World Book Day Made Easy With Asda

Fancy dress themed days, you either love ’em or hate ’em, but whatever you think when you’re a parent it’s just gotta be done. Fear of one day, sitting in a psychologist’s room listening to my adult children confess that all their troubles began the day they turned up at school in uniform when everyone else gleefully trotted through the classroom door dressed in everything from The Tiger Who Came To Tea through to the Gruffalo. I bite the bullet and join the masses. World Book Day in the past for us has usually meant something cobbled together to vaguely resemble a character of some sort. I’ll openly admit I failed big time once with a very badly paper mache helmet and shield made of cereal boxes.

Despite an A Level in Art and Design, creativity escaped me that day and I still shudder at how truly terrible they were when I see the photos on my Mac. I can still sense the shame as other children arrived in fabulous home or shop bought outfits and vowed from that moment on, I would buy any future outfits knowing I could sell or pass them on. Which is exactly why we headed down to our nearest Asda in Newton Abbot at the weekend in search of something my 3-year-old could wear to preschool for this year’s World Book Day.

I’d checked out their website and found the perfect outfit; The Hungry Caterpillar. My boy adores this book and it fitted along with the preschool bug them perfectly. Parking up, we headed through the main doors and immediately found a selection of fabulous book themed characters. Everything from David Walliams to Roald Dahl, only this selection was aimed at older school children. (not bad priced though at around £15 an outfit which, by slightly upping the sizes,  you could swap with friends the following year to save a little cash.)

So off we went in search of a Hungry Caterpillar outfit.

I'm taking the stress out of World Book Day this year with a shop bought dressing up outfit from Asda which I know my son will wear more than once. It's not cheating BTW!

Younger children’s outfits were placed at the end of each aisle and my boy was soon weighing up whether to go as Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Iron Man, Captain America, a Dragon or Chase from Paw Patrol.  With him not really having a grasp of what World Book Day meant, to him, it simply meant going to preschool in dressing up clothes. Try as I might sway him towards going as a Dragon as I thought it fitted in rather well with Julia Donaldson’s Room on The Broom,  it was clear had his heart set on something much more familiar. With a £50 Asda challenge to spend on World Book Day gear, he finally narrowed it down to Chase, Captain America and Iron Man, priced at £15, £15 and £16 consecutively. For the added features and quality I’d happily give all the outfits a 5 out of 5. They’ve already been through the mill coming on and off various times and still looking good.

I'm taking the stress out of World Book Day this year with a shop bought dressing up outfit from Asda which I know my son will wear more than once. It's not cheating BTW!

Extra features of the Chase outfit include removable tail, backpack and badge

Now, this was where I got into the thinking that actually, he was on to something. We read Paw Patrol books at home all the time, and the superheroes, as someone kindly pointed out on my Instagram, are also comic book characters. But above all, I knew we’d get much more longevity out of dressing up clothes which he’d chosen and LOVED.

They all came with headwear of some sort, the only downside was the plastic mask from Iron Man being uncomfortable for him and part of the light from the chest piece was damaged sadly, so we’ll have to return that one. But I can categorically say it has been money well spent as they’ve been worn on a rotation basis from the moment we got into the Asda car park.

I never did find that Hungry Caterpillar outfit mind, I suspect we were a little late to the party with it being less than a week to this year’s World Book Day.  Hey ho, I doubt the thrill of dressing as a caterpillar would’ve lasted as long as the power of saving the day as an incredibly cute pup or muscle clad action hero anyway.

I'm taking the stress out of World Book Day this year with a shop bought dressing up outfit from Asda which I know my son will wear more than once. It's not cheating BTW!

This is a collaborative post with Asda. 


Experiencing Universal Orlando Resorts With A Preschooler

If you’ve been watching my social media channels you’ll know the boys and I spent October half term enjoying the thrills and spills of the Universal theme parks in Orlando, Florida. Which, in a nutshell, was total amazeballs. My aim for this holiday wasn’t an opportunity to showcase some bragging rights though, I know how lucky we were but I also didn’t want to say ‘wow, look at how amazing our life is’ quite the opposite. My motivation was to show you all that a Universal Orlando Resort Holiday can be enjoyed by all, be that a preschooler, a teenager or a single parent.

You see, despite being a warrior mum with nerves of steel. I try to lead my kids at the helm, often fuelled with a dose of guts and determination so they can experience anything they would’ve if their parents were together. Yet every now and then, the reality of not having a co-pilot in parenting takes stock. Especially when we have to tackle a ‘first. If I’m honest, I nearly bottled it, I wasn’t entirely sure I could pull out the big guns to go through with taking my guys on a long haul holiday on my own.

The 2 teenagers were the easy ones, my biggest concern though, was making sure my 3-year-old preschooler got as much out of the holiday as he could. Could I do that on my own and make sure my teens had an amazing time? Spreading yourself equally among 3 kids is hard enough, my mum is amazing and helps make that possible but I would have zero help on holiday.

Starting with the flight, I packed my little man’s Trunki (which you can take on a hold luggage) with some essentials – books, change of clothes, small Connect 4 game, colouring pads, crayons, and iPad. Along with a backpack of small snacks and toys. Turns out we didn’t really need much if these as he was so engrossed by the novelty of the TV and films on our Virgin Atlantic flight along with the contents of his complimentary bag with goodies, so only a few of my prepared bits and bobs got an airing. I will say that pulling him through baggage collection on a Trunki really helped my panic at losing him too!

Kiddie pool and sand play area at The Royal Pacific Hotel
We stayed at Royal Pacific Resort Hotel which was part of the Universal Orlando Resort group and only a short complimentary water taxi or walk from the theme parks and Universal City Walk. I’m planning a separate post on the hotel so I won’t elaborate too much on the accommodation but one thing I will say is, staying on site is absolutely the way to go when planning a Florida theme park holiday, especially when you have a hotel with so much to do.

The water taxi
Theme park days can be exhausting for any age, there’s so much going on mentally and physically that having some time out in the hotel is a must if you’re going to make the most of your break. I’d say this was even more important when having a youngster with you. It meant we could pop back and chill by the pool or in our room whenever we (or he) needed. It also meant we could do things ad hoc and weren’t pinned down too much by a schedule.

Saying that, a schedule does help when holidaying here with young children, and while you typically think of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure as being perfect for older kids and teenagers (which it is, my 13 and 17-year-old went on every ride and needed time at the pool for chilling as much as their little brother did) there are areas of the parks which are perfect for younger children. The time difference meant we were up early so getting to the parks first, coming back to the hotel in the afternoon and then back out to City Walk early evening seemed the perfect plan for us all.

We started our holiday in the newest part – Volcano Bay. A water park where everything is thought of, right down to reducing queuing time in a cossie with the TapTap – a watch-style device which saves your space in the queue. This meant my boy and I didn’t waste a minute. We chilled on the beach, wandered around the park, played in the waves and spent most of our time in the fantastic kiddies play area with its smaller slides and varying watery activities. Life jackets are available for the lazy river ride which he was able to go on too.


All the Universal restaurants we went to cater for kids with gumption! Be it the guitar-shaped plates in The Hard Rock Cafe to the CowFish sushi burger bar with their hand sized mini burgers & mock sushi rice crispy pudding, complete with fish-shaped sweetie topping. Then there’s my favourite; the new Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savoury Feast Kitchen which gives a whole new meaning to a milkshake, and pudding sizes…Wow! (Worth noting that food here exceeded all my expectations.)

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savoury Feast Kitchen
In Islands of Adventure, The Dr Suess area is the perfect area for any child and after watching his brothers scream their way around the roller coasters. Tthe play areas here, with train style rides, carousels, story style rides as well as wet (great when they need to cool off) and dry play areas were where he got to experience Universal at his own pace. There’s free WiFi throughout Universal so while the little one and I were busy, the older 2 could sit and catch up with friends back home. Should probably add that they were able to go on the rides but opted not to!

I also found that this part of the park, along with the Woody Woodpecker area were some of the quietest areas so there were no long wait times, although I would recommend upgrading your pass to an Express to avoid any queue times, it does make a huge difference.

Over to Universal Studios, we all loved the Animal actors show, mainly for the chance to sit down for 30 minutes. It was just long enough to keep my youngest’s attention before he wanted to go off for more fun. AND we got to see THE Marley from Marley and Me. Never thought I’d be star struck by a dog.

We all went on the Despicable Me ride, younger riders are confined to the stationary seats at the front, but still get to experience the 3D adventure, I did hold him very close explaining that the tense bits were funny and not scary, he was then captivated by the characters he’d just watched on the ride, dancing in the parade. (I’ll leave talking about the Awesome Harry Potter themed areas to another post, my preschooler has never seen the films, he still gawped at the fire-breathing dragon and snow-topped houses mind.)

visiting Universal resorts with a preschooler

The highlight of the whole holiday, however, had to be meeting Spiderman. It was on par to seeing your child visiting Santa, only my boy embraced the experience with both hands and not an ounce of nerves. In his world, Spiderman is THE ONLY man who saves the day, it is firmly set in his mind that he’s real. End Of. I can’t quite explain what was going through his mind as he watched all the Marvel superheroes who grace his clothing, books and toy box right walk through the park, right there in real life form (Although he wasn’t impressed to see his mum posing with Doctor Doom and the Green Goblin.)

Here's our experience of visiting all three Universal Resorts theme parks with a 3 year old preschooler, with hints & tips
Those guys were so realistic (I’m a mum of 3 boys, I’ve seen ALL the films) even I got a little star struck.

Which I guess, is what Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure do so well. You all get to experience a little of what you see in the movies, the books and all the paraphernalia which goes along with it, with no expense spared. It is quite breathtaking and stirs so many emotions. It’s also a holiday where you can ensure every age group is catered for.

And for that single mum, holidaying on her own with a 3, 13 and 17-year-old. It was one of the easiest, most stress-free holidays I have ever been on.

<insert relief face>

Here's our experience of visiting all three Universal Resorts theme parks with a 3 year old preschooler, with hints & tips


This post is in collaboration with Mumsnet Bloggers Network and Universal.