The Dodging Dorian Tour 2019 – Day One

The Dodging Dorian Tour 2019 – Day One

One of the greatest challenges in documenting one of these trips is the first day. Here I sit, still a bit jet lagged, the horrors of work on my mind, trying desperately to re-capture the excitement and anticipation I can see in the photos from our travel day. The two moods could not be more removed from each other.

Our travel day starts early these days. With Rebecca not at home we have to do the door photos the night before. It does warm my heart a little that it is the girls asking days before when and how we are all getting together to get them done. It is not just my sad tradition, it is theirs too.

This report starts even earlier than that this time. You find me at my desk on my final afternoon. I am tolerating the back to back meetings that have somehow invaded my diary and counting down to the the time I can leave without being formally disciplined when a text arrived on my phone. Oh good, I can now check in for our flights.

I follow the link and start clicking stuff. Now, my track record with online check in is not good for some reason. It never seems to go smoothly. Anyway, I am moving through the various pages with my natural silky grace and one more click will see us all sorted.

An error appears. That’s odd. I do not make mistakes, so surely this pesky website is playing up. Looking in more detail the error relates to Emily and it tells me to check her status on the ESTA website.

The faint stirrings of nausea appear deep within my gut. I do as advised. Luckily, I have a photo of her passport stored on my laptop so I have all I need to confirm that her ESTA is fine. My hands are shaking a little as I type in her details, mainly as the new red warning message across the top of the ESTA site reminds me that it can take 72 hours to get approval.

So, it turns out she has no valid ESTA. My mind wildly searches for a reason for this, but the only one it can come up with is that I am an absolute idiot. I remember distinctly sitting at my laptop many weeks ago getting everyone’s ESTA either renewed or checked. I had a stack of passports and I worked through each one methodically.

Anyway, finding someone else to blame for this was a job for later. Right now, I had to apply and quickly. With my hands shaking a little more, I somehow got the application done as quickly as possible. As expected, Authorization (sic) was pending. I sat refreshing the page for a bit, but nothing changed.

At this point I called Louise to confess my incompetence. Next I called Emily to confess the same and without saying it out loud, letting her know that she may not be travelling with us. She took it calmly and in her stride which just about stopped me from jumping from the window ledge I was stood on. An hour passed, and panic was setting in and I started googling stuff about recent time frames for ESTA approval. Nothing gave me any comfort, and despite knowing it was very unlikely to make a difference I called the number on the ESTA site. I sat on hold for twenty minutes whilst still refreshing the page constantly.

Whilst doing that I even checked out flight times over the coming days just in case the worst happened and she wouldn’t be able to fly with us.

To draw a veil over the horrors of this afternoon, at 4.35pm, a desperate push of F5 refreshed the ESTA site one more time and, thankfully, the status changed to Authorized. I haven’t felt relief like it since her conception.

Now, you will know that I am a dedicated planner and have been until this point a fastidious, organised type. I could never imagine that I would be incompetent enough to let this happen. Clearly I am that incompetent, as I will prove to you in other mistakes I will document here over the coming weeks. Senility is arriving early. But do please take my failings as a warning to check and double check everything one last time. I can ony think that Emily’s passport was stored in her room and when I gathered them all together I couldn’t count properly and didn’t do hers. As I said, incompetent.

So, with that over with, and I am sweating slightly again just recounting it, we shall proceed with those traditional door photos.

If I had been sensible I may have got the camera out before now to remind myself how it works. Like most of you, my phone is my camera at every other time than a WDW trip so getting to grips with my very nice Canon G7X takes a little time. All of that is an excuse for these being a bit blurry.

They got a bit better as we went along….

Well some did….

Now would be a good time to warn you. There are going to be a lot of photos of Freddie in this trip report. It’s natural of course but it’s best I tell you now.

Now we get into the different configurations….

and a more traditional door photo….

So with that done, we ate our takeaway, finished the packing and all went to bed.

Online check in still wouldn’t work for Emily, so that was one last minor issue we would need to address at the airport. A small price to pay for my stupidity. I had felt panic stricken and on edge all evening to be honest, convinced I had made some other error and it was hard to relax into the holiday feeling.

That no doubt contributed to me being awake from 3am. I rose at 7am for the traditional three S’s, tidied up a bit, put the bins out and got the final bits into the cases and wrestled them downstairs. The taxi arrived early at 8.20. We were ready and after a tearful goodbye to the dogs we loaded ourselves and the cases into the van, with me still questioning what I had forgotten.

We collected Rebecca, Tom and Freddie five minutes later and made our way slowly to the airport with me doing the “you been busy?” thing with the driver as I had to sit up front.

We arrived at 9.20 and made our way to desks 14-24. We were approached by a chap offering us an upgrade. Alas, it was not a free one, and another £800 for the move to Premium Economy could not be justified, especially as I had already, unbeknownst to the rest of the party, paid for extra leg room seats in economy.

Emily’s check in was trouble free and it was a nice feeling to have her boarding pass in my hands.

Security was dreadful. As we had a pram with us we were directed to the Assistance Lane. There wasn’t any assistance that I noticed, but there was a whole heap of waiting. It wasn’t helped by the family in front of us having what appeared to the their weekly food shop in their hand luggage. After about half an hour we finally got through and feeling hangry, we moved through into the departure lounge. Our direct route to food was only interrupted as several of the females needed the rest room.

Freddie made good use of the time.

A bee line was made for Giraffe, our usual Terminal 1 eatery and there was no wait to be seated. The choosing of food was a serious business.

We had…..

Me and Tom – Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

Louise – (A quite poor) Eggs Benedict

Emily – Veggie Breakfast Sandwich

I failed to capture this but it looked like the sandwich Tom and I had.

Rebecca – Some Mexican themed breakfast thing

Freddie – A generic kid’s breakfast

Coffee and juice for all and it came to £90 including a tip.

Having only just waited outside a restroom mere moments ago, we had to do so again as my daughters laid some cable. With that done, we wandered some shops, I bought a book from Smiths and then we found ourselves a seat to wait for the gate to open. I think even I had a wee at this point. I am only human.

As I did, I wondered, as I often do, what it is that makes men need to dredge up a pint of phlegm as they take a leak at the urinal. The two functions are not connected. Why do I have to have a wee whilst listening to my fellow urinators pulling up bodily fluids from their toes before expectorating it into the piss pot. Come on fellas, sort it out!

We explored the totally authentic UK/Manchester themed area of duty free too.

Yet more restrooming was done as we made our way to gate 27. As ever, there was a long queue which we ignored and just waited until most folks had got on. Inexplicably, Rebecca and Louise needed to restroom again. Is there a doctor in the house? They took just long enough to make me a little worried that the gate would close with us still on UK soil and some heated messages were exchanged before they reappeared.

We boarded and settled in for the flight which was announced as taking nine hours.

Our extra leg room was welcome and looked like this. You will see that I denounced the usual bright white trainers, but fear not, the tradition was not abandoned. More on that later.

As ever, we did not take off at the intended time, instead we left the UK at 3.07, some twenty minutes behind schedule. Drinks and entertainment upgrades were purchased. These not being free is the main difference between Thomas Cook and Virgin in my mind. The available film choice was pretty poor to be honest with few that hadn’t been out for an age. I found Vice and watched that with a few breaks for entertaining Freddie and food, which was chicken pasta or beef stroganof.

At some point, clearly Freddie got his hands on the camera…..

Only the appearance of the ice cream got him back settled in his seat and watching something again.

Freddie was great to be fair on what felt like a very long flight. It was made to feel even longer and more arduous as the woman sat behind Rebecca coughed for 8 hours and 50 minutes of the nine, without once covering her mouth. It was a nasty, “I’ve worked down a coal mine for thirty years” lung wrenching, phlegm factory of a cough that promised to infect most of the plane with whatever she had.

To prove that fact, I developed a runny nose almost immediately and spent a lot of the flight blowing my conk in the toilets, which isn’t a euphemism.

Freddie was tired but wouldn’t sleep so I took him for a walk around the cabin once everything had been served, sold and collected. I spent the rest of the flight watching Big Bang Theories I had already seen and blowing my nose. A sandwich and some cake was served around 10.30pm UK time and the desperation to get there was not eased by that offering.

Our descent took about 45 minutes and we landed at 7.04pm Orlando time. We taxied to the gate by 7.20. We were sat in row two which had me excited about being the first off the plane. Knowing that, the ground staff attached the tube to the middle door instead and we were off behind most other passengers which would prove to be troublesome. I say it every year, but MCO is a mess for arrivals.

Firstly, immigration was horrendous. We had arrived just behind what appeared to be a fight of 3500 Brazilians. We waited for 80, yes, 80 minutes to get processed. Poor Tom had to hold a now sleeping Freddie in his arms for the entire time. Louise was having hot sweats as despite all of her previous restroom visits, there was now a chocolate hostage fighting to be released.

Not surprisngly, our bags were waiting for us when we finally got through. We collected those whilst Louise sprinted for the restroom.

The next parts of moving through Orlando airport also contribute to my view that it is a mess. The whole double bag drop thing is silly, and we always choose to just take them with us, but that involves escalators and/or an elevator before you even get to the monorail.

With a light sweat on, Buddy the Mayor greeted us and we finally made our way to the bit where you walk for miles again, before more elevator nonsense to get down to the car hire bit.

Having been reunited with his pram, Freddie made full use.

There was no queue at all at the Dollar desk and I was in and out like a teenager’s first time. They tried the upgrade thing, the extra insurance thing, the toll pass thing and the sat nav thing. I brushed them all aside and rejoined the group, now on a mission to get to the bloody villa.

We had been directed to row 2 to choose our mini van. My tired brain was confused by the fact that row 2 seemed to only contain SUVs until a staff member pointed out the mini vans were about five minutes walk down that row. What’s another bit of walking at this stage?

We spent a few minutes trying to choose the best van available but gave up and just chose the one we were stood next to. The cases and pram were jammed in badly and we were off. Tom programmed the sat nav and with only one minor detour, as I took a wrong exit somehwere along the 528, after a long, dark and rainy journey we made it to Sandy Ridge. Wait, no, I took a turn earlier than I needed and we were still a few hundred yards away. A quick turn around, and a bit of swearing and we were now on the right development at least.

Now if someone can explain to me why the villas are numbered in a random order that would be great. We were in 206, so obviously next door would be 196 yes? I mean….

Tom Delonge Wtf GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

This caused another U turn and some more swearing before the van was more abandoned than parked on the drive and we started dragging the cases in.

Louise found a letter for us from the management company telling us that Hurricane Dorian was definitely going to completely ruin our entire trip. OK, in my tired state I may have over reacted, but the letter was written in a way that pretty much said we would either need to evacuate or spend two weeks in the bath tub. My mood was not a positive one.

Add to that, my dissapointment that the villa seemed to be less than we were expecting. I spent a decent amount of time looking for a cheap (we weren’t supposed to be going remember?) villa with two en suite masters, sacrificing location to get that within our budget. At first glance, the two main bedrooms, whilst being en suite had, at best, Queen beds. Rightly or wrongly, when someone advertises two master suites, I would expect at least King size beds.

As Tom and I headed to the supermarket for supplies, I was, I have to admit, feeling a little downbeat. With the hovering threat of a holiday ruining hurricane and me seemingly having dropped another bollock with the villa selection I was not as upbeat as anyone should be at this point of a trip.

This was compounded by the fact that the nearby Publix closed at 10pm and it was now 10.40, so we had to go across to the WaWa petrol station to grab some milk and cereal for Freddie’s breakfast.

Defeated and deflated we got back to the villa and fell into bed around midnight.

Maybe it is my advancing years but this travel day is a real endurance test. It involved almost 24 hours of being awake, endless queues, waiting, dragging of luggage and frustrations. You may be hoping that things improve or this trip report might not be very much fun. Well, I have to report as I find, but don’t worry, you are, over the coming weeks about to join us on one of our most enjoyable trips. Whether I can write about it in a way that you’ll enjoy cannot be guaranteed though!

Till the next time…….

No Licence To Chill

It’s been a very stressful last week of the countdown. It started in glorious fashion on Monday, when it suddently occurred to me that I hadn’t yet slotted all the cards I need to take with me into the card shaped slot in my bumbag. That’s right, I wear a bumbag, don’t @ me as the kids might say.

It not only looks impressive, manly and attractive, it is very practical too.

So I selected the relevant credit cards and went to add my driving licence to the collection. Hmm, it’s not in my wallet I thought, as I discovered it wasn’t in my wallet. A mild dew of sweat gathered on my forehead.

Not to worry. Last time I saw it, it was in that thing in our bedroom. Trouble is, since then our bedroom has been through a total rebuild and everything in it was scattered to the four winds for the duration. Most of it has never returned.

A moist half hour followed as I barrelled around the house doing my “man looking” for it and getting increasingly agitated. After exhausting every possible location, I decided I could waste no further time and had to apply for a replacment. A few minutes online and I was done and £20 lighter. I’d also applied for a new licence.

Seconds after hitting submit, I thought, I’ll just check “there”. There being under Rebecca’s bed in what is now our spare room/junk store/bomb site. Oh look, there’s that container thing my licence used to be in before we destroyed and reconstructed the bedroom. I pulled it out, but there was no time for that, so I put it away and had a look in the container instead.

Yep, there it was. Thank goodness. I quickly called the DVLA folks and explained that a mere sixty seconds ago I had hit submit on an application for a new licence, and that I had since found my current one and they could cancel that application.

Apparently the computer said no, and my application was now “in the system” and could not be stopped. How sad that there is an all powerful, omnipresent, sentient, undeniable force at work at DVLA that cannot be accessed or influenced by mere human beings. OK, no problem, I’ll just take my existing one that I just found and use that.

Nope. I was told that was now an ex-driving licence and would be no use to me unless I intended to use it as an ice scraper come the winter. I would need to wait for my new one and use that.

I enquired when that might be. “Within two weeks”, was the reply.

How I laughed. With further questioning, it appears that typically it takes 3-5 days so we should be fine, but the fear was real because if that thing didn’t arrive before we left, Louise would be driving for the full two weeks and that would be fun.

It’s amazing that no matter how long the countdown is I can leave myelf exposed to such muppetry. If only we’d done these trips before and I knew what I was doing.

Anyway, it arrived on Thursday and that particular panic could be called off.

Alongside that specific bit of nonsense has been a general feeling of anxiety and a sense that there a million things that need doing and time is fast running out. Louise’s passport wasn’t where it should be which added to the moist brow. Apparently it was in her car which of course is a very sensible place to store such an important document.

Work was annoying too. My plan to spend next Tuesday working at home was scuppered with the appearance in my diary of a handful of meetings I have to be in the office for, so that hasn’t helped. Every year this shit must happen but like childbirth, I completely forget the stresses of the final few days and getting everything in order and stumble blindly into it every single time.

Decelerating from the pace of working life and the hectic preparations is something that I will need to do quickly as I drive home from work on Tuesday if I am not to waste the few few days adjusting to be in holiday mode.

Louise is working all weekend, so I have been spending my time alone ticking off all the tasks I had been stressting about all week. Inexplicably that included some decorating as I finished some painting Louise started some months ago in the spare room, and very unsually for her (not) hadn’t finished. Our dog sitting guests will be staying in that room so it was only right I made it habitableish.

I have washed lots of things including the dog’s beds and rugs (they have a fine collection), ordered and had delivered the shopping for the dogs, cat and dog sitters for our time away and washed and curated my collection of designer wear for our trip. I have of course planned and co-ordinated all my outfits day by day so you can rest assured I will be rocking “the Gram” for the entire trip, so keep your eye on my acount.

So, one day in the office aside, we’ve made it. The counting down is done, the planning complete, and the waiting is almost over. If nothing else you all get a couple of Sundays off from me moaning here, and hopefully you will be joining us at various points on the trip as I share stuff online.

So away we go, and I’ll see you on the other side, back here, sometime in September.

Till the next time…….

All The Single Digits…..

We’re nearly there folks. Just a few more days and you get at least two Sundays off from this tripe. It’s a strange phenomenon that the fewer days we have left in the countdown the further away it seems. Getting through another week and a bit seems more daunting than when we rounded the double-digit day milestone.

Looking back over recent posts, I recognise that the last few weeks may have come across as a little downbeat, negative, or big girl’s blousey. That’s because that is an accurate summary of the content of recent posts. How can I be moaning so much this close to a trip?

I don’t know. I’m tired and emotional maybe and in desperate need of a break? Who knows? Or maybe it’s because I am being persecuted by the Gods of the FastPass to never get the ones I want and this is a clear case of victimisation and persecution…….ahem, we shall move on.

Anyway, not to break stride, and continue this maudlin mantra, this week I learnt that O Canada will be down for refurb whilst we are there. So there’s that.

To be honest I am at the moment in the mode of trying to dampen my own expectations for the trip. The countdown and build up are so long and arduous that there is a danger that the holiday never stands a chance of living up to the lofty heights your mind has created.

So I am mentally preparing myself for the fact that it will rain a lot, which is just like being at home right now, and that the crowds will be huge and annoying and we won’t get the FastPasses we want….oh I’ve mentioned that already….

I do this just so that I can take these minor set backs in my ever pleasant and smiling stride of course.

Looking at reports from folks over there at the moment, the rain thing is definitely on the cards. We are experienced and seasoned August travellers so we know this and are ready to deal with it, but hopefully it will be restricted to the normal afternoon downpours and nothing more and we, as we have so far over all these years, avoid a hurricane.

If I can ensure my expectations are not too high then there is every chance they shall be exceeded and for my (and your) sake let’s hope that is the case.

Today, we will slip into our single digit day dance territory with effortless grace and I face just one week left at work now. Technically, I am in work on the day before we go, the day after the Bank Holiday Monday, but I shall probably work from home that day at least saving myself the horrors of the commute, so I am not counting that.

It’s funny that the absolute need for this holiday is so great now that I cannot comprehend how I intended to survive until next summer before having a holiday as was the plan. Right now, getting through another few days in the office without head butting someone is looking like a challenge.

There will be just one more blog pre trip so now is a good time to do some recruitment for the old social media channels. I will mostly be posting on the Mkingdon Facebook page so if you haven’t liked that, now is a good time to do so. I will be going “Live” a fair bit so if you want to join us, you know what to do.

If you wish you can also “enjoy” my content on Instagram and Twitter. How many ways are there to hear me moan about stuff? I wouldn’t bother “hitting me up” on Snapchat as I’ve never been able to figure out how to use it, which is just how Snapchat like it.

Sometimes I do think that this point of the countdown is the best and it is a state that everyone should live in perpetually. Imagine always having a WDW trip just a few days away? Existing in a state of perpetual anticipation would be lovely, other than of course never actually going on the trip itself. Having lost about six ounces on my hellish never-ending healthy eating regime for the last few weeks I have tried on the shorts, selected those that fit and are worthy of the journey, and with that another pre-holiday tradition is ticked off. I think that pink lycra is the way to go this time, don’t you?

Till the next time……

A Passage To Whingier

So how’s your week been?

I can summarise mine like this….

So mainly I have been fighting the rising resentment of not being able to get a FastPass for anything built after 2010. Talk about first world problems right?

Of course, but it still ticks me off. It must be some sort of unwanted special achievement to book FastPasses for a full two week trip and not get a single one of the FastPasses you really wanted at any park? I don’t count Epcot in that as there is currently no “must have” ride and you can pretty much choose whatever you like, but wherever there is a tricky to get FastPass, I have failed miserably to get even one.

So having a daily sulk on this topic hasn’t detracted too much from seeing our countdown reduce to touching distance. Well, it has, but not enough to matter. With this huge chip on my shoulder, I doubt I’d be able to fit onto Flights Of Passage anyway so it’s maybe for the best.

Maybe this isn’t something worthy of my persecution complex? It could just be that the place is going to be very busy, with Galaxy’s Edge, Food and Wine and summer all happening at the same time. You see, I might believe that if I weren’t getting messages from kindly folks through the week telling me how they all got FastPasses for every ride they ever wanted, and in fact Disney hand delivered them to their UK address asking what time would suit them best. I’m not bitter…..

The new FastPass teiring system at DHS isn’t ideal either. Every ride you want to do is in the same tier so the choice is very limited. With Slinky always unavailable if your surname is Williams, after choosing one “headliner” the second and third choices are all for things that you’d rarely need a FastPass for, like Muppets, Indiana Jones or Frozen Ever After. Hopefully they will readjust that once the Galaxy’s Edge thing has opened and clamed down a bit.

Perhaps this is just Disney’s strategy to encourage folks to stay on site. It seems I have proven that it is impossible to secure first choice FastPasses at 30 days out (please don’t tell me that you got all yours at 30 days, I want to wallow in my own self pity). The thought of staying on site for at least part of next year’s trip has crossed my mind already so maybe it works. I get it. They spend a fortune on new attractions and if you wanna ride it, fork out for an on site stay fat boy or just suck it up on Journey Into Imagination and Carousel of Progress with the rest of the muggles.

In better news, on our commute home on Wednesday I was fighting the urge to run the car into the central reservation as we battled another shitty overly long journey home, when Emily emerged from her cataonic state in the passenger seat to share some exciting news she had just discovered on some social media thing. Reservations were open for some Galaxy’s Edge stuff.

Neither of us knew anything about what might be available but that didn’t stop Emily immediately going onto the My Disney Experience app to see what was going on. The initial signs were not good as there was a message saying that dining reservations were not available via the app due to high demand and they had to be booked on the main website.

Emily followed those instructions, managed to remember the relavant password and started frantically searching for the relevant dates. As we expected to get nowhere near Galaxy’s Edge this year we have done zero research and had no idea what was what, so we had no clue what we might be booking. There were several minutes of tension and stress as we lost 4G for a while mid-booking and the site died a bit but Emily valiantly succeeded in her quest.

As a side note, how far have we come in recent years? There we were doing 70mph on the M60….well probably more like 25mph, but the potential is there, booking stuff via a handheld device for a trip we wont take for a few more weeks. It was only ten minutes ago that I had to speed march to the FastPass ticket machines around the parks elbowing small chldren out of the way to do so. I miss that, it was fun!

So on our first day at DHS we now have a “lunch” reservation at Oga’s Cantina. I say lunch, but the menu looks to be mainly alcohol with some token nibbles but I’m not that bothered. It’s just a way to get us into the general area, in case they start restricting access, so we can have a look around.

In a world where our account has clearly been blacklisted and blocked from getting access to any recently built attraction, I’m calling this a small victory. I have zero expectations of being able to do anything other than that reservation and look round some shops, but we’ll take in the theming and do what we can.

In other trip related news, Rebecca and Tom, but mostly Tom, have been busy creating Freddie’s MNSSHP costume. He has played a blinder and the cuteness is, as the kids say, off the scale.

Up is currently one of Freddie’s favourite films to watch so it is apt too. Just wait till he discovers you get unlimted free sweets on the night too.

The trip is now playing on my mind constantly, mainly as I grumble inwardly about not getting certain FastPasses, but I am mentally remembering and reminding myself of all the things I need to do, sort out and remember to take. You’d think this was all second nature after so many years of practice but no, I still manage to find a way to worry about this stuff.

There are two weeks left at work and my only hope is that the two weeks of our trip last as long as these next two will.

Till the next time…….

FastPases, Frustration and Fiduciary Failings

Let me start by saying that yesterday was a significant day in the Mkingdon household. Yes, it was FastPass day for Animal Kingdom. It goes without saying that despite pouncing all over the My Disney Experience like the lithe and taught cat I am, I had more chance of a fringe than getting a FastPass for Flights Of Passage. I think it is the case now that if you are staying off site, you don’t get a FastPass for that thing.

If you are staying off site and got a FastPass, please don’t tell me. It is this one slither of comfort that is stopping me penning a strongly worded email to senior Disney officials or posting it on one of those Disney Facebook groups for the sole purpose of getting some attention and maybe getting some compensation.

Oh, it was also our 23rd wedding anniversary. We celebrated with a Chinese and an early night. Not that kind of early night. We were both a little under the weather so Louise had to retire to bed with a migraine and I played some PS4. Who said you can’t keep the magic alive?

So I’ve been booking FastPasses since Tuesday. The first day was a deja vu moment from last year, with the stroke of 12 (that’s the title of a pay per view movie I once say advertised in a hotel) seeing me wrestle with the web site and the app as they both crashed like some toddler after a bag of M&Ms. It took about twenty minutes for them both to start behaving. Of course by this time my only priority, Mine Train, had gone. Still, Big Thunder, Haunted Mansion and Peter Pan is a decent return for our first day.

This midday crashing of their site still happening suggests to me that they don’t want to fix that. As far as peaks of trafiic go, that time on the FastPass booking site is probably one of the most predictable on the planet so there are things they could do I’m sure. There must be a reason they don’t want to. Inflicting frustration on paying guests doesn’t seem to be a good strategy but hey, I keep going back and handing over my cash so take from that what you will.

I didn’t need to book anything on Wednesday as we will be at Typhoon Lagoon but Thursday saw a little bit of pressure as I was booking for what will be my birthday trip to Epcot. I am pleased to report that this was the one day on which I got my main priority, Soarin’. With Mission Space and Spaceship Earth that’s a solid day’s activity before we move up to World Showcase for our meal and fireworks stuff.

The next day was just about making some “maybe we will use them” FastPasses for the evening as it will be a day of eating at Hash House a Go Go and Trail’s End, with either an evening in Magic Kingdom or, I have a tentative idea of going to the Poly to watch the fireworks from their beach. Our energy levels will dictate what we do. Don’t worry, I will of course cancel those FastPasses should we not intend to use them. I am not a monster.

That brings us to yesterday and Animal Kingdom. It does irk me a little that the best ride on WDW property is clearly beyond us but it is outside of my control and I will not pointlessly whinge about it on the internet like some spoilt entitled oversized baby….oh, bugger. I did manage to get a solid trio (which was also what I got after last night’s Chinese, but I’m feeling better now) of Everest, Safari and Na’vi River Journey.

Today at 12 I will be being dissapointed with things again as I attempt to book FastPasses for our first visit of the trip to Hollywood Studios. They are changing or have changed already, I can’t remember, the tiering for their FastPasses so I think you can only book restroom visits and access to the car park at the same time or something. We’ll see. I’m not convinced we’ll even get in the park so it may not matter.

Anyway, FastPass dissapointments aside, we’re at 23 days and at the stage where I almost don’t mind Mondays rolling round again as it is just another step to departure.

The other event in a planning filled week was the purchase of some dollars. Really, I should draw a veil over this as if I start ranting I may never stop…..

Suffice to say, for my many, many English pounds I got enough dollars to maybe buy a drink from one of the vending machines at the airport after we land.

Sigh, only I could be a mere 23 days away from a WDW trip and spend my time moaning about stuff. It comes from a good place of wanting to make the best trip I can or everyone…so if you could all log on and cancel your Flights of Passage FastPasses and somehow double the dollar rate, that’d be great.

Till the next time…..

Birthdays and Baldrick Brainwaves

Another week goes by, and as time tends to, so does another year. We had a birthday this week as Emily turned 24. Believe me she is struggling to come to terms with how that happened as much as you may be. At some point I’ll let her into the secret that no matter what age you actually are you never really feel like a proper grown up and everyone is just busking it and doing their best to get by.

We all enjoyed her cake, made expertly by Rebecca, who is developing a real skill for this sort of thing.

Freddie had some for brunch minutes after arriving with it.

As you may know from previous Julys, Oli shares Emily’s birthday and the big daft bugger is now a mature 8 year old with fading tolerance for the not very mature Bean. It gets to us all.

We had a family takeaway curry on Friday evening to commemorate the day and over ordered so spectacularly that our fridge still contains Naan bread and some curry. That is never a bad thing.

Onto matters of planning. Surely there can be nothing left to plan? The issue is that most folks have a lengthy countdown to these trips, and with planning being interesting, fun and a way to make trip seem closer (assuming you are wired in the appropriate way, and I am), over time you end up adding stuff and planning bits and pieces because of all of the above. However, with just the 30 days to go until departure, this week I excelled myself and conducted an act of planning genius so cunning that I can’t tell you what it is. It is more cunning than Mr McCunning, the teacher of cunning at Cunning Town School for foxes who wish to be more cunning.

There’s a few reasons I can’t tell you. One of them is that I know for a fact that Bob Iger reads my blog every week and if he realised the brilliance of my act he wouldn’t know whether to sue me or hire me, and I can’t take the risk he’ll choose the wrong option.

Other reasons include the fact that whilst it absolutely does not break any rules, if everyone did it, then Disney would probably put things in place to stop it or at least make it more difficult. Also, now that I have bragged about my brilliance I want to wait and see if it comes off before admitting to what it is so I don’t look (more) stupid. All I will say is that it has been an issue I have been wrestling with for a while and all of a sudden during last week inspiration came to me. I quickly made the relevant arrangements and felt pretty smug, if not smug or confident enough to tell you about it.

If you never hear of this again, you will know which way it went. If it works I will probably admit to it in the trip report and then you can all tell me you all do it anyway and everyone knows about it and I am in no way clever or special.

Loins are being girded right now, ready for the FastPass thing to start on Tuesday. As we are off site scum, I will need to try every day for two weeks to secure the passes we want for each day 30 days hence. Day one is usually fairly stress free as Magic Kingdom is our park of choice and there’s typically a good enough selection of rides and attractions to get decent FastPasses. The thinking is to secure Mine Train if we can, something like Haunted Mansion and then a ride ideal for Freddie. We may ride Peter Pan but only with a FastPass. It always seems to have at least a forty minute wait and we won’t be doing that.

The FastPass pressure will really be on for the days we are at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios to get those rides everybody wants. Stay tuned for me trying to put a positive spin on getting FastPasses for the bird show at DAK and the car park at DHS.

Ryan has now been rescued from his cupboard where he rests between trips. All relevant documents, tickets and anything trip related such as the digital camera I only ever use in WDW, are being randomly stuffed into him. A tactical repack of Ryan will happen close to departure so that things are to hand in the order I will need them during the journey. This is in no way sad.

The next major milestone will come post pay day on Wednesday when I will sit weeping, looking at the dollar rate for a few hours before realising I have no choice but to order some anyway. As cunning as I am, I have yet to find a way to rig the currency markets for my own benefit as your Rees Moggs tend to. I spit on your Brexit. Anything which make my holidays more expensive, by definition, cannot be a good thing.

And on that political bombshell, I shall return to my Sunday and wish you well for yours….

Till the next time…..

Sanaaty is So Scary

Sanaaty is So Scary

37 days.

How can something feel so close and yet seem so far away at the same time? Over the years, I have to admit to getting very close a trip and not being ready. I don’t mean physically, as packing always gets done and plans get made. I mean mentally. Sometimes life is just so busy that I have struggled to get into the right mindset and it has taken a few days of the holiday to get into the right mode.

Well, I’m ready. This happened this week I think. This lovely bonus trip that was not going to happen is incredibly welcome, needed and almost upon us.

It may have been this holiday mode settling in that was responsible for my latest faux pas. All the things that we told ourselves about squeezing this trip in by cutting back on the more expensive things a trip can include lie in tatters. That’s harsh, we have restricted the number of ADRs but like some kind of Augutus Gloop of trip planning I couldn’t keep my fat fingers off another succulent looking morsel that came into my view this week.

To get the confession out of the way, I have booked Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for us for the 8th of September. Some random blog about it came into one of my social media feeds during the week at a time when I had a few minutes for it to catch my eye. I read about some of the new things for this year, remembered how last year was one of the highlights of our trip and as all good financially irresponsible planners do, thought, sod it, and pressed the button.

It fell nicely into the plan on one of those days that I mentioned last week that had nothing concrete in it, so, clearly, it was my density.

Image result for you are my density george mcfly

My weakness was welcomed by my fellow travellers with all the enabling support an addict does not need. It’s like having Oliver Reed as your Alcoholics Anonymous mentor.

Rebecca is now planning and putting together Freddie’s costume. We won’t be dressing up, mainly because when we went last year the temperature was ridiculous and the idea of being in some cumbersome polyester number is too horrific to consider. I applaud those that do.

So that solved one of my outstanding planning issues, as that day now has a character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s mid-morning, and MNSSHP in the evening. Whilst updating “the plan” with these details, I did have a minor meltdown and panic. It suddenly dawned on me that my birthday plans had some potential issues.

This year it falls on a Saturday, and based on Emily’s experiences when working in World Showcase during Food & Wine, Saturdays are generally to be avoided as she always found them to be very busy and very full of drunken people staggering from booth to booth. Options were considered, but the amount of surgery required to the whole plan to accommodate any change that may properly solve this and not cause carnage to the rest of the trip was too severe. So, we decided to leave it as it is.

I consulted Touring Plans and saw that they rated that day a 4 out of 10. This reassured me a little, as I could see they were showing DHS at a 10 out of 10 for much of that week when Galaxy’s Edge opens. At the end of the day, we shall play it by ear. If we focus on Future World (what remains of it) during the day we should avoid most of the crowds coming for Food & Wine and then we can do our ADR at Via Napoli and then wander a hopefully quieter World Showcase in the evening before the fireworks. Simply put, if it does get too busy, we’ll do something else. You know me, I just go with the flow!

To show that I am not a total idiot, I did resist booking Sanaa. This, despite spending a little time browsing the menu this week, is an act of self restraint that I applaud myself for. We already have a list of off site favourites that we will never get through so it made no sense. Then again, their bread service is sufficient to abandon all sense of sanaaty (see what I did there?) so I am quite pleased with myself.

Yesterday I found myself nesting. This seems to happen as a trip gets close enough to touch. It’s a desire to get things in order before we go I guess. Like some pregnant mother about to deliver, when holiday mode gets me, I too have a burning desire to get things done. So a number of tasks that I have been gladly ignoring for months got done. Some grouting, random repairs around the house and sorting of our spare room took place. That spare room has been a disaster since we did our bedroom and that was finished in May. Don’t get me wrong it’s still far from show room standards but we can now see the floor!

So my readiness is there and in a week we will be in FastPass territory. That’s when shit gets real, as somebody who doesn’t mind swearing might say. Be prepared for my inevitable rants about Flights of Passage and Slinky Dog not being available for the entirety of our stay. It’s all part of the process.

Till the next time…….