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Blog, Daily Life, Disney, New Zealand, Outfit of the Day, Photography, Travel, USA

Year in Review and Days Off

I’ve not done a year in review before, so I’m going by a few templates of other bloggers!

Life in General

2014 was a huge year for me. The biggest thing being that I finished my Disney International Program and returned home to New Zealand, starting a new job. There were ups and downs, with the ups being Disney and the downs being leaving Disney. But that’s not to say there’s not the good things about being back home.

 

Travel

Obviously, travel was a huge part of 2014 for me, because most of it was spent overseas. Once I finished in Orlando I went to visit my brother in Guelph, Ontario, just outside of Toronto.

 

I also went to New York City with my friend Courtney and managed to see pretty much everything I wanted to in the course of a few days, crossing off a lot from my bucket list, including seeing Wicked on Broadway!

I also went to Los Angeles again and had a fantastic time catching up with another friend before heading home.

Finally, back in New Zealand, I went to Hobbiton with Courtney and Chelsea; something I’d been wanting to do ever since I saw the first Lord of the Rings film!

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Exploring hobbiton! #hobbiton #newzealand

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Hobbies

2014 wasn’t such a huge year for my usual hobbies of cosplay, gaming and reading. Mainly because I tried to make the most of my remaining time in Orlando by doing all the things, instead of playing games and cosplaying characters that would be there later. I aim to change this in 2015, with costumes and reading being high on my priorities. More about the reading part in another blog post shortly…

Gaming

Like I said above, there wasn’t too many games I played in 2014, but I did manage to finish the WindWaker HD and Mario Kart 8 when I was visiting my brother and I started Twilight Princess for the first time. Having a WiiU when I got back helped kickstart my gaming bug again. Once I got back, I also got back into Star Trek Online and now I have a Federation and Romulan character.

I really want to start a gaming blog, but I have way too much on my online to-do list, so we’ll see…

Days Off

I managed to meet up today with a good friend of mine who will be returning to Japan soon. We went to high school and university together, but we haven’t seen each other in about three years. A bunch of high school and uni friends met up over the holidays and it was so nice to see everyone again after so long.

I’ve been going out with my parents a bit into Frankton for coffee. Queenstown has really expanded in the time I’ve been away, but it’s nice to see our favourite coffee shop/restaurant still here after a while. It’s a Thai restaurant open for lunch and dinner. They do the most divine BBQ pork buns and doughnuts!

I went to see the final Hobbit film again today (and now have bookmarked all the fix-it fic for reading tonight!) and went for a walk after we got home to try out some settings on my new camera.

The golden hour doesn’t really hit until about 9.30pm for us at the moment due to our location on earth and daylight savings time. So while I really want to get out there during that time, it’s not really feasible when most of my family have work early the next day.

The dog followed me most of the way home! Such a cutie.

I took my Thorin figurine out for an adventure. My mum got him for me when the first Hobbit film came out to match the Lord of the Rings figurines I had from when I was younger and the original films came out. I tried taking my Legolas one out with him, but the wind was too strong and he kept falling over. Damn elvish waifishness.

Now that the crazy busy time at work seems to be coming to an end, I hope to be posting a little bit more. See ya soon!

New Zealand, Travel

Returning Home

At long last, my trip to the USA is over. I honestly could have done another year over there. My experiences at Walt Disney World and throughout the rest of the USA has been unforgettable. I’ve made friends with people from all over the world and I’m going to miss everyone so much!

I caught an Air New Zealand flight back from Los Angeles to Auckland International Airport. My flight was actually surprisingly comfortable, given how much I was dreading being cramped in the plane. It turns out that I had a spare seat next to me (actually I had two, because in the row of four, there were only two people; me and another guy on the other aisle) which means I could stretch out a little when I wanted to sleep. it wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but it was better than sitting upright and trying not to drool on the guy next to you.

Next to me were a few couples who had purchased the SkyCouch option. For those outside New Zealand, this means that passengers (usually a couple) purchase the third seat in their row at a discount, then at night an extra part of the seat folds out to make it easier to lie down on, and then you spoon. To be honest, I didn’t really see how much more comfortable it was for the extra price (something like NZ$300 extra from LA to NZ). You’re on a plane; you’re always going to be cramped at night, so you may as well save the extra money, buy a travel pillow and some sleeping pills or, like me, have some of the complementary wine with dinner and send you off to sleep.

The one new product I did try out with Air New Zealand, however, was their flexitime. This meant that I booked a flight at 10am from Auckland to Queenstown. But I arrived at 5.45am. It took about an hour to get through customs and 15mins to transfer to the domestic airport. So that left me with a lot of time to kill. But, I could go to the Air New Zealand self check in counter and change my flight to an earlier one. Which meant I got to Queenstown about 2.5 hours earlier by going via Wellington!

It was so nice to see my parents again. Skyping doesn’t really replace hugs and home cooking.

At this point, I’d been up for a while; I got about 7 hrs worth of sleep on the plane, but they were in hour long blocks, so I was pretty tired, but not shattered. I helped my dad build a barbeque we got him for father’s day (early present). I say I helped; I pretty much just held tools for him.

 

I guess I’m glad to be home; I’m certainly glad to be back with my family, but I will really miss Disney and the friends I made there. I know that I’ll go back one day, but I know it won’t be for a while. So here’s to Facebook and Twitter and all other forms of social media I can use to keep in touch with people!

Harry Potter, Travel, USA

Diagon Alley opening announced!

I got an email from Universal Studios today to announce that Diagon Alley would be opening on July 8th!

We’ve been waiting for this for what seems like forever. With the Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train now open at Magic Kingdom, completing the New Fantasyland expansion, it had to only be a matter of time before Universal opened Diagon Alley.

My friends and I plan to be practically sleeping at the gates for when it opens, Hogwarts scarves, robes and wands at the ready!

There are some concerns I have about the new Diagon Alley expansion, though. Because as much as I love Hogsmeade, it sometimes presents some problems.

While it’s wonderful that Universal have taken their job so seriously at recreating a tiny unknown Scottish village, I think they’ve been almost a little too faithful in this endeavor… by which I mean the place is really tiny. Like, “we could have had more room in this shop but we wanted it to be ~*authentic*~ so now everyone is crammed in like sardines to the point it looks like a safety hazard” tiny. Because there are only a few shops in Hogsmeade, namely the merchandise shop (which is the exit store for the Ollivander’s experience) and the candy store, if people want to shop, they have limited space in which to do it. The Three Broomsticks never feels that crowded for me, but Ollivanders is hard to breathe in sometimes.

My other concern isn’t as much a concern as me bring nitpicky. I find it particularly on the Dragon Challenge ride, but sometimes the theming of the park can be a little transparent. The queue for Dragon Challenge is wonderful, and even though it’s a long walk, I feel as though I’m walking through an area of Hogwarts set aside for the TriWizard champions. Until you get on the actual ride and suddenly all around you as you go through is industrial sheds and gravel. I get that seeing most of the backstage area is inevitable on such a ride, but it looks untidy most of the time, mostly due to patchy grass and overgrown trees coupled with concrete and gravel.

So I hope that the new Diagon Alley improves on this; I cannot helpbut think it will, simply because they seem to have more space available and from what we’ve seen so far the recreation has been phenomenal.

So, here’s to saving my sleep for a 3am start July 8th!

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