I like to think of Disney World as one of those corporate personality tests. You arrive fresh faced and full of hope, and leave crushed by the stark openness of your soul laid bare. In other words, it really helps you figure out what you like in a park ride. We spent ten days in the parks in total (8 in Disney World, 2 in Universal Studios), and did very little planning in advance.  As someone who arrived super chilled about the different rides I now have VERY STRONG OPINIONS on which are good, bad, magical and horrific. For example, I hope the Good Place looks like the Tiki Room – many would disagree. I could go on and on about this (lord no one give me a podcast) so I have made things simple and broken it down into the best worst and mildly entertaining per park. AND because I love an overshare, I have included our full ride itinerary at the end.
Fun fact: I loved rollercoasters as a kid, but then got really really scared of them as a teenager. Now, at 29? Forking love them again. I seriously could not get enough of that almost out of control feeling as your stomach sits in your mouth and all of your senses are assaulted with speed and noise.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Best 
Avatar Flight of Passage
This is the ride of Kings, seriously I don’t think there is another ride on the planet that can top it at the moment. The concept is you are flying on a Banshee across Pandora, which in reality means you are sitting on a motorbike type contraption (which ‘breathes’ underneath you) and you watch a 3D movie as the bike moves a little in place. But holy James Cameron it actually feels like you are flying through another world, the effects are just that good. So good in fact that we did this one twice even though the wait time was 2 hours a piece. Even the waiting is not that bad since the theming of the queue is superb (you walk through the forest, caves, and labs of Pandora). If you are going to Disney you can’t miss this ride.
Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
A more traditional rollercoaster but at some point a yeti turns up. Its fast, you go backwards and the feeling of going through and around a mountain adds something extra.
Mildly Entertaining 
Kilimanjaro Safaris
You sit on a safari truck and go and look at actual real life animals. I mean ones that aren’t plastic and controlled by a server in the basement. The Disney animals are no different to what you would see in any other zoo, but if you want a good 20minute sit down and a chance to see a rhino butt..then this is the ride for you.
Festival of the Lion King
A live action show with all the songs you know and love AND some acrobatic monkeys (well…very good looking humans pretending to be monkeys). Very good fun and again, a good chance for a sit down.
Bad
Dinosaur
What the hell Disney. Why is this ride still a thing? It looks like a paper mache class project from the 90’s that has been combined with a track so jerky that even biltong is wondering why Dinosaur is so extra. I’m sure a micro human would enjoy it, but don’t wait more than 10 minutes and for all that is holy don’t waste a fast pass on it.

Magic Kingdom

Best
Space Mountain 
Loved it so much we rode it twice. Its an almost pitch black rollercoaster with surprising twists, a space theme and games you can play in the queue. Whats not to love?
Splash Mountain
This is quite simply a classic log flume with excellent music, characters and a good old fashioned soaking at the end.
Mildly Entertaining
Pirates of the Caribbean 
Its amazing that Disney somehow manages to turn raping and pillaging into wholesome family fun, where even the domestic abuser cameo at the end seems delightful. That aside this is a great ride that takes you on a pirate adventure and will leave you singing ‘yo ho’ well into the next ride.
People Mover
This was great, not sure of the point of it, but a nice place to eat some snacks.
Bad
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Fantastically smooth rollercoaster but it did not make up for the horrific wait time. This was the only queue that felt painful (compared to Avatar for example which was the same time but went by in the blink of an eye), it was hot, long and full of children (#thatswhatshesaid). The ride is just too short to overcome the horrors of the line. I would say it is worth doing if the line is under 1.5 hours…which it never is so just give up and ride something else.
Haunted Mansion
Not a bad ride in itself, but both times we rode it broke down for not insignificant amounts of time. I can now say Madame Leota’s monologue off by heart. It haunts my dreams. Oh god why wont it stop.
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin
This is a point and shoot ride where you need to hit the targets. The problem is that it is impossible to see what you are shooting at which rather takes the fun out of it. Worth it if you have a fast pass, not if you have to queue.

Disneys Hollywood Studios

Best
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
Basically its Space Mountain but with music. It may be even more fun if you know who Aerosmith is. Is a Spice Girls roller coaster too much to ask?
Tower of Terror
I don’t think I have ever been this genuinely scared on a ride, which I guess is the point. It was Dad’s favourite so we rode it twice. I didn’t know anything about the Twilight Zone so the theme was a little lost on me, but the final random drop sequence is terrifyingly brilliant. If you are ever feeling a bit blue send me a DM and I will show you the ride photo from this – the look of terror on my face will make you happy again.
Toy Story Mania!
Think 3D carnival type games where you are trying to knock down plates and toss rings. So much fun and very well executed as a ride.
Mildly Entertaining
Star Tours
This was a good concept and great if you are into Star Wars, but now just feels a little dated in comparison to Avatar and the like. Oh and there was a family on the ride with us that SCREAMED the entire time, I was very close to turning to the dark side by the time the ride ended.
Bad
Where the hell are the rest of the rides? Ok I know they are building them, but right now Hollywood Studios just feels empty. I would recommend getting fast passes for the three ‘best’ ones above and then you only need a half day in the park to see everything.

Epcot

Best
Living with the Land
Ok your kids may hate this one, but as a grownup it is fascinating. You learn all about agriculture across the globe and get to see some of the growing techniques up close. Much fun. Much learning. Much growing.
Frozen Ever After
Basically a modern version of the Pirates ride but with more ice and less rape.
Mildly Entertaining
Spaceship Earth
The overall vibe for Epcot is ‘stuck in the 80’s’ and nothing says that better than Spaceship Earth (it is the ride inside the big ball). Spaceship Earth is a look at how we may all live in the future but from the past i.e. think the Jetsons with flying cars instead of all just hoping WW3 isn’t started on Twitter.
Bad
Nothing? They were all mildly entertaining and vaguely educational. Although it is telling that we only spent a day here and it was the only park we didn’t double dip on.

What we did, day by day

Saturday: Animal Kingdom in the afternoon

– Avatar: Flight of Passage
– Dinosaur
– Its a bugs life
– Avatar: River Cruise
Sunday: Disney Springs & Epcot
– The Void (Starwars VR experience)
– Living with the Land
– Journey into Imagination with Figment
– Test Track
– Mission Space
– Spaceship Earth
– The Seas with Nemo & Friends
– Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
– Soaring over the World
– Frozen Ever After
Monday: Universal Studios
– Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
– Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
– Men in Black: Alien Attack
– Men in Black: Alien Attack
– ET Adventure
– The Simpsons Ride 🙁
– Transformers the ride
– Revenge of the Mummy
– Revenge of the Mummy
– Minions 3D
Tuesday: Universal Studios Islands of Adventure
– Cat in the Hat
– Poseidon’s Fury
– Flight of the Hippogriff
– Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
– The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad Stunt Show
– Skull Island: Reign of Kong
Wednesday (Valentines Day): Magic Kingdom
– Carousel of Progress
– People Mover
– Jungle Cruise
– Tiki Room
– Pirates of the Caribbean
– Fireworks (Happily Ever After show)
– Its a Small World
– Haunted Mansion
Thursday: Magic Kingdom
– Big Thunder Railroad
– Buzz Lightyear
– Bells Enchanted Tales
– The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
– Space Mountain
– Splash Mountain
– Train Ride
Friday: Disneys Hollywood Studios
– Tower of Terror
– Indiana Jones Show
– Star Wars
– Toy Story Mania
– Rocking Roller Coaster
Saturday: Kennedy Space Center!
Sunday: Animal Kingdom
– Expedition Everest
– Safari
– Lion King Show
– Avatar: Flight of Passage
Monday: Magic Kingdom
– Space Mountain
– Haunted Mansion
– Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (rage)
– Pirates of the Caribbean
Tuesday: Disneys Hollywood Studios
– Rocking Roller Coaster
– Tower of Terror
– StarWars Fireworks

2017 was a rough one for me, I was burnt out, unhappy and my hair would not behave no matter what I did. I needed a break, a big dumb holiday with zero thinking and a lot of magic. I know I live close to Europe which has history, and art and the best pizza in the world – but I didn’t want a holiday that involved even an ounce of thinking. I didn’t want to learn or be cultured or go exploring, my brain needed to switch off and so I set to planning my big dumb holiday.

I could have gone for a beach break, but let’s be honest I would have just spent a week thinking a million miles an hour about all the things I should have or could have done, just with extra sand involved. No, I needed a distraction. Disney World in Florida was my destiny.

I had been wanting to go to Orlando ever since they opened the Harry Potter parts of Universal Studios, and then last year I really got into Disney vloggers as a bit of escapism (if you need a quiet thing to watch with no surprises and it’s just people walking around doing Disney rides – Disney vloggers are the way to roll). Two things had always stopped me booking it however. The first is that it seemed like a ridiculous holiday to book when I could go to Iceland or Rome or literally any place that has real culture. I mean, part of Disney is actually called ‘the world showcase’ and has pavilions from France, Norway and Morocco – all countries I could actually have gone to instead of travelling in the other direction to see a fake version.

And the second thing that stopped me was the money. Disney is prohibitively expensive, and add on top of that Universal (different parks, different expensive ticket you have to buy), the lack of public transport so you have to cab everywhere, and hotels who know you are in Orlando for one reason so can charge what they like. Disney is a very expensive holiday.

But mid last year at work I won an award that came with a cash prize, a cash prize that would be enough to cover my flights and some of the park ticket. And I knew after living in London for all of time that winter is rubbish even in the best cities in the world. So I did it, I booked a trip to Disney, a once in a lifetime trip that would allow my brain to have a break, me to recharge and most importantly actually see the sun for the first time in months.

I called my Dad to tell him my plan, and he asked if he and Mum could gate-crash my trip (Florida is kind of [but not really] half way between NZ and UK). Now, Dad does not have the authority level to make these decisions without sign off from Mum. So I said sure, thinking that Mum would never go for it. But to my huge surprise she was totally on board for my big dumb holiday. I can’t tell you how amped I was for them to join. I hadn’t seen them in about 10 months, and I hadn’t spent actual holiday time with them in two years – this was going to be epic.

Then came the spanner in the works. Dad called me and said “we have had a look and Disney is quite expensive, how about we go to Peru instead”. I had two issues with this proposed amendment to Plan A, firstly it was my damn holiday that they were gate-crashing so who did they think they were changing the destination, and secondly the key factor in this was Disney World – and Disney World was not in Peru.

We eventually worked through the logistical issues and my god I’m glad we did because it was exactly the holiday I had dreamed about. We didn’t do any full days at the park, normally we either had a sleep in or went super early and were back by 2ish. We filled the rest of the time with outlet mall shopping, a visit to the Kennedy Space Centre and going to the Olive Garden three nights in a row (those breadsticks!!!). There was no thinking involved outside what rollercoaster we were going to go on that day and which snacks we should pack.

I wish I had got off my cultural high horse earlier and gone to Disney World. Would I go back? Probably not, it is a hella expensive couple of weeks. Would I try to find an equivalent to give my mind and body a break? Absolutely. Except this time I might do it before burning out.

In Disney you spend a significant amount of time in queues. You queue for security, you queue for the monorail, you queue to get in, you queue for Starbucks and then of course there are the rides. I have been in the UK now for 6 years, so I am totally ok with queuing – in fact if you are British then I personally think Disney is the queue lover’s ideal vacation. You can spend hours happily sandwiched between other people as you slowly inch forward. The reason I mention the endless standing in line is because it allowed for a lot of people watching, and some rather through observational research into what the best age is to take your kids to Disney World. It is a tough one, Disney is an expensive ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday, so you absolutely want to make sure your kids will enjoy it, but what oh what is this magical ideal age?

It’s 29.

Let me break it down for you.

New-born: Yes we saw a lot of new-borns at Disney. I am rather judgey Mc judgey on this point, because I just can’t get on board with a new-born being in direct sunlight in a queue for two hours in all the noise and chaos of Disney. I get that if you book a holiday 11 months ago and then have a surprise baby that you don’t want to waste all the money. But maybe go to the parks in the morning and afternoon when it’s cooler and less crowded? Or if you are going to be there all day take some sort of sun shade for the micro human. Anyway, new-borns are lame to take to Disney because they can’t do most of the rides and they don’t even eat churros yet.

Toddler: Toddlers at Disney might be the funniest thing in the world. They don’t give two flying Flounders about the judgement of others AND have zero logic. Throwing a tantrum in the middle of crowded Fantasy Land because you met Rapunzel after you had asked to see Rapunzel? Totally cool in the mind of a toddler. And don’t get me started on their lack of spacial awareness. Dad managed to push three over in a row as they wandered into his path (we were rushing to join the Avatar queue, there was no time for dodging mini-humans). But for the parents dealing with these snotty sugar covered monsters? I have never seen parents so desperately stressed. After all the money they paid the kid is more interested in the $12 bubble machine than any Disney provided fun.

Children (generic ages): I believe children are the short humans that are older than a toddler but younger than the ones with a swoopy fringe. They seem to understand the magic of Disney a little more, but just don’t have the stamina for it. I can’t even count the number of ‘final warnings’ that I heard parents dishing out.

Teenagers: Much like the toddler category, teenagers are hilarious at Disney as long as you are not responsible for them. There is nothing like the face of a teenager trying to be moody while on the Whinny the Pooh ride. Or like the photos of the entire family with the Fairy Godmother as the teenager folders their arms and glares at the camera imitating their future mugshot. Beautiful, but not ideal.

29: This is the best age. I will fight you on it. At 29 you are old enough to be able to stand in the queues all day long (I only threw a tantrum once in the line and made Dad go and buy me popcorn), you can march at adult speed to get from Space Mountain to Splash Mountain while the queue time is only 45 minutes and, the best thing, YOU CAN DRINK. When Epcot all got a little too much? We had margaritas in the Mexico pavilion. I mean, I still made my parents order and pay for them (I’m still their responsibility after all) but it was a chilled out afternoon of drinking and rides that parents with any other aged children just don’t get to experience. And side bonus, at 29 your child is old enough to be in charge of The Map and help with the planning.

Seriously, if you are the parents of a 29 year old, or a 29 year old yourself, then it is time to book a stress free trip to Disney World. You will build memories that you will take with you throughout your 30’s and bring magic back into the dreary adult existing.

Sherlock and Watson are in a pub. Sherlock arrived late because he got distracted by some eyeballs on the Jubilee Line. When Sherlock finally arrived he saw that Watson was drinking whisky on the rocks and had four empty glasses sitting next to him. Not wanting to be shown up, Sherlock orders five of the same and necks them in under a minute. All of the drinks that Sherlock and Watson had that night were poisoned, but only Watson was to die that night. How come Sherlock survived? All of the drinks were poisoned, all in the same way.

I love a good riddle don’t you? I managed to solve the one you just read while standing out of breath in a side street just off Covent Garden as I held an iPad in one hand and a lollipop in the other. What can I say, I’m great at multi-tasking. This entire escapade was a result of a murder mystery night run by Mega Bus – yes that Mega Bus.

On a freezing Thursday night (just before I was meant to hop on a plane to Florida) I found myself with a team of five other women running from Westminster, to Trafalgar square to Covent Garden to try and solve Moriarty’s devilish plot – I think he had gotten his hands on some weapons of mass destruction? Or maybe he had just spoken to someone on the tube…same same. I didn’t have high hopes for my team after they all got lost on the straight line from the Tube to the starting point. But turns out we were the dream team, who were destined to go on to win the entire shindig and head home with champagne – oh and I also stole a hat.

I hadn’t done a murder mystery event like this one before. As a team you had an iPad with three different types of challenges to complete. Some were pictures of statues or blue plaque, and when you reached the icon the answer to your clue would be within a meter of the statue. The next puzzle type was finding characters in secret locations and ‘interviewing’ them. That worked out well until the robber, who just quite simply ran away. The rest of my team took off in hot pursuit, but I only run for doughnuts. The last challenge was finding evidence along the way, such as a monocle or evidence of a dog – let’s just say we had to use our imaginations for some of those.

Back to me stealing the hat, a moment I shall forever refer to as my finest hour. One of the pieces of evidence we needed to collect was a deerstalker hat. Obviously we were not going to find one of those on the streets of London on a Thursday evening, so we were hoping to come up with something pun based to use instead. Keen detectives among you will have clicked that I mentioned meeting characters earlier, and yes of them was wearing a deerstalker as shown in the photo below. The actor was well practiced, and kept a firm grip on his hat at all times so no scheming teams could get a hold of it.

Enter a curly haired kiwi hyped up on sugar and hypothermia. When we were back on the Mega Bus driving back to the drop off point I waited till the actor was taking a photo for another group. Then I snuck (yes, imagine proper cartoon sneaking) up the isle of the bus and with lightning reflexes grabbed the deerstalker and hightailed it back to my team – victorious.

Anyway, it was a really fun night full of hijinks and problem solving, like an escape room if Central London was the room. Thanks for having me Mega Bus – I will try not to steal things next time.

Oh, and the drinks? The poison was in the ice.

It snowed in London last week, did anyone tell you? There was the initial sparkling magic, then the commuter panic and now the recriminations about why weren’t better prepared. Just the normal British weather cycle really. In the midst of it all I was scheduled to go to a snow themed event that had been in my calendar for a month – I’m not saying that the event manager caused the polar vortex but it is suspicious.

The event, put on by The Post Office, had an interesting premise. We’ve all heard of après ski and dreamed of the glamorous fondu based life on top of the mountain and then in the middle of the mountain, and then at the bottom of the mountain? Well, those skiing numptys are invalidating their insurance – you can’t drink then ski. And not only that, but the alcohol is more likely to put them in a position that they need said insurance. In essence, they are about to get a short sharp shaft up the polar vortex.

On this cold Wednesday evening we set out to prove the hypothesis. At the start of the event (aka sober) we hopped on a virtual reality skiing game and got a score. Then FOR SCIENCE we had some gin cocktails and at the end we needed to do the simulator again to see how much alcohol had impaired our performance.

First problem: I had gin before I got there because it was snowing and I like gin
Second problem: on my first run I killed a deer on accident and then got scared and crashed into a rock
Third problem: I am genetically proven to handle alcohol excellently (I will post about this at some point)

I sat down and drank some (many) hot gin cocktails (holy vortex these were good) because science told me to. At some point I got involved in a skiing based board game that my new friend Ashley promised was “just like snakes and ladders”. No, it was a hellfire with four pages of instructions where nothing made sense and there was a 12 sided dice. I acquired more gin, a snowmobile, made it up a chairlift and then couldn’t get down a black run and Ashley ended up winning. I have no idea what happened.

Before it was time to transition from the fake snow back into the real blizzard, I needed to have my second run on the ski simulator. If you remember, on my first run I killed a deer (not ideal), and by this point in the evening I was relaxed and full of both gin and righteous board game anger. My second run was a dream, a literal dream. On the original I scored 19,607 but on this second run I scored 33,655. So, is the theory incorrect? Do you ski better when drunk? Yeah, no. Promptly after my dream virtual reality run I fell off a chair. So, lets listen to the experts on this one and don’t drink and ski – it will invalidate your insurance.