Tag Archives: Mummy blogger Dubai

Disney World | Orlando, Florida | Tips and Hints on the best way to tackle one of the largest theme parks in the world

The Magic of Disney | Planning Disney this year?

Disney is probably on every parent’s agenda at some point in the first 18 years of their children’s life. Usually, between 3 – 15 years old would be the peak period when every family undertakes a trip, and at every stage of the children’s life the family will enjoy Disney in a completely different way.

Ever since I was little I had a thing for rollercoasters, the faster the better.  I had only been to Disneyland LA once when I was 10 years old, and that trip has been ingrained into childhood memory forever as one of the best holidays. It was my first time on Space Mountain –  back then it was so innovative to have a rollercoaster experience in the dark. So when I was invited by the Disney Team back in January to explore Disney World in Florida, I didn’t know how I would feel as an adult – I thought it might be best for children and probably be an anti-climax as an adult.  I was totally wrong.  For those of you who don’t have children yet, do go now!

For those who have been to Disney will understand how difficult it is to capture the essence of Disney in words.  Most of us won’t remember the details but we remember the emotional aspect of the experience. Disney’s goal has always been to be the best storytellers in the world.  I can see how and why they remain at the top of their game as Disney Imagineers for generations have brain-stormed to bring every story to life through touch, sound and visual effects resulting in emotionally connecting with park visitors. There is an element of ‘magic’ in it.  By walking through the park, you will see rides and go through experiences, and still many years after the death of Walt Disney his parks still remain at the frontier of new experiences.  The latest one being Pandora: The Land of the Avatars. Their new simulation ride, Avatar: The Flight of Passage, is a must, and I cannot describe the sensation of flying a banshee.  Before  the ride, I was warned people cried after as it was such an emotional experience.  I witnessed one or two guests in tears.  Needless to say, I returned and used my very last Fast Pass + token to ride Flight of Passage again.

Disney World | Orlando

Disney World is made up 4 parks; Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, EPCOT and Hollywood Studios, and two water parks.  There are also  over 20 hotels & resorts to choose from.  By 2020, Disney World, to celebrate its 50th birthday would have expanded with even more attractions and hotels for guests to choose from including Toy Story Land and a Star Wars Hotel.

Children & Organisation

One thing I took away from my week at Disney and from experiencing all four parks is that there will be a great deal of logistics involved when booking your holiday. I am a mother who would prefer to ‘wing it’ normally on arrival and to be spontaneous BUT travelling to Disney with young children will take some thought, planning and consideration as hotel accommodations and restaurants are booked months in advance.  With the huge volumes of guests visiting Disney each year everything is booked in advance with restaurant bookings requiring 3-months booking prior to your trip especially for Disney signature restaurants. For mums and dads planning a trip, I would recommend doing some research online and to consult travel agents on how to tackle the parks.  Ideally, if possible, I would also recommend staying at a Disney hotel to enjoy the benefits of Disney properties especially the the Disney Hour.

Here is a schedule to start organising your trip.

#6months – 1 year in advance

Start looking at the seasons and when you might like to go.  Think about the 27 resorts you might like to stay at.

#6 months in advance

Book your rooms as soon as possible especially for resorts like the Grand Floridian and Four Seasons to guarantee adjoining rooms, concierge state rooms  or the villas.

Book your 16- hour flights via Emirates Airlines through Emirates Holidays to guarantee the right days as there is currently only one flight per day, and to ensure Economy or Business Class seats.

Book your VIPGuides.  See more below.

#3 months in advance

Organise your restaurant reservations at the top and most sought after Disney restaurants. The top restaurants include:

Tiffins Restaurant in the Animal Kingdom, Be our Guests as you dine at the Beast’s Castle, California Grill at the Disney Contemporary Resort, The Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios, and my favourite 1900 Park Fair at the Grand Floridian where you have breakfast with your Disney’s favourite characters.

#30- 60 days in advance

Organise your My Disney FastPass +.  Hollywood Studios has a high demand for FastPass so organise which rides you might like there in advance.   There are higher chances of getting Magic Kingdom passes on the day when you have used up all your fast passes.

#1 month in advance

Book also your Magical Express transportation.

#1 week in advance

It’s time to get excited and to get packing.  Pack comfortable shoes (I cannot stress this enough as you will be walking a lot), sunscreen, hats, swimsuits, goggles, comfortable clothes, and for my family there will also be some healthy organic snacks.  There is a dress code in Disney’s signature restaurants (no shorts, flip flops) so do pack shirts /polo t-shirts for boys and a casual summer dress for the girls.

Top 10 rides for children 8 years and over

Top 10 rides for children 7 years and under

Consider VIP Guides

We hope to take our 4 children to various Disneys around the world at least 3 or 4 times during their childhood.  As time is precious in Disney, we will recommend booking at least for half a day a VIP Guide.  You can think of them as Disney gurus or high ranking Disney conceierges who make the time spent at the parks extremely efficient including transportation. They are a little pricey but totally worth the investment.  They will cost approximately USD1,500 for 7 hours for up to 10 adults and children including infants.  The guide will be able to plan your wish list allowing to skip queues, book restaurants in advance of your arrival (again, do give the guides as many weeks notice as possible as everything is fully booked months ahead).

Book 6 months in advance as there are only 30 full-time guides so they do get booked up much in advance.  They are all very professional with decades of experience working in the park.


If you are coming from the Middle East, the most popular hotels chosen by Middle Eastern guests would include the following

#1. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort)

Disney’s Grand Floridian resembles colonial hotels such as the Raffles Hotel in Singapore with its impressive white buildings and red roof tops nestled next to the Seven Seas Lagoon. The property design is inspired by the Victorian era, and the property is furnished with genuine antiques and artefacts collected from around the world. The property has 867 rooms but it doesn’t feel so vast as the rooms are located between 6 separate buildings, with two shared outdoor pools.  The hotel has baby sitting and childcare options available upon request.  The most popular rooms would be their private villas and adjoining rooms, and it is important to book this 6-months in advance of your stay. It has 7 restaurants of which 1900 Park Fair is one of their signature restaurant and families can have breakfast with Disney characters, but like everything at Disney it is worth booking this 3-months in advance of your stay.

#2. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House ( Deluxe & Deluxe Villa Resort

We stayed at the property, and it was pretty magical to wake up in the morning to see a family of giraffes walking past your window.  There are over 30 species of African wildlife and you can spot zebras, gazelles and flamingoes amongst them.  Do ask for for view of the safari park as it is not always guaranteed.  There is also the Simba Kids Clubhouse for children aged 3 – 12 years.

#3. Disney’s Contemporary Resort Review (Deluxe Resort)

This hotels is at it sounds – a modern take on a Disney resort.  It is a contemporary building giving guests a different feel to more traditional Disney hotels.  It one of the few resorts that has direct access to the Magic Kingdom via the monorail making accessibility very easy.  The resort has two pools and one has a 17-foot slide.  Don’t forget to book in advance the California Grill, a Disney signature restaurant at the top of the hotel with beautiful views of Magic Kingdom.

#4. Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort.

It is the only hotel in Central Florida to receive the coveted AAA Five Diamond Award.  There is a complimentary kids club, and have an adult pool, family pool, splash zone, lazy river and a water slide. Kids under 5 will eat for free.

Tips for families with children 7 years and under

#Don’t stress and don’t cram. Disney is not a cheap experience and understandably many families try to ensure they schedule as much in as they can.  However, be mindful of the fact that if you are travelling with young children, you won’t be able to cover much of the park as it spans 40 square miles. Be realistic with the number of rides you wish to cover in a day, and have plenty of breaks for snacks and let the children experience other activities like Cinderella’s Castle and make sure each day is a Happily Ever After for everyone.  The children won’t realise they missed a single ride.

#Bring a water bottle to fill up because purchasing bottled water at every kiosk will quickly start adding up.

#If you stay at a Disney resort, do make use of the Magic Hour which opens one-hour for Disney residents before the general public arrive.

#Do check if there are any closed attractions prior to your trip to avoid disappointment as there are always a few rides closed for refurbishment and safety checks.

#Ensure the children are well-fed before the firework displays in the various parks.  Disney’s Magic Kingdom Happily Ever After fireworks begins at 8.55pm and lasts for 18 minutes so it is worth getting there early to find a fabulous spot on the grounds near the Cinderella’s Castle.

#Do purchase a Disney Autograph book (one for the whole family), to collect Mickey’s and the whole cast’s autographs.  They will be available usually at the hotel gift shop.

#Download the Disney App which will tell you about the waiting times, shows and locations of various activities

#Do bring a stroller – the kids will be exhausted, and it will be tiring trying to carry them around when they want a quick snooze.

#It is also lovely to get out of the parks for one day by visiting Disney Springs, a lovely retail therapy day for the family.  Visit the Lego store, Sephora, Anthropologie and have lunch at Paddlefish.

#If you have time do consider a three-night cruise to the Bahamas on Disney Dream.  Click here to find out more.


Emirates Airlines flies once a day from Dubai to Orlando – 16 hours.

The team at Emirates Holidays will also be able to help you plan the trip as many of the team themselves have experienced Disney World. They can arrange hotels, flights and much more and be able to guide you on the best time of the year to visit.


To find out more about the Disney Cruise

To find out more visit www.disneyworld.go.com

Butterscotch Baby | Redesigning my children’s rooms with one of my favourite interior designers, Leigh-Ann Steele | Her handmade bespoke linens are just stunning | We speak to Leigh-Ann herself about her business and how she created a collection for each of my children

Photography by Alex Jeffries Photography Group.

Interior designer, Leigh-Ann Steele, launches her own bespoke high quality handmade linen collection, Butterscotch Baby, for babies and children in Dubai.  Leigh-Ann moved here to Dubai in 2010 from London where she worked as an interior designer for many years.  Although her move to the land of sunshine had its initial challenges, she still describes it as her best one yet.  She worked for Hacker Kitchens as a Senior Designer before leaving after 6-years with them to launch her own design consultancy collaborating with other designers and to focus on Butterscotch Baby, a family-based business in South Africa.  Leigh-Ann has kindly created a bespoke linen collection for all my children, and it is just utterly divine with top quality linens with the highest thread count   She tells us more about Butterscotch Baby and how she designed each concept for the children.  It was perfect timing as we are transitioning as a family out of the baby phase now, and wanted something a little more sophisticated for the children.  However, for expectant mums, Leigh-Ann can also create the most magical nursery too.

#Can you describe how the whole concept of Butterscotch Baby Linens was created?

Butterscotch is a bespoke baby and kids linen brand. It was started by my family in South Africa 8 years ago. It was still a relatively new concept which has steadily grown worldwide.

It isn’t always possible to find the exact design that you have created in your mind’s eye and that’s where our designers come in to guide and support. Alternatively, some of our clients don’t really know what they want but they do know that they want it to be unique!

I have worked in the interior design industry for many years. As such I always admired the beautiful linens that were being created by my Cousin and Aunt in their very successful business based in Johannesburg.

I had mentioned to countless friends that it would be a great idea to bring this product to the UAE…. And then one day it dawned on me that this was going to be my next career. And so Butterscotch finally arrived in the UAE. It has taken a lot of time and hard work but worth every minute!

#What makes the linens so unique and where are they actually manufactured?

All our products are manufactured at our studio in Johannesburg. This ensures that each item is meticulously made, and quality checked before being shipped.

We have just completed a project for a very creative mum, who wanted her own hand drawn images and her little girls name in her individual handwriting on her linen. It came out beautifully and is totally unique to her.

We only use 100% cotton and 300 thread percale linen. It washes very well and lasts a long time.

We can do any fabric combination from a range of 100s of different designs in our range. If we don’t have it, we will find it. We also collaborate with a very talented artist from time to time. We can create a bespoke fabric design which we print to order if the client wanted something completely different.

With the UAE being such a melting pot. We have clients from all four corners of the globe. This means different furniture and linen sizes. We can create practically anything in terms of the design, size and specification.

Some people don’t really know what they want at the outset, so we take them through the design process and create really beautiful linens for them. From clean and contemporary mono chrome to whimsical and bright.

#For mums wanting to order a linen collection, what is the full process of ordering a bespoke collection?

It is a very easy process.

#1 Contact

Send us an email, call us or request a call back.

#2 Design

If you know exactly what you would like we can supply a quote immediately.

If not, we are happy for one of our designers to visit you at home to look at fabric swatches and put together a combination and range if items to suit the nursery or kids room.

#3 Order

When the order is agreed with the client, we will do a fabric swatch mood board and sketch to confirm that everything is correct.  We then send it off to our Studio in South Africa to go into production.

#4  Production & Shipping

Once it has been produced and gone through a rigorous quality check we ship it to Dubai.

 #5 Delivery

It is then delivered directly to you either in person by your designer or via courier.

It really is a simple process!

#How long, on average, will it take to receive the linens in Dubai once the collection has been designed?

Our lead times vary between 4-8 weeks depending on the order and time of year. This may seem a long time compared to walking into a retail outlet and buying off the shelf, but it is important to note that this is a fully bespoke item and made to order on an individual basis. You won’t find your bespoken linen in a shop.

We find that most of our expectant mums start planning the nursery very early on. In some instances, we get the call just after their 12-week scan and big announcement to friends and family. So, this leaves more than enough time to plan and deliver their beautiful linen.

They can also add items along the way. We keep a record of all our designs for each client so in a years’ time if they wanted to add to the scheme we can easily do that with very little fuss.

#Does Butter Scotch only cater for bespoke collections or do you hold a small collection of items here?

Our current offering is completely bespoke and made to order for each client. We are however in the process of creating individual ranges for a few Baby boutiques and retail outlets. These will still have their own unique theme, but you won’t be able to personalise them with things like your baby’s name or a quote etc…

We are very excited about these collaborations as there are lots of clients looking for a last-minute gift or mums closer to their due date. This is an excellent option for occasions like baby showers that are still unique and beautifully made.

#Apart from linens, what other items can people choose? I understand that you have a new collection of sleep pods too?

Our sleep pods are amazing and come in a range of suggested colour combinations. We can also personalise them in all our fabrics to match the nursery design. They come in 2 sizes. Small- birth to 6 months and large- 6 to 18 months.

Our Elly feeding pillow is so popular and can also be customised accordingly.

We do a range of bath time accessories including towels, face cloths and mini bathrobes, as well as, changing matts with removable covers and nappy bags.

We can easily incorporate soft furnishings to compliment the theme. Lampshades, bunting and curtains tend to be the most popular to bring it all together.

We also do beautiful mosquito nets in any length depending on the room ceiling height.

#For my daughter and son Leonardo who share a room, how did you blend their colours together so beautifully?

Their room was an absolute delight to plan. We used a blue and aqua colour palette for Leonardo. For Sofia we did the same blue & aqua and added pinks in the same fabric design to her linen.

Mixing the same pattern in alternative colours really brought the room design together, still being individual and brining out their personalities. It became apparent very early on that Sofia likes girly things but not everything needed to be pink!

#Sofia loves the drapes, such a clever concept. How do you suggest co-ordinating the styles and colours of drapes for children’s four poster beds?

We used a muslin voile for the curtain drops and added ties to the top of them in all of the fabrics used throughout the room. We also made them slightly longer to give a more luxurious feel to the way they hang. I’m really pleased with the way they turned out. We did them on all four corners so if she decides to hide away from her brothers for a few minutes this is her own special place!

#Luca and Lorenzo share a room, and love their nautical concept, how did you make each design personal to them?

For the boys you already had great furniture, so we just added to the nautical theme.  We used the same linen combination for the duvet covers and pillow cases. With red and blue embroidered details on the main pillow cases in different designs.  Each of your boys has their “favourite thing”. This in mind, we added planes to one and cars to the other. We did a small embroidery on the back of one of each of their scatter cushions to differentiate. We called it their secret! Each scatter cushion was done in a different combination, allowing them to be reversed to show a different pattern every day.

 #Are you able to cater to a wide range of budgets?

Yes, we can cater to a range of budgets. Within our fabric ranges we have different price points which does affect the final cost.

My opinion on the design process is that we should explore every option to begin with and create something fabulous. If we need to economise we will. There are various ways of achieving the same look and feel on a lower budget with different fabrics and combinations. It is important to get the design right first. We don’t exclude ideas because of budget constraints at the outset.

In terms of cost- We are on par with most good quality off the shelf products at the higher end of the market. However, it is important to remember that our product is fully bespoke and made to order. Each piece is handmade & quality checked before leaving the production stage. Our clients appreciate that our linens wash well and stand the test of time. If you look at this over the lifespan of your linen it will more than make up for the difference if any.

#Are you able to also assist in the design of the entire nursery or children’s room as a professional interior designer as well as designing bespoke linens?

We offer a room design service which we charge a set cost for depending on the scope of works. This will include introductions to other suppliers for furniture and accessories. The client can then decide how much or how little they would like to invest in the project.

We introduce contractors to undertake decoration work and carpentry if required. As well as a full room design and build option. This means we will work with you from start to finish to achieve the final product. POA.

Our introductory offer includes a in home consultation with one of our designers. If the client decides to purchase linen we will do a free room design including paint colours, furniture, and accessories. They will receive a mood board and buying details for each item and can implement it all themselves.

For more information email hello@butterscotch.ae or call +971 50 2813577


Easter Holidays are upon us | How to enjoy the fabulous weather | Creating outdoor living with ACE

Creating an outdoor living space was our priority this winter/spring – we had put it off long enough. We wanted to take advantage of the great outdoor living weather by adding a comfortable furniture set that was durable with four children and a space to create memories for our family.  We also needed to look for something a bit more sophisticated for entertaining our friends too.  Now that my youngest is three, and gone are the nappy days, I am finding it much easier to entertain again and less concerned about accidents.

We will stay in Dubai during this Easter holidays, and there has to be something said about not packing 6 suitcases and rushing straight for the airport.  As much as we love travelling as a family, I also love staycations in our villa, and with such busy schedules we realise we spend little time in the house.  This holiday will be the perfect way to catch up with home friends and to spend quality time together as a family, and more important to enjoy the unstructured time for the next two weeks.

Staycations at home means a great deal of outdoor time as a family – BBQs and beach days. My husband’s ideal day would be to have his whole family outside in the garden for breakfast and dinner everyday but as the children have grown older their school commitments have increased too.  The holidays are just perfect for lounging in pyjamas having long leisurely breakfasts in the garden before jumping into the pool or sea.

We had outgrown our previous outdoor furniture and it was falling apart because of the harsh summers (it was a quick purchase from Dragon Mart several years back, I confess).  It was time to discard the old and bring in the new. True to my new shopping style I even now buy my garden furniture online. ACE recently launched its online site showcasing a full collection of BBQs, Sheds, outdoor garden furniture, laptops and Dyson products and much more so it was ideal for my husband and me to scroll through looking for furniture sets as the stores displays are much more limited.  We came across a neutral coloured Maui 7-seater Sofa Set with multicolour pillows from ACE online price fairly resonably and if you wait long enough they always have fabulous offers and deals to economise your finances even further. (who doesn’t like a good bargain?)

After the purchase online, ACE was quick to contact us with a delivery, and outdoor set was unpacked by the ACE team and set out.  Honestly, I don’t know why it took us so long to get it organised especially when ACE made it all painless.  To make the furniture design our own, we threw on some outdoor Pottery Barn palm cushions (Seashells On The Palm, of course!).  Then, we had tailors from Satwa make out fabulous fitted outdoor protective covers to increase the durability of the furniture.

I do encourage you to have a scroll on www.aceuae.com and get 10% off your first online order.  They also have 25% – 50% off End of Seasons collection until 15 April 2018.

Top 5 things to do to enjoy the fabulous weather this Easter

#1. Do an Easter Egg hunt in the garden

#2. Visit Park House on Ness Nass Beach

#3. Spend the day at Legoland Water Park to exhaust the children

#4.  Join Privilee and enjoy access to hotel beach clubs, restaurants and spas.  We often frequent, Fairmont the Palm, Waldorf Astoria and Sofitel, the Palm.

#5. Have dinner every evening outdoors with the family.  With recent increase of mosquitos, I also use DoTerra’s essential oil blend of Terra Shield to diffuse outdoors to protect the children.

Flip Out | How to host a kid friendly party with ease | Balancing expense, time and logistical planning and ensuring that your children will have amazing childhood memories.

We stopped doing birthday parties at our house about 5 years ago – it was too stressful and I often couldn’t be there for my birthday child as I was always running around taking care of everything else.  It also became more and more challenging to host older children at home, especially our boys.  We are always in search for new venues that also appeal to both girls and boys.

Birthday party logistics are always challenging because large numbers can be costly.  The question is whether to invite 10 – 20 close friends or the whole class. Then, there is the organisation of party bags and food, and working out logistics can be stressful especially when you have multiple children to also care for. Much of the hassle is taken out by the Flip Out team who will look after the children for the next 2 hours and organise the party food leaving mums and dads with party invitations, cake and goody bags to deal with.

My husband and I are happy to farm out the experience to a venue like Flip Out who have the energy (more importantly) and experience when it comes to children’s parties and keeping the kids entertained.  We hosted 30 children for our 4 children to say goodbye to their old school friends.  It felt like a very large playdate of all their favourite friends!

The kids arrived along with their friends and had a 15 minute welcome and safety briefing with the team.  The children wear similar colour vests so their instructors are able to identify them as part of the party.  The children are usually divided into 2 – 3 groups, and depending on the ages, they will do archery, bubble soccer or trampolining. The typical format would include 1 hour of structured play + 1 hour of free jump or archery, and Flip Out Grip Socks will be provided for each child, and you will have one dedicated party host.

The instructors and Flip Out team are hot on safety so they do watch over the children.  The instructors also got involved with the children demonstrating wall running, and taught some of the older children how to do backflips during the sessions.

We often worried with 4 different age groups how Flip Out would manage them but they actually split them into two groups and did age appropriate activities with them.  Also, the younger children were not exposed to the large boys who might have accidentally toppled them over on trampolines.  It is always reassuring for parents to see that the venue takes these issues seriously to ensure everyone has a good time.


The party food at the venue is outsourced to a premium pizza delivery company, and it was popular with both parents and children alike.  My Italian husband and kids approved of the taste and quality of the pizzas.  The party package includes 2 slices of pizza per child (pepperoni or margarita), 1 organic juice per child, and unlimited water. It is optional to add potato wedges and chicken nuggets for an extra fee.  The kids were starving after all their activities and everything gobbled up.  Adult coffee, teas and beverages are extra  but they can serve you in the party room or you can set up a table upstairs in their coffee area.

New changes to note

#They have also launched a new activity that the children loved called bubble soccer.  They children wear an plastic inflatable ball and run around bouncing against each other.

#Parents are no longer allowed into the jumping area unless they have socks and a wrist band

Top tips

#Order pizzas for mums and dads because they are delicious and most parents are famished.  Larger pizzas cost AED70 each.

#Book in advance because Flip Out is very much in demand especially on the weekends.

#Try to book a week day birthday party as it is more economical in terms of costs and the venue is not as busy so it is more manageable.

Pricing – it works out to AED185 per child for the party.

Check out also their winter flip camp (minimum age 5 years) from December 17th – January 4th.

Special offers in December – book a party this December, and the birthday child will go for free.

For more information head to www.flipout.ae