise. I booked a half day tour with Barcelona Day Tours that would take us to Montjuic and Park Guell and then drop us off at La Sagrada Familia so we could take a guided tour. Upon our return to Barcelona, we set up a private tour to Montserrat upon leaving the ship before flying home the next day.

    Harry Potter

    Several people told us that you need to book tickets to the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour months in advance. Well, being a trusting soul, I did just that and booked our tickets in January for 11:00 AM on Sunday, July 1st. I’m glad I did too, because by April, our date was pretty much sold out.

    The next obstacle was determining how to get there. One option was taking a cab to the London Euston train station, a train to Watford Junction and then a shuttle to the studio. We would have saved a lot of time and money, but it was multiple steps. We opted just to get a bus ride directly to the studios and then back to London. An opportunity cost for those economic majors out there. We purchased transportation with Golden Tours. The bus leaves London based on your ticket time and then gives you 3 and a half hours at the studios before returning back to London. We opted to spend 10 pounds more per person and stay an additional hour. Looking back, I’m glad we did, because we would have been really pushing it to see everything we wanted in 3 ½ hours.

    March 2018

    When online booking became available, my first time checking in as a Gold CC member (Yay), I was able to get our 2 DCL excursions, princess gathering and a character breakfast. The cruise is just too busy to book anything else. We need our sea days to rest up.

    For several months, the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix was hosting a traveling tour of Pompeii: The Exhibition.

    Over 200 precious artifacts on loan from the unparalleled collection of the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Italy, including wall-sized frescoes, mosaics, marble and bronze sculptures, jewelry, statues and ancient Roman coins, bring to life how Pompeii’s people lived, loved, work, worshiped and celebrated. In perhaps the most powerful portion of the exhibition, exquisite body casts of adults and children vividly communicate the emotions of the victims.”

    Since we were going to see the real thing on our cruise, we decided to see the exhibit. On March 25th, we bought tickets with our traveling companions. The exhibit had timed entrances so there were only so many people let in at one time and it was never really crowded so you could take your time reading about how these people lived in 79 A.D. It was fascinating. I had no idea how advanced this civilization was. It also had the effect of making my DH more interested in seeing Pompeii live and in person. If it comes to a city near you, I highly recommend a visit.

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    April, 2018

    We found out that Susan Egan, the original Belle on Broadway and Meg in “Hercules” was going to perform on our cruise. Being a big fan of both characters, I was very excited to learn this.

    Final Plan:

    Day 1 – June 29 & 30, 2018 – Travel, London, Afternoon Tea, London Eye
    Day 2 – July 1, 2018 – Harry Potter Studio Tour (as reported by my 17 year old uber fan guest reporter)
    Day 3 – July 2, 2018 – Westminster Abby, Churchill War Rooms, Kensington, Tour of London, Young Frankenstein
    Day 4 – July 3, 2018 – Tower of London, Greenwich
    Day 5 – July 4, 2018 – Changing of the Guards, British Museum, Covent Garden
    Day 6 – July 5, 2018 – Travel day to Barcelona
    Day 7 – July 6, 2018 – Tour Barcelona, Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia,
    Day 8 – July 7, 2018 – Getting on the Disney Magic, Sail Away
    Day 9 – July 8, 2018 – Private Tour of Marseilles, Cassis
    Day 10 – July 9, 2018 – Private Tour of Villefranche, Nice, Eze and Monaco
    Day 11 – July 10, 2018 – Private Tour of Genoa, Portofino, Santa Margherita and Rapallo
    Day 12 – July 11, 2018 – DCL Tour of Livorno, Florence & Pisa
    Day 13 – July 12, 2018 – Much needed Sea Day
    Day 14 – July 13, 2018 – DCL Tour of Civitavecchia – Rome
    Day 15 – July 14, 2018 – Private Tour of Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, Sorrento
    Day 16 – July 15, 2018 – Another Sea Day
    Day 17 – July 16, 2018 – Private Tour of Palma, Valldemossa
    Day 18 – July 17, 2018 – Disembark Magic, Private Tour of Montserrat
    Day 19 – July 18, 2018 – Return home

    Next: We are finally on our way!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
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  7. figment52

    figment52 <font color=royalblue>Oh man, I checked out the we

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    Sounds like a great trip. looking forward to more reports.
     
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  8. buteraa

    buteraa Mouseketeer

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    Wow, your trip sounds amazing. Cant wait to hear more.
     
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  9. JulieODC

    JulieODC DIS Veteran

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    Following along!

    I am planning a DCL cruise for next summer that has a lot of ports - soooo much pressure to research them all and pick the right excursion!
     
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  10. GuardMusic

    GuardMusic Castaway Club Platinum

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    I'm eager to hear about your DCL vs private port adventures. We are on the 7n RT Barcelona next May. I'm also curious about the times. We are looking at two extensive port adventures in Rome & Florence and wondering the best choice for dining? Early dining and have to rush back OR late dining (late to sleep is tough with early port adventure call times)!
     
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  11. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    I will definitely get into those details as I go. We had first seating. All aboard time for both those days was 7:00 PM.

    After our DCL excursion to Florence we arrived back to the ship a little after 6:00 PM. By the time we went through security and back on the ship, we went directly to our MDR at about 6:30 PM. We told our servers that we had a late excursion and they told us that they could still serve us as late as 7:00 PM.

    After Rome, we arrived back to port a little after 6:00 again. As soon as we boarded we went directly to our MDR.

    We prefer early dining and didn't feel rushed as our servers knew both those ports had long port excursions and were prepared for it. However, the MDRs were significantly less busy on those nights. Also, with a very port extensive itinerary, all port days started pretty early, so eating at 8:30 and then going right to bed didn't suit us.

    For our private tours, we told the operator that we wanted to be back on the ship an hour before all aboard. We had no problem doing this and did not feel rushed to get back at all. In most cases, the all aboard time was before dinner started.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2018
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  12. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Days 1 & 2 – We are on our way! Travel and London
    June 29th and 30th, 2018


    After over a year of extensive planning and anticipation, the day had finally arrived. Everything was checked off my list, the house was ready for our absence and our neighbor was set to take us to the airport. Our flight was at 5:35 PM MST. We got to the airport 3 hours in advance because we were flying internationally and expected a wait through security. Checking in with BA was a breeze and there was maybe a 5 minute wait through security. Of course, my DD, who has Type 1 diabetes and takes her supplies with her that need to be hand checked, gets TSA Pre Check and gets to sail on through security while DH and I have to take our shoes off and practically strip to go through security. (ha ha)

    Anyway, we made it to our gate with almost 2 hours to spare before our flight. I believe our gate was the farthest most point of Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor. It felt like we walked for miles. We grabbed some water and a snack and then boarded.

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    We found our seats and watched a very entertaining video about the safety features of the plane. I have to say, I was a little disappointed with BA. They use a 747 for the long hauls from Phoenix and the plane was really showing its age. We had little bitty scratched up touch screens for our inflight entertainment. The seats were falling apart and the foot rests weren’t working properly on several seats. Not to mention that they had 1 power outlet per seat available for plugs that aren’t even made anymore. DD was disappointed that she didn’t have a USB port. The service was good, but not exceptional. We were served a nice dinner while we watched a movie. I watched The Darkest Hour in anticipation of seeing the Churchill War Rooms. Soon, the lights in the cabin were dimmed and we all tried to catch a few hours of sleep. About 2 hours before landing we were woken up and given a light breakfast.

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    We arrived to Heathrow a few minutes ahead of schedule at 11:00 AM to sunny skies, :sunny: but there were no gates available for a 747 at that time, so we had to deplane with stairs to the tarmac and bus it to the terminal for customs.

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    We walked through even more corridors until we reached customs.

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    As expected, there was a long line to get our passports checked. Once completed, we got our luggage. I had booked Eddie Manning’s Car Service for transportation to our hotel. It took about 40 minutes from the time we landed until our driver met us outside baggage claim and helped us with our luggage to our minivan. They were excellent and worth the premium paid. The first thing we noticed was the traffic and our driver said that traffic was pretty much at a standstill in London for the month of July. It didn’t help that Wimbledon started on Monday.

    We booked the Hilton Doubletree – Westminster for our stay in London. We had a King Master Suite, the Thames Suite, on the 13th floor with access to the Executive Lounge. A buffet breakfast was also included with this room. We had a view looking east and of the Thames River.

    Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we did a quick change of clothes, gathered our items needed for the day, checked our bags with Bell Services and headed up to the Executive Lounge to get refreshment. After catching our breath and partaking of some caffeine, we headed out to explore. They had the cutest little Coke bottles.

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    Our first priority was food, so we headed towards The Cellarium at Westminster Abbey for Afternoon Tea. We passed by a park, the Westminster Palace (Parliament) and Westminster Abbey.

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    The Cellarium wasn’t very easy to find and we had to ask a few people on the way how to get there. Once we found the place, we had to go through a bag check to enter the building. We then had to wait a few minutes before we were seated.

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    We ordered a tea tray for 2 with finger sandwiches, pastries and most importantly of all, scones! DH and I had Earl Grey tea, while DD had some Chamomile. All was delicious and filling.

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    It was about 3:00 PM when we finished our Tea. We headed back out to Parliament Square in front of Westminster Abbey.

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    We walked by the statues in the square. Here are a couple of the most notable ones.

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    We happened to arrive in London during the NHS March. This march marked the 75 anniversary of the NHS (National Health System). Most of Whitehall was closed off for the march with stages and loud speakers set up. We avoided it by walking across the Westminster Bridge towards County Hall and the London Eye. We walked next to the Elizabeth Tower, which I knew was being refurbished. At least we got to see one clock face.

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    What I didn’t realize was that Parliament was also going through a major refurbishment, and was mostly covered in scaffolding as well.

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    People tied locks and ribbons to the light standards on the bridge.

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    To be continued. . .

     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
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  13. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Day 1 (Continued)

    We walked in front of the old County Hall, now a home to several tourist attractions including the Sea Life Aquarium, Shrek’s Adventure and The London Dungeon.

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    We walked further down to the Hungerford Bridge and crossed back over the river.

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    After crossing the bridge we walked through Victoria Embankment Gardens. There was a jazz band performing.

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    Side note: You really take your life in your hands when crossing streets in London. Not only do you have to remember to look the opposite direction for traffic that you’re used to, evidently, crossing lights are merely guidelines and jaywalking is not a crime in London. We saw more people cross on red lights. At one point we were standing behind a policeman waiting to cross when several people crossed on the red light. He didn’t do a thing, but we stayed back and crossed with him on the green.

    We eventually made our way to Trafalgar Square, which was being set up for the London Philharmonic to play there the next day.

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    We saw the Admiralty Arch

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    Walked over to Horse Guards Parade Grounds (which they were setting up for a big Royal Air Force Anniversary event with planes, and other military transports)

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    and St. James Park.

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    And came across Duck Island Cottage, it was built in 1841 for the St. James Park bird keeper. It was so quaint.

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    We walked right by The Churchill War Rooms.

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    We then walked back toward the river and made our way back across the river to ride the London Eye.

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    During tea, I purchased tickets on my phone to get the online discount and got a 5:15 PM Fast Track time slot. There was no line for Fast Track and we were in our capsule by 5:10 PM for the 30 minute ride around. It was a clear sunny day so we could see quite a lot of London.

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    Looking towards St. Paul’s and the financial district with London’s strangely shaped (and humorously named) skyscrapers.

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    Coming back around looking at the other side towards the city of Westminster.

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    Looking at County Hall.

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    After riding the eye, we had been up for over 28 hours with very little rest; we were running on fumes and headed back to the hotel.

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    We got to the hotel about 6:00 PM and got our room keys. The room was huge with a bank of windows across one side.

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    We had a view of the Thames and to DH’s delight, MI6 (James Bond’s HQ).

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    The sun didn’t set until around 9:30 PM, but we had blackout curtains in the main room where DD slept on a roll away bed.

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    We had our own bedroom.

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    There were also 2 bathrooms, which was nice. DD had her own powder room and shared our shower. Both bathrooms were good size.

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    We headed to the Executive Lounge where they served food in the evenings. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough. After we had a bite, we headed up to our room. We unpacked and got settled before finally going to bed. We had big plans for the next day!

    Next: BEST DAY EVER!!!!
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
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  14. scrappydew

    scrappydew l wish I were at Aulani!

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    Did you find Heathrow an easy airport to navigate? And where did you meet your driver? We have never been to an airport this large and I'm worried we'll get frustrated.
     
  15. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    When you arrive at Heathrow, there's only one way to go. They pretty much funnel you through corridors until you reach passport control. No navigation necessary. Then you pretty much dump out into the luggage carousels. Once you get your luggage, you follow the signs to ground transportation. There are tons of drivers waiting there with signs with names on them. Just look for your name. Our driver actually texted me that he was there and gave me directions.

    Even going back through Heathrow was easy. The airport has good signage showing you where to go. There's always somebody to ask as well.
     
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  16. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Day 2: - London – The Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour

    Sunday, July 1, 2018

    My DD recently became a huge Harry Potter fan. She has read and re-read all of the books and has seen each movie several times. She even got to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando last fall. She wanted to visit these studios so badly and she used her dog sitting money and purchased the tour tickets. She even strongly suggested that we watch all of the movies before the tour, which we did. As I stated previously, we were advised to get our tickets for the studios months in advance, I strongly pass that advice on to you.

    Finally, the day DD has been anticipating for over a year had come. We had a very nice English Breakfast Buffet including, but not limited to, baked beans, scrambled eggs, porridge, fresh fruit and assorted danishes. A pot of tea was also offered and enjoyed. DD enjoyed it the English way with milk and sugar. After breakfast, we walked for about 25 minutes from our hotel to the Victoria Bus Station to catch our Harry Potter bus.

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    We interrupt my musings for a special guest report from my Gryffindor DD:

    Hello DIS boards! DD here and I am the Harry Potter enthusiast of disneyfaninaz. Nice to finally make an appearance. So here is the thing, I share my love between Disney and Harry Potter, shocking I know, I still love Disney more so don’t panic guys, but because of that, this recent trip to Europe was very thrilling for me.

    Let us start off were it all began…

    Once Upon A Time…

    Oops, sorry. This is about Harry Potter, not Disney! My bad.

    *ehem*

    Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive…

    Oops, sorry again. That is the start to the first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone”, the beginning of everything, but not quite the beginning of our story.

    Let me start off by saying that if you’re reading this with any consideration of going to London , or perhaps thinking of staying there before a British Isles Disney Cruise, or taking: or possibly dragging, your family along with you to see the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour, just know that I STRONGLY recommend it. I had the absolute time of my life and have wanted to go back for more time the very second I left.

    Here are the basic facts. We spent 4 hours, and could’ve easily spent 5. The website says 3 but don’t listen to that. That is only if you go during the off season, your tour isn’t sold out by the time you leave for it, and there are no lines for any of their special green screen picture areas that, trust me, are too cool to pass up on.

    Alrighty! Now that we have this out of the way, off to Hogwarts we go.

    Our tour was 11:00 AM on July 1st 2018, and our transportation was Golden Tours, who took us to the studios and back. I highly recommend doing this because if you’re like us and you’re not familiar with using trains, it is way easier. Golden Tours typically gives you a return time after about 3 and a half hours in the studios, but you will only end up with 2 hours and 30 minutes because time will catch you in the middle of a very long tour path that will take 15 minutes to get out of whilst probably looking at everything in a rush. So my mother, the woman who usually types these things up, bought an extra hour for us, and thank goodness for that! The busses have Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, and play a Harry Potter movie of their choice on the drive there! We got to watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The drive is about an hour with light traffic, and it is beautiful!

    And now we have arrived!

    So I just went crazy with pictures the very second that I got there. The entrance to the studio is the classic photo opportunity that you cannot pass up on.

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    For the tour, you have to reserve your tickets ahead of time, but you get the option of having them shipped to you for a small fee, and this I strongly suggest. The line to pick up tickets isn’t awful, but skipping that line is just more time you have to get in line for the tour, maybe do some shopping, eat, or take an insane amount of pictures (guilty).

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    Ok, I will stop with my suggestions now and talk about our experience, share some cool pics, and do the DIS board thing! If you can’t already tell, I am new at this.

    We got into the lobby at about 10:30 ish, which was too early to get in line, so we grabbed a bite to eat! My mom and I split a Lemon donut which was delicious, but they have some catching up to do to Disney’s bakery quality. Can’t help but compare.

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    We spent the rest of our time looking around the gift shop! The gift shop there is super cool because they have created different mini sets within the store using movie props to sell certain products, such as Honeydukes, Madam Malkins, or Olivanders.

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    We jumped in line at about 11:00 and actually made it into the tour at about 11:15, which was awesome.

    The tour opens in a small room with TV screens that explain how the book made it to a movie screen, and then of course, the employees play some EPIC Harry Potter puns that only the true fans will understand, and it was just the beginning of a thrillingly magical day.

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    Those were not the last movies you’d see during the day; the tour immediately goes into another theater where you can sit back and enjoy a welcome movie, featuring none other than the stars themselves: Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint. I was already in tears because wow, I am here, and it hadn’t really set in yet. Now, I really wasn’t prepared for the amazing reveal of the Great Hall. It is just one of those things, ya know? You spend so much time wanting to go to Hogwarts and then bam, you are as close as you will ever physically get! I was, of course, still crying and I have no shame.

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    The great hall is really cool because it was sort of the center piece for filming the movies. They went the distance when it came to creating the room by making the floor and the fireplace real stone, and making the tables and other sets out of real wood, and hand carving and crafting a lot of the details you see.

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    We were there during an expo of the 4th movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. So in the great hall, we got to see the actual Goblet of Fire and see it actually pop out Harry Potter’s name the exact way that they did it in the movie. We then all got to collect little pieces of paper of our own as a free souvenir. Magical.

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    We were then promptly pushed out into a warehouse that was actually used for filming. We got to see a plethora of costumes, wigs, props, and sets. My personal favorites were probably seeing the costumes from the 8th movie, the Gryffindor Common Room (go Gryffindor!!!), Dumbledore’s Office, the door to the Chamber of Secrets, Ministry of Magic, Prefect Bathroom fountain, the Mirror of Erised and the interactive Quidditch area! But of course, everything was amazing, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

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    I had the opportunity, at one of the green screen stations, to get a video and picture of myself in a Gryffindor robe flying on a broomstick! It was very much worth the $50!

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    After the huge warehouse (that if I had more pages I would go on forever about), they had the Forbidden Forest. This is their newest addition and it was cool! It has a spooky vibe and in there you get to see a Hippogriff, and Aragog with his little spider friends (Ron Weasly would have gotten spooked in this section). They also have trees they used in the movies!

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    This was the passage to the ever so famous Platform 9 ¾ . Sitting in this replica of Kings Cross Station is the train. This train was an operational train before the exterior was being used as a prop for the movies, now sitting in the studio tour. It didn’t go to Hogwarts, sadly, but I was technically was already there, so.
    Even my dad, who wasn’t too excited about Harry Potter, really thought that was cool! You can even walk through the train and see a booth themed for every movie that used the train. There is a small gift shop and another green screen opportunity, that, we didn’t take advantage of because of time restrictions, but you could!

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    It was time for lunch, and thank goodness that the next room was their food court. I had a delicious Hot Dog with onions and of course, a Butterbeer! I am a huge fan of Butterbeer, I just don’t taste the sweetness that everybody claims to, and so I could drink them all day, but that is an unpopular opinion. My parents had the hamburgers and they said they weren’t that good, so if you’re not 100% committed to getting one, they don’t recommend it.

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    Continued . . .
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2018
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  17. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Messages:
    13,094
    Day 2 - Continued

    After we ate, we got to walk around their outside exhibit area. You’ve probably heard that the tour is where you can see Number 4 Privet Drive, The Knight Bus, Hogwarts Bridge, and Harry’s childhood home in Godrics Hollow. So that was super cool, and you learned about stuff like what materials the houses were made out of ,(plexi- glass with a lot of paint and texture layers if you are interested), and how they created the scene in the first movie where Harry had to grab his Hogwarts letter. I also got to sit in one of the models of the Angela Ford car from the 2nd movie, and Hagrid’s bike, used in several of the films.

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    The tour then continues to their special effects and art galleries. Unfortunately, our time was limited to about an hour before we had to be back on the bus to return to London, so it was rushed. The first room had all of their animatronics, and cool visual effects set up. Warwick Davis did a little movie that played while you looked around that talked about how they were able to use animatronics for Ron’s rat, Scabbers. Even Hagrid’s head in some more complicated scenes, since Rubeus Hagrid was a giant, which Robbie Coltrane was obviously, even as a bigger man, too small to play a giant. So CGI really can’t do everything, but it was SUPER cool to learn about because shockingly, I didn’t know that, and if you knew me, you’d know my brain is like 50% Harry Potter knowledge.

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    Anyways, the next room was another one of those highly anticipated rooms for me; Diagon Alley!

    This set was the original set where the exteriors of DA were shot, as in that famous scene from the first movie, and almost every movie after that, of the characters walking down the long and diagonal street. The set is old and of course had to look that way for the movies, so the original street that they filmed on is covered by a ramp that visitors can walk on. It was amazing though to look at all the artwork and details up close and personal. While on a trip to Disney World last fall, I got the opportunity to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios, Orlando where I got to see a model of Diagon Alley. That model was of course a lot bigger, but not the same as seeing the real thing! It was just ten times more magical, while being a lot smaller in London.

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    The next two rooms were a complete blur, although I got to see my favorite scene’s costumes and art design from the 8th movie, Harry Potter and Voldemort’s final battle at the battle of Hogwarts, so that was cool. Then in order to work with CGI and real set design, they made what they call “white models”, and these were just white cardboard models of the sets they would use with scales and mini people to organize ideas to make production smoother for both the special affects team and the actors. Now the next room is our most anticipated room of all,

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    psst -10 points to your Hogwarts house if you know what scene this white model is modeling! (answer is at the end)
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    Hogwarts.

    This structure is something that you would see in Storybook Canal Boats at Disneyland. This was Hogwarts in all of its glory. It is set in a huge room with cool lighting, and emotional Harry Potter music playing all around you, along with TV screens showing you how they used this in the films. It truly was beautiful.

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    A quick rundown; they would film the castle, plug it into a green screen for the background, then plug any forward movement, like snow or rain. They would then plug filming of people, music, animals, and all of that kind of stuff in order to create the final film product!

    And so, this would conclude our magical tour of The Making of Harry Potter, Warner Bros Studio Tour London! I was so happy to be able to pay for my family to go here because I seriously loved it. I hate big purchases, but this was the best purchase I have ever made with my own money.

    I hope you enjoyed your brief trip report intermission for a 17 year old college freshman fangirling about Harry Potter! Nice talking to ya! Back to your regularly scheduled trip report!

    Also, if you caught that question up there and answered it; that white model was modeling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2; the Battle of Hogwarts! Good for you if you guessed right! 10 points!

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    Thank you sweetie for a very informative report.

    After returning back to London, we walked back to our hotel and ate in the hotel restaurant before returning to our room for some well-deserved rest before we continued touring London the next
    day.

    Next: Beware of 3 hour tours!
     
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  18. m3owbox

    m3owbox Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2015
    Messages:
    408
    Following along, cant wait for more!
     
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  19. OurLuce

    OurLuce Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2015
    Messages:
    70
    Hi. We live in the uk ... and finally got to do the hp studio tour on friday. And it was awesome. You've written a really good report. Just to say you need to book several months in advance as it does sell out. We got a 9.30 slot which meant it wasnt too full even though it is school holidays. It is really worth talking to the 'cast members', you find out a lot more details. We stayed in a hotel in watford, about a 10 min drive from the studios, the night before.
     
  20. Disneyfriend

    Disneyfriend DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2001
    Messages:
    703
    Lovely trip report! I feel like I'm following in your footsteps a bit; I read your Alaska trip report before we went to Alaska last summer, and now I'm reading this one before we go on the British Isles trip this year and the Mediterranean trip next year!

    I also live in Phoenix, and saw the Pompeii exhibit twice over the past 6 months. Very well done, wasn't it?

    One more comment; I have had a devil of a time figuring out air transportation from Phoenix. I too had read that the nonstop flights from British Airways are lovely in terms of convenience, but a bit rough around the edges in terms of the actual airplanes. We also are looking for premium economy. For this upcoming trip to London, we ended up booking a Virgin Atlantic flight. I think the planes will be nicer, but on the other hand we'll have to change planes. Basically, there is just no great way to travel from Phoenix to Europe.
     
    disneyfaninaz likes this.
  21. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2007
    Messages:
    13,094
    It was rather fun. Yes, we were advised to purchase our tickets months in advance and we bought them in January for our July date.
     

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